The way through…

There are moments in life when we’re taking our time, creating things, and something from our past rears its ugly head.

This happened the other day.

I’ve written since middle school. It’s only been in the last five years I decided to take my writing seriously. The main reason I decided to pursue my writing full-time is that of my wife’s encouragement.

Before that time I’d only done it on the side and never considered my writing worthy of publication.

Then, something happened. Someone told me I’d never be a writer.  That I’d never do what I love doing. It was a hard blow. Afterward, I contemplated a lot of things, suicide one of them.

Then, I realized something. That person didn’t know who I was and had no interest in discovering the person I was.

It wasn’t that they said those words, it was more that I took it to heart. I believed them. I felt like they were right about me.

Today, life is different. I understand that person didn’t know me and never cared to.

Without my wife’s encouragement, I’m not sure I would have continued to write.

I’m at a crossroads with my writing. Do I keep going, take a chance, and struggle a little more or do I quit?

After all, I’ve done in my life I only have a couple of things I’m proud of: My wife, my kids, and my writing.

I’ve written seven novels, over a hundred short stories but I haven’t published any of them. Maybe that person’s words influenced my thinking for a few years afterward. Now, I don’t feel that way.

The road used to be cluttered with doubt and fear. Today, I that same road is full of possibilities.

I’ve found the way through. I found it on my own and now it’s time to crush it.

How I took over control of my life.

This year has been about regaining control over my life.

First, it started by fixing my writing.

I listened to myself when I was writing more often, thought through sentences more carefully, and paid attention when a story went off the rails.

Today my wife will be finishing her first read-through of a novel. I’ll start revising it next week.

I started a new novel yesterday.  I’m currently outlining it and creating a beat sheet.

It’s something different from my other stories, in structure and content.

Second, I’ve been exercising more.

The end of last year was a tough one. My brother passed away from an aneurysm.

Technically we weren’t blood, but he’ll always be my brother.

When he passed, I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I should.

I’ve worked to correct that.

I work out four to five days a week, restrict my caffeine intake and make sure I’m eating decently.

Third, I spend more time with my wife and kids.

Three years ago I lived in Las Vegas. I worked a job I hated and was stressed all the time.

The hours I worked made it nearly impossible to get any time with my wife and kids.

I’d spend a few days here and there with them but it wasn’t quality time. It was usually in a movie theater.

After we left Las Vegas our goal was for me to write more, spend more time with each other and give our kids a better environment.

We’ve managed to do all of those things.

I’ve written four novels since we moved, over a hundred short stories and with each I see improvement.

Our kids are doing better in school. My son almost made the honor roll, which was unheard of in Las Vegas.

We hike, spend time outside and sometimes we go to the movies. The movies used to be our family time. Now its secondary to doing other things.

I have no doubt I’ll be published soon. I know I’m in better physical and mental condition than I was three years ago.

My relationship with my kids and my wife is stronger than its ever been.

If we wouldn’t have left Las Vegas all of us would be miserable.

I fight my way through depression daily, my wife does too.

There are moments when life seems hard. At those moments I look around and compare the life I had three years ago to my current situation.

Things are better.

I took control of a lot of things this year. I’m also working harder at my prose than I thought possible. I never would have had the time to focus during our Las Vegas life.

Today, I have the time, the strength and the ability to push towards my goals.

It all started by taking control.

When we chase the light…

Sometimes we hit a rough patch.

And like all rough patches, they feel longer than they are.

We find ourselves traveling roads no one’s been. It feels harder, the terrain more difficult.

With each passing spray of dirt, we right ourselves. The correction may be difficult but it’s worth the effort.

Then we’re out off the rough patch, onto the main road and following until we reach our destination.

Sometimes the destination feels farther away than we first realized. We can see the light illuminating its top and we want to quit. We want to give up.

But when we’re traveling and hitting rough spots we’re still moving forward. We’re still traveling towards the light.

When we get stuck in the mud our faith in ourselves and our journey falters.

The mud covers our tires, buries them and then we’re only spinning.

Those are the times we look for someone who can help.

We have to find those people to get out of the mud. We’ll stand on the side of the road, hope they’re around the curve, wish for them to come around and sometimes they will.

Other times, we need to get a stick, place it under the tires or wrap a rope around a tree and pull ourselves out.

When we pull ourselves out its more difficult but the reward of doing ourselves feels better.

We won’t always have that person to pull us out of the mud. Finding a way out without needing someone to help us gives us hope. Hope that next time, we’ll do it again.

Living with constant depression is a battle each day.

There are moments where we get out of the mud, pull onto the main road, hit the gas and get closer.

Those days seem like their far apart some days, weeks, months but they are there.

We must reach the light on the hill.

How a little push helped me this week.

This past week my family and I took a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.

It’s something I’d planned since last year and it was our kid’s choice.

Each summer our kids spend two weeks with my parents.

This past summer was no different.

When our kids came home I gave them three options for a trip this summer. Chicago, Washington D.C. or Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

They chose Harry Potter.

We arrived at Universal and for some reason, I was in a bad mood. All of the first day I was an asshole to my wife, son, and daughter, but mostly to my son.

That night my wife called me out on it and I hadn’t thought I had been any different. I believed it was the kids who were acting up.

After sleeping that night and contemplating the previous day during my morning meditation, I realized I’d been an ass.

After everyone was ready, I apologized to my family, giving my son special attention that day to make up for my attitude the previous day.

After four years of transcendental meditation, dealing with recurring depression and thoughts of giving up on writing, I sometimes lose my way.

I tell you this because no matter how much better we think we’re getting, we slip sometimes.

There are days when life feels harder than it should be. Those days should make the other days better.

Sometimes they do.

There is always the nagging of depression. Fighting it every day feels like a chore, but its better than the alternative.

Doubt has crept into my mind recently.

It rears its head when I get a rejection notice or an agent doesn’t reply at all.

My head screws with me. Tells me that I need to quit and get a real job. It says I should do more to support my family.

My wife tells me to keep writing and without her, I don’t know what I’d do.

Last week she corrected me on my attitude. This week she told me to keep going.

Today I feel better, but I know doubt and depression could creep in at any moment.

I try to keep my head above the pit and continue to write.

Short stories and improving have been my goal this summer.

I’m getting better and I’m querying a novel with multiple agents at the moment.

Today, I’ll be bartending at an event and think about what I should be writing tomorrow.

Every day is a blessing and I’m not done yet.

Frustration, Fate, ​and Writing.

Okay, hear me out.

This is not a post about how sad I am about being unpublished, it’s more about the frustration of working the day job while worrying I could be writing, querying, editing, but because the day job pays the bills.

I’m aware of the one in a million chance of being the author who gets a contract that changes their lives.

The moments of wonder when I’m at my day job are not small.

I think about these things a lot more than I probably should as an unpublished writer.

Though, I’m certain there are others who think these things as well.

This past week is a perfect example.

I worked the day job, four days last week, which is more than I usually work, but it’s the time of year that allows it.

January through March is quiet as an event bartender. Its the nature of the gig.

Don’t get me wrong, I love bartending. I love the interaction with guests. I enjoy making cocktails and do it often for my wife.

There are moments I’ll have an interaction with a guest. I roll my eyes and think about the story I’m writing and what I have to do when I get home or the following morning.

After that moment has passed I look around and wonder, ‘Is that all I’m supposed to be doing with my life?’ I know it’s not. I’ve known that since I was a kid. Those thoughts persist, especially now that I’ve begun to query agents with finished novels.

I try to put them farther back. I find I work harder when they’re at the forefront of my thoughts.

The more focused I am on getting published the more I think about the possibilities for publication.

Each of us is meant for a certain path, I completely believe that. I didn’t use to.

Something happened that made me believe it. Fate has a path for each us that we’re destined to take.

We have choices to make, we’ll feel them when they arrive.

Those choices are tough.

Keep going no matter what games your mind plays you.

Thank you, Chester!

I wrote this post a few years ago, and with the death of Chester Bennington, I thought I should share it again. It’s from one of my older blogs, but this was one of the best times I’ve had with my son:

My son is a huge fan of Linkin Park. This happened because of the song they did for Transformers. My kids have grown up listening to music that my wife and I listen to. This can run from Nine Inch Nails(my favorite band) to Lacuna Coil(My wife’s favorite band) or any number of classical musician’s that I may listen to while writing. They have had an eclectic mix of music in their ears from birth until now. Right now I am listening to Staind while doing my revisions. So when our son became more interested in the band than just liking the song from Transformers and wanted to listen to other albums from the band we indulged him. After listening to the albums he wanted to see them in concert. Many parents would have a problem with taking a then 4-year-old to see a rock band. I told him that once he was a little older I would take him to see them when they came to our city (Las Vegas). He said okay and then my wife forgot about it, I did not.

Linkin Park came out with their new album, “A Thousand Suns” in 2010. It is their best album since Hybrid Theory imo. I waited for them to announce a tour date for Las Vegas, tickets went on sale in December. After talking my wife into it; it didn’t take much talking, I planned for the date and asked him where he would like to go for dinner. After that was set, I thought that I might be one of the few dads to take his six-year-old to a rock concert. My first concert was Ratt and Bon Jovi in the 80’s, I think I was eight and it was not my choice to see the bands.

The week leading up to the Linkin Park concert one of the lead singers became sick. I was worried that my son would not be able to see his favorite band, and sent a get well message on the band’s website. Two day’s before the concert word came that the singer (Chester Bennington) was feeling better and it was much more than just the flu. The post on the band’s website said it was more serious, follow the link to learn more.

The night of the concert we left the house, not without my wife taking a picture of us first. After dinner we arrived at the venue a little later than I planned. The opening band “The Prodigy” was in the middle of their set. They were awesome, I had wanted to see Prodigy for a long time and got my chance. After Prodigy we went to get drinks and returned to our seats in anticipation of Linkin Park, my son sat on the edge of his seat until they started.

Watching his eyes light up hearing the songs on the radio/computer/or CD was nothing compared to the look he had hearing them live. Watching him sing along to Chester and Mike was one of the best moments I have had as a parent. Today I took him to Guitar Center to see about lessons. I had put it off until he saw the concert. If he still wanted to after the show I told him I would get him lessons, today I followed through. He will begin lessons in the next few weeks. I had more fun watching him than I did watching the band. He knew nearly every lyric and sang along. I look forward to many more concerts with him in the future.

Bri

*Update – It has been almost a year since this concert. He still love Linkin Park. We couldn’t make their show at The Joint for money reasons, but we’re going next time they come to Vegas.

He has been playing for almost a year now and loves playing just not practicing. He has private instruction once a week for thirty minutes and love his instructor.

This is still my favorite moment as a parent!

 

Transcendental Meditation after 3 years.

I posted this on Medium last month and somehow forgot to post it here.

Three years ago I stood on the ledge of the parking garage where I used to work.

I’d been fighting depression since I saw my father at my grandfather’s funeral. He walked past me as if I weren’t there.

The day I stood on the ledge, a co-worker told me, “No one really cares about you or your bullshit.”

That was my end point. I got through with work, set my things in my car and walked to the ledge.

I saw the back of the hotel, the marquee for the hotel and the rooftop of the casino. A slight wind blew my hair and I remember putting my hands out at as if I could catch it.

I don’t remember how long I stood up there, it could have been five minutes, ten, or two, but I stepped off the ledge and sat in my car and cried for a long time.

I knew I was broken at that point and I had no idea how to put my pieces back together.

I called my wife, the emotion clearly audible as she asked, “what’s the matter?”

I told her, “I need help. I think I’m going to look into that Transcendental Meditation(TM) I’ve been reading about.”

“Whatever you need to do, I’m here.” She said and I drove home, but I don’t remember the drive, I don’t remember the next week. I only remember calling the TM teacher in Las Vegas and scheduling to come in for my introduction.

A week later, I started my practice.

It’s been three years since I started TM and here’s a list of things that have happened that I know wouldn’t have without TM:

  1. I quit a good paying job to write full time.
  2. We moved our kids out an environment that wouldn’t help them grow.
  3. I started writing full time.

I never would’ve had the courage or mental strength to leave my job had I not learned TM. I was a weak person, most of the people around me would attest to that.

I didn’t know what I wanted and I hated not seeing my kids.

Today, I write full time and I’m working on a book that I’ll be submitting in June. I bartend a few times a week, I see my kids more often and I’m able to spend time with my wife.

I know without TM I wouldn’t be alive today.

I still get bouts of depression. I don’t think about suicide as often as I once did and I’m less angry than I was three years ago.

If you’re having trouble, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255.

If you’re interested in learning more about Transcendental Meditation try TM.org.

Today, my wife and I are both practicing TM and we’re planning on getting our kids taught as well.

Have a great rest of your week.