Finding our hearts.

When we started our life, we didn’t understand what it was.

As we move through it, we begin to understand it better.

This discovery could leads us to uncovering who we are, what we want, who we love, why we struggle more than some, but lesss than others.

Along the road to discovery, we learn about ourselves. Not like the items I listed above, but truly learn.

We discover our hearts.

What moves us, what makes us cry, what changes us.

This heart attaches itself to our family members, children, partners, and sometimes art.

I found my heart in writing when I was in my teens.

Life intervened, I wasn’t able to write for a multitude of reasons.

Then, three years ago.

Life gave me a gift.

I’m able to write all I want. Play with my kids. Spend time with my wife and still have time to read.

I found my heart when I was allowed to write full time.

I’ve never been published. But when I sit at the keys, I feel like creating worlds is payment enough.

I enjoy writing more than anything I’ve done. It is my calm when the storm comes.

Have you found your heart.

Be Brave and Enjoy the Sunlight.

I wonder often about the life I’ve lead.

It comes to me at night. I’ll ponder the things I’ve done. People I’ve wronged and consider whether the life I have has been worth the things I’ve been through.

Those moments are surrounded by others.

These others are filled with the laughter of my kids, my wife’s kiss, and my morning writing.

For the first time in a while, I feel like my life is going in the correct direction.

Yes, I write fervently. I get my word count on a new WiP every day.  I work on revisions and edits every day on another story or novel.

But all the tired nights, exhausted mornings and cups of coffee are worth it for what I’m attempting.

Each person reaches a point where they want to stop. I have a couple of times.

When this point is reached, we have to look around and think about how far we’ve come. And all we’ve done to reach this current state.

That moment may come while we’re in the shower or it may come in a flash of fireworks erupting over our heads as we look at our wife and kids.

Today, I’m in a good place. I know they aren’t all good so I’m going to recognize this one. Have a good rest of your day.

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.

Not Giving up on what I want.

There are dreams in the world that happen because we take a chance.

We’re capable of doing great things, but there are moments when we falter.

The truth is, for most of us, fear runs our lives.

It keeps us from achieving greatness.

I used to be one of those people.

I feared people would read my writing and hate. But they’d judge me based only on my writing, not on who I am.

A year ago I sent off my first short story to a magazine. The rejections have come in ever since.

Not one of my stories has been picked up. I don’t know why, but I’ll keep going. I’ll keep improving. The only way to get published it to improve every day. The only way to do that is to write every day or if you’re not writing, at least be reading.

This year I sent off a novel. It’s been seen by three agents. Two of them still have it. The third sent a form rejection.

But I’m not stopping.

I have eight more agents on my list.

When I get rejections from all of them, I’ll shelve it and work on the other one.

I have a goal. It won’t be achieved until I’m published.

I’ve written seven novels, over 100 short stories.

Some of them good, some bad, but I keep writing.

I won’t accept being unpublished.

This year I’ve improved more than any year. My focus hasn’t wavered.

I’m starting another novel next month, another novel I’ll be editing, and few short stories I’ll be submitting.

This road doesn’t end until I’m published.

The path forward

With each passing day, each rejection letter or rejection form letter, I find myself narrowly continuing to write.

Yesterday, while I sat in the barber’s chair. I listened to my barber talking to a young kid.

At first, the kid said he wanted to be an apprentice.

As the conversation developed, the kid’s view changed.

My barber is a smart dude.

He knows what he’s talking about. I enjoy the conversation in the shop as much as the haircut.

When I was this kid’s age (21) I had no idea what I wanted to do.

It took me until I was in my thirties before I knew I wanted to write full-time. Now I write full time, don’t get paid for it and enjoy my life more than I ever have.

Sure, sometimes we struggle, but the moments when I write something that resonates with my wife, those make this worth it.

I bartend to make ends meet. My wife had a good job that allows me to write full-time.

When we left Las Vegas three years ago, we knew it was time to get out.

I knew I couldn’t do another year in Vegas.

I dealt with severe depression, a job I hated and an environment that wasn’t good for my kids.

Three years on, I’m getting better.

I’ve written four novels in the last three years. I have one being queried another I’m editing and I work on short stories daily.

The way you look at life matters.

Three years ago, we arrived at my mother-in-law’s, our belongings in storage, it took me two months to find a bartending gig.

We hadn’t anticipated that it would be hard for me to find a bartending gig after seventeen years on the Las Vegas strip.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the places I work.

For the longest time, I was afraid of getting my work out there. But I have a wife and two kids who need me to keep going.

I need to show my kids that you can do what you want in this life if you work for it.

They need to know that hard work pays off.

The last three years have been difficult, there’s no doubt about that, but without difficulties, life wouldn’t feel as good when we reach our goals.

I’ll continue writing because I like it and it’s one of a few things I’m good at. Bartending and being a dad are some of those things.

Life matters, no matter how hard it gets, life matters.

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.

The Way it Happens.

Life is the way the world happens to us.

There are little markers along the way. Sometimes those markers aren’t what we want them to be.

There are those who it be the marker to be success in business. And then there are those who say they want the marker to be a family. But none of it is in our control.

We like to think that we control the world, but that’s not the truth. The truth is we’re floating around on a big blue and green mudball and we have no control.

Sure, we can choose to go to college, date a certain person, but whose to say those things weren’t supposed to happen.

That’s the funny thing about life, fate, choice and who we live our lives.

Sure, we can say we make choices but are they preordained?

This is a puzzle we’ve been trying to work over since the beginning.

Are we in control of our lives or is there something else dealing the cards?

No one wants to think they’re not in control of their lives, but I don’t think we are.

Whatever controls us, a God, Fate or something else, they have a plan for where we’re supposed to go, when we’re supposed to go there.

I have to believe that.

We may work towards the way we want our life to be, but we don’t know it’s supposed to be that way. It’s only in our belief that it occurs.

We have to believe so strongly that our belief becomes our life.