Friday, December 18, 2009

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

by Susan McBride

In my last post I bemoaned Scrooges so my intention today was to write something filled with sugarplum fairies and sparkly snowflakes and "it's the most wonderful time of the year" sort of things. Only it didn't quite pan out. I blame it on The Fray. You see, I had my iPod on shuffle while I treadmilled, and The Fray's "Over My Head" began to play, and I started thinking of how much there always is to do and how I so often feel like I'll never keep on top of things. I don't even have a January deadline this year (merely a proposal to write and my debut in women's fiction coming out on January 26!). Still, all the things I'm working on behind the scenes--plus getting ready for the holidays--are enough to make me hyperventilate.

In fact, on Sunday while personalizing mailings to some of my favorite library peeps around Missouri, I had a near melt-down. It had just been one of those days...make that one of those weeks low-lighted by a very strange and surreal situation (let's just say, some people don't see the line between reality and fiction as clearly as others). Anyway, as I worked on the mailings, the cats kept racing across my desk, scattering paper and scaring me to death; and I kept messing up the letters, wasting toner and holiday stationery. Nothing life or death, but it was enough stress on top of stress that I popped. Luckily, Ed managed to talk me down quickly enough. Having dinner at my Mom and Dad's also helped, as did trimming their tree and watching my three-year-old niece puke up blue frosting from a kiddie birthday party earlier in the day.

But it got me remembering how I'd promised myself I wouldn't do this frantic routine anymore or worry about what I couldn't control. During my breast cancer ordeal, I kept saying, "I will never let stupid s**t drag me down again. I will learn to take things slowly. I will accept that I can't handle everything alone. I will let myself breathe." Whoops. Somewhere along the road, when I got to feeling awfully close to back-to-normal, my attempt to be Zen fell by the wayside and my impatient must-do-a-million-things-every-minute side took over again.

The lovely Maggie mentioned in her post on Wednesday how she felt anxious after sending off her latest manuscript, only to remind herself that the most important things in life have nothing to do with reviews or online numbers. Having your health (especially after losing it for even an instant!), having a family who loves you, living your passion: these are what matter. How right she is (honestly, this Stiletto Gang is full of wise women--I have a long way to go in that department!).

So I've been reminding myself of the great philosophy that "whatever happens, happens." Once I began to let go, the bad started fading away and the good took its place. On Monday, I heard from my agents and editor about a good review for The Cougar Club in Publishers Weekly (and the fab Misa has a nice review for Hasta La Vista, Lola in the same issue!). On Tuesday, I received even more amazing news (I'll share it as soon as I'm able!). It was more proof to me that positive energy flows when I stop worrying and trying to control everything. You would've thought I'd learned by now that stressing myself out only harms me (and makes my family concerned). Nothing good comes of negativity. Period.

I do get it. I really get it. And since I'd like to keep it, I'm going to practice my mantra of "peace, love, and chocolate" during the Christmas holiday. I'm not even turning on my computer unless it's absolutely urgent. I always feel so much calmer and more grounded when I'm fully in my "real-life" as opposed to when I'm doing my "crazed-author-trying-not-to-miss-a-beat" routine.
So in case I'm not around much in the coming week, I want to wish everyone a very happy holidays, whatever you celebrate. May you get off the Internet long enough to really enjoy your friends and family, read a good book or two, listen to music, or find a quiet space to think. And here's hoping we all learn new ways to free stress from our lives in the year ahead. That's one New Year's resolution worth repeating!

P.S. On a very positive note, my kick-off event for THE COUGAR CLUB on January 26 will be a fundraiser for Komen St. Louis! I'd like to put some baskets together to raffle with signed copies of books by cool authors. If you're an author and are willing to donate a book or two, please email me. And thanks in advance!

7 comments:

  1. I think I've told you all this before, but this is what I live by, "I'm too blessed to be stressed." Truly, this is the truth. When you all get as old as I am, you'll know it's true.

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  2. Marilyn, that's something I aspire to. I want to quit feeling like a broken record, letting the stress take over before I sweep it away again. So if I set only one goal for 2010 (starting now!), it's to ignore that which I can't control and walk away from it even before it ties a single knot in my stomach. We'll see how I do!

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  3. After a health scare this summer, I began practicing "extreme self care" which lasted until I got a new job and I got caught up in all the real stuff of everyday living again. So I understand the trying to be zen thing but life interfering.
    Have a very Merry Christmas and we can make New Year resolutions to do better (which we'll break by February) :)

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  4. Susan, I like what you said. I know what you mean about getting swept away in the feeling that everything must be attended to right this minute. And I do feel chained to my computer. Marilyn's advice is great. We have so much to be thankful for... and nearly all of it is out there in our "real lives." Happy Holidays.

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  5. Susan: You're being way too hard on yourself! Whenever I think of someone who has it all together, I think of you. Your good cheer is uplifting and I channel that whenever I'm stressed. Again, as I always tell my kids: it takes much more energy to be negative than positive. When we Type-A-ers think of it like that, it's tangible and helps keep a smile on all of our faces. Happy holidays, Stiletto faithful! Maggie

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  6. You guys are so smart! Stress is a part of life and always will be. So figuring out how to deal with it is what's key. My main goal for 2010 is to handle things better, and I'm game to try a few different things to see what works! Sending hugs to all of you since hugs are proven to lessen stress and encourage smiles.

    Cheers,
    Susan

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  7. You put it all into perspective, Susan. It's all a journey! Congratulations on the review! It's hard to separate yourself from the reviews; glad you are doing it and downgrading the stress factor. Can't wait to hear your news!

    I'm sending you a book (so glad for the reminder!!).

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