So, just so you know, I still miss Steve.
But also? I have also been grieving my career lately, but that’s not nearly as tangible as missing a large, white, purring behemoth of love. However, I figured out, just this morning, that for me the two are kind of connected.
Let me explain.
Here is a quick recap of Dana’s writing life: It actually became a career and then also turned into a speaking thing, and then Covid changed everything, and I decided to leave my publisher, and now… I did stand-up and am occasionally writing articles AND I FINALLY FINISHED THE PROPOSAL, DESPITE MY BRAIN.
Which, in writer-speak means this:
So, none of this seems… grieve-y. Right? These are all good things! These are natural progressions of a writing life! It’s not a big deal!!
But there is some real sadness there too. It feels an awful lot grief. And fear. Mixed together.
You get the idea.
I know I tend to bring Steve into all the things these days, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want. Here’s the deal: I cannot, honestly, see a life without Steve. I realize that makes it sound like he was just my everything and more ‘wind beneath my wingsy’ stuff, but that’s not really what I mean (although it’s up for debate). What I mean is: He provided comfort. Routine. He was ever-present. He was just… with me. He was a comfort-cat. My family? Yes, they are my comfort people and I love them MORE than STEVE, ok? But they also come with needing things and questions and confrontation and talking (so much talking) and with Steve? There was no ask. Just furry being.
And an occasional catnip fix. He wasn’t purrfect.
Come to find out, I kind of regarded my writing success the same way. I had a publisher approach me for my books, for pete’s sake. No agent. Just total pot-o-gold rainbow writing stuff. And The TODAY show CAME TO MY HOUSE (this was not pot-o-gold really it was more like pot-o-anxiety but you know).
And now? I am sending my proposal forth, and starting a whole new blog, and doing STAND UP which is so NOT what I ever ever saw coming. Folks, I realllllly like to see things coming. I plan all the things. I make lists FOR my lists. When I die, Jesus and I are going to have a coffee-date at Kingdom Depot, mainly in the aisle with all the cute planners and washi tape. And yes, that means I am going to PLAN heaven. Don’t judge me.
Along with all the creative new things, there came this uneasy feeling of sadness. I should have expected it, I guess. My new stuff was not offering up the comfort and validation of what I knew before. I’m not even writing the same genre anymore. I’m attempting fiction instead of memoir, which, of course, has a huge learning curve. And this sadness glommed onto all sorts of looming questions: How am I going to manage this? What if it doesn’t work? What if nobody cares?
What if I fail?
That’s a lot of looming.
Because of this, I have mini meltdowns, and I just long for easy. Or to just quit and follow a career path in interpretive dance.
I grieve it.
What does one do with all this? Well, the next logical step for me was to yell at myself. This grief thing? It seems so ungrateful. And negative. And just dumb. Just CARRY ON, Dana.
Yea. Yelling at me to be less me doesn’t work either.
What does work? I lean into story and write a blog post about what I’m feeling. And then hope that it connects with someone. This process is called “Help I’m Sad and Maybe You Have Felt This Way Too-itiveness?” and it has an 97% success rate. I know enough from my 12 step meetings that when we share the grief (however big or small) it helps. So thanks for helping me grieve a bit today, and then hit “publish” and then… go off and do some new things and carry on.
Oh, and also? Did you notice that for me grieving sent me back to my old pattern of blogging? I hadn’t blogged for ages, (I see you, Momsie) and when all this new comfort-zone blasting occured, I thought: “Huh. Maybe I should blog again.” And it has helped. SO much. So, maybe grief is helped by leaning on past things to balance out the future things. Like, when my brother died and I took his old stand-mixer, and anytime I use it I think of him? That kinda thing.
Does this kind of career-grief make sense to you? Or life-change grief? I keep thinking this is sort of what it was like when I got married and moved across the state. It was wonderful. A whole new life with my sweet babboo.
But there was actually some grief there too for my old life, ya know?
Thanks for listening my friends. If you are inclined – share, share away. And keep a lookout for the Pie and Coffee newsletter, where I give specific tips on how to navigate career grief.
Also, would you please consider sharing my newsletter or blog with someone who might need to hear it? There’s all sorts of folks out there who are dealing with stucked-ness (again, super technical term) who might benefit from a creative reset. I would be forever grateful.
And now, keep calm and create on.
People grieve differently so I don’t think that there is one way that is better than another. I think you just have to figure out which way helps you grieve the best and helps you find your new normal. I know I appreciate that you have started blogging, again. It makes me feels as if I am back in class learning a new life lesson, yet don’t have to submit a paper or essay to be graded. 😉 Instead I get to reflect on the post or newsletter internally, or with a comment directly to the author!
Sometimes new things can be exciting and scary at the same time. Not all chapters in our individual “book of life” are ones that we care to remember or re-live but our book can’t be written without them! Figure out the title to this chapter and make it work!
Excellent words! You are a very wise woman 🙂