Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.


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Embrace Kindness

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What are your hopes and dreams for 2017? What do you want to accomplish this year? Are you prepared for what needs to be done in order to see those goals realized?

On New Year’s Eve my daughter and I set fire to the things we didn’t want to carry into the coming year. Emotional burdens and hurdles like anger, negativity and past hurts. Some things did seem to evaporate in the smoke from that little garbage pail fire on the back porch, while others are going to take a bit more work – but still – the thought is the same. We no longer need to carry the things from the past that hold us back. We need to shed those things in order to see a brighter future.

At the same time, we wrote down the things we wanted to do more of in the coming year. Some may call them resolutions, I just like to think of them as the things that will help me to become the person I really want to be. My daughter had several wishes for herself in the coming year, but to me, one of the most powerful was the little statement she wrote above.

Embrace people’s kindness.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? How hard can that be? Truth be told, how many of us are free to embrace the kindness of others in our daily lives? I’ll bet it isn’t as often as you think.

Too many times we refuse the kindness someone tries to show by the gift of their help. We tell them, “Oh, you can’t do that, it’s too much!” Or we see simpler things as something we should be able to do for ourselves. “Oh, no, I can do it, but thanks for asking!”

Sound familiar? It’s hard to accept help, isn’t it? But by offering help, those people are extending kindness.

My daughter knows she has a difficult time accepting acts of kindness. She doesn’t like to be complimented, she doesn’t like to accept help, she doesn’t like for anyone to do anything for her because she then sees herself as a burden.

Accepting kindness is a way to be vulnerable and open yourself up to others. This can be terrifying. Vulnerability is scary. I know. But as humans, without that vulnerability, without opening ourselves up to others, we lose the very connection that makes us human. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give up on that. Are you?

I believe that this very simple thing has the power to transform lives. It can be easy to show kindness to others, but accepting it in return is the the difficult part. Choose to allow kindness in, and I imagine you will start to see the world, and yourself, differently.

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Holidays and a New Year Upon Us

November is gone and I am thankful that I have a rough (very rough!) draft of a new novel for my NaNoWriMo efforts. The month went way too fast, but I finished just under the wire with a little over 52,000 words. I’d hoped to reach 60k, but I’m not too sad since I at least made the minimum. The book will need lots of work and lots of patience, but I’m pleased to have something I can work with. I’ll be excited to begin the process, but it’s just going to have to wait until January.

I have the final edits to do for Finding Home (set to release in April!!) but I’m also going to put those on hold until January.

I want to enjoy the holidays. I want to spend time with my daughter and be in the moment. I don’t want to wake up on January 2 as she goes back to school after break wondering where the time went. She’s growing up too fast as it is, I need to put on the brakes and really be present in each moment. I know we have years of memories left to make, but these, her teenage years, will be gone in the blink of an eye and I don’t want to miss them. So I’m going to put my novels on hold til the new year. Not that long. I still have an article to write this month, so I need to concentrate on that too.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and I wish you all much joy and peace in the coming year. I have lots of writing ambitions for the coming year, and there are so many great books waiting for me to read them.


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A Year of Blessings

Happy New Year to everyone! I wish you all a year filled with joy, peace, and love.

I like the idea of new starts. Each day is a blank page, but there is just something about the turning over of another calendar year that feels fresh. January 1 you just feel like anything is possible. The sins of the year before are all gone and you have a new beginning. It’s kind of nice. (okay, EVERYTHING can’t be erased, but you get the idea)

I like to begin a new year with the #100daysofhappy challenge. I think it’s a great way to get started in the right frame of mind – to be mindful and grateful of the good that can be found in every day. I started today, using Twitter as my platform for sharing my happiness photos. You can join me in the challenge if you’d like, and find me on Twitter @KristiLazzari

I decided to try something else this year, to get my daughter involved in things as well. I am trying to teach her that joy is within ourselves, and happiness is a choice. I put out a blessing jar today. Once a week (minimum) we must write down one good thing that happened to us over the week and put it in the jar. Next New Year’s Eve we will take out all the little slips of paper and read them, remembering the good that was to be found in 2016. I’m looking forward to seeing all the great things that will take place this year!

I don’t do resolutions as I think they are a way to set myself up for failure. I only want to look at success. I only want to think of improving myself and making goals that help me become the person I want to be.

I do have a few goals this year. I plan on publishing my first book of short stories, as well as my second novel. I also plan to have the first draft done of a new novel. The book of short stories has been started, I have the first draft of the novel complete and am ready to begin the re-writes, and I have a solid idea for the other novel. I may be biting off an awful lot with the hopes of writing a new first draft while re-writing the current WIP, but when I make the time to write every day instead of in sporadic bursts, I can get quite a lot accomplished! We will see. If I manage to finish the book of short stories and the re-writes of the current novel, I will be happy.

My biggest goal (and this one sounds a lot like a resolution) is to take better care of myself. I’m not going to put unrealistic goals on myself however. I am aiming for a certain lifestyle, a life in which I care for myself both physically and mentally, and that is not unreasonable. The older I get, the more I feel like life is whizzing past in a blur. I miss too much, procrastinate too much, and all too often don’t live in the moment. There are too many things I want to do to jeopardize my health, and it’s time to recapture the wonder and excitement that life has to offer. No more running on auto-pilot. No more not taking care of myself today because there is always tomorrow. Tomorrow is not guaranteed – and I don’t intend to hasten the inevitable by not caring for myself!

I wish healing for the world. I wish understanding, respect and compassion for our fellow man. I wish an end to persecution, hatred, bigotry, and prejudice. I am a dreamer. I am a romantic. I know this. I also know that change begins with each and every one of us. Change begins within. I want my life to reflect what I would like to see in the world.

Here’s to an amazing 2016. It’s within our grasp.


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Can’t Have a Beginning Without an End

This time of year can be kinda tough. On one hand, a whole new year will be here soon – a beautiful blank slate to color any way we choose. We can look forward to the turning of the calendar with excitement and that tingly feeling of not knowing what lies ahead – or with the giddy glee of making new plans.

That new beginning means something else, too. It means this chapter is coming to an end. All those plans we made last January for this year will either be an accomplishment or just a vague memory now.

I always feel a bit melancholy in December. As a child I loved the holidays. There was so much magic in the air! The lights, decorations, sounds, smells and music made me happy. Now it seems like work to get from the beginning of the month to the end. I can’t help but think about my dad, and how much I still miss him. I think about how fast the year went, and how I didn’t do nearly all the things I said I wanted to. I think about missed opportunities, things I procrastinated on, things I started but never finished. Suddenly the last year becomes a blur, and I’m not sure where it all went. I’m not sure what I accomplished. I have a feeling that I could hunker down amid a fluffy blanket and a few books and hide my head until December is over and gone. If only I could.

Life won’t let me hide, so I guess I have to face this last month of the year head on. And do you want to know something? I got a lot of sh#! done this year! Okay, there’s a lot I didn’t do, but despite that, it’s been quite the year. I’ve grown stronger, I’ve learned things about myself, I’ve changed and I’ve grown. I’ve read good books, and I’ve enjoyed times with my daughter. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve screamed. I’ve been sad, I’ve been happy, I’ve been up and I’ve been down. I’ve written stories, I’ve written books, I’ve watched movies and I’ve colored pictures. I’ve knitted, I’ve sipped tea and I’ve loved and been loved. I’ve been wrapped in the arms of a mischievous teen girl, and I’ve gone out of my comfort zone once or twice. I’ve learned new things, I’ve gazed at the moon and I’ve enjoyed the orange glow of a sunset. I’ve seen rainbows, played in the rain and stood on top of a Mayan temple in the middle of the forest. I’ve encouraged and I’ve been encouraged. I’ve experienced the kindness of strangers and the support of family and friends. I’ve gained insight, gained wisdom and lost bitterness and cynicism. I’ve been afraid, and I’ve been strong. I’ve been true to myself and I’ve lived.

In this, the end of the year, that is all I can hope for. I can look back and know one thing for sure – I lived. I’ve survived my hardships and I am ready for what lies ahead.

Some things end. Some things are just beginning.

 


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I Wasn’t Going To…Then I Did

I was not going to make the obligatory end of the year blog post.  I wasn’t going to talk about endings and beginnings, or New Years Resolutions.  I wasn’t going to go there.  It just seems so, I don’t know, expected.

Here I am though, in the last few days of 2013, and I started thinking about the year that I’m ready to put behind me, and knew I could not let the year slip away unnoticed.  I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions.  It seemed silly making promises to myself that I knew I wasn’t going to bother to keep.  Not faithfully anyway.  It doesn’t mean I don’t want things for myself, or have goals, it just means I am not into the “this year I’m going to run a marathon” kind of thinking.

I’ve been divorced since 2007.  Yes, it’s relevant. No, I’m not into hashing out the past.  The year is important only because it wasn’t until 2007 that I started to live.  Okay, not technically, but you get the picture.  In 2007 I became my own person.  I got to choose what I was going to do and how I was going to do it for the very first time in my life.  I had no experience at living my own life.  I had no experience with freedom.  No, I’m not saying marriage is bad and stifles your freedom, I’m just saying mine did.  I love the idea of marriage, as long as it’s the mature kind of relationship that includes compromise, give and take and two people that respect each other and value one another.  That, I never had.  I’d of given my right arm for it, but it didn’t happen.  So here it is, 2007 and I’m on my own.  I’m overwhelmed, excited, nervous and scared.  I never lived on my own before.  I had no idea if I could do it.  The first few years were a blur.  My daughter’s anxiety was the only thing I could even think about, there wasn’t time for anything else.  I took care of my daughter and remained the same as I had been that day in 2007.  Nothing inside changed because I didn’t have time to worry about me.  I didn’t have time to find out who I was or what I wanted.  That’s okay, she was more important, and taking care of her was what I needed and wanted to do.  Last year she started getting better, and then this year, 2013, she has been better than she has been in a long time.  She’s getting older, and becoming more independent.  We’re still very close, but she is able to see the life that she can lead separate from me.  Her confidence is growing and I’m so proud of her.

My daughter getting better left me with time on my hands for the first time in six years.  I had no idea what to do with it.  It was time for me to figure out some things for myself.  This is where 2013 comes in.  It wasn’t the first year I was on my own, but it was the first year that I dared to think the question, “what’s next?”  It was the first year that I dared to open up that box of dreams I had locked up at barely 20 years old when I got married, and to see if there were any left.  Writing.  That dream was alive and well.  Once I got started, it took over my heart and soul, just as it had many years ago.  Writing is part of me.  It is a part that I never want to give up again.  2013 was the year I published my first book.  I still can’t believe I did that.  So many years of stagnation left me afraid.  I don’t know where I found the strength to try, but I did, and I’m so glad I did.  2013 was the year that I think I finally accepted myself for who I am.  It is the year that I found peace with myself.  It is the year I stopped beating myself down, once and for all.

So you see, 2013 was a special year for me.  Many great things happened for me this year.  I feel like the internal struggle is finally calmed.  I feel that I really started to live this year.  Do I have all the answers for my future?  No.  Do I know exactly what I’m going to do from here?  No.  Do I still have days where it’s easier to tear myself down than show myself kindness?  Yes.  No matter what, I’m grateful for this year, and I’m grateful for all the good that has happened to me.  I’m grateful for the life that I lead, and am grateful for the opportunity to live it my way.  I may do things wrong, I may make a few bad choices, but they are mine.

I look ahead to 2014 and I wonder what the new year will hold for me.  I have goals in place.  I will continue to write.  My next project will be to start re-writing the novel I wrote in November.  I also plan to finish a short story collection and write the first draft of a middle grade novel which will be first in a series.  I plan to stay busy.  I also plan to take better care of my health.  I’ll eat better and exercise.  I’ll work on getting more sleep.  I will spend time with my daughter and enjoy the time we have together.  All too soon she will be grown and I won’t have these days back again.  I will try to find new ways to tame the chaos in my head and fight the good fight against ADD.  I will find new ways to organize my home and my life.  Maybe I’ll even take up school again.  The thing is, for the first time in a long time, I know that there are many possibilities.  I know that no one stands in my way but me, and that I do not need to seek the approval of others.  I am free. I thank you, 2013, for giving me those gifts.  I’m truly blessed and grateful.


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Tales From Christmases Past

This Christmas now joins the ranks of other bygone Christmases, living only in memory.  Some memories we wish to forget.  Holidays are nothing if not sometimes unpredictable, amusing, a bit ridiculous, maybe obnoxious, embarrassing and stressful.

Those things just aren’t what it’s all about.  Those are things that happen.  Those are things we can’t stop and we can’t control. People are going to do whatever they do, and in families, there is always that one person that seems hell bent on ruining things for everyone else.  That person doesn’t respect themselves, how can they respect others?  That person is not what Christmas or family is all about.  We forget that sometimes.  We allow that person control over how we feel.  That’s not fair to ourselves.

Christmas Eve, I was feeling that way.  I was wondering why we bothered trying to plan a nice holiday.  I was wondering what the point was.  I forgot something important.  I forgot (for just a moment) that there were a LOT more people in that room, all wanting the same thing I was wanting.  To be together.  To make memories for ourselves and our children that would make us smile.  To enjoy eachother’s company and to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas.  I wouldn’t let the actions of one person ruin that for me or for my daughter.  We did our best to enjoy what remained of the night.

As a child I loved Christmas.  It was my favorite time of year, with the twinkling lights and the decorations.  I couldn’t wait to take out the decorations and to set up the nativity.  I sang Christmas carols nonstop, much to the chagrin of the sister that still lived at home, I’m sure.  I remember the time of year being happy and filled with magic.  I’ve lost that the last few years.  I had to force myself to make cookies, and most of those I ruined.  Baking at Christmas used to be a highlight.  I didn’t even get my Christmas cards mailed this year.  It is a sad state of affairs when you wish your aunt Merry Christmas on Facebook.  Really?  I was already fighting the bah-humbug mood I was in when Christmas Eve Disaster struck.  I felt my mood slipping.  I really didn’t  care.

Christmas Day dawned earlier than usual I think.  It may have started rather bleary eyed, but I was able to spend the morning with my daughter, and watching her opening her presents made me happy.  Knowing that the week before she had given her last five dollars to a family in a store parking lot that looked like they could use the help, no matter how small, made me happy.  Watching her open a special present that a kind, anonymous angel had gone through a lot of trouble to give to her, made me happy.  That is what Christmas is about. Christmas is about sharing what we have, no matter how little it is, with others.  It’s kindness in our hearts.  It is the song on our lips.  One of my sisters had invited us to her house later that day, so we went.  There I was reminded again of what Christmas could be.  Watching my sister with her children and grandchildren, knowing how happy it made her to have them there, seeing her smile and laugh with her grandchildren, again made me happy.  I was reminded that Christmas is not about those that are too selfish to make the holidays special for others, but about the people in our lives, family and friends, who show us all year that we are important.  People who rally around us when we are in need, people who pick us up and help us to stand when we fall, people who offer their support, understanding, kindness and love all year round.  That is the spirit of Christmas.  That is the spirit of family.  Families are never perfect.  We all have our forms of dysfunction in one way or another, but those do not speak for the rest of us.  Those do not define our families.  We cannot help their actions.  Their actions do not speak for the rest of us, and they are most certainly not our faults.  I thank my sister for having my daughter and me join her family on Christmas Day, and I thank my nephews who go out of their way to include an aunt and a cousin in their lives.

Christmas isn’t about lights, presents and bows.  Those things can be fun, but they aren’t what it’s about. Christmas isn’t about the people in our lives that we can’t control.  Christmas is so much more than that.  As we celebrate the birth of Christ, remember that there lies the spirit of Christmas.  Carry that spirit on in our hearts and in our actions.  Show love and kindness to others, and remember that there is joy to be found in not only this season, but in everything around us, every day.

For those that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you.  For those that do not, I wish you a very Happy New Year, filled with joy and happiness.  May we all learn that we can get along, no matter what our personal beliefs may be.  May we learn that is is okay to disagree, and even okay to speak our minds.  May we learn that it is not okay to hurt others by our words and actions.

I hope the New Year brings you much peace.