Act 3: Episode 15, Formulaic Lives

I have become the person who likes to floss.

I see many things I have loved for years as extra. I need health, and good food, and sleep over parties, shopping or Hallmark Christmas movies. That's right. I may quit Hallmark. I love real stories, and am finding fiction to be a waste of time. I know. I can't believe it either. There's truth in fiction. But as writers, we use elements to drive the story and elicit emotional reactions. I'm done with emotional reactions that are extra. Stress, violence, anxiety and formulaic love cause feelings and my body can't tell the difference between fiction or what actually is. I want what I want. And what I need. And no extra. I like being aware and intentional. There's enough emotions happening over here, thank you. Ample. Amplified. I stopped squashing feelings down, and they are now Loud. I'm no longer rebelling against my own life. Maybe because I am of a certain age? There's less time, or I think there's less time. I could live to be 100 or die this year. I've considered what would be written on my tombstone: She was anxious. She did what was expected. Despite childhood challenges, she was kind - and hopeful. I actually favor cremation. Which means the only epitaph will be the one written in the minds of those who interacted with me. All the brains, recording all the time. Truth: all the brains have enough going on and their lives will continue whether or not I am here. I don't say this with any self-pity. (perhaps I should insert an emoji to let you know the feeling behind the words... or add more words?) The only life I am the center of, is mine. My epitaph simmers in the question of 2021: now what? what do I want? I love to start new things. New projects are exciting! With exclamation marks!! Finishing has been a missing piece. Do I not like endings? Am I afraid it won't be perfect, so I never finish? YEP. Today's Deep Breath: a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision. This Act 3, Create a Great Life - I take that quite literally. My life is made up of weeks and days. I want to USE THIS TIME. Do you realize: the "Holiday Season" lasts about 70 days? SEVENTY. Halloween = 1 day Thanksgiving = 1 day Christmas, with tree, shop, wrap, two meals, and an hour of gifts = 5 days New Years = 2 days The seventy includes "back to school," which is a thing if you are a teacher/professor or have kids. The Holidays are actually 9 days. Hallmark Christmas starts before Halloween. My tradition: watch them all, for 60 days. Then our actual, real life holidays come, and they're never Hallmark-Perfect. I had a Limbic undercurrent of disappointment before any of it ever started. It wasn't my family or the gifts, or any real part of real life. My husband's food was always amazing. He was a great gift-giver. I truly enjoyed giving to my kids, though... the shopping dopamined my feelings, so there was always too much to open. Spending 56 days purchasing and wrapping. It was me, not being happy with what I was doing. And not doing. I wasn't creating anything for myself. My life. This Act 3 is no joke. Creating a Great Life is LITERAL. It's not a huge gesture, either. Though it can be. It started with building tiny, new habits. Journaling all my thoughts about everything and then questioning the validity of the stories I was telling myself. I became grounded in reality. Inevitably, deciding what I want. I could see it develop in my imagination, a few steps at a time, before I ever made one choice. At first, I couldn't say a preference without crying, or anger, without holding my breath. Limbic brain was bracing for mental or physical blows, which never came. She gets scared that way. After a year of building big and tiny changes, I think she's starting to love it.