I Ain’t Sinatra

Unlike Sinatra, I have more than a few regrets. Enough to mention, but I won’t in detail. Not here. My regrets stay locked tightly inside me and I fear if I accumulate any more, my insides will burst like the overflow of a shaken carbonated bottle. But my lid sits securely in its place–for now.

Some of my regrets I couldn’t control, but most, however, were of my own-doing. My past is filled with chances I didn’t take when I should have and chances I did take when I shouldn’t have. I quit when I was meant to fight and acted brave when it was best to walk away.

Live and Learn.

I meditate. Being still helps calm most of my mind’s chaos, while teaching me to accept my past knowing that I can’t change it. The part of my life already lived will not be given back to me. I’m tilting toward the brink of forty. If I’m lucky to live to see eighty, my life is already half-over. Half-lived.

Time may minimally ease the sting in the cuts of a person’s deepest regrets, but the guilt and shame in not feeling any sense of accomplishment in one’s life is a heavy burden to carry.

Luckily, that burden was lifted from me the moment I signed my first publishing contract. I waited twenty years and I would have waited twenty more because getting published is the validation most writers seek, and I was no exception to that need of validity.

In 1999, I was fresh out of college — an English major who didn’t want to teach. I want to be a writer, I’d say, and being a teacher sounded too permanent. So I took a job selling cellphones. I sold cellphones before I even owned one. I didn’t know how to power-on most of the phones I was meant to sell, let alone answer technically-specific questions about them.

“Is this a NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery or a lithium-ion?”

“Um…let me check on that for you, sir,” I’d say, and sneak behind a front display and whisper to my manager, “What the #uck is a nickel metal something battery and lithium something another?”

These exchanges happened often. I’ll never forget the $hit I caught from a customer when I told him a charger he wanted to buy was an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) Motorola product when it was actually an after-market brand. It was an honest mistake, but because he owned stock in Motorola, he was furious. And he let me know it.

I was a terrible salesperson, but that was the appeal. The only job I wanted to be good at was writing. The downtime waiting for customers was spent writing. But I didn’t yet know how to write and my first rejection letter proved this. I was around twenty-three years old and all I wanted was to be a published writer. I took the rejection well. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I also didn’t know it was going to be so hard.

But the hard is what makes the moment so sweet when you finally get it right.

I signed my first publishing contract early last year and my book came out the following summer. Though I may have felt validation as a writer, that moment, a year later, has created one of the biggest regrets in my life, and that’s saying a lot. I know I can’t bring back the past, no matter how far I reach back. Like all my other regrets, this one has to live through its course, and will be felt every inch of the way.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

No Regrets

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The days remaining of 2014 have hit the single digits and when a new year approaches, reflection over the past year can bring forth profound emotions. There will be regrets. Some big. Some small. But hopefully with those regrets come moments one wishes to relive everyday for the rest of his or her life.

2014 had a few of those moments for me.

I published my first book this year and my second will be out early next year. Being a published author had always been my dream and the timing of that dream coming to fruition couldn’t have been more perfect. It came while I was at an extremely low point in my life and the news gave me the lift I desperately needed. I finally had a reason to be proud.

For the moment, I was assured I could offer this world, this life, something, anything. I felt the satisfying emotion of self-worth that every person needs to feel in order to live each day with the confidence that he or she belongs here.

It’d been a long time since I felt I had accomplished anything and the sensation that ran through me when I finally achieved this was life-saving. But once the jubilation of signing my first book contract eased, I realized, “Holy Crap! I need to do it all over again!”

Yes. I had to get to work on my second book because nobody wants to be a one-trick pony. I hit more walls while writing that second book because the inspiration just wasn’t there. Not like it was with the first book, but eventually, I finished it and sent it to my editor. She liked it and contracted it. (Thank you, Jeanne!)

I’m in a much better place going into this new year than I was at this time last year. I was still a month away from being published and filled with severe doubt about everything I did. In some psychic way, I knew how much was riding on the outcome of my submission to the small epublishing company I had discovered online. I wrote the query letter but was cowardly close to not sending it at all. My emotions were out of control. I was crying a lot and was certain that I was in no state of mind to handle a rejection.

Looking back, reflecting on this past year, I’m relieved I took a chance with my writing. Sure, I had risked getting rejected and crying more than I already was, but I would have gotten over it eventually because I knew I couldn’t live with asking myself “what-if?” all the time. It only brings regrets.

Heading into 2015 I have another “what-if” scenario haunting my mind and it won’t go away. But I’m not sure I have the courage to do what I know is right. This could blow up in my face in a very bad way.

A year ago I put my dream on the line. I took a risk. I need to do it again because I don’t want 2015 to be the year of regrets.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net