A Year in Review

Photo by u5f20u6210 on Pexels.com

Two days until we put to rest 2022, and I’m currently engaged in a battle with myself, whether or not this was a year of positive net.

It certainly was one of the most interesting ones I’ve survived.

On the bright and beautiful side, I pushed myself farther and to greater heights with my writing than I ever had before. I took chances and got out of my comfort zone, and thank goddess for that. Because those investments in myself and explorations into new experiences led me to some of the best connections I’ve made, the dearest of friends, more published pieces I’ve had in the last five years combined, and a publishing contract with a company I believe in. https://www.5princebooks.com/sarahreichert.html

Not only that, but when I put my fear of rejection aside, and made a deal with my writing bestie (Rebecca Cuthbert) I succeeded in my goal of 100 rejections for the year (along with about 15 acceptances that I’m so grateful for). My work was featured in awesome and quirky journals and sites and some even were accepted in more traditional venues. I co-wrote my first romance with my wonderful friend and mentor Kerrie Flanagan . I learned a lot about myself as a writer, how to manage my time in a busy world, how to write in different genres and formats, and how to shrug off the worry of failure. I learned that I can do things. Hard things. New things. Interesting things. Things I never even imagined. I learned that I can do whatever. I. Set. My. Mind. To.

On the darker side of things, I was, and still am engaging in a battle with my daughter’s worsening OCD. It is a constant in our lives and I am in a cyclical ride of refilling and emptying out my patience levels, trying to find and give to her compassion on the daily, reassurances to the virulent voices in her head that tell her on repeat horrible things will happen if she doesn’t follow its asinine rules. (More Info Here) I have to put aside my own anxieties and depression, I have to square my shoulders and tuck away my own mental strains so that I can be a solid rock for her during this ongoing storm. In turn, these pressures have left me very little space for other people’s bullshit, and maybe that’s a good thing.

I’ve become aware that I no longer tolerate the levels of injustice I used to. I no longer tolerate the levels of disrespect and flagrant wasting of my time that some people think is acceptable. That I’m not going to let assholes go on being assholes without telling them they’re being assholes. And I’ve come across some doozies in the last few months.

Not for the first time, I got a taste of gender imbalance and misogyny in my outside-of-writing-profession. It’s disheartening, especially, when it comes from men in a position of trust who have been my supposed ‘family’ for so long. It reminded me that the imbalance of power in our culture is always in play, no matter how safe you think a business or place is. I watched as a world that was once my sanctuary turned into a dark place where people I once trusted, threw dirt on the grave of my autonomy and denied my worth as a human being.

I’m still battling with if I should stay at my instructor position for the sake of the children and other females in the school. Is their instruction and safety worth more than having to put up with the culture that would allow and overlook frightening behavior and disrespect? Still battling over that one, and I guess if I give myself time to think (as I’m doing this week from social media) I will arrive at the solution that is the best for myself and the people I care about most.

But I have my writing, and I have my friends, and I have people who have stood by me and loved me and shook their fists for me when I just wanted to curl up and die. And that’s not nothing. Years like this teach you who your allies are. And who you should not put your faith or your respect in. They teach you who will stand by your side, and who will throw you under the bus, for their own personal gain. And that knowledge is not nothing either.

So as you look into the new year, I urge you to not forget the lessons you’ve learned. I urge you to write your own story. One worthy of you. I ask that you take leaps of faith, and do things outside of your comfort zone. I ask that you let yourself get rejected and keep moving forward. I ask that you let loose your imposter syndrome and know that you and your art are more than enough to be shared.

In this new year, surround yourself with people who put your safety in mind and value your worth. I urge you to stand up for the friend in need of some fist shaking. I urge you to not put up with anymore bullshit, especially the hateful, uneducated, dehumanizing kind. Use your heads, use your hearts. Build this year, 365 single days at a time, and find something at the end of it that has made you outgrow a little more of the old you.

Choose what to carry, and what to let go. Some things are too heavy, but more than their weight, they don’t belong to you. They are not yours; they serve no purpose to you or to the greater good of the world. They are merely weights that keep you from getting to where you’re meant to be. So know when to let them go, and don’t berate yourself for leaving them behind. Sometimes the absolutely strongest thing we can do, isn’t to keep holding on. It’s in the letting go. So you will have both hands open for the next, better opportunity.

A Week Off

Good morning! If you’ve missed this post because you’re a link clicker then I must apologize. I’m on vacation this week, from teaching and training, from busy city life, and the normal rushed routine. I probably should take a break from writing as well, but lately I’ve been inspired by so many amazing people in the industry (Bernadette Marie, Courtney Davis, James Redmond, Calina and Saylet from “Shhh…We’re Reading Dirty Books”, my writing partner/mentor/coach Kerrie Flanagan, and the amazing group at Northern Colorado Writers as well as Wyoming Writers, Inc.) that it feels more like playing to write and I’m getting a lot of plot holes solved, new material written, and future projects planned.

Part of this inspiration and feeling like my brain is opening up like a flower to sunshine is that I am also taking a break from my social media accounts. Now I KNOW that it’s vital for an author to have a platform and a presence online and I respect that. The problem is that the programs and algorithms used on most of those sites are addictive. Even if your site is professional-based and you try not to interact with anything too volatile. Humans can’t help but be captivated by moving pictures, emotional stories, and the addictive ‘hits’ of clicking on ever-expanding information forums. Whether it’s an endless scroll of pit bull montages, emu interruptions, cats knocking shit off of tables, or the drama that finds and sinks talons into our stress response, it all occupies valuable creative space in our brains. I’ve been off the social media sauce since Saturday night and I actually feel pretty good.

Clearer.

Able to hear myself think…without so many other voices interjecting.

And when I’m bored or fidgety, instead of hopping on line to feed my constant need for entertainment, I’m writing. Or reading. Or running. Or meditating. Or sitting still and staring off into space and not thinking of anything in particular but how the sunshine feels on my back, or the cold nose of my dog, or my children’s laughter someplace in the house.

And letting my mind be bored and sit alone with itself has helped me reconnect with who I am, and what I want outside of the expectations of work and life, and social interactions. Rather than feeling the pressure of who I should be, and what I should want. Instead of stewing in past mistakes and regrets, or worrying over future anxieties of ‘what ifs’, I’m keeping my mind in the present, and focusing on the real moments I’m living, right now.

So, I’m sorry I’ll miss you online this week. Know that it’s a healing and healthy process for me and that I’ll be back sometime…filling your feeds with useless writing memes and loving all the pictures of your dogs and babies, celebrating your successes, and offering sympathy to your losses. But let’s be real for a moment, you don’t need my clicks to know that I love you. That I’m thinking about you. That I’m on the side of your happiness and wellbeing. Because of that I would ask that you try this out yourself. Just for a little while, enjoy some ‘radio silence’ and get to know yourself again.

See you soon.