A lot of things have happened over the past several weeks that have made me think about priorities. We all have them, but sometimes, well, they get a little off track. I definitely count myself in that boat right now. Throw in the usual crap of my most unfavorite holiday on the calendar, and you have a recipe for disaster. Or at least, a heck of a lot of unnecessary stress. I’m trying to get myself back to where I need to be. The past few months haven’t been all that pleasant in the life of me.
I was supposed to put out a book on December 17th. I’m writing this on December 19th, and guess what? No book. Writing and publishing is a huge priority to me, usually near the top if not at it, but one of the situations that I found myself in trumped even that.
A young woman in South Carolina who has been struggling for years with a potentially deadly addiction was very close to losing her life in early November. That young woman is my beloved niece. She managed to pull through and is proving to be a real fighter, even if she has a long way to go. I chose to reschedule my book launch for January 7, 2019 to make an emotional and exhausting, but also wonderful visit to see her for the first time in a handful of years.
This was a bigger dream come true than putting out one hundred books. To be able to spend even the limited amount of time I had with my clear-headed and determined niece was an invaluable experience. If I had to make a credit card commercial, I’d put it like this: Motel rooms for three nights: $200. Flight to Greenville/Spartanburg Airport: $61 with frequent flyer miles. Rental car: $200. Time spent with family: priceless.
Priorities. Sometimes they get messed up. Sometimes they change positions. Sometimes people derail you. This one was a position change. But mine have been mixed up lately, too. So, it was a double whammy.
For most people, family is their number one priority. But when you come from a broken clan like me, blood relations may fade into the background, at least until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, that’s the case in my dysfunctional brood. Sickness or death seem to be the only things that can bring us together, and even that’s a temporary state of tolerance. Too many differences end up getting in the way again, at least for some of us. Sides are drawn, and the armies retreat back to where they came from until the next bomb drops.
The same thing happened on the familial landscape with this recent major event. But, at least for me, when the dust settled, the soldiers on my side of the cease fire were not only more plentiful, keeping them there became much more of a priority. So much so that I’ve hardly touched any manuscript I’ve been working on in the past month. That has to and will change, but right now I’m kind of enjoying a new sense of camaraderie. Too bad that someone has to suffer in the process. How’s that for irony?
The other priority that has been moved to the back burner is traveling. Though as a teacher, the time between the beginning of the school year and Christmas vacation is traditionally the toughest grind of the year, and nearly impossible to make an escape from, so I guess I have an excuse. I didn’t even disappear for Thanksgiving like I usually do. Next year.
Well, guess what, winter break has arrived, and I’ll be out of here in just a few days. My time away from home will be used to get my head back into the right place for the coming New Year. I have to leave a few things (people, situations) behind in 2018 and not look back. Get them priorities back in line, and start feeling like me again. If anyone had told me ahead of time what the past four months would be like, I would not have believed it. It’s pretty hard to knock me off my game. But the deed has been done.
Hmm. I have three more presents to wrap, a suitcase to pack, and a few good-byes to say before I fly away to yet another great hiking trip. Once I’m in that plane seat on December 24th, Christmas is over for me for another year. I can sigh with relief and hope life will go back to normal. Wait, let’s make it better than normal. With priorities straight and the open highway in front of me.