At the beginning of this summer, I had a massive start-over on guitar. The triggering event knocked me off my feet, utterly crushed me, and freaked me out so much that I actually fried all of the electronics within five feet of me, including my phone. But within 24 hours, I took action, and REALLY wonderful things happened, because I’m all about making lemon martinis when life gives me lemons. (Okay, I make Cosmos. Why would I want a lemon martini?) I’m sooooo grateful for the wonderful parts, but it was a painful and sad time for me and pretty much wrecked my summer ... and I write comedy. Not surprisingly, it’s really hard to write funny stuff when you’re sad! You can be in pain and be funny—hey, I got a mega dose of dark humor growing up in my family—but sad? No. You need chocolate for this. And I’m an Atkins girl. Luckily, Cosmos are Atkins-friendly.
I’m pretty sure.
It’s possible to make fresh starts of your own volition, like with New Year’s resolutions. But as I think of all the fresh starts I’ve made, and continue to make, I realize that most of them were thrust upon me. Not asked for, not wanted, got them anyway.
My choice? Wallow in the pain or, yes, make a fresh start.
I’ll be honest: I usually wallow for 24 hours. It’s an ugly time and usually involves pasta, my bed, and ultimately—when I’m finally feeling the first glimpse of a future despite having endured the Most Horrible Thing That Ever Happened to Anyone—a Channing Tatum movie.
|A possibly gratuitous photo of Channing Tatum.|
For bonus points, on a motorcycle.
After 24 hours, though, I am SO sick of my bed and pasta (although not Channing Tatum), I’m ready to take a hard look at what’s wrong ... and take action to fix it. Great, fearless action. Action so frenetic that it exhausts most people around me just to hear what I’m doing on a daily basis.
Ten years ago, my bro Patrick died unexpectedly of a heart attack in January, when my sister Sheila had stage-four lung cancer and we were awaiting HER death. She died four months later, in May. I didn’t write or edit a single word on a novel between the date of his death and the date of hers. The day after Patrick died, I looked into my bathroom mirror and saw a stranger. I actually said out loud, “Who ARE you?” I had a perm I’d hated for years, I’d quit playing sports, and I’d long since stopped going out to hear bands. If you know me at all, this was shocking, but I’d left myself behind at some point. Unrecognizable. Forgotten.
Over the next several months, I grew my hair out straight again (basically the haircut I’d had in high school), Googled “women’s basketball leagues Minneapolis,” and discovered that the musicians I listened to in college were still playing. This fresh start took time, but it put me on the path back to myself, and I’ll never let myself get lost again.
So what do I do every time life nails me again? I make ANOTHER fresh start.
Luckily, there’s an unending supply of them.
Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.