January 15, 2013

A New Year

 PHOTO BY UNCLE BEEFY

How many times have I tried to write this post? I'd ask you to guess but I wouldn't even know if you were right as I've lost count myself. But there have been plenty of moments since my last post that I've been sitting with a cup of coffee or glass of wine (at different times of day, mind you) only to drum up half-finished sentences or blank stares. Sigh. Nothing. Nothing?! Nothing.

Nearing the end of the year, 2012 had taken the wind out of my sails. I know, that sounds depressing doesn't it? But come the closing weeks of the year I just found myself utterly spent. And when I'm spent I have a tendency to retreat. I guess that's the Cancerian in me? Y'know, if you want to get all astrological about things? Although, I think plenty might have had a similar response given the events of the year.

The year had started on a seriously high note with my first attendance at Alt Summit. I came back from that event with great new friends and seriously high hopes. I'm guessing I felt something like Tom Cruise after a Scientology gathering? Cue the couch jumping? Whatever I was feeling, it was a great way to get things going. Then, in the subsequent months to come, I found myself encountering what felt like a barrage of negativity that left me mystified and melancholy. Friendships were ended, family relationships fractured. I had my first experiences with the serious ugliness that can come with the anonymity of the internet. "WTF" doesn't even begin to cover it. With the emotional upheavals and the whirlwind of the holiday season I just couldn't muster much, i.e. nothing.

After all that one-two-punch business I felt myself just [kinda, sorta] give up. Even more depressing, you think? Not exactly. There is nothing like a feeling of defeat to help one with their lesson in surrendering. Remember that topic? Well, the universe sure as hell did and decided to help me out with that... and how. And wow. Somehow, in the smoke of all that hellfire, I found myself doing two things I'm not always inclined to do - standing up for myself and, the best part, embracing the feeling of simply not caring about the opinions of others. I mean, genuinely feeling a new space open up inside me where "Meh. Okay. Fine. Whatever." came to find a surprisingly comfortable home. I'm not talking about deflection or dismissal here but a genuine blip on the radar of redemption. Quite unexpectedly, the repeated exposure to the negative assumptions of others made me start taking stock of how much there is that is positive about myself. Out of external accusations and animosity came internal appreciation and compassion. I know a lot of us out there understand the compulsions of people pleasing. (Can I getta "Amen!" up in here?) And while this new glimmer of light on the horizon is a welcome sight, I know I ain't outta the woods just yet in this area. But that light is enormously reassuring. An unexpectedly "nice" way to start a new year.

Additionally, as some of you may know, I'm witnessing the slow decline of my mom's health as she suffers continually increasing moments of memory loss. In my quieter times, it becomes difficult not to wrestle with the thoughts and fears of the day she may well ask me, "Who are you?" And I wonder how much time we have left. When these kinds of thoughts start swirling around, spending time working up a post about tea towels or well-designed rooms can lose any sense of importance or inspiration. But the sadness of these times and the inevitable sadness of times to come also becomes a sharp reminder to appreciate things in the moment. Instead of letting the sadness completely overshadow the happier times it has begun to bring more focus on gratitude for the joy that gifts itself in the smallest of ways.

And that brings me back to here. This place where I can share almost anything. This place where many of you have waited so patiently for me. This place that, truthfully, I wondered about whether to continue holding on to in my increasing weeks of silence. But, like I mentioned before, this place is one that brings me joy. And in that joy I am gifted with happiness, inspiration, motivation, and, even in the really hard times, hope. That's a lot to feel grateful for. You are a lot to be grateful for. And I thank you. So much.




29 comments:

  1. I love you, Bradford. I hope this year is more peaceful for you. xoxo

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  2. :) Your silent readers appreciate you...

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  3. Glad you're back, Uncle Beefy! I, for one, am glad 2012 is over and done....wasn't the best for me, either. Here's hoping for a better, more positive 2013, for all of us:)

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  4. Lovely post, Bradford — and lovely to see you back, too.

    Lori
    xoxo

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  5. I needed these words today. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles, your insights and your path towards peace and fulfillment. I am inspired. :)

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  6. Yikes, I'm at lost for words but I think a lot of us are kinda in the same place when it comes to finding peace. 2012 wasn't great for me either but one of the things about the new years is that you kinda feel like you get a blank slate or a second chance to bring light and change. Without sadness or some bitterness in life, you would never know happiness so really, this new year can only be better!

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  7. Thanks for sharing with us, Uncle! I sometimes forget that there are living, breathing (and feeling!) human beings behind my favorite blogs. Best wishes for 2013!

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  8. man i needed to hear this....feeling so less alone.....love to you, love to your mother....
    retreating back to my suitcase, hidden back deep, in the darkest corner of my closet.
    -katie

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  9. Mon Oncle, an old fellow I knew once said "Every one of us is going to have a time when it's us in the barrel". I've been there. You are there now. But I can guarantee you from my own time, the barrel doesn't have a top on it and the sunlight filters down in there and at some point you look up. And then you see it. And then you aren't in the barrel any more. You are on the way. It will happen.

    I very much look forward to your posts this year. Like old Dora said...."keep swimming".

    ML

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  10. Hey B. You know I love you and support you in anything that you are going through. Always know that friends around if you ever feel like you need to vent, chat or laugh. We do care about you. Yeah, I'm feeling you on 2012. It wasn't the best year. There are definitely times when I felt isolated and wanted to retreat even more. Maybe it's hiding, maybe it's just taking a rest from all the stuff that gets thrown our way online, the good and the bad. Sometimes all of it is too much, you know? Especially when there is stuff at home in our "real lives" that need our attention. I know I've pulled a bit back...and that feels good and right. I hope you continue to find what feels good for you. And we are always here whenever you need!

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  11. My first comment on here. Shocking, right? Right.

    I'm sorry about your mother. I'm also sorry about internet woes. You deserve better than that.

    Cookies, please? Thank you.

    ps... the Scientology/Tom Cruise quip? Laughed out loud.

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  12. Always looking up. I know, that's a book by Michael J Fox... but it's a good goal.
    "Keep on keeping on" is also excellent advice. That's a paint commercial but nonetheless, words to LIVE by.

    Okay, I'm done.

    Except for this > x

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  13. Hi sweetness, thank you so much for always being so honest and open. This is a safe place to share and we all love you!

    I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. My heart and thoughts are with you. Keep telling her that you love her. She will know. She really will.

    Thank you for making the internet (and this world) a more beautiful place. Love you madly.

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  14. Thank you for sharing. I'm a silent reader but thought I'd just leave a note today. You really do write beautifully. :) Keep your chin up and just take each day as it comes.

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  15. Oh, so touching Bradford...I cannot imagine the pain of your mother's illness. Absolutely understand the loss of words or lack of interest in blogging at times like that, but as you said...this is a place where friends are, and I'm glad you are still here. I love your words about discovering your internal appreciation of yourself...something I strive for! Ultimately that negativity brought you a great gift, because of your great self awareness. Sending you hugs...xo

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  16. Uncle B, you're loved by so many/most of us who don't even know you. That's the power of your words, thoughts and the many kindnesses you have shown to us readers over the years. Hope you can feel it, now, when you need it. x

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  17. What a lovely, lovely post. Thank you for sharing this with us, your appreciative readers. You have no idea how reading this has resonated with me and touched my heart. And yep, you got an AMEN! up in here! That whole people pleasing thing...Oy!
    I am also familiar with what you're dealing with regarding your mother. It is so difficult, but striving for a heart filled with gratitude and thankfulness is a deeply beautiful thing. I follow quite a few blogs, but yours is the one I savor the most. Beautiful post...beautiful man. Bless you!

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  18. Oh, Bradford. I hear ya. I can't imagine anyone being anonymously internet ugly at you – but I've been there. I haven't shared this online at all but while in Vienna I noticed all this traffic coming to my blog from a site whose main purpose is to take baseball bats to bloggers' knees. Mean things were said about me, the people I love, my work, my hair, my clothes and so on. It hurt and I will never thank ANYONE for putting that kind of toxic bullshit out there but I am grateful for the place it took me – the place you described where not-giving-a-fuck meets compassion.

    Anyway, just know that we all love you so hard. I'm sending lots of good vibes to you and yours. Please keep sharing your story – even if it sometimes comes in the form of tea towels and well-designed rooms. XOXO, Kathleen

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  19. I needed this today.

    I am rooting for you, Uncle B. You will always be one of my favorites.

    xx

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  20. Because of the anonymity of the internet it is hard to recognize and maintain boundaries. Take positive comments to heart and try to ignore small-minded criticism. Any coward can be cruel when he or she is hiding behind an email address.


    Just an anonymous reader who greatly admires your writing talents and skills,

    Kathy T

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  21. Oh I want to hug you for this. You are incredible and I love to read your thoughts. You, my dear Uncle Beefy, are a king among men.

    xo

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  22. Well said Bradford.

    For what it's worth, I've been having a very, very hard time since the end of September.

    If YOU promise to hang there,so will I.

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  23. I just knew my patience would pay off, good to hear from you. Happy New Year to you!! Did you know that you are my favorite blog for the past three years.

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  24. I don't know you but I love you. xoxo Mr. Barr

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  25. i think I have to second what the lovely jen said - you are a king among men. you are quite amazing.
    I am sorry to hear about your mom - I can't imagine how hard that is for you.

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  26. Are you writing a book yet? Seriously, you have such a way with words - a true gift. So pleased you're back. I'm still hanging with you! I'm sorry too to hear about your Mum. She's lucky to have you. xx

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  27. Just wanted to add my support. I am so very sorry to hear about your mother. And like everyone else, say how fortunate I feel to follow along with such a genunine and wonderful writer and blogger. You are so good to share your insights, such wisdom, but am just sorry about the pathway to get there. Why does it often work like that? I don't know, but am grateful you shared.

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  28. My first glimpse at your blog..why does other misfortunes help us cope with our own..for whatever reason thank you for sharing..all the best

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Even if I don't always get the chance to respond back, know that you're sending smiles across the miles. Warm wishes right back atcha! Thanks again!

p.s. - Contrary opinions or constructive criticism are also fine but "The Bedlam" isn't a platform for random acts of nastiness. Keep it classy.