Deciding to Live

It’s time for everything to change. Again.
I’ve become complacent, undisciplined – and I need to come back.

I’ve read countless books on motivation, habits, procrastination, visualizing, raising energy, and anything that I thought would help. Some were crap, many got me inspired – for a couple days. I could never follow through like I used to. Something inside of me had broken, and I didn’t have the constant challenge to survive to inspire me.

That is, as strange as it sounds, what I think I miss the most. The fear. The adversity. It’s what inspired me to act on the first day I walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf alone, in full statue dress & makeup. It’s what inspired me to create an online magazine when I didn’t even know the first things about creating a website.
But it wasn’t just the adversity that inspired me. It was the love. The love I had for what I was doing, and the love of walking through the fear and feeling like I did something that mattered on the other side.

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what it was that made me jump into things that I had no idea how to do, and when I realized the answer a few days ago, it was so simple it was absurd.

The one difference, the only thing that will ever create a lasting change in my life, and let me take my jewelry business from more or less a hobby to what I want it to become, the only thing that is different from those things and this is:
I made a decision to do them.
That’s it.

I could read thousands of books, watch hundreds of Ted talks, listen to podcasts until my ears bleed, but that is little more than mental masturbation – letting me feel like I’m doing something of value when nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just very clever procrastination.

Because I am afraid, and for some reason, I’m now letting that get in the way of doing what needs to be done. But that’s another something to look at and figure out another time.

I know that as much as I love making jewelry, there will be many times when I don’t. When I can’t find the right words for the “About” page, when I can’t think of what to write for a post on my site blog, and when I’m just not comfortable doing what needs to get done in order for this to grow. Without a solid, unwavering decision to do what it takes, I’ll never get to where I want. Never be who I want to be. Who I AM.

So it’s time for everything to change. Now.
It won’t be easy, not at first. I know that, and I’m expecting it – but eventually, as long as I show up and do the work, it will get easier. I just need to show up, and do the things that I need to, regardless of how uncomfortable I am with it or how afraid. I’ve been here before, and I know that, as long as I do what I need to, day after day, it WILL get easier.

And another thing I know: When I show up, so does the Universe – and doors that I’ve never even imagined will start opening to me.
They always have.

If you read this, please feel free to comment with what you think – and especially, call me out if you ever see me flagging.

Because there aren’t any excuses anymore. I’ll deal with the physical pain when it comes, and I’ll work through the fatigue. The time of floating is past, and it’s time to fly again.

I’ve made my decision.

 

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The Search for Fun

A warm, grey morning, early Spring in San Francisco. Oddly quiet for the Tenderloin, with only the lonely cry of the occasional seagull and an uncommonly rare Doppler siren of a police car speeding by a couple streets over.

I sit in bed & plan the day in my head, thinking of what the day holds & what I want to make it. As always these days, my thoughts circle around to how to grow my business. It’s been frighteningly slow these days, and as a result has been chipping away at the fun that this once brought me. When I sit down to make new pieces there’s a shadow that darkens my creativity, incessantly trying to figure out how to make my business grow. How to keep doing what I love. How to survive.

I suppose I should get my ass in gear, get what I need to get done here then get out, do a few things I’ve promised to do to help a friend, check in on the store that’s stocking my work, and if I get enough done before I leave for the day, try to get more wholesale accounts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Like everyone, I just want to be able to do what I love and have it support me – create, and make people happy. It doesn’t matter if it’s chainmaille, a magazine, performing or any of the other options out there – but in order to do that, in order for this to be an actual business that lets me live the life I want, I need to put a LOT of work into the business part of it – and I’ll be the first to admit, that’s one of my weaknesses, and a big one.

So how do I turn what I don’t like – the business part of this, into something I love? I’ve already figured out why I don’t like it, which is simple. I’m not good at it – or at least I don’t think I am – and I’ve got a feeling that I’m not alone in this. How many incredibly talented people out there are creating amazing things that no one knows about because they’re just as fearful of doing the legwork to get known as I am?

Maybe I can turn this into something I love, and grow at the same time. Maybe I will create a blog, talking about my struggles & triumphs, and in sharing them, help others to find that they can turn what *they* love to do into something that supports them. I need to think about this…

But even more, I need to get my ass to work right now. It’s a beautiful, warm, grey day – and it’s time to make it count.

Just sit. Be quiet. Think.

Though I don’t do it as much as I used to or would like to now, it is still one of the things I relish most in life – having the time to do just that – or making the time.
But admittedly, as much as I love it, it’s not something that comes easily to me, and never has. My mind just simply doesn’t work like that. My thoughts don’t organize themselves into something that I can easily follow or make sense of, and my head seems to enjoy dancing around from one thought to the next, as if they were in that lottery-ball machine, bouncing around & randomly shooting up the tube into my awareness.

Sometimes I can let them go – just a passing thought of little consequence, or something that I can figure out or decide upon right then and there, gathering a bit of logic & other things I may have learned along the way – but then there are others, like the one I only just had – and the only way to play it out in my head so that it makes sense – is to write. It’s the way it’s always been for me.

Lately I’ve had a number of people comment on how much better I’ve been looking – how much healthier. Enough people to make me wonder why, and try to figure out if anything has changed, or maybe they just haven’t seen me in a while. Probably a mixture of both, but answering it so easily with absence – well, that’s not going anywhere. That won’t help anything or get me thinking about a path of possible growth, something that has happened that I can continue… But if anything has changed? Now that could be interesting – so that’s what I went with, as well as I could inside of my head. And I found an answer.

I’m creating again. I have a purpose again. I’m doing something I love, and best of all – making people happy.

And, in return, my health has improved, feel happier, and with my chainmaille jewelry business, there seems to be, as long as I don’t let myself procrastinate it all away or find a place where I’m “okay” but not where I want to be and call it good enough – there is almost unlimited growth potential. I’ve even figured out a way to move beyond the terror of not doing every little thing myself.

I’ve found, however, that it’s fragile. I have such a fucking frustrating propensity to procrastinate, to put things off with some of the best excuses imaginable, that what I need to do doesn’t get done – and I’m only happy when it does.

I need to remember that. I’m only happy when things are moving forward, when I’m growing, when I’m stepping out of comfort into something I’m terrified of doing –  because that’s the only place I find passion. Only then do my eyes shine the way they used to, and only then… only then, I believe, does my mind use the power it has to heal my body, because it has a reason to.

Why else would it have been that I was mostly fine – able to walk the 3/4 mile to the cafe from my motorhome to work on my magazine every day for months – and then within the first week of being in the hospice with nothing to do, my body decides to completely shut down?

There’s something in that – and now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to get my ass in gear and get to work. I have a business that I love to make grow, and a life to continue to live.

As They Have Done For Me (A commitment to myself.)

I had left phone messages, sent handwritten letters & cards, and still hadn’t heard anything back from her. For the first few months I wasn’t concerned. With the exception of a brief time shortly after we met, she’s always been inconsistent in getting back to me, and is a complete Luddite when it comes to anything beyond phone or cards. It’s frustrating, but something I’ve learned to tolerate. It’s just who she is, and I don’t have much of a choice but to accept it.

I had spent 25 years of my life searching for my Birth Mother, not knowing if she was even alive, and with each year that passed growing more anxious. I would vividly imagine the first time we met only being able to lay flowers on her grave – so this, this was small.

Only a couple years before there were times she would call me out of the blue, just to check in, say hi – and eventually would always return a phone message. My first birthday after we had met, she sent five cards, each addressed & in their own envelope, and even though the frequency of our communication got less & less after that, she never failed to at least send a beautiful card for my birthday. In these she would fill me in on the latest in her life, and it was always the same thing. She worked in a hospital lab, came home, watched TV for a bit before bed, & on Sundays, usually went to a local restaurant, a place called Lauren’s in Boonville. She frequently closed the notes saying “I need to get a life!” Helpless to do anything about it, reading that always hurt.

It had been months since I’d heard anything from her. When my birthday came & went without a card, I started to get worried. The messages I left & cards I sent increasingly got more desperate, eventually flat out asking if she wanted me in her life anymore. Maybe this was all a mistake. Maybe she decided that she didn’t want to be reminded of that time in her life, being shipped from Colorado to San Diego to have me, away from the humiliation that a pregnant & unwed child would have brought to her family in the ‘60’s. Maybe… hell, I didn’t know what to think. I was terrified that after over half my life searching for & finding my Mother, I had again lost her.

Still no reply.

All I had were letters and phone messages to send, and nothing came of those. I thought about taking the train up there, but the station was much too far away. Bus, same thing. If she didn’t want me in her life anymore, I could somehow learn to live with that – but I needed to hear it from HER, I needed to know why before I could begin to accept it, to heal as well as I could. With each day that passed, each letter or card that went unanswered, my heart collapsed a little more. Did she leave me again? What’s wrong with me, why can’t I fix it, why can’t I see it? What did I do wrong this time? I just needed to know. I needed answers. Maybe with answers I could work on what’s wrong with me.

I had been journaling, trying to make sense of it. I posted some of what I wrote just to get it away from my mind, and people were nice, reached out in words of concern. They were appreciated, but words didn’t help anything.

Then, on one of my posts, a friend offered a ride. I figured it was a nice gesture, but more than likely wouldn’t happen. People say a lot of things, promise the world, but at the end of the day, seldom come through. I didn’t let myself get excited, but figured I’d at least play along.

If this happened, he would have to drive down from Sacramento, pick me up, and then drive the 2.5 hours to my Mother’s house so we could catch her after she got home from work at around 5:30 – then after surprising her by knocking on her door and figuring out what the HELL was going on, would have to do the whole trip back to Sac. I saw how absurd that was, and although I needed answers, him doing this – for *me* – was just ridiculous, and far too much to ask or hope for. It was constantly on my mind to cancel just for his sake – but Kitty never faltered, never gave a hint of reluctance. It was going to be more than a 400 mile round trip for him, and all he wanted was for me to get the answers I needed from my mother. He also said he liked the idea of “sand-bagging” her for answers, and even if it was a last-stand, at least what needed to be done could be done.

When he showed up at my door that Saturday after our planning, I decided that maybe it was time for me to accept that he was serious. This was happening.
OhShitOhShitOhShit.

With all the apprehension and anxiety I put myself through, it turned out to be surprisingly unapocalyptic. As I walked up to her door I could see her through the large living-room window, sitting in her chair & watching TV. I watch her as she walks over to the door, unable to see me yet.
“Hi mom.”
“Ohhh, HI, Casey! What a surprise!”
She motions for me to come in.
“What the hell is going on? Have you gotten my letters? Messages?”
“Yes, I’m so sorry…”
“But you didn’t even take a minute to answer them? ANY of them? Not one?”
“I meant to, but…”
“But what, you couldn’t be bothered? Do you have the slightest idea what I’ve been going through? I think I made it pretty fucking clear in the letters.”
“I know, I kept meaning to, but it just got harder as time went on and…”

Looking at my Mother’s face, seeing *my* face in hers & seeing the regret and apology, the anger starts to subside but I’m not letting her off that easy. I still don’t know what I need to know.
“DO you want me in your life anymore? If not, I need to know why – what I’ve done or if it’s just your trip, if this is too much for you, do you still want me?”
“Of course I do. I’m so sorry, I… I’m just bad at it, bad at staying in contact. I promise I’ll try to get better Casey, I *do* love you and want you in my life, and I’m sorry I put you through that, I didn’t mean to…”

We’re both sitting now, the anger & dread nearly all washed from me, and I’m explaining to her like she’s a three year old what it did to me, what she did, how she made me feel. I know she understands, but I don’t want her to forget. I don’t want her to take this lightly, and especially don’t want her to ever do it again. Hoping I got my point across well enough, the conversation moves into seeing how she’s doing, how the hips that have both recently been replaced are feeling, and knowing Kitty & I need to get back on the road soon. I go outside & invite him in, and shortly after we’re back on the road, leaving my Mother to her grey, empty life & TV.

As we walk the short distance to his car I turn to see her sitting again, and vow to myself that somehow, I’ll figure out a way to get a car, get up here at least a couple times a month to either take her on small adventures or just stay the weekend and help her clean up the weeds in her back yard. I think of planting a garden for her, how nice that would be. She’s mentioned that she would really like to get a dog someday. So many things I could do for her, if only I could get up here.

What Kitty did for me that day, I will never forget.
I do what I can for people to try and help, but it’s frustrating being so limited. I can only do small things: take dog food down to the homeless kids & their dogs around Civic Center, give a few dollars here & there when I have it, drape coats that I don’t wear anymore over people trying to sleep on cold San Francisco nights – but it’s never enough. I know there is so much more I could do – but it requires a car. There’s no way around it.

That was a year and seven months ago. I haven’t been able to get up and see my Mother since.
A few months ago she ordered somey jewelry from me, and I still haven’t seen them on her. Small things like that…

 

On September 5th is my 50th birthday, and right now my greatest dream is to be able to go pick My Mother up and bring her back down to the City so I can spend it with her. Have a small gathering of friends so they can finally meet her, this beautiful and amazing woman, and she could meet them – get out of her house and finally enjoy life a little bit. She deserves to.

I have a campaign on GoFundMe to help me get a car, which would not only allow me to get a little adventure and excitement into my mother’s life but help me get to shows & events to vend my jewelry & grow my business – as well increase the quality of my life in every way I can imagine. I could help so many more people…

http://www.gofundme.com/magickbus

If you can, please donate to it, share it to your friends on Facebook, Twitter, emails, and anywhere you can think of. Click on the link below, and please – give what you can. I would appreciate it with all my heart – and if, with your help, I am able to get a car – if you ever need a ride somewhere, *anywhere* – you got it.
THANK YOU!!!

http://www.gofundme.com/magickbus

in the direction of my dreams…

On Thursday, late afternoon, my cell phone rang. As I didn’t recognize the phone number, I did what I almost always do with blocked or unknown numbers – just let it go to voice mail.
“Hi Casey, this is, um, Don Mathern, just, uh, trying to touch base with you…”

It was a message from my Father.
Strange, the thought that this is the first time in my life that I’ve heard is voice. A very concise message, business-like – but I think I can understand. When confronted with having to leave a message for a 47 year old son that you never knew you had… I don’t think there’s a script outline for that anywhere.
Not even on Google.

He wants to talk. Get to know me. Get “together”, but I don’t see a trip to Boise anytime soon in my future, and I’m fine with that…

But – holy crap.

He said that he will be out of town until Sunday, which is good – it gives me a little time to process.

It’s been exactly four years and one day since I walked into the hospice. Thinking back, it’s been quite an eventful time.

Literally dancing out the door after over 18 months in a hospice then hospital, nearly dying twice & astounding the doctors & nurses when I found the strength & fight inside of me to live…
Finding & meeting my Birth Mother…
Blessed in finding the most incredible girlfriend & partner I could even hope to imagine.( Simultaneously amazed and terrified…)
Spending the first birthday of my 47 years in the company of the amazing woman who *gave* me this blessed life…
Finally wrote to the guy who was the other part of creating me, and didn’t have the slightest notion I existed…
and… he’s willing to get to know me?

Yeah, the past few years wouldn’t exactly be what you would call “boring”.

It certainly makes me wonder what is next.

I need to get my business going – create the means to help others. Write a book. Speak. Let people know that regardless of how bad things get, tomorrow will be better. Always. If you’re alive, you have the natural ability to create your future life – and it’s worth fighting for.
I promise you.
As I am the author of this particular story, I can do much more than only talk of what has already happened. I have the power to decide how the rest of the story reads as well – how the chapters are written, constructed, created – and lived.

We all do.

So… what happens next in your story? Don’t just write what has already happened – write what happens next.

The things that come with not dying…

I have a problem. Kind of.
Actually, it’s more like a Catch-22 kind of thing.

Many of you may know that by all rights, I should probably have passed from this life and be little more than a (hopefully) fond, slowly fading memory right now, but that didn’t happen, and it took every tiny ounce of fight that I had inside of me.

Since then, life has just continued to get better – I found my *awesome* Birth Mother after a 25 year search, rescued the best Furbeast a person could hope for, recently met and fell in love with someone who actually has room in *her* enormous heart for mine, and started a business where I can use what *I* know to help others… and that’s where the problem rests.

Ya see, since I decided on this business over a year ago, I’ve been sucking up as much knowledge on it as I can in order to get better, stay up to date on everything and, most importantly, get clients, but there’s just TOO DAMN MUCH INFO. I find myself scattered, constantly second-guessing, and as a result not moving forward.
I need something clear and concise – a *single* focus to get my business SERIOUSLY launched, such as a study & action course – but I can’t afford it, because I haven’t been able to take & apply it.

Did I mention that as a result of not dying, I also have a birthday coming up in just over a week? And that there is a course taught by one of the best in my business that *will* kick everything into high gear? It’s clear, concise, complete and *focused* – exactly what I need to get my business seriously rolling.

Most classes I have looked at are anywhere from $700 – $2500, and WHEN I have that coming in I’ll certainly take some (*never* stop learning!) but this one is only $340 – IF I SIGN UP BY MIDNIGHT TOMORROW (otherwise it is $490, still *well* worth what it offers)!

***SO this I ask of you – for a birthday present, to celebrate the fact that I actually *have* another birthday, or just because you’re awesome and want to help me *continue* to kick ass – would you be willing to donate to my class fund?

Here’s a description of the class: http://www.awaionline.com/a/b2e/

***You can Paypal any help to cultureflux.magazine@gmail.com, and every red cent will go towards the class, hopefully reaching the $340 mark by MIDNIGHT AUG. 28th – tomorrow night!

If you can, please help everything *continue* to get better. Every little bit helps get closer to this important course – and THANK YOU!