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Category Archives: New Year’s

Posts relating to auld lang syne.

Shaking Off the Negative

“The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous.”

– David Icke

I chose the above quote for my first blog of the year (indeed, the first blog on this site in two years) because it perfectly expresses two particular sentiments: first, the most obvious meaning of the quote, to embrace joy and let go of negativity. The second is more in my choice of author. David Icke is partly known for espousing government conspiracy theories, the majority of which I don’t personally agree with. Yet here we are, finding common ground when it matters.

I spent most of 2013 in something of a hazy, angry rage. The rage was often silent, but ubiquitous. I was frustrated about a great many things, and for much of the year, I believed those things to be external. Every time I turned around, there was a new report or article talking about how religious liberty was being threatened, how Obamacare was ruining the health care of hard working Americans, how the liberal culture was slowly seeping into how the nation is governed such that it is practically unrecognizeable anymore.

These things upset me because I care about our country. I care about the freedoms we enjoy. I am vehemently oppossed to a nanny state, to spreading the wealth, to limiting individual rights. The notion of big government makes me absolutely nauseous. Our nation is being run by a man who has never had a day of real work in his life, who was educated by the hippies and idealists of the previous generation, people who embrace ideas and philosophies that sound great on paper, but that fail miserably when implemented in reality. The incessant “I had no idea” rhetoric, the disdain with which he and his administration treats the founding principles of this nation (ideals that enabled him to get elected in the first place)…I’ve had my fill and then some.

The problem is not that these things upset me. The problem is what I do with my anger and frustration over them. For the past year, I’ve just raged on endlessly about it, complained about, pointed out the million reasons why it’s all going to fail. I stand by all of those arguments. They’re valid. I see it. A lot of other people see it. But – I let that anger just fester and change me, until I couldn’t see any good in anything. And that is where I went wrong.

Now, I admit, another source behind the “rage” was a personal issue or two that I’ve been dealing with. Questioning my faith, that sort of thing. I think most people face that kind of existential crisis. When it’s over, you’re either more certain than ever, or you have an epiphany that changes your worldview completely. In my case, it was the former. I’ve changed the way I think about some things. Or more accurately, my understanding of things has evolved, and said thought process changes came about organically because of that evolution.

We’ve got a lot of crazy things coming up in 2014. Creative projects will at long last reach fruition. Others will begin, and even on the homefront, things are set to change and evolve. It’s an exciting time. Thankfully, the holidays somehow managed to lift my spirit, to make me remember that life isn’t just all about the negative, even when it seems like that is all that surrounds us. I see signs of my fellow countrymen waking up, in light of a number of victories for Christian employers who don’t have to cover abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans, and in the reinstatement of the Robertson patriarch in Duck Dynasty (and prior to that, Cracker Barrel’s putting the Duck Dynasty products back on the shelves). I’m pleased to see more conservative Americans making some noise.

As I always do, I hope to post more frequently here and establish a more consistent routine for my writing, both fiction and non-fiction. I’m sitting on some cool ideas for screenplays and stories that I wouldn’t mind getting out there and selling. And of course, projects dear to me, such as Shepard, will be coming to fruition this year. Very excited about getting that out there!

But be warned: no topic is too big or small, to politically correct or risque. Read future entries at your own risk. And if I happen to offend you: stop what you’re doing, head down to Target, and buy a sense of humor.

 

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Reflections: 2012 Edition

I hadn’t planned on doing a year-end blog this year. But as I sit here at my desk on New Year’s Eve, it’s hard not to reflect on things. 2012 seems to fit the mold of the ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” So, I figured I’ll go ahead and do a brief retrospective.

The Maley kids continue their tendency of growing up way too fast. 2012 saw my oldest two finish up at elementary school and being their sojourn in middle school. My youngest three are now in third grade (the twins) and second grade (Alyssa). The boys enjoyed another season of baseball this year, while Alyssa became a cheerleader (though I’m pretty sure she was one from birth, and merely formalized it this year with a uniform).

I finally decided to get off my arse and back behind a camera, as my web series, “Shepard,” finally began to take shape. Auditions began in May and continued into June. In this, I was blessed with tremendous good fortune. The cast is stellar, better than I could have hoped for. We began filming in late July and continued on through August and September. Filming on the first season will complete in the spring and we will hopefully be able to release the season shortly thereafter.

This year wasn’t without loss, either. We bade farewell to “Grandma” Barber and her sister, Betty. Isabelle Barber was a strong and forceful presence, who was never afraid to let you know what she thought. I’ll never forget the early days of my relationship with Kim, how she was constantly sizing me up to see if I was good enough for her granddaughter. She was less than impressed at first, I think. Even so, she and her husband invited us to various functions with their church, and took us to Tionesta for the Indian festival. I’ve got a lot of fond memories of her, and she and Aunt Betty are both very missed.

2012 was also a year where I struggled with some things. A lot of times, these struggles went unnoticed by the world at large (and I’m sure Mrs. Grimm wishes they could have gone unnoticed by her, too). I won’t bother with the details here as they are of a personal nature, but I’d like to think I’ve made some progress and growth as a human being this year. I’ve let go of a lot of selfish inclinations, and in doing so I have come to realize how truly self-centered our culture is.

As I’ve struggled to become a better person, I’ve also accepted the fact that the world in which we live has changed dramatically for the worse, and will continue to do so. I’m not talking about the tragic, horrid shootings in Newtown, CT or Aurora, CO. Those are heinous and evil acts, but such things have been with us forever.

I’m referring to the fact that our nation has decided to turn its back on long-standing values in favor of systems and ideals that have never, and will never, work. We are marching boldly and foolishly towards our own demise, gladly begging the government to take care of us, feed us, and cloth us, because it’s easier than doing it ourselves. We no long value hard work, commitment, or anything that doesn’t give us something tangible and immediate as a reward. I shudder to think of the kind of world my kids are going to live in when they’re adults. We’re trying to demonstrate the value of hard work, of not getting a free ride, of taking personal responsibility for your own actions, treating others with respect even when you don’t feel like they deserve it. By the time they’ve grown into adults, those concepts may well be utterly alien to this entire country. The world may not have ended in 2012, but this country is on the right path.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” This is happening, right now. Some want to call it “progress” but it is not. It’s a culture of entitlement, arrogance, and failing morality. It’s “what I can I get” and “I deserve it” – with none of the work, effort, or courtesy and decency to other human beings. These are ideals that our nation is embracing, and it will eventually do just what Mr. Lincoln foretold.

But, this is a year-end retrospective, not a political sermon. As pessimistic as I am about the direction of our country under its current leadership and its woefully naïve, self-absorbed, uneducated citizenship, I do feel a degree of personal optimism. I feel as though I’ve made some decent progress with all the hats I wear: dad, husband, writer/director, Christian, and human being. I’ve grown in each of these areas, and more, and have become truly grateful for what I have.

2013 holds a lot of things in store. The Maley clan heads to Florida in March for a greatly anticipated visit to every kid’s paradise, Disney World. We’ve been trying to go for years now, and are finally able to make it a reality. My current contract ends in July, leaving me with new and exciting opportunities to explore. Shepard’s first season will completely wrap, and season two will be filmed, along with a short I’ve been working on.

And of course, I’ll also be memorizing a new series of kid-ages: 12, 11, 9, 9, and 8.

It’s hard to say what else may in store. And while I don’t look at New Year’s with the same blind, naïve optimism I’ve had in years past, I am grateful for the opportunity to try and make things better next year in whatever ways I can, for myself and for others.

I wish everyone a happy and safe celebration tonight, and a great start to 2013!

 

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Every New Beginning…

From the ashes of the old, the new is born.  So it is with this yearly cycle we celebrate every December 31st.

2011 was definitely a year of personal change, introspection, and growth.

I’ve heard it said that a man truly becomes a man when he loses his father.  I never believed that, until I lost mine in February.  My dad’s unexpected passing has had a profound impact on every aspect of my life, and it’s been a tremendous struggle to move beyond it.  When I was a child, I lost my step-dad Bill.  In my late 20’s, I learned my biological father, whom I had never met, died in a motorcycle accident.  Dan Maley was the only man I knew as “dad’ from childhood to adult.  He was a kind, generous, and giving soul, and his life has truly inspired mine.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” he used to say.  It’s something I have tried to take to heart.

We also lost our beloved pet, Tigger, just two weeks prior to my father’s passing.  This Christmas, the absence of his little doggy stocking alongside ours cut a pang of sadness through the holiday cheer.  And, as my oldest son Justin observed, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas without” his grandmother, “Pap” Lenny.  Lenny passed away just before Thanksgiving this year.  In the face of such losses, one would think the Christmas spirit in our home would be dampened.  And perhaps it was, early on.  Yet we celebrated what was probably our most joyful and satisfying Christmas in years.

One of my final creative projects for the year was a video compilation of images that honored those we have lost, not just this year, but in years past.  My step-dad, grandparents, and many others were there; as were Kim’s lost family members.  I felt compelled to do this, not so much as a Christmas gift (though it did become that), but to finally lay these things to rest.  My entire life I’ve been careful to remember the people I’ve lost, to the degree that maybe it became detrimental to really healing from it.  I tend to love deeply and without reserve, so when I lose someone, the loss cuts deeply.  This collage is my farewell to those I love, and to my childhood in general.

I’ll always be a kid at heart.  I’ll always love video games, and always love to go to movies and pig out on overpriced candy and popcorn.  But this year, I grew a lot. Emotionally.  Spiritually.  And physically, though I wish that weren’t the case. (Can we say Weight Watchers in 2012? Yes we can.)  My priorities have shifted.  My thoughts and opinions on a great many things have changed, matured.  I have left 2011 a very different person than I entered it.  I feel those changes were for the better, but that remains to be seen.

I generally don’t make “New Year’s Resolutions” per se.  But I do resolve to do a few things differently this year.  First: lose weight.  The oldest and most easily abandoned of resolutions, I’ve come to realize that I have no time left to waste.  For 33 years now, I’ve allowed my life and my own self-perception to bend to the whims of my weight and appearance.  I’m sick of it.  Someone once said, “Change will not happen until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.”  I’ve reached that point.  I know I’m better than this.  I just need to act on it.

Second: Writing.  Folks, it’s time to get serious.  Because I haven’t been, let’s face it.  Who else lets a virtual series linger in oblivion for four years because he just doesn’t feel like doing anything with it?  Who else starts a dozen projects and finishes none of them?  I love the act of writing, but due to how challenging this year has been, I’ve not dedicated myself to it properly.  I’ve skated through my classes (earning high marks, but not really absorbing much).  To quote one of my favorite films, it’s “time to nut up or shut up.”

Third: finances!  Another one that’s easily forgettable.  We’ve got a great plan in place that we’ll acting upon within weeks.  I’m excited to start it.  We’ve been blessed with an increased cash flow, but it’s still tight with 5 kids.  Yet we will make it work, and we’ll make it work better than before.

Basically, these three things can be summed up in one: I’m going to take control of my life.  Time’s wasting.  33 isn’t old by a long shot, but it’s definitely not 25 or 21.  I don’t want to be 35, 45, 55, wondering what happened to these next few decades, why things turned out so poorly, why I have so many health and weight problems.  The time to act is here and now, and I’m excited about it.

Of course, it’s easy to get excited.  Staying excited is the true test of character, and that particular story has yet to be written.

Welcome, 2012.  I greet you with open eyes and arms, ready to make the most of each opportunity.