Make it Happen

My dad used to have an expression: “Make it happen.” He used it in many different scenarios, but the ones I can remember most vividly are pretty similar. I would want something desperately. Who knows what? To be chosen for something. To go to some special event even though I was busy. To accomplish something. And I would be confiding in him, as I often did, and complaining at a level that was close to despair that it wouldn’t work out. There were too many obstacles, too many x factors, too little hope of success.

Always, he would wait until I was finished. He didn’t interrupt me; he let me get out my tirade or woebegone mope. Then he would look at me, raise his hands out, palms flat, and say, “Pippy, make it happen.” (Pippy is my family’s nickname for me.) He always said it with such confidence.

I suppose there’s a chance that if you didn’t know him, this might sound arrogant. And indeed, there were times when this annoyed the crap out of me. “I can’t just ‘make it happen!’” I’d say. “I have no control over this.” Which would only bring about a repeat. “Just make it happen.” After much pouting and flailing and possibly a long list of rebuttals, I would invariably find a way to make it happen. Because if you want something bad enough, you can almost always find a way to make it happen.

And for the record, there was a sister phrase to this. If I was talking to him about a situation that I genuinely had no control over – and there was any possible way that he could help me where I couldn’t help myself – his response was an equally confident, “I’ll take care of it.” If I protested, “But Dad…” he’d repeat, “Pip, I’ll take care of it.” And he would. It’s one of the things I miss so greatly about him.

Recently, I’ve been itching to get away. I mentioned my February super-mega-slump-of-doom, which is part of it, but I also feel a floundering. A restlessness. An aching desire to be inspired and start something new, holed up by myself somewhere with a beautiful view, stuck in my own head with silence and ideas and characters I’ve yet to get to know. I want to go to the beach. I don’t know why, but my mom agrees that this feeling is bred into my DNA, that something in the ocean water calls to something in my blood.

But of course, I told myself there’s no way to go to the beach right now. For one thing, it’s winter. No one goes to the beach in winter. Plus, I can’t afford to go on vacation. I can’t spare the time away from home and my various writing groups. It would be selfish and self-indulgent and self-important to spend money on me in this way, as if I can’t be creative and get work done at home. I tried to talk myself out of it.

It wouldn’t go away. I heard my dad telling me to “just make it happen.”

So I thought, what the hell? I’ll at least post something on Facebook and see if any of my friends or family happen to have a beach house I could stay in for free. Probably not, but it’s worth asking, right? I posted a status about it and got nothing but jokes, which is about what I expected. I don’t exactly run in the circle who own their own vacation homes.

So… I tried. I needed to let it drop. But my dad’s can-do attitude kept nagging at me. Obviously, I can’t vent to him anymore. Instead, I vented to others. After looking at rentals online, I discovered that off-season is significantly cheaper, and that I could get a super tiny efficiency condo for just a few hundred dollars for a whole week. I told my husband first. And you know what? He told me that we should make it happen.

Hub-a-dub pointed out that I made a couple hundred dollars on my most recent short story, and that we could count the trip as a work expense. (I have this fantasy that I’ll write thousands and thousands of words on a new project. I don’t know how realistic that is, but it’s definitely a working trip.) He instantly saw that this isn’t a whim for me, but a very deep need I can’t explain. He told me we’ll find a way to make it work.

But I still felt guilty. So I told my mom, gauging her reaction. She, too, told me that she thought it sounded like a wonderful idea, and that I should pursue it. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have been gifted not one but two ultra-supportive parents, but I was.

Of course, there were immediate hitches. The first being that the super cheap price I first saw was so cheap because it was not actually on the beach. It was a bit of a walk, and there was no view. The view was integral to my plan; I needed to see the coast while I worked. That was the whole point. An extra couple hundred bucks seemed too much. But in the spirit of “making it happen,” I made a self-conscious request to my husband, my mom, and my brother. For my birthday this year, could they contribute to my beach-stay fund?

Three resounding and immediate yeses.

I know that I’ll never stop missing my dad, but in the sweetness and support that my family shows me, I see him. So to my mom, my brother, and my husband: thank you for encouraging me to “make it happen.” And when that wasn’t enough, thank you for “taking care of it.” I love you all so much.

I’m going to the beach.


Blog readers, this means I won’t be posting next week. (I plan to unplug.) Hopefully I’ll have some good stuff to talk about after my trip, so I’ll see you all on the flip side!

When was the last time you did something important for yourself? Is there something that you desperately want? Do you think you can find a way to make it happen?

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