Dana Martin Writing

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Dana Martin Writing

“Z” is for… Zee End

Grateful April in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

Grateful April in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

I’ll admit. Ever since I wrote my “Y” post, I’ve been agonizing over a word beginning with Z that would be the thing for which I am grateful that begins with the letter Z. And you know what I came up with? Zilch.

With this final essay, I tip my hat in fond farewell to the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, that self-imposed writing assignment that has weighed on me like a 300-pound dumbbell across my abdomen, leaving me gasping for air, waiting for someone strong enough who’d notice my peril and remove the heavy burden. “God’s teeth! Will someone please toss her a word that begins with the letter Z?!”

My friend, Joan, tried. “I have the perfect letter Z for you!” she offered with the confidence of someone who actually did finish her blog challenge. Months had passed, I was still struggling, and she could see I was fading fast. “Zombies!”

Her suggestion did take some weight off me. Joan knows I like Halloween—and I do like zombies for aiding in my effort to frighten people, but I’m not exactly grateful for them. At least Joan tried. The rest of you turned off the lights in the gym and canceled your memberships. Left me for dead.

But as I struggled there for nine months, a lot happened. Healing happened. More death happened. Reality bit. Dreams ended. Hope began. And it made me think: Where would we be in life if Nothing. Ever. Changed?  What if peoples’ lives were perfectly perfect, smoothily smooth without one flat tire, broken nose, or breakup?

Life would be one… flat… line. A flat line. Flatlining. Like death.

Therefore, in culmination, I give you my final post in this challenge. Because Z is the final letter, the end of the alphabet, I will celebrate the END of this challenge. For my letter Z – I am grateful for ends.

“She’s lost it,” I can hear you say. “Who in their right mind would be grateful for ends?

I am.

In 2008, I lost what I considered to be the greatest job on the planet—my “Weird Science” job—i.e., the job I would have designed for myself if I’d had access to a magical laboratory to create a position that would keep me happy forever. I thought I would DIE when I was laid off. That end, however, was necessary. With my free time, I started a business and began traveling to haunted attraction conventions. I dedicated more time to Talladega Frights in Bakersfield, and I became better at what I was most passionate about: writing and editing.

Without the free time, I wouldn’t have traveled to Kentucky, where I met the person who would allow me to own my first haunted attraction near Fresno, Calif., and become “family” with an eclectic, creepy, loyal group of scary actors and friends, whose unflagging support got me through my next end: a death.

It’s difficult to see the good in an end like death. And in truth, without my faith, I could find no hope in it. I’d just lost my dear friend, business partner, and plans for the company we both loved. This death forced me to rely heavily on God’s word. “I know the plans I have for you,” He said. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

Hope. It’s that thing we have left when other things end. And I discovered I have it in bucket loads.

Ends happen in the seconds before a beginning. A good friend of mine (I’ll call him Frank) was shattered when his marriage ended. He didn’t know it yet, but the death of his marriage was by design: God was busy rearranging lives to bring Frank’s first love back to him on the wings of coincidence; a woman he’d always loved had also become single. The flat line on Frank’s monitor blipped back to life. Frank is a loyal man. If she’d returned even three months earlier, he’d have been unavailable legally, loyally, and emotionally. In truth, it took an abrupt end to give them a new beginning.

Frank considers the end of his marriage much differently now than he did when it first happened. Now he sees the end as the temporary flat line right before his heart began beating again.

What if we all did that? What if we forced ourselves to embrace each end? What if we looked at each end through Frank-colored lenses and trusted that our hearts would beat again, too. What if?

And to Death, the final end, what say we? I do not have words to take that sting away, but I do offer Frank-colored lenses for a peek into the future: We will see our loved ones again in a place where there is no end. And I believe that when we get there, the word “end” will not exist.

And for that, I am grateful.

“Zeee” end.




  • Joan Raymond


    A beautiful, fitting end to the Challenge. It's interesting how we view things, especially 'ends' as tragic, but you've breathed new life into 'the end'. It's all in the perspective. Sometimes 'the end' is only a new beginning and gives cause to celebrate. Thanks for helping me look at 'ends' in a new light. 🙂

    PS This was much better than "Zombies"

  • Robin

    First, congratulations on finishing the A to Z Challenge. Whew. Had I known you were still struggling with this one, I would have sent you some "Z" ideas. Turns out that it wouldn't have been the right thing anyway, because this was the perfect post.

    Most times when Ends come, we are not ready and we don't want them. Other times I have run toward them enthusiastically waving my arms. But, that is the exception and not the rule.

    When something or someone you love comes to an End, it is darn near impossible to see the miracle of the Beginning. I think we have to mourn that End first. As we keep on keeping on, life does its thing and then the miracle happens. That new beginning. It sometimes takes years to see what a blessing it is. Other times, we recognize it right away.

    I mourn with you your Ends. But, like you, I trust that God will give you a grand Beginning that is more than you could have dreamt for yourself.

    Thank you for this inspirational ending!

  • Dana Martin

    Joan, my "Joan with the zombie word." THANK YOU! You are a loyal friend and a great writer. ROBIN! Thank you for writing and thinking the way you do and for continuing to read my stuff, and for your faith and just being you and junk. I love that we have this. I hope to see you this April. I'm up for the challenge. 🙂

  • Annis Cassells

    I love this fitting way that you finished your A-Z Blogging Challenge, Dana.

    "Ends happen in the seconds before a beginning." Time and perspective help us see the truth of this line. I have lived it and can testify to endings funneling into new and more satisfying beginnings.

    Thank you. xoA

  • Arlee Bird

    You finished! And that's what matters. Now you'll be ready for the 2014 edition.

    I was interested to read about your involvement with haunted attractions. I used to manage the Downey, Ca location of Morris Costumes until they shut down in expensive California in favor of keep everything centralized in NC. I'm sure you've heard of the company since they are a major player in the Halloween industry. I miss that job, but life goes on.

    Have a great 2014!

    Tossing It Out

  • Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Dana .. congratulations on finishing off the A-Z … that was one long road trip. However it sounds like life passed you a few gremlins, and a few laughs along the way … life changes and it's good it does .. just sometimes I wish it would tell me it's going to happen and then why?!

    Congratulations though and I hope we see you in a couple of months time?! cheers Hilary

  • Kym Showers

    I adore you!!! 'Ends happen in the seconds before a beginning.' Briiliant! This is my very favorite post. Love every thought. Such hopeful words. XOXO

  • Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball

    You are to be admired for sticking with the A-Z all year! I am amazed. Are you going to participate again this year?! Hee-hee. I wasn't going to, but now I am. I'm going to write posts ahead of time…that is so crucial. Good job, Dana, on finishing!

  • Dana Martin

    Mare! Yes, I'm totally going to do it again! I am so happy to see your face on this blog! Thank you for stopping by! I will "see" you soon! 🙂

  • Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball

    Dana, I sent you an email about looking at a book proposal. Did you get that? I'm ready to pursue publishing for my book. Just wanted to know more about what you do for writers. You can drop me an email. ballpark001@gmail.com

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