Artistic Priority (When My Worlds Collide)

I’ve been writing for many years, but that’s not to say there weren’t times that I went for long spaces of inertia with writing. During one of those down-times I began to get into painting. It felt like the right thing to do at the time; focus on something else for a while.  (I began writing full-time in ’09 and have written ten novels, and have put together and published other’s work as well, and now write a lot of poetry.)

Painting has settled into a spot in my life I didn’t even know I had. It soothes me, inspires me; it’s meditation as well as creation. It’s therapy for me.

When I first began to feel like I was figuring it out (to any degree) I got very excited and set up this site to sell artwork and my books, as well. I still sell one on occasion, but now my writing has kind of taken it’s place back (first place), for my time and attention. It may be possible to give 100% to both things, but if so, I don’t know how to manage it. So, as writing has always been there, a part of my DNA, I’d say, it will stay top priority for now. I just don’t have time to write and paint and try to market and sell books AND artwork. So, I’ll leave the ones up that I have listed for sale, and may continue to sell one from time to time, but painting has settled into a spot that’s just for me. It’s a special thing, like massage for the soul.

Recently I dreamt up ideas for two new fiction novels, so those will keep me very busy for a while, and I have a poetry compilation due to publish next summer. I plan to do more anthologies for young, aspiring writers and poets as well, so this must be my focus…. at least for now.

It’s very cool that art (painting) discovered me (or I discovered it, either way). It’s become a very welcome part of my life. For now it is priority two, but it is still very special for me. I adore combining both of my loves when possible (like the above poem posted on a piece of my artwork). It’s the best of both worlds.

Why Teaching Empathy is Important

Over the last generation or two, we’ve witnessed a downturn in empathy and compassion being taught to our children. Here are my opinions and thoughts on why.

  1. More and more households have two working parents, leaving the largest part of child-rearing to strangers who have no emotional investment in our children. Many believe that both parents must work to get by, but often, (not always), it is not about getting by, but getting ahead. The desire for larger, nicer homes and cars has outweighed our desire to parent our kids.
  2. In some instances, a cycle of abuse and neglect has simply been continued on. If parents know no empathy, they can hardly be expected to teach it to their children.
  3. Faith is not popular these days. Many have found a foundation of moral and ethical, even empathetic and compassionate behavior to be taught in churches. Church attendance and even faith in a higher power has declined, which causes many to choose to have no moral foundation. While it is possible to be an atheist and have a moral compass, it is rarer than one might assume. Once certain lines are no longer drawn, and ethics are now situational, it is so much easier to wander down a path where anything goes, because it is believed there are few consequences to your behavior. If there is no God waiting to smack you down or send you to hell, then it is an easy leap to an “anything goes” lifestyle, for some. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” becomes the mantra.
  4. When one grows up without constant love, acceptance, positive touch, and compassion, one learns to count only on themselves. This leads to a “me first” mentality and a lifestyle of selfish and boorish behavior. Bad behavior becomes the norm. Looking out for number one is the only way some know to live. This is my societal observation. It makes me sad, but I have yet to be proven that any of this is untrue.
  5. As my fifth and final point, I’ll just say, let’s love our children first; put their needs ahead of our own. Too often we have babies having babies and nobody fully understands what it takes to raise a child (well) and into adulthood. Our children aren’t asking to be born; sometimes they are brought into this world as an expression of love, sometimes by accident, or a lack of planning. Even those who are planned and wanted in the beginning face the possibility of a neglectful or abusive upbringing once the parents realize just what it takes to raise a child. If you are not able to (compassionately and lovingly) raise a child for a minimum of eighteen years, (and it does not always stop there), please take steps to make sure you are not going to conceive a child in the first place. They say Hell is for Children, and often that hell is right here on this earth, in a home where they should be loved and cared for. Have empathy, show empathy, teach empathy; this alone will heal our hurting world.

The Mind/Body Conundrum

There are days… today is one. I am frustrated to no end by the difference in what’s going on inside my brain/mind/creativity and that which my bod seems able to handle. And the depressing thing is knowing that year after year, it will ultimately get worse and worse.

Today I am unusually fatigued. So I rested my head on my pillow (two in the afternoon) and let my mind do its work. In my mind I painted fabulous works of art, I wrote things, profound and thoughtful things. I re-arranged all of the artwork on my living room walls… again. I cleaned and organized all over my house. I painted some more, I wrote some more… art that would likely never see the light of day, never be painted, never be written. Because sometimes, with that fickle creative muse, it comes in a flash and if you don’t get it down somewhere fast, it flies out the window, not caring a whit about your bad day.

I’ve had a bit of this sort of dichotomy all of my life… a body that couldn’t quite keep up with my mind. But I know that I will have good days again. I will have energy again. I will paint again and re-arrange and organize again, even if it doesn’t feel like it today.

I say a heartfelt farewell to those winged inspirations that get away from me, and can only look out for the new ones yet to come.

Journey Well!

I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery, a deep, personal, spiritual journey, for, well, many, many years, but on a different level–for over seven years now. Here are some conclusions I’ve drawn:

Nobody will every be their best until they take the time to do the work; unpack their baggage, face their demons. You can coast along, same stuff different day, until the day you die, but growth takes courage, time and the willingness to change.

People, by and large, believe that anything with the word “self” in it, means you’re being selfish. Self-discovery, self-esteem, self-confidence; but the exact opposite is true. All of these things are essential to be who you were meant to be, so that you can ultimately be a positive influence on those around you and accomplish all the things you’re called to do. Do the work. There are no short-cuts.  People may call you selfish, but one of these life lessons, is knowing who and what to listen to; don’t fall for it. People say a lot of things. That’s their limited perspective, not your reality.

I do believe there can come a time when it’s time to put away the self-analyzing behavior. You can get stuck in there, so be careful not to. Unpack your bags, figure yourself out, love yourself, then, after all is put away in its proper place, turn and face the world again, with newfound strength and abilities. There does come a time when you’re healed enough to be outward-focused without doing damage to those around you.

You never truly “arrive” because life is, after all, a continuing journey. There is no final destination; face each morning as it comes, prepared to conquer one day.

Journey well, my friends!

Me, then and now

Who’s this? Well, yeah… That’s a waaaaay younger version of me. I’ve found myself studying this photo and trying to get back there, to feel what I felt, remember who that girl was. I was so many things.

I was so very afraid of criticism and my peers not accepting me, I was a wall-flower. My family didn’t have a lot of money, especially in those earliest years, so we never had the coolest clothes, we weren’t the popular kids. My older brothers tried to look out for me a bit, but I very much felt alone a lot. On my own.

I won’t go into all of my issues at that time of my life, but suffice to say I had no idea who or what I was.  I never self-reflected really, just became sad, confused, angry, and I stuffed it all in. This girl watched a lot of friends come and go, chasing after things she often didn’t understand.

I want to talk about the good, though. She was so, so kind-hearted and empathetic. She loved easily and without question. She was hurt easily, but only because she wore her heart on her sleeve. Even then, she craved the connection I often speak of now, in my writing, She just wanted love and acceptance. She was a good girl.

Now, when I see this girl, I want so much to go back and meet her, give her a big hug and tell her everything would turn out okay. I get tears in my eyes thinking about it.

I would tell her:

You are good. You are worthy. You are beautiful. If others do not know how to see you, how to value you, that’s on them. You are stronger and smarter than anyone has ever told you. You can do great things, big things. You can change the world. You can make an impact. Chase your dreams, follow your heart, seek God but don’t let others think for you; not ever. Chase truth. Be YOU, the you that you were absolutely created to be.

And, girlfriend, don’t take 30 or 40 years to do it. Figure it out sooner!

I love you.

Falling in Love, Daily

I fall in love, daily. Not in a strictly romantic sense, in fact, not at all, but it’s more of a soul connection. I meet people and I feel a soul-tingling sensation, (male or female). Something inside me leaps when I meet certain people. It’s almost as if we were cut from the same cloth or that we knew each other in a previous life. Or that we were meant to know each other in this one.

I feel sure that 90% of the time the other person has no idea, nor would they always feel the same connection to me. It’s one of those things I think deeply about sometimes. What is that? What does it really mean?

I’m a sensitive, I know this, so maybe it’s no more than being extraordinarily aware of other souls; of being excited when my soul connects in some area, with another. It’s always oddly disconcerting to me to realize that not everyone does this; experiences this. It used to be shocking to me that others didn’t always feel the same towards me, but I’ve grown used to it by now.

Of course, to explore both the yin and the yang, there are times when I meet people and I’m immediately turned off or turned away by them, too, but this doesn’t happen as often. I discern certain levels of brokenness in some, and it’s the kind of brokenness that I know intrinsically, I can’t influence them for good, they will hurt me, and I should walk away.

We live in a world where there are so many walls around our souls, so much STUFF blocking the way. We’re so guarded. These walls, this stuff, does not lend itself to falling in love in this way with others, with connecting this way.

Others find me different, intense, tightly wound, and I have to admit, they’d be right. I scare people. I’ve come to realize this, too.

A soul wandering the shores of this world with their walls down is different. Not that I’m totally there–is anyone ever? But I like connection. Time and circumstance has taught me to be very careful about who I trust and who I connect with, but even with this knowledge, I still smile inside when I meet someone new and my soul jumps a little.  I think I like it.

On Politics, Religion and Labels

(Copy of a Facebook post)

So, as today seems to be my day to make provocative statements on Facebook, (which I don’t do often):

I don’t like boxes or labels. I do not consider myself a liberal, or a conservative, or a republican, or a democrat. I have even distanced myself somewhat from organized religion.

Here’s why:

Once a person identifies with a label, a group, an organization, or a cause, they then begin to make that group or cause a large part of their identity. So, what happens next is, every time this group says something, the tendency is to jump on board, and without really thinking about it. I think it’s just human nature.

Say you’re a part of political party A and Church XYZ.

“A” gets really organized and starts doing some stuff you really love and enjoy. You agree with it, you get on board. Maybe A has a manifesto somewhere, but you haven’t read it, cuz, hey, they seem like decent people, doing good stuff. So you jump on board.

Same with church XYZ. They seem nice. The fact is, they have some weird, wild stuff buried down in the dogma and doctrine of their church, but that doesn’t matter, it’s just been there forever, it’s in the jot and tittle of their beginnings; weird stuff. Stuff that if you read today would make your stomach hurt and your eyes cross, so you don’t think about it. You just go to church, cuz they have a cool worship leader and nice, friendly people.

What CAN happen, is people then begin to follow these very real, very fallible leaders in these organizations, even when they begin to do stuff that makes you question what you’re doing and what you’re a part of.

These days if political party A says jump, you say “how high” cuz, hey, that’s your party, and those are your peeps. Did you read all sides of the argument? Did you do any due diligence? Nope, you just said, “Those crazy political party B-ers, they’re stupid and wrong.” There was a rally, emotion, people were into it, and maybe, just maybe, you jumped in because you thought that’s what you’re supposed to do.

The Pastor of church XYZ decides he wants to build a bigger church than has ever been built before and buys himself a new house big enough for eight families, and for a second, just a second, you get a twinge. “Aren’t we supposed to be feeding people with this money? Reaching out? Doing great things in the community?” But you shrug and go get a triple non-fat latte at the new coffee bar and have a seat in the new 6 million dollar sanctuary and listen to them sing and preach about love and God.

Party A is in the news bashing party B and you get all fired up. You jump on board, because, hey, they must know what they’re talking about; they’re my party and my people. Brain checked in to the safe in the bedroom, compassion turned off.

You see where I’m headed here? Yeah, it seems like I’m bashing all churches and all political parties. I’ll even cop to bashing political parties. If you didn’t realize it, they really aren’t about the issues anymore as much as they are about who has the money to get into what office and be bought off by whom, with what particular agenda. An agenda you and I will never even hear about. I have no use for either of the established parties. Go ahead, judge me. I won’t align myself with things and people I disagree with.

And this is my point.

I won’t and I don’t align myself with organizations, religions, or any group that wants to slap a label on my head and get me to back up their agenda, knowing full well that their agenda and mine are often polar opposites.

If you want to know where I stand on any religious or political issue or anything that is in the news today, please, feel free to message me and ask. I love discussing all of these things with people who use their own minds and thoughts and hearts to discuss with respect.

I can always spot the ones who have signed on to the “party line” because they are the ones who do not have logic or facts, only hyper-emotion and, if I might use the term, “religious fervor” to back up their arguments. They do not show respect, they cuss, they name call. They don’t want to have a kind, rational discussion, they only want to push their agenda. I have no tolerance. Zero.

For the record, this is not intended towards any one person, but it’s something I see every day all around me, especially on social media, which is largely why I don’t discuss politically-charged things on Facebook.

I did have a nice chat with Jacci Kalynn earlier, and I’ll call her out as a person with a brain and compassion, and she carries those things around with her. Love her to bits.

So if you want to ask where I stand on anything, please ask, and preferably privately, (especially if your intention is to stir up trouble on social media, I won’t play that game with you.)

I know there are good people in churches, trying to do their best, trying to do what they feel God is calling them to, and due respect to them, I spoke in very broad terms to make a point. I will re-iterate though, sometimes churches have an agenda, and before you align with them, make sure you are 100% on board, or don’t be a part of it. It’s integrity.

And know that all church leaders are only human, and by and large, as I said, are doing their best with what they know.
Denominations come with dogma, statements of faith on what you’re supposed to believe to be a part of their body of believers. Read it, and see if you can get on board and align yourself, in integrity. If you can’t, get out.

Labels, people. I hate them. I don’t wear them anymore. If you had to slap one on me, like, if you just HAVE to for your own peace of mind, call me this:

Loving, Peaceful, Independant, Empathetic, Compassionate, God-fearing… I’ll take these.

Mission Statement

This is my heart and my mission statement:

I try to bring order to chaos, it’s why I was created; to, in creative ways, bring people together, show them love, show them peace, show them a better way.

This will show (and has shown) itself in my life over and over again.

You may not always get where I’m coming from but I ask for the benefit of the doubt.

I was born to be a peace-maker, so if you hate me, hate me for that.

It will rear its head in my writings, poetry, fiction and non-fiction and in my artwork. But if you want to know who I am, this is it; this is what I’m about.

Love it or leave it, handle it or walk away, no matter.

Hugs to ya, my friends on this; a new day. Spread peace.
🙂

I wanna pack my bags and hitch a ride on the next inter-glactic transport…

Can we rewind ten years and try again?

I don’t remember the world ever being so polarized, so defined, utterly, by their political party affiliation. If a republican says the sky is blue, a democrat will come along and scream loudly “No, it isn’t, it’s azure!!”  If a democrat says “We ought to feed the hungry,” a republican response will be, arrogantly, “Get a job.”

I do not now, for the record, align myself with either of the two major political parties, I cannot, in good conscience.

I used to believe republicans stood for small government interference in our lives and low taxes. I believed that democrats always leaned more towards a heavier responsibility on the government to care of its people, to make sure people are fed and have health care. I always kind of thought a democrat’s mindset meant people cared a lot, loved deeply, wanted to help others. In the last several years, any sense of, well, sense, has gone out the window.

I always thought it was just about a person leaning more towards one way of thinking than another, and you’d go into the poll booth and you’d vote your conscience.  I remember it being that way, I really do.

I remember as a twenty-something being able to sit over coffee or a meal with someone and talk about things happening in the world, and you’d discuss, and maybe even respectfully debate how you saw things, how you thought things should be, but throughout the whole time, there was a feeling of mutual respect. Our relationships did not rise or fall based on being a republican or a democrat. And at the end of our time together, we hugged and said goodbye and went about our lives.

Man, those were the good old days.

I avoid all talk of politics now, for the most part, because it’s like walking past a barroom brawl and if you open your mouth to voice an opinion, you find yourself pulled into the brawl, no-holds-barred, kicking and screaming fights will commence. Ugliness. Disrespect. When did this happen? Why? When did humanity decide we all had to agree all the time or the other guy is dubbed evil? I don’t like it. Our world has become hyper-confrontational.

Now this thing in Charlottesville happened, and a light has been shined on racism, the KKK, and hateful bigoted speech fills my social media feeds, even more than usual.

And my heart hurts.

I long for a simpler, easier time, perhaps one that never existed, and perhaps, never will. But a gal can dream.

I dream of going back to having respect for one another, of liking or disliking people for who they are, at the very least, not what political party they belong to. I am not, and refuse to be defined by a political affiliation, and if that’s the thing that you identify with the most in a person you meet, I kinda feel sorry for you. What’s going on in our world right now is craziness. I don’t recognize people anymore, they’ve lost their humanity.

Beam me up, Scottie, cuz I’m ready to try life with another species. I’ll come back to earth once people get their wits about them again. Take me to a place of love, acceptance, grace, and mercy. Take me to a land where the people recognize that we are all much more alike than we are different, where people give each other the benefit of the doubt, and all the beings are free and treated equally. Where respect still exists.

Yeah, there probably isn’t such a place, but shouldn’t we have goals? I’ll keep dreaming and hoping for a kinder, gentler humanity. Until then, I may have to limit my reading of social media commentary, for my sanity.

Spread the love, people. Spread the love. (I really don’t travel well and would love to stay here on earth.)

 

 

Surviving The EMPTY NEST

Even though I, being a writer, tend to write about every thought or feeling I have, I wanted to write about this subject because it’s something I’ve gone through recently and feel strongly that it may connect with some of you out there. I know I have a lot of friends of a similar age that are going through this stage of life called The Empty Nest.

I don’t know who first coined the term, but it is quite accurate. Maybe we could call it “momma bird depression syndrome” as well.

I was looking back over a journal the other day and saw where I had written (at a particularly low point) “I have become redundant in my own life.” As sad as that sounds, I think it is a common sentiment felt by many a mother (or primary care giver).

I, (like my mother before me), always wanted to have children. I probably wanted it so badly that I had kids younger than I should have, but I entered into it with a willing and open heart.

Now, if you have children, you know that they quickly became the central focus of all of your thoughts, time, and attention. Dads experience this, too, I don’t want to downplay their impact in the process, but as I’m a mom, I write from this perspective.

There were times I might’ve felt like I’d trade one of my kids for a box of Godiva chocolates and a hot bath and five minutes (or seconds) of peace and quiet, (y’all get what I’m saying) but ultimately, they held my heart in their tiny hands. Always have and always will, even now that their hands aren’t so tiny anymore.

When the primary focus of your life (your children) are suddenly no longer there, at least not daily and hourly, when you find yourself trying to remember how to cook for just two, when you hear the overwhelming sound of silence where you once heard the laughter, giggles, and pitter-pats of tiny feet… well, that nest of yours suddenly feels very bare.

That hectic schedule you once bemoaned and whined about, the stress of sibling arguments, the lunches made, baths given, the tuck-ins and “check-ups” at bedtime, all of it is suddenly gone.

Just gone.

And for five minutes, maybe even five days, you enjoy it. You eat the chocolate without three or four little hands reaching up to take their share (and maybe their sister’s), you take long walks, you get a massage. Maybe you and your husband take a trip.

And then you come home and find yourself face-to-face with an empty house, a barren home.

I know of parents who seemingly deal with this time of life with much enjoyment. They throw a party, travel, make plans, and seem to never look back, but that was never my mother, and that was not me.

My mother didn’t have a good time of it when she came face-to-face with this inevitable life phase, and I swore I’d prepare myself, I wouldn’t be caught unaware, but, much like having kids in the first place, it isn’t something you really can prepare for, because no matter how much self-talk you employ, how many books you read, or people you talk to, it cannot be prepared for. It’s something you really must experience before you know.

I remember my own grown child standing in front of me, telling me that they were prepared for having kids, and I just laughed and laughed. “No, dear, you’re not,” I wanted to say, “because you cannot be.”

In the same way, you just have to stand at the precipice of the tidal wave of emotion that is about to knock you flying, just stand there, take a deep breath, and let it hit you in the face. Because, just as there is NOTHING like having children, there is also NOTHING like watching them leave.

No, your kids, sweet and perfectly-raised as they may be, do not understand, and as I said, they cannot. It’s just the way it is.

If you find yourself feeling redundant in your own life, if you feel as though your whole life has just pulled out of your driveway, if you think you might just curl up and die, take heart, my friend. You will not die. You will grieve, for it is a grieving process, make no mistake. Similar to a divorce or any other life-changing event, you will grieve, you will hurt, you will feel as though your life lacks purpose and meaning.

This too shall pass.

Pray. Travel, if you have the means. Find your passion and pursue it with your hands and your heart. Meditate. Have the massage and the pedicure and the Godiva chocolates. You can and will survive the dreaded Empty Nest. And you will find a whole new side of yourself you may not have known existed. A side that is allowed to think of what YOU need, what fills YOUR soul. A side that looks at your partner of many years and says, “Hey! There you are!”

It’s change, drastic change, a whole new phase of life. But you got this, and if you need a listening ear, I’ve been there and done that, give me a call.

7 Things It’s Taken Me Fifty-Plus Years to Learn

 

• I don’t care if you like me. For most of my life I’ve been a people-pleaser. I’m a gal who learned good manners from my parents. Always be kind and good to people. Good lesson. But it’s taken too far when you get it in your head that you must make everyone your friend. Subconsciously I had it in my head that it was my sacred duty to make sure everybody knew and understand what a good friend and good person I am and I thought others would be crazy not to jump on board my friendship train and become a major part of my life. It wasn’t designed to be that way. Now I understand that I can love all people but I only want to have a handful of them in my life. There are a precious few that I feel a true connection with, and they are my tribe. I have no time or passion for trying to force friendship where it does not exist.
• Keep Calm and Carry On. I used to go at a much faster frenetic pace and I just don’t anymore. I’ve gotten off the hamster wheel, but on the treadmill. Even when I wasn’t physically running crazy before, my mind was, and I felt a pressure to go, go, go and get tons of stuff done. I still have a desire to work hard and leave something of myself behind once I’m gone, but with age comes an awareness that being frantic doesn’t make one, necessarily, more productive or lead to a better, happier, or more joy-filled life. It can lead to a more stressful life. I take each day as it comes and try not to get overwhelmed about anything. I take more time for myself (self-care) and as a result enjoy a much better quality of life.
• Family First. I love my family and desire to be there for them whenever possible. Now that my own children have flown the coop (or nest) I am so much more aware of how important time with them truly is. My husband and family (and that number keeps growing!) are my top priority.
• Art is Life. I take time to paint, write, and listen to my favorite music. It is more of a necessity than only a pleasure these days. Things of beauty and great talent elevate me to new heights. Poetry, books, artwork, plays and movies… they mean more to me now than ever before. By and large, people don’t take enough time to appreciate and take in the beauty that is found amongst this chaotic mess called life. My current schedule allows me to do this, perhaps more than some others are able, but I find it immensely worthwhile.
• I do not separate the sacred and the secular. I have a life. It’s made up of spirituality, work, art, and many, many things. I do not have a “church face” and a “home face” and a “friend face,” I just have a face. My life isn’t in waffle boxes. Everything I do is sacred to me, whether going to a church service or preparing a meal for a loved one. When I write, it is sacred to me. When I paint. When I spend time with friends. It’s all the same to me. I am not a Christian author, I’m an author with a spiritual journey. I’m an author. I’m not a Christian artist, I’m an artist who looks for God in all things. I have come to loathe trite labels that put people in boxes and separate out areas of one’s life. Ultimately, I’m just who I am, and that’s just as it should be. I would never write or paint “to” Christians only. I have no tolerance for Country Club Christianity that sets itself up as an alternate society. I believe we are all God’s creation and we ought to stop putting up walls that we think may keep us “unspoiled” when all it does is isolate and push others away. Instead we ought to become an integral part of the world with our fellow humans. If one hopes to impact the world in any capacity, one cannot live in a closet.
• Happiness/Joy is a Choice. Just as marriage (or staying in a marriage) is a choice, so also is your own happiness. It is not a place or destination. It is something you carry around with you. If you have mess (baggage) to work out, get it done because it will kill your joy. Deal with your past. Make amends. Give and receive forgiveness. Once you’ve done that, let it go. I’ll say it again. Let. It. Go. Living with guilt or shame or unforgiveness is a joy killer. If you need help, seek it out. A friend, priest or pastor, psychologist or counselor… any of these are great resources to help you unpack your baggage and get on with the business of life.
• Health is everything. If you allow your physical body to fall apart, you won’t have a happy, joy-filled life. You take care of your kids, your home many other things, but often ignore your own “shell” and let it fall into disrepair. I understand that we cannot help some things in this toxic world, but there is MUCH that is within our power to control when it comes to our bodies. Yes, we will age, and things won’t be as firm as they once were, but we decide what we eat, how much, and when. We decide if we are going to prioritize exercising our bodies to keep our heart, lungs, and muscles functioning. We decide. These decisions determine a lot about our energy and well-being. Step it up. Take responsibility. You’ll never regret it.

Still Reaching for the Stars

Just the other day I walked around the yard and thought, “What’s it all about, this life? Why are we here? Why am I here?”

Truth be told I’ve asked myself this many, many times. I’m a deep thinker.

At twelve I thought my little family and my little town was the entire world. Looking back, I can see it all like a snow globe scene. Life’s little dramas with friends and siblings, they seemed so big to me then.

At eighteen I was utterly clueless. I fell in love, got married. Not a thought given to doing something with my life, or what I was meant for or supposed to do, who I was meant to be.

Late twenties found me divorced, two kids, then re-married and a new child on the way. I always wanted children. I always thought I was a writer. Those are about the only things I knew.

Except…

I always chased God. I always wanted to know who He was. What it was all about. Again, why are we here? Why am I here? Yada-yada. Deep thinking. Apparently, another thing I’ve always been is a philosopher.

Once as a small child, the family was outside on an unseasonably warm Christmas Eve night and my dad pointed up to the stars and said he thought he saw Santa’s sleigh. I ran to the end of the driveway, (as far as I was allowed to go at the time), so I could get closer and see it better. My entire family thought this was hilarious and busted out laughing. At the time I couldn’t understand, despite all their explanations, why that was funny. I had no concept of how far away the stars were. I must’ve been about three.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d have gone to college and studied the stars, took science and biology and oh-so-many classes about everything. I may have been a perpetual life-long student. (But only as long as I still had my beloved kids.)

I’ve learned a lot by this time in my life. In fact, I dare say, I know more about some things than some people who have degrees. Of course, there is still a lot I don’t know, particularly outside of the world of writing. (I have taken a couple college-level courses but never completed a degree, being too busy at raising babies for much of my life.)

I get documents submitted to me through the publishing company by degreed people all the time that are unreadable and unpublishable. But I’ve learned a lot in my chosen field by reading, reading, reading, and writing, writing, writing. This combined with my passion for the written word has brought me to a place where I now help others get published, help others become better, more confident writers. I believe strongly in education, but it is not and will never be a substitute for hard work and passion and die-hard perseverance. God-given talent helps, and I think/hope I have that. (Confidence in yourself and what you do, your mindset, is everything.)

So, all this rambling to say this: I still don’t know, and will not ever, truly understand why we’re here. But part of what I am and I’m supposed to do has been revealed to me. Revealed by a still/small voice that guides me and shows me what is uniquely me, what I do, what I should do while on planet earth. I believe we can all discover this, what makes us uniquely us.

I still look at my garden and wonder at the beauty and variety of plants and flowers. I still read, I still write, I still philosophize. I still look for God everywhere and in everything.

I still look at the stars and look for Santa’s sleigh in December. And in many various ways, I still reach for those stars.

 

Come at me, Canvas.

So today was stinky in the art studio. A day of utter frustration and dissatisfaction. Nothing looks the way I want it to. I’ve come to the conclusion that painting pretty pictures doesn’t come easy for me, not like it does for others, and that both annoys me and challenges me. In fact, it’s probably why I started doing it in the first place. The challenge.

Writing comes much easier for me, it always has. Put me in a room with a pad and pen or a laptop and tell me to write for ten or twelve hours straight and I could do it. Not a problem. Give me a subject and I can write a story about it, maybe three or four stories, given enough time.

But a blank canvas…. (shudder). That still intimidates me. It mocks, me, challenges me, dares me to create something worthy, something that ANYone could find value or beauty in.

I suppose that’s just the sort of thing I need in my life right now. These things tend to come to you when you need them. Something that baffles me, puzzles me, makes me try harder.  Persevere. I don’t want those “muscles” to go soft on me, after all. I don’t want to just be spoiled to doing only that which comes easy.

So. Tomorrow I will face the canvas again with new resolve. It won’t get the better of me, it won’t beat me down or scare me away. Gonna put on my Big Girl Panties and my painting clothes and get after it.

Bring it.

On Wonder Woman and Being a Wonderful Woman (Spoiler Alert!!)

Went to see Wonder Woman tonight and just wanted to jot down some thoughts, rambles, perspectives… so spoiler alert, get outta here right now if you haven’t seen it yet (and plan to do so).

Several things struck me, so I’ll just dive right in. Visually, they did an amazing job, comparable in my mind to any other modern-day super-hero flick, so no issues there.

I thought they cast the role well, the wide-eyed innocent look was there (though I was surprised, honestly, that she wasn’t more “buff” because of the role Gal Gadot was playing, –this isn’t an insult, complaint or criticism, just an observation) as Robin Wright and the others all seemed to have a lot more muscle tone.

The only oddity in my mind was that the god of war, Aries, was played by an average-Joe-looking middle-aged British man complete with mustache. An unexpected choice.

So all this aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, loved getting to see the backstory of Diana Prince.

I have a lot of emotions I am trying to nail down in regards to how the movie makes one feel as a woman.

Of course, we are not all Amazons from Paradise Island, but still… it has a way of making a woman feel proud to be one. It struck me that this movie couldn’t and wouldn’t have been made even twenty years ago, not done this well, anyway.

On the way home I found myself (once again, it’s happened a few times in the life of my marriage) trying to describe something of what it feels like to be a woman to my husband. He’s a great guy, not at all a misogynist, but still, it’s hard to describe what being a woman is like to a man. Kind of like trying to describe a rose to a blind person. Not easy.

I told him how–at 16–I learned that I had to make myself smaller, dim my light, in order that men wouldn’t think I was flirting with them. Even at that age I’d already had the experience of being my bubbly, best, most joyful version of myself, only to be accused of wanting to sleep with some guy that I had just thought I was having a friendly conversation with.

What is that?? I’ve had other such experiences where–myself or other female friends were  just being a normal friendly person but it was misconstrued as coming on to men. Smile too much? Oh you must want to sleep with them. Dare to be happy around a man? Must be trying to take them to bed. This is one of my biggest pet peeves about being a woman. We have to make ourselves smaller, literally and figuratively, because of men.

Literally because, let’s face it, all of us women have a sacred duty to be tiny and have perfect hair/skin/nails/everything so as not to offend the eyes of men. And figuratively because heaven forbid we should be beautiful, bubbly, joy-filled people with our lights shining on full wattage because, you know, the men won’t understand. And while you’re at it, know your place and don’t be smarter or make more money or have more talent because men’s egos can’t handle it. (If you think I’m coming on too strong you’re probably a man.)

I’m not a man, I don’t want to be a man and I surely do not want to be treated like one. I am not the same as a man, I only want equal respect and dignity. That’s all. I wouldn’t think it’s that much to ask. There are women who really do want to be treated like men, or at least they seem to think so, but not me. Just treat me with respect, treat me like an individual, give me my dignity. See, I’m easy to please.

I tried to make my husband understand circumstances where you are in a room full of people and the men are talking and you try to get a word in edge-wise and are looked at like window dressing or like they’re surprised and startled to hear you actually speak. There are all sorts of circumstances where I’ve felt smaller, less than, unappreciated, under-estimated, judged, inappropriately lusted after (I know, right?) and in general, taken for granted. It’s not something that’s easy to explain to someone who hasn’t felt it.

Anyway, all of that to say, there is a scene sort of towards the end of the movie, where WW is walking towards the evil god of war, and it’s kind of “after the struggle”, after she has come to some realizations and she’s now very calm and I connected with this scene, so much. She’s no longer raging and angry, she has found big love, she’s awakened, you might say, and she is at peace and more powerful than ever before. And I’m just shaking my head, like, “Yeah, that’s right.” She’s been through the fire, she’s facing her demons and she is so strong in that moment, not because of her strength changing, but because her heart changed. She found her love.

That hit me between the eyes. It’s so true to life. It’s not about the raging and the revenge and the struggle, it’s about finding big love, finding peace, about how truly powerful and centered we can become. We have the capacity.

For me it is all about being on a spiritual path, looking for more truth, more light, more love, more God. I believe when you seek, you find. The universe has so much for us but God doesn’t force more into us, it comes when we’re open and ready, when we haven’t shut ourselves down. We choose not to grow sometimes, because we think we have it all figured out already. We close down our minds and hearts.

So the long and short of it is, I really loved the movie. And also, even though it’s tough sometimes, I love being a woman.

🙂

 

 

 

She Sings (A Vignette)

Aged and aging, sitting on the porch, reminiscing about her life, she rocks. She sings.

She’s given birth seven times, two died and five thrived, grew to be parents themselves. Hard times have come and gone and with each she learned, she grew. Now she waits for the kids and grandkids to come and visit and at times the waiting seems like an eternity, so she waits, she rocks, and she sings.

She remembers a time when her oldest son wouldn’t let her out of his sight and she chuckles at the memory. She thought he’d never learn to be apart from her and now all these years later, he’s learned the lesson all too well. Busy with his own life, conquering industry and the world, raising his own little ones, and doing an admirable job of it. A tear slides down her cheek, a tear of pride and pain at the same time.

The second son is in prison, twenty years or more yet to go and she knows she likely will never lay eyes on him again. He was the sensitive child, always unhappy, always in the midst of storms, almost always made by himself. Troubled, that’s what they called him. A troubled child. Not strong enough for taking the high roads in life, but more comfortable on the low roads amongst the crooks and druggies. Made him feel superior maybe, or maybe just accepted. He wanted to fit in somewhere, and now he does. Another tear escapes.

The only daughter comes to mind, now on her third marriage, a child that lives with her father. She was the little princess. Tried to protect her, to show her the way, and in the end, she just wanted love and looked for it in all the wrong places. But a good woman, just the same, has a good heart. Works at the diner in town sixty plus hours a week and wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe works herself into exhaustion so she doesn’t have to think about the mistakes she’s made in her life, doesn’t have to think about the days when she drank heavily and lost custody of her only child. Such a sad life, yet, she’s trying. She’s pressing on and there’s something to that. No matter what, there’s something to that.

The two youngest boys are living outside of town, sharing a rental house together, going to school and working, carving out lives for themselves. Only a year apart, they are the tightest of the siblings and genuinely seem to look out for each other, and that makes the old lady happy, truly warms her heart.

She muses, she remembers, she rocks, she sings.

As her heart fills with love and gratitude, she grows tired. Soon the chair stills as the sun goes down. The creaking of the chair stops, her head falls forward.

In heaven she appears on a white rocking chair, she jerks awake. Lifts her head, opens her eyes. Tears flow down, and she rocks and she sings.