Word Vomit

Today is a day for word vomit. Most assuredly.

Often these days I feel the need to write a chapbook on my thoughts and feelings or I am a dry desert with absolutely nothing to say.

Today is vomit.

I feel nauseated a lot these days, low-level, comes and goes, and it feels like it’s because of the world around me and nothing else. Not my immediate world, which feels good, warm, protected, but the other. The outside.

Life.

I’ve been through what might be described best as a crisis of faith. Or at least others might understand that phrase. It seems to mean that you come out the other side…. And you do, and I have. But I am utterly changed.

Some changes have been very good, and some not-so-much. But it’s growth and change and that seems always to come with pain.

Why do people stay in the same place their whole lives? I know why. Change is hard. It hurts. It’s desperately lonely and confusing, and all the things you thought you knew just aren’t there any more, and those things were comforting. They were somewhat false, yet very comforting, like a small child that is protected in the home of its mother. There is bad out there, but I never think of it, I’m safe here in my cocoon.

I guess I’ve seen more of the world and I know why people don’t want to see it, not really. It can be ugly and painful and dirty and all-too-real. So we close ourselves off in different types of protective cocoons, and thank God for them, because without them, we’d all surely go mad.

I now know more about myself, about who I truly am, than I ever have. (The good, the bad, and the ugly.) I have more confidence, more of an ability to stand up for myself and others, that’s a good thing. More love, more compassion than I have ever known possible, yet I feel as though my eyes are more open than ever before. And with eyes open, one sees the bad as well as the good. We feel the pain AND the joy. Maybe it’s something to do with a lifetime of hiding and stuffing, stuffing down those feelings, pains, hurts, hiding from the harshness. I’ve emerged, ready to face it all. Stronger in many ways, yet utterly changed.

To face one’s self, to see yourself for who and what you are, to unpack it all, it’s a journey. And one that only ends when your time on this earth is done. (And if you believe in the eternity of souls, then a new journey begins.) I tend to believe it, maybe because I always have, and there is comfort in believing that we don’t just end. It boggles the mind. I am not sure I’d ever choose to believe that there is nothing after our bodies die. I understand why people do believe it, more than I ever have understood, but I don’t think I can go there.

I think most people’s lives aren’t set up to have the kind of time needed for deep personal/soul reflection. To excavate it all. It takes massive amounts of time. Maybe that’s why it often comes to people as they age and their lives slow a bit. I’ve gotten off the hamster wheel, I am blessed to be able to, and I am grateful that I can work as much as I want to. Or as little.

I’m off the wheel, and it feels mostly great, but also, I sometimes miss the madness. The pace of life with children always under foot, massive amounts of responsibilities to others. There is a feeling of purpose in it.

But this—this time—there is purpose in it as well. And I search for it daily. In words, in the blank page, the empty canvas. I see it in the eyes of family. I hear and feel their love for me, and I know it doesn’t hinge on my duty for them, or theirs for me.

That rare gem of a true friend, the one you can always call or email or text, and they are always there at the other end. It is a priceless gift.

Thanks for listening my friends.

Wonder or Fear

Sometimes in the midst of the most mundane of things, I will become overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. Today it happened while doing laundry. I am struck with a sense of blessing. Many don’t have what I have, do not enjoy even my own level of health and well-being. I can become caught up sometimes in the day-to-day of my own issues and forget that, in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t have it too bad.

I’ve been watching a Netflix program about the world’s most extraordinary homes, and they have been—each one—so beautifully original, unique… they each have their own personality, each visually stunning, but in most cases, it is the homes that manage to insert themselves into the majesty of nature around them, that are the most breath-taking. I am, like many people of the artistic “bent,” a very visually stimulated person. I’ve found myself so inspired by seeing these images of nature, of our world, the oceans, trees, greenery… no matter how good an artist you are, there are some things you just cannot compete with, you just can’t touch.

As a chronic “deep thinker” I think a lot about this life, this planet, why we are here. Hubby and I had a huge talk about it all just yesterday while on the way home from an outing. I’m as obsessed as any poet and philosopher has ever been, when it comes to thinking through the deepest of questions about our existence. I told him that, there are a few (very few) conclusions I’ve come to about this life. One is that we are undoubtedly here to learn lessons. I know this, because I have experienced that I will hit the same wall, round the same mountain, a hundred times, until I have learned what I am meant to learn. There are many instances of this in my life. Once I “get it” I am allowed to move on to new and different lessons.

I believe we are here to experience humanity, experience life in these “skins” on this planet, for some unknown purpose, (perhaps for our own betterment).

I’ve come to believe that there is very little that I know beyond all reasonable doubt, so when I come to any epiphany, it is so powerful to me. But for the first time ever, I’m okay with the “not knowing.” This recent mountain I’ve trekked around has taught me that it is okay NOT to have everything all figured out. I’d even go so far as to say that acting as though, or thinking that you DO, is hubris at its worst.

It’s such a human trait to try and figure everything out, and we’ve done it to such a degree that we have killed all of the wonder and majesty, all of the mystery, in the unknowing and unknowable. It’s a hard thing to just accept that there are some things I will never know for certain.

I think hope and faith dwell there, though, in the unknown, the uncertain. All sorts of wonderful things dwell there. Wonder. The wonder and awe of a small child seeing the ocean for the first time; trying to grasp the ungraspable. Humans try to “think” all the wonder away. I’ve found it is something I want, even need, to hold on to. I’m not a person who can live well or peacefully without hope, faith, wonder, magic, fantasy… the unknown. My soul actually craves it, and gets excited at its prospect. Maybe that’s why I enjoy fiction so much… the world of the unknown and unknowable.

Anyway, today, I feel extraordinarily grateful for life on this gorgeous blue marble. For whatever purpose I, or we, were created. I will live it gratefully and in awe and wonder, I will continue to walk the path, learn the lessons, trek around those mountains. And I will hold on to the unknown with awe instead of fear.

Childhood Memories/The Leap

I remember being a young child, maybe nine or ten,

and I was at some sleep away camp, and there was this lake for swimming.

We all ran down to this cliff-like area,

and the kids all started diving and jumping off this cliff,

that probably wasn’t nearly as terrifyingly far away,

as steep a fall, as I remember it being.

It seemed a thousand-foot drop to me,

in my memory it was miles long, I was terrified.

Many of the kids were older and bigger than me,

and certainly more well-seasoned in life,

and likely every single one a better swimmer than me.

Which isn’t saying much.

One by one they ran up to the edge, and kids in the lake

and on the cliff were all shouting as they each, in turn, jumped.

The line moved, pushing me along and before I knew it,

My turn was up. I was there, standing on the edge.

Everyone shouted, people behind me,

anxious and excited for their turn,

and those down in the water. All looking, all shouting.

All eyes on me.

I heard someone say, “Come on, everyone is doing it,

there’s nothing to be afraid of!

It’s fun! Just jump!”

So, I took a deep breath (which I had time to release,

then take again on the way down).

So, so far down.

I saw the water coming closer and closer to me

and made it a point to gasp in a lungful of breath

just before hitting the water.

The impact knocked the air out of me

and I just went down and down.

I wanted to gulp in air, but there was nothing but water,

endless water.

Finally, I stopped going down and began to rise.

I kicked and crawled and kicked some more,

trying my best to keep panic at bay.

“Everyone’s doing it! It’s fun!”

But it was all pure panic

and anxiety to me.

Finally, my head broke the water

and I shot up, gasping for air,

amazed that I was still alive. I coughed,

I choked, then began to make my way over to the ladder.

I dog-paddled to the ladder to climb back up, and this ladder was so

Intensely straight up and tall and it felt like

Trying to climb all the way to heaven.

But I remember for one fleeting second, when my head broke the water,

there was this voice.

It said, “You did it! You did something you were scared to do,

something you’ve never done before.”

It was so fleeting, and so buried over with sheer panic

and deep breaths. But it was there.

Later, and at many times throughout my life, I’ve thought,

“What the hell was I thinking?! That was too steep,

too far for someone like me

with my very limited swimming skill.”

If it hadn’t been for being swept up with the crowd,

If anyone, any one at all, had bothered to ask me

If I wanted to jump

I’d have said, “No way, I don’t swim very well.”

I would never have been interested in doing it.

But I’d been swept away in the moment.

I hadn’t been given the chance to really think it through.

I remember this moment so frequently.

I remember, I did it, and I didn’t die.

It was one of the scariest moments of my childhood, and

I did it. If I’d thought about it, at all,

I never, ever would’ve made the leap.

I over-think. Always. It’s in my DNA.

But oh, that feeling.

Coming up out of the water. Cheers and applause.

I jumped. I did it.

I didn’t die.

I try and remind myself, sometimes I need to stop over-thinking,

and just take that damned step.

Leap.

My Particular Kind of Crazy

 

I believe there is a love greater than we have ever known, and we have shut it down and contained it within our boxes and labels, we have dulled it and made it irrelevant.

I believe that in all of my life, the only unconditional love I’ve ever known has come from my mother and my husband. I hope my children give me this, I believe they do, even when they don’t get me. (That’s the thing about family, we love always. If only we saw everyone as the family they are.) I never saw it in church (from people). Conditional love, yes, but never the true “AGAPE” love that is so frequently talked about. By and large, we’ve become afraid of real love and intimacy, because of our pain and trust issues. We’ve all been guilty of focusing on our differences, rather than our similarities. There are a few friends who I believe have it down, if I’m to be fair. But it is so rare.

I believe we put each other down in order to make ourselves feel better, because we as individuals, can never admit we might be wrong about something, that we may still yet have something to learn from another’s point of view.

I believe that each of us are beyond beautiful in our own unique ways.

I believe we will ultimately destroy ourselves with closed-mindedness and hate.

I believe there is a large percentage of people in this world who will go to their graves never experiencing “digging deep,” never being who they were created to be, (and this primarily out of fear; fear of being different, of being judged, of failure, of success, and all manner of fears and anxieties). Most people go through life “asleep” to all we were created to be, and how we were created to love.

I believe in reasonable taxes but also, taking care of each other and being one another’s keeper.

I believe in holding people accountable for crime, while at the same time, getting people the help they need to get better and be better.

I believe that all life is precious but also that no-one has the right to judge another’s choices in moments of desperation.

I believe that—given the right set of circumstance—all of us are capable of anything. (Just try hurting one of my family members around me and see if I don’t become a deadly tiger.) “There but by the grace of God, go I” should be more of a mantra. We don’t know people’s lives and experiences, and yet are so quick to judge and label.

I believe that when you claim to love someone you always, ALWAYS, give them the benefit of the doubt, and grace beyond measure, but you never allow yourself to be an enabler or a doormat.

I believe forgiveness sets you free, whether it does any good to the person you’re forgiving or not.

I believe that churches and non-profits should do better at taking care of people, rather than building bigger buildings or softer pews or printing more colorful pamphlets. People can live without a church that has a full band and a coffee house, but people can’t live without food and water and shelter. Without love and human contact and understanding.

I believe that dancing, laughing, and music are three of the biggest gifts we’ve ever been given.

I believe every human on planet earth can do better, be better, when it comes to trying to understand one another and love each other. If only we listened with an ear towards understanding rather than arguing our agendas.

If these things make me crazy, so be it. I’ll continue to be my particular kind of crazy.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Left the Traditional Church (and why I use the term “speak your truth”)

Once again, I have seen on social media, people bashing the term “speak my truth” and this primarily from the far right and the traditional church. And aimed primarily towards Oprah. I want to write about the term “speak my truth” and the reasons I, personally, use the term and always will, and what that means to me, and why I left the traditional church.

I have “ranted” before about people perpetrating spiritual judgment on others, because when I see and hear this kind of thing, it goes all over me, irritates my spirit, my soul, and my very cells. So here I am a writer… what’s a girl to do? Sometimes I MUST write about it.

Let me say, I’ve been where you are. If you are in a traditional bible-based denominational church, you call yourself a Christian, I have been there and was there for most of my life. I don’t –in any way—believe that I am now better than anyone (ANYone in any religion or faith) so please hear me when I say that. I see my spiritual path as a spiral, not a staircase, I am not looking you in the face and saying “I’m steps above you” but I can and will say that I have chased God since I was five and I know as well as I know my name, that wherever I am is exactly where God brought me to. Others don’t get it, that’s okay.

Deep in my inner spirit and soul there began to be things that really didn’t fit for me, didn’t make sense. I would have “catches” in my spirit, something that said, “Whoa! That’s not right! That can’t be right!” and I finally began to listen to those things deep down, and I began to seek truth, only with my hand in my Creator’s hand, and I stopped listening to other’s perspectives.

I am a person who likes to live my life in total integrity. That does not mean that I am perfect, far from it, but if what the church is saying is something I find deep down I cannot align myself with, in integrity, then I cannot align myself with it anymore. I know this sounds like a “rigid” stance, but for me, (this is MY truth) it is the only way I can exist on this planet; to do what I believe I know deep down is right in as much integrity as possible, not compromising who or what I am or what I believe, not aligning myself with what is oftentimes hypocritical, broken, and nonsensical rules, laws, dogma, and behavior.

There’s a LOT of good in the church, and I recognize that the people in it are only human, I do get that. It often provides a community that many of us will never find outside of a church building. A community of like-minded people who will bring you food when you’re sick and serve you, love you, and take care of you. I know there is a lot of good there, and certainly a lot of good intention. I do not and will not judge someone harshly because they go to church or have a particular kind of faith. This, to me, is the highest form of spiritual judgment, to look at another human and say “I am right and you are wrong and you’re just being stupid.” To me, this attitude is immature, narrow-minded and hateful. Unfortunately, it is also an attitude I run across A LOT. If ever humans will be judged harshly by God, my belief, my truth, is that He will certainly judge the harshest, those who do this to their fellow man, rather than loving them. That is my truth. (See what I did there??)

When I say (or anyone says) “This is my truth,” what they are saying is actually something along the lines of “I have had a set of experiences and lessons in my life that is different than yours, I am different than you, THIS is what I have learned and know to be true,” and I think we HAVE to stop judging that. You don’t have to believe them, agree with them, or adopt their truth as yours, but I do think we are at a critical stage in humanity on this earth where it is more important than ever before, to focus on love rather than judgment. Judgment never “saved” anyone. It never changed anyone’s mind or talked anyone into or out of any core belief system, nor should it.

One of my “truths” (a powerful, life-altering thing for me) was learning and understanding that who I am and what I believe is truly between me and my Creator and is nothing to do with you. I don’t and won’t negotiate my spirituality or core beliefs with you (and I understand if you won’t either.) Nobody should. A spiritual journey is something each of us is on, ultimately, alone. God guides us where He will to teach us what WE need to learn, not what someone else needs to learn, in that precise moment in your life. What He is teaching me now is likely not the same thing He’s teaching you, in this moment in time.

This is my truth, my journey. You don’t get it? Good for you, God bless. But you better not get in my face about it—full of hate and judgment, because I WILL push back against that. I will stand up for myself and what I believe. Why? Well, because I must. I am not a follower of other people. I follow my God and integrity in all areas. I chase love, forgiveness, healing, joy, peace, and so many things. But I do not and will never again require anyone else’s stamp of approval on my life, not in any area.

Do I sound angry? Sometimes I am. I get very angry when I see people hurting and judging one another, hating instead of loving, isolating ourselves instead of being inclusive around those who do not believe the same. It hurts me and it angers me and I will always use any platform I may have to SPEAK MY TRUTH.

 

 

 

 

Letter from Him

A Short Story

It arrived on a Thursday afternoon. I’d been drinking my afternoon cup of tea when I heard the sound of the mailbox closing; the whine, the clink.

  Eventually I made my way down the hill, slowly, in no rush to see the plethora of bills and ads that no doubt awaited me. I carefully shuffled back up the hill, the post in a bunch under my arm, putting off looking through it all for as long as possible.

   In through the door, then locked it behind me. I plopped the pile on the kitchen table and sat in front of it. Drained the last of my tea.

   I flipped through two ads for loans, one for cleaning the gutters. Created a trash pile off to the side. Then an envelope caught my eye.

   Something in the back of my brain told me I recognized the handwriting but I couldn’t place it. I tore into the lavender envelope. It was a card. A letter fell out onto my lap.

   The card said something about “Thinking of You” but it barely registered. I saw the scrawled name at the bottom of the card. I picked up the letter. It had been three years or more since I’d even allowed myself to think of him.  Much longer since we’d spoken on the phone. It hadn’t ended well between us, not at all. I was shocked that he had written.

Our daughter was what they called “gifted” with a much higher than average IQ.  She was on track to get a high school diploma by the age of eleven. She never made it.

   One rainy night a drunk driver ran a red light and crashed through our car. He, my husband and I, we were banged and bruised, but she—she had been trapped in the car.

   I remember laying with my face on the pavement, staring at her, crying… she upside-down and immobilized, me—just trying to stay close, to reassure her. But—smart as she was—she knew and accepted it before we did. She knew she was on her way out.

   “I’m sorry, Momma. I had things to do. There were things I wanted to say,” she said, matter-of-factly, her blue eyes burrowing into mine.

   “I know, Sweetie! Hold on! You will say them one day!” I was not ready to let go.

   “No, I have stories to tell. I have books and poetry to write, inventions to invent,” she said, then sighed. “I’m not ready. Why do I have to go?” she asked, and the last shred of my heart shattered.

 A month after we buried her, he had left. My husband, he couldn’t take it. I tried to tell him about my pain, but his was too great. He fell into a bottle and as far as I knew, he’d never come out of it.

   Now this.

   I began to read his letter.

   He told me of the darkest days, the days that blurred together, a fog of booze and tears. He spoke of the great guilt he carried; guilt that he had been at the wheel, though very sober and not at all at fault, he still felt he should’ve been able to prevent the accident. The guilt he also carried that he had not been there for me when I needed him.

   They were all things I’d wanted to hear so badly at the time, but now… it just felt like too little, too late. My heart had died the night our child did, and I had nothing left to give him, not even my forgiveness.

   He wanted me to speak words of encouragement to him, to tell him everything would be okay, but I couldn’t speak the words. In fact, I dropped the letter into the trash bin, only partially read.

   For the life of me, I couldn’t understand it, I could not fathom why a child should have to die, then the bitter irony of my husband becoming a drunk afterwards, it was just too much. Life had become too much.

   I had managed to get a new job, one working from home, doing data entry. Within a year, I rarely left the house. My friends had all fallen away. A few tried for weeks, maybe months, to reach me, but eventually they grew tired of me telling them to go away and leave me alone… they finally did.

   I lived like a zombie, a ghost.  Wake up, have coffee, take a shower. Work. Lunch. Work. TV. Bed. I talked to people as infrequently as I possibly could. Most of what I needed to survive was delivered to my door, ordered online. I only ever saw the sun on my walks to and from the mailbox each afternoon. The sun was an affront to me, how dare it shine when everything in me was rain?

   It’s funny how life goes on, the world still turns, after a tragedy. The ant-farm of life still buzzing away like normal, like everything was just as it should be, like… like… my pain, my loss, didn’t matter, didn’t compute. Not part of the Matrix.

 After a few moments pondering, I went and grabbed the letter out of the trash bin. I wiped the few coffee grounds off of it that had stained the pages, and I folded it neatly. I put it in my desk drawer.

   I couldn’t read the rest of it today, not this day. But one day, I would read it. I would finish it. I’d call him and tell him how much I loved and missed him, and that, for what it was worth, I forgave him.

   Maybe one day, but not today. One day, I’d open the blinds, prop open the door, let the sun back in. One day I’d go out to the store to make my purchases, to a coffee shop and have a cup of coffee in public, smile at a stranger.

   One day I’d compartmentalize my pain, put away my grief.

   One day I’d finish the letter from him.

 

 

 

 

On Growth, Issues, and Boundaries Blog Dec 11 2017

I love this song by Julia Michaels where she says, “I got issues.” I’ve been saying this for some time, cuz, well, I do. I mean I think everyone does. You’re either dealing with them or ignoring them or you’re just too dad-gummed busy to sort them out. I think I’ve grown more since my kids left the nest than all the other years of my life put together. Largely because I had time to think. And I had time to begin to ask myself some super tough questions.

Having been on this earth a good while now has helped, too. There’s no teacher like time to bring experience and wisdom.

I saw a meme on Facebook earlier that said, “If someone really loves you, they’ll never leave.” Everyone was typing “Yes!” and “Amen!” and I had to type, “Nope.” SOOOO not my perspective anymore.

People in relationships each individually grow and if they don’t learn to grow together, then a split is inevitable. Some are in abusive relationships. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other, but you don’t stay in such a place. You just don’t. Sometimes love isn’t enough. There are many circumstances I’ve seen in my life and/or the lives of others, where that meme just didn’t prove to be true. It’s a young perspective. It’s fairy tale land.

I’ve had a lot of love in my life, and I’ve had love leave. I’ve left. It sucks, but it’s the way it is.

As for my other issues, well, they’re probably too numerous to get into. But I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m sorting through the luggage and tossing some things out. I’m facing some hard truths about my own life in a way I’ve never done before; head on. I don’t know exactly why it’s taken me this long, except to say, it was my time to do so.

And at the risk of writing yet another post entitled, “What I’ve Learned,” because I have enough of those now to write an entire book, I will list some more of the things I have learned here. Some are just too personal to share, but some I can.

1)     People can love you with all of their ability but not know how to love you right or well.

I didn’t really know love in the way I do now, not for a very long time. Having kids taught me a lot about how to love. Having unconditional love in my life was life-changing for me. Transformational. And it helped me learn a lot more about what love really means. You’re not born with the ability, it is hard fought for.

2)     Many people in our world today do not know how to confront, inwardly or outwardly.

I used to think I was the world’s worst at confrontation, and at one time I probably was. I didn’t know how to face the yuck on my own insides, let alone deal with someone else’s. I’ve learned a lot about boundaries, and that people treat you exactly how you allow them to. This a very powerful truth for me. I have also learned to confront others in love and respect, because I have been confronted that way and I’ve been confronted harshly and even unjustly, and I now know which way it should go. It isn’t easy and it isn’t very fun, but I’ve learned to maintain relationships, you MUST be able to confront when needed.

3)     Nobody wants to come face to face with having been wrong about something in their lives.

One of the most powerful things that has happened to me in recent years is being brave enough to admit that I’ve been wrong about some core beliefs in my life. Now, that’s painful. It can feel humiliating, or off-putting and just plain yuck. But we are each responsible to grow past the yuck when we find it in ourselves. I’ve had attitudes that were hurtful, I’ve been narrow-minded and short-sighted about some things, and it’s been hard to change, like turning the Titanic. But this ship is turning.

4)     Just because something ends, that doesn’t mean it was wrong. You learned something.

In my life I’ve had people jump ship on me. I have to remind myself of the times when I was the one that left something or someone. I am learning not to judge and to realize that people are where they are. I am where I am. If that doesn’t mesh well, that’s okay. It really is. God Bless and see ya later.

5)     You’re stronger/better than you think you are, AKA, We ALL Have Issues.

I spent many years dealing with some personal issues that helped me believe I wasn’t worthy of love. I wasn’t good enough. Low self-worth and low self-esteem are epidemic. For some it could be due to harsh up-bringing, or some kind of abuse or trauma, or bullying… but whatever our individual reasons, I think most, if not all people, struggle with their self-worth in some way or another. If you find yourself in any place around any people who hold you down and try to stop your personal growth, please, GET OUT. People who love you for you, will encourage your growth and finding yourself; your self-awareness.

6)     You are under NO obligation to be who others think you should be, or hold their “stuff” as your “stuff”.

Don’t adopt your family’s belief system as your own, or your friend’s or anyone’s. Part of knowing who you are is fighting out things for yourself; coming to know and understand fully and firsthand what you believe and why. If your only reason for holding a core belief is because someone else said so, it’s time to really examine it. Examine your own heart. If something feels wrong, it often is. Have the strength to set those boundaries. We have to say “You can come this far and no further.” I will listen to you tell me this or that, but at a certain point, only I know what I truly believe, deep inside to be true, and that I will not negotiate.

And as for me, these are the things I have learned, and maybe you have or haven’t, or maybe you have a different list. If you don’t have a list, it’s time to get one.

Happy growing, beautiful one!!

 

December 2017 blog post–On Self-Love and Self-Confidence

There’s so much going through my mind right now that I almost literally cannot move and function, which for me, means it is time to “download.” Time to write it all out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal growth, (it’s a thing with me), and so I love sharing my journey so that maybe even just one person will connect with something and maybe find it helpful.

Of course, no-one is ever under any obligation to read these things I post, whether I post a link to my site where I have all the blogs or if I decide to share it all on my personal Facebook page, PLEASE feel free to keep scrolling.

So, here’s where my thoughts are today, December 7th, 2017.

I had the thought that it may be a great personal litmus test to see just how comfortable you are with yourself, if you can go out and eat by yourself. This is not a judgement, just a little test you can take to see where you are with loving and enjoying who you are. CAN you spend time alone with YOU willingly, and totally enjoy it? I know personality types definitely play a part, but in my journey, I have noticed a pattern, that those who absolutely cannot be alone, OFTEN do not know or love themselves well. It’s a part of feeling constantly judged, and being trapped in the mindset of, “what are others thinking about me right now?” If you can’t get past that question, your personal growth will be stuck in one place for years, maybe forever. And I can speak to that because that used to be me. Some aren’t tracking because you’ve conquered this already in your life; scroll on. Some of you are totally tracking with me.

I began making it a practice to go out and eat alone many years ago, and I will admit that, at first, it was hard. I was convinced that others were judging me. They thought I had been stood up, or I was “on the prowl,” looking for a date, or I was sad in some way. And here’s the key. It just doesn’t f-ing matter.

I have found myself so stuck in the jail of other’s opinions and judgements that I was stuck for a very long time. I am free of that now and it is the biggest change and sense of freedom I think I’ve ever felt in my life. And it is a huge step towards loving YOU and realizing that YOU are fun to be around. You’re a marvelous person, deep, intricate. You have layers. Others don’t get it. Who cares?

So, my point today, is If you say to yourself, “I could never do that!” then I challenge you today to do it. Plan it, schedule it. Go to one of your favorite places. Maybe bring a book or a Kindle. And while you’re there make it a point to breathe deep and smile a lot. Relax yourself and just notice your surroundings. Watch people. Observe. Listen.

Go inside. Think about the best parts of yourself. Sometimes I get into these deep conversations with myself or my creator even, in my head, and sometimes I laugh out loud. Yes, people stare. I don’t care. I crack myself up. Deal with it. Yes, people see me as weird, arrogant, blah, blah, blah, but my personal growth WILL NOT rest on what others think about me. And it shouldn’t for you, either.

You may find that you enjoy the practice so much that you begin to schedule alone dates. Dates with yourself. I love it. Do it. I found out a long time ago that I actually really like me. Doesn’t make me less than humble. Doesn’t make me an arrogant ass. I’m just self-aware enough to realize that sometimes I am the only one I want to be with.

All that said, it’s hard to like and love yourself if you carry around a lot of guilt or shame or unforgiveness inside of you. We are all so very different and have had very different experiences, but pain is common to us all. We’ve all been through it. One way or another. My story may not match yours, but we all have stories. The best advice I can give you, is spend time on you and you alone, forgive yourself first, then work on forgiving others around you. You are worthy of love, worthy of acceptance and nurturing, but guess what? That begins ONLY with you. A little one-on-one with yourself. Learn to be your own best friend and you will eventually find other like-minded people to connect with, but it won’t be because of a deep-seeded need to have others love and accept you; it’ll be because you have loved and accepted yourself. And that’s attractive. You will draw the right people to you.

And here’s the downside, (there’s always a downside). You may lose friends, too. Any time we change there will be people who don’t get it, who judge you, who don’t think they like what you’re trying to do. A lot of that is because they want and need you to be messed up and needy. They have their own twisted need for that. Maybe they feel they need you, just as you are. Truth is, they are on their own journey and sometimes we have to leave others behind. Relationships should always be built on mutual respect, love, and understanding. If others don’t respect you doing things that better YOU, then it may be time you hang with a new crowd.

Change and growth is so hard. Self-respect, self-confidence, is hard-fought-for. Do it anyway. You will never truly regret it.

Whatever has happened to you up to this point helped make you who you are. You hold the key to changes for the better; to living YOUR life, not a life others want, need, or expect you to live.

Go out and take on the day and the world today. You’re worth it. You’re loved.

 

 

 

 

Unmet Expectations: The Root of All Evil

 

Thinking a lot about expectations today. I once expected that all of my needs in every area would be met by my parents. They’d keep me full (physically and emotionally) and make sure I had all that I needed. I had pretty good parents, (certainly as compared to some I’ve heard about). So by and large, those needs were met pretty well. Sure, I got mad or upset with them, but they did the best they could.

As a pre-teen and into my teens, I think I transferred those expectations to boys. If I met the right boy, it would make me feel wonderful and fulfilled and all would be well.

When I was a child, as well as when I got closer to adulthood, I began to seek out the meaning of life; to understand religion and all things philosophical, and for a long while felt fulfilled following religion. But there were times, I fell hard. I would realize that people in churches were also human and fallible. Religions were man-made and far from problem-free.

My expectation was that having faith would totally fulfill me and perfect my life. Logically, I always knew this wasn’t so, that nobody is perfect, and even faith itself is not perfect. But many, myself included, at times in my life, have found great pleasure and fulfillment in church communities, gathering with other people who were at least somewhat like-minded, looking to something above and beyond ourselves for answers. It was, in a measure, fulfilling. At least I could feel as though I was being and doing everything I was supposed to do and be. Or, I thought so at the time. There is something true and real in seeking out the un-understandable; at least for me, there has been. I used to think I had a handle on some things. My ducks were in a row, my boxes were secure and ticked.

My view of God and of spirituality is totally different now. If only I could relate this eloquently and in a manner others could understand, but I’ve tried, and I can’t. I’m letting it go, (the need for others to understand).

Spirituality is a lifelong process, I know that now. To grow in every area, you must be willing to change, to take what the Creator brings your way. I’ve had to learn to grow through things, not shut down. My faith looks nothing like it did twenty years ago, or even ten, and I’m convinced that’s by design.

I expected as an adult to have a long, healthy life; particularly once I began to figure out how to eat better, exercise and take care of myself. This is another expectation that isn’t necessarily reliable. Nobody knows how many days or years they have on this planet. At least nobody on this side of the divide.

I expected that 2 and 2 would always equal 4. That things were always black and white, that things would always make sense. I have now acknowledged the gray.

I never expected that I’d have auto-immune disease, or any of many other things I’ve dealt with and deal with daily.

I never expected to get old. This is a tough one, because everyone knows they will age, yet somehow, we’re never really ready for it when it comes. In my twenties and thirties, I probably would’ve said that being in my fifties felt like it was a million years away and unfathomable; yet here I am. A grandmother several times over.

Some expectations have been met, and some things are far better than even I imagined. I have an amazing life partner and husband, three beautiful and amazing grown kids. I have a truly wonderful life.

And I still feel myself setting up expectations in areas of my life that blow up in my face.

My husband isn’t responsible for my happiness or fulfillment. That was a big lesson to learn. I enjoyed the tear-jerking, earth-shattering, unbelievably blessed years and moments of raising kids, but ultimately, I can’t lay my happiness at their feet or at the feet of “family.”

I know some truly unique and loving people, friends. Can’t lay my expectations there, either. People often end up being (shock) very human in the end. I’m learning to let them be.

I’ve learned that happiness, joy, fulfillment, it only comes from the inside out. It isn’t about the outer, it’s about the inner.

And the journey led right back to me.

I now know I should keep my expectations right where they belong; in check. Right here at my feet, at my door. God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

Ultimately, I have zero control over most things. I make decisions and deal with the consequences. And when life doesn’t go as planned, and expectations aren’t met, I come back to this; God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

That’s just the way it goes. And that’s okay.

 

Transcendant to release December 1st!

My latest novel is set to release December 1st! Can order (after Dec 1) through Amazon, B & N online, and other booksellers. If you order from my site (here on the books tab) I will sign it and send it on to you.

The year was 2723. The year time stopped. The calendar was re-set.

 Troy Collier emerges from a government bunker and goes to work rebuilding after World War III. He finds himself married at nineteen, and working at Compound One, the seat of new power in what is left of the Eastern US.

The new mandate is to procreate for the survival of the human race. The community is infiltrated with spies, and there is rumor of a secret society of “evolvers” as people go missing.

Faced with numerous challenges, Troy navigates his way, as humanity struggles to survive, and some to transcend.

Mindfulness and Choice

It seems to me, (and I’ve only myself and my own experiences  to go by), that any time I feel down or blue or depressed, its roots, (when I find the energy to dig them up), are in something that someone else did or said and the way I reacted to that event or conversation.  The roots are in how I was made to feel.

So when I pick at that thread, I must realize that I have given away my power in some way, to another. After all, I am not responsible for what others do or say, but I am responsible for how I react to it. So, if I give over my power by allowing others to control how I feel, then I’ve brought about my own depression, in a sense.

In the depressed moment, I am (consciously or subconsciously) choosing to focus on something negative that has taken place and the feelings I’ve attached to it.

So how do I stop this? The first step is realizing what is happening. There is some word or event that is stuck inside me, and I’m focusing on it.

I’m not sure I have yet discovered the answer in total, but I am feeling some relief by simply replacing negative thoughts (or memories) with positive ones. I’m making it a point to replay positive things others have said to me, positive truths I know about myself, over and over, to sort of replace the negative thoughts and feelings.

I know in my head that I am not a sum total of what others think of me or even of my experiences; at least, I don’t have to be. If messages are going to replay themselves inside my head/mind, then I should be the one to get to choose what messages those are.

So today I am practicing mindful choice; the choice to hear (on repeat) those things I choose to hear.

I’m sure I’m not nearly the first person to have such a realization, but coming to understand things myself, (rather than reading it elsewhere), seems to be key to my personal growth and understanding.

Today I am choosing to hear that I am loved, cherished, befriended, wanted. I am replacing the old with the new, the bad with the good.

And I feel good about it.

 

Hangin’ In (Enjoying the Journey)

It is such an incredible joy to be able to do what I love to do and focus only on creativity and artistic endeavor at this point in my life. I know that people often feel the need to do what it takes to pay the bills (and responsibility is a very good thing), but these days I can’t imagine spending 40 plus hours a week having to do something to further someone else’s agenda rather than my own.

I’m incredibly blessed at this stage, that I can work at my own pace without the lights being turned off for lack of payment. But I don’t know many who got to such a place quickly or easily.

Even so, I’d encourage every person to search after work that feeds their soul as well as their tummy. I was always pretty good with office work, and I find that if you’re good at something, you tend to enjoy it a little more. I also have an undying love for coffee, and worked at coffee shops more than once in my life. I’ve had several “normal” jobs in my life (meaning outside the realm of artistic endeavor; writing, painting and the like). But even while you’re doing what you have to do, try extra hard to make it something you’re passionate about. It will make those work hours go by faster and easier.

My husband, BFF and business partner is a tech genius in my estimation.  I couldn’t do what he does any more than he could write a fiction novel, but he’s good at his job, which makes it a little bit easier to expend a lot of his life doing it.

We only get this one life. I find it to be a necessity to do what you love, (even if you have to do something you love a little less until you can do what you love a little more–later on down the line.)

Hang on, don’t give up on your dreams. I’m holding on and hanging in, even when people aren’t throwing money at me for doing it. Because I insist on enjoying the journey–every single day that I can.

On Friendship

People leave. That’s just the way it is.

I’m not a surface-y kind of person, I don’t want a hundred friends that want to party and talk about the weather. I need a small circle of friends that like me and love me and accept me, friends that I also connect with and care about.

I go deep.

I want friends who will speak to me honestly and openly about their lives, problems, thoughts, issues. Who are not afraid to share openly, and to listen to me share openly, without judgment. Someone I can discuss issues with, and—even when we disagree—we decide to show one another respect and kindness.

I used to believe this was normal and common place, but it isn’t. These kinds of friends are so hard to come by.

I have people come into my life all the time, promising me things, acting as if they’re my new best friend, and then, for whatever reason, I usually have no earthly idea why, they just vanish. And for a long time, I’d beat myself up about that. But I came to a realization; well, a couple, really.

For one, my personality is different and I’m a unique person, (as are others), and sometimes we just don’t gel well for the long-haul. Sometimes others are more of a “surface-y” type, and do not enjoy people who always want to know what’s going on deep inside of their hearts and minds. Some people just aren’t that vulnerable and do not enjoy such a friendship. And that’s okay.

I’ve realized that most of the time, they have their own reasons for fleeing that have nothing to do with me, and the truth is, if they DO have to do with me, then they have to be willing to confront me in love and say “You hurt me” or “what did you mean when you said such-and-such” or to confront in any way. I find most people don’t do this. At the first sign of “realness” in the friendship, the first time we disagree or rub each other the wrong way, they’re gone.

At first this hurt my feelings, but it’s just the way most people are, I’m coming to terms with it.

People are broken, they want to be heard, understood, loved, and accepted, and if any little thing makes them feel less than all of this, their tendency is to move on in their continual search for authentic love and relationship. And sadly, they will likely never find it, unless they hang with “yes-men or yes-women” who never voice a real thought or opinion; those who have learned that being authentic means chasing people away, or the potential to do so.

I’m at a point in my life, though, where I don’t have the energy to expend on trying to “fix” people. I don’t have the energy to chase anyone, not anymore.

So, if we mesh, we do, and I’ll enjoy that friendship as long as it lives. But if you decide I’m too for real, that you can’t handle all of me, then be blessed, and journey on.

I speak my mind. I don’t pussy-foot around. I’m aware of who I am and I have confidence, and I don’t hem and haw about any of that. I have boundaries, I don’t allow people to put me down or insult me or try to tell me how I’m wrong because I’m not just like them.

I don’t have time or energy for any of those games, not anymore.

I’m grounded, secure; I’ve done a lot of work to get where I am, (authentically me), so, as for friendships, know that I am a fiercely loyal friend. But I don’t do BS and drama. Love me, then stick with me. Don’t love me, then walk away. Do what you’ve got to do. I refuse to let it make me bitter or closed down. I will continue to be who I am, regardless of how others treat me.

And for those that are still here, who stick; you are so special in my life and have shown me what true friendship looks like.

And for those who bumped into my life for a while and then left—journey on and journey well.

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.