The spaghetti days of our lives

FB_IMG_1590883833791What exactly do you want out of life, and what are you doing to make that happen?

Are you happy where you are?

What does your best life look like?

It is funny what thoughts hit your head first thing in the morning.

I once heard a college professor say there are “goal oriented” people and “task oriented” people. Both are needed in our world.

Goal oriented folks have their goals before them, for example, an end goal in mind. Like a football player running for a touchdown, even if they have to zig zag across the field, they keep running.

Tackled. That happens too. People and situations often try to take you down when you are headed to your goal.

Or maybe you are the force taking yourself down. (Self defeating thoughts do that.)

But you get up and keep going.

Task oriented people could be equated to waffle squares.

They work in one square at a time and absolutely will not work on anything else until that is finished. Some say this is like obsessive compulsive behavior. Yet they also get the job done, whatever it is. Interruptions are annoying. Let me finish this task.

I believe there are also spaghetti times. The abstract random, noodle approach to life, creativity abounds, but where it comes from and where it is going, who knows.

I also believe that most of us have spaghetti times of our lives. Cook the noodles too long, they stick together in one big glob. Try to get half done spaghetti out of the pot, it goes everywhere.

In our pursuit of our personal, spiritual and work lives, it is good to have a friend or counselor who can help detangle the spaghetti of our lives.

I have one friend whom I trust with everything. This person can ask a couple probing questions, then bam.

It all makes sense.

Counselors can do the same thing.

So can life coaches.

Personally, I have a few people that I consider mentors or voices of reason.

Where did we come from, and where are we going?

Meanwhile, observe the lighted bottle above. I made these as Christmas gifts last year for 2020, The Year of Light.

(Little did we know how much we would need that Light this year.)

The little wire strands look almost tangled by daylight. Turn it on, and the lights are like fireflies.

May your days of spaghetti make more sense to you as you see that even those have purpose.

 

What good will I bring?

In the midst of a chaotic world, what good may I bring to this day?

What kind words can I offer to another soul in need?

What positive endeavors can I cultivate?

What good thoughts may I ponder today?

What songs will I sing, songs of overcoming life’s challenges and trials?

What creative things can I do?

What blessings may I bring?

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Be kind to yourself, and that will flow to others

FB_IMG_1590884066322The drizzling rain outside from a passing tropical system will for sure help my flowers grow.

A couple years ago, Florida went through such a drought that the water in many shallow ponds dried up, leaving mud and a stench of dead fish.

The buzzards had a feast.

Heartbroken at the dried pond that once inspired poems, I prayed that Florida would get rain, and never be that dry again.

Pineapples. I picked one of the three I have been growing and noticed it is tiny and has, as of yet, no smell.

Either I picked it too soon, or perhaps, it did not get enough water. (It is on the side of the farm that has no irrigation.)

The rains did not come early enough to sustain it, I guess.

Anyway. Or as my Dad always says, “anyhow.”

Had a conversation with a fellow survivor yesterday, a person I will likely interview someday on my Youtube channel (which will be aimed at helping other survivors of sexual abuse.)

Conversations help us grow and understand the world around us, and understand ourselves.

I was telling this person how in every facet of my life, I often think that others think less of me because in my heart I tell myself I am not good enough at whatever it is I am trying to do.

This person blew my mind when they said I need to start my own channel and really get involved in sharing my own story, and also having conversations on healing, creative living, overcoming, PTSD, spirituality, and so forth.

As I see it, this endeavor would definitely not be one of those “hey I have all the answers” kind of things. Because I don’t.

This person shared with me their struggles with a variety of life elements and said they would for sure appreciate a channel dedicated to that.

I went away from that conversation, in the midst of a terrible approaching storm outside, realizing this:

If I am going to be able to bless others with kindness, I’d better start being kind to myself.

Wow.

That means “speaking life” over myself.

The counselor I was seeing a few years back asked me if I would treat a small child the way I treat myself.

If someone compliments me, I am quick to brush it off. My spirit says to me “You ain’t all that, don’t believe it.” Growing up, one person in my family said “the world does not revolve around you, butt out” when I would try to join conversation.

So there was that.

I had aspirations of being a writer, and another person said “don’t give up your day job,” when I was in middle school.

(Well I did eventually write for a living, working for years, and still do, in the news industry.)

As an adult, daily I have to confront the lack of confidence and also the disdain I have for myself.

Why do we survivors hate ourselves?

That is a conversation for another day.

Being kind to myself is recognizing that God gave me unique gifts, that my artsy and creative side is not a curse, that whether I am wearing makeup, not wearing makeup, whether my shoes match my outfit or whether I am the only one in the room with cheap shoes, whether I am energetic or depressed, feeling fun or basically, drained, whether I succeed or fail at my attempt to face this day with a smile, whether I know much on a subject or little, it is OK.

Being kind to myself means that I give myself permission to relax and quit attacking myself, while also noting my struggles and things I need to work on.

It means my list of things I approve about myself grows.

And that approval is based solely on what God and myself think of me.

And not what I assume others are thinking.

There are days when I succeed at this, and as such, am nicer to others.

I have a cat at my elbow.

Happy Sunday, all.

 

The anxiety trap

Was reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, a bestselling author and blogger.

In it, she notes that she did not always find the support she sought for while writing what would one day be a best selling book, and yet, she kept pursuing her Happiness Project.

The subject intrigues me greatly. Happiness.

And then I think of anxiety. That can be some shaky tennis shoes there, when one starts thinking about writing something that could change the world.

Or when one embarks on a new project or endeavor of any kind.

Or when one is hatching such a plan in the middle of a pandemic.

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, a book in the Bible, that many people had written things, many people had wealth, many people pursued futile things in life.

He came to the conclusion that “life waa meaningless” and “there was nothing new under the sun.”

A few times already, I have almost trashed the fiction book I am writing.

Hold that thought.

Was talking to a friend at the newsroom one day about how I need to restring my guitar and how I would practice more, but I might give it up because I will never be any good at it, and so forth.

I admire Dolly Parton and her long nails and happy attitude, and there is no way I could ever sing nor play like she does.

She is a legend.

My friend pulled on his long red beard and said “Why do you have to be good at it? Do you like playing? Do you have fun doing it?”

And I nodded that yes, I did enjoy playing, and suddenly had an epiphany.

That in all my hobbies, I always try to be the best. Of course I have fun.

That kind of thinking can corral creative enjoyment.

Be the best.

The anxiety kicks in when I am surrounded by music professionals in choir at church, when discussion as to what line or note we are on turns to Latin terms.

Learn Latin.

But then I start having fun and figure even if I have to lip sync on the high notes, hopefully God approves.

I think of all the times in my life when I just cannot relax. Either because I feel I am not good enough, smart enough, deep enough, creative enough, or because my head is spinning a hundred miles a minute.

A notebook and pen, and a garden bench, and wind chimes, flowers, sunlight and birds .. and before I know it, inspiration has lit my soul, and there you go.

Words on paper.

Am feeling the same internal fire I felt in the writing of my first book. I want to write a bunch of books. And I want people to read them, and in some way, for just a little while, to realize how beautiful life can be, that their place in this universe is by deliberate creation.

The written word helped provide a way out for me when I was a kid, stuck at home, with no money for band lessons or cookies, and tormented by the thoughts swarming my head during those often dark days.

I still love reading.

Anyway. We are having homemade waffles and bacon for supper. One of the cats has curled up on my lap, and I find the pressure from the tropical storm or whatever it is .. is messing with how I feel tonight.

On a bright note, here is a picture of my feet this past summer, in my favorite pair of tennis shoes. Six bucks, Walmart.

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Light, peace, and mental health

The card tumbled out of the book I had loaned to a friend to read, as I took it out of my desk at work.

I love cards.

The friend had read my story, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing, and put an encouraging note inside.

The person had a background in social work with kids who had been physically and sexually abused. They noted that while they understood that my faith helped me in that time, they wondered how I did not turn out to be a destructive individual, either being angry with myself or others. And they wrote that they were sure that most survivors of childhood sexual abuse keep much of the dark stuff inside.

Memories, triggers, hurts.

I think one challenge I faced was realizing that there would never be “true justice” for what had happened to me.

Sexually abused from age 7 to about 12, with full blown rape happening around age 9, my perpetrator, although arrested, never served time for the crime. Charges were dropped because my family did not want me to endure the pressure of the court proceedings, and also because a key witness was unable to testify.

I felt angry, betrayed. I felt like a freak as I went to school with other girls who seemed to have great lives. They were in band, cheerleading, sports, clubs.

A pen and notebook.

During the years prior to me telling my family what had happened, during the time my greatest secret was told, and during the aftermath, and since then .. writing has been a release for me.

I often have a hard time articulating my feelings and thoughts verbally (not a great off the cuff responder to questions usually). Writing enables me to freely express what is on my heart.

Besides the abuse, I also was bullied by numerous people in middle school. I was surrounded by girls who said they hated me .. though I did not know why. There was one girl I did not even know who started a fight with me, saying people told her I wanted to beat her up. I guess my subsequent laughing was not the best response (I did not know her, after all.) For 2 whole weeks she hounded me until we actually did have a fist fight in the girls bathroom at school, for which we were both suspended.

Then there was a group of kids at the bus stop who used to call me names and make fun of my clothes and my appearance. I dreaded the hour long wait at the bus stop in the snow.

There was a group of like 3 or 4 girls who rode the bus who also often followed me home, pushing me to the ground, where I skinned my knees on the asphalt, and ran home, bleeding. Again, I did not even know their names.

There was a boy in one of my classes at school who started walking by me and slapping me hard on my hip and backside as I went from one class to another in the school corridors, every day for a little while. I sustained bruises from the attacks. One day, with my long nails, I finally grabbed his arm and dug in, leaving bloody nail marks on his arm. And of course, the teacher yelled at me. When I told the guidance counselor what happened the last few weeks, we were put in separate classes.

About that time, my eyes started opening to nature .. the birds, the trees, the snow, the shine of sun on a body of water, sunrise, sunset, the smell of rain and of dandelions when you pick them and pull their petals off, or blow the seeds into the wind.

Maybe it was disassociation, I do not know.

I had an attraction to light. Little lights, candles, tiny flashlights.

Turning my attention to writing dozens of poems, I eventually wrote for my middle school newspaper, The Crusader.

Somehow, seeing my byline made me feel as if I was not, as my bullies would say, worthless.

At the 8th grade yearly awards convocation, I won an award for my writing, The Shyrl Craig Creative Writing Award.

My life changed.

After I reported my abuse, I felt like nobody understood me nor listened, like I must have somehow deserved it.

Looking back, practical things my family did that helped me were:

1. The rules did not change. When I disobeyed my parents, there were still consequences.

2. The church was there for me, my only real friends in my childhood. We were all, well almost all, a little nerdy.

3. My grandparents on my Dad’s side took an active role in developing my interest in reading and writing. We talked about news articles, encyclopedia entries, the Bible and recipes.

4. Counseling helped. But more than a few sessions would have been nice. I later received years of therapy as an adult that really helped my perspective.

5. After my sister died, I was an only child. Because I grew up mostly alone, luckily I learned to self soothe my spirit through music, art and reading. As well as church and a few school activities. I feel that every kid in a public school should be in something. We were poor, so anything I was involved in had no cost.

6. Most of my family loved and nurtured me, although because of the abuse, it took me years to see that.

7. As an adult, I love to read, write, take photos, garden, listen to music and occasionally play my guitar, painting, crafts, sewing and crocheting. I love spending time with my family and friends.

I am glad that though I would never see “justice” .. that I did overcome. And still overcome. It is a daily choice.

Three words come to mind: Light, Peace, and Mental Health.

Outward actions regenerate the spirit, causing internal healing.

More on that, another day.

I am encouraged to keep sharing my story.

Life is not ever perfect. Life is full of challenges. But life can be beautiful for me when I choose it to be so. FB_IMG_1590883615400

 

Never too late

Was going through some photos tonight to add to my blog.

My goal is to quit using file art from the free media library offered by the company from which I purchase my website, and create beautiful and original art of my own.

When I first started taking photos, my camera went with me everywhere.

I need to get back to that, for sure.

It is never too late to make something better.

Changed up my profile photo on my blog. Will likely do a complete redesign.

In my free time, am writing another book and planning to launch a Youtube channel at some point, sewing a quilt that I have been (yes, ashamedly) working on for 30 years, crocheting a baby blanket for my next granddaughter, and working in my garden every day after work. Also, I am almost finished with my training for The Order of the Daughters of the King at our church, and after quarantine, am anxious to get back to singing with our choir.

Guitar strings. I need new ones. So there is that as well. A random thought.

So that is what is on my mind tonight. It is never too late to improve.

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Speak kindly to your soul

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Overheard a yoga instructor recently say she was going on a “mental diet.” She and her students were wearing armbands to snap their arm every time they had a negative thought about themselves, the world, judgmental thoughts, etc.

Kind of like a snap out of it deal.

I thought about my day with my Bestie at a very large nature park, and how I was ready to run (kind of hard as my ankle is still getting strong from its break back in March) and she was at one with nature.

Hearing gator songs on both sides of us, I was like, “feet, don’t fail me now.”

Later, we talked about this. One thing I love about her is she is brave, but not stupid.

She grew up in Florida’s parks and knows them well. And as part of her law enforcement job, she runs into “gator calls” once in a while. Sometimes, a trapper comes to remove the issue, depending on the size of the gator.

At first, I was like wow I feel like a failure. Like, “I am not brave.” A fear filled person. Where in the world is my faith? If I really had faith, would I fear what God’s creation could do to me?

It is also no secret that in news articles, we read about the occasional tragedy. But typically, it involves people or dogs wading into water.

So while my head waged a war against my lack of a spine when it comes to wildlife, she told me to stop thinking that way.

Someone once told me I was a city girl. I do like to shop, attend metro gatherings occasionally. But I do love nature. I also love farms and have often wished I had a chance to grow up on a farm the way my Grandma did.

As we talked, I realized I should clarify my thoughts about walks in the wilderness. I like boardwalks, more protected views of nature. Benches in safe places. I love, love, love bodies of water, trees and flowers. A dream for me is to one day own a pickup truck and pontoon boat so I can take advantage of our Chain of Lakes. (Not sure if that will ever happen because of the expense, but dreams have to start somewhere.)

This will not be our last wilderness walk, as I am determined to come to peace with wildlife and such fears.

I confronted my fear of public speaking. Confronted my fear of walking up to total strangers to ask their opinion or account of an event. Confronted my fear of failure by graduating from college.

Life is a series of such moments.

When I was a kid, on youth retreats in Indiana, I would always take off by myself in the woods.

What happened to that little girl?

 

 

 

Small moves count

An empty notebook and two pens that have somewhat shoddy ink is not a great place to start writing a best selling novel and your future bucket list, but that was the best I could do.

Three times I have “restarted” this book, Tales From Fergie Shire. And somewhere in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, my abstract creativity finally woke up, and here I am.

Like authors, entertainers and artists I know, I too had felt the heaviness of this crisis. Was it disrespectful to post something of hope in this time?

Thoughts swirl in my head just now .. I have much to do to catch up .. between writing what I hope to be my first fiction book series, recreating my blog, setting a course for my “why” and “what.”

Add to that also a spiritual rebirth, which perhaps contributed to this creative urge.

For a while, I shelved this project, supposing what would happen if I did write a best seller. My number one goal is that my grandchildren will love it. The rest is just added benefit.

I want them to know that it does not matter where you come from, whether you someday face poverty, loss, loneliness, abuse, a world filled with chaos, results of bad choices, no matter where you are in life .. you can create a new life for yourself, and be renewed, and learn new things, do things people said you could not do. That your Creator has endowed you with everything you need,

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and with God’s blessing, you can succeed.

Presently, I am rolled up in an old robe, surrounded by cats, a Bible, a journal and books. Later, the Bestie and I hope to find a nature trail and do some exploring.

Note to self: Find your pens that work and straighten your desk. Small steps are the beginning of dreams fulfilled.

Believe the best will happen

Coronavirus, devastation, political upheaval, increased crime, disorder.

The words of the day hitting headlines around the world.

Today, am enjoying a leisurely day off. Ordinarily, I would be running errands and other such community things. We in America have been told to stay home as much as possible, wash hands and monitor for symptoms of coronavirus.

I have never been a head in the sand person, ignoring the issues at hand.

But neither have I been a panic person.

Prepare, and wait.

There is in the human heart a room where we decide our outlook on life. I admire people who are perpetually optimistic. I try to be that way. It is a goal.

There is a mantra of “believe the best will happen.”

One circle says we will not believe the best .. we will dwell on the worst.

The other circle says they will cling to their faith, as they are believing the best.

In either case, preparation is a good idea.

I must say though, after making preparations and adhering to CDC guidelines, believing the best is uplifting.

I believe I will have a good day.

I believe the world is full of goodness and untold positive stories.

I believe in miracles.

And if for some reason, the cloud of sickness, or other issue comes near, I still will believe.

Life is life. Ups and downs. Sickness and health. Good and bad.

Belief is the sparkle of a thousand stars, the all encompassing ray of sunshine, new growth of green grass and flowers that push heavenward.

And more.

I hope none of us in Polk County get the coronavirus.

My science mind says yes it is possible and even probable beyond measure.

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My faith mind says “this too shall pass.”

Many prayers for those who suffer today, that they may be healed. That life would return with music and laughter in the city streets. That health would prevail and we would all remember how we survived.

A tangled ball of spaghetti

Our neighbor’s rooster is busy this morning saying hello to everyone. I write about him frequently, because honestly, I love that sound.

Other birds are chirping as well.

So part of my New Year plan for 2020, the Year of Light, is to be present to the moment, create, breathe, eat real food, and hear nature.

Like many people, because we are covered in constant exposure to the entire world’s problems on social media, the news, television, the radio .. sometimes I find my stress level rising, just by exposure.

We cannot, obviously, step out of the world per say. Because I work in the media, and have for some 13 years, I understand the pressure of always being “on.”

On. Doctors, law enforcement, counselors, teachers, reporters, and other outreach occupations understand this.

And nobody wants to talk about how your head can sometimes resemble a ball of tangled spaghetti.

Why? Because we attach, as a society, this stigma to that.

Oh. You have issues.

We all have issues. That is truth.

So how do you manage your head?

I love spaghetti. Cooking angel hair pasta. All that stuff.

But to make a good dinner, you really have to stay with it.

One woman I know said the test of whether it was done or not is slinging it against the wall and see if it sticks!

And if you drain the hot water and just leave it in the pan until you eat, all the starches seem to melt it together.

A computer system may do the same thing if it short circuits.

On my days off, I have purposely tried to back away from social media and the general whir of information that stirs around us.

And while I, for a while, thought this was a bad thing, because I felt I should stay connected, I am realizing that if I give my head a break from all the tragedy, mayhem, death, and so forth, it helps.

We can get so busy hammering out a presence on social media that we forget to just be.

Be. Spend time with your family and friends. Listen to conversation without glancing at your phone. Gently take those pieces of spaghetti and lay them straight. Look at the sunrise. Smell the aroma of your morning coffee. Listen to the birds. Connect with your senses.

I recently covered the Polk County Youth Fair and noticed that out of the thousands of people present for the event, I only saw two people on their phones.

I think they are on to something.

May you have a wonderful day. Release, create, be.

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