In praise of pens

The sun is high and I worked a few hours this morning, and since I have landed for a bit, thought I would write a little thought today.

Someone posted on social media “the world needs what you have to offer,” and I thought to myself as I often do, in a world full of writers and words and libraries and books, does the world need one more contribution, as King Solomon once said “there is nothing new under the sun.”

And yet every story, every person, every experience and thread on this beautiful tapestry of life brings something of value.

Get to the point.

Don’t throw away your dreams, don’t underestimate your potential, don’t walk away or ignore what you at one time mused, and still lights your soul.

Pens.

Paper.

Blank books and empty pages waiting to be filled.

A word can plant a seed and a harvest can grow and someone can learn from your contribution, and others may also stir a spice into your recipe for life.

I am so comfortable around books and words and pens and paper, pretty pictures and poems and prose and mystery and history and future words to be spoken.

Since returning from our road trip to Virginia and Indiana, and our travels through 11 different states, it took me a couple weeks to get back into the swing of things and chart a course for the rest of the summer. Personal, not work related that is. (I love my job!)

Once in a while I think to myself, maybe I am sitting on a future best seller? Or maybe not? And is the measurement of success really on how vast the readership is .. or rather .. that your writing was a bright spot in someone’s day?

Years ago, my devotion writing was very preachy. Typical, really. Here is the dilemma, here is what I did, here is what Jesus says and that is that.

And through many life’s changes, I realized that conversation and story sharing has great impact, when you share your heart .. as it is not an anecdote to the subject at hand, whatever the discussion may be.

I enjoy the real of other authors’ works. The confession, the grappling, the musing, the thinking.

So there is the thought for the day, in praise of pens with willing ink, to share and inspire and bless and motivate, to record and uplift and sometimes challenge.

Have a beautiful day my friends.

Hoping to do some exercising today. Will probably include that in an upcoming blog.

Ha.

Locks, Love and Fireflies

An old railroad line, transformed by a Rails to Trails project, stands adorned presently as what the locals of Danville, Virginia know as Riverwalk Trail, or “The Locks Bridge.”

The bridge crosses the Dan River and lovers attach padlocks to the chain link fencing along the bridge, a sign of their love before casting its key into the oft brown, swirling river below.

The walk is accessible via stairs or ramp, making a great option for those who walk, roll in a wheelchair or families with little ones in strollers. The bridge gives a fantastic and safe view of the Dan River while preserving a large amount of foliage and native greenery along the trail.

Some etch their names on the locks, others post inspirational sayings. The Danville Parks and Recreation Department was quoted in a local newspaper as stating they maintain the bridge and occasionally thin out the number of locks.

Some walk the bridge, alone, listening to their ear pods or walking their pets. Others come in groups to try to find their lock, only to discover that perhaps it has been too long since their last visit, and it has been removed.

I thought of the lesson one could learn about relationship and keeping love alive and remembering the “why” for whatever it is one’s heart pursues.

Remember this, I told myself. That whatever you value is more than a passing and quite temporal display of endearment.

After spending the afternoon with family over lunch at a local coffee and wine cafe, my Bestie and I took a drive to take some more photos of the downtown area.

Later, after returning to my daughter’s house, we gathered on the quite Southern front porch to drink coffee and watch the fireflies.

A perfect end to a full day.

Tomorrow is a sleep in day, time to chill and spend time with my little granddaughter. Time passes fast, and as I survey this beautiful town that is her home, I wonder what she will do with her life and what memories she will make, and if Locks Bridge will one day carry a lock of hers as well.

Sunrise and Mile Markers

We are on the road! For the next several days we will be enjoying God’s countryside and good times.

Three-thirty a.m. comes early when you are so excited you can hardly sleep.

First photo of the trip, the St. John’s River, as we pass by on our way to Virginia.

Our favorite deputy is at the wheel this morning. We have a blast when we are together .. her sense of humor and love for life is contagious. By the time we get to our destination, she will have scoped out the full status that be of every stop along the way.

My heart is full and I am almost emotional that I finally get to see my daughter and her family, and my Mama, my Aunts and some of my cousins after a two year wait.

Our road is presently uncluttered.

Stitches from alpaca yarn

A ball of yarn is full of potential in the right hands.

Or should I say, willing hands.

One of my grandmothers spent her evenings crocheting and the one on the other side of the family sewed.

I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t like sewing as much as crocheting.

I wonder what the alpacas think?

And how did they get blue fur?

A shearer gave them the trim they needed. And behold, alpaca yarn. Somewhere along the line, the wad probably soaked in a pot of dye.

Nonetheless, it makes for great string art (since crocheting sounds ancient, you know).

Presently am working on my next shawl and I will post it when finished.

The soft string is soothing and inspiring all at once.

A few ladies at lunch have stopped to take a look at my latest project. Oohs and aahs from their collective selves.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have a few hobbies. Most likely because my relatives recognized they had a hyperactive kid on their hands. Keep her busy, they said.

So writing, reading, string art, painting, gardening, music and photography are all outlets for me.

Tonight, I would like to encourage you to explore your creative side.

Paint rocks. Bake a cake and learn how to make home made frosting. Learn how to do calligraphy.

But whatever you do, enjoy this moment in life.

So starting Saturday, I will be taking you along on an adventure. The bestie and I are taking off for the north to see my family. We are super excited, and I am ready to take some super cool photos as well.

Blessings to all. The cats say hello and the fish wave a fin as they swim in their weightless existence. Write me and tell me about your adventures.

Gators, planes, motion and bees. Oh. And bobcats. And heights.

Fear comes in many forms.

The breeze blew gently, making a rustling in the trees above our heads, as we took a seat on a cast iron garden bench at Bok Tower Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida.

Striking out on a new and unexplored path with my bestie, GJ, I found myself stiffly checking for water and gators. As a bush shook, I heard a few giggles, and realized gators don’t laugh, but people do. My shoulders relaxed, and for the moment, I surveyed the beautiful gardens. Azaleas and honeysuckle, lantana and camellias, jasmine and hundreds of daisies were in full bloom. The scent of orange blossoms was intoxicating.

Wings.

Overhead, a humming noise cut across the sky, and a plane that appeared to be a Piper or something of that sort was making its way to its next destination.

A friend of mine is into planes, and I wondered if it was his.

Overhead.

I am not sure exactly when the fear of planes flying overhead settled into my spirit. When my kids were tiny, I lived across from an airport, and enjoyed watching all the air traffic, to include the Blue Angels and other jets.

Then it struck me that I had covered a couple fatal plane crashes during my time as a journalist.

So there you go.

Control.

It is no secret that I do not ever ride with anyone in a vehicle .. other than my best friend. I like driving myself when possible.

Planes.

I cannot fly a plane.

The last time I flew on an airplane (rather, in an airplane), the pilot sensed there were some uptight passengers afraid of flying.

In his quite professional voice, he told us all to sit back and relax. And he handled the plane like a soldier. Amazing flight.

Issues.

That is what people say if you are not crazy about riding roller coasters or flying, or are cautious as you go through life. As I was recently chided by a new friend about not riding theme park rides and avoiding sushi, I turned to the man and told him that I am very confident in who I am as a person.

“You’ve got to live a little,” he said.

My nostrils flared but I was still smiling.

After a few minutes on the garden bench, the bestie and I charted course for the next path, and as we did, stopped for a photo by some outdoor sculptures situated in the Fairy Garden. I bent down on one knee in the white sand as the bestie took a photo.

Buzzzzzzzzzz.

Reallyyy? I said, as a very large wasp started chasing me.

The ultimate photo bomb.

Take two.

We finally got the photo.

Further down the path, I saw a sign about bobcats. Like, in the day, where are they? But there were kids running around, so I thought hey I am safe.

Of course I checked the trees.

No cats.

I think I heard a gator laugh, though.

Spring is in full bloom in Florida! (Photo by GJ.)

As you know, this is the season of Lent. A time to reconnect spiritually and do a sort of faith overhaul.

Fear.

I justify my many fears by the reality of said matter at hand. While it is true tragedies of many types happen, it is not necessarily likely that they will.

Truth is, while I have many fears, I also am brave in other ways. And I only share this because I am sure others deal with fears of various kinds.

What are your fears? Do you also have areas of your life in which you truly live courageously?

Is it possible for me to both acknowledge my fears, respect myself, as well as try a few new things now and then, a new path at a nature park? I did today.

And for that tiny step, I am encouraged in my spirit.

P.S. I have learned that sushi is not always raw fish. Some is cooked. I have taken note and will examine the subject at some point and return with my thoughts.

When did I fall in love with God?

When did I fall in love with God? Was it the day I saw the picture of Jesus on my great grandmother’s wall? Was it because I saw His love in my family and the way their faces glowed when they talked about Him? Was it the joy of  Christmas and Easter, and how cool it was to celebrate this Savior?

I never really thought about that until today.

I fell in love with God before I had even read much of His Word.

Nature itself revealed Him to me, as I wondered at its beauty.

Sunrises and stars.

Walks on country roads and swimming in lakes and the ocean.

The fresh air smells in springtime.

The shimmer of snow under winter moonlight captivated my heart.

He must be real.

As I sit on my bed this morning, pondering the future of my blog, my life, my goals, it occurs to me that maybe this is the way the world sees Jesus.

Having not read His word, “we are the only Bible some people will see” pastors and priests alike proclaim.

But I am flawed, I tell the Lord.

Yet somehow I feel as if God accepts my flaws and stands willing to help, and reminds me that He wooed me to Himself before I had any understanding of the church world or spiritual commitment.

He is real. I feel His Presence on some days. And I still sit in wonder, wherever I am, just like I did beside a lake long ago, when I pondered, “Without God, what would the world be?

Selah.

The sun is up and I have been up since 5 a.m. On my second cup of coffee. Time to work on my book and do some journaling.

photo of person wearing yellow converse shoes
Photo by Toni Ferreira Ph on Pexels.com

 

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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