Thoughts versus Emotions

Happiness. Good cheer. Positivity. Kindness. Goodness. Self control.

Lack of peace. Confusion. No boundaries. Dismay. Despair.

The two groups of words contrast just like light and darkness.

Many times, when I have shared my story before a group of people at an event, at church, or elsewhere, people have asked me ..

“How do I get over it? How do I release the pain of my past? What do I do with these feelings of depression and despair? How do I forgive the one who hurt me?”

And our conversation then floats to the usual .. what does your support net look like? Have you considered counseling? Are you in a church?

Do you have any close friends who can walk beside you? Do you have any hobbies you enjoy?

The room gets quiet as the soul considers .. what can I change to bring about my healing?

For me, emotions flow freely. It goes along with creativity. Creatives see and feel, express. Emotions come out in my writing and in my crafts. I turned to creativity as I worked through confronting the pain of my past.

Then later, I learned, through various friends, counselors, books and podcasts, that one can improve one’s emotions through a renewed thought process.

Replacing downer thoughts with positive thoughts.

Example: I could never attempt that (goal, dream, occupation, pursuit, etc) because I am not enough (not smart enough, not physically strong enough, not mentally strong enough.)

The Flip: With God’s help, I could accomplish that. I am not sure how, but I am willing to research, learn, grow, practice.

Our emotions and general outcomes can improve when we go after our thought process.

Last night, I delivered a talk in front of nearly 75 people.

And did so with confidence.

There was a time in my life .. even ten years ago .. where that would have been a challenge. But one of my college professors told me that I would one day be a professional speaker and have the ability to move people to greater things. I remember shaking my head, and also remember how all of us in speech class, except one, shook like crazy when we got up to speak.

Thoughts.

A very sweet lady I know has claimed Philippians 4:13 (from the Bible) as her verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Encouragement.

There is more we could explore on this topic. But for today, ask yourself .. is there something you are not doing, or not trying, exploring or living because of the fear of failure? Or because the emotions just are not there?

I feel like thoughts are the wagon that pull our emotions. If we determine our thoughts, our emotion will follow.

Focus on the positive

Ice froze a solid curtain on my vehicle windows this morning, and like everyone else in central Florida, I waited until my defroster cleared up all of my windows and mirrors until I ventured out to work.

After putting in four hours at work, the rest of the day was flex, so I thought hey I will clean the house.

(Yes I see you smile, you know where this is going.)

I felt certain that it would be a personally productive day because I made a list in my colorful day planner that I bought to make sure that 2022 was extra cheerful.

Starving, I grabbed a bag of nacho chips and a cup of coffee (yes, not a good snack for diabetics), and ate so many that I suddenly felt sleepy.

Well the back yard looked sunny.

After I stepped out, I sat in my chair by the now cold and empty fire pit. The sun felt great and gloriously warm on my face, and I seriously almost went to sleep in the yard.

(Aside from a wicked sunburn, I am sure that would have been refreshing.)

Talked to one of my kids a while. Watered flowers and took the sheets off them that I had wrapped around the bushes a few days before. It was as if the garden breathed a sigh of relief.

Squirrels barked at me from above, fatter than usual.

And after an hour outside, I thought hey I need to get on the cleaning.

Ha.

Went to the bathroom to fetch a brush out of my “hair utensils” drawer and the drawer stuck.

Well then it was “on.”

I unpacked the whole thing. The WHOLE thing.

Figured I probably saved about fifty bucks in hair barrettes and brushes because I found them all held captive by my eight different flat and curl irons.

And three fuzzy rollers.

After the hair purge, I felt pretty good, but it was time for coffee.

Well it is flex time, I thought, so I will take out that acrylic nail kit I got at the major retailer for like $8.

I remember telling my bestie, if I can master this, think how much money I can save. On nails that is.

No, I’m not vain. I’m very girlie. And nobody can dispute those suckers (acrylic nails) stay on pretty good.

Well.

Upon opening the bottle of acrylic I nearly gassed myself and that, yes, was through my N95 mask.

Heck, no.

I put the lid back on, and looked down at the nail tips I had glued on and thought well what am I going to do now?

I ran out the back door, gasping for clean air and turned the kitchen fan on.

(In my head, I felt stupid for thinking I could do my own acrylics.)

Hard pass.

So there went another hour and a half of my day, and I found myself frustrated.

But yet, it was a good day. I had a great conversation with my youngest daughter, spent some time in my garden, made Mexican casserole for supper and put away folded clothes.

Not too bad I guess 🙂

There is always a brighter side. Even when your list goes by the wayside. When your project doesn’t turn out. When you feel like you have failed, you really have not.

Tonight, as I listen to the Christmas Canon from TranSiberian Orchestra, I think of how grateful I am for this life. What a wonderful day. How blessed I am.

Winter, summer, shopping, goals and laziness

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

While standing by our bonfire tonight, it struck me that I am super productive in the fall and spring. When the weather gets cold, I just sort of feel like I could hibernate .. and yet we know that is not the way to get where you want to be, or do what you want to do.

And when you think about it, with anything in life, we can always craft an excuse as to why we don’t do the things we set out to do.

Summer inspires me with beautiful sunrises and breathtaking sunsets, wonderful storms that sweep over sunny Florida with the sweet smell of the ocean in tow.

Winter can be marvelous because we in the south finally get to wear our favorite boots and sweaters.

Goals.

Lists.

Intentions.

While talking to my bestie today, we discussed how people set out to do something and then change, and decide not to do it, and then change again and go after it again. Some people do this frequently.

For example, the resolution that I am going to work out every day goes right out the window when I come home from a long day or decide that I’d rather do something else. (I own the shirt that reads “yay, cardio, said no one ever.”)

Today, we purposed to do a little shopping after I got off work, and so braved the roads and traffic to head an hour away.

I am proud of my list. One of my goals this year is to whittle away at my debt and the only way you do that is spending wisely.

Three things this year are on my “must allow” list for spending, besides any craft work I do. That is my hair, my nails, and things from my favorite fragrant body wash and perfume lotion line. No compromise.

I canceled a subscription to a publication (saved 40 dollars a month).

And used coupons during a sale for the items I wanted.

So we think of fitness, finance, and then, other endeavors.

What is my “other?”

I blog (although as of yet, I have not monetized it), write, do crafts and cook, and more.

Some people have a side hustle of some sort in addition to their job. Which is fine as long as you can manage all of it, and make sure your number one bread winning job gets the most effort.

While I was out today, I stood in a bookstore and realized these people need to be introduced to my book. Well I may put that on my goals list. Actually, it has been there for years.

Market.

The central core of marketing is anticipating the needs of the people who need your product, service, or opportunity.

Marketing must never become a pinball game where one haphazardly hits the side knobs and hopes the ball rolls the right direction.

Lazy.

Inasmuch as I really put my all into my work and give it my best, I confess that some of my side endeavors have fallen lackluster.

Or hitter-misser. Or maybe you’ll get to it tomorrow. Or next month. Or next year.

But is it really laziness? One must remember to be kind to oneself. Seriously, if you are out in the world (or at home as a full time parent or caregiver) putting your all out there, you may have little left to give other attentions.

But it is not impossible.

I watched a young lady who was a business woman change careers, put her all into that, and I was wondering why is she tying up all her time like that, being that she did not really have to work. She and her family had done well over the years.

One day, however, through a series of purchases she made, I suddenly realized why she labored so long and hard.

This was her why. It was the reason she kept going and did not give up. The photo she had in her mind came to fruition because she never took her eyes off the goal. One career beget another side career as well as a legacy for her kids. I was like whoa .. I want that motivation.

More on that .. another day. Something to think about. Small steps consistently get us where we need to be.

I am proud of myself for blogging again tonight.

I have an idea 💡

A pen and paper, or an Ipad and a stylus, or free time and just your thoughts can make dreams come true.

In my twelve years of journalism, I met so many incredible people .. actors and actresses, politicians and peacemakers, the very rich in wealth, the very poor, and more.

Stories popped up with almost no effort at times, while on other occasions, simplicity cast its nod away and one would have to dig for the greater truth.

Nonetheless, every great endeavor, it seems, started with an idea.

“Well I am glad you are creative like that, it’s just not me,” some say. Or is it?

I’m not a scientist, but while washing dishes or petting my cat, or just in the course of a normal work day, it seems to me that when my creativity finds a place to grow, it flourishes.

Be like a tree, they say.

And grow.

Some ideas are good ideas.

I think of the day I decided to go to college. Nine years later (I was working full time and authored a book at the same time, my Grandma passed away, and so forth, just life) I walked across the stage and was presented my Associates Degree.

I think of other ideas I’ve had, to dabble in fiction story writing, for example, which is about ten or eleven chapters deep .. a work in progress.

Then a couple of ridiculous ideas (getting the back of my head nearly shaved in a haircut, nope it’s not me) or the time as a kid, I decided to explore climbing trees and suddenly discovered I did not know how to come down.

Check. Check. Check.

So with wisdom in hand, I float this out to you.

What kind of ideas do you have that you have not pursued yet, no doubt worthy goals that could help humanity, who knows what is rolling around in your head?

One of my ideas this year was that I should work out, bake bread more often (please don’t laugh, the combination is hilarious as it is), get my hair professionally done, work on my music, eat breakfast, have tea time frequently, focus on the positive and …

Oh, that is more than one idea.

Then once we hatch an idea and we don’t follow through, the rugged mountains of defeat appear.

Ugh.

Why can’t I ..

Well why can’t I?

So whether this blog finds you at a crossroads or facing simple decisions in every day life, or you feel strong, or you don’t, for the task ahead, would it be a good thing to make a list, or a dream board, and keep it in front of you?

More on that another time.

If you make one and are not afraid to share it, send one of your friends or mentors an email or message.

Sometimes just vocalizing our dreams makes them one step closer to us.

Shine your light in a dark world

While browsing a local retailer in search of Christmas gifts for my family, I overheard one woman tell another woman that this year, she is not going to put up a Christmas tree or decorate for the holidays, even though she has done that for years.

With the world muddling through pandemic fatigue, it has become apparent that although Christmas 2020 saw many people putting up their lights to help brighten the holiday season, 2021 may not see that same kind of celebration.

A quick scroll through social media, and one finds many in similar situations.

And here at 6 a.m. on the first workday of this week, I can honestly say that my own energy is tapped out.

I need another morning to sleep in. Another afternoon nap time.

But I am not alone.

I know that some of my readers are going through countless exhausting, heart wrenching, seemingly impossible situations.

Tired of carrying the load, the light of the Christmas season can seem to be too much to share.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a lighted holiday boat parade.

There were fewer lights on the shores of the lake to wave in return to the 94 happily decorated floating vessels.

The last time I visited this parade, several people donned wearable holiday lights and waved various lanterns, lighted swords, candy canes and reindeer lights.

This time was markedly different.

The vessels floated by and the crowd was silent.

Truly a silent night, I thought.

Maybe the crowd was in contemplation or deep conversation.

Suddenly, one woman turned on her cell phone flash light and started waving it to those who put so much work into their lighted boats.

It brought to mind a thought, even a challenge for myself that I wanted to share with you.

What can we collectively do to help make this a brighter season for others?

My thought wanders to the proverbial, every day greeting and conversation.

A cheerful hello and “how are you” – while waiting for the response and likewise responding – goes a long way.

Even better, that moment when we see a need and step up to meet it, even if we only have a little to offer can make such a difference.

Light beams a long way into the darkness, even if it is just a little light.

Maybe if we each bring our little light, the little energy, the little smile, the little embrace to this world, good intentions and kindnesses will shine like stars in the sky on the sandy shores below.

Selah. Let the Spirit of the season be strong within you.

Make yourself a priority

Bicycles capture my eye everywhere I go and I would like to think that I am close to the goal of purchasing one and also a hitch for my car to carry it.

Life speeds by sometimes, and a month quickly passes, six months pass, a year, and we find we are no more closer to our goal.

Why?

Everyone needs mentors and friends who feed into their lives. I have been seeking advice on all fronts of my life.

The word is the same from all: I pour into other people (community workers do, so do ministers, teachers, doctors, etc.) and need to frequently .. not just once in a while .. fill my cup.

Long ago, a spiritual mother wrote in my bible that I should fill my cup so I could continuously pour to others.

Rejoining our church choir was one step I took to recharge my spirit.

Anyone who serves can tell you that if you don’t have outlets for your creative energy, or ways to decompress, rest, contemplate and so forth, you will burn out quickly.

Track.

As a kid, I was never a good runner. It hurt to breathe, and now I know that was just the way I was built.

Everyone else could run.

In high school, I was tired of being overweight and bullied, and started “jogging.” Eventually I could jog maybe a quarter mile. A coach at school wanted me to train for cross country.

He liked my pace, and said that with training, I could go far.

I never did.

Presently, I think it would be great if I could work out three times (or more if possible) a week.

End goal: so I will have enough stamina to go on some bike rides. As a kid, I loved to ride my bike everywhere.

The other goal, besides catching up on several holiday gift projects, is to carve out time to finish my books. (Writing them. And then crafting those marketing letters and getting estimates on publishing costs etc.)

My first book, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing, is sold by WestBow Press and is also on Amazon. It was a self published volume through WestBow, which is connected to Thomas Nelson Publishing Company. My goal was to get that book going, but I have made little effort to do so.

Also a goal.

Recharge. Reflect. Renew. Restart.

Makes sense to me.

And connect with friends whom I dearly love, yet have not spent any time with in a couple (yes, a couple of years).

I feel strengthened and empowered in putting my goals and dreams to words. And as I spoke to one of my friends earlier today, they reminded me that the purpose of my blog is for the sheer enjoyment of writing, and if I have even helped one person, then that is great.

A fragrant presence

As the chill slowly rolls across the Florida peninsula in this our first real cool air this year, sweaters are fetched and everyone tests their heat source to make sure it works without smoking the household out of its comfort zone.

Enter. We picked up a fireplace insert to help heat the house without actually starting a fire. (It is much healthier and no ash to deal with, nor sparks. Controlled by a remote, it keeps the living room and downstairs quite warm.)

And I thought of people and fragrance, and candles and warmers, and scented car bars and more.

How sweet it is to be able to smell again after having had covid months ago.

Once in a while, I get a hug from someone who has great cologne or perfume.

Yes, another weakness. It is actually part of my budget, lotion and perfume. No compromise there. Twice a year, usually during those large sales, I visit a couple of my favorite stores and stock up.

Now I have peppermint body wash and am delighted.

How could smell have such an effect? That just the smell of coffee, or scented candles can brighten my day?

I had a friend years ago who sold makeup for a special company and every time I saw her, she was beautifully put together and wore this fragrance that was invigorating.

I actually bought the bottle and eventually ended up selling the same products myself because I love them so much.

So why am I writing about all this smell stuff tonight?

Perhaps, more than anything, I hope that my inner spirit will be as the fragrance of Christ.

Lord, do Your work in me.

May you have a blessed evening, all. Know that God loves us.

Reach

Fixed my hair. Check.

Brushed my teeth. Check.

Got ready for choir practice and church, and drove there, arriving on time. Check.

Enjoyed the sweet fellowship under the cathedral.

Ebb and flow.

Returned home to do some scrapbooking.

Oh, and I made some cornbread to go with dinner. Used vegetable oil instead of butter (what was I thinking?? I never do that.) To me, it was intolerable.

Blah.

Fetched some hangars off the back of my bedroom door and figure that is one goal truly met. Placed them in the laundry room where I wash and hang my uniforms.

Tonight, I wonder why people think you have to be a rock star to be amazing. Or famous. Or anything that is noticed by all.

Do you have to have a fabulous house, an enchanted life? Do you have to impress? Or is it ok to be ordinary?

Looking back over my family’s heritage, I can say that not one of them were what I would consider famous, or known by huge numbers of people. They worked hard, kept clean houses, donated to charity when possible, went to church and invited neighbors and friends to dinner.

Collectively, my family has inventors, teachers, artists, businessmen, government workers, night watchmen, beauticians, homemakers, seamstresses, girl bosses (we call it being assertive), and more.

And of my family who maintains a presence online, they are pretty simple people, post a few things to be social. Realizing a need to connect, we enjoy seeing pictures of what we are all doing.

Yet reaching the masses, not so much.

And I think of my writing and whether it will blossom (I have written for newspapers, and those days are over, as I have launched a new career that I love, while also maintaining my love for creative writing.)

I say all this to present a question.

Am I using my writing to help people, and are others touched or motivated, inspired or encouraged by it?

I hope so.

What gifts we are given, when shared, shine on the world around us and help us all reach our dreams.

Side note.

Was also grocery shopping today, and heard a young lady singing in the parking lot of the grocery store, and a few aisles away, heard a young man playing a concert violin.

He had a sign for donations, but wow, his contribution to this beautiful day was so worth any money people could throw his way.

I saw the young lady in the bakery, and told her she had a pretty voice and that she needs to sing like that everywhere she goes because the world needs more of that.

So here is my offering for today’s blog.

May we all sparkle with the stars we hold in our hands and toss them frequently about, giving light and warmth to those around us.

Thankful for the little things

Thankful muses, there are.

Or rather, muses of thanksgiving.

Dreary days with little sunshine can tip the mood meter to the sour.

Yet thankful hearts have a continual feast.

What if we can change our mood with positive, deliberate thoughts.

Coffee.

Just the thought of a coffee shop, any coffee shop, makes me smile.

I think of books, and comfortable chairs, and journals and pens and time to enjoy all of the above with a steamy ceramic mug of joe.

Yet there are other things for which I am thankful. Some are simple, every day things like hot water and a great washing machine, while others are more complicated, like considering the depth of all God created, the earth, the heavens, the creatures and the forests, mountains and oceans. Breathtaking.

Presently I am thankful to have spent the afternoon, after work, at a birthday party for my daughter and two of my grandbabies.

The energy of a child on their birthday .. we were all smiling at the kids and the joyous looks on their faces as they opened their presents and ate cake.

On a whole different note, am looking at some projects I need to finish soon. My next grandson’s blankets, kitchen curtains, two quilts and two shawls.

And then the cleaning projects. Bookshelves that need organized, photos that need to be arranged (my old cloth photo albums are really showing their age and harboring dust, so will work on a new system that is easier to keep clean.)

A year or so ago, I had used an old sewing table as a desk, then moved it to replace it with shelves. And the shelves are ok, but I miss my desk corner. Then I think well wouldn’t I like a small corner type desk and a chair that would fit under it and not be in the way.

Goals. A bicycle with a basket. A corner desk. And at some point a laptop that is not an albatross (mine is a dinosaur, truly.) Simplify. Add. Subtract. Remake.

In the midst of compiling my many lists (both figuratively and actual lists in my day book), I still must remind my soul to both reach for my goals and dreams while also being thankful for the present moment of life in all its glory.

Add that one to the list

The small cork board tacked to the wall is dotted with notes of to do items and reasons why we want to do them. And magazine clippings of waterfalls and hopes of traveling to intriguing places and community festivals.

Would you believe I have an entire shelf full of journals (some of which I may combine in typed form for my kids some day, just not now)?

Much of journaling is a purge of thought and feeling, pondering the what if and stewing in the oh I should have done that differently, peppered with the by the way I forgot that and yes, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

I have written prayers and written the answers to the prayers. I have questioned my existence and also praised God for it.

And I am in this season of hey I want to go see a splendid teapot race, I want my picture taken in front of real magnificent sunflowers, I want to paint rocks and finish writing the two books I am working on.

(Make believe counselor yawns and the glasses slide to the end of said nose. No not really. But maybe everyone needs a life coach. Maybe that is a good idea for me to pursue.)

Our church has a Stephen Ministry.

(Look up the concept .. Episcopals offer it as a way of tending the flock of parishioners through either trying times or maybe just because they need an ear, a voice, a sounding board that is impartial.)

I have used one before and she helped me for months to navigate a number of questions rolling through my head.

What I want to know is this:

Why don’t we talk? Why is everyone so bound up in hey let’s keep this all surface conversation (i.e. wow the weather is crazy lol, as one example.)

I do have friends where the conversation is two sided. I am blessed with my family and my bestie and a small circle of other super close trusted friends. I know I could call any one of them and they can do the same.

But I am talking about every day life.

Once upon a time, people talked a lot more than they do now.

(This is just my opinion. You may have a different opinion and perspective and I respect that because we are all different and perceive things differently. And we can grow by sharing perspectives. I have a couple friends known as my voices of reason. Not every friend you have needs to have the exact same life knowledge or approach as you to be a blessed friend.)

Anyway.

Some days I find myself longing to hear people share their true hearts and feelings, and stories of the past and dreams of the future.

Or maybe they are, and I am distracted, chasing the pondering of my own heart.

Maybe I just need to listen.

And then maybe I would hear.

Add that to my list of goals.

To listen more, and observe more, and let myself enjoy this moment of life as it unfolds.

Whether in the coffee shop, or nestled in a book over lunch, or on my knees at the garden shop checking out the half price gardenias.

I might be on to something here.