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.

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.

A desk awaits

A notebook and pen tucked into my daily work bag, my first book, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing started as a journal of my past and noted my history, penned at the time strictly for my own healing from our family’s dark secret.

Slowly, I crept out of the dark place, sharing my story with friends, at first, and other survivors, who urged me to use my gift of writing to reach others because they said that they were not able to do so for various reasons.

And I respect that. They wanted me to be a light bearer, they said.

I am a survivor. I did not wake up one day and say well hey I am healed from the abuse (intimate) I suffered from age 7 to about 12.

Once in a while, someone says they had a sudden epiphany and poof, they have no more issues with suppressed memories, painful thoughts of low self esteem, panic, inner non-positive dialogue, etc.

Many survivors of sexual abuse turn to drugs or alcohol. Some self harm. Others seek to change everything about their environment or themselves that is a reminder of abusive events.

I sought counseling while addressing my past many years ago, and it was the best thing for me. I did not have a substance abuse issue as even aspirin makes me sick to my stomach, so that was not appealing to me. I wrestled with my existence. Why did God make me, and why did I feel like a freak?

I feel so strong now, compared to where I used to be.

What does strong look like to me?

Well if I am a survivor, I don’t have to do or be anything great to be extraordinary. I made it “through” and am walking on firm ground. I didn’t always think this way. Constantly trying to win approval can get exhausting as you will never make everyone happy.

That said, I love to be the best person I can be. Sometimes I fail. I have learned that one of my challenges is to remember everyone makes mistakes. But it is how I handle that – which determines my inner peace and the outflow of blessing I can be to others.

What mistakes am I referring to? Personally? Not being selfish here, but one mistake was not valuing myself as a human being.

I have as much right to be on this planet as anyone else. And because I believe God made me, I know He has work for me to do.

Yet the telling has been difficult at times.

My eye doc told me I have a type A personality. I was flabbergasted!

(Smile) Big 😁

That was news to me lol!

You see some believe that being bossy is problematic, but is sharing my story bossy?

I think it would be if I were to say ok the only way you can handle etc. is to stand on your head, figuratively. (No this is not a reference to yoga, lol. I wish I could stand on my head, but sadly, I am not that coordinated.)

So that feeling of my type A being too much for others at time has been a bit of a buffer to my desire to continue getting my story out there.

Anyway.

Finished writing this in downtown Winter Haven. A lizard was watching me, and a turtle in a gated nature garden slowly crept along.

Will get back at the blogging. A little each day.

The hum of nature

My neighbor’s chickens are scratching around in the farm yard next door and I must say they are delightful to watch (and yes chicken is great to eat, but these lay eggs and there is that lol.)

A few hours spent sitting in my garden, enjoying the wind chimes, and sipping coffee is time well spent.

Today, a family of cardinals swooped in to check out our bird feeders, while a bright yellow butterfly bounced through the air above them all, as if to say hello.

A fat squirrel appeared and then scurried up a tree.

Suddenly, a very slow wasp flew under the gazebo, toting another wasp beneath him, and I must say I have never seen that before.

He carried his weight and that of the wasp underneath.

(Ok forgive me if I missed that in biology. Will look it up for sure.)

So what’s the word for the day?

Peace.

Enjoying this quite beautiful day, I sit and wonder how much nature sense most of us have lost in this busy world.

All of the plant and animal kingdom do things by instinct.

It’s a God thing, I think.

Once our summer rains begin, mosquito spray will find its own home in a nearby flower pot while we all slap our arms and curse the “no see ems” otherwise labeled by the locals as “saber tooth gnats.”

Lest we, like the wasp, shall be carried away.

Figuratively.

Time in nature unravels our senses that have been knotted by constant automation.

I keep hearing a few footsteps in the farm grass behind us, and I believe it is the overweight, ancient farm cat that occupies their land and this plot.

And there is a chorus of a few cicadas, typical of Florida spring.

What is peace to you and how do you get it? For faith believers, that comes from God, an assurance that somehow, all will work together for good for those who love the Lord.

A friend and I recently discussed a few major world Christian religions, or beliefs, and came to the conclusion that the uniting factor of all of them, besides the Messiah, is prayer.

Have to tell you that as I sit here and take in all the beauty of this garden, I ponder this: Does nature pray?

Or does it hum?

Maybe the birds, the bees, the butterflies, critters, the grass and the trees, the flowers and even the weather elements all have it right.

A ceremonious celebration of this very day.

Peace be with you tonight, or today, when you read this.

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.