Good Ol’ Days

family portrait

Since I’m still excited about personalized portraits (and waiting for my next victim) I thought I’d play around with a new style this weekend. This one’s an old family photograph that’s been circulating in my “circle.”

The original was scanned, and pretty small, so the task was to figure out how to keep it from getting stretched and pixelated. I decided to do it in black and white, turn it into an old Polaroid, and then add a background to frame it. If you haven’t guessed already (and why would you), I’m the little blonde in shorts sitting up front—on my Aunt’s lap. The tall, dark, and handsome man straight behind me in the very back is my dad (who is sadly, no longer with us), and next to him (on his left) is my mom.

I’m going to take a guess and say that this photo was taken in the late 60’s. Yikes. The good ol’ days indeed.

Good Ol’ Days

A phrase used by old people. When these words are used in combination it is a signal to young people to get the hell out. “Ahh yes the Good Ol’ Days. Did I ever tell you about the time we rode the train from St. Louis to San Diego?” (this is where you leave)

Definition courtesy of Urban Dictionary.

Rescue Abstract Art

Rescue 27

Sometimes a dramatic rescue is a simple act of showing up.

This piece is all about Gil. I think of him when I see red, especially if it’s an emergency vehicle. He’s the kind of person that just shows up. I’m extremely grateful for his friendship, ear, wisdom, and his extraordinary ability to point people in the right direction— Up.

I took some photos a few years back, when my friend and I visited him at the Station. I wanted to create something bold and exciting… something to represent the “constant motion” that is everything Gil.

So…this one’s for you my friend.

This image is actually one of my favorites in the Everything Red series so far. It’s kind of an abstract, faceless portrait.

Anyway, I thought I’d wrap it up with these 7 Points from one of his favorite people.

-Be true to yourself.
-Help others.
-Make each day your masterpiece.
-Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
-Make friendship a fine art.
-Build a shelter against a rainy day.
-Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings everyday.

John Wooden

Peace & Love!

No News is Good News

The Journey Continues…

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my journal. On the one hand, it means that nothing exciting (or newsworthy) has been going on. On the other hand—and more importantly—the old idiom rings true: No news is good news.

Today marks 1,229 days of sobriety… so that’s good news!

Continue reading

Yesterday’s News

What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.

—Author Unknown

I’ve been thinking a lot. That’s what happens when I have time on my hands (did I just say that in an earlier post?). What I’ve noticed lately is that—in certain areas—I’m a bit of a control freak. Nothing huge, mind you, just little nagging issues that bother me.

keep reading

End of the Rainbow

Something wonderful happens when it rains here! I saw this ‘end of the rainbow’ a few weeks ago and thought it was a great image for this evening. I logged on a while ago and saw that I have 25 minutes to go until my sober anniversary. Woo!

School is keeping me SUPER busy, and I rarely come up for air… but I’ve been thinking about everyone!

Anyway, I added a lot of drama to this photo, just because. It was quite a dramatic feeling to walk out and see it in person. I never really knew if you could see the end of a rainbow until I actually saw it.

And now I’ve hit my 3 year sobriety mark and life is fabulous.

What’s funny is that I shared it on Facebook the day that I shot the image, and someone seemed adamant that it wasn’t real. I guess my Photoshop adventures have placed my photo shares in the “this image could be fake” category. BUT… it is real.

That’s about all for now. Miss you all and hope to have more time soon… “Spring Break” is just a couple weeks away. 🙂

Peace & Love Everyone!!

Gratitude Hour

Time can be a little deceptive. It’s been two months since the fall semester ended, and—to be honest—it feels like it’s been a year. I’m grateful for the “down time,” don’t get me wrong, but that old familiar feeling… that it’s time to get moving… has taken hold, and Tuesday can’t come soon enough.

It’s kind of like long, out of town vacations. They’re awesome! They’re fun, relaxing, and refreshing, but eventually you reach that point where you just want to go home. So… Daily Addiction’s word today is Inspire, and I’ve been thinking about that word quite a bit (burning the midnight oil again).

In my pondering, I realized that one of the reasons my life, and this blog, have morphed and grown so much over the past couple of years is because so many of you have inspired me.

Undoubtedly, I’ll be online much less once my classes start… so it seems like the perfect time to express my gratitude for that inspiration.

To all the photographers out there, thank you for sharing. Seeing all of your beautiful images inspired me to pick up my camera again… and learn to use Photoshop (well, at least until I get better). Ha!

To all the writers out there, thank you for sharing your words. All of you helped me realize that I DO want to write, and your posts; be it poetry, stories, or commentary, have inspired me to work harder at becoming the best I can be.

To all of the artists out there… I just love what you do. I can’t draw a stick figure to save my life, but thank God for digital art! Thank you for sharing your work with the world and inspiring me to create.

To every blogger who dedicates their time to encourage or teach us something… about God, about recovery, about work, about life or psychology… thank you. You inspire me for sure.

It’s funny too, as I write this post… I see how everything connects… and I can almost see my future unfolding before my eyes. More on that as time goes on.

I’ll still be here as often as possible…

…as the journey continues.

—Janet

Peace & Love!

To anyone who has ever taken time to read, like, or comment on something I’ve shared… thank you to you as well. You inspire me to keep going! 🙂 And now it’s past midnight… and I realize that this post sounds like a big goodbye… but it’s not! HaHa! It’s just a big thank you.

Go With the Flow

Late last night, as I pondered what to write about in my next post, the question “what are you trying to accomplish here?” came to mind.

I thought about how my blog started—how I wanted to share the story of my recovery, and offer words of “hope” to other people who were still suffering—and then I thought about how the subject matter has twisted, turned, and evolved over time.  

I wondered if certain words that I’ve written were (or were not) necessary; whether or not they conveyed anything “positive or uplifting” to the person they might reach, or if they were just “filler.”

The bottom line is that I want to write words that matter, and I critique my words harshly… reprimanding myself at times for being hasty; not thinking things through carefully, or failing to do my very best. I think it boils down to two things: impatience and perfectionism. I always feel rushed—like there’s some ‘imaginary’ deadline I have to meet—so I zig zag around to get things done at warp speed and then, sometime later, I look back to question everything and point out the imperfections.

Needless to say, the only thing that emerged from all of my overthinking was a bunch of unnecessary stress.

As I laid down to rest, I did what comes naturally now…

I surrendered.

I listened to my music, turned everything over to God… and I allowed my body to relax… as the tears rolled down my cheeks. They weren’t tears of sadness or frustration, mind you; they were tears of peace, tears of joy, and tears of love. Surrender will do that.

For today’s Which Way Challenge, I decided to use this photo because it reminded me that striving too hard, or failing to surrender, is like trying to force your way through rush hour traffic. You can push and prod, change lanes frequently, honk your horn… and even shout obscenities, but the fact of the matter is you won’t really get too far. Plus you’ll suffer from self-inflicted stress, and probably piss off other drivers in the process.

Surrender, on the other hand, reminds me of my road trips. I know it will be a long journey, I know I’ll run into traffic, and I welcome the unexpected detours. I relax, play my music, go with the flow… and soak in the scenery.

And if anyone asks me which way I’m going, I answer “hmmm… I don’t know… wherever the road takes me…”

Peace & Love—
—Janet

Which Way Challenge: January 24th

The strongest position you can be in is complete surrender.

Wings to Fly

I believe that if one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings.

Gustave Flaubert

I’m back from my mini vacation… and I feel like I’m ready to fly!

I’ve got a ton of catching up to do, and a plethora of images to sort through… but I wanted to share one of my favorite photographs thus far. I shot this the first day of my trip, at a park near the beach.

I love capturing birds on the move (as many of you already know), so I was thrilled when this duck struck a pose and I was able to catch it. I just love it when that happens!

Until later…
Peace & Love Everyone!
—Janet

Raw Beauty

I had a revelation the other day, when I was pondering what breathtaking means to me. I realized that my relationship with photo programs began when I was shooting nature in Colorado. There’s just something that you feel—when you see nature with your own eyes—that can’t be reproduced when you look at a photograph. At least that’s how I see it.

Post-processing started as my way of trying to recapture that feeling somehow. Of course, now my images often morph into wild or wacky art—and end up looking quite different in the end. The first photo above literally became last night’s Circle of Life. Feeling playful and rebellious, I shaped it into something abstract.

Anyway, all of these images were taken from our apartment, when we lived in Colorado, and I’ve done as little as possible to them. We had the best view in the complex, and Mother Nature… with all of her raw beauty… never failed to put on an amazing show.

Magical Makeovers

—A Page in My Journal

My best friend went to cosmetology school when she was eighteen, and I was the brave subject of her very first “perm.” It looked pretty BAD, but eventually my hair grew out. Over the years that followed (or decades I should say), she became the extremely talented hairdresser that she is today.

For many of those years, although she did exactly what I had asked her to do, I’d come away from her shop feeling slightly disappointed. Sometimes I wondered if it was just MY hair that never seemed to come out “just like” the pictures that I would bring her.

I don’t know why it took her so many years to say it; but finally one day when we were discussing my dissatisfaction, she said that sometimes people come in believing that their new color or cut will make them look just like “the woman” in the photographs that they bring in, but that just isn’t the case. And it certainly isn’t a reality.

All I can say is that I love my friend dearly—and her honesty—and she really got through to me that day. Getting my hair cut to look like Jennifer Aniston’s latest style will NOT make me look like “Jennifer Aniston.” Such a simple fact, but it took my friend’s directness to make me grasp that truth.

Today I read a post by another blogger, and I had an “Aha!” moment. I realized that sometimes I’m still looking for those “magical” makeovers—just not with my hair. I get trapped into thinking that if I do the right things, I’ll suddenly be “someone else.”

I’ll no longer procrastinate or stay in my sweats until late in the afternoon. I’ll be able to function without coffee. I’ll be a designer, a writer… or perhaps a cage fighter. (Hey, stranger things have happened!)

The point is that I’m beginning to see why I struggle with follow-through. I envision that “someone else” that I expect to resemble, and… well… I’m still me. I’m not Jillian Michaels in the gym, or [insert name here] anywhere else. And when I realize that I haven’t “magically” transformed into someone else, I feel that same disappointment I felt when I left my friend’s hair salon. Then I change directions—or I give up.

As I thought about these things, a phrase from recovery came to mind: “Just for today.

So I embraced “who I am,” instead of “who I want to be,” and I did the things that I love. I didn’t try to function without my coffee, and I stayed in my sweats way too long. And I was a writer… just for today.

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Dr. Seuss

Sometimes I think Dr. Seuss had it all figured out.

—Janet

Introspection

Fear, like a giant boulder…
Stays weighted at my feet.
—Afraid I’ll miss the curtain call, I stay paralyzed…
Gazing at the stage to find my cue.

Impatience, like a cold wind…
Sends me sailing into a flurry.
—I shatter into pieces, chasing a million things…
Until all that’s left are tiny shards.

Reason, like a brilliant scientist…
Wants to put me back together.
—Like a puzzle to be solved, I inspect the fragments…
But many of the pieces have been lost.

Acceptance, like a soft embrace…
Whispers I am enough.
—The mystery becomes magical, and I feel love.

But, Gratitude… Sweet, sweet Gratitude
—Like a burning flame…
She warms my soul.

Inspired by the Word of the Day Challenge: Gratitude

I’ve decided to make a commitment this month. I’m going to “write something every day,” and “work on things that I find challenging.”

Today’s Accomplishment: Write a poem without a rhyme

Dr. Seuss likes to whistle tunes to me when I even ‘think’ about poetry, so this was extremely hard for me.


Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. —African Proverb


Playing the Game

Well, I never made it outside yesterday (Boooo). Honestly… it is freaking COLD here! Not as cold as so many places, but in California these recent “extremes” are quite shocking to some of us natives.

Anyway, even though I made a silent vow to stay away from my archived photographs, this morning I remembered some images I took at the park some time ago, and this one seemed perfect for today’s thoughts. Par for the course, I played around in Photoshop to make it appear a little “dreamy.” I couldn’t help but wonder if this young boy was dreaming a little himself at that moment; feeling hopeful about his future in baseball.

I don’t know if I mentioned it before… but this past summer I played coed slow-pitch softball. I’ve now joined a winter league, and this weekend is our first practice game. A friend of mine—who has never played before—has also signed up, and this past Sunday the two of us went to the batting cages.

After showing her how to hold the bat, how to stand, and how to swing, I gave my friend the cage and watched her go at it. I found myself a bit baffled by her performance (and I hope she never reads this!). She seemed distracted—always watching the entrance to see who might be walking in—and when she swung it seemed “halfhearted” to me. It’s almost like she had already decided that she sucked at it, so she didn’t even want to try.

The good news is that eventually her bat started connecting with the ball that was being delivered to her, and we were both happy that she made some progress.

The reason I bring this up is because yesterday I spent the day brainstorming—thinking about my ideas, my dreams, and my goals for this year. I took time to write the important ones down… and then pondered how to break them down into little steps.

I felt really good after that. It’s like putting them on paper (well, on screen actually) made them appear more real to me, more achievable. When I was heading to bed I sort of imagined myself taking even more steps—getting out there and being intentional about my next moves.

That’s when the vision of my friend came to my mind… I imagined how she stood there; swinging that bat with what appeared to be “zero hope” that she would ever actually HIT the ball.

Something inside of me clicked, and I realized that sometimes the way I think and talk about my dreams is like how she swung that bat—with no real hope of actually making contact.

If I’m going to turn those dreams into reality, I need to get my butt out to that plate, stand there like I mean it, keep my eye on the ball… and swing that bat like there’s no tomorrow!  

Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.

Babe Ruth

Life is good, and God is great!
—Janet

Melting Time

I’m actually getting a late start on word prompts tonight. I really do enjoy those, but trying to fit multiple words into a poem or story is—to be honest—exhausting me.

I think I need a word for the “week,” so that I have time to digest it, and ponder what the word really means to me. That rush-rush to get it written in one day gives me a weird adrenaline rush!

Anyway, I thought I would give the mind a rest tonight—so I did an image for the word Segue: to make a transition without interruption from one activity, topic, scene.

It’s a bit abstract (duh!), but it’s a really cool tree that I visited at Christmas, with lights dangling from it, and fireworks exploding behind it in the night sky—celebrating our segue into the new year.

I’m actually happy with this one! If I ever had to settle on any specific style, I think I’d do more of these crazy pieces.

That’s about all for tonight! We have 2 hours to go here, and there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll still be awake to welcome in 2019.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!
(… and that’s the last time I’ll say that this year)

Peace & Love!
—Janet

A Better Me

It’s always exciting to see a new year approaching, and the word goal really got me thinking today. Not about my goals for the year ahead, but about the goals I’ve already set—over the last couple of years—and how they have helped change, or shape me, in ways I never expected.

In all honesty, sometimes I have NO idea where this journey is taking me. When I made the decision to go to college, I was SURE that Graphic Design was the path that was meant for me. When I decided to alter my course, and major in Psychology, it felt “perfectly natural.” And now—while I’m figuring out how to work English into the equation—I can’t help but wonder: “Will I ever get this right?” Continue reading

Mindful

Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive. 

Thích Nhất Hạnh

After last night’s post, I decided to commit to black and whites for a while. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure why I haven’t done more—since I love them so much—but after working on the image that I’ve featured here, it all came back to me; they aren’t easy to do, and they can be pretty tricky.

Actually, I think that’s exactly what was needed right now; something to challenge me a little and push me to learn. Continue reading

Transparency

This is my take on another photograph from my recent trip to the zoo. It was actually a moving light that shone on the concrete walkway to form what I believe is a rose, or some other type of flower.

I used a paint effect to accentuate the lines a little. It’s not one of my favorites, but I thought it went really well with the Word of the Day challenge, the word being kinky; as in “having kinks or twists.” Continue reading

Moonstruck

moon·struck/adjective
1. unable to think or act normally, especially because of being in love.

Inspired by the Word of the Day Challenge.

Every now and then I check out the word of the day challenge, hoping it will inspire me to start writing poetry. As you can see by my recent posts… that hasn’t really worked out for me!

Anyway, I was inspired by today’s word: Moonstruck, and now it’s a half hour before midnight and I’m barely getting started! I wanted to do the featured image first—and it took me much longer than I had expected—so it looks like the poetry will have to wait. I think the image captures the “moonstruck” mood though, so it’s all good.

Have a beautiful week everyone…

Peace and Love!

Gazing Upward

I saw this sunset a week ago, just before my Thursday evening class started. It was beautiful just the way it was, but I wanted to do something with it. I feel like I need a ‘creative reprieve’ more and more these days. Not that anything is going bad, or I am stressed out or anything; I just think that sitting down to get creative helps put a halt to my overthinking. It’s like wordless prayer. It forces me to be still.

So… I hit another ‘month’ anniversary; 2 years and 8 months sober as of yesterday. It’s not like I count the days or anything, but when I see the calendar hit the 7th each month I make a mental note—thinking about where I was then compared to where I am now. What a difference 977 days make!

Anyway, that’s about all for now. Have a beautiful day everyone! Remember to stop and smell the roses… enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend… or gaze up at a beautiful sunset.

Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing. Dr. Seuss

Life is good and God is great!!

Carpe Noctem

I realized this evening that I stay up much later than I used to. I wanted to work on this image tonight because I just love the trees. The next thing I knew it was after midnight again! If you ask me, I think all of the lines from the leafless branches seem to make their own art. I love how nature does that; flaunts its beauty without shame, even in the most vulnerable and unexpected places.

I was never quite sure if the trees were even alive when I took the photograph, because as far as my eyes could see, it looked like sticks… upon sticks… upon sticks! Still, it looked beautiful to me. I think it has to do with growing up in the city. When all you really know of nature is what’s in your own backyard—or in the neighborhood park—glimpses of natural landscapes, untouched by man, create a sense of awe and wonder that’s truly unforgettable. I love that.

Anyway, the later it got, the more I thought about how I’m becoming a night owl again. I’ve always loved the night. Of course, I used to love the wild night life. Now… it’s my quiet time… when I can think without interruption. That’s when I decided that I needed to add the finishing touch. Something personal. A little night owl… hanging out with the trees… just like me.

Seize the Night!

It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.

Vincent van Gogh

Happy Anniversary!

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. Oscar Wilde

Would you believe that today marks exactly two years for me here on the blog? Another week and I’ll also reach two years and seven months sober. Praise God for that! Time flies when you’re busy making plans, that’s for sure.

Speaking of making plans, I had an epiphany recently. One of the students in my English class mentioned something about changing how society views a certain subject. I can’t remember what it was she was referring to, but that’s not really the point anyway—it’s what happened after. Grinning, our professor reminded the class that they were young, and that they had their whole lives ahead of them to change the world.

At first, I felt a little sad. There I sat, surrounded by teens and young adults—the oldest probably 26 years old—and I was… well… somewhere in my fifties. Somehow his words just struck me. It’s not often that I get discouraged, but the realization that I’m getting a really late start on a few things kicks in every now and then, and this was definitely one of those times.

A few days later, as the professor’s words drifted in and out of my head, I felt a little envious of those fortunate souls who “have their whole lives ahead of them.” That’s when I had the epiphany—or maybe it was that small, still voice that speaks to my heart—and I realized that no matter which way you look at it…

…I have my whole life ahead of me too!

We all do!
—Stay encouraged—

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

Upside Down

Sometimes you have to let life turn you upside down so you can learn how to live right side up.

I’ve been having some weird feelings lately. I think I’d call it “lack of joy,” but at the same time I keep reminding myself to stay grateful. What I’m REALLY grateful for is the fact that I have the wherewithal to remind myself of that!

What I’ve been catching myself doing a lot lately is living everywhere but in the present, and I realized today that this is the reason my joy has slipped away. Believe it or not, I still have eleven weeks left in this semester and I’ve spent hours—if not days—trying to plan my schedule for spring. I even met with someone at the university I’ll be transferring to next year so that I could start planning ahead for those classes too!

I know it’s smart to have goals and plan ahead, that’s not the issue. For me, the problem occurs when—in making those plans—I lose sight of where I am right now. Similar to how some people go on “speed dates,” I find myself wanting to “speed learn.” Instead of looking forward to each new day and being grateful for what I GET to do, I start approaching each day as something I need to GET THROUGH. It’s like saying “I want to be there, not here.

Where’s the joy in that?!

So… I took some time to relax and let my brain recalibrate, and I went back to an old shot of our ginkgo tree. I wanted to create something that represented what’s been going on inside of me lately. I guess it’s sort of quiet and serene, with spurts of energy, moments of frustration and anxiety, and a touch of overthinking.

Oh, and it’s upside down.

Believe it or not that started as a mistake when I accidentally hit the rotate button. Not only did I think it look cooler from this new perspective, it’s what got me to thinking about my inclination to live in the future.

It was also a great reminder that sometimes mistakes aren’t actually mistakes; they’re just stepping stones to better places.

Life is good and God is great!
—Stay encouraged—

Dream Chasers

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. Colin Powell

In visiting some images from my past, I stumbled on this photograph I took of some of my friends taking surf lessons. I thought it was a good representation of my thoughts lately; about hard work and determination.

One of our math assignments last week was to read an article by Carol S. Dweck—the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University—about fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets. What’s interesting is that in doing so, I learned a little something about myself.

A person with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence levels, talents, and abilities are fixed, that we inherently have what we have (basically what we are fortunate enough to be born with), and that’s it. A person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that intelligence levels, talents, and abilities can be cultivated through effort and education; they are potentials that can be realized through learning and practice.

I’ve always had a tendency to bounce around when it comes to my passions, interests, and pursuits—I can’t always stick to one thing—and I’m now realizing why that is; I have a bit of a fixed mindset.

Whenever I hit a wall—when something becomes too difficult, or too challenging for me—I simply change my direction. I automatically assume that I must have been on the wrong track to begin with, and that I don’t inherently have what it takes to continue on the path that I’m on. I guess you could say that I believed I had reached a plateau; a point where I could never go higher in that particular realm. That was a fixed mindset.

A person with a growth mindset would have believed that they did in fact have the potential to go higher, beyond those plateaus that are actually momentary and temporary obstacles. A person with a growth mindset would believe that they could do it, but that the process would require something of them: 

Effort and hard work.

I’m not saying I’m not a hard worker. What I’m saying is that when I DO work hard I tend to want to work at something that comes easy to me. Something I already understand or know how to do well. That’s not growth; that’s repetition. In looking back at my old business, I recognize this. I did what I did for a living (and for so long) because it came easy to me. I could do it with little effort or thought!

So, now that I’m aware of this I’m going to work on changing my beliefs. No more fearing or running from things that are difficult or challenging. I also thought this was good information to share because I’m sure there are other people who may be stuck in a fixed mindset; believing that they aren’t cut out for something.

It really IS possible, it just takes determination, hard work and practice.

Don’t sell yourself short!

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. Frank A. Clark

Let’s Dance!

InHiding
Today is my first day off and I’m still trying to get into the groove of the changes. All of my classes over the summer were online, so my face-to-face socializing was minimal. Now I’m surrounded by young people in their late teens and early 20’s, and every class has group activities. Talk about culture shock!

I wasn’t sure if I would get on the blog much during fall semester, but I just finished purchasing all of my textbooks and I’m not in the mood for homework yet. Ha! Tomorrow. Anyway, I was trying out a new paint program today and this image seemed perfect for my state of mind. It looks to me like there’s a man with a rather large nose, sunglasses, and some facial hair, peeking through—right around the center of the image.

I thought it was amusing; it reminded me of how it feels to try something new. Sometimes you peek inside first, but you take a little step—and you feel the the newness of the experience—then before you know it, you’re right smack dab in the middle of an awesome new adventure.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Alan Watts

Don’t feel bad if you can’t see the dude.
Maybe it’s just my own perspective.

Peace & Love!

Bringing Out the Bold

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. Carl Jung

It’s been a battle between intellect & creativity for me this week. Right brain vs. left. I needed to do something playful because I wasn’t having much fun with what I’ve been doing—still tweaking the blog. O.C.D. much?!?

I know they don’t get seen much, but my intellect’s been telling me to delete the posts that are too irrelevant, remove old images that seem weird or boring, fix those accidental double line spaces, and edit some things I said in the past that now sound silly (Hey, this isn’t twitter! I can do a re-do, right?!)

So, speaking of silly; I mentioned that looking back on my story was a great gratitude exercise for me, but there’s something else that I noticed that’s been really eye opening for me. In every other post—be it a story or an image—I was constantly explaining myself and apologizing!

In introducing images, the opening line would read something like “well this didn’t really turn out like I wanted but…” or “I know this isn’t the clearest image but…” and if I was writing my thoughts—I said things like “well, this probably sounds silly but…”

When I took that short Writer’s Boot Camp course, I actually did that once with my instructor and he jumped all over me. “Never introduce your work by downplaying it like that. Your reader will have formed a negative opinion before they’ve even read what you wrote!” He said that when you do that it means that either your work actually DOES suck, or that you really DO think your work is good, but you’re fishing for compliments. There was a third option though; you have no confidence. In that case—he said—you probably shouldn’t pursue writing.

I’m not sure that hearing him say that ever really sunk in—in fact I’d forgotten all about it until now—but when I started going over the past I was shocked at how often I’ve done that! Almost every time!

What’s awesome about this is that I haven’t felt compelled to do that after coming back from my long break. I think that I’ve found some of that confidence that was missing before. That’s not to say that anything I write or create has improved—in fact I’d say that my skill levels are exactly where they were when I left off last year. Nothing has changed. Nothing… except my confidence!

It was so exciting to learn that this past week, and something that’s definitely worth sharing. Just keep on the path—turn it all over to God—and you see changes, growth, and transformations that you didn’t even expect!

That being said, I wanted to create an image that expressed my mood right now. Something with movement, something a little crazy & wild, and something abstract—that I’m not going to explain or apologize for.

I guess you could say that I’m bringing out the BOLD.

Life is good and God is great!
—Stay encouraged—

There’s no “I” in Team

But there’s a “Me” in Mentor.

First of all, I wanted to share at least one of my school projects here. I’ve butchered it now, but before I made the edits it was the backside of an album cover I created. I haven’t been too thrilled with many of my projects thus far, but the good news is that taking the classes helped me figure out that I needed to go in a completely different direction. And I’m so happy I did—so it’s all good!

Secondly, I thought I would elaborate on my idea—my vision—about a program for people who are in recovery. My initial thoughts about it started when I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my (sober) life. My passion for photography and art —or anything that entails creativity really—was where it all started. I imagined an art gallery of sorts, with walls covered in various pieces done by people who are new to recovery, who are trying to get their lives back in order, and are in need of a creative outlet. Or even people who are looking for new ways to fill their time; time that they used to spend on unhealthy habits.

The first thing I wanted to do—and felt was absolutely necessary—before I even considered making this dream a reality was to get really good at something. I figured that starting up some kind of Creativity Center would require me to be an instructor at the facility, or at least teach newcomers how to use the computer programs. So… I made my way to school with the intention of learning some serious skills that I could pass on.

I started realizing that me and graphic design weren’t compatible partners, but—unfortunately—that’s what I had signed up for. In the meantime, however, I was learning things in my other classes that were pointing me in the same direction, but with twists, turns, a little morphing and some expanding.

The-Eye
One of the kickers was when our Pastor spoke about mentoring. He talked about how others had been mentors to us in the past—our parents, teachers, our friends (Gil), and so on—and how now that we are all grown-up, it’s OUR turn to be mentors. I know “grown-up” sounds odd, but many of us there are in recovery so it’s fitting—if you know what I mean.

Anyway, his lesson helped me understand that mentoring is about providing someone with emotional support and guidance. It means helping your protege discover his or her own gifts and talents—and encouraging them in their process (Gil). I guess that’s when my vision started changing the most. I started seeing that limiting it to an art center would be too restrictive, so it morphed into a place where people could do all kinds of things. A place where they could focus on phase two of their recovery. The living sober part.

And photography, writing, and art would be a huge part of it, too. Of course.

So that’s where my thoughts are right now. Up until now it’s been simmering safely in my head, but I read that if you want to take your visions seriously, you have to talk (or write) about them. It makes them more real.

So… talk I will!

The Next Chapter

Just hours after I said that I don’t have much to share these days, all kinds of thoughts started churning around. I haven’t even slept well the past two nights because my mind’s been racing! It reminded me of all the times I proclaimed that I was going to do a new image series, and then the whole idea would just fizzle out. I can never seem to stick with a plan! This time it worked for my benefit though… sort of reverse psychology, I guess.

I was going through my files yesterday, doing a little housecleaning, and I came across one of my old posts; back when I first started the blog. It was such a great reminder to me, and the timing was perfect!

When my friend Gil first encouraged me to write, and to share my story with others, it was the first time in SO long that I felt my life had purpose. I not only had my sobriety, I had this HOPE that I could share with others. I think my exact words were that “I was going to write the story of how my life was transformed.”

I’m going to cut to the chase now: I’m ready for the next chapter!

I’ve had this idea—kind of a vision about my future—for over a year now. If you hadn’t noticed, my image here represents a page of my book. I know, I know, it’s not exactly spectacular and it kind of looks like a paper bag, but HEY, it’s slowly being turned to reveal the first page of the new chapter; Chapter Two.

But, there’s nothing there!

That’s exactly where my vision came from. One of the biggest hurdles that I had to get over in sobriety was to stay that way. 60 days, 90 days, the countdown went on. And on. Coming from a place where I’d done so much damage to my life that I was left standing in a pile of rubble, and then reaching all of those milestones and realizing that life was good, God was great, and that I was sober; I found myself at another hurdle. A more complicated hurdle. What next??

That’s how going back to school came about, and with every passing day my vision is morphing and growing, and becoming more and more possible. So… what next? I’d like to set up a program to work with others who are in recovery. People who have reached or are nearing that hurdle; that what next phase of their recovery. Getting sober is hard, but “living sober” is a journey. And for people like me who hit rock bottom, it means there’s a life to rebuild. A second chance. A new beginning!

I’m still making notes, doing my research, getting questions answered, and so on, but I thought that now was a good time to share the idea. I was hesitant because… well, sometimes I have a hard time sticking to a plan! But, a year’s gone by and the dream hasn’t gone away. It’s been blossoming, really. I pray about it a lot, and lately everything keeps pointing to the fact that this may actually come to fruition.

I’ll start small—baby steps—with just one person, but I gotta be honest here…

I’m dreaming BIG.

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.

A Handful of Dew

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were not there, I think the ocean would be less by that missing drop. Mother Teresa

Greetings Everyone! It’s been a couple of months since I opened up any of my Adobe programs, so I thought I would give it a shot today and see if the right side of my brain still works. I took this photo of an orange and dew drop when I was in my photography class, so today I added the hand and used scale and some paint effects to make it look larger than life. I thought it was fun.

My second year of school starts in two weeks, and once that’s finished I’ll be just one class shy of earning my Associates Degree in Psychology, so this time next year I should be finishing up and planning for my graduation and University transfer.

I’ve been contemplating what I want to do with my blog these days. I seem to be at a place where the only thing I have to talk about are my day to day activities; not exactly exciting material, but today just happens to be my two year and five months “sober anniversary,” so that’s something I thought was worth mentioning. Time just keeps flying by!

Once I figure out a more concrete direction for the blog, I hope to be posting more. For now, I’ll just keep checking in to say hello now and then, and share any photos or art that I drum up on my days off.

Peace and Love!

Flying Solo

It’s been tough for me to post lately. Considering the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” I’ve come to a new and quite similar saying of my own – about myself and my writing – and I’m trying to live by it now.

“If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Actually, I thought about this while taking an English class over winter. Writing essays about emerging technologies and bullying on the internet, I found myself really questioning why it is I’m interested in writing, and why I found it so hard (or perhaps tedious is a better word) to write those essays. To make matters more confusing, I had also been pondering why graphic design was becoming less appealing to me after some of the projects I did for class.

It was the answer that came to me that I actually got excited about… in order for these things to work, they have to come from my heart.

That being said, I guess right now I don’t have much on my heart – well, except for complete joy and overflowing gratitude for this new sober life. And the fact that I still can’t believe I have this opportunity to go to school and experience the things I missed out on when I was young and confused. Sometimes I pinch myself to make sure it’s real!

Anyway, the good news is that I managed to get an “A” in the English class. I’m glad it’s over though! I also changed my major from Graphic Design to Psychology. Kind of a strange move, but for those of you who know me, it probably doesn’t come as a shock. I love to think and I love learning why we do what we do.

Graphic design is now my secondary field of study and I’m three classes away from getting a certificate. And I just started working for the Sports Department at the college, doing graphics for the sporting events through an internship, so it seems that everything is slowly falling into place!

That’s about all for now. I’ve got all sorts of new thoughts and ideas about life – and the future… so I hope to share more as time goes on. In the meantime, I feel a little like that bird in my picture – flying solo and feeling free.

Life is good and God is great! And the journey continues…

Perfectly Imperfect

Even imperfection itself may have its ideal or perfect state. Thomas de Quincey

It’s the first day of “spring break” here in California, and I wanted to share a photograph I took last year, just before fall. I shot this while I was working on a project for my photography class, but I ended up changing my subject to water and I never turned this one in. The tree may look familiar to some of you; it’s the Ginkgo that sits in the backyard.  I wanted to do something in black and white today, and I’m crazy about all of the organic lines.
Tree

Everything is going really well these days! I celebrated 2 years sober on March 7th – and a full load of classes this semester is keeping me busy (and out of trouble). I’ve been exploring different majors, and have been told that this is actually par for the course; most students change their majors up to 4 times before they finally find what fits.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter! I’ve missed being here, I’ve missed you all, and I look forward to sharing more of my writing, photography and art again – on a regular basis.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

By Rudyard Kipling


The instructor of my writing class read this poem aloud, and I just love it. I had never heard it before, so it was extra special to discover it at this point of my life… while I am furthering my education. 🙂

I pulled up some old images from my archives, to experiment with some new techniques on some old photographs. This one of my grandson came up and it was a perfect fit for the poem!

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Life is good, and God is GREAT!

The Facade

Don’t trade in  your authenticity for approval.

The photography book that I’ve been browsing through is really inspiring me. I’ve said before that I prefer black and whites, and that was actually the only thing I would hang on the walls of my old place, but I rarely finish and/or post one here.

So… I thought I would try one today. It was a struggle to go through with it, because the original photograph had some awesome color! But, I stuck to my guns. My goal here was to create contrast. I think I did pretty good lightening the sky, but the bushes and mountains in the background still leave some clutter that I’m not crazy about. I think I like it though!

This photograph was taken in Jerome, Arizona- the old 1800’s mining town I talked about before. I love old places!

I liked the idea of a “facade” for this post, because I was thinking about authenticity last night. I’m SUPER excited about being in a classroom full of people come August, but I have to admit that the introvert in me is kind of nervous. I work hard at not letting fear and insecurity get the best of me, and sometimes things go so smoothly that I wonder if I’m really even an introvert at all!

Once I’m comfortable with my surroundings, I don’t even think about it- but that first step into something new can be a little stressful! Especially if I think too much, and anticipate the anxiety. I definitely need to stop those kinds of thoughts.

This all went through my mind last night because I met some new friends for coffee yesterday. I can clearly see that it has a lot to do with my state of mind. I was in hermit mode all day, and spent a lot of time reading and on the computer. While driving to the coffee house, it felt similar to coming out of a dark movie theater- into the blinding light of day… it requires some adjustment!

Everything went fine, of course, but when I got home I felt my muscles relax and thought “boy, it’s good to be home again.” Does everyone feel like that at times? That’s what was going through my head last night.

After pondering it awhile, I decided that authenticity means just being me. And if being me means being a little anxious at times, maybe that’s OK. I accept that. I guess I’d be phony if I said I never get nervous! As long as I keep going and don’t let fear stop me from doing the things I want to do, there’s nothing to worry about!

As my pastor said the other night…

“It’s always too soon to quit.”

I like that!

Anyway, I thought these thoughts were worth sharing today. I guess the moral of the story is just be you, and don’t let fear win.

Have a beautiful day everyone!! Life is good and God is GREAT!

Come Together

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. —Henry Ford

This is a bit of a mishmosh of thoughts, but it all ties together.

First of all the image is just something I was toying around with. I combined three different photos I took of kids playing at the beach. Then I did some tinkering in Photoshop and Illustrator to create the look of a drawing. I added outlines to give it a poster kind of look and to (hopefully) tie in with the “come together” theme.

I had my first writing class last night and I have to say that it already has me thinking about how writing may (or may not) fit into my future. I’ll repeat what I shared in the class, as we each had to talk briefly about why we took the class. Since starting this blog, a recurring thought I’ve had is “Can I really WRITE? OR do I just know how to write about myself?”

I WILL say that the reason I started the blog WAS to share my story, and that whole part of it seemed to come with ease- but the idea of actually sitting down to write a novel or a screenplay still kind of freaks me out. Hopefully I will learn the answer to my question over these next five weeks. Anyway, the instructor stressed (and I’ve read this elsewhere, as well) that any good author should know thyself. What are you interested in? What do you like or dislike? Who are your favorite authors, and what are your favorite books, movies, etc.?

I wasn’t able to come up with exacts, but I know that I LOVE to hear about people coming together, and the heartwarming stories of personal victories. And those are stories you hear all over- in recovery and in church. So… that’s the direction I’m looking toward in this new season. Stories and images about people coming together and overcoming obstacles.

I’ll be hunting around awhile for my first story….

so please stay tuned.

Backstage Pass

Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star, And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are. The Kinks, Celluloid Heroes

I’m sharing the end of yesterday’s day trip first, since it’s something I’m pretty darn proud of. I actually made it to the TOP of the mountain, so not only did I view the Hollywood sign (in person) for the very first time, but I hiked up to see if from the backside.

This is quite an accomplishment for me because… well… I am NOT a hiker! Ha! And I was the very last one in the group to make it up, but I kept going even though my legs kept saying “NO!”

Today I am definitely feeling the pain, but it was well worth it. My dear friend who lives near Portland is responsible for getting me off of my duff, and out into the places where those fit people” go.

And it was exhilarating! I do believe I will be doing more things like this. I’ve been a bit of a hermit since I broke both of my ankles two years ago (not to mention the excessive drinking I was doing, as well), so it’s about time that I use my legs more and get healthy again. It felt SO great to get out!

Anyway… just wanted to share this image from behind the sign. The gentleman sitting up top was our guide (a man from Australia, no less), and you can see Lake Hollywood in the image, as well.

Needless to say I’ve now checked off hiked to the Hollywood sign on my list of 55 things to do, that I’ve never done before.

Blessings!!

The greatest oak
was once a little nut
that held its ground.

Love, Fear & Courage

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. -John Lennon 


Well… it seems that my study of the word trust kind of fizzled out. I knew a whole year on one word was not my cup of tea! 😉

Regardless, even a week (or a month) spent on studying a word is something I would recommend. It seems to work better as an evolving process for me. I move from one word to the next, as I learn and discover things.

Lately love, fear and courage are words that keep coming up.

I’m learning so much about self-love, which these days I would have to call acceptance. It’s not about my past, or about what anyone else thinks of me. And it’s not about what I have accomplished (or failed at); where I live, what I do for work, or even what I drive… it’s about being the best ME that I can be. And it’s about building character.

I read something about walking with God. It said that God cares more about how we handle our journey than about where we end up. Makes complete sense! And it helped me stop the worrying about where I’ll be in the future.

It really IS amazing how love and acceptance for yourself; for where you are at this very moment, changes your outlook on life… and your perceptions of others, too. The more I accept myself (just as I am), the kinder and more patient I seem to be.

Imagine that. 😉


The other thing- that I’ve probably heard (or read) a thousand times, but somehow never let sink in- was about fear and courage. That it’s not about the absence of fear, but the courage to go on in spite of your fears”. I don’t know why but when I heard that the other day it finally clicked. It helped me truly accept the fact that YES I still fear things… but that’s OK… because I have courage now.


Anyway, I thought this was a good topic to go with my image. Opposing forces. A Yin and Yang kind of thing.

I got a load of new books from the library today and I can’t get myself to sit and read even one of them right now. I needed some art time. My meditation.

It’s so nice to simply clear my head… create… and just BE.

That’s about all for now. Happy Saturday…  and Peace and Love to you all!

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. -Mark Twain

A Bright Burst

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado

My journey sure is getting interesting! Every day I learn a little something about myself, about my habits, and about the power of thoughtsContinue reading

Light Trickles

Indecision may or may not be my problem. -Jimmy Buffet

After altering this photograph enough times I decided to go for the variety pack image… (thanks for the suggestion Nickel boy) hence the somewhat applicable quote. 😉

I think the purple negative at bottom right is actually my favorite. Below are clickable versions for anyone interested.


After all of the reading I’ve been doing it was nice to sit and clear my head by working on this. But I’ll get back to my reading soon. I am absolutely fascinated by all things relating to psychology.

More and more light trickles in as I discover things about our minds, our personalities, and society- and it really HAS helped me with the whole self-acceptance thing. You know… something I realized is that it’s not looking back at my old self that gets me off track and feeling a little “less than”… it’s looking too far ahead.

I do believe that God is taking me to amazing places, but spending too much of my time and energy trying to zero in on what I think the future will (or should) look like is what’s been tripping me up. Especially when you consider that I spend a lot of time in my head.

It was SO enlightening to see the light! The past is gone, and I’ve let go of that… but trying to peer into the future is what’s been stealing my NOW moments. Not only do I miss what’s in front of me, but my self-acceptance starts to diminish- because I am HERE- NOT THERE… not in that futuristic imaginary place that I so vividly painted in my mind.

ONE STEP AT A TIME needs to be my mantra these days. I’ve already learned what God thinks about shortcuts, so the next indicated step is the only step I need to take. I’ll never be a thousand steps ahead if I don’t take those 999 other steps that lead there!

My old self was always in a hurry. Trying to get 1000 steps ahead in ONE death defying leap. 😉 But, no more!

Anyway… I guess it all comes back to living in the present, which I already knew! But I accept the fact that I forget– remind myself…

…and here I am again!

Right HERE, Right NOW! Being present! 🙂


Life is good, and God is GREAT! Love you guys!! Off to catch up on some of your posts! xo

Strut Your Stuff

I want to live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned. 

I failed to mention that while I was busy babysitting the pugs, I also had to keep an eye on three chickens. It appears that I live in a world of threes!

Anyway, I just wanted to share this one. I have more images- probably even better ones, but I really liked the fact that you can see her strutting. And she is beautiful!

Peace and Love….

 

ACTIONAny Change Toward Improving Ones Nature.

Love & Acceptance

Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice. Bob Goff

I forgot to include something in my previous post. I was trying to watch my word count, and I left out an important part of the story; which was the reason that I chose to do the visualization of my inner critic in the first place!

My friend that asked me to share Saturday night spoke after me, and something he said really stuck with me. About love and acceptance.

There’s something that I’ve felt I lacked… you know… that something that was holding me back from being more of service before. I thought perhaps it was the thought that I didn’t know enough, or maybe I didn’t have enough sobriety time, or…. ??

The point is that I’ve never been able to pinpoint what it was that was holding me back.

There are two sayings in the program that baffled me, because they are almost conflicting. One is you can’t transmit something you haven’t got… and the second is that you have to give it away to keep it.

I have God and I have sobriety. I have peace, and joy, and serenity (most of the time). But something still didn’t seem right. What was I missing?!? Did I have IT or NOT?

Anyway… his share was about having love and acceptance for yourself. Because if you don’t have THAT, you can’t very well transmit it.

Wow. Was I ever glad that I went to that meeting. That’s what I’ve been missing!

In doing the 4th step (my fearless and searching moral inventory), and in learning about humility, so much time, focus, and energy had to be spent on discovering what was wrong with me. My faulty beliefs, my wrong thoughts and actions, and my character defects.

And I totally understand that, and am so grateful that God opened my eyes!

But, somewhere in the process… that nasty inner critic of mine took up residency and he likes to hammer away at me. Not constantly, but usually about the time that everything seems to be going really well. That’s when he starts sending me negative messages. Those imaginary roadblocks; like fear and doubt.

I know that God loves me. There is no question there. He has removed the desire to drink from me, and has shown me how to live. But sometimes my light just doesn’t SHINE.

How can I shine if I’m not feeling good about myself?!?

YES… I need to keep an eye on my thoughts, actions and motives… But NO… I can’t allow that old negative geezer to pick me apart.

So that’s what prompted this. And things are going GREAT.

I’ve got some new ideas for writing and images, something that will benefit others, and I will share more as things unfold. In the meantime, I have an interview tomorrow at a staffing agency. Just for some temp work while I get things back in order. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

Life is good and God is GREAT.

Peace and Love Everyone!!

Food For Thought

First of all, I was asked to do a panel Saturday night. When I got there and saw my friend behind a podium (with a microphone!)… I almost lost my cookies. And yes… that is what I had to do. Share my story in front of a fairly large group from behind that podium. That’s a FIRST for me, for sure.

One good thing about “telling your story” is that you really can’t mess it up, because it IS your story! It never changes! Overall I think it went well. Which leads me to the point of my post…

My inner critic.

Let the Lunatics Out of the Attic

I read the coolest thing in a book on introverts. Visualizing your inner critic. I’m sharing it with you because there must be someone else out there who could benefit from it. That’s my guess anyway.

So, the inner critic starts out looking like a big ogre. A large, mean and very grumpy looking character. He looks a bit like a judge; wearing a robe, a frown and holding a gavel. Why he’s a HE I don’t know… you tell me (that’s supposed to be humorous).

He says things like “you can’t do that!;” “you’re not doing enough!” or “You don’t know enough!”

Sound familiar?

Anyway… this guy just got an overhaul. We changed his look, AND his demeanor. Now he’s a cool looking dude with a hat, flip flops, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. And he only says encouraging things. “Nice job!” — “You’re doing great!” — “Don’t worry… you are right where you need to be!”.

So… that’s what I’ve been practicing, and I can tell you it’s made a huge difference. And what’s funny is that I don’t have to do it much. Just knowing that this new guy rolled into town seems to be enough to keep that old grouchy judge at bay. He’s learning that he’s no longer in charge, and that he’s not allowed to spill out his negativity.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this because it really IS very helpful.

Don’t worry—be happy.
And stay cool man.

Painted Sunset

I mentioned before that I felt I was entering a new season, and… well… I believe that it’s here! This seems to be a season of learning for me. That being said, you’ll probably hear from me a little less often, simply because it means talking (or writing) less and listening (or reading) more.

Funny thing about saying I’ll be writing less. I actually plan to write MORE, but less on the blog and more in my private journal and some short story projects. As interesting things come up, I will definitely share… but I want to focus on completing projects before I write about them. I seem to be one of those people that halts action once I share the steps I plan to take. It’s like I jinx myself! As a precautionary measure, I’m keeping things to myself until I actually finish the tasks I want to complete.

I’ve learned some fascinating things about Introverts. I picked up another book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. And about 6 other library books about behavior and character.

Did you know that around 1920, America began the shift from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Americans were being captivated by people who were bold and entertaining- while being shy (or introverted) was becoming the uncool thing. That’s when people started becoming performers to impress others, or just to fit in.

And what followed next?

Understandably…. the popularity of “anti-anxiety” drugs!!

In the 1960’s an ad campaign for a tranquilizer read “FOR THE ANXIETY THAT COMES FROM NOT FITTING IN.”

Wow! I never saw that ad (that I can recall), but I discovered that alcohol was a great tranquilizer, none the less. And it certainly did the trick, and helped me perform. That’s just crazy!!

I’ve reached a new level of understanding (and appreciation) of the Scripture “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…

Anyway, I just thought I would share that. I’m not sure where God is leading me with all of this, but I can tell you that these books have given me something. As the author of Quiet stated- she hoped that readers, at the very least– would take away a sense of “entitlement” to be themselves. I get it!

I’m really looking forward to seeing where all of this is going. I feel more comfortable lately, and am much more accepting of myself. I am more calm and relaxed, and the idea of speaking in front of groups isn’t bothering me much anymore, either. Probably because I’m spending less time beating myself up for not being different than I am.

Maybe now that I’ve UNLEARNED so much of my bad thinking and behavior… God is helping me learn about how He created me to be?! Who knows?! This journey is getting exciting, and I TRUST that He’s taking me to new and wonderful places. 🙂

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!! He Is Risen and He LIVES!

Love you all and hope that you have a blessed weekend. 

The image is the sky in Leadville, Colorado—taken from my living room window. 

Another Life Boat

Fish Out of Water!

That heading is from a book that I’m reading and I just HAVE to share about it. Yesterday was a really tough day. I met with my sponsor and we talked about my re-entry into the business world. At some point in the conversation I felt overwhelmed and started to cry.

Every time I talk (or think) about this upcoming job search, this crazy fear comes out in me. Fear of mental exhaustion is what I’ve been calling it. I haven’t felt ready to go back to ANYTHING full-time, at ALL. Not right now anyway.

After our meeting I felt a bit beaten, sad… and VERY tired. I felt myself sinking into a depression, BUT… I held on and did what she had suggested. I reviewed my resentments (which happen to pertain to some old business relationships), and my character defects… and read some of the A.A. prayers. One of those prayers is asking God to remove the defects that are standing in the way of my usefulness

One thing that’s been bothering me for awhile is this feeling that I just can’t seem to get OUT of myself. I feel like I spend so much time pondering, self-reflecting, thinking, overthinking, and then self-reflecting more. So much thinking! And I LOVE my solitude- which has also worried me- because isolation is dangerous for alcoholics.

For months now I’ve had this nagging fear that I’m just too self-absorbedand that it’s going to be a life-long struggle to break free from this bondage of SELF.

Shortly after the prayers were done, I was looking in my Kindle for a book to re-read. One of the “recommended for you” books caught my eye. I knew that I HAD to read it!

The Introvert Advantage: How to thrive in an Extrovert World, by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.

It talks about feeling like a fish out of water, and I thought about the years that I suffered from that dreadful teenage angst… and all the times since then, as an adult, that I’ve felt like that flopping fish, as well.

Anyway, this book is a gift to me from God. I’m sure of it. I’ve always thought that I learned this introverted behavior (from my mother, no less) and that I NEED to change this tendency to focus inward. What I’ve discovered, instead, is that it’s how our brains are wired. Introverts focus inward to get energy! And the ratio is one introvert to three extroverts, so YEAH, we DO feel like a fish out of water sometimes.

Our brains LITERALLY work differently than extroverts. And there are ways that we can monitor ourselves and learn to use our energy wisely- and not get so fatigued. This information is going to help me a great deal in figuring out what kind of work to pursue!

So a bad day turned into a great day! I also mentioned it in my meeting today and the woman sitting right in front of me had read the very same book when she felt that something was wrong with her. Crazy.

What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be. Ellen Burstyn

On another note… I did another panel tonight! Things went great. Not only am I finding out out how to conserve my energy levels, I’m also learning to condense my story, so I can tell a good share in less than ten minutes now.

That’s about all for now.

I hope that everyone is having a great evening, morning or afternoon! Peace and Love…

A Peaceful Place

We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts. A.W. Tozer

I thought I’d do one image before I head off to bed. I took a very, VERY long nap earlier this evening and I really do hope I am able to sleep tonight! I wanted something to do to keep my mind quiet.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m leading an A.A. meeting, down the street from my house. This means about ten to fifteen minutes of telling my story, or at least share about what’s helped me stay sober. I’ve been mindful not to worry about it… mainly made some bullet points… and I’m staying in the zone of not overthinking it.

Anyway, the image is from south Texas and I thought it looked like somewhere I’d like to be sitting right now, to be quiet and still.  The water looks a bit like mud, but I wanted to keep the colors soft and neutral… so it’s still pretty close to how it looked when I was there in 2011. For the most part.

I hope that your week ahead is a blessed one.

Peace and love!

Finding Rest

I found the words this morning! So, I am going to go with it, with very little editing… so I hope this all makes sense. I guess the coolest thing I’ve found about studying the word trust is that it keeps leading me to new words.

This morning the word was REST.

First of all… here is what I’ve learned about what it means to trust God…

He is a place of refuge, and (in) Him we are surrounded by His protection and embraced by His compassion. Trusting Him means: to lean on Him, to rely on Him, to hold onto Him, to flee to Him for protection, to stay, to hope, to expect, to be patient, and to linger in expectation… and wait.

It also has a lot to do with being on the inside. Examples are:

to be firm (in), to confide (in), to have confidence (in), to be secure (in), to seek refuge (in), to feel safe (in), to have assurance (in), to abide (in) and to find rest (in).

This morning finding rest in Him was what I decided to focus on because it relates to surrender…

My struggles with surrender have very LITTLE to do with “lack of trust” in God, but have everything to do with what I am accustomed to; which is ME being in charge.

That’s my former way of life.

I spent DECADES as an unbeliever, so the fact of the matter is… I spent decades trying to play God. I was seated on the throne, and I remained there until my imaginary kingdom was in ruins, and I was as close as I ever want to be to… death from alcohol.

Anyway, I feel really good right now because I know it just takes time.

When I call myself an alcoholic it feels really weird. I don’t drink anymore, nor do I have any desire to. But… as they say… alcoholism is but a symptom. In truth, alcohol is just ONE of things that I’ve been addicted to, chased, followed or even worshiped. False gods.

My life was FULL of them; Alcohol, drugs, money, success, shopping, and the love of a man… to name a few.

I won’t say that I sat on this imaginary throne feeling all-powerful, because I had very LITTLE power. I just didn’t know any better. I lived a life run by self-will, and I sought anything and everything that I thought would fill that huge void, make me happy, and fix my life.

Page 62 of the A.A. big book states “…the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot” and that is truer and true. I ran rampant!

Not until I had no other options… and was completely and utterly hopeless, did I look to God. But, He did exactly what He promises to do. He was there for me, and He led me out of that dark pit. Even after decades of rebellion.

So… what does this have to do with today? Well… what I discovered recently was that although I have great passion for writing and photography, those are “extras”. They are His blessings, and I cannot REST in those things, nor can I look to them to be the source of my happiness and security.

This is something that I was feeling inside, so it might not be so obvious to anyone else. But the fact of the matter is, what is happening inside of us is THE most important thing.

I began pursuing something and… without really realizing it… I was leaving God behind. I put something else FIRST. I ended up feeling irritable, confused, a little lost… and depressed. I knew something was wrong. Everything was bugging me. My camera was not good enough. I couldn’t find the right things to take pictures of, I was tired of trees and birds, yada yada yada. That’s one reason I was so happy to go to my sister’s house for a week. I needed to regroup.

Anyway… I realized what was wrong, admitted my problem, took a U-turn, and there He was. Waiting for me to return so that He could shower me with His love and surround me with His grace. How sweet is that?!

Everything is just as it should be today. And I came across a great quote that I want to keep close to me from here on out:

Everywhere the King is King, there is the Kingdom.

That’s so easy to remember, and a great reminder for me to stay OFF of that throne.

I need to surrender daily, and simply allow the King to be King. In HIS kingdom is where I am content, loved and full of joy…

…and it is where I find my REST.

Today is a good day, and God is GREAT!!!

Success is not what I’ve done compared with what others have done. Success is what I’ve done compared with what God has called me to do. Lecrae Moore, Unashamed

This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my art. No way!! I’ve just put it back into it’s proper place in my priorities.

Feeling Funky

I wanted to do something colorful tonight, so here you have it!

Writer’s block has been preventing me from writing much of anything about my study of the word TRUST. Every single time I’ve tried! So weird! Anyway… I’m surrendering on the production of that post. At least until the words come streaming in. And I trust that they will. In time.

I WILL share something beautiful that I found though! What I’ve been searching around for are the various meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words that are translated to the English word trust in the Bible- and I took this from one of my many finds.

Trust has to do with being surrounded and protected in His mercy. Trust is to distinguish that He is good, and to be wrapped and swaddled in the goodness of His everlasting arms. 

You can’t beat that. Who doesn’t love to be wrapped and swaddled in God’s everlasting arms?!? Anyway, things are going great! I’ve been going to more meetings, reading a lot, and really feeling at peace. I’ve got a couple of people keeping their eyes and ears open for part time job opportunities, and I’m taking everything one day at a time.

As it should be.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller’s day off

 

Shades of Spring

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi

I’m not a huge fan of pastels, but I thought this was a good fit for the season. And I’m pretty sure that this is a dove. Pigeons and doves confuse me sometimes.

I don’t know if I shared that quote before, but it’s been my mantra for the past week and will continue to be for awhile. I realized recently that I was getting WAY ahead of myself for a little while. Or way ahead of God I should say. Sometimes I get some grandiose ideas and then I realize that there are still very small things that I’ve yet to tackle!

That’s a bit humbling. And alcoholic thinking.

Anyway, I guess a good thing to remember when walking with God is to walk WITH Him, not a mile or so ahead! What’s funny is I’ve been thinking about that a lot and wanted to do a post called No Shortcuts! Then today, I’m reading In the Grip of Grace, by Max Lucado and I came across this:

“What we consider shortcuts God sees as disasters.”

Amen to that. I’ve taken shortcuts for so many years that it’s still a struggle to pause and be still sometimes, but I am definitely making progress! And I’m going to be working on the little things that need to be done. For now. 🙂

I may still write that post. Later. For now it’s time for lights out.

Have a beautiful day!

A Healthy Brunch

I’m really liking the action around here today! This is the squirrel that chased the parrots away; munching on a loquat.

I guess nature is dictating what I’ll be taking photographs of this season! I’ve added some fun color and the squirrel is a bit hidden (like his henchman) behind a leaf, so I did a zoom in below, for clarity. I was able to capture him “mid-bite”, which was pretty exciting.

I guess I’ll be spending more time in the backyard today, so who knows what (or Who) else will show up. I did see a lizard earlier! And I sure wish I liked the taste of those loquats but I have to say that I don’t find them tasty, at ALL.

Tonight I’ll be on that panel, at a recovery center nearby, so I’m trying to keep my day stress free. I want to be calm and at peace when I show up… so that my sharing comes with ease. I have a tendency to ramble! May God give me the words that are needed!

On another note, I’m learning a lot in my study of the word trust. It is really branching out! If I could give you a visual, I’d say that this word study is like looking at a tree, and TRUST is the trunk. Following it up the tree, it’s veered off into branches about LOVE, SURRENDER and GRACE… all of which have so MUCH to do with turning everything over to God.

I look forward to sharing more once I’m able to put it into words for a post. 🙂

Until later… Enjoy your day!! ♥♥♥