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!

What’s interesting is that the self-awareness I’ve gained through the program has been keeping me on my toes; my conscience is an ever-present observer (and judge) of my behavior. Sometimes it’s annoying and I wonder if it’s some kind of disorder; like I just enjoy casting guilt upon myself. But, the fact of the matter is… it’s a necessary process. It keeps me from straying (too far) out of bounds.

It’s not drinking that I worry about, either. It’s every other lure that catches my attention and cries out to me; “I am what you need, and you need more, more, MORE… of ME!” In other words, I can become addicted to anything. Food, bargain shopping, internet use, even blogging… wait… what?

I just wish it worked with healthier things. I joined a gym several months ago and thus far I’ve only set foot in the door once. And that was to pay my bill!

Speaking of the addictions, I wrote an essay for my English class last semester, Electronic Media: Entertainment or Enslavement. The question addressed was whether or not internet addiction should be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In doing the research, I stumbled on a little gem that I’ve stashed away; something that has helped me with my own ‘self-analysis’ when I’m worried that I may be walking one of those fine lines again.

Mark D. Griffiths PhD* said that the question he is asked most often is what is the difference between a healthy excessive enthusiasm and an addiction? Griffiths’ response is simple, and—if you ask me—the magic formula:

“A healthy excessive enthusiasm adds to life whereas an addiction takes away from it.”

That being said, when I’m taking my inventory and self-reflecting, the question that I ask myself now is not “am I doing too much of THIS?” Rather, it’s “am I neglecting too much of THAT?”

It’s been working for me. It’s not always easy to see you’re becoming addicted to a behavior, but it’s fairly easy to recognize that you’re NOT doing certain things. Things are getting pushed to the wayside; falling through the cracks; spiraling out of control. You can’t miss that!

So… that’s the latest news. That’s where I am today.

School starts in one month and I’ll be too busy to self-reflect or write about the details of my journey once that gets going. That’s ok though. I’ve already registered for my classes and I’m SUPER excited. I’m taking that Web Development class that I mentioned before, and I’ve also added The Bible as Literature. Regrettably, reading the Bible is something that falls to the wayside too often, so I’m excited it will be part of my curriculum.

Everything is moving along!

Now if I can just get myself to the gym. 🙂

The featured image is something I played with recently. I guess you could call if a foot-trait. Ha! It was actually a jogger on the beach. There wasn’t much excitement in the frame as a whole, but I thought it was cool to see her feet against the sand. It looks as though she’s on a very peaceful journey… something I can relate to!

Life is good, sobriety is awesome, and God is great!

—Janet

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: News

*Article mentioned in post: http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-excess/201605/the-myth-the-addictive-personality

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.

New Perspectives

Oftentimes I tell the people I meet about my transformation; how much I’ve changed since entering recovery and coming to believe. The way I usually describe it is that all of these changes are internal… they can’t be seen. Well, aside from the fact that you won’t “see” me drinking anymore.

Sometimes I refer to it as a “new attitude,” and other times I say that a lot of it has do with “gratitude.” Even so, I still find myself complaining or whining at times (especially when I play softball), but I’m able to recognize my behavior, pull out my tools, and work on fixing the problem.

While pondering the word angle—I realized that looking at life, myself, and others from different perspectives is probably one of the KEY factors behind my transformation. My new attitude stems from seeing things from new angles, and the ability to do so keeps me grateful.

One of the greatest things I learned in recovery was that I need to look at my own reflection when something is bothering me, because… as they say: No matter where I go, there I am.

It’s easy to feel discouraged, hopeless, irritated or angry when you believe that everything ‘outside of yourself’ is the cause of your condition. When you learn that YOU hold they key, and that you have the ability to change how YOU feel or react to these things… well… suddenly the world looks totally different!

—Janet

RDP Tuesday: Angle

Life is good and God is GREAT!

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

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

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 A Better Me

Unshakable

I used to feel invisible, and I was empty inside.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me though, as I was beautifully bedecked with many embellishments. Coolness was probably the first (and the cheapest) ornament that I picked up, and it stuck to me no matter what I did. Of all of the decorations that I collected through the years, coolness was also probably the most vocal. “Be cool,” it would whisper, “just act like you don’t care.”

Shortly thereafter, I found the spirit (the liquid kind), and I discovered that consuming that spirit brought about all kinds of shiny garlands. My penetrating fears were veiled by courage, and in time I acquired pride as well. Courage came and went freely, but a healthy dose of the spirit usually prompted it to run back home, and sit boldly on its wobbly throne.

Pride, on the other hand, attached itself firmly. If the spirit was low, or courage seemed to be lost, pride would encourage arrogance, or feed on other things to help it grow. It treasured success, money, and even “things.” Eventually… pride started flirting with greed, and it seemed as though we never had enough—of anything. Sometimes I think the two of them were in bed together from the very beginning.

Soon all of these trimmings lost their sheen, and I became convinced that if I found love—the “one”—I would be garnished perfectly. Love was the ultimate frill, the tantalizing tinsel that I really needed. I was sure of it! The search went on… and on… but my efforts proved disastrous.

In a tragic whirlwind, I caught a glimpse of myself one day and realized that I was nowhere to be found. Swallowed up by my decorations—and drowning in the spirit—I was still invisible. That void inside of me was still there, hollower than ever, and not one of those adornments could save me.

That’s when I found you; free for the taking and ready to move in—without question. Unlike that temporal spirit that I used to devour, you filled that void with your spirit, and it was sturdy and concrete… something I’d never known before.

I couldn’t see it, but I felt it.

Since then, my life has never been the same. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not overflowing with gratitude and joy. Sure, I still get caught up in old habits and start festooning myself with things that seem glitzy and glamorous… that’s human nature.

But, as quickly as they come, these trappings fade away. Each time they do, I’m adorned with nothing but my childlike faith. There is no emptiness though… because you are always still there—my unshakable rock—holding me up, and keeping me strong.

And I am no longer invisible… I am clothed in love.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

Augustine

Inspired by the Word of the Day challenge: Bedeck

Merry Christmas Everyone!! I love you all!

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 Mindful

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—

Empty Promises


I’ve been thinking (for a while now) about doing recovery images; pictures that portray the feelings of freedom and joy that come with getting—and living—sober.

I think my mind was in too many different places, or I didn’t plan it out well, because this one could actually go either way. Is she trying to climb into the bottle, or is she climbing out? Is she about to jump off—into the beauty of freedom and life; or is she holding on—longing to stay close to the forbidden fruit that leads her only to death? Maybe it’s supposed to be thought provoking and open to personal interpretation… I don’t know.

Regardless, I’m happy with it. I’m hoping that it’s the first in a new “Recovery Series,” but don’t quote me on that just yet. I’ve also been thinking about dabbling in poetry again. My English class this semester is really stirring up some creative thoughts!

That’s about all for now. Life is good, God is great, and it’s a beautiful day to be alive!

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. Raymond Lindquist

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!