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

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.

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

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

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!!

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—

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.

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.

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!!

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!! ♥♥♥

Scrolling Up

I’ve had an unusually hard time finding interesting things to photograph, so I’m sticking with my plan to try new and different ways to edit and display them. In case it’s not clear, this is a tree framed on a scroll.  (it’s hard to know how it’ll look on various devices!)

I’m also going to spend more time on ONE image.  I’m always pointing out what I could have done differently… so from now on I’m doing things slower, and hope to make those changes firstthen post. I’m aiming for improvement now, rather than speed. (which is a real feat for this speed demon!)

In other news… and speaking of being slow… I’ve been in no rush to update my other blog because I’m really thinking things through. Being young in both recovery and my walk with God, I’m finding more and more that I still have ample work to do. Nourishing my soul and allowing my roots to grow deeper, for starters.

My relationship with God MUST come first, before anything. So I’m spending more time with Him on a daily basis… and thinking about business (and other things) a little less. What’s funny is that I feel SO much better!! And stronger!

I think those tugs and nudges I felt before were His attempts to rein me in. In fact I’m sure of it. As A.W. Tozer once said: sometimes the Holy Spirit’s work in us can be harsh… similar to breaking a wild horse. Boy, can I relate!!

Anyway… that’s about all for now. Life is good and God is great!

God’s highest dream is not to make us rich, not to make us successful or popular or famous. God’s dream is to make us right with Him. Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace

Positive Vibes

It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy!

I think I’ve finally hit the last of the archived images I had saved. I’m sure glad I’m leaving tomorrow! Perfect timing. I may drive my sister crazy with the camera, but lucky for me she’s a very patient soul.

Anyway, I just want to send out a whisper of gratitude. I hit 300 followers and to me that’s a huge milestone. More than I ever expected! I’m saying my thanks to you quietly here… because I don’t want to jinx it. I appreciate all of you out there, whether you are one of the three hundred or not. I learn a little something from you guys each and everyday. Thank you so much!!

Here’s to all of you! 

In This Moment (Trust)

Separating topics is not easy. Not on the blog, anyway. I did some tinkering and there is no logical way to do it. I think that going to regular A.A. meetings (and looking to be of service) was the real STEP that I needed to take, and I’m doing that. At least I’m gaining clarity!

Anyway, it’s been four whole days since I started studying the word TRUST, and I want to share my first day. I chose Psalm 40, verse 4.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!

What REALLY struck (and amazed) me were verses 1-3.

I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

Can I relate to that?!? He pulled me from the PIT of alcoholism, made my steps secure, and put a new song in my mouth? Yes! Yes indeed. As I said… this word study started off with a beautiful bang. A great reminder of what He’s already done for me. I have a renewed sense of gratitude these days!

I SEE now- how easy it is to get distracted. Thinking TOO much about what’s next, and losing sight of what’s GREAT… TODAY, right NOW!!

Love always, laugh often, and enjoy every moment.

Are You in There?

Sometimes I look in the mirror and say… “where did my personality go?!?” 

Well… maybe I don’t look in the mirror and say it, but I DO wonder what’s up with me lately. And I don’t mean it in a horrible, sad, woe is me way either. It’s just that I get to the point (now and then) when I realize it’s been WAY too long since I’ve had a good laugh. I still chuckle, but I don’t LOL like I used to.

I had a dream last night that I was drinking. How bizarre is that?!?! It was weird!

I don’t even think about drinking, at ALL, so I have NO idea where it came from. I hope it’s not because I’m back in the A.A. circuit and listening to all that talk about alcohol… absorbing some kind of subliminal messages or something?

The meetings really ARE going well though.

Also, I’m emailing my sponsor my resume and we’re going to work on finding me a part time job. Finally. I haven’t given up on the photography and writing- but for now I’m cool with just having them as fun-time hobbies. I haven’t even been out much with the camera lately- which is why I am pulling out archives these days.

Life is good and God is great!!

Tree of Love

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips it’s turn. Hal Borland

A dear friend of mine gave us this tree when my dad passed away, and we planted it in a memorial garden in the backyard. Needless to say, watching all of these little heart shaped leaves spring forth every year is extra special.

Have a beautiful day everyone! ♥♥♥

The Light Ahead

Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you. Eckhart Tolle

Warning: Reconstruction Ahead

Sometimes I wonder if [some of] my posts need a warning label or disclaimer, just to alleviate my own anxieties. Sharing pieces of my journey, while I am in the midst of the journey, sometimes leaves me feeling vulnerable and uneasy- because I know from experience that it’s a work in progress (and subject to change).

The word Journey suggests travel or passage from one place to another. With that in mind, the truest and most accurate disclaimer I could ever add would be…

I have NOT reached my destination.

But I think everyone already knows that. None of us has.

Anyway… I really liked the quote I found because I need to hold tight, and be at ease with the fact that sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong, and sometimesI just don’t know. It’s ALL just a part of the journey. Write or Wrong.

Blessings, peace and love!!!

*The image is from Phoenix. It’s an ominous cloud, with the light breaking through…layered with a piece of sheet metal.

Walking My Walk

So… I guess this would be the portion of my blog where I share about my walk, and where I’m at; the My Journey section. Maybe I over-complicated the whole thing by trying to explain it. I do that sometimes. In time it will all make sense. The main thing I want to do is properly categorize.

I hope to organize this “hodgepodge of a blog” and it ain’t easyEventually I will nail it.

I emailed my sponsor about my decision to dive back into A.A. and to start making myself more available to be of service (which I guess you could call re-committing). I just love her! Her reply was right on point…

“We can preach a better sermon with our lives than our mouths.”

One thing I failed to mention in my last post is that ALL of the meetings I’ve been attending these past six months are not your typical A.A. meetings. That information probably helps to make sense of my thoughts.

Monday night recovery is actually a class at my church, and it’s taught by our pastor (who has about 35+ years of sobriety).

Thursday and Saturday, my meetings are both through Overcomer’s Outreach, which is a Christian 12 step support group. We practice the twelve steps, but we also read Scripture… talk about Jesus… and share with the group about where we are in our lives.

We also go out to eat a lot.

It is for any and all addictions or compulsive behaviors, and Al-anon… so pretty much anyone who wants to recovery from anything. I would highly recommend this program.

My sponsor has tried to tell me (a few times actually) that it would be “most helpful” if I was to get back into regular meetings, because those are the meetings that need more light. I guess I’ve been looking at it through my self-seeking lens… which told me that I only want to attend meetings that fill me up.

Feeling stuck lately made me realize that my involvement in the program isn’t to sit around and soak it all in. You have to give it away. That’s the whole purpose of step 12; to get OUT of myself and share all that stuff I’ve been soaking in. Wring out the sponge, so to speak.

Anyway- I made it to a regular meeting this afternoon and got to see lots of old peeps, took over the phone list commitment, and got some information about being on a panel that visits hospitals and institutions.

So… things are moving along today. I know I’m going in the right direction because a little teeny cloud of guilt that’s been hanging over my head has suddenly dissipated.

Amazing.

Life is good, and God is great!!

A Bit of Humility?

Awhile back I received a private message from someone about my blog. In the message, they mentioned something about my attachment to religion. Believe it or not, the very first thought I had was:

“RELIGION!?! I’m not attached to religion! I have a relationship with God!”

I didn’t reply to the message with that thought, but it’s exactly what came to mind. Where on earth does my blog say that I am attached to religion? If you were to review my posts all the way back to day one, I would bet a dollar that you would rarely- if ever– find the word religion. Not that I intentionally omit it, mind you, it’s just a word that I don’t use very often. Or even think of really.

So… today is actually the perfect day for this post. It is the seven month anniversary of my baptism. Alright, so maybe THAT sounds religious. Anyway, my point is that today is a good day to share what I’ve been learning this past week- which will also explain more about my desire to separate topics on the blog. Sobriety and MY walk with God…

I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes. Optimism is a real blessing when it comes to recognizing my wrong thinking. I become excited (and grateful) that I’m fortunate enough to be learning lessons, because that is growth! And I learn a little more about humility, and sometimes even humiliation… but that’s OK. I’ve seen far worse things than that!

What I’m being led to these days is that my thoughts on how to approach others who want to recover has been a bit off. It seems as though I was right in feeling that I wasn’t quite ready, because it appears that I was NOT! I’ve done a little more rewording in my big book reading, and how it applies to ME, step 12, and my approach toward others:

“Because of my own drinking experience, I can be uniquely useful to other alcoholics.

I CANNOT start out as an evangelist or reformer.

Tell the other person exactly what happened to ME. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the person be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that they do not have to agree with MY conception of God. They can choose any conception they like, provided it makes since to THEM.

The main thing is that they be willing to believe in a Power greater than themselves, and that they live by spiritual principles.

Use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice they may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which they may already be confused.

Don’t raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are!”

Being stuck in your alcoholism (or any addiction) is sometimes referred to as being in the pit. And I know that this is true, because I’ve been there. A few times!

A friend of mine uses the phrase “going down into the trenches” for working with other alcoholics, and it actually works as the perfect analogy for what came to me the other night; so here it is…

Someone is down in the pit. I am standing up above the pit, on safe ground, and they are calling up to me for help. The way I was headed with my original thoughts was to call down to them: “Seek God!! Pray!! He can help you if you let Him… but first you must believe!”

If you’ve followed my posts awhile, I think you might see that this has been my mindset… and BOY does it sound silly now… as I write this. What would REALLY benefit them is if I was to go down into that trench (pit) with them, listen and get to know them, tell them about MY experiences in the pit… and then show them the steps that led ME out, and will lead THEM out if they are willing to take those steps.

My job is not to preach, it is to help.

God never forces Himself on anyone, nor does He expect me to. We are His body, and I am confident that He would prefer that I forgo any thoughts about preaching, and get my butt down there, in that trench, and help get that person out!

So… that explains my reasons for wanting to separate the topics. When I talk about recovery, I want to teach myself how to speak of it correctly…

…which is without prejudice.

Of course the other lesson I am learning is READ YOUR BOOKS!

Blessings-

Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. G.K. Chesterton

Stand Tall

Say it as it is. No need to hide the truth, to deny the painful journey made nor to dwell in the experience. But move on in you life. Share with others. Being open is the only way, honesty being the best policy. Be frank. Be sincere to yourself. Use your hardship to navigate others through theirs. Grow strong from vulnerability. Stand tall and feel proud. —Author unknown

I had a great little walk today and was able to take quite a few interesting photos. I’ll be back later to share more.

As a side note… I thought of many fellow bloggers when I found the above quote about honesty. Share your story and your ups & downs. Be honest, be brave…

… and STAND TALL.

Glass Half Full

Yes, my glass is always half full (non-alcoholic beverages, of course). And, as my sponsor says… it is also refillable. 🙂

I’m experimenting with glass over images and this is my first test run. The trees were shot at the old zoo today, and in reading a tutorial last night I was led to Image*After, which is where I found the glass. Continue reading

What I Imagine

IF YOU LOSE YOURSELF in your work, you find who you are. If you express the best you have in you in your work, it is more than just the best you have in you that you are expressing. Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark

I thought it was rather coincidental (not) that my quote of the day email from Mr. Buechner was titled Work. I couldn’t wait to read it. His are usually a little longer, but this one was perfect for what’s been on my mind these days.

Every day I imagine more and more images that I want to create, and I’m finding that if I just keep doing that, I lose old worries as I grasp new techniques. It’s a win-win.

Anyway, the featured image is actually a combination of three images, four if you count the hand. The bird shots are from last week, at the L.A. River- so the water has been re-colored, to say the least. The hand was just my way of saying- No, this is not what was out there, but this is what I saw.

I think that makes sense.

A Gentle Glow

Today was a really good day.

Although I don’t like to write posts that aren’t uplifting, or bursting with joy, I have to say that yesterday it proved to be helpful. For me anyway.

Something in a comment got me thinking about my reluctance to make decisions. He mentioned that some people actually preferred having someone else make the choice… then if (or when) things turn out badly, there is someone else to blame (Thanks Great to Good).

When I read that, I knew instantly that it applied to me- in a certain area. WORK. Of all things. No wonder I’ve been struggling with taking the next step.

In all the years that I worked for the broker, I was the right hand man. I’ve always thought of it as being the one that got stuck doing everything. You know… being overworked and underpaid, and always feeling slighted- that someone else is getting the credit for all of your efforts. But the reality of it is that I hid behind him.

I had the choice to go out and do it on my own, but I opted for what was safe, comfortable, and secure. I knew that if anything went wrong… it fell on him. He was my safety net.

And then I took my experience, my bruised ego, and my resentments… ran off to Phoenix and started my virtual business. And where did I take that? Behind the scenes again. And not for one broker- but for MANY. More work, less money. A little proof that resentment is not the proper fuel to be used when starting a business. 😉

Anyway, long story short… my work has always involved doing tasks for someone else- who is making the decisions, and taking the hit if things go south. It all really boils down to FEAR.

These days it’s getting easier and easier for me to realize all of the ways that fear has manipulated me, and yanked me around most of my life. I think I’ve already won half the battle right there. The rest is easy.

As Rebecca said… God opened the door to sobriety, and He will open another door, the right door, when it’s time. I just need to trust. (Thanks Rebecca!)

So, today was peaceful. Beautiful weather, the camera got out, did some thrift store shopping, and picked up a few library books to read…

Life is good, God is great, and I’ve got my glow back.

Blessings—
Janet

Having Enough

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir

Sometimes I think or say something, and later I realize that it wasn’t 100% correct.

I try to look at it like there’s a lesson that I need to learn, or a new discovery that I can take away from it. I’ve mentioned before that it’s important for me to learn how to live sober, and that DOES (and probably always will) hold true—however—there are other things that I need to DO, and I always seem to put them at the bottom of my list!

Giving. Being of service. Carrying the message. Thinking more of others.

It’s not that I don’t have a huge desire to be selfless… I really DO! It’s that my mind keeps returning to my old thought pattern—which goes something like:

What do you have to offer? You’re not ready. You’re not well enough. You don’t know enough yet. 

I can go on and on, but you get my drift. IF I allow myself to listen to and believe those thoughts… I’ll NEVER be ready! There’s this old belief system that was instilled in me at some point in my life, and (sadly) an every man for himself mentality, that keeps telling me… you WILL do great things for others… but FIRST, you need to ARRIVE.

Arrive where?!? I have no clue! It’s like there’s an imaginary finish line somewhere out there, and I keep believing that once I cross THAT, I will be strong enough, good enough, smart enough- or will have enough- to help other people. Like I said before… I’ve been sensing this season coming on for awhile now. This feeling that all I’ve been doing lately is stalling. It’s time to get into action- and start doing more to help those who are in need or are still struggling.

Last night it was becoming clearer, and then today at church… I think God was giving me a message:

It is time. “I” am enough for you.

Blessings… and please stay tuned. I’m excited!

The time is always right to do what is right. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Tale of Redemption

faith2

A few things happened today that really moved me, but I’m only going to talk about one for now. Tonight was the meeting that I co-secretary for, and it turned out to be a pretty emotional meeting.

There’s something that I’ve been wanting to talk about, but I was never sure if the time was right, or if bringing it up was even the right thing to do. Tonight I got the answer (and permission).

I’ve mentioned before that I have three grandsons. A photo of my oldest grandson (who is eight) is here in the blog, buried back in an old post. I have far fewer photos of him than I do of the other two, because I don’t see him that often. He lives with his mother and grandparents, and his father (my son) is now married and has the two younger boys.

His mother is a recovering heroin/meth addict.

I was in my four years sober without a program phase when I met her over eight years ago, and she had just gotten clean at the time. I liked her instantly, and saw a lot of myself in her. Then… she relapsed, and nothing but chaos followed.

As God would have it, she and I ended up at the same church, same Monday night recovery class, and Thursday/Saturday night meetings. Actually, we were both baptized on the same day too! August 14th, 2016.

Anyway, it’s been a LONG journey for her. She has exactly 3 months more time than me, so when I received my nine month chip- she took her one year cake. Tonight I asked her to lead the meeting, and she shared her story for the very first time.

Fifteen years of addiction. From age twenty to age thirty five the longest she was ever able to stay clean was six months. She has moved around- between her parents home, rehab, sober living homes, and the streets.

She has overdosed multiple times, been hospitalized, and finally…

…in December 2015 she gave it to God. She let Him know that He could either help her overcome her disease of addiction, or she was jumping off the freeway bridge.

She never took that leap.

THAT is a tale of redemption.

God bless her.

The photo is the first in my series Finding the Divine in the Mundane. The bird and design is actually painted on the back of a trash bin—at a nearby park.

After hearing her heartbreaking story, I thought it went along well.

God does not make junk.

I’m so proud of you T! I love you!

Signs of Change

Now that I’m back in the realm of randomness, I’m messing with alterations. This is a street sign by my old High School. Actually, it’s the street that I used to hang out on when I would cut classes, and do other experimental things. I’ve always said that I hated school. I really DID back then—but I thought of something today.

When I was hanging out there recently and taking pictures, I watched the kids for awhile. Some were practicing their sports, joking and laughing, and others were talking and hanging out while waiting for their parents to pick them up. They all looked so happy.

For a moment, I was a bit sad (or disappointed) that I hadn’t experienced that kind of enthusiasm in my school days. It appeared to be a fun place now!

Looking around, I thought why did I hate it here so much?!?

Today I knew the answer to that while I was modifying this sign. There was only one reason why I was miserable back then, and it had nothing to do with the school- or the people that I went to school with. It was me. What was erroneous back then was my state of mind. Fear and negativity.

Now I see everything differently.

And now the sign is a bit different too! Besides changing the sign… I added the moon and the bird.

My signature I guess.

The real voyage of discovery exists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

 

A Note on Gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

I should make it a habit to write in the morning. My outlook is so good when I first wake up. At night my thoughts get lost in a fog of the day’s events, and I’m not always thinking clearly.

First of all I’m going to change my image challenge. The things I’m grateful for isn’t working for me at all! I’m finding it hard to use my imagination when it comes to choosing and/or creating photographs that coincide with the many things I’m grateful for, and the frustration in that process is trying to steal my joy! Go figure. 😉

Anyway, I really can’t narrow down my gratitude like that either. When it comes down to it… I’m grateful to God, and I’m grateful for life. My sober life. My new freedom in Christ. Everything beyond that is an added bonus.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.­ –Matthew 6:33

A fellow blogger (Jeff) mentioned something in a comment that I TRULY understand and appreciate- about being grateful for EVERYTHING– even the times of anguish and despair, as they are indicators of and preliminaries to growth.

Everything that’s ever happened in my life is what led me here today. There is no looking back and wanting to change a thing. Not a single iota. That thought, in itself, is an eye-opening and amazing thing to grasp.

I can’t even imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t gone through the struggles, the anguish, and the despair. Most likely, I wouldn’t have sought God, and would lack this awesome sense of gratitude that I have today!

So, YES… I am grateful for EVERYTHING.

Wow, I’m glad I decided to write this morning. What a great way to start the day!

Blessings, Peace and Love Everyone!

Feeling Unruffled

Be kind to yourself while blooming. I know sometimes it feels like your soul doesn’t always fit. It’s all a part of the process. Emery Allen

What I found odd yesterday is that when I was doing the mood images, I was unstoppable. There are so many different moods that one can experience—I could have gone on forever!

Now that I’ve moved on to things that I’m grateful for, it’s been slow moving. There are a zillion things for me to be grateful for, don’t get me wrong, but there are two challenges I’ve faced. One is finding images to match, which is no big deal… but the other thing–that is VERY important—is that I FORGET to be grateful.

In my Thursday meeting, I shared about my fears, as well as some thoughts I’ve been having about whether or not I’m doing the right things. You know, like wondering if my actions and motives lately are too self-seeking, and on and on…

Two gentlemen (my brothers, I should say) said a few things that really helped me change my perspective. Firstly…

God’s not waiting for you to be good, He’s just waiting for you.

I need to hear things like that over and over, because I’m always pulling out the ‘shame on me’ card. The next time that card comes around, I’m calling BLUFF!

And the other…

Don’t forget to LOOK at how FAR you’ve come!!

Not too long ago I was taking another Welcome Chip. Too many of those to want to count. But, in 4 days I will have eleven months- and in 34 days I will be taking a cake for ONE YEAR!

It’s not so much the counting of days that helps me appreciate how far I’ve come. I see how far I’ve come when I remember how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve changed, and how- even though my mind can go to the wrong places- I now have tools. I am able to see my stinking thinking for what it is… and call that bluff.

After pondering my friend’s words, I realized this morning that when I self-reflect lately, it’s like I’m a reporter on the prowl… looking for the DIRT! What I’m going to do today, is just be grateful for the progress that I’ve already made. How sweet is that?!?

Anyway, today I have fellowship (in meetings and in church) with men and women who can, who have, and who DO help me.

For that, I truly AM grateful!

Life is good and God is great! ♥♥♥

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you so much to Rev. B. Keith Haney https://revheadpin.org for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award! And for your lovely blog that continually lifts my spirit. The Light Breaks Through is right! I have never been nominated for an award before- so as I said– I am both humbled and excited, to say the least! Coming up with seven things to say about myself is a challenge. Since my blog contains the story of my life, it’s very hard to think of something that hasn’t been said already! I will certainly do my best.

The Rules

Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog Post about the award Share 7 facts about yourself Nominate at most 15 people Tell your nominees the good news!

7 Facts About Me:

  1. I was the pitcher for a girls fast pitch softball team for about seven years, and was voted All-Star player for five years in row- pitching several no-hitter games.
  2. I’m a bit of a tomboy (do they still use that word?). The “jeans only, no dresses allowed” rule holds true in my world. Ok, occasionally I dress up.
  3. I can eat pasta until it’s coming out of my ears. I cook a pretty mean meat sauce and a pasta with chicken, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and capers- covered in a lemon butter/parmesan cheese & garlic sauce. (And I’ve just made myself hungry!)
  4. I do NOT like to bake (pastries, etc.). Mainly because the flour usually ends up everywhere but in the bowl.
  5. I’ve mentioned this on comments, but I don’t think I’ve said it in my blog: I’ve always been afraid to fly. I hope to conquer that soon because I want to see the world! I flew only once, when I was about 10, in my uncle’s private plane. We flew over my house! BUT, I was young and that was before I realized what flying was. I’ve never been on a commercial airplane, but I LOVE airports. Seeing all of those people boarding and exiting planes reassures me that I can do this!
  6. I taught myself how to use a computer back in the days of DOS, and dabbled in HTML before I got my hands on website templates.
  7. I obtained my California Real Estate Salesperson license in 2007, and actually found out yesterday that it expired this month! I still have awhile to renew it- but I am hemming and hawing over it, as I’m not sure if I’ll ever use it again. BUT– time will tell. I need to pray on this one (mainly because of the fees to renew it).

I am honored and extremely grateful. Thank you again!

Naming others is hard because everyone I follow is lovely. And I follow A LOT of blogs! My nominees are ten blogs that have visually (or verbally) inspired me, taught me things, and/or encouraged me over the quarter of a year that I’ve been blogging.

https://streetsofnuremberg.com/

https://clicktoart.wordpress.com/

https://lemanshots.wordpress.com/

https://simoneteffect.wordpress.com/

https://laskowitzpictures.org/

https://discoveringandsharinggrace.com/

https://wildernesslifeblog.com/

https://onceuponanape.com/

https://healthy-people-dont-need-a-doctor.com/

https://curryncode.com/

Thank you for sharing beauty- whether it be through your photos or your words, or BOTH- with the world! –

With love,
Janet

 

Confinement

So, don’t freak out… but tonight my mood is confined.

I guess that’s a mood, no? Today was absolutely weird. This evening I felt kind of burned out on the photography. Second, I haven’t felt like writing because there is either too MUCH on my mind, or nothing at all! I did say I was going to relax, but my mind was like mush!

And then tonight I got a call from a man friend. One that I wrote about in my first story… a man that I pursued. He was a part of the whole big mix of my loneliness- unhealthy relationships- drinking pattern. I felt trapped. Maybe I’m just afraid of what might happen when I step out of this safety net of singleness and get back out there.

It’s funny because I was just thinking earlier that since the photography and writing are good replacements for my old BAD habits… if I lost the passion for those things then what would I do next? And then he called. A little bad timing I guess. So now that I’ve said all that, maybe I don’t feel trapped after all. Maybe I feel that it IS a trap.

A trap that I don’t want to fall into.

What IS the Hurry?

Hurry always empties a soul. Ann Voskamp

Today my mood was: HURRIED.

What’s funny about the word hurry is that it could lead you to believe that I was hurrying around—doing lots of activities. The truth of the matter is that I hardly moved, and I accomplished very little! All of the rushing around was in my head. I’ve got too many thoughts—on too many subjects—and I can’t seem to nail a single one down and address it.

An interesting phrase I heard in my recovery meeting tonight is that we THINK about our thoughts.

It’s true!

Art: A Great Read

I’m sharing someone else’s words today.

“An old silent pond.
Into the pond a frog jumps.
Splash! Silence again.”

It is perhaps the best known of all Japanese haiku. No subject could be more humdrum. No language could be more pedestrian. Basho, the poet, makes no comment on what he is describing. He implies no meaning, message, or metaphor. He simply invites our attention to no more and no less than just this: the old pond in its watery stillness, the kerplunk of the frog, the gradual return of the stillness.

In effect he is putting a frame around the moment, and what the frame does is enable us to see not just something about the moment, but the moment itself in all its ineffable ordinariness and particularity. The chances are that if we had been passing by when the frog jumped, we wouldn’t have noticed a thing or, noticing it, wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But the frame sets it off from everything else that distracts us. That is the nature and purpose of frames. The frame does not change the moment, but it changes our way of perceiving the moment. It makes us notice the moment, and that is what Basho wants above all else. It is what literature in general wants above all else too.

From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, literature is asking us to pay attention. Pay attention to the frog. Pay attention to the west wind. Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train. In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.

The painter does the same thing, of course. Rembrandt puts a frame around an old woman’s face. It is seamed with wrinkles. The upper lip is sunken in, the skin waxy and pale. It is not a remarkable face. You would not look twice at the old woman if you found her sitting across the aisle from you on a bus. But it is a face so remarkably seen that it forces you to see it remarkably, just as Cezanne makes you see a bowl of apples or Andrew Wyeth a muslin curtain blowing in at an open window. It is a face unlike any other face in all the world. All the faces in the world are in this one old face.

Unlike painters, who work with space, musicians work with time, with note following note as second follows second. Listen! say Vivaldi, Brahms, Stravinsky. Listen to this time that I have framed between the first note and the last and to these sounds in time. Listen to the way the silence is broken into uneven lengths between the sounds and to the silences themselves. Listen to the scrape of bow against gut, the rap of stick against drumhead, the rush of breath through reed and wood. The sounds of the earth are like music, the old song goes, and the sounds of music are also like the sounds of the earth, which is of course where music comes from. Listen to the voices outside the window, the rumble of the furnace, the creak of your chair, the water running in the kitchen sink. Learn to listen to the music of your own lengths of time, your own silences.

Literature, painting, music — the most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer, deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect as we bumble along from day to day on automatic pilot. In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things.

Is it too much to say that to stop, look, and listen is also the most basic lesson that the Judeo-Christian tradition teaches us? Listen to history, is the cry of the ancient prophets of Israel. Listen to social injustice, says Amos; to head-in-the-sand religiosity, says Jeremiah; to international treacheries and power plays, says Isaiah; because it is precisely through them that God speaks his word of judgment and command.

And when Jesus comes along saying that the greatest command of all is to love God and to love our neighbor, he too is asking us to pay attention. If we are to love God, we must first stop, look, and listen for him in what is happening around us and inside us.

If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces, but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.

In a letter to a friend Emily Dickinson wrote that “Consider the lilies of the field” was the only commandment she never broke. She could have done a lot worse. Consider the lilies.

It is the sine qua non of art and religion both.

—originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words, Frederick Buechner

Isn’t that beautiful!?

 

Reckless Abandon

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Love with reckless abandon is a term that Gil uses often, and I think most of you know by now that he was NOT referring to it in the romantic sense. Not for now, anyway. At church this morning, while attempting to sing No Longer Slaves, the emotions I’ve been feeling these past few days welled up inside… and the waterworks began.

I knew it was going to happen the second that the music started. It was definitely a confirmation that today’s mood is LOVE. Just as it should be.

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
and I will stand and sing…

I am a child of God

God is great, and He is LOVE! ♥♥♥