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

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

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!!

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—

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