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

In a Flash

I finally got around to deleting my calendar that was counting down the days to my 3 year sober anniversary. It’s about time, since the date flew by almost three months ago!

I’m officially on summer break now. I was going to take a couple of online classes, but I decided that my brain needed to rest and reset. My life has been whizzing by in a flash, and it’s time to slow down and enjoy the simple things for a while.

The image I’ve featured here sort of represents how it feels to race through life, full of wild excitement and eager anticipation. When you stop and look around, you realize that nature offers you something wonderful, even if it’s in the simplest of forms; colors, shapes or lines. That’s how I see it anyway.

That’s about all for now. I just wanted to say I am back!

I’m looking forward to a long, enjoyable summer—catching up on reading your posts, writing some new stories, and (hopefully) sharing some new images taken with my new Nikon. 🙂

Peace & Love!

End of the Rainbow

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace & Love Everyone!!

New Perspectives

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

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

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

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

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

—Janet

RDP Tuesday: Angle

Life is good and God is GREAT!

Metamorphosis

Sometimes I look back at my life, and I laugh about my dreams. When I was young, I wanted to be a cheetah. That dream led me to depression though, because cheetahs run so fast and no matter how hard I tried… it seemed as though it took me forever just to get from here to there.

As I got a little older, I realized that I needed to be something else. I decided that I’d be much better off if I could be a lion. Lions are so courageous, and they have such strong muscles! I dreamed about being a lion for quite a long time, but it seemed to me that I didn’t have a single bone in my body. How could I wander bravely through the jungle if I didn’t have any bones?

I envied lions for that. Eventually reality sunk in, and I just knew that I’d never be a lion. Maybe I was just being immature, wanting to be fast and strong like those animals that I admired. I was getting older after all, so speed and strength weren’t necessarily the things that I needed.

After careful thought, I knew in my heart that I should be a dolphin. Besides the fact that they get to spend all of their time in the water, dolphins are smart. I heard that their brains are very complex, almost like humans! Then a friend told me she heard someone say that one day our brains would turn into soup, so there was no way I could ever be a dolphin. I just about lost it after that.

Sometimes, when my mom would catch me daydreaming, she would ask me what I was thinking about. I’d tell her about all of the animals I wanted to be when I grew up, and my mom would just giggle. She’d tell me that all I really needed to do was relax, eat my vegetables, and let nature take its course. That always made me mad, and I would often wonder— what does nature have to do with any of this?!

Then, it happened.

I woke up one day, and I was BEAUTIFUL. Now… as I flutter my wings and fly about… I can’t imagine being anything other than who I am.

the Butterfly, from “Memoir of a Caterpillar”

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: Metamorphosis

Word of the Day Challenge: Immature

I think this kind of sounds like something from a children’s book, so maybe that’s what today’s accomplishment is. On the other hand, I think I learned a little something about myself writing this. It sort of parallels my own thoughts lately; about trying to be something I’m not.

On another note: I’ve reached 1037 days—exactly 2 years & 10 months sober today. That’s certainly something to acknowledge and be grateful for…

Life is good, and God is great!
—Janet

The Jigger is Up

In days of old

I caught ahold

Of things experimental.

I soon found out

Without a doubt

That this was consequential.

I lost my wit

My self was split

My memories fragmental.

A rule of thumb:

That offbeat drum

Which sounds so instrumental

Can lead the way

To one’s decay

And all that’s detrimental.

To quench that thirst

Consider first

Something more transcendental.

I was trying to avoid writing today, but I thought ‘detrimental’ deserved some attention… and fun rhymes were singing in my head; threatening to make me a little crazy if I didn’t sit and write them down.

On another note, I finally took that first step yesterday and started walking. I’m hoping to do it again today, to get a jump on the whole “be more active in 2019” plan, something I’m going to be mindful of this year.

Have a beautiful day everyone!

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!

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

Bringing Out the Bold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s no “I” in Team

But there’s a “Me” in Mentor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So… talk I will!

The Makeover

You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge hammer on the construction site. Frank Lloyd Wright

So true. It pays to fix your errors as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are also times when you can tweak or modify. That’s what I’m STILL doing here. It’s been quite a chore, but it’s also been enlightening. Reviewing some of my past writing has reminded me of things I’d virtually forgotten.

On the one hand, I’m a little tired and stressed out after reading posts that I wrote over a year ago. On the other hand, it’s been a real gratitude exercise! For anyone who is blogging their way through recovery, all I can say is don’t give up! It’s so great to have something to look back at—something to remind you of where you were then vs. where you are now. Plus it keeps you busy!

I also had some serious laughs last night when I came across posts where I was chasing birds, or chasing the wind—and my old Discovering Joy series—how fun that was! I hope to do something like that again, maybe during winter break. I miss some of those crazy times, and I especially miss an old blogger buddy who doesn’t seem to be visible anymore (she knows who she is).

Anyway, the point I was getting at is that I did a little makeover tonight. I realized how much I miss transforming the old into the new—so I pulled an image from one of my rather old posts (Queen of Hearts) and gave it a fresh look.

Five more days and it’s back to the books!

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.

It’s a Beautiful Day

It’s been about 2 months since I’ve been online here in the blog world and I wanted to check in and say HELLO you beautiful people! 

I miss you all, and hope to browse around this weekend and see what all of you have been up to. School is AWESOME! Keeps me super busy but I just love every minute of it. I’m learning so much!!

Anyway, most of this piece is constructed out of appropriated images (from an image share site), but it was one of my latest Photoshop projects in my visual communication class… and I wanted to post something other than words this evening.

I’ve got 3 classes right now and in about a week I start my fourth: a digital photography class. So… as you might guess I will be posting more images once that gets going!

That’s about all. Miss you and love you all!! Hope you are all doing wonderful…

Life is good and God is great! OH, and I hit one year and seven months sober TODAY! Boy time is flying!!

Art In the Dark

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. – T.S. Eliot

In contrast to the black and white image of Cadillac Ranch that I did awhile back, I wanted to do something with color, but something unique. It reminds me of the moon for some reason. Cars on the moon… wouldn’t that be weird!

I’ve been thinking that it’s been a long time since I wrote, or blogged about anything meaningful here, but I thought I would say that it’s really just a matter of my mind being at rest these days. And believe it or not, I’ve been reading a lot about the brain lately.

I read the most entertaining book on psychology recently… Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century, by Lauren SlaterWhat an excellent read! If you find psychology interesting… I would highly recommend it. I’ll get into more about all of that later. It’s after midnight now, and I am calling it a night.

Peace and Love!

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. – Carl Jung

Noisy Neighbors

Well, I am killing two birds with one stone today…

no pun intended! 😉

This colorful creature has woken me up at the crack of dawn two days in a row now.

He (or she) sits up in the next door neighbors walnut tree and yells out what I can only imagine is some sort of song of joy. Perhaps trying to notify his friends about the delicious tasting treats he has found.

Anyway, he was also out there last night- before the sun went down- which is when I managed to get a few shots of him. He’s farther than my zoom really allows, so I jazzed him up with a painterly look, plus got in some more practice on Photoshop, and tutorials.

This is my last week before I start school full time, so I am taking advantage of every second. Come next Monday I will be spending most of my days commuting and sitting in classrooms… and I have to say that I am SO looking forward to it!! Not to mention the fact that I’ll be soaking in the cool air from the A/C there, since we have none at the house!

That’s about all for now. Have a beautiful blessed week!! Peace and Love everyone!!

The Facade

Don’t trade in  your authenticity for approval.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As my pastor said the other night…

“It’s always too soon to quit.”

I like that!

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

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

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.

A Bright Burst

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

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

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.

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!