But You Have Such a Pretty Face

Last year, I was gifted a place in a 5 week writing program called The Summer Academy of Writing which was hosted by the publisher, Marc Allen who is a pretty big deal. There were also 4 award winning, bestselling authors participating. I feel extremely honored to have been gifted this program. There was a lot of synchronicity involved because I had just recommitted myself to my writing the night before while on a call with my diabetes lifestyle coach. The next day I received the email telling me that I was enrolled in the program. I am not a good receiver of gifts, compliments, etc…, but I did receive this graciously and gratefully. I had wanted to enroll but with everything that’s going on at the time, I was trying to be more financially responsible because no one knew what was going to happen with COVID-19. I had enough sick and vacation time to cover me for a little over 2 weeks if there were a shut down but that wouldn’t have been enough. So, I basically said that in a comment on the post and moved on. I didn’t ask for it or even hint at it…I just commented on it. But I did think about it…a lot. So, maybe I did manifest it without even realizing it. How ever it happened, I’m extremely grateful.

Now, about the title of this blog…the author that spoke on one of the evenings, Nancy Aronie, really made an impression on me. She’s a former NPR commentator on All Things Considered, an author, a writing professor, the founder of several writing workshops, and is hilarious and relatable. So, I bought her book…Writing from the Heart: Tapping the Power of Your Inner Voice. At the end of each chapter there is an exercise so this blog is me doing the 1st exercise. I will probably continue to do the exercises as blogs so hopefully you’ll find something about them that you can relate to. The first exercise is to write the thing that someone said to you a long time ago that still hurts.

When I was younger, I was a little taller for my age than most girls and slender. I was a pretty little girl. I had dark brown hair with a little bit of red in it and dark brown eyes. My skin had an olive cast to it, which I got from my dad, and, because I was always outside, I had a dark tan. There were a few times that people mistook me for a Latina. I thought that was awesome because it felt more exotic that being a little white girl. I was always very active…riding horses from a young age (I got my first pony as a 2nd birthday present from my aunt and uncle), riding bikes and dirt bikes, exploring the huge open pasture by our house, playing football and baseball, etc… I hung out more with the boys than I did with the girls in the neighborhood. About the time I entered 3rd grade, I started getting a little chunkier and, as I look back on it, that was the time that I started realizing that I just really didn’t completely fit in with the neighborhood kids. I was definitely not a girly girl. I had a pet hog…not a cute little mini-pig but a 200+lb hog and my pony. We lived in a suburb of Dallas who’s claim to fame was the Mesquite Rodeo and we had a farm in a tiny town aptly named Farmersville where we kept cattle and a few horses and I’d go there with my dad to tend to the herd. I was a mini-ranch hand. And I’d fish in the stocked ponds and ride minibikes and then motorcycles all over the 50 acres. I beat up the neighborhood bully and, by that, I mean that I kicked his ass and laid him out on the ground because I had had enough of his shit. I was also 1 hell of a marksman with a rifle and handgun before I was 10 and later on in high school I was on the JROTC rifle team. I learned to read on my own at 5 and never stopped reading. I had good grades in school and a small circle of school friends. I was freakin’ awesome but the 1 thing that I wasn’t would define my entire life. I was not height-weight proportionate. It was probably 5th grade when I first heard, “but you have such a pretty face”. It didn’t take long for me to figure out what they really meant…”you’re fat, but you have such a pretty face”. That all began around the same time that I had become pretty okay with just my own company. One reason for that was that my mom really didn’t seem to like me. Seriously. She was kind of physically abusive toward me. Not to excuse her behavior but I was very obstinate and confrontational. If we were in a argument, I would know that if I said 1 more word, there would be hell to pay. I said that word…every single time. But my punishments were always proportionately worse than my brother’s. So I stayed in my room and did what any intelligent, introverted, ADHD, OCD, creative, imaginative kid would do…I made lists and then files (OCD) and I fantasized and created worlds into which I could disappear whenever I wanted. I pretended to teach school because my dad and I had gone to a flea market and someone was selling used college textbooks so I got my dad to buy me a few of them. I taught the hell out of microbiology. I wrote and wrote. I never shared it with anyone because by that time my once formidable confidence was being seriously eroded. My mom, under the guise of, “I just want you to be healthy”, began her never ending campaign to get me to lose weight. She took me to a place in the mall that was named after some weight loss guru woman where they would put you on machines that would shake you, massage you, and God only knows what, so that you didn’t have to exercise. That was a bullshit way to get your money and raise your hopes. And while doing all of this, my mom seemed to go out of her way to sabotage me. I’d be doing pretty good and then I’d come home and there would chicken fried steak, cream gravy, mashed potatoes, fried okra, green peas, rolls, and homemade fried pies with my favorite fillings…chocolate and apricot. And, of course, the obligatory sweet tea because this is Texas, by God. This wasn’t 1 night a week. It was every night. I was 12 years old and shopping in the women’s plus sections in stores. But I had a pretty face. So life continued on. I’m in my mid to late teens and I’m involved in a lot of church activities and playing softball and basketball. Yeah, I was overweight but I could hit the basket from center court, strike out batters pretty regularly, and hit that ball hard. Life continued. At 23, I married someone because I wanted someone to love me…all of me. Not just my pretty face. He was extremely intelligent, hot, and we had some serious chemistry so I felt like not only did I have a pretty face, I also had a pretty body to go along with it. I had validation and acceptance. Until the abuse started. I knew that he had a temper but he had never turned it on me. Until he did. The abuse, both physical and emotional, was beyond bad. He tried more than once to kill me because his rage was so out of control. He didn’t hit me a lot…he would choke me until I passed out or he just got tired of doing it. He would charge at me and I’d run. I’d usually run to the bedroom because there was a phone in the room. But he’d catch me before I could call anyone and throw the phone across the room. And he would stand over me telling me all of the things he hated about me. I was fat (but apparently no longer had a pretty face), I was stupid, I was a bitch, I was a lousy lay, etc… And then what always followed was…you’re lucky that you still have me because no one will ever love you. And, like so many abused women, I believed it. Things began to change for me when I was about 26 or so. I got a job as an accountant at the largest produce wholesaler in Dallas and, because my husband couldn’t keep a decent job because of his temper, I went to work part-time for a little witchy store that I’d been frequenting for a while. The produce company was the wild west. Today, a sexual harassment attorney could get rich just from complaints about that company. Drugs and alcohol were everywhere. Here I was from a background that was the antithesis of that company. I drank a little, never did drugs, and had only slept with my husband. I had more people, male and female, after me than I could have ever imagined. At first, I really didn’t know how to react but it didn’t take long before I realized that in spite of what my husband had told me, there were people that wanted me. Every day, I’d dress a little sexier…shorter skirt, lower cut blouse, higher heels…and I’d be a little flirtier. I had no intention of doing anything more than just flirt and they knew that. Of course, that made it more interesting for them because I later learned that there was a bet concerning who would finally sleep with me first. It was fun and it was what I needed at the time, as weird as that might sound. Yeah, I’m not height, weight proportionate but by God, I’ve got a pretty face and a curvy body that people desire. Side note, I met my best friend Jay there. After I separated from my husband, we dated off and on but figured out that we were just too much alike to be a couple. He’s one of my soul mates…just not a romantic one. Anyway, my personality changed a lot because I was accepted for who I was and not judged for who I wasn’t and was allowed to become me. At the little witchy store, I was accepted into the fold. I learned so much from them about witchy things and myself. That’s where I discovered Tarot and realized that I had an affinity for the cards and an ability that I wanted to develop. So, during those couple of years, I was changing in just about every way I could change. I had more confidence, I was stronger, and I had a much better sense of self. But I was still in my abusive marriage. I finally found the courage to tell him that if he didn’t get help, I would leave. It didn’t go over too well but he eventually agreed to go into therapy. It seemed to help at first and then the violence ramped back up. And then it got a lot worse. One night, I was waiting for him to come back from his therapy session and the phone rang. It was his therapist. He told me that he had a duty to warn me that he believed that my husband was going to kill me if I didn’t leave. Then he said that it needed to be soon but to get everything in place before telling him I was leaving. So over the next couple of weeks, I found an apartment that I liked and could afford and began to move small things like a few books, clothes, toiletries, etc…, over there when he wasn’t home. Finally, the day came when I told him what his doctor had said and that I was moving out immediately. I braced for impact. He cried but never once asked me to stay because, deep down, he knew that I couldn’t and wouldn’t. He helped me move the big things into my apartment. He stayed in the house with the agreement that he would pay the mortgage, with my help, and take care of our dogs and cat until my lease was up and my car was paid off and then I’d move back in and he’d move out. It didn’t quite happen that way. He defaulted on the mortgage but didn’t tell me. I didn’t find that out until a week before my lease was up. So, with my mom’s help, I found a tiny little house in a pretty bad neighborhood. Mom was afraid my house would be burglarized but I told her she didn’t have to worry because the people in my neighborhood were the criminals and they knew that I was as poor as they were so there was nothing to steal. Never had a problem. So, I moved into my little house with my rat, cat, and 4 dogs.

I was happy on my own. I dated a lot and not once did any of the men say, “but you have such a pretty face”. They told me that I was beautiful. Desirable. Sexy. And, you know what? I believed them because it was true. I had found my self confidence once again. Yes, there were times that I would doubt myself and see that younger me that that had the pretty face but nothing else; however, I no longer let it define me as it had in the past. I was stronger than I ever been and there was no going back. I met my 2nd husband when I was in my early thirties and we have been married now for 25-1/2 years. It hasn’t always been easy because I had a lot of things from my past to work through but he stayed right here beside me and wouldn’t let me sabotage the happiness that I’ve found. So, for all of you out there that have been made to feel as though you’re not enough…don’t believe it. Don’t let that sabotage your future. You are strong. You are intelligent. You are beautiful. And you are more than enough. Believe in yourself and never settle for anything.

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We Will Be the Rainbows

After a week of tornadoes and cold, rainy weather, we have a beautiful sunny Saturday.  I suppose that you could use the weather as an analogy for life.  Sometimes, out of nowhere, something happens that shakes up our lives.  It can lay waste to the status quo and force us to start over or at least take stock of where we are, where we’re going, and where we want to end up.  We might even have to rebuild our lives from the ground up because the foundations upon which they were built weren’t all that stable to begin with.  So we take stock and determine what we need to do in order to lay down a foundation that will support our hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  Then we begin to rebuild.  We start by gathering the things that made it through the storm and taking stock of our available resources.  Our most valuable resources are ourselves and our tribes.  We look deep inside ourselves and find the determination to not only survive but to thrive.  Our tribes rally around us, support us, encourage us, offer counsel, and help us rebuild.  When we feel as though we’re not making enough progress, they will point out all of the things that we’ve accomplished and help us to correct any mistakes we might have made while constructing our new reality.  They will help us see all of the possibilities that are out there just waiting to be claimed.  They will lift us up when we are tired and disillusioned.  They will be our strength when we most need it.  Sometimes walls will have to come down to allow for the expansion of this reality while new walls are constructed to protect us from the people and ideas that want to test the strength and viability of our dreams.  But in those walls, there will be many windows that will allow in the light which will illuminate this new reality so that we can see the things that we might not have even realized were hidden by the darkness.  We will fill it with things we cherish…beautiful things, meaningful things, and things that will bring us joy and inspiration.  It will be filled with love, laughter, and peace.  And we will rise…we will be the rainbow after the storm.  The storm has tested us and we not only survived…we are stronger and more determined than ever because of it.  Our dreams weren’t even touched by the chaos that surrounded us but the foundation upon which those dreams are being built will be stronger and more able to support us as we transform them into our reality.  So, my fellow rainbows, get ready to sparkle and shine!      

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A Different Way of Looking at Things

It’s kind of amusing that when we were younger, say in our early twenties, we thought that we had everything figured out. We knew what our career path would be, what kind of person we’d marry, how many kids we’d have, what our dream house would be like, what kind of vacations we’d take, etc… We set lofty goals and never doubted the plans that we were making for our future. Then something really amusing happened. It was called life. Our dreams and plans were slammed by a dose of reality and they began to fall, one after the other, like dominoes that we had carefully set up never expecting them to fall. And when they all fell, we stood there feeling lost, panicked, angry, and, confused. How could this have happened? We planned so carefully…setting up one domino at a time; aligning each perfectly with the rest of our dreams. So we began improvising because what’s the point of planning when we obviously have no real control over anything? We take a job that pays the bills but doesn’t feed our soul. We date one person after another hoping for that spark we had previously dreamed of but have not yet experienced. We live in an apartment that we like but don’t love. We have cats, not kids, to keep us company. We take short weekend trips with our besties but no grand vacations. We begin a relationship with someone for whom we lust but do not love. We don’t realize that at the time because we just want to be in a relationship like our friends are so we settle. He’s intelligent and hot. We could do worse. Or, so we thought. He goes from brooding to sullen. He becomes controlling. His anger flares. His words become cruel. Then he hits you. You contemplate leaving but he comes to you and apologizes over and over again. He swears that it will never happen again. But that is a lie. The abuse begins to happen more frequently and becomes more violent. You go to work with long sleeves in the summer to hide bruises and you pretend to be just fine. You go home, fix dinner, tidy up, and wait. You are filled with dread. He comes in and you can tell from his demeanor that he’s at the tipping point. You weigh every word not once but many times before speaking them aloud. You know that if you say the wrong thing…which could be anything…it will light his already short fuse. You can’t appear too happy because he’s jealous of everyone’s happiness, especially yours, and that will also set him off. You measure every word, gesture, facial expression, question, answer, etc… And just as you begin to think that everything is okay, you say or do something innocuous and the fuse is lit. You don’t even know what you did or said that struck the match. He begins telling you that you’re fat and ugly and that no one will ever love or want you and that you’re lucky to have him. He forces you into a corner. You grab the phone and he rips it from your hand. He stands menacingly over you, raging at you, threatening you. You know that you have to just take it…silently. Knowing that if you say just one more word, any word, you will pay a steep price. But you just have to say that one word. He doesn’t usually hit you. He chokes you. He is strong and powerful with a bodybuilder’s body. You are also strong and you fight back but he easily overpowers you. As he chokes you, you look into his eyes and see nothing but hate. And just when you think that this will be the time that he kills you, he loosens his grip on your neck and then walks away. You lie there, struggling for breath and cry. The rest of the evening is uneventful. It’s as though nothing had happened. This continues for a few years. You learn to fight dirty but you always lose. You feel shame because you “let” this happen. You wonder, at times, if it’s your fault. You can’t tell anyone because you’re ashamed. You finally talk him into getting help. He begins therapy. It helps a little but the abuse continues. You think about leaving but don’t know how you would manage financially. Also, you went straight from your parents’ home to this so you wonder if you can do this on your own. One night, while he’s at therapy, you’re sitting there enjoying the peace and quiet. The phone rings. It’s his therapist. He tells you that he has a duty to warn you that if you do not leave, he will eventually kill you. He also tells you that you can’t let him know that you’re leaving until everything is in place and you’re ready to walk out the door. And you can’t be alone when you tell him. That put your ass in gear. You think about you options and also realized that you’re paying the majority of the bills and could afford to do this. You tell your mom what was happening. She tells to just come home. That won’t work so you begin looking for an apartment and find a cute little 2 story, all bills included apartment and signed the lease. You sit him down and told him you’re leaving. He actually understands and helps you move into your apartment. You don’t take much…the bed, a love seat, a hope chest, your books, a small tv, a VCR, some movies, a boom box, your music, and your personal things. You move in and your life quickly changed for the better. You’re working a full-time job and 2 part-time jobs. You new friends and date a lot. You party hard. Experiment with drugs. You basically do everything in your late twenties that most people had done in their late teens and early twenties. You love the hell out of your new life. You get divorced and begin to toy with committed relationships but you’re gun shy so you hurt some really nice guys. You meet someone that you like a lot but you don’t consider him anything but a good time. He’s good to you. He compliments you…tells you that you’re beautiful and sexy. He sends flowers and cards for no reason. You’re suspicious of his motives because he’s too perfect. There must be an ulterior motive. But you slowly begin to realize that there isn’t one. You start to let go of the past and the emotions that are tied to it. You let yourself fall but instead of falling and crashing into what lies below, you find yourself floating. You begin to believe the things he tells you about yourself. When he asks you to marry him, you say yes for all of the right reasons. Years pass and he continues to tell you how beautiful and sexy you are. He supports your dreams even when he doesn’t fully understand them. He’s been there in good times and not so good times. And, all of those plans, goals, and dreams you had all those years ago that didn’t come to fruition, you don’t really miss them. Occasionally, you’ll look back and wonder what if, but in the long run, you really didn’t miss out on that much. You still have dreams that you’re working to make real. You haven’t given up on or settled for anything. You’re where you’re supposed to be so you’re grateful for all that you have in your life. Life is good.

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Time Changes Everything…Including Us and the Stories from Our Past

Sometimes…actually most of the time…the passage of time gives us a different perspective about things that happened in our past.  And that usually is a good thing because we are prone to telling ourselves the same stories in the same way over and over and over again without stopping to think about whether or not what we remember is actually true.  That story becomes part of our mythology.  We accept it at face value and that allows it to shape our lives and outlook.  Maybe we are the victim in our story or the hero.  Maybe we feel as though we deserved what happened to us or the other person deserved what we did to them.  So, from that day forward, the event in question stealthily molds who we are…or at least who we believe that we are.  Perhaps you were a victim of domestic violence just as I was.  For many years, I felt anger, guilt, and shame about what happened.  Every relationship that I entered into was tainted by the time I spent in that marriage.  I was unable to completely trust anyone…I was always suspicious of their motives.   My self-esteem and self-worth were pretty much nonexistent so to prove to myself that I was desirable and worth something, I was in and out of relationships but was afraid to commit.  I hurt some very nice guys who loved and cared about me because I didn’t love myself and didn’t trust their motives.  How could they possibly really care about and want me when I was undesirable and unloveable?  Eventually, I met a man with whom I had no intention of being in a longterm relationship.  I tested him.  I distrusted him.  I pushed buttons.  I basically gave him every single reason to run away from the relationship.  One day, when I had really pushed every single button I could find to push, he took me by the shoulders, stared into my eyes and said, “I will not hit you to make you feel better about yourself.”  It was like a very hard slap in the face.  I had been so busy living the story that I didn’t stop to think about the aftermath of the event and how it was affecting me.  Or whether it was even true.  Was I really unloveable and undesirable?  Was I responsible for what my ex-husband had done to me?  Was I really damaged goods?  No.  No to all of that.  I was a victim when it happened and telling myself the story kept me a victim.  The new relationship that I was in helped me to see the truth about my story and I began to step out of its shadow.  I realized my worth, my desirability, and my lovability.  Day by day, layer by layer, I unearthed the real story and was able to begin moving away from it.  I discovered the woman that was not a victim.  I realized and rejected all of the lies that my ex-husband had beaten into me.  I wasn’t “cured” overnight and after all of these years, I still have doubts and feel less than adequate at times but I reject those feelings based on my revised story of what happened all those years ago.  I think that I will always have moments like those because memories always have a way of sneaking into and affecting our current reality.  Oh, and that man that helped to begin realizing that my original story was basically filled with lies, I’ve been with him for about twenty-seven years and married to him for almost twenty-four of them.  We don’t need another person to realize that our original story isn’t completely factual.  We can figure that out on our own if we really want to do so.  I was fortunate to have met someone that was patient, loving, accepting of my weirdnesses, and loved me for who I am.  I began to see myself through his eyes, not through the distorted lenses of my past stories.  Also, I began therapy which really helped me to peel away even more of the layers.  I was diagnosed with PTSD and depersonalization/derealization which are directly related to events in my childhood and the abuse that I experienced in my first marriage.  On top of that, I have clinical depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD.  I deal with all of these diagnoses daily.  I actually do pretty well but during times of extreme emotional/mental stress, they can do a number on me but I have coping measures and I now know what’s happening unlike in the past.  I really encourage anyone that is dealing with their past stories to find a good therapist to help them get through the process.  I should have done that much sooner than I did but it is what it is.  So, just remember,  your past stories aren’t always what they seem.  Peel back the layers to discover the truth and use what you find to heal.  We are so much more than our past.  We are amazing and magical and deserve to live that way.  Don’t settle for less!

 

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Day 206: A New Adventure

I am embarking on a new adventure…the NaNoWriMo July Camp.  I have committed to writing 25,000 words by the time July ends.  A little scary!  I am hoping that this will help me with my severe case of procrastination that seems to jump in my way every single time I start a new project.  Tomorrow is the 1st day of Camp and I still haven’t decided whether I am going to work on Rapture or start something completely new.  I’d really love to write some pure horror but I’m not sure that I’m completely comfortable doing so.  I am such a fan of the genre, which is my go-to when it comes to books and movies, and the thought of doing it poorly gives me pause.  Am I capable of instilling fear and dread in my readers?  Will my ghosts and spirits haunt their dreams as well as their waking hours?  Will they be afraid to turn off the lights at night after reading the final chapter?  If I write horror, I want to be able to scare Stephen King!  I want to build the dread to an unimaginable peak and when it’s time, I want the reader to fall to equally unimaginable depths of shock and horror.  I am a huge fan of Noel Hynd’s writing.  He is a true master of horror and he is relatively unknown to the average reader.  He has written spy and conspiracy novels as well as books of sheer, slow-building supernatural horror.  If I do choose to write a book of horror, I aspire to write like him.  I don’t want to copy him…I want to be as original as he is but in my own way.  I have decided that I will be watching all of the Marvel Studios movies while doing this.  Unlike a lot of writers, I have to have a distraction.  I don’t call it that though.  I have severe ADHD and in order to work using my left brain, my right brain has to be kept occupied otherwise it just runs wild and I cannot concentrate on the job at hand.  And I love the Avengers!  I figure that since I will also be using my right brain to come up with my story, I need to have something in the background that I’ve already seen so that it doesn’t require too much of my right brain attention.  So, tomorrow I will embark on my NaNoWriMo Camp writing adventure and I am excited as well as a bit trepidatious.  I’m determined to succeed.  25,000 is only 806 words per day.  I have 4 weekends to play catch-up if I fall short plus, 1 of those weekends will be 5 days long thanks to the 4th, a couple of vacation days, and the weekend itself.  I also have my lunches that I can use to work on my daily word count.  I’ll be using my Office 365 account so I can write anywhere and save it all to the cloud so it’s always accessible…even on my phone.  I have a 12.9″ iPad Pro with a keyboard so, except for not having a mouse, it’s like using a laptop.  And, if all else fails, I have my trusty writer’s notebook and some awesome new pens.  Before I get started, I have to finish the postcards for 15 NaNoWriMo Camp attendees.  I received my 1st 1 yesterday.  I have them all addressed and now I have to come up with words of encouragement to write on them.  I plan on internalizing those words as I write them to use to encourage myself.  I will need them.  So, wish me well!                  

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Day 205: Sometimes Life is a Distraction

Like the saying goes, sometimes life gets in the way of what you really want to do.  Most of the time, we let it get in the way but other times it forcibly pulls you out of your routine and makes you focus on it to the exclusion of everything else.  It seems like my life has been taken over in the past 2 months.  Rick almost bled out and it took a lot out of him literally and figuratively but has improved after 7 iron infusions, I had an acutely infected tooth and had it extracted which set off a seriously major RA flare like I’ve never had before that lasted a couple of weeks, I’ve been caring for my feral colonies as well as a semi-feral mama cat and her kittens and 1 of them had to be rescued and trapped after taking a ride under my husband’s van which took 10 hours to do and then 2 of the kittens died (including the 1 that was rescued) and that sent me down into a spiral of depression for a week, Rick had a cardiac ablation procedure to get his heart out of AFib so he’s feeling much better as long as he doesn’t push himself too hard, then I fell out in our driveway while dealing with the cats after stepping on a big rock that somehow ended up there and my bad knee, elbow and, shoulder took the brunt of the fall so I’ve been a bit crippled by that. and now 1 of my feral rescues from 9 years ago is sick and I’m hand-feeding him baby food every hour now that he’s on an appetite stimulant.  (His rescue was an awesome story.  My husband had told me that I’d reached my limit of cats that I could bring home and that the only way I could bring another home was if it fell from the sky.  I’d fallen completely in love with this feral kitten at work and wanted him but I had that falling from the sky restriction stopping me.  1 day, I was out in the main office fixing something on someone’s computer and I heard a commotion coming from the ladies’ restroom.  I open the door, turn on the light and there was my kitten in the toilet.  Mama cat had moved her kittens into the ceiling and the tile shifted and down fell Zippy from the sky!   I dried him off and immediately called Rick and told him that we had a new family member.  After that, I couldn’t have 1 unless it was green.  We’ve adopted 5 since then…Rick is a big softy.)  And, of course, there’s work and everyday life.  Each day, I plan to get back to this blog but it always seems like something else pops up to stop me.  Right now, it might be this storm that has rushed in.  It’s extremely dark, the wind is blowing scary hard (up to 70mph gusts). and we’re under a severe thunderstorm warning until 2:00 and a watch until 7:00.  The lights have flickered a few times so I’m saving this every few seconds…just in case.  Well, I’m back.  The storm has passed through and it looks like we lost another tree, some tree limbs, and a few of our tomato plants have some broken vines but, all in all, after 70+mph wind gusts over a period of 30 minutes, we came out pretty well.  Plus, we won’t have to water the garden tonight.  The storm was beautiful to watch from my front row seat here in my Magical Writing Haven but it did get pretty intense.  On the plus side, the temperature dropped from 91° with a heat index of 100° to a mild 70°.  I’ll take that.  They had predicted 98° for a high today but I guess that the cold front moved through a bit earlier than they had thought it would.  It’s not even officially summer and I am done with the heat and humidity.  That’s 1 of the downsides of living in Texas.  I can deal with the heat but when humidity is thrown into the mix, which it usually is here, I’m done.  I’m just too fluffy for that!  Well, after all that, I’m back to blogging and hopefully, life will cooperate so that I can keep on doing it daily.  I really love doing it so I have to make it more of a priority.  I’m also still plodding along working on my personal writing workshop as well as getting back to being more active in my creativity group.  I’ve missed it all.  We have a video POP-Up Dessert Group Zoom call at 5:00 this evening.  I’m looking forward to that.  It’s an hour of connecting in smart groups.  We talk about everything and bond over all of the similarities that we discover during the call.  It’s pretty amazing.  So I have some things to do before that time so I’m going to go now.  I’m hoping that between this post and the Dessert Group I’ll start the week with a more positive attitude and not with my current “what’s going to happen/go wrong next” outlook.  Fingers crossed!

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Day 204: Writing Retreats

I have long dreamed of going to a writing retreat.  When I imagine it, it’s in a rustic lodge in the mountains.  It’s very quiet and peaceful with few distractions.  The writers present are published, intelligent, creative, talented, and willing to share their experiences.  We’d spend some of our time in small groups and then we’d all gather in the living area in front of a roaring fire while drinking hot chocolate and tea and share our writing and critique each other’s creations.  We’d also have time alone to write and to spend time in nature.  We’d all leave energized, renewed, and ready to write a bestseller.  But the odds of me coming up with the funds and the time to attend such a retreat are pretty slim.  So I’ve decided that I am going to start treating every weekend as a personal writing retreat.  I have so many inspiring books on writing that I can use to set up my own curriculum and then use what I learn while writing.  We all have in our minds this vision of how things are supposed to be, how we want them to be but we need to realize that these visions are not the only way of doing or experiencing what we want to do.  In a perfect world, we’d have unlimited funds and time to do whatever we want to do but it isn’t a perfect world.  We have responsibilities, jobs, family, bills, mortgages, etc…, and they take precedence in our lives.  That’s why we have to be willing to let our visions morph into a reality that works for us.  We are writers and artists, we are creative, we have the ability to make this happen.  We create worlds so we definitely have the ability to set up our own personal retreat or to gather with a few other writers and have a small group retreat.  We could meet on Saturday morning and each would share their experiences, tips, insights, things we’ve learned along the way, and our writing.  We’d meet until 7:00pm then go home and write.  On Sunday, we’d meet for brunch, discuss writing and what we had learned on Saturday and then we’d head to the Arboretum and wander through the beauty then we’d sit and write surrounded by the beauty of flowers and topiaries.  We would eat dinner and share our writing, do some critiquing, offer advice, and just enjoy each other’s companies.  We could meet like this every couple of months as well as having brunch or dinner occasionally to help us stay inspired and connected.  Or, as a friend in SWW is doing, we could have an online retreat.  We could Skype or Zoom and/or set up a private Facebook group.  That’s very similar to ROW…SARK’s Rhapsody of Writing.  We’d meet one Saturday per month for 5 hours on Zoom and we had a Facebook group.  It was an awesome experience.  So inspiring.  So, I am going to design my own personal retreat that works within my time and budget constraints.  I have my Magical Writing Haven, my books, a wonderful view, and I am feeling inspired.  It’s somewhat freeing knowing that I can do this because first, I need it, second, just planning it is also a form of creativity and third, I get to delve deeper into what I feel that I need to learn and work on when it comes to my writing.  I’m not dependent upon anyone else for the content so it can be whatever I want and need.  We are all capable of doing this but, if you’re like me, you get caught up in that singular vision that you have in your mind of the “perfect” retreat or any of the other “perfect” things that you might have imagined.  Then you set our sights on that one image and totally miss all the other options that are available.  We have to widen our vision to take in all those amazing options and then create our very own personalized vision that we then make real.  We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for because our creativity doesn’t end in the arts…writing, painting, composing, etc…it seeps into every single thing that we think and do.  We just have to be aware of it and use it to the fullest extent possible.  Spread it around…use it at home and at work.  Come up with creative solutions to problems.  Look at everything with a creative’s eye.  And, last but definitely not least, use it in our creative endeavors…just let it run wild and see where it takes us.  It will be an amazing journey and we don’t even have to leave home.         

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Day 203: Journey

It’s been a little 2 weeks since I posted but it seems like a lifetime.  After I recovered from the RA flare, I felt as though I needed a small break from my digital life.  I am not addicted to being online but I did spend time on the internet…Facebook because that’s my virtual social life; playing Trivia Crack because it’s fun, it exercises my brain, and I’m really good at it as well as the fact that I’m super competitive, and watching series and movies on Prime and Netflix.  I won’t give up Facebook because all of my succulent wild friends are there and they are true friends, not virtual ones.  As I’ve said before, they art my tribe.  I’ve cut back my time on Trivia Crack and I’m actually beginning to enjoy the silence that comes from not having a movie playing in the background.  I’ve never done well in complete silence but I’m finding myself actually enjoying it when I’m writing.  I listen to music but that usually isn’t conducive to writing because I’m hoping from 1 artist to another and song to song so I can’t concentrate on the writing because I’m too busy DJ’ing the music.  I’m working on it though.  I’m trying to meditate but my brain never shuts up.  I have downloaded a bunch of guided meditations that Audible has at no cost so hopefully, that will help.  I’m also keeping a gratitude journal.  And now that I really am feeling pretty great, I’m ready to work on the weight loss thing again.  It’s not really a choice…it’s something that I have to do so that I don’t just drop dead in my tracks one day.  I used to walk up here at work on my lunch hour but the company has banned it for safety reasons, however, I am the Safety Coordinator and I have to do inspections so I could just do a few more inspections.  But it would have to be early in the day because we just had our yard blacktopped and I’d probably have a heat stroke out there if I do it any later in the day.  I’m working on my goals…healthwise, career-wise, for life in general, and my writing.  I’m feeling ambitious right now and I think that I can actually accomplish the things for which I’m setting goals.  I’m going to go slow at first though so I don’t become overwhelmed and end up setting myself up for failure.  I think that we have a tendency to do that.  When we are ready for change, we want to change EVERYTHING and then we eventually quit because we hit a brick wall after trying to accomplish everything rather than concentrating on one or two things.  It’s okay to write down all of your goals and get an idea of where you want to end up but it’s another thing when you go after all of them at once.  I’m going to start slow…small goals and changes.  Drinking more water, eating smaller portions, cutting down on my junk food consumption.  My husband is an excellent cook and loves to cook for me so I have that in my corner.  And our garden is coming along really well…tons of tiny tomatoes on the vines already.  I could practically live on tomatoes.  Tonight I’m having a tomato (store-bought)/cucumber/onion salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and a tiny bit of Splenda because I like it a little sweeter than Rick does.  It’s wonderful.  I left the entree up to him because he knows my likes and dislikes (which unfortunately outnumber my likes by a lot).  Well, I need to get the payroll checks put on everyone’s desks then get out of here.  I have my yummy salad waiting for me at home.                 

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Day 202: Getting Back In the Swing of Things

After you’ve been away from just about anything, it can be really difficult to get started again. I became so used to being tired and in pain that I’m having a hard time believing that it’s not going to circle back again and surprise me. But I’ve 2 good days in a row so I think that I’m safe for now. And, I think that the chronic infection that I’d had for about 6 months, because I didn’t want to go to the oral surgeon, had been dragging me down that entire time. Phobias can make you behave in ways that are definitely not in your own best interest. So, I guess that it was a really good thing that I developed the acute infection because it forced me to go to the dentist. I am hoping that since I’m feeling so much better, I can and will get back into my writing groove again as well as diving back into my creativity groups. I miss my tribe! And I’ve got a virtual birthday party to plan. I’m excited about that. I’m excited about a lot of things right now…getting things done at work and home, writing, being creative in other ways, writing up more affirmation and manifestation flash cards, etc… I’ve also been spending more time without Netflix, Prime, or Hulu droning away in the background. Silence has never been my friend but I’m working on being more mindful and not needing the constant stimulation. I’m trying to get up a bit earlier, which I honestly can’t believe I’m saying. My relationship with sleep has always a bit problematic because of all of my sleep disorders and the meds that I have to take because of them. I guess that I just want to take full advantage of feeling well again. Well, it’s getting a little late so I think I’ll start getting things ready for tomorrow and myself ready for bed. I should have an easier day at work tomorrow so I’ll probably be able to get back to my routine of writing my posts at lunch. I’m on a roll!

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Day 201: Good Day

I actually felt good today. Not too many aches and I wasn’t exhausted all day long. And, I got quite a bit done. I am on the down swing though. But I still feel better right now than I have over the last week and a half. I should be able to sleep well tonight…also a plus. I am feeling downright optimistic right now. I think that I will cut this short though because I am feeling pretty tired right now. I usually try to write my blog at lunch but I was getting so much done today that I didn’t want to lose my momentum. But now that I’m feeling better, I hope to get back on my regular posting schedule. I’ve lost a lot of time because of the tooth extraction and RA flare. I’m ready to get past it but right now I’m going to start winding down so I’ll just say goodnight.

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