Monday, October 15, 2018

Lemonade Life

Hi folks,

I'm am finally on the mend!  I have even gone back to water aerobics.  My bones are feeling good.

One thing that I like about myself is the ability to make lemonade from the lemons that life hands. me.  It is my number one skill.  Just thinking about whatever-sorry-thing-that-has-come-my-way as a lemon perks me up. I've had the shingles lemon, the flu lemon, and the ear infection lemon thrown at me in succession, and I just see those lemons swirling around in a beautiful glass picture and the sugar dissolving.

The visual helps, but this thinking helps more.  I think, "I'm not entitled to anything."  Everything is a gift.  Every breath. Every step. Every moment.  I know that I will never pass this way again. There is no other life; there is today and now. Letting go of the past and the future helps me so much. I don't despise the day that took my first step. I will not despise the day I take my last step.

My days are worth consideration. They are never worthless. I do not scorn my moments, no matter how mundane.  A lemonade life goes far beyond optimism.  Optimism is rooted in an idea that there will be a successful outcome, but here's the rub, there isn't always a successful outcome.  What are you going to do then?  Feeling like you are out in the cold, positive thinkers? Ready to join the dark side with the pessimists?

Take a breath.  Optimism is a useful tool. We made it to the moon. Pessimism has its place too. That's why we build in backup systems. Perspective helps. The universe is a humongous place. Your success or failure is less than a drop in that bucket. Is it enough to be a bunch of matter that has come together and is aware? And here is something I'm as sure of as dark matter and something smaller than a Higgs particle: great love.  I can't weigh love.  I can't measure it. I can't prove it exist, but I know it does. Sweet love.  Yay, sugar!


Mix your lemons and sugar. Live a lemonade life.

Here is a doodle:


Here is a quote for your pocket.

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won't have to work no more.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Ness

Sometimes, strength of character is a person coughing her head-off and sleeping around the clock. I've had a tough month physically.  It's put my creative self on hold.  No doodles since last weekend.
I haven't written one word. I have read only one book this week. (Sad. Sad. Sad.)

I am dreaming of my water aerobics class and writing down pages and pages of words. Here I am persevering.

So what to write about it. Here it is: NESS.  Lots of angry twitters out there, folks.  Here is a "Ness" the Union address. Ness means the"state of." I am standing up as an advocate of love this week.

Here is my suggestion. Try the high road. Think of all your best adjectives and add ness to them. Loving, kind, hopeful, peaceful, happy, free, good, considerate, caring, empathy, believing, ethical, etc. You want more than just one act of good stuff, you want to be in the state of the good stuff. That means regardless of what is going down in the neighborhood, the country, or the world, you remain in the "state of."

On the flip side, think of the worst adjectives.  Hateful, angry, mad, depressed, bored, shallow, misogynistic, overbearing, holier-than-thou, etc. Chuck that stuff into the wind.  I think you get the picture.

Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten. Play fair. Say you are sorry. Forgive all the wrongs. Respect each others' space. Take turns. Be sure to include everyone. Mrs. Crabtree at King of Glory Kindergarten really knew her good stuff.


Here is a doodle.

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well. Vincent Van Gogh



Sunday, September 16, 2018

Throwdown, Universe!

Hey folks,

Yes, in my last blog post, I mentioned that I was about to start my magnum opus novel. Soon thereafter, my shoulder began to ache. Then my arm. Then it felt like both began to throb and then catch on fire. The sore boils came next. One trip to urgent care later, I learned that I had shingles.  This stuff hurts like crazy but I am not giving in. 

It's time for a throwdown, Universe! What is a throwdown? A performance competition between rappers, breakdancers, or perhaps, a writer and the greatest storyteller, the universe. I am calling this a write-my-story throwdown. I'm slowly coming off the pain meds and it's on!

Rotten luck, bad timing, or burning the candles at both ends, whatever is going on, I still am about to start my magnum opus novel.  I will begin tomorrow with two hours of work every day for the next four days. Stuff happens, but this stuff fights back. Why I need more grit is a mystery to me because I am already a rather gritty old gal. But the going is tough, so the tough must get going. This is the time to bring out the mettle and the moral fiber.  

I think that the whole optimist, sunny-side up attitude has its place, but what is stronger is the person who whips out strength of character, steely nerves, and hardy resolve. And what is the first thing I must do? Be glad. All the debts have been paid, worriers. This kind of writing is how I find myself.  When I forget who I am, I am ever so glad I wrote down my heart.  

Are you on a creative journey? Throw in some grit. 

Here is a doodle. 



A quote for your pocket. 

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am” John Newton


 

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Where in the World Am I?

Hi Folks,

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been uber busy with projects this summer. I wrote a chapter story for Lipa Pirates, and I also illustrated a picture book (more deets to come).  Busy beaver here.

So what have I been thinking about lately other than if ice or heat is better for a pinched nerve in my neck? Uh, finishing up this year's Teens Publish, my program at the Ringer Library in College Station.  The anthology is almost complete and the big party is around the corner! Exciting stuff! Did I mention my son got married? Life must be lived sometimes and thinking comes later.

Anywho, as soon as the current projects are over, I'm writing the story I planned to never write.  I will draft the entire novel this fall. I have written three different outlines and for some reason have "misplaced" all of those outlines. What is my subconscious trying to say? Yes, write the worst novel ever or a rough draft, whatever you want to call it.

Now I will pontificate about what it takes to write a novel: a working computer or pen and paper. Hahaha. For me, the starstuff need for novel creation is this annoying voice in my head that keeps telling me that stories set us free and if you don't write the story that keeps bouncing around in your head, who is going to not have the stuff they need to move on to the next chapter in their life? (THEY/THEIR is on purpose, I officially say that THEY/THEIR covers all genders because I personally think 10 checkboxes for genders need to be simplified.)

It takes heart to write a novel. Stories are about the deep waters of the soul. They uncover what can't just be said with what must be shown. This is the magnum opus of my career.  I was born to write this novel, and I am so glad that the day has come for me to write it. Your stories are bigger than you. Be happy you are along for the ride. I hope you push your keys or pen against paper. If you aren't a writer, let that inner voice guide you. What will be missing from the world if you don't listen to it? Please don't take this lightly.

I hope you SEIZE the day!

Here is a doodle:

Here is a quote for your pocket.
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Learn to Do Right

I have been thinking about this a lot lately: Learn to do right. These words come from almost 3000 years ago from a prophet called Isaiah.

What he calls "doing right," these words resonate within me:

Seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

I want to learn. I hear this voice calling me:

Everyone has an answer in their ivory tower. You should climb down and stop passing people in the street. Step out of your comfort zone and do something, say something, stand up. No more wishy-washy words that do nothing to change the world torn world. 

Rise up, you couch potato. Figure out why folks are kneeling under the red, white, and blue. Open up to children taken from their parents and stuffed into neat rows at land's end. How many grandmamas live in an old shack with no one to take them a dime? Wake up, get out, make a difference. Learn to do right, girl. Learn it now. 

I hope this stirs up your creative self. 

Here is a doodle. I call it "Ripe Field."



I hope you put this quote in your pocket:

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Comfort

Hi, folks,

I am a busy bee currently! Life. Life. Life. Repeat.

I have been thinking about comfort this week. What comforts my heart? This is not a big existential thought. I'm all about the little things over here in my little life. I've been working on breaking my unhealthy habits. Here's one: I tend to reach for food for comfort. I think it is a southern thing, y'all.

Well, an occasional slice of caramel cake is fine, but I need to fill myself up with non-food comforts.  Here is my current list.

Wrapping up in a warm blanket in a cold room
A long, long, long hug
Sleeping in a hammock under the trees on a sunny day
Petting a cat
Floating in the pool
Rereading a favorite book
Reading Isaiah and thinking about it
Listening to my favorite songs on a long walk
Singing by a campfire
Holding hands under a starry sky
Child's pose
A foot massage
Deep prayer where the world disappears around me
Making my bed
Walking in the woods anywhere, anytime
A tall glass of iced tea (no sugar, slice of lemon) on a hot day
An excellent conversation

I need more comfort. If you have any other ideas, I would appreciate them. I hope you think about what comforts you this week regardless. Take some time and be comforted.  I think a person who can self-comfort has found a goldmine.

One more thought, creating comforts me. Write some words. Paint some dots. Cut a rug. The movement in time leaves a lovely echo.

I will be back with more...

Here is a doodle.




And a quote that comforts me:

But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they will run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Monday, June 04, 2018

I'm an Onion

Good news! I don't have cancer currently. All test have been deemed negative. I feel like dancing in the streets! Thanks for the prayers and the prayer beads. I feel extremely blessed right now.

I'm a hotbed of creative activity currently. My mind sizzles with ideas. I pitched a book that I believe is just a stay-up-all-night read to a couple of agents and have received two very encouraging "not for mes". More to go. I am illustrating a little picture book project for a company. My TEENSPublish group is about to begin at the Ringer Library on Wednesday. I have 18 teens in.  These kids are going to write a most awesome collection this summer. I'm happy to be the cheer coach on the sidelines! There are some writing gigs simmering too.

I'm not neglecting the blog there is only so much of me to go around.

Currently, I'm focusing on being the person I want to be. This journey includes the fact that I sort of suck at making money and being cool with that. Also, I want to do whatever I can to make the world around me an easier place to navigate. Add to that, I realize more and more the stuff that we shove under the rug is the stuff we must bring into the light of day. Finally, a daily practice of forgiving myself for my missteps helps me. My mantra: Stop beating yourself up if you aren't all that!

Everybody needs a mantra.

One thing I've had to admit. I do not excel at the big picture. I'm a detail person. It is all about the details. I'm no branded, stenciled luxury apple. Instead, I'm everyday onion, and I grow in the dirt, not rarefied air. The multitude of layers makes my life wonderful.  If I look at any one layer, it doesn't seem like much. The depth and multitde of layers are what create the tasty Texas 1015 sweet onion that I am.

My current book project is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. It's my bravest book. I'm not sure how everyone feels out there, but my heart just hungers for understanding. That said, I'm really tired of everyone being so sure about everything. If you aren't on a trajectory that is moving you toward a place that you know less and are hence more flexible, I suggest you rethink the master plan.

Here are some story things that I'm wrestling with. No. I have no proof of the existence of God. Yet I still believe. I don't ascribe to the idea that Bible has no mistakes in it. I'd toss any belief system in the trash that required a no-mistakes guidebook. Rigid belief is inhuman in my opinion. I feel an inflexible belief system is totally stagnant and unable to open to new information. This inflexibility leads to pernicious thinking, that gradually and subtle steals joy and peace.

Hint. If you have no joy and peace, your next brave step is to change your suppositions. This is the hard, hard work of faith.

I hope this little window into my onion-y mind helps you navigate your journey. I will be back when I can with more reasons to seize the day.

Here is a doodle. Rose-colored sky.


Here is a quote for your pocket.

Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts. Marcus Tullius Cicero

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Facing Deep Waters

Right now life feels like walking through a sea of peanut butter.  I went to the doctor this week and received the news that I have a lump in my breast.  My genes aren't great and I suffer from a syndrome that means that I will have cancer again and again. This reality makes sure that I always know that every day is a gift and that I've only received so many of these wonderful gifts.

A precious counselor once told me that I was the bravest person that she had ever met. Some chose bravery, others have bravery thrust upon them. I'm in the second group.

I'm gearing up for a boatload of tests. A biopsy and the very real chance that I'm about to go through major surgery and then some chemotherapy.  At the same time, I am trying to write a painful book about experiences as a young woman who took a wrong turn into a Christian cult. Where is the strength coming from?  I reach out my arms to the Logos.  I always get this image of me stretched so far that I entangle in the stars. I'm rooted there. All things are possible.

With this heartening vision, I bring to mind that my great faith that life everlasting is another gift that will come my way. (My hope is that gift is for all.)  

I remind myself this life is the seed part of existence, and that I will someday shed this corruptable person for one that is incorruptible. Then comes the work of calling out to the Logos for strength to face the deep waters of more cancer tests and a biopsy.  After my hard work, I leave my cares with the Logos and turn my heart, soul, and mind toward the task at hand, my book of faith.  

This is the story of my bravery. I hope that it helps you as you journey on. I will work on my next book as I am able. A wise person told me this would be my masterpiece. It is certainly a difficult book for me to write. The only things guiding me right now are the glimmers of light that guided my life before I saw better days.  

For everyone out there, learn to live with your story. Embrace it. Share it.  

A doodle. 



A quote for your pocket.

"Don't close your eyes, don't close your eyes,
This is your life." Switchfoot

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Joy of Life

I am so deeply grateful for life. My faithful lungs pull in the air and push it out. I love movement and order. Every day is just the wonderful mix of moments. It seems alien to me that everyone isn't taking time to celebrate the chance to be. The other day someone tapped me and asked me why I'm enjoying a mundane moment so much. I answered that I love the moments.

It is enough for me to breathe and enjoy sweeping my floor, making my bed, hugging my cats, punching the water in water aerobics, writing my stories, chatting with my sweetheart, celebrating every good thing... It doesn't matter to me to be if I'm in the spotlight or waiting on the sidelines. The good stuff is I know myself. I'm never alone. I'm always loved. I believe in the mystery of good news. The Deliever is with me. I was born for this time. A time to live.

In a look-at-me world, I am content to live in the little realm of me where contradictions are often and so is laughter. I'm sitting on a gold mine. Everyone needs the freedom I've found in pursuing happiness. In life. In freedom. If today is the day that my words strike a chord or maybe a million years from now my words will be my day, still I will sing, I will pray, I will tell stories. I'm happy now, but I'm also happy to wait for as long as it takes. Exist, friends. Exist with all your might!

A quote for your pocket:

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
Walt Whitman

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Valuable, Precious, Seen

We live on a lifeboat called Earth. It is a fragile place, and the life on it is even more fragile. Put the name of the most despicable person you can think of in the forefront of your mind. This person is valuable, precious, and seen. Consider his or her point of view. I mean it. Let go of all you and inhabit the skin of someone you don't care for. Empathy, putting aside my truth to listen to your truth. It doesn't just happen. 

Here is someone I see in the news a lot: Kim Jong Un, a guy puts his stamp of approval camps 80,000 and 130,000 inmates held for political reasons. It cites evidence of systematic murder, including infanticide, and torture, persecution of Christians, rape, forced abortions, starvation and overwork leading to “countless deaths”. Now, go look up at the staggering loss of life during the Korean War in North Korea. If I had been born in North Korea and learned that one of the richest, most powerful nations on Earth led to the destruction of 30% of the people in my country, I might struggle to forgive. I might feel that nothing I have done is that bad, even if I made people who disagree with me slaves. I can feel empathy for a despot threating to kill me. Empathy does not make the despot right. It makes me merciful. 

All this empathy also makes me pray for chains to be broken in the mind and for captives to be set free. By the way, I am of the firm belief that the universe is created by a being of love who values everything in every crevice of this universe. I am unbendable in the belief. Hence I know that I'm heard. I fight against the hate with my whole soul. Back in 1908, Tolstoy was writing to Gandi: It is natural for men to help and to love one another, but not to torture and to kill one another. These words were written in a time of great turmoil and people were fighting with every breath warning about what was coming - WWI, WWII, etc. I pray for our better natures to rise. 

We need to love, strong love that stands against injustice not with violence, but with kindness. Don't use the hate speech of your enemies. Believe that better days will come. Cry out for leaders who are will to pay the price of love. Currently, the world is heating up with turmoil that I fear will lead to grim self-inflicted adversity planetwide. Let us evolve. If they throw a nuclear weapon at us because they are bullies and hateful, what will be our response? The stakes are very high. Our playground battles have escalated with toys that cause mass destruction. Will we act like children or grown-ups? Join the love team.  Blessed are the merciful, for they receive mercy.   

Whoever you are angry at, show mercy today. If a madman leads your nation, remember that insanity is a disease of the mind. The madman needs care and help. Not hate. Not curses. Frame every thought with love. Don't stuff cotton in your ears and act like injustice isn't happening. Call it out in love. Respond with the full force of truth, but truth not bound by love is not truth. Love is not hotheaded. It's not unkind. It doesn't fail. Ever. Make love your life's purpose. 

All are valuable, precious, and seen. ALL. Let us love one another. 

A quote for your pocket...

Here are the closing words of Tolstoy to Gandi:

What are wanted for the Indian as for the Englishman, the Frenchman, the German, and the Russian, are not Constitutions and Revolutions, nor all sorts of Conferences and Congresses, nor the many ingenious devices for submarine navigation and aerial navigation, nor powerful explosives, nor all sorts of conveniences to add to the enjoyment of the rich, ruling classes; nor new schools and universities with innumerable faculties of science, nor an augmentation of papers and books, nor gramophones and cinematographs, nor those childish and for the most part corrupt stupidities termed art — but one thing only is needful: the knowledge of the simple and clear truth which finds place in every soul that is not stupefied by religious and scientific superstitions — the truth that for our life one law is valid — the law of love, which brings the highest happiness to every individual as well as to all mankind. Free your minds from those overgrown, mountainous imbecilities which hinder your recognition of it, and at once the truth will emerge from amid the pseudo-religious nonsense that has been smothering it: the indubitable, eternal truth inherent in man, which is one and the same in all the great religions of the world.