We Survive, But What Will It Look Like?

I realized after the listening to several French citizens’ response shortly after the tragic concert bombing in November that what I felt some of us are missing here in the states. Love. One of the girls that came out of the concert stated it so clearly, not that she loved those that bombed them. No, but she felt love for those that she was with at the time and she was glad to have been with people she loved enjoying an evening of freedom. And her heart was filled with love even while she was searching for her boyfriend and friends. She wasn’t the only one that I heard say statements like that.
Their response to terror wasn’t to build a wall or blast the shit out of those evil bastards. It was, we are put on this earth to enjoy life. We will live. They want us to be afraid. The terrorist want us to fear because they hate our freedom, but we won’t let them take it away.

caught-the-happy-virus-last-night-hafiz

We become what we fear or we become what we love. We in the United States of America should not forget this. I want to live, not hide or pretend to be Rambo.

 

 

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The First Five Seconds

The first magazine article I ever sold I wrote about an event I saw at the end of the year 2000, and it caused me to do a double-take. An older man was walking his dog. It was a little black dog on a leash. I was driving to the library in the small town that I lived in and there on Main street, suddenly the dog ran up a tree. The man was still holding the handle of the leash and my mouth dropped open. I slowed down. Not a dog at all. It was a black cat. The man was walking his cat. Please remember, this is small town America, 15 years ago. I had to tell someone. I was so flabbergasted when I went into the library. I hurried in to speak with the librarian who told me a story, which led me to write my article about her and her cat when she was in Kuwait.

Keep Playing

I hadn’t written or even published anything professionally yet, but I had dreamed about it. I had even subscribed to the Writer’s Digest magazine and drooled over all the how-to articles. Everything was low-tech, paper submissions at that time. I had my thick paper-bound book of places to submit your articles and a lot of ideas in my newbie’s head. Just no experience. I can’t say that I’m so proficient today even. The market changes quicker than any of us can keep up, which only means that it’s always a new game. Make up the rules and keep playing.

When I got home from the library, I pulled out my handy-dandy spiral notebook and started jotting down the story. I had the subject, cats on a leash and cat training with operant conditioning, and I had my expert the local librarian who had trained her two cats with this method out of necessity while in another country. Now who could best use this article?

$$$

I was limiting my field by writing my article first, but it’s the way life happens sometimes. I grabbed my dog-eared books with all the listings of magazine publishers and started sorting through. I shot off a query letter and put in my hook line about the dog running up the tree and a bit about keeping your cat safe when you’re on vacation and such, the sort of things that I thought they might be interested in for their audience. It worked. My heart stopped almost when I actually got the “we’re interest” phone call. I was getting paid. ASPCA published my first article in the summer of 2001.

Firsts

Everyone has their first story, their first photo, their first client or first whatever. It happens so quick sometimes you don’t have time to think about it. I listened to a Ted talk today by Mel Robbins called How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over, that said you have 5 seconds to act on an impulse before you lose the energy to move forward. You can use that in your favor the next time an opportunity leaps in front of you, remember you have 5 seconds to take an action forward. Write it down, take a step, make a call, or say yes. I was too young and naive at the time of my first to even think anyone would say no to my crazy story. I’m older, wiser now, which only means I second guess myself. I pause. I pull my punches. The urge has left and the opportunity is gone. I have missed a story. I have lost the chance to connect with another person. And that’s a sad thing to miss.

I Love a Good Yarn – A Story That Is

He doesn’t exist. It’s a beautiful story of love and charity, but the evidence of his existence isn’t there. THERE’S NO LAND ON THE NORTH POLE! No houses, no elves, no reindeer, no toy shops, nothing but air and water in the form of ice exists on the north pole.

Magic

Saint Nicholas was real a person, but his story grew into the legend of Santa Claus then morphed into a fantasy.  It makes me wonder. Is this what happens to the others? As in legends of Robin Hood and Marco Polo? I grew up believing that Marco Polo was a living, breathing man, not just the threads of a story that had been told and retold until they came to be a full-blown legend. But that’s the magic of a story. And of how it can grow.

There is ancient belief that if you tell a belief well enough and say it often enough you can create a Tulpa out of your story, giving it life. It’s almost a truth isn’t it? Maybe not as in bringing a true Frosty the Snowman to life or bringing a Santa Claus to a land of toys, but we almost have created an industry ran from just that type of story telling.

My Dad’s Tale

I was at the folks back in January and they were telling about growing up. Dad was talking about his dad being afraid of taking a government loan to buy land when he could have owned his own property. And he told a story about a “Balking Horse.” His dad had just purchased two horses, Duke and Dan, with some money he’d borrowed, for pulling the wagon for gathering his corn. They were renting some property on Grand River along White Horn Cove in Wagoner County Oklahoma. Dan was the horse that would “balk” and wouldn’t move and dad’s dad would get so furious he’d almost kill it by beating him. They’d load the wagon with the corn, then start moving forward, then the horses would stop because Dan would refuse to move. Then all the corn would fall out and they’d have to reload it. It happened several times until finally I guess Grandpa gave up and they went to get another horse they had. I can almost feel the sweat and the heat. Those good ol’ days.

The Deep

A story tells so much. After listening to my dad, I realized he had some of the same frustrations that every generation has with their parents. Some he stated aloud, but some he didn’t. He never talks much about his childhood, but one thing has always stood out to me, he believes in this story – his dad should have bought some land. His dad should have borrowed the money, worked for something, gave something to his boys and somehow built something even if it meant being in debt to the government for a while. How do I know this? It’s not just this story, it’s his life also. My dad went into debt and built something, then was frustrated when his sons weren’t interested. Isn’t that how it always goes?

So what’s your story?

Seth’s Blog – Your story about money 

The Creative Instinct

English: 10-months-old baby during winter stro...The New Year is usually pictured as a new baby. New babies and new projects bring new excitement. They take up your time and fill up your current moment like no other thing in life and then they’re gone. You’re left like Grampa, sitting in the rocker, re-telling war stories to the grandkids.

I told my oldest son recently, that there was nothing in this world that I enjoyed more than raising him and his brother. Watching them grow up and become adults was a dream come true for me. Just hours after my second son was born, I was holding him and thinking, if only there was a way I could slow the time, just some way to bottle the hours so that I could be alone with my babies and get to know them better. But the world kept intruding. Life kept its barrage of daily needs. Some days I resented life’s onward march. On other days, I became a child and played toy cars and built Lego towers. I know there are other mothers who have felt this. My own mom hasn’t admitted it, but I’ve seen it in her face. My former mother-in-law often cried after we left from visiting on the holidays. She told me. I know she missed her son.

I wonder, is it the oxytocin? Is it the bonding in the uterus before childbirth? I also wonder if fathers feel the same emotion. Of course, it’s also possible that I hang out with a bunch of sentimental junkies and we need to get a life. Now that my children are officially grown and I still have some creative instinct left, I think I’ll set my sights towards my writing even more than before. We are all creative. In one form or another, we create something in our lives. What we create in this next year is up to each of us.

To all of my younger friends who are mothers–and boy are there a lot of you, I’m green with jealousy of your smiling faces–I wish you well this next year. I wish health and happiness, with lots of fun and laughter. I hope you can bottle up a few hours of hugs for the future. You never know when you might want to revisit one.

To all of us, in whatever creative pursuit you do this coming year, do it for your own pleasure, not because someone else thinks you would be good at it. Find the time for that one thing you’ve put off, whether it would be just sitting in the coffee shop alone for an hour, or browsing through the antique store–do it.

I think that this could be a good year. And I choose to make it one.

Oxytocin-Psychology Today

Here’s a poem my mom always referenced, especially the last line.

“BABIES DON’T KEEP”

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Author: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
Read more at http://www.scrapbook.com/poems/doc/28653.html#tZhJcBV2xEyC0gMd.99

Sold or Sold Out

I have a gripping memory. A moment that I don’t think that I will ever forget. When I was around 10 years old, a young man in our church was sick with leukemia. He’d already been down the road with several treatments and had been been in remission once, but the leukemia had returned. He’d started the treatments again, but his body was weak. His limbs were thin and he looked almost like a walking skeleton. Everything that could be done, was being done, it was as they say, in the hands of God. As we gathered on a Sunday morning for service, the pastor called for a prayer vigil and a day of fasting. For those not familiar, instead of your normal day of eating and napping, we’d take that time to pray for our friend and keep him in our thoughts. This was all voluntary. I wanted to help. I cared. But fasting. Food. Egads.

The drive home was somber. On the way home we stopped to check on some friends of my parents who hadn’t made it to church. And wouldn’t you know it, they had the biggest back yard grill and barbecue going. I could smell the hot dogs. That was the only thing I cared for at that moment. We’d eaten with them before and it had been heaven on earth. I think that I’d eaten 4 hot dogs and 1 burger if I remember right. Yeah, I was a growing girl. Like a girl with a butterfly net, I lost sight of the man with leukemia, the prayer vigil, the fasting, compassion and all the promises I’d had made in my heart and mind earlier that morning. I only saw hot dogs floating in the sky. Until I heard my dad say, ‘No we have to go. We’ve made other plans.’ No explanation. No talk about fasting. Nothing. But that’s my dad. Quiet. As few words as possible. Conagher like.

Sold

Dad was sold. All in. Now, I’m not saying that fasting is the answer, because, sadly it wasn’t. And I’m not saying that being all in, is the way, or the only way to go. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It’s a memory I have that has been on my mind. There are times that I feel the need to throw all of my cards on the table. Hold nothing back. Give it all I’ve got. I’m proud of that moment that Dad said, No we have other plans. If he’d have done any other thing, it would seem cheap. Not that the outcome would have been any different maybe, but the heart of matter is showing you care for another human. It was the belief of my family. And in their belief it was the greatest show of caring.

Sold or Sold Out?

My opposing memory is being with those who can’t seem to stay with you for a meal. Or feel a client’s phone call is more important than family time, even it’s scheduled. I’ve had this happen. When I asked why, he said, The client pays the bills. How do you argue that? My thoughts were, if there’s no one here, then you won’t have any bills to pay, but I didn’t say it. I just stewed in anger instead. At the time I thought it was better to be silent than to start a fight. Now I’m not so sure. Sold or sold out? Maybe he was sold also, just to the client. Maybe he was as another had told me, married to the job, more so than me. I was the mistress, the job was the spouse. I think a lot of people these days are sold out and don’t realize it. It’s not that they intentionally go to the crossroads and make a deal with the devil. They just give away a piece of their self a bit at a time. Even I did that when I kept quiet. We do it every day.

This week, I want to be careful, but not in a fearful way. In a way that is awake. I want to carefully step every day on firm ground, one step in front of the other, making sure that it’s the direction I want to go. I’m going to set down the butterfly net, so I can give full attention to the people around me, to those I truly care about.

In the Name of Love

What overtakes us when we’re in love? What is this passion, this force that motivates us to set ourselves aside?

What you don’t understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya
Read more: Bruno Mars – Grenade Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Last winter, after a ridiculous ice storm, I got out of my warm home for two reasons, both for love. Early that Saturday morning I went to watch my oldest son walk across the stage with the other college graduates. I wouldn’t have missed it. Zombie attacks, apocalypse, earthquakes, or whatever. I love that boy.

Later that day, and not a bit warmer, I stood in a line that wrapped around the corner and the along the side of The Brady Theater. A light drizzle of ice was falling, but my friends and I stood and waited and shivered. Why? Our favorite band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, was playing for the Rockin’ Christmas concert.

But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door – Proclaimers

Passion motivates us to do many things. And you can’t fake it. I’ve tried to be passionate about things but there’s no life if there’s no love. No zest. It’s an internal motivation that can’t be bought or borrowed. Forcing yourself to complete a task you hate is necessary at times, but you won’t hurry up to do it again and the time spent doing it is draining. Exhausting. I’m currently reading a book called DO NOTHING. It’s a very Zen or Taoist concept. I’ve played with this notion for years as I’m sure you have too, but I think I understand it now. So I stop grasping at every loose end and unfinished task. Focus on what’s the most important and the tasks that are lead by my motivation. There are two questions that have stuck with me that I read a few years back in a time management book,

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night? These are your passions.

Writing Like Mad

Tattoo Art Fest (082/290) - 04-06Jul08, Paris ...

What else can I say? Keep on writing. Just keep swimming. Go Johnny go, go, go. Is there anything else? You go until you feel the momentum shift. The need changes. When the need is gone. Why? Why do you just keep going? Can you do anything else? If the desire is there, if the vision is filling your head, is there any other life for you?

I often wondered why I couldn’t be normal. Why was I not happy or content with just being an average person? Why did I feel the continual urge to move things? To shift things? I hated the fact that I wasn’t content with the house and the car and the children and the dog. I loved those things. I adored being a mom. I loved the feeling of family and nurturing involved with that. But it was always as if I had on the inside of me a pulsating need to change things.

I have a difficult time listening to the news. It’s hard to listen to the idiocy that people debate over. The whole Democrat versus Republican and throw in a dash of the Tea Party, with a splash of Independents on the side. It doesn’t matter what cloth you drape over it, it’s still all in shambles. They still are arguing over the same petty bridges and hills. So I walk away.

They won’t be changed. In the words of Hugh McLeod, Ignore Everybody. “Don’t try to stand out from the crowd. Avoid crowds altogether.” Gaping Void-Avoid Crowds Altogether 

There are times when the voices in my head tell me to just sit down. Why am I bothering? What am I trying to do?

Honestly, I’m not trying to do anything. I bother because, I can’t not bother. I have to. Once someone asked why I write. Without thinking it comes out so simply. I must. All of these thoughts and emotions are bubbling up inside of me and the only way to get any peace or calmness is to write them down. When I write it’s like the door opens and the herd of horses storm out of the barn all at once. I write down the main ideas and go back to fill in the middle, because I can’t stand the thought of not remembering something. When I’m with someone and I talk about these ideas I have, these emotions and thoughts, it’s difficult for me to express them with any sensible understanding. It comes out as gibberish. In my head it all sounds right. I know what I want to say, I just have trouble putting order to the words. At least with writing I can do that.

I still think how simple life would be if I were content with my place in life. But then if others were content with their “place” where would society be? No change happens by merely being content. When I was in high school and was running an eight mile fundraiser, my friend said I needed to learn how to pace myself. Surely they knew what they were talking about. So I believed them. I took their critique and tried to pace myself. And I remember it all the time. The funny thing is, it never works for me. It’s not my style. When I worked in the church and Christianity, a different friend said I needed to learn to pace myself again. That Jesus wanted us to walk along beside him hand in hand. Guess what? I believed that person also. And truly I tried. I cried out to God asking why I couldn’t be a better more thankful child of God? But you know what? God never told me to pace myself.

Did you ever go on a walk with children? They are either lagging behind picking flowers and playing with the lizards or running ahead to see what’s around the corner. Exuberance. Alive. Free.

Some people cannot stand that you're moving on...

If you have been around on Christmas morning with a couple of kids, you’ll know one thing for certain. There is excitement in the air, whether there are 20 packages under the tree or just a few. They can’t wait to open those presents. My brothers and I would beg my parents a week before Christmas, “Please, just one. Can we open just one now?”

Would you want it any other way? What if your kids were ho-hum about Christmas morning? “Later mom. I want to finish this cartoon first.” Not on your life. As adults we forget exuberance, because friends and experts tell us to pace ourselves. When was the last time you felt that alive? The thrill of a roller-coaster,  the mud between your toes, the wind blowing in your face, or the taste of ice cream all cold and sweet. Remember what it was like as five and excited about riding your bike or playing chase.

Do I want to be content? Do I want to pace myself? No! I want to burst out laughing at stupid jokes. I want to run as fast as I can. I want to stand on the bridge and feel the cold wind blow against my body pressing me backwards. I want to live. Sometimes my life’s full of the “just keep swimming” mantras. I’m okay with that.

A funny thing happened to me. I went to a different physician. My insurance had changed and my favorite doctor was not contracted with the new insurance. My new doctor seems fine, but she had her agenda and I had mine. I wanted to get in, get out, and get things scheduled that I needed scheduled. There are medical things that only a doctor can offer so I go through the routine that’s required. Her agenda was to instruct me on eating healthy. Eat 3 servings of dairy a day (I don’t eat dairy). Women are not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in their diet. When I commented on the lack of vitamin D being from working in the office and not going outside, she quickly countered. Sun exposure causes cancer and we need to shield ourselves by applying sunscreen and avoiding long exposure.  Somewhere in the lecture my mind shut off.

My diet is not approved by my doctor I guess. And as far as avoiding the sun, not likely to happen. I love the sun. I can’t live my life avoiding life, being super cautious and playing it safe. As I mentioned, I want to live. I want to feel the rain on my face and splash in mud puddles. I love to get lost in a book and forget to go to bed. Those are the moments of our lives. The exuberance of running ahead or lagging behind is what proves that we are human. We can delight. We can be sad. We can lose our temper. We are alive!