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Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Swirl"

My dreams have been busy lately.  Awake or asleep, My thoughts swirl around people I know and have known.  I yelled at a man 20 or 30 years ago, "Stupid, and damned proud of it!"  He laughed and cracked open another beer.  Apply his ways to my conundrums on a personal or national level, and it explains a lot, which isn't to say I like reality.

I overheard a couple of climate change deniers discussing their concerns about whether or not fruit trees will be confused by the weather which is in the 60s F in mid-January.  These women understand trees could bloom, and that winter may return and freeze the blossoms, but they don't believe human activities are a factor, even though they agree January has never been this warm.  They're only going to admit to a problem when apple prices go up, but really, not even then.  They never admit they were wrong.

Another woman said, "A lot of scientists say climate change isn't real."  I emailed her the NASA website which disproves that statement (without my personal commentary).  She said I should look at other "news" to get the other side of things and gave me a newspaper with an article trashing Joe Biden, none of which was true or current.

I feel like Michelle Obama at the 2017 inauguration and hoping that US democracy isn't swirling down the drain.

I do in fact read what the opposition has to say, and it worries me about a lot of things, but I'm also trying to feel optimistic that the structure of the US is strong enough to withstand its current challenges.  We've had some terrible presidents before and survived.  Well, some people survived.  A lot of people didn't.  But hey, I'm trying to be optimistic.  I'm even trying to get my head around the inevitable Pence presidency as if it isn't a calamity.  At least he isn't pathological (I hope).

This troll has been in my mind for the last year.  It may not be my most charitable creative effort, but it just had to exist.  I'm not talking about the model for it because he just gets stronger every time his name is mentioned like clapping for fairies in Peter Pan.

Enough of my political angst.  One of the reasons I started thinking of the beer drinker was as a character in my slightly dusted off novel.  I actually have a lot written, but only a small part is actually worth much.  It occurred to me that I need an actual plot and found this article helpful.  I've spent some days pondering about the goal of my story and how I'm going to get there.  My plot isn't entirely filled in, but I have made progress.

I've also thought a lot about why I stopped writing this novel.  My lack of plot made me feel adrift and I couldn't get centered.  I talked about this with someone who made a series of personal criticisms of me and my writing, which I consciously rejected, but which undermined my subconscious motivation.  I'm going to avoid people like that.

It's going to take a long time before I have something to show on this project, but I've made a commitment to myself to write something every day, even if what I write is bad at first.  Progress takes effort.  I'll try to keep that in mind as I watch politics too.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Internet"

The power went out when I was sleeping the other day.  Harumpf.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.  1 1/2 hrs of extra sleep later, there still wasn't any power.  I thought I'd watch tv since I couldn't do my usual internet stuff.  Oh.  Yeah.  Well, my brain isn't the sharpest first thing in the morning.

Thankfully, it wasn't a real cold day.  I read a book while my puppy warmed my feet until the electric guys showed up.  I watched with interest as they maneuvered a cherry picker into my back yard and worked on my lines in a torrential down pour while I drank tea inside, counting my blessings I didn't have to fix electrical lines.

The power still didn't come on for hours.  I had computer withdrawal.  There's so many ways to waste time online, and I'm clearly not self-disciplined enough to stop getting my dopamine fixes.  The holidays are over, it's time to make a plan for the future.  Or a plan to get a plan?  Ooh, email!  Hmm, a documentary on Jeffrey Daumer.  I can make a plan tomorrow, right?

I used to toss a leaf on the water and observe where it went.  Another leaf at the same entry point would go somewhere else.  All the water was running in the same direction, but the leaves didn't follow the same path.  The Tao of Pooh, or maybe it was Te of Piglet, says to be like the leaf on the water.  Don't worry about other leaves.  Don't fight the current, floating is easy and takes you where you need to be.

In this context, making a plan is hard for me right now.  I'm afraid if I don't get one together soon, bad things will result, or good things will be delayed.  Yet, the distractions in life are also the journey.  Educational videos online help me sort my thoughts and discard some baggage.  Emails are helpful and/or supportive.  Maybe the best possible use of my time is what feels good to do right now?

I pulled a muscle in my arm.  I re-injured it because I overdid it again.  Maybe my arm would be better by now if I just sit down and chill a while?  But no, I slipped on the last basement step, spraining my ankle and foot.  I figure the power outage was the universe forcing me to take it easy.  I've finally decided to cooperate with the master plan.

I have ideas for the future, but I've been fighting with myself about what I'm going to do.  Some of these ideas will take a long time to complete and require research, but I want to make money now!  So, will I waste time fighting myself, or just do what my heart wants to do?  I betcha I'm not the only one having this kind of internal dialogue.

I got an email from a friend who is "working towards independence".  If I know this guy, his independence will turn  out great because he's driven.  He didn't detail what he's doing, but I can picture it.  I feel enthusiastic for him.  That enthusiasm for him makes me feel more motion within myself for my undefined goals.  See, the internet isn't a waste of time (entirely), it's just a rock in the river bumping me in a new direction.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Sound"

I've been working on my throat chakra which is associated with verbal expression, speaking our truth.  To clear our throats, we're to speak, shout, hum... sing.

I damaged my singing voice years ago, yelling at an unruly kid when I was substitute teaching.  Something tore inside.  Recently, a singer on tv described a similar injury.  She exercised her throat, starting gently and working her way up to full throttle.  I thought, "I can do that!"  So, I've been singing.  It hasn't been perfect, but it's getting better.  My dog looks less worried anyway.

From the musical Grease, I softly sang Rizzo's flirtations, but I belted out the last verse with full volume and accuracy.

I could hurt someone like me, out of spite or jealousy... I can feel and I can cry, a fact I'll bet you never knew, but to cry in front of you, that's the worst thing I could do.

I can do Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" pretty well too.  Apparently I sing feelings.

All the times that I've cried, keeping all the things I knew inside.  It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.  If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them they know not me.  Now there's a way, and I know that I have to go away.

No doubt my throat chakra is messed up because I kept my mouth shut working for The Church, where intelligent, informed women aren't appreciated.  To prove this, they hired a completely incompetent man and demanded I teach Skippy how to do said job.  Perhaps you know me well enough by now to guess how I reacted?  They tossed in bullying and sexual harassment just to make sure I got the full Catholic experience.

Before you ask, they're allowed to bully employees.  While Skippy is younger than me, he's over 40 so the age discrimination rights are weak.  While multiple lawyers told me I have a case for the sexual harassment (which I documented and reported), they said the Catholic church is a well-oiled, armored machine to combat lawsuits.  (Ex. decades of unprosecuted pedophilia cases.)  AND, they're exempt from paying Unemployment benefits.  I've thought of clearing my throat chakra by screaming.

The top priest said he'd write me a letter of recommendation because I'm a conscientious worker.  "We're just going in a different direction" -- which is the opposite of the BS they promised when they hired Skippy.  In case you didn't know, priests lie.  A lot.

You may have noticed there was some time I skipped blogging in 2016.  Now you know why.  I hung onto the job for a while during and after this blackout, but I wasn't ready to talk about it through the limping, conflicted end.  I also really didn't want to blast everyone with my rage -- especially when all of this too neatly coincided with Trump and his followers' sexism.  2016 sucked.  Yay for 2017?  Oh, right, Trump won.  Fffff...

Onto the future.  My liberation may work in the convoluted way of the universe?  I'm looking forward to creative projects truer to my nature and beliefs.  The lawyers say I can talk about The Church as much as I'd like as long as it's true.  OMG that's a lot of material to work with!  It's the prize for allowing myself to be stifled for a paycheck.  I have a scathing book idea :)

In a nutshell, it sucks, I'm glad to be free of it, I have enough savings to get by for while as I figure out what to do with myself, and I partly wonder if I brought this on myself by envying my college pal's free and creative lifestyle?  Ask and you shall receive -- but be careful what you wish for!

I did this art my first year of blogging in 2010.  It seems like a long time ago, but also kind of like hitting restart in more ways than one.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Talk"

My year-end index is a mental review.  What did we talk about?  What mattered?  What can I learn from it, and how to move forward?  I've reread the posts and some old journals too because there are things I want to release.  I don't want to carry old anger and disappointments into the new year.

I discovered in my journals that I was sick all the time when I was married.  I had a breast infection for 2 years that wouldn't heal plus other ailments and infections, some requiring surgery.  Of course my husband thought I was entirely at fault for falling apart and had a lot of demands for fixing me.  "What I need...", I said to my doctor.  "What you need is a DIVORCE!" Doc said before sending me to the hospital in an ambulance.  He was right.  I got healthy in an amazingly short time after I followed his advice and haven't had those kinds of medical problems since.

I read my journals to see if I've neglected to purge any of my ex's negativity.  He often said "I can't make you feel anything", and it was "just words" anyway.  But his insidious words crept into my psyche and kept hurting long after, because the really sick part of people like this is they get you to do all that re-wounding to yourself.  They plant doubts and criticisms we replay in our minds.  I felt powerless to defend myself.  I didn't have a place to go.  Remembering all this makes 2016 look somewhat better, and it was a sucky year.

I want to let it go.  New years are new beginnings, even if the date is arbitrary.  The challenge is that it doesn't take much effort to say something nasty.  It's harder for the recipient to release it.  You can't do that until you're ready, and you can't talk yourself into being ready.  You have to feel it, but until you do, hanging onto your pain slowly kills you and your achievements.

Human relations are messy and necessary, but toxic relationships are just destructive with a bit of frosting on top to keep you in the game.  I stumbled across more verbal abuse by an ex-boss in my journals, and thought of other hurtful people I've known.  It's a shared experience we don't talk about enough, but I doubt we talk much about things that really matter.  Smile and suffer quietly so you don't disturb others, but that kind of advice protects abusers and doesn't give us tools to actually achieve happiness.

All of us are responsible for what we say, and that includes what we replay in our minds.  Be nicer to yourself.

I want to say optimistic things for the new year, and talking about negativity seems, uh, negative?  But I'm trying to say something hopeful.  All of us can talk in helpful ways to others.  We don't have to carry the past in ways that hurt us.  We learn, we grow, we discover our happiness through our intentions to do so.  It's the best New Year's resolution I can come up with at any rate.  What's yours?

Wishing you happiness, achievements, peace, and plenty in the New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Rock 2"

Happy holiday of your choice, including Merry Christmas and happy New Year.  Illustrationfriday.com must be celebrating something already because there wasn't a new word on their site this week.  Let's just say a ribbon is a rock and call it even?  I provided a lot of extra rocks last week anyway.

I'm happy for all of you who are surrounded by people you love for the holiday.  For those who aren't, you've got my sympathies.  Too many people are reminded of their losses at this time of year while inundated by Christmas specials.  If you're missing someone, try to think grateful thoughts of how you were happy to have that person in your life in the first place.  Remember the happy times.

These are my goals.  I'm not always successful at it, but I try to be an optimistic, grateful person.  Life is better when we choose to be happy, and I do think we have some choice about it.  I saw a kid smash his toy because he didn't get what he wanted.  That meant he didn't get what his ideal toy, plus didn't have the second best toy either.  Even as a child, I knew that was stupid.  Make do.  Eat a burned cookie and laugh.  A good life isn't necessarily picture perfect.

2016 wasn't the best year for me.  I'm looking forward to the next one, even while I fear for the future with politics being what they are in the US.  Feel free to discuss that over the holiday table and see if any of the dishes get dumped over someone's head during dinner.  Make sure you take a picture.  That will make everyone else happier for years to come.

Sis1 went through a period of time when she dyed food green, all sorts of food that weren't intended to be green.  I hit the limit at a giant bowl of mashed potatoes.  Remembering green potatoes in her hair still makes me smile.  I'd almost like to see another bowl of green potatoes.

Let's face it, if holidays weren't stressful and filled with inappropriateness, we wouldn't be able to laugh so hard at the sitcoms and movies featuring these kinds of special moments.  Holidays are a reminder to all of us to exercise tolerance and/or keep our sense of humor.  If your people need some help getting into the mood, you can add alcohol or maybe bring up religion.  I can come up with more ideas for you if necessary, but I'm sure you can come up with some ideas of your own.

Wishing you all the best through the holidays and in the New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2016

"Rock"

Dad and I made rock paths around our house.  We loaded the wheelbarrow with rocks at the river and trudged them back home where we dumped them out on the grass and contemplated the jigsaw puzzle of potential combinations.  I sometimes wonder if this early rock fitting was key to my brain development.  I'm sure it built muscles since we did probably 3' x 200' of stone paths.  That's one heck of a lot of rocks, and they had to be basalt or granite, and those are extra heavy rocks.

Had I known that all these stupid rock paths would later require endless hours of weeding, I would've been less enthusiastic about making the paths in the first place.  A few years after we made them, Dad and I pried all the rocks back out of the ground and we poured cement under and between them.  That helped, but the cement would crack and nothing stops weeds from growing where you don't want them.  This is all my brother's problem now since he lives at our old house.  He just sprays Round Up.

I still collect rocks.  I walk along the river and seek the best lucky stones, the prettiest granite, or maybe the nicest shaped addition for my backyard pond.  (Time out to notice and rearrange my clam shell of stones on my computer desk and to wander around the house taking photos of my various rock piles.)

I like painting rocks too.  It's a freeing subject since nobody expects them to be actual portraits of specific rocks.  It's just my concept of what a rock looks like, but that statement oversimplifies what goes into painting a rock.  First, I had to study rocks to know to the core of my being what rocks look like.  Second, I have to understand how to paint mass with appropriate lighting.  Sometimes I paint things on actual rocks.  Lately, I've been wrapping stones with wire to make mobiles too.

I'm beginning to think I have an unusual rock obsession?  But if I do, it's genetic.  When my uncle introduced his future gemologist wife to various family members, we all said the same thing.  "Oh!  I collect rocks too!"  Then we showed her our rock collections, which aren't "gems", but are special anyway.

When I was older and started studying New Age kinds of things, people sang the praises of crystals.  To some, crystals are the answer to anything.  I like shiny things, so I picked up some crystals to put in the window, but it occurred to me that all my lucky stones are quartz crystals too, they just aren't shiny.  But if crystals are powerful, my hoard of lucky stones will keep me alive forever.

Sometimes, when I've had a really hard day, I lay on the couch and put a basalt rock on my forehead, or maybe on my heart.  It just makes me feel better, or perhaps just gives me something else to focus my thoughts on instead of my irritations.  Rock is solid and connects me to the river, and the river washes bad things away.

I wonder if that's also true for rock paintings?  I showed this floor painting last year, but didn't feature the rocks since I spent more time on leaves and animals.  Seems silly to paint more rocks for this post when I'm so surrounded by them.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Spiral"

After spending most of two days shoveling snow, I thought it would be a good idea to put that de-icing stuff by my door.  One step outside, and shlumpf!  I was on my ass and banged my head.  Sometimes life isn't kind to me.

Ohio gets snow, sometimes a lot of it, but most of the snow usually falls to the east and/or south of me.  This time, I got all of it.  I shoveled my drive 3x Friday, about 4-6" each time.  By the time my puppy had to do her last night piddle, the snow was so deep she got buried in snow.  She and I agree winter sucks.  Saturday, the snow was deeper than my knee boots are tall.  I repeatedly worked up a sweat while simultaneously freezing.

I stare out the window and type very few words, hypnotized by fat, spiraling snowflakes.  Griping about shoveling is just recreational.  The weather report said I'm not getting a thaw before Monday to erase all this white stuff.  I had to shovel it, and I accepted that.  It's my winter exercise plan.  The sore knot in my shoulder is just a reminder that I'm healthy enough to move mountains, or in this case, create 5' mountains of white matter.

I watched my neighbors handling their snow problems.  A teenaged boy tentatively poked at the stuff and weakly tossed a couple cups worth of snow onto the pile, resting for a few minutes before doing it again.  His dad cleared yards in the time the kid did a foot.  Meanwhile, the woman next to them spent hours with her snow blower.  She was extra considerate and neat.  My crabby neighbor actually joked with me while we shoveled.  A guy drove down the road with a plow, saw me shoveling, and cleared the apron of my drive.  Bless that guy.  I'm not even sure who he is, but he seemed to think my grateful wave of thanks was payment enough for his kindness.

The roads were awful when all this snow was coming down, and I didn't have a choice about being in the mess.  People were understanding and resigned.  Someone got stuck, and a woman jumped out of her car and helped push, leaving her car in the middle of the backed up street.  Nobody honked.  I think we were all glad helping each other still exists.

Lately, I've seen too much in the news about how divided the US is.  I've been appalled at how many people want women barefoot and pregnant and how some people talk so hatefully about women, minorities, and gay people.  Get rid of environmental protections, public school, and overtime pay.  Yet, there are still people willing to help a stranger stuck in snow.  Just as more people voted for Clinton in the election, I have to think that most people are decent and cooperative.

There's something about nature dumping a load of snow to make us stop our usual self-interested vanities and become a community again.  Sitting inside and watching snow spiral down from the sky lowers my blood pressure and gives me a little hope that things have a natural order, that human nature isn't as bad as it seems to be on tv.  Maybe things would be better if Washington, DC got more snow?