Putting Ego In Its Place

starry night

Have you ever had a day, due to your own expectations, which put you into a pity party, made you doubt if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing with your life at this place and time? I had one of these days on Saturday.

I had a book signing…after my last two which went well I had expectations this one would also. I had friends who assured me they’d be at this one. My venue offered me so many unexpected pluses. I touched base prior and the person who I’d made arrangements said all was according to plan. I got there and a different person was in charge that day and nothing that was previously discussed was done. And after the fact I found my Facebook post was on custom (not public) and went to one friend. The odds were not in my favor after all.

As you know I am not good at selling myself in the first place. I refuse to push my books on anyone. I have faith the people who are meant to read it will find it. During the two hour span the store only had about ten customers. They walked in the door and would immediately turn the other way…you know …avoid eye contact…don’t- look- that –woman- in- the -face -or -you -will -be –obligated- to- buy- whatever -she’s -selling…you know the guilt concept. Don’t lie, you know you’ve avoided looking the bell ringer in the eye at Christmas time…come on, you know you have. Anyway, I said hello to anyone who looked my way, but that’s as far as I went.

I know my books are not meant for everyone because they attract a certain type of people which not everyone fits into, and I’m ok with that. Still, this was scheduled during what was supposed to be the busiest time of the weekend. Epic fail on that part. I did not work the people, epic fail on my part. Anyway, as one couple was leaving the woman came over and asked me to tell her about what I was doing. I told her about my books, and she bought one. As she turned to leave she said to me, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”  She smiled and I smiled back and thanked her. I didn’t think much about it. I began to wallow in my misery…you know not that I want to be rich or anything, but it would be nice to break even on my investment for the books I purchased.

I had made a tiny profit on my first order and applied it to my second order.  Yes, I have sold books, but I’ve given away three times the amount I’ve sold. Bottom line is all the people who tell you they are dying to buy your book, aren’t. All the people who tell you they are going to your book signings aren’t. Sorry, but it’s the hard cold truth and I should have been smart enough not to base my purchases on feedback from others. People say these things because they want to make you feel good. However, most want to wait to see if you really are going to make it or not…you know, they depend on the media to tell them. Now of course, you really do find out who your friends are as well. They are the ones who rush out to buy your book and show up at your signings to support you…and yes, I had that at my first two signings. I started thinking that perhaps I’d run out of friends…sad state of affairs. I decided I just wasn’t well-liked after all. I basically felt like I sucked big time. In fact, I typed it out in a text to a friend who lives several states away and can count on during times of great elation and despair. Then I thought about it and deleted the message before sending it. I wasn’t focused on the sale I made…my mind was set on the sales I failed to make. I was not thinking about doing good in the world. I was thinking about losing money. See where I’m going with this?

Then, visions of those exploited American Idol contestants ran through my head. You know the ones who not only lack what it takes to make it in the music industry, but can’t even carry a tune? The ones Joe Public makes fun of? I began to wonder if I had been falsely encouraged because people didn’t have the heart to tell me my writing sucks.

I couldn’t sleep when I went to bed. I began to question why I was even writing. Was I writing because I had something to say or because I just wanted to say something? There’s a big difference between the two. Then the words of that woman replayed, “Keep doing what you are doing.” A Divine message. She was the messenger of the words I needed to focus on. I had fallen victim to my ego. I had let my purpose slip from sight.  I know why I write and why I choose to share what I write. Like most every other writer, it has little to do with money. The reason I have chosen this path runs much deeper.

It is not necessary for me to know the bigger picture. Perhaps this is the beginning of what’s to come. Perhaps my writing purpose is the delivery of a message to a particular person. If I know within I am doing what I am supposed to do, does it really matter why I am doing it? I know I only need to keep doing what I am doing, and the rest will play out in time.

I remind you to heed the words of the messenger, “Keep doing what you are doing.” You know deep in your soul if you are doing what you should be doing. Your heart is leading you. Know you are worthy. You are gifted in the area you are for a reason whether you are aware of that reason or not. Have faith you are doing what you are supposed to. Don’t allow the ego to guide you in this world. There are much deeper reasons for following our passions than status and money. Be thankful for your gift, and when your messenger speaks be thankful for that gift as well. Each star and planet is small in comparison to the many galaxies, and the infinite cosmos. We’re each but a tiny spot in this universe, but equally important and together we span the earth.

On Being A Member Of A Tribe

“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.” ~Alex Karras

Oak tree Oak Ridge 010

I am continually amazed at the resilience of people, more so of their emotional strength than physical. I know people who have thought they were pushed beyond their limitations to be handed even more issues in which to deal.

I believe both physical and emotional strength are much deeper than DNA. While physical endurance is developed through training, I wonder if emotional fortitude is acquired in much the same manner.  I think it’s true we are often unaware of our own capabilities until we are tested.

The strongest asset for many of us is a belief system. Faith runs to the very core of our souls. It’s been proven those with positive attitudes fair better than those who are negative. Is positivity ingrained or learned? Take for example, two sisters who have similar health histories while one focuses on her ill health and the other sets her attentions on her blessings….who do you think will seem healthier to those viewing them? Who do you think actually feels better about life? Who do you think feels healthier,  physically and emotionally? Think about it. I’m sure you can come up with a pair of people in your life that come with the same circumstances but deal with them differently. While health is not always a choice, how we deal with our health is.

As for faith, it can be a religious concept but it runs much deeper than text. It’s relationship, with God, ourselves, and the people around us. Sometimes we are taught this, and sometimes we find it ourselves. I think the faith part is how we embrace our beliefs, how we fit it into our lives on a personal level. Some of us know ourselves better than others. Some are afraid of knowing themselves…they don’t understand that in knowing themselves they will know God and vice versa. We are divine beings given all we need to function in this world. We are endowed with the ability to tap into it, but many choose not.

The people around us are our personal tribe. They are the people who “get” us, who love us regardless of our flaws. Your tribe might be your family. They might be your friends. Or a combination of both. Never take them for granted. They are the ones who pull together and provide strength when one of their members is weakened.

There comes a time the harsh realization that someone you thought was part of your tribe is not there for you. Though you might be hurt, don’t spend too much energy trying to understand. We aren’t all made of the same stuff. Some can handle situations others can’t. Some people don’t want to be bothered. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or they don’t love you. It more or less defines your tribal unit. You will be surprised by the outpour of love from people you didn’t expect. Life has a way of bringing people in and out of our lives when needed. Be mindful of these instances because you learn a lot of lessons about life and people through them.

Together a tribe can move mountains. At any rate, they can save a person.  Love can be anything but simple, and yet it can be so simple. There is no greater motivation in life than love. If we can all learn to be less self-serving and more giving we can learn to love to in a way beneficial to all of mankind.

The Power Of Love

Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigor. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life. ~Charles Dickens

IMG_3273

 

Effects of time cannot be predetermined. The body might fall apart while others lose their grip on reality. We become mere ghosts of who we once were. How sad and frustrating it must be to him whose body cannot function to the will of the mind.

I visited this past weekend with my one hundred-plus year old friend. She told me she can’t see, hear, or taste these days and goes sometimes a full week without human contact. She is still sharper and wittier than most people half her age on a good day! She said when she starts thinking and gets depressed, she reminds herself of the long and blessed life she’s lived. She’s traveled to several countries, met people from all over the world, and had her share of beaus in her time.

When people’s bodies fail them, we often assume their minds have as well. But even if their minds are altered, I can’t imagine they cease to feel. Touch, love from another, has proven to keep many hanging on. It’s comforting to think in dire circumstances those unable to communicate respond to touch and love.

When my son was on a ventilator and we were still unaware of the extent of brain damage. We held onto him, massaged him, squeezed his hands, kissed him, talked to him, and sent him our own energy for healing. We let all of his friends into ICU. We wanted him to feel the energy of the love in which he was surrounded. God works in mysterious ways. Before he ever spoke or made any physical motions, he squeezed our hands in return, and gripped our hands when we tried to pull away to allow someone else to enter. On an unconscious level I think he felt and heard everything though he remembers very little.

This week it seems death has lingered. It passed by some, and took others. I have no explanation for those chosen. Both life and death are filled with lessons; lesson of living, lessons of dying, and lessons of loving. May we each take what we learn and apply it to making the best of the days we have left.

I believe in touch. I believe in the power of love. I am a hugger. If I make you uncomfortable, I apologize; but I’ll never apologize for loving you.

Teetering

They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies. ~William Penn

Some days the weight of the world is heavier than my shoulders can carry. With all that’s been going on in the world lately I’m sure you understand the sentiment. However, when things are amiss in your own private world, the weight is tenfold.

It’s difficult being away from the people you love when times are tough. My father has been having some health difficulties this past week. He’s been experiencing some “spells” which have weakened him severely. We knew his sugar was off and wanted him to see his doctor. He refused though his episodes continued. I think fear had set in. His weakness increased until he was unable to walk. We feared it was congestive heart failure.

The good news is he went to the doctor today, and it’s not his heart. However, his sugar level was over 600. They administered two shots of insulin, adjusted his meds, and surprisingly sent him home with an appointment scheduled for Monday and instructions to call emergency if his condition worsens.

Throughout the day, I clock watched, waiting to hear from my mother…of course, I was thinking the worst while praying for the best outcome. I worked myself up all day long. My father is eighty-three years young. I am not ready to lose him. My mother is almost eighty and wearing herself to a frazzle. I’m not ready to lose her either. I’m almost fifty…no longer a spring chicken. I almost lost my oldest son this past year. I lost my brother two years ago last week. Life is short. It is not guaranteed. I worked myself into great sadness thinking. A short while later I received another call from my mother that my father’s sister, my favorite aunt, had just died.

Life. Death. Such a fragile, fine line. A line that does not belong to us. And yet here we are, teetering.  We are entrusted with this life we are each given for a period of time. We don’t know how long that time will be. We aren’t even given instructions as to exactly what we are to perform in that time frame in which we are already unsure of. All I know is we must love to our fullest and trust God to guide us through the rest.

I sit here in a cloud of melancholy. It hurts to lose the ones we love. We are never ready for it. While my heart is sad for the loss of my aunt and I hurt for my cousins, I am grateful for the involvement of my aunt in my childhood. I could tell you all about the selfless endeavors she performed for the good of family, but right now I feel like wallowing…I’m going to try to focus on the good she brought to my life and be grateful for her influence on me.

Book of Ecclesiastes – A Time for Everything

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

In The Spirit Of Giving

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give it away. ~David Viscott

I mentioned a few days ago this quote has great meaning to me. Today I’m going to put it to practice. You see today is this man’s birthday. This man is my Daddy.

These are my parents. Photo by Hatcher Portrait Design

These are my parents. Photo by Hatcher Portrait Design

He turned 83 today. Both of my parents are giving people. They are not wealthy people, but they eagerly share all they have. Daddy believes strongly in holistic healing. He shares his knowledge freely with others. If he hears of anyone in need, friend or stranger, he is ready to help. Today in honor of Daddy’s birthday and in the spirit of giving, I am offering my first book, Stepping into the Wilderness (kindle version) for free.

By they way, Daddy likes my book, but so you know, he likes the second one even better. If you enjoy this one be sure to check out Swimming the River.

On Being An Encourager

What do you see here? Weeds or flowers? Pollen or promise?

What do you see here? Weeds or flowers? Pollen or promise?

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” ~Marvin J. Ashton

What we choose to see in life reflects who we are. Attitude is everything. Attitude is also a choice. Do you see the bright side of life or do you wallow in the depths of negativity?

Think back to when you were in school…how much did your teacher’s view of you affect your behavior? A student always feels the teacher’s attitude toward him/her. I remember having teachers who scoffed at me. In turn, I withdrew. Then I had teachers who invested in me. Those were the mentors I destined to please.

A few weeks ago my mother gave me an elementary report card she found stashed away. Oh, the horrors! I remember being an excellent student, in fact, number ten in my high school graduating class…I had forgotten I was once “not liked”. The power of love from the teacher I had the following year vanished those feelings of not being good enough.

Apparently, according to my report card that is, I “never worked to my potential” because I” refused to concentrate on any task at hand” and “rushed through the process”. My creative writing was unsatisfactory because my handwriting was sloppy. I excelled at spelling, but the fact I rushed through my work didn’t make it a strong point. I read several grades above my level, but since I read fast I couldn’t possibly comprehend to the extent I should. (All of these are notes written by my teacher.)My math was satisfactory. No farther notation, however the chart showed I was working two grade levels above my grade. (I went to a school where we worked on an individual ability basis.) I remember not really liking this teacher though she was well liked by many of the other little girls.

The following year I had a teacher who introduced me to poetry. She never cursed my handwriting. She encouraged my creative writing. Somehow math was lost to me at that point as the world of words took over my life. I wanted more than anything to please this teacher. Luckily for me, she moved up with me and I had her a second year. The same thing happened in high school; I had my writing mentor teach me for two consecutive years. I have remained in touch with these two teachers to this day.

What if these wonderful teachers had not crossed my path? I shudder to think of my self-esteem or what path I might have chosen to follow.

You might not teach for a living, but your thoughts are reflected through your actions. Someone is watching you. You are teaching someone something every day. Your attitude can make or break them. You have the power to encourage and develop the best in them. You also have the power to bring out their worst, to crush their dreams. Use your power wisely. You might be the one person who makes a difference in someone else’s life.

Loud And Clear

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give it away. ~David Viscott

I often find quotes that touch me personally. I love when someone else says what I feel in a way I can’t quite say. This is one of those quotes that impresses upon my heart and soul this week.

As most people I know I have little free time and am torn in how I want to spend it. Of course, time with those I love comes first, but what do I truly want to do with my “ME” time? It comes down to two things, art quilting or writing. I want to do both, but switching back and forth doesn’t get me far, though it often soothes my soul. My ADD creative personality enjoys the flightiness of many works in progress, but  I realize I must devote myself to one project at a time and see it through to completion. But which to choose? I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many WIP, both writing and sewing, that clutter my house.

Anyway, I have a main art panel and a major writing project I’m intermittingly working on. The other night I prayed for guidance. I told God that I wanted to know what He wanted me to do. I could have purpose in both mediums, but I wanted to know where to focus my time and energy right now. I told God I know He probably speaks to me much more than I hear. I told Him I wanted to look, listen, and follow.

The next day I started writing and tossed it aside. I moved on to a sewing project. A few days before my machine hung up when embroidering and the thread tangled in some inner workings. This was the first time sewing on it since it had been serviced. First, my automatic threader would not work. I became agitated. I fiddled about and finally called my service guy. He told me not to be afraid to bang it around a bit. Finally I got it to work. Then SPLAT….black oil (from where it was oiled when serviced) splattered all over the white project I was working on. I was no longer agitated but totally ticked off at this point.  I tried to remove the spots with stain remover…no luck. I wiped the machine down and ran it on test fabric to make sure there would not be any more drips. I moved on to another project and the sensor button to rethread started going off. I kept rethreading (though it was threaded properly) and sewing and it continued to beep. I lifted my work to find the bobbin threads were loose and looped beneath my work. I tried adjusting my thread several times and the machine alarm continued to go off. Then the light bulb in my head went off, and I said, “Ok, God. I hear you this time. Three strikes on sewing, so I guess you’re telling me I should be writing.” My aggravation melted when I realized I had gotten exactly what I asked for. I reminded myself God does things His way, not mine.

I’ve since had my sewing machine reserviced. The original problem had not been solved and the consequent problems were results. Have I sewed on it yet? No…I was called to write…at least, for now.

Do you try to find lessons in things that happen? Do you find God speaking to you and guiding you in ways you don’t expect?

I've placed this aside for now but here's a sneak preview of "The Tree Madam".

I’ve placed this aside for now but here’s a sneak preview of “The Tree Madam”.

Spin Cycle: Quotes

Cattle In The Orchard

They just melted from beneath thirty inches of snow, so spring hasn't quite sprung at the apple orchard.

They just melted from beneath thirty inches of snow, so spring hasn’t quite sprung at the apple orchard.

Gorgeous clouds over the mountains

Gorgeous clouds over the mountains

Orchard view at the base of the mountains

Orchard view at the base of the mountains

This cow wants to know what I'm looking at.

This cow wants to know what I’m looking at.

These cows are busy eating.

These cows are busy eating.

What a view!

What a view!

Ah, the beauty of country living!

Ah, the beauty of country living!

Ya'll come back now, ya hear!

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear!

Inspire To Be Who You Are

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself. – Harvey Fierstein

That little quote is how I find inspiration for most areas of my life. I simply listen to the voice of my spirit. Whether I speak through words on paper or images on fabric, I tell my stories to the world. Expressing myself is more important than being heard. I choose happiness, and my actions define my character.

I never lack inspiration because I find it all around me. I find the desire to be the best person I can through the people I love and respect. I find life lessons in nature, and feed my soul by photographing it. If you’ve never tried it, take a walk with your camera in tow. Photograph anything that catches your eye. Don’t be afraid to be obscure in what you capture. Think about what you’re photographing and its connection to other objects is nature. Review your photos and see if there is a semblance to relationships in your own life.

Water whets the appetite of my creative nature.

Water whets the appetite of my creative nature.

All aspects of living, past, present, or future, is worthy of exploration.

All aspects of living, past, present, or future, is worthy of exploration.

You can’t feel the gust of wind on the mountain top without climbing the mountain.

You can’t feel the gust of wind on the mountain top without climbing the mountain.

No matter where you are the beauty within you is waiting to unfurl.

No matter where you are the beauty within you is waiting to unfurl.

To live a creative life we must first lose the fear of being wrong. ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

Spin Cycle: Inspiration

 

What Do You Mean There’s No Mountain?

I grew up on Walton’s Mountain…except there really isn’t a mountain. Nor is the family named Walton. Confused? Let me start over. I grew up in Schuyler, Virginia. It’s a small town nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It was made famous by Earl Hamner, Jr. who wrote Spencer’s Mountain based on his childhood and then created the television series The Waltons.

When I was born my family lived just a couple of doors down from the Hamners’.  Shortly thereafter we moved over the hill.

Earl and I share a birthday except he is forty years older than me. I often visited with his mother while growing up. She was a sweet lady who loved feeding me. When I started taking cosmetology classes she let me cut her hair and I continued until I moved away. Once while Earl was in town filming a special with the cast from the show he told me I should come by and do their hair. Being a teenager I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not so I didn’t.  Anyway, he was gracious and it tickled me for him to ask whether he meant it or not.

Over the years I met many of the cast members, but my all-time favorite was Will Geer who played Grampa. He had a genuine smile with a twinkle in his eye and the softest and warmest hands I’d ever felt in an older gentleman.

The elementary school I attended as a child closed down and is now a museum showcasing artifacts from the show and replicas from the Hamners and the time period.

The Hamner homestead was sold several years back and was bought by my cousin who restored it and opened it as a B&B.

This is the original Hamner home where the Hamners lived, not where The Waltons was filmed.

This is the original Hamner home where the Hamners lived, not where The Waltons was filmed.

My first grade classroom is now a replica of the Hamner kitchen.

My first grade classroom is now a replica of the Hamner kitchen.

Another angle of the kitchen.

Another angle of the kitchen.

This sign cracked me up!

This sign cracked me up!

...And here's the still, or as they called it the "recipe machine".

…And here’s the still, or as they called it the “recipe machine”.

This is the Baldwin sisters' parlor.

This is the Baldwin sisters’ parlor.
The Waltons' living room

The Waltons’ living room

Another shot of the living room

Another shot of the living room

The radio - their outside source of news and entertainment

The radio – their outside source of news and entertainment

Good night, John Boy! Of course, it wouldn't be complete without a shot of his room and desk.

Good night, John Boy! Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a shot of his room and desk.

This is a plaque from the local high school writing chapter named in Earl's honor...and yes, I was inducted into the society when I attended the county high school.

This is a plaque from the local high school writing chapter named in Earl’s honor…and yes, I was inducted into the society when I attended the county high school.
Ike Godsey's store is in my third grade classroom. The real store is just a shot up the road from the museum/school.

Ike Godsey’s store is in my third grade classroom. The real store is just a shot up the road from the museum/school.