I must confess, I have always been a bit disdainful when it comes to audiobooks. I never realized what a book snob I could be until it came down to considering audiobooks as a viable option when picking what to “read” next. Oh, how short-sighted I have been. I had been wanting to read Anna Kendrick’s book, Scrappy Little Nobody, since its release and hadn’t managed to (as some of you may remember the last six months have been a bit crazy on this side of the fence). Recently though, I began working in the city and have roughly an hour and a half commute each way every day, and when there’s no one to talk to (and only so much driving while off-key belting out songs) you can do the drive was becoming challenging. Skip ahead a few weeks and while Christmas shopping I found Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody audiobook (narrated by Anna herself) for five bucks (who doesn’t love a bargain?!). So I decided I would give it a shot, several of my favorite people swear by their Audible subscriptions, so maybe I was missing out by being a book snob (it can’t be as good as holding the book in your hands). Boy, was I in for a surprise, it was great! I found myself both focused on traffic, but just engaged enough that the drive didn’t suck. Let’s be real Anna Kendrick is a riot in just about every aspect that you witness her, but her reading the book she wrote is such an insight. It’s funny, down to earth, surprising, engaging, and makes this beautiful, famous woman seem like someone you could be friends with. I ended my audiobook experiment surprisingly satisfied and ready to consider an Audible subscription (though I may try to find a few more deals before I commit).
I stumbled across the picture (above) on a favorite page that I follow on Facebook (Fragments of my Mind) and this beautiful truth spoke directly to my heart today. JS captured exactly how I’ve been feeling for awhile. As a result of personal storms, I have been neglecting my writing, my blog, hell, I haven’t even managed to read a book in months. However, in the last few weeks, I’ve been setting out to correct these levels of neglect. For those of you who have given me a follow (and haven’t unfollowed in my absence) thank you. I will be working on some new things, and I hope to get back to the stack of beautiful books that’s been beckoning me for quite some time now. Hopefully, those who have stuck around, and those new to me will connect with the things I share here.
If you’ve read my last couple of posts here you’ll notice a reoccurring theme of embracing change, finding yourself, and releasing fear. Fear is usually the hardest step for me to get through. Occasionally, my fears have morphed into pathetic levels of foot dragging or worse, complete avoidance. At least the foot dragging slowly leads somewhere. Avoidance, unfortunately, likes to be my favorite blanket. It pretends to be there for me, protecting me from the scary realities that are right outside my door. The truth is, avoidance is actually the abusive lover that distracts you with sweet nothings as they slowly strangle you. Okay, perhaps that’s a little dark, but seriously avoidance is a pain in the ass. Another reoccurring theme in my life is that every time it seems to be going well, I should actually be bracing for impact because the big bad is heading right towards me. In an effort to be more positive and take things as they come, I let my guard down. I didn’t look for the other shoe to drop, and damn if I didn’t get knocked on my ass. From 2008-2016 I was a stay at home mom. I loved being home with my babies. It was the best time. Last year, we took a huge chance a moved our little family from Tennessee to Vermont. Not only was this a huge change, but I then went back to work as my youngest went off to Pre-K. We handled the changes well and dealt with the variety of bumps that came after we settled in. Granted, I missed my time as a stay at home mom, and the “Mom Guilt” leveled up, but I enjoyed my work (and talking with adults). Now, one year later, the job I enjoyed is no more. I’m in the exact position I was in when we first moved here, only now I’m questioning everything. I have never expected life to be easy (I have way too many experiences to keep me from being that naive) but I would LOVE a script for what to expect next. Starting over is a challenge. I’m weighing what I want to do versus what we need as a family versus realistic options. Needless to say, I have no clue where to go from here, what choices are right, or what really makes sense.
What do you do when you are lost in the in-between? How do you find your direction when you’ve been thrown for a loop?
Let’s discuss hate for a moment. Why, you may ask? The sad truth of the matter is hate is becoming the number one emotion expressed in recent years. It is depressing, oppressive, and painful to witness. Every day we see a landslide of examples of hate, so much hate, and so many ridiculous reasons behind it. The reason I’m diving into this today is one of the many posts floating around Facebook book that shows someone’s status saying that they hope the Pride Parade gets treated like the Boston Marathon, clearing referring to the bombing. Who in their right minds wishes that kind of pain and devastation on someone else?! It’s infuriating. It has got to stop. I have never understood how people can be so comfortable wishing ill on others. It has never made sense to react to things you don’t agree with, with hate and malice. Hate is a double-edged sword. You will strike others but you will also cut out the most humane pieces of yourself fostering that kind of emotion. I have decided one of the things that allows hate to continue its killing spree is complacency. We want things to be better and more positive. We are sickened by the horrible acts we witness in the news and social media, but what the hell are we actually doing to change any of it? We are all couch warriors. Spewing more hate at those who have committed heinous acts, instead of figuring out real solutions.
Why do people think it is okay to not only spewing verbal assaults, but to also physically assault those people, places, ideals, and beliefs that differ from our own? Why are we so lacking in tolerance? Why have our differences become the perfect excuse to be vile human beings? How do we look at ourselves in the mirror each morning and believe we are doing well? When did shaming another person become celebrated? When did degrading and berating someone become the cool thing to do? When did vile behavior cause more pride than humble behavior? Why are we so scared of the ways in which someone can love another person? Why are we threatened by someone’s personal choices in living their lives? Why do other faiths scare us? Why is it acceptable to say “My religion is the only true religion”? When did we become so egotistical as to believe we know all of the answers? Why is hurting someone so much more pleasurable than caring for them? Why must different mean warzones and violence? Where they hell did our tolerance and compassion go?
Now I’m not trying to sound holier than thou because I can guarantee I’m just as guilty for wanting change and not being sure what to do to make that change happen. I’m far from perfect and actually will never strive to be perfect because it’s a trap. It’s a guaranteed failure, but that’s a conversation for another time. Today our focus is hate, and based on the news reports it’s the headliner every single day of our lives. Constant shootings, bombings, protests that get violent instead of remaining peaceful, people ripping each other apart in online forums, children being vile and nasty for the sake of building their YouTube audience. Whatever the case may be, we are bombarded by hate every single day. It’s beginning to show on our faces. It’s wearing us down. We are complacent in the acts and we are complacent in our reactions to the news. Every single one of us has to find small ways to counteract the hatred that is spreading among us.
I put my efforts into how I raise my kids, and how I conduct myself. I try my best to light the way to better choices. I also work every day to break the cycles of negativity and pain that can be found within my formative years. I try to show them that they don’t have to live in a way that makes them apologize for existing. I remind them that they are exactly as they should be. I also take the time to teach them that their entire lives are made and broken within the walls of their own minds. This is a lesson that took me far too long to learn. I remind them that they must care and love themselves so that they can also share that caring, love, and compassion with others. I teach them how to be helpful, and kind, but firm. I want them to know it’s okay to say no and that people should respect that. I don’t hide the tough sides of life from them, but use it to remind them to be aware of the world around them. To pay attention to the injustices they may see and to build their opinions based on fact and not rumors or emotions.
You see we don’t have to make big splashy changes to make change happen. We start right in our own homes being the light that guides our children to better choices, beliefs, and behaviors. We don’t stand by and watch injustice occur and think, “Oh, that’s not my problem”. It is our problem. It is a world-wide problem. We have fostered hate and now we have to find a way to cut the cancer out. We need to guide by example, even if it is in small seemingly unimportant ways. We could do something as simple as smile at the homeless person standing on the corner, or hand them a bottle of water or a bite to eat. Maybe you don’t have cash to help, but perhaps just treating them like a living breathing human being is enough of a start. Your kindness counts. The lessons you give your kids count. Your voice counts. It’s time to say enough! Light the way with love. You don’t have to agree with someone to be kind to them. Their beliefs don’t have to be yours. It is possible to be tolerant and respectful without agreeing. We aren’t always going to agree. What’s right for them may not be right for you, but that doesn’t make it less okay. Be the light we all need in this dark world.
I sometimes struggle with feeling authentic. I have lived most of my life trying to be exactly what is expected of me. I have bent and twisted to make everyone happy, at the sake of being who I am. As a writer, there is a freedom of exploring different lives. You get to immerse yourself into your characters and live as they would. Your characters get to go on adventures, have grand affairs, fall in love, or they can play in the darker sides of life. So many personalities, so many possibilities. However, what do you do if you are a writer whose personal fears create limitations in the growth of characters? I have found myself holding back in my writing for the fear of perception. The anticipation of peoples’ reactions is overwhelming (hello personal demons). Could this actually be what writer’s block is about? Are writers just trying to get past our own personal hang-ups to fully explore the possibility contained within the pages of the worlds we create? Is this where pseudonyms and alter-egos come in to play? I’ve often wondered if I wrote under another name if it would release me from my self-sustained limitations. Or do we write because we can find the freedom we don’t have in our lives within the pages of a book? How do you know if you are living a full authentic life? How do you know you are creating for the sake of creation and not for escapism? Or are they simply two sides of the same coin? Do we hide behind the words we string together out of fear? Or, is our work rich with possibility because we can slip out of ourselves and become anyone, anywhere? If it is fictional is it any less real? What is your authentic life? What does it look like? I’m getting closer to living mine. But, old demons die hard. It’s not like there is a handbook for vanquishing them. Hmmm…the possibilities in that.
Here’s the funny thing about life…it has its own plans. Now we all like to believe we are in control of our destiny, and to a point we are. However, life likes to color outside the box. It sees our dreams and hopes, our neatly laid plans and laughs. Seriously, think heavy-set mob boss with a cigar permanently glued to his lip belly laughing because we thought we knew best. Life is that mob boss. Life is demanding, painful, vengeful, messy, hilarious, heartbreaking, and beautiful. It’s no wonder we often sit and think, “How did I get here?” We simply don’t understand that well laid plans just beg to be derailed. They are derailed because we don’t always see the big picture. We don’t always see that our dreams could actually be so much more. We also don’t always consider how hard we have to work to reach those dreams. Why? Because they are dreams and we don’t live in that realm. We live here. In this glorious mess of random moments that are designed to test every fiber of our being until we think we can’t do this anymore…and then we keep going. Sometimes we falter, fall apart even. We pick up battle scars like one night stands. If we all took stock of our hearts and minds we would see just how stitched together everything is. There is no timing that matches our wants. There is only endless time that counts on a different clock. Nothing happens when we want it to. Nothing comes together the way we think it should. We demand to know why?! Why?! Why?! Why?! Well, because life. Life is designed to push us to our truest form of self. It isn’t pretty. We will learn that we are both light and dark. Grey areas do exist in each of us every day. None of us can expect sunshine and rainbows, there will be storms. We will be beaten up and abused. We will fail. We will win. We won’t understand anything until we look back and see the path we have been thrown down and bounced around on. Oh, but did I remind you that through all of this painful growth and redirection, there will be these precious beautiful moments where everything makes perfect sense. At least until life takes us for another spin. So when things feel like they are spiraling out of your control, remember a beautiful moment is on the horizon, and while it doesn’t make sense now your whole life is leading you exactly where you need to be.
I think I can’t, I think I can’t, I think…too much. Oh to be The Little Engine That Could, but I’m not. I’ve said for years that if I were a superhero I would be Worst Case Scenario Girl. I have no problem looking at a situation and finding all of the potential negatives. I’m even more skilled at selecting the negatives about myself. Oh and don’t get me started on excuses. SO MANY EXCUSES! Then comes fear. Fear is like that toxic friend that you know you shouldn’t hang out with, you know they will only get you into trouble and leave you holding the bag, you know they don’t actually care about you, but still you persist in thinking that maybe this time it will be different. It never is. Fear is a seductive bully who beats you into the ground with everything you are not and then leaves you with a list of “if only you were…” All of that baggage aside, I’m a dreamer. Oh I have hopes and dreams for days, but I cannot seem to pull the motivation from my soul to finish grabbing them. Perhaps it’s the dreary weather today that has me contemplating how pathetic it is for me to know all of this and still have no idea how to turn it all around. Or perhaps it is the fact that I want so much more out of life, but yet here I am struggling to find my footing when I know which path to take (at least to start). How is it possible to see everything that needs to be different, and still not know where to go from here? Every time I start to step forward I backslide ten spots and begin to wonder why I even tried. Which then makes me question if I really tried to begin with. Which leads to a venting/ranting monologue with no hopes of hearing a response that will be the “AHH HA!” moment I need. I have the answers, I think I know the steps, but how do I put them together and finally quit being my own worst enemy (and critic)?
Quit saying, “I can’t”
Quit leaning on the excuses
Quit comparing where I am to where I think I should be
Quit beating myself up
Quit thinking of the worst case scenarios (at least not so much that they become a road block)
Begin, again, and again, and again until beginning changes to progressing
Actually try to achieve my dreams, starting with the little ones
Ignore the backward slide and keep pushing forward
Figure out what I really want, and f-ing do it.
Live authentically, without apology
Hmm…this almost looks like a plan. Maybe this is where I start, really start. Ranting to the unseen masses, and pushing back at myself. Here’s to no longer being my own worst enemy.
Clearly, I’m new to blogging. Clearly, I’m still finding my way. Do you ever find yourself pulling back from the things you want most so you can hide away? It’s not one of my better qualities. It’s one that usually I can keep caged. However, when it comes to writing this urge to hide becomes monsterous. I’ve been trying to figure out the direction I want to go. You would think this would be easy. It’s not. I have a deep love of books, writing, photography, and of course my kids. I’m opinionated, occasionally scatterbrained, and driven all at the same time. It’s very busy in my head. I’ve come to describe it as akin to having too many tabs open on your computer screen. Oh, and fair warning I’ve been known to ramble. When I first started this blog I intended to share book reviews, the occasional more personal post, my own writing (which I also share on my Instagram @workinprogress.beautifulwords ) and some of my favorite photographs. I’m still inclined to go that direction. I just have to get past the thought that no one wants to hear what I’ve got to share.
I was thrilled when my school email contained an invite for a workshop on blogging. We had our first session tonight, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next few webinars take us. One of our projects is going to be creating (or sharing) our blog. So at the last minute I did it. I sent my link out. I was slightly terrified because again, clearly, I’m just beginning. Then I reminded myself, I along with roughly 200 other people signed up for the same webinar series. We all want to grow, learn, and follow our passions.
Here’s to recommitting to the things I want. Here’s to continuing to learn and grow. Here’s to silencing that voice in my head that says I have nothing to say.
Finding balance is something I’m struggling with. I don’t really do the resolution thing. I pick one or two things I hope to work on during the year, and sometimes the same somethings follow me through more than one year. This year I plan to work on finding balance. In every aspect of my life. I also want to make time to focus on my writing and really move forward with goals in that regard. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to say I’m moving into new areas of improvement. Until then, I’ll be here looking for the balance in my life.
I found this book to be quite informative. I think that the author managed to blend his personal uses with historical facts and tidbits seamlessly. I have always been interested in magical and witchy things. However, I am quite the novice when it comes down to how comfortable I would be giving out facts. I had often wondered about the Book of Shadows having seen them referenced in books, movies, and television. I’ve seen some in bookstores themselves, and always wondered about that. To me a book of shadows is a personal item. I was eager to read this book to gain a better understanding of the purpose and connection witches have to their book of shadows, and what goes into them. I found it especially interesting when he discussed having more than one book of shadows, and the evolution of each throughout his work with the Craft. For someone who is curious about the history, or is beginning their steps along the path to witchcraft, I’d suggest this book as a good place to begin.