Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Secret


This bird looks about how I'm feeling right now.


Hey!





I just thought I'd drop in and say hi!

I have a couple days off. My sister and I are both in a play this summer, and have been working hard getting the songs memorized, learning dances, lines, and everything that goes with being in a play.



We only have one practice this week, which is great, because I need to catch up on a lot of things I've been neglecting, this blog being one of them.



It's weird how once you start a blog, it's like you've had a baby.

Suddenly you have this living thing that needs you. Not really. But it feels kinda sorta like it.



A blog's a needy thing. No matter how many times you write in it, it there's always more to write about. Once it's there, once you write in it, it's alive. It's a living breathing, entity, waiting for you to feed it, water it, make help it live.



So no matter where you are, it's somewhere in your mind.

Some event worth writing about happens, and you think, I should write this in my blog.

You neglect it, and you feel like you're turning your back on your own flesh and blood.



Who needs a fish, or a pet when you have a blog?

It will be more than enough to feed and maintain, clean, and keep up. It's always hungry.

And if you forget to put water in the blog bowl, it dries, up. Seriously.




But who can blame anything for drying up in this heat----blog included.



Here, it's been hot, so hot you can feel yourself cooking the second you step outside.

it's been 105 degrees for a long succession of days and climbing.



Hot as heck!



I fear that the Drought has been released just like in my last book, and he's aiming his dry eyes right at my house, trying to dry up my little patch of lawn I struggled so hard to get growing.



Here, its hotter than Death valley. And that's saying a lot.



I think why I've avoided checking in so long is that my computer, and my room are located in an oven, an oven that never cools down in this heat. I have to climb a flight of stairs and traverse into a sweltering land full of mirages, where wafts of heat  swirl round my head, trying to get me to abandon ship, to vamoose and forget my blog, my writing career, and art altogether.



And for the most part, it's worked. You can only be creative so long in such heat, until your computer short circuits, and your head grows fuzzy, and all creativity evaporates.



I can feel it now, the creative juices wafting up creating little clouds, only to be





I have learned though, that if I do want to survive the writing in the oven, I have to leave my little air conditioner on for a hour before I enter the oven.



But for some reason, I have a hard time thinking with the buzzing and blowing of the air conditioner. So after a while, I turn it off, hoping that the cool air already inside the room will last a few moments.

But not so.

The second I shut it off, the sweltering sweat lands appear, and all my creative thoughts evaporate. Poof. Like a dragon the heat swallows up any cool there is in the room, like it never existed.



The spring rains have evaporated, everything has evaporated.

Dust.

I'd cry, but those too would probably evaporate before they touch the ground.

Crusty earth. shriveling grasses.

Parched pavement

Parched everything.

Steering wheels become rings of fire.

Seat belts with the metal handle, nasty creatures ready to stink you when you touch them.

I feel a bit sorry for the plants, especially when you can dig down with a shovel and come up with nary a bit of moist anything.

Dust. You know it's hot when stores start selling off all their greenhouse plants at 90 percent off.

I looked at those unwanted plants outside the store with compassion like someone looking at a puppy in a cardboard box.

Here were the unwanted, struggling to hold onto dear life. Plants without a home. Without a chance at life.

So, after carefully inspecting them, I picked out several struggling flowers, some sage, and whatever else I could find to place in my own dry garden, knowing their chances of survival we only slightly better if I bought them.

While planting them, reality began to sink in. I dug deep down, and every partial of dirt was dry. After planting them, patting down the dirt, and giving them a good drink of water, I surmised that live or die, I tried to give them a better life.

It's kind of weird how the heat can become a great equalizer.

When standing in the heat, the great, the small, humble, proud, poor, rich, tall, short, all get hot.

Everybody sweats. Everybody gets hot. Everybody gets thirsty.

And somehow that thought comforts me.

Under such heat, things you'd normally hold onto, you let go. Things that were so important in winter become things you frown upon. Handle bars, metal, winter shirts, campfires, hot chocolate, heaps of blankets. You toss away. In fact the quicker you can toss those things away from you the better. 
Food? Who needs food when it's this hot. Who wants to heat up the oven?
Not me.
The heat changes everything.
Ice cream, lemonade become foods of choice. Cold cut meats, and salads. These are the simple foods that keep us alive. 



It's so hot here, where you'd normally see people in the summer, you see forsaken, parched gray yards, and empty playgrounds, and for good reason. Nearly all of them are placed in full sun, so that no playground is safe.  In such heat, these seemingly harmless playgrounds become medieval torture mechanisms, wherein if you trod into their bright, and happy kingdom, blisters await your bum, and you are left scarred for life. Metal slippery-slides become easy bake ovens that actually cook whatever happens to be on them. And that's saying a lot because the easy bake oven I owned as a kid, didn't ever cook anything. It only slowly heated the cookie dough into gross little doughy blobs that we thought were wonderful, and sold at our lemonade stand to the poor souls who bought them.  I could write a whole blog post on those weird, wonderful, horrible little cookers. But I shall refrain, because the exceedingly hot temperature is the topic foremost in my mind.



In such heat, potted plants, become baked veggies.

If you don't have an automatic sprinkler, green grass is a very rare commodity.

Gardens that were so carefully nurtured in the spring, become places of sorrow and morning in such summer heat. You walk into your yard and avert your eyes from the cries and outstretched shriveling leaves begging you for a crust of water.



But you can only give so much water till the water bill exceeds your income.



Everywhere I look thirsty is the word that comes to mind.

I can step outside with wet hair, and in a few moments, my hair will be dry.

And woe unto the person who steps on the sidewalk, or onto the hot sand without shoes. To witness such a person doing so is like watching someone walk over hot coals, yowling, and running over the ground like it was molten lava.



In such heat, no chocolate bar is left solid, no water bottle cold, no ice cream cone not melted, no puddle left standing.



It is a tongue parching thing this heat. Powerful, drying, deadly. In a single day the heat, and wind can dry up weeks of rain.



It is a reminder to me how little we all need to survive, yet how much.

Water. It's such a simple thing, often taken for granted. We strive for so many frivolous things in life, but water is one of the primary things we actually need to live.



I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this, only that while I was thinking something very profound, but the heat is starting to make me feel gross, and my stomach feels a bit gross. Not to mention my air conditioner vooming in the background beamed its way into to my thoughts, and all that's left is the voom sound.



Voom, voom, voom.



How's that for inspiration.

Thank you Voom.



I appreciate it.

Now my very epic blog post is now trumped out by Vooms and wafts of heat.

You can see now why I've avoided blogging. I was afraid this would happen. This place is dried up too.

I'm sorry. I really am.

The heat can do that. And vooms.

The heat has made me ADD, short tempered, and a sweating skunk.



It's weird how the heat can change normal, kind-hearted, sweet people into sweating, maniacs. Seriously. I've felt the hot short temperedness in myself.

Outside, under the hot sun I've felt it most---toiling away milking the goats in the full sun, feeling the sweat trickle down my back, and the sun beam down on me, while the evil mosquitoes suck my blood, and the sticker weeds cling to my socks.




It's a recipe for a short fuse. Yes. Every morning, I feel quite discombobulate by the time I come in from battling the heat, mosquitoes, the goats dragging me to heck and beyond, the weeds, dust, and roosters trying to kill me. By the time I drag my bruised, sunburned, sweating body inside, I'm in a jolly good mood. I feel like I've fought a war. And I'm ready for a nap, and the day hasn't even started.



Seriously. I've read some strange stories about kind people going a bit bonkers under heat.  I wonder if the heat raises testosterone levels---often associated with aggression, and anger. It would make sense to me. Just think of all the wars and angry people in the middle east.

It's the heats fault.

God just needs to turn down the temperature, and I'm sure everybody would go back to normal.  Problem solved.



How simple.

But until then, the heat has created many problems. Everything seems to short circuit in the heat, electronics, people. And then there's the problem of BO. It has been my curse  ever since puberty, my sweat glands under my pits think they have a job to do, a job that involves making me smell very unattractive, and very unfeminine.



I remember the first time I was introduced to the world of deodorant in my adolescent years. My mom was braiding my hair, and she stops mid-braid, and sniffs the air and scowls. "Ugg, What is that smell?"



She crinkled up her nose, and sniffed me. "Oh, Steph, you need to wear deodorant!" 


And that's how I was introduced into the magical world of deodorant. Oh there were so many kinds, so many smells. There were deodorants that could make you smell like a flower, or a strange spicy man tree, there were deodorants that were clear and shaped like magic rocks, and the best deodorants of all that could stop you from sweating at all--- now that was cool.



The idea of not sweating at all appealed to me, so that was my deodorant of choice.

Not wanting to smell bad, especially around my friends, I was meticulously careful to make sure I dawned  that special deodorant under my pits several times a day just to be safe. Little did I know that, the real secret was, that most deodorants are cancer causing, and very bad for you. Most contain propylene glycol----a solvent that's used to remove barnacles off boats. And then there's aluminum. Also very bad for you.



Once I learned that little secret, it was a sad day. I was back to smelling savory. I did my own research though, and made some of my own homemade deodorants, I also tried various natural deodorants. Some worked great, some smelled pretty okay, but nothing stops me from sweating like the old bad for you smell goods.



At one point, I had to consciously make a choice.

It was simple.

To stink, or not to stink. To face the shame, of Bo, or risk getting cancer.

Uh....let's see. I'd rather stink and be happy, and healthy, and friendless, than sick, and surrounded by friends smelling good.



But there are times when I do wonder about my choice, times like last week at dance practice. Like I mentioned previously, I'm in a play this year, 12 Dancing Princesses, a play about 12 princesses who dance all night, and wear out their shoes.  I'm one of the princesses (April, and I'm supposed to cry a lot) Anyway, we were learning the dance for the ball scene, and I'm sweating and stinking to high heaven, and nervous, and whenever I get nervous I stink louder.



Yes, louder. It's weird.



My sister says that each person has a unique colony of bacterium living under their pits, effected by PH and eating habits.

If this is true I have a hobbit, dwarf colony living under my pits. They are used to solitude, and quiet living in the happy peaceful shire undisturbed. Alone, I smell sweet, and good.




Yet every time I get with a group of people, something strange happens. All good smells are gone. Surrounded by new people, where potential dangers may lurk, my own particular hobbit, dwarf colony do what normal dwarf hobbits do when threatened. They turn into gremlins and goblins.



Then they turn on the defense system, and crank up the volume. They are great at upping the security. Building trenches, filling them with foul moats, alligators, and flesh eating fish. They put up a force field, consisting entirely of sweat that's sure to keep anyone from getting within a five foot radius of me.



True story.



Now you know why I might look a bit disturbed when you want to hug me goodbye, like a lot of touchy-feely people do when parting. Now you know why I may want to step back away from you as quickly as possible.

It has nothing to do with you.



Now you know my secret.



But perhaps you have one too.

Perhaps you know what I'm talking about.

Perhaps you have your own colony of skunks or bats, or chocolates or little toadstools, or moss people growing beneath your pits, ready at a moments notice to give off vapors of poisonous smells.




Let's just hope whatever colony you have, we get some water soon, because I'm frying here. In view of the heat, I'm seriously considering taking up sleeping during the day, and staying awake at night, so I can actually get something done.



In the meantime, until I get enough courage to water you again, please don't dry up little blog. I'll be back soon....

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Unsame Ones


Summer!

Ah a delicious breeze is wafting through my window, seasoned with the smell of moisture from the previous rain the night before. Sparrows flit from one branch to another. Puffy white clouds linger in the sky, drifting into pillow-like shapes, giving vivid contrast to the blue background behind them.

It's amazing how the rain can change things. How it can mellow out the dry desert and make it feel like the shire. Warm, green, safe, peaceful.

Flowers, gardens, grass, fields of alfalfa, moist earth warmed by the sun---Letting the sun warm my skin as the smell of blooming Russian olive trees drifts through the air.

It's rather nice. If summer was this green, and wet all the time, I'd wish for it more often.

I'm not exactly sure what I sat down to write about, only that I thought that once I started writing, I would magically know what it was I wanted to say.

Inspiration has not hit me yet.

This last week I've finished a lot of long term goals I've been working on, and am almost nervous to finally let them go.

One of them being, my book, The Unsame Ones. I've gone through several rounds of edits, and shipped off the last round of edits to one of my beta readers for a final going over, and then...well....after I get that final round of edits in, format it for kindle, and make sure all details are taken care of, I'm going to be releasing it, hopefully in the next month or so if all goes well.


 Blurb on the back cover jacket: 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was born in January.
So I am January, and everything that it
entails. I bear the same name as a
million other Januaries just like me, the same look, the same genetic makeup, the same job, the same face, the same goals, and the same dreams.

I am and will be a secretary for the rest of my life. I am good at what I do, I was made for my job, and my job was made for me.
I am same.
I have lived the same as every other January like me for 17 years. And a year from now, on the first of January, I will die from the same genetic defect every January has died from. No January has ever lived past 18.
No January has ever wanted to.
Until now.
I believe I have been infected with the Unsame Virus. My head aches, throbs, and pounds
without ever stopping. I know I must turn myself in. That is the only logical thing to do.
It all started with the hideous Unsame One that crossed my path, and thrust a strange object into my hands. It is he who is to blame, and it is I who must fight this. I cannot shut out my master, keeper, and overseer, Time---nor disobey the clock. I will forever march to its dictates, and remain true.
I am a Same One.
I was born same,
I have lived same,
and I will die same.
I am January.
I am Same.

 ----------------------------------------------------------------------


It's weird to be closing another chapter, on a chapter. :) This next book a little different than my previous books. Different in what way?

It's just different. I've written it in the first person. And to be honest, this book is a little more personal to me than my other books. So there's all the more reason for me to be nervous about sharing it.

The idea behind the book came about in an interesting way.
It was late at night. My sister, Bessie was fixing one of her old violins---she has several she's taken apart, and put back together from the ground up, piece by piece. It's pretty amazing. And the sound they make after she's finished is mind-blowing. 
And these were violins that nobody thought was fixable. Violins that looked like their purpose in life had been outlived, and they were never going to make music again.

Anyway, she was putting in new violin pegs into one of these violins, and taking out the old clunky pegs that weren't working so well.

I was watching her, and chatting. Then I picked up an one of the old violin pegs, and fingered it. It felt smooth, and beautiful. It felt like polished ivory.

I was so taken with the old violin peg, that my sister said I could have it. I gladly stuck it in my pocket and rubbed it like a worry stone.

Then the idea began forming in my mind. The music. The broken violin. Useless things society has cast out and deemed unusable, broken, still had life, still had purpose, still had meaning, value, still had music.

My sister and I began conversing about music, and the power behind it. And how it would be cool to have a story centered around a violin. Violins, after all, were so mysterious, beautiful, untouchable sort of things.
They have a scroll.
Something could be hidden in the scroll.
They are really hard to play. Maybe the violin could help unlock some sort of secret.
What if someone found an old violin with a message inside it?
What if....

Music.

This was the subject of our conversation through the night. That was the beginning of The Unsame Ones.

Actually the Unsame Ones began long before that conversation. It was the fruit of a thousand other Unsame conversations before and after that.

But to be completely honest, The Unsame Ones began the day we were born. Yeah, I know, that sounds a bit odd. But it's true. My life has been one Unsame event, to Unsame event, chapter by chapter, to this point. 
 From my schooling, to the paths I've chosen, to the paths I'm now choosing.  Unsame is just my way of life.

I am Unsame.

 Many times I've felt like I'm broken, that my usefulness has been outlived, and that to the Same's, I have no value. 

But that's a terrible lie. And if we listen to it, how much loss of life, talent, and music the world looses?

It's taken me most of my life to come to terms that I'll probably never be same.And it's okay. And to still like myself for it. To accept my Unsamnes as something good. To fully look at myself and say, I am Unsame on purpose, and I like it.
When you do that, something magic happens. 
When you start to like yourself, and listen to your own heart,
when you stop listening to the sound of the world, and outside things, that is when you really begin hear. That is when you find the music.
 

That is really what this book is about---Finding the music.

It's something I believe we all struggle with. To feel useful, to find meaning, purpose, and reason to keep living. And when we finally find the "music," our life is renewed. And we begin to see that our purpose for existence is much more expansive than any purpose the world of "Same" could have given to us.

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blackout


Glowing power pole in the dark
Saturday night, I was reading one of my proof copy of a new book I've been writing, busy editing it, when I saw a flash of light out my door, then the light's went out.



Darkness.

All electronics, both small and large breathed their last, from the sloshing dishwasher, to the breathing of the computer, and its peeping muttering lights.



My room was bathed in utter darkness. Not having a flashlight nearby, I felt my way downstairs and harvested several solar garden lights by the porch to light up the house. Then looking up, I saw that the top of a power pole just beyond my house was glowing orange and sending sparks into the air. It was on fire.

Kinda creepy. I have no idea if lightening got it, or the rain was too much for it. We drove past the pole, and were astonished to find that the top of it, including the crossbeams that held the power lines in place, were hanging off the pole, like it'd had its head sliced off, causing a blackout to our entire neighborhood. 



Not long after that, the fire department, and then the power company were called out there. And they were dutifully fixing it in the cold rain. Personally, I think these guys should get an award for bravery, and sheer niceness for going out into cold dreary night to fix the power.



It was funny because when the power's out, that's when people come out too. One by one, the cars drive slowly by, as everyone tries to figure out what has caused the disturbance in the force. Why, this darkness has come to our small village?



At such times humanity is forced to reexamine how much time one spends in front of screens, watching other people live. We are forced to look at each other in the flickering candlelight, with no distractions, and consider how strange, how foreign this darkness is.

How raw this darkness, real and how empty, and yet how full it could be if we filled our lives with more than electronics. We are forced to sleep when normal people should sleep. Forced to unplug so we can actually be plugged into the now.



Times like these cause me to realize how much we depend on the system for basic needs like water, light, and warmth. Things you'd think in our modern society could create on its own, independent from systems. Solar panels. Water. Light. Such basic things, yet still we rely on someone else to get them for us.



Wouldn't it be such a nice thought, that when the city's power went out, yours did not? Where we are all hooked up to the same lines, we are in darkness and light together.

Hooked up and plugged in.

When one's light goes out, we all go out.

I guess it's both good and bad. We can all share the common bond of being laced together, so we can look out for each other in dark or light.

But on the other hand, what if we were plugged into a different source of power. One that never went out?

So that when the rains came, and the storm beat down, we always had light, that we could offer heat, light and shelter independently from the great brain of society.



These are my thoughts, thoughts I think while the lights are down, and the power is shut off.

            Power. Maybe if it was shut off long enough, we as a society would actually empower ourselves to really live, to find the real, rawness of living apart from being plugged into everyone, but never being plugged into ourselves, where we are forced to examine the empty spaces in ourselves---the vaporous and hollow part of us, this virtual reality our modern lifestyle has filled up, only to vanish once we are unplugged.

And we are left, orphaned. Frightened by the empty gaping hole we are forced to see and acknowledge---something that never can be filled up artificially.

What do you do then?

Live. Face your greatest foe, yourself. Examine the good, the bad, the ugly, and cast out what is not good, and keep what is solid, and sure, the beautiful, the true. 

Taking complete responsibility for your life. Blaming no one.
That is the beginning of self awareness.


 That's when the power truly comes back on.


The power of Words



I recently did an experiment about how negative words and positive words effect people, after I saw this blog post by a person who put pieces of apples into jars and labeled one Positive Apple, and the other one Negative Apple. Here's the original post. http://www.daniellelaporte.com/words-make-you-sick-or-healed/
I thought the idea behind it was intriguing so I decided to try it out for myself.
The idea behind it is that your words are powerful, much more powerful than any of us realize.
For my experiment, I chopped an apple in half.
Then I placed one half in a jar, and labeled that apple negative apple and put the other half of the apple in a jar, and labeled that one Positive Apple.
I wanted both apples to have equal environment both in temperature, and in opportunity to have ample words spoken to them. But I wanted to be sure the that the positive apple would be in a place sure to only get positive words.
So I put the positive apple in the bathroom, with the charge to all in the house to speak only kind words to that apple. Then I put the negative apple in the kitchen, where I knew the sounds of the TV or any possible shouting might catch it.

My two nine-year old nieces happened to spend the week at my house, at the time of the apple experiment, and they had great fun with both the apples. Every time they passed by the different jars of apples, they were sure to give the negative apple a verbal beating, and a mouthful of sour, rotten words. "You bad, bad apple! You jerk apple. You're rotten to the core! You ugly rotten, stinking, piece of fruit. Nobody likes you. You should turn into a pile of mold, and die you wormy thing!"

It was so abused that I felt a bit sorry for it. An apple.

Then to the positive apple kind words were spoken to it in abundance. "Oh, we love you, you're so beautiful, so sweet, so lovely. We love you. Mahwah! I want to hug you, you're so wonderful. You're so green, so delicious, such a good, good apple. Ahhhh!"

My niece named both the apples, The negative one she named, NA, the positive one, PA.
After about a week or so, signs of the words began showing in both apples.
I couldn't believe it myself. And I still have to do a re-trial to be sure. But day by day. Word by word. After shouting and yelling, and cussing the poor NA, it began to sweat, and coat the bottle in water, like it was crying. Then dark spots began to appear, then mold, then rot.

The other apple, the PA however remained much more happy, and fresh looking. The difference was unbelievable. They were both sliced from the same apple. Just one half was spoken to with love, the other with spite, and anger.

Words. What untold power resides in them?
The force of light, and darkness we wield with our tongue and pen. The scripture about life or death coming from our tongues come to mind.

I'm glad my nieces were here to see the effect of their words so vividly displayed for all to see.
If words have such power on inert objects like apples, what are our words doing to people?

What effect are your words having on your spouse, your children, your family, your friends, and even yourself?
Words, they fall like rain everywhere, no piece of ground is left untouched.
And where they sink into the dry soil, what life-sustaining power, what encouragement, hope, love, or life are we bestowing upon a land, dry and parched by years of sarcasm, and words that are barbed and twisted.

We are in a drought.
But not for water.
But for words.
Real, true, good beautiful words.
And you have the power to water the parched grounds with a single word.

What mold, what busies what rot are we causing by the harmful words we speak at random without a thought to what harm it may be causing those around us?

What good we might do? What life we might give? What soil we might enrich by things we have long left unsaid. What potential lies dormant, if we but learned the power of blessing through our words, and the way we wield them.
Words.
If we wielded  words as carefully as wield a match, we would use them not to burn others or ourselves, but to light up a dark world, and give light, warmth and hope to those groping in the darkness for a fragment, a shaft of light and hope to hold onto.

Words.
They literally give life. Or take it away.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The hammer fell, so I picked up the brush


Hey,

It's been a few weeks. So much for my goal of writing in my blog at least once a week. Bah! Humbug.

I did have good intentions. But as it happens, chance or fate played a card that I wasn't expecting. The card I was dealt, looked a lot like a hammer coming down on my index finger.

Before it happened, I was fixing the fence in my back yard. Our is quite old, but I thought I'd try and make the most out of the wood, and patch things together. I was fixing part of the fence, hammering some wood, but every nail I hammered into the wood bent. I was tired, and impatient, and sick of the nails bending every time I hammered them. So, growing more irritated by the second, I grabbed a nail that was thick and long, and sturdy, about half the length of a pencil. I had to steady the nail in order for it to stay put, so using my left hand I steadied, the nail and hammered down hard.

But the nail wasn't behaving. It wasn't going into the wood like it should. So I hammered harder, growing more clumsy. Still the nail stubbornly sat in its old position, neither going up nor down. Just stuck.

Determined to get the nail in, I steadied the nail with my left index finger and hammered as hard as I could.

Whack!

The hammer went down, but not on the nail. But on my finger with all the force I had in me. In that single instant, I felt first shock and then terrible pain shooting through my fingers, and strange ghost pains in my other little fingers. Can I just say at that moment, I thought I'd killed myself, chopped my own finger off, mashed it off in one blow, squishing it against the wood.



In a flurry, I threw the hammer onto the ground, and started waling. My mom who was in the garden at that time, came to my rescue.

But there's little help you can offer to someone who has mashed their finger, except sympathy. I don't think I've ever felt that much pain in my life. I know what you're thinking---lucky you.
I iced my finger, took a couple pain killers, and it still throbbed.

And I cried.

Yep. Moaned, and sniffled like a baby.

They say all your nerve endings are in your finger, and I believe it.

It didn't stop hurting and throbbing for a long time. My mom turned on a stupid movie to distract me. And that helped a bit.

I iced it the rest of the day, and into the night, freezing my other fingers in the process. It swelled up nice and purple, and went tingly numb. I wasn't sure if I broke it, sprained it, or just damaged the nerves. My sister made some comfrey, plantain salve, and I've been wrapping it up in a bandage and letting it rest. I figured there wasn't much point in going to the doctors, because they can't do much for broken fingers anyway.




That green stuff is my sisters awesome bone healing salve. 
So from that time until now, I haven't been typing for many moons. First I went through the feel sorry for myself stage. The stage where I discover all the things I can't do without my index finger.

How little we appreciate things until we can no longer use them.

I found out that it's very difficult to floss your teeth without the aid of your index finger, but with a little practice, you can do it with your other fingers.

Pulling up your britches is another trick.

Feeding hay to the goats, is very difficult, especially when you're trying to pull out hay from a ton bale.

Driving.

Typing.

Opening Jars.

Chopping veggies.

Lifting various objects.

Oh, and milking goats. Oh....your one hand gets very very tired. I usually switch hands when one gets tired.

Oh, and then I had been doing a heavy workout routine, but my finger was so tender, I didn't feel like swinging around that much. But gradually I figured out how to maneuver my hands so as not to jostle my finger too much.

After the feel sorry for myself stage, I went through, okay what can I do. It's my left finger, you're lucky stage. So I decided that I've neglected painting for quite a long time, so I've been painting, painting, painting. Painting wood, painting butterflies, painting on a moose horn, painting skies, painting tiles with inks. And it's been refreshing.

Enlightening. I've been so caught up in writing, an illustrating my books, that I've let my inner painter shrivel. I was kind of afraid of what my shriveled painter self might produce. That I might make something very ugly.  But I pushed through that fear and now I'm on my way to being a recovering oil painter.

It's nice. And weird how sometimes I can get so caught up doing one thing, I neglect the other. So here's a pledge to myself, to try and be more balanced.

Today is the first day in weeks I've really typed since I tried to hammer off the end of my finger. I'm still very clumsy. I can't bent it all the way. And it's still very tender and numb-ish feeling. This morning when I was feeding the chickens I caught my poor finger on an end of a wire, and tore the tip of my fingernail off.

Renewed pain.

But I'm here. And I'm writing, even if it's just a little. Giving my finger some physical therapy.



The fence I was fixing is still waiting for me to finish fixing it.

The nails are still where I left them. Soon, I'll be back hammering where I left off, but with a little renewed perspective and appreciation, thankful for my index finger and what it can do. Thankful for the nudge to use my inner artist to "paint fences," instead of just fix them. Or something like that.

You get what I'm trying to say? Right?



I still think I have a bit of hammer aversion though. Every time I see my sister pick one up, I close my eyes, and cringe and think of....well me smashing my finger.



Weird, huh?

Whoever thought of having post traumatic stress from hammering one's own finger.

I can't imagine having a real accident to recover from.

Maybe I should go to therapy. :)

Anyway, here's to all the under appreciated index fingers throughout the world. Sometimes that "index finger" gets neglected. And the sad thing is, only when you lose something do you begin to appreciate what you lost. I don't know why, but it's true. And we humans are pretty stupid. But that's the sad truth. 
Below are some of my creations I've been working on since my finger smash. Some are finished, some are still being worked on.  I've made the image sizes a bit small so people don't pirate them. I'm doing an etsy shop with prints of my artwork, along with my sister, and as soon as I get prints made I'll put a link on here if you'd like to buy copies of my work.





This guy isn't finished yet---there's still a lot of work to do on this one before I'm done.



My moose horn piece

These are done with  alcohol inks.

So. Here's to artists of all kinds picking up the paintbrush after a long sabbatical. Here's to anyone who's had a smashed finger and lived.

Here's to all artist writers, and creative everywhere who are forced to stop and do some introspection.

I'm not sure the point of this blog post, except maybe as a reminder that you won't have to smash you finger to remember to "paint" whatever its you like to paint. And perhaps give a shout out of encouragement to any blocked artists, who are afraid of starting where they left off, block writers, blocked creators, who may be afraid to "paint" whatever it is that they want to paint.



For some, it has been years, months, or decades since, they "painted" last.


Pick up the brush.

Set out the canvas.

Use the colors you have.

And paint.

Don't wait for your finger to be smashed to do so.

Don't wait for the perfect someday when...

Buck up, face your fears, and paint. Once you get over the initial fear, you remember how much fun it is.
You're probably a lot better at it than you give yourself credit.
My finger says enough typing. So I'll say cheerio for now.
Until my next post.
Take care.
Steph


Monday, February 2, 2015

Completly Bonkers! But so. All the best people are.



So, I'm sitting here, doing some introspection, I seriously do not know what to write about. Give me any subject to expound on, and I'll buckle down and see what words I can scrape together in my mind. 
But sit me down in front of a blank screen, and it seems I lead a very boring life. Suddenly all the interesting things I've done, or seen, or heard evaporate. Poof!

And then there's that awkward moment where I drum my fingers on the keyboard, and I look at the objects in my room, seeking inspiration from an empty wrapper, the light bulbs, or a vacant pistachio shell sitting on my desk that still tastes like salt.
Nope. No inspiration there. 
 I look out the window to the hazy sky, and stare at a bug that somehow got itself trapped between the windowpane. 
My eyes go next to the dead leaves hanging from the trees, then over to the cups of water by my computer, waiting for me to drink them. 
Then I gaze over to the quotes stuck with yellow tape to the sides of my computer screen. I read them, looking for inspiration.

"Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way,"---so says Ray Bradbury.

"You can't rush something you want to last forever," so says an unknown smart person.

"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." So says E.L. Doctorow. 

  They are good quotes carefully placed by myself meant for moments like this, when I wonder what I shall write.
Fog. That is enough of a writing prompt.
Such a beautiful, strange, wet, wonderful thing.
Fog.
Thick, wonderful, moist clouds that hide the sun and sky.
Fog.
What is it that makes it so strange? So invisible, yet so fluid?
It is true, though, when writing or living, it is a lot like driving in the fog.
You can't see what it is that's coming next. But maybe we're not meant to. Maybe it's best that way. Maybe we like not knowing. Because in not knowing we find art, passion, meaning, and a story that unfolds.

I mean who would want to read story knowing exactly what the end would be? Where's the fun in that?
So I guess at the beginning of this year the second day of February, I'll drive in the fog. After all, the fog is quite mysterious, and  enchanting, if not mesmerizing and pesky at the same time. 
I remember the feeling of excitement, looking out the window first thing in the morning when I was a child, seeing the fog. In an effort to catch it, to be enfolded by it, I would run out into the field trying to catch the clouds. But whenever I got close to the clouds, they would vanish. And right where I stood was where the fog was not.
It was a strange phenomenon. I would look behind me, and see the fog obscuring the place I had just come from. Then I would look in front of me, and see that the field beyond was hidden by the clouds I could not catch.
 Both before, and behind were the clouds I sought, but could never fully hold, or keep, or touch.
But right where I was, there I could see. 
This is an analogy for my life. 
 The past fog. The future Fog. I do not want to live in either of these realities because they will cloud my view. The illusive clouds, the castles in the sky are not mine, and the more I try to catch them, the more they will escape my grasp.
Instead I will be glad of where I am, and where I have been, and where I will someday go.
Here, that is where I am.
Here is where I start. If I cannot catch the clouds, maybe I will walk among them, content with the view.
December is gone, passed away in dream, a haze. 
January too.
February, this is my reality.
The past, though foggy, drifts hovers, and calls out. But I can't do anything to change it.  The February my dad left my mom still haunts my mind. The cursed month.
It's weird, but I can't believe it's been about five years since that fateful day.
It passed like a dream. 
Now it is just fog.
It seems like yesterday. The feelings, the memories are still vivid, and raw in my mind. I've sat down to write about the whole experience several times, only to know I could never tell the story.
But I'm afraid that the fog will hide that too.
And part of it I still want to remember.
I've always tried to avoid writing about the subject. But it lingers in my mind wanting to be written about. Wanting air. I know I can never fully, truly write about it not in the way I want to.
But in light of all that has happened, I think it's time I tell, at least a small part of my experience, and let the cards fall where they may, if only someone out there might be helped.
I know the fog will come and cover it up soon enough.

Why am I afraid to even voice my feelings on the matter?
Mostly, because my family hasn't come to terms with it.
So what is this, "It" that I'm afraid to write about?
What is the word that, if spoken, brings heart palpitations and gasps to members of my family?
Okay. I'll say it. Not to label myself or my family. Or to box us up, and invalidate who I am, or any part of my family. But perhaps say it, if only to give air to the words unspoken, and the gag order that has gone on for five years.

The word?
Bipolar.
There it is.
I'll say it again. Bipolar.
Oh the evil nasty word. 
Are you trembling in your shoes?
Are you shivering in your seat?
*Shivers*
Oh the pain.
Oh the horror.
Oh the social stigma.
You better stop reading.
Woe is me!
Oh the blight of it.
How dare you say such a nasty word!
I'll say it again. Just for good measure. Just in cause you didn't understand.  Bipolar. And again, bipolar, bipolar bipolar!
What? You're still here?
You're still reading?
Dear me? Aren't you offended?
Bipolar?
If you are still reading. I'm glad. Thank you for that.
You don't know how good it feels to say it. And have it be said.
I shall sigh now. One long, loud, momentous sigh. 
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
Sigh, because it is a sigh that needs to be sighed. Sighed a thousand million times if need be. A sigh sighed over the misunderstood people of the world, and the problems that never fully get to be aired out so they can heal. 
So why are so many people afraid of such a word. Of bipolar?
What is it that causes us to shiver in our boots?
Let us go to google to find out it's meaning.
Bipolar.
Here's what Google's definition says about it.
Bi·po·lar--having or relating to two poles or extremities.

Not so bad sounding. It pretty much means two. Think of a happy face, and then a frowny face. 
Then think of an average person's smile and frown.
For someone who is bipolar, just tip the smile lines a bit higher than the average person, and then the frown lines lower than the average person, and there you have it. Bipolar.
 And if faced head on, it's something that is dealt with, and faced head on.
The sad thing is many UN-informed people out there are cluelessly not helping the stigma that goes with it. 
The word mental illness is another misunderstood word. 
Why is that? What are we so afraid of when it comes to understanding mental illness? 
I read somewhere on the internet that in the middle ages people who had mental illness were thought to have demons, so they would drill holes in the patients heads to let the devils out. Or better yet, they were boiled in water.
Very clever. Very smart. That'll fix the problem for sure. 

Aren't you so glad to be born in a modern era? We've have advanced our methods by leaps and bounds in our modern age....or not. Some of our modern-aged people even think that if you have a mental illness it's because you do, in fact, have demons possessing you. (True Story)
Some people think that mental illness is a character flaw, a sin that must be overcome, that the person inflicted must be doing something wrong to have such tendencies.
 For whatever the reason. There is a stigma attached to the whole mental illness thing. And believe me, especially in small towns, we are still in the middle-aged mindset.
Perhaps our fear of the whole thing is just a fear that once we say the word, we'll be boiled in hot water, and have holes drilled in our heads. Who knows?

Believe it or not, these small-minded views are plastered all over the internet, this strange way at looking at people who have problems with depression, bipolar, mania, and all the other problems that affect the mind run rampant. 

Hence the real reason for this blog post. 
Hence my ranting. 
Bipolar is not devil possession! Seriously people.
This is very toxic reasoning, if you can call it reasoning. It's toxic for those who need help. Toxic for the families who are dealing with loved ones with such illnesses. 

How would I know? Because bipolar is the reason why my dad left my mom after nearly forty years of marriage and nine kids later. I know he wasn't himself at the time, and that he was manic. And if he was thinking straight he would have never left. 
But he did.
And because of lack of knowledge, and our ignorance about bipolar, I believe my family ended up split in half, angry, and very confused. 

Our family hardly mentions the subject. It's like someone has died, and we've never really grieved or talked about it.
It's the pink elephant in the room that grows bigger every day. 

Instead of blaming the real culprit--- tiny neurotransmitters in our brain that don't fire, or fire too much.
 They're the culprits.
Not anything else. There's nothing else blame, really. Not my dad. Not my mom. Not anything.
Only being mortal, I guess. 
 But for some reason my family gets comfort in blaming.
 And so does my dad.
They find it easier to blame something else than believe than the truth.
So that is where most of my heartache comes from. Not what happened. 
But what didn't happen, when we needed their support the most.

Pride. I think is at the root of it. Or fear. I don't know which. 
Deep down we don't want to have something wrong with us. We don't want people looking down at us, or thinking any less of us.
But the truth is, I wouldn't. I would never think any less of you, if you were to tell me your flaws. 
In fact, I'd probably like you better. I think it takes a big person to be self aware, and face whatever it is they're afraid of. 

It doesn't make any sense really, not calling it what it is. It's like any problem you might have with your body, say my father's arm was broken. 
So you say, "Dad, I think your arm is broken. I can see the bone sticking out. I think we need to get you some help." 

But instead of looking down at his arm, and seeing for himself, he grows angry and accuses you of being a "liar." Says that it is not broken, and that we are horrid for saying he should get help for his poor arm.
 Then my siblings take on my father's cry of injustice.
And all the while, all we cared was for our dad to fix his broken arm. 

And that's pretty much the story of what happened. And to this day, I don't quite understand.

And that's the problem.
Ignorance.

So my main point in this post is to educate those who may not quite understand what bipolar is. So that you aren't caught off guard if something like this happens to you. 

So what is bipolar?
To be brief and to the point, its an illness. It's not something you choose. It's not a sin. It's not the devil possessing your body, though it may look like it to others, because the person affected with it suddenly changes moods so quickly.
To look at any mental illness you must look at it for what it is---an illness. It's no different than a broken arm, or a tumor, or a stomach ache, or a heart condition, or a thyroid problem. It is an illness that can be treated, managed, and helped. 
The trick is though, the person has to want to be helped. And that's a hard pill for a bipolar person to swallow.
Deep down, I think the reason why so many people have a hard time with mental illness is because it's one of the hardest diseases to understand---it's a disease that messes with your loved-one's mind.
Then it messes with yours because, if you have no idea what's going on, you really feel totally confused---helpless.
It's really scary, and hard to wrap your mind around because when it strikes, it's at the core of personality, trust, love, and relationships. It's hard in ways that don't make any sense and probably never will. It's so utterly unexplainable, that even now, I'm really having a hard time with it all. 

It may sound terrible, but I'm having a hard time with religion, even reading the Bible. Not because I don't believe it. But because when a person is bipolar, sometimes---not all the time, religion becomes their pet subject. Even if they aren't believers in God, they suddenly believe they are God, or they think they have special knowledge from him. If they're manic enough they sometimes see visions, hear voices, have vivid dreams, and say they have secret knowledge they somehow obtained. 
And when they are in this mode, they KNOW what they've seen is real.  
They sometimes even think you are the devil, or that the devil is after them. (Sometimes they have extreme paranoia, or feelings of awful guilt) They have feelings, vivid, strong, feelings both of joy, fear, hate, love, and everything in-between. Some go from very terrible depression, to feelings of euphoria where they think they can do superhuman things. When they are that manic they have this uncontrollable urge to act on their feelings even if those feelings aren't based on reality. It's all so weird. So frightening. Frightening to me in ways I cannot begin to say.
Frightening because, even if I don't want to believe it, my family has a disease that messes with the core of personality, religion, and spirituality. And that's a tough pill to swallow.
To know that missing a neurotransmitter, or a brain receptor, or a person lacking Dopamine or Serotonin can make a person more loving, or less loving, or that it can cause a person to feel connection, love, and compassion, or empathy, or lack of those emotions, is all so weird.
So so so.....weird.
It shakes my paradigm, and causes me to ask questions I'd never thought I'd ask.  It causes me to look at people totally differently than I did before.
When someone is losing their temper, I think, "gee, that person is missing Serotonin."
When someone is hyper spiritual-on the weird side, I think, "hummm, I wonder what chemical they are lacking?"
Terrible I know. It sounds so caustic, so humanist. But you wouldn't understand unless you've been in my shoes.
Knowing this has caused me to do some of my own personal introspection. To face my own fears. To look into myself, and study my own emotions.
To entertain the terrifying thought about myself---that I could be bipolar. It isn't a very pleasant thought at all.
My older sister has had epilepsy her whole life, which is closely linked with Bipolar. Also, I know OCD runs in my family, which is also linked with bipolar.

And so. I'm sitting here feeling, amused, terrified, and serene all at the same time. Maybe I'm manic. Who knows? I guess being self aware is far more comforting than the alternative---believing that all the emotions you may have are always real. I can call myself out on my own feelings that may be blown out of proportion, bipolar or not. I can laugh when I take myself too seriously.
Heaven knows I don't think I've ever seen hallucinations. But it terrifies me to think I could.

If you're a good friend, you'd tell me I was going off the deep end I would hope? I give you permission. 
 
I now know why I have major panic attacks, why I feel such terrible guilt for silly things that normal people would never even blink about.  I'm not trying to self diagnose. But It's good to be aware. Good to laugh about the bogyman, or the nightmares I may have and instead of thinking I'm a terrible person for having a bad dream.
            I'll tell you something, though, I think that in a family as large as mine, a little knowledge about bipolar, and little self awareness would have armed our family enough to keep it together instead of dividing us.
At the heart of the problem in my family is the fact that we're all too blind to realize that we may have a problem.
And the problem isn't my mom.
Or me.
Or God.
Or the devil.
Or my sister.
Or lack of communication.
Or anybody.
Mostly it's lack of understanding. About an illness that affects millions of people.

Someday soon. I like to think that, maybe, just maybe, our family can be united. Maybe, someday, we can all talk, laugh, and cry about it together. We can call, "it" for what it is.
Maybe we can all say the word bipolar without hate, or venom, or fear in our voices, but with understanding.
Maybe we can come to terms that this is who we are. We are equally a part of our father, and mother.

And then there's the fear that comes with knowing the truth---that we could be bipolar too. But so? That does not make us much different from the thousands of other people out there all dealing with their own type of crazy. If we know the foe that we're fighting, we can fight it together.  Whatever it is we may face, maybe we can face it together, and help each other cope.
Depression, or manic happy or whatever it is, it's okay. 
Just call it by it's rightful name. Don't give any more power to it than it deserves.
Don't try to diminish it, or make it bigger than it is. If someone is depressed it's not because they chose to be.  It's not really because of any outside reason at all---they're not sad because of you, me, or them, mostly it's just they probably need more sunlight, exercise, Serotonin and Dopamine.

I'm struck by the fact that I can no longer put people in boxes when viewed in this light.  The person with depression, those with weird moods, people with chronic anger, and even those who do nasty things, I see them with more compassion than I thought possible.
I still think they're stinkers. I still think everyone chooses to be who they are in the end. And I know that bad things do happen to make you depressed. But I also know that some things can't be helped by willing it away.
I'm struck with the realization that I can't blame any of my moods on my circumstances.
Though sometimes sad things do happen, and we may cry, or shout, or feel bad, embarrassed, ugly or inadequate.
There's more to happiness than meets the eye. It's been an interesting thing for to me to realize, more certainly than ever, that happiness comes mostly from the inside.
So does unhappiness. 
 "Darn again." 
I can't blame anything.
It's interesting to fully understand that no matter the amount of success we achieve, if we are missing a certain neurotransmitter, sunlight, or sleep, that feeling---happiness---will probably not be ours.

Maybe you are the exception. I wouldn't know.

Maybe our greatest happiness lies in a good wholesome meal, a good sleep, doing what we love, and good company.
And all those things we were told would make us happy---the new car, the attainment of fame, or fortune, or any of those lofty goals, no matter how worthy, will never fill the gap.
And then comes the weird thought---that a lot of people who are mean, nasty grumps, are more constipated, or deficient in certain vitamins or minerals than anything else. 

These are the strange thoughts I think these days.
Maybe they are bipolar thoughts. It's terrible, but now I question everything I think, or do these days, and wonder if it's because I'm manic, or bipolar, or just depressed. It kind of makes me feel odd. 
But there it is. A feeling. And for what it's worth, that feeling will probably pass, to be replaced all too soon with another one. 

But when all is said and done, when confronted with someone who is cantankerous, or over anxious, or hyper, or paranoid, I begin to see people with greater compassion than I thought possible.
Chronic anxiety, guilt, depression, or mania is not something you can pray away, or compulsively go around doing good to diminish. No amount of good deeds, or church going will solve it. Though I wish it could. And I do pray a lot about it.
 Deep down, I will trust that though I sometimes get confused, God is there. He has a reason for all of this. He understands even my doubts and my confusions.

The stigma of mental illness has to be overcome, broken down, and faced head on for what it is, an inherited disease, like cancer, or heart problems, or a headache that comes and goes.
And to be honest, the problem of bipolar should be viewed as simply as someone with a migraine. You take note of when they aren't feeling well, and you try not to make too much "noise" Or get out of their way, if they're being rude.
If the headache is bad enough, they should take a pill.
Just as a headache makes someone a little cranky, or out of focus--- bipolar, when viewed in the same way, is no different. 

Bipolar people aren't  stupid, or crazy, or evil. It might blur their vision for awhile, and cause them to hear, see, and feel very strongly whatever it is they are feeling. And sometimes those feelings can be blown out of proportion. So be as gentle and understanding with them as you would with someone who has a terrible headache.

So, that's my advice.
I'm learning. And I'm coming to terms with the fact, that perhaps, I may fit the stereotypical creative manic depressive.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it.
Maybe I'll do both. Ha, ha.

But honestly, because I want to be armed with knowledge, 
I've done enough research about bipolar and all that pertains to it to fill a dozen textbooks. I know what herbs help, and what types of foods don't. I've learned to recognize triggers, and I've learned that there are many different types of bipolar.
I've read so many accounts of bipolars weird hallucinations that I'm just grateful I and my family are as sane as we are. I know that the devil isn't after us, and bipolar people aren't possessed as many Christians seem to think.
Mental illness isn't devil possession. It's a chemical deficiency in the brain.
I'm not sure if drugs like lithium are the long term answer. I'm an herbalist at heart, and I do believe the body can heal itself of many ills. But I also know that if a simple pill can help to bring a person down from extreme mania, I would do it. I also know that living a calm lifestyle. Eating healthy, and getting enough sleep are key factors in the whole scheme of things.
So far I've come up with a list of things that bipolar people need to be aware of.
Those with bipolar and manic depression need to avoid
Caffeine,
Alcohol.
Foods that spike their blood sugar---which is pretty much any junk food. White flour, sugar etc.
We need to eat regular meals.
We need lots of Omega oils, like eggs, butter, fish, and fermented cod liver oil.
We need to recognize our triggers. Too much stress, or change of location or too much excitement can all be triggers. (Which is really not cool)
For mania (you know it's coming on if you can't sleep and you have rapid thoughts. Or being more reckless than normal.)
If I feel a little jittery, or can't sleep, I take a b-vitamin supplement or GABA Calm, and that helps even out my anxiety, and stabilize my mood.
Also for mania, exercise is huge. It helps you burn off the excess energy, and makes you feel better. You get all those happy endorphins. This I know helps me!
Also stay away from blue light (TV) screens at night so your sleep wake cycle isn't disturbed. Which is a joke because we are surrounded by screens everyday.
Make sure you get enough sleep. (This one is huge) So probably a night job is out. 
For those going into mania sleeping in a completely dark room helps.
I've read that for the depression side of bipolar you need lots of sunlight. And that you need to up your Serotonin, and Dopamine. 5Htp, and SAM-E are natural supplements and good sources of serotonin. But it sounds like they're mostly for the depression (grouchy) side of bipolar. So if you're not careful, too much serotonin could throw you into mania. I'm not sure why, but I'll have to do more research.
Popcorn is a good source of Serotonin.
Raw cashews are another good source (make sure you soak the cashews in water, then dry them so you get all the nutrition out of them you can)
St. Johns Wart is also helpful to some people---for depression.
I know personally what's worked for making me feel more at peace, and calming my nerves is Passion Flower, melatonin, a B complex, fermented cod liver oil, eating my raw egg shakes, avoiding anything that messes up my gut and absorption of vitamins, like GMOS, and MSG, and exercise, eating regular meals, listening to hypnosis mp3s, getting enough sleep, and learning when to step back from too much stress.
Some people say there's no cure to bipolar. Maybe that's true. But that doesn't mean you have to give up hope. It doesn't mean that you are not a person, that your feelings don't matter, and that you cannot be the amazing person you wish to be.
It just means you have to deal with the ups and downs that go with it, and that maybe your ups and downs will feel a little bit more up, and your downs will feel a little more down than the average persons.
But that's okay.
That's the price we creatives pay, anyway.
I probably sound like I've gone completely bonkers.
 
Maybe I am. 
Now you know my secret.
Be that as it may, be it depression, or whatever it is you're dealing with, know this, that some of the most creative, passionate, inspirational, bipolar people have been influences for good---they have been the makers, thinkers, doers, dreamers, and change agents that have brought the world a great deal of spice, sugar and salt.

I think of a quote from Alice in Wonderland. 
 Mad Matter: "Have I gone mad?"
Alice: "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Lewis Carroll


Maybe we're here to make life a little bit more interesting. To zest things up. To shake things up, and to make people see things in new ways, and feel things they might not have felt.
I don't know.
But I have to believe there's a reason---that who I am, and what I do has meaning. And that I am a person, worthy and willing to live the life I've been given.

We all face the fog. The heaviness of the unknowns. The confusion of what we cannot understand.
Why are there so many problems in the world? Why are there so many illnesses? 
I wish I knew.
Fog.
The past is gone.
Fog.
The future is obscure.
Fog. 
Here, I can see my feet. And I can see the small path before me. Now is not so bad.
Happiness is within my grasp. Here, now, more than ever.
More than circumstance. More than a place or a person. Or the next book I write, or the next dollar I make, or the next person I meet or in the attainment I seek, or someday when, or on a distant somewhere, happiness is on the inside.
It always has been.
It is.
It really, truly is. Right here.

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