Monday, January 9, 2017

Where Hidden mysteries are found. Excavating the Attic.


Happy New year!!







 These butterflies images are my collection of pictures from my hatch out of butterflies that I hatched out this past year. I found several monarch eggs, and brought them into the house, and chronicled their life from egg, to caterpillar to butterfly. To letting them fly away. I thought it's a good illustration of the process of growth, of rebirth, letting go of what we are, and the process we go through to become something beautiful.

So where have I been? You could say, I've been doing just what that caterpillar has been doing. Lots of hatching out of ideas, growth, wings, cocoon, and release. Over and over. 
 
Suffice it to say, 2016 was a good year.  It was the year I did several things on my bucket list. I published my very first audio book. It was the year of good health, and lots of swimming. Filled with nieces and nephews, and family parties, and work and play, and living. It was a sharpening the saw sort of year. Where I was digging out the crap of the previous years, and throwing off old empty chrysalises that no longer served a purpose.  
One goal I'm very proud of is that I cleaned out my mom's attic. It was a very trying experience, tossing out garbage, and living in the attic. Breathing the dust, and memories of my ancestors. 


You should try it some time. Such a diet, rich in old dust, and cobwebs, sets you in a strange mood of bygone days.


Seriously.


For over a month and a half, I dedicated my energies (not all, but most) to digging out my mom's attic.

It was a very memorable experience. One I hope not to have to repeat any time soon. To clean out an attic especially one like mine, is like opening the a deep, dark, time capsule that has been added to with every year.
 
Yeah, I know. This is my attic just before I decided to clean it. Scary!!!

In such a time capsule, you can't help but be thrown into the a mood of deep reflection, and reminisce about the past.  "Oh," you say, "there was the thing I used to love, oh here was the drawing I was so proud of, oh, here was the journal I used to write in. Oh, here was the baby clothes I used to wear. Oh, hear was the book I used to love to read."


Old bits of past accumulate in the cracks, and under the rickety floor boards, settling in the insulation of the house to forever stay, unless someone finds them. Bows, and hair pins I used to wear as a kid, an old puzzle piece from a puzzle I used to like, a piece of an old board game I used to play, an old coat I used to wear, memorabilia  from my sisters weddings, old Halloween costumes my mom made for us a long time ago, Christmas cards, letters, old journals, and old ideas, and old dreams, light bright pieces, scribbled on pieces of paper. Old keys, and marbles, and fake flowers, math books, and books I learned to read from.

               It was like entering a time Machine, where I not only got to look at my past, but my families past. And wonder about the future.

         At times, it seemed almost task impossible to complete. There was so much stuff you couldn't even wiggle. It was a frightening, terrifying, and also an exciting project I had gotten myself into. I never knew what I'd find next. What new memories I'd bring out into the light. What new old junk I'd find.  It was such an all consuming project I got kind of possessive of it. I wanted to be the first to go through a boxes to see what treasures I might find.


Cleaning that attic was like entering some sort of apocalyptic adventure novel. There were layers of sediment, like rings of a tree. Each layer was a different year, each ring a different era in our house. Some era's I was too young to even be a part of, except now I was, because I was excavating it.  I was a paleontologist digging out fossils of the past. I was an archaeologist, uncovering bits and pieces of my families lives. It was a strange old new land for me. 


            The attic, the walls, the floor, the ceiling bulged from the weight of what had been, and what was, year by year being added to, until its belly was so full it couldn't contain anything else. And now I was dissecting it piece by piece, cleaning out its clogged arteries. 


 Before I'd braved cleaning it, I would open the door and peer in, looking on as if it was some natural disaster scene. There was barely enough room to even wiggle around in there.  I'm not exactly sure what made last year the year I decided to venture forth, and clean it.  Maybe I had no real reason, except it all started because I was looking for a certain lost item. And in order for me to find what I had lost, I needed clean out the junk.

                        And oh, what junk there was.

Four truckloads of stuff, hauled off to a local thrift store, and that's not counting the truckloads of garbage that went to the dump.

Boxes full of old patterns.

Piles of hangers.

Old Christmas lights.

Piles of old school books.

Heaps, and heaps of old clothes.

Truckloads of old cloth, from my mom's sewing days.

Food storage that was used to hold up shelves.

Lots of old art projects, canvases, paper Mache dolls from my aunt's old art classes.

            Picture frames of every shape and size.

Old suitcases, piles of old papers, and yarn. Things other people had given us to store. Baby clothes no one would ever wear again. Shoes I'd outgrown. Books we would never read again.  Old forgotten memories, and hidden under a mayhem of debris.

            Old furniture. Toys, and trinkets.
            The list goes on, and on.

            One item I found that was particularly interesting was a box shoved clear in the back of the attic, marked, "Junk drawer crap." And taped in yellow electric tape.  The box intrigued me. What was this box doing up in the attic? Who had cleaned out the junk drawer and shoved it in the attic?

            My older brother came to mind---as I assumed he had thought that squirreling the junk away was a better idea, instead of having to sort it.

        
    I saved that box for later, so I could really look inside it and see what it contained. Later, when I came back to the box, I was surprised by what it held. It was like a time capsule from whatever date that it had been hidden away. It was full of pocket knives, tweezers, screw drivers, and old oozing batteries, lots of Micro cars, back to the future mini cars, little battle ship air planes, a pig squeaker toy, and a lot of other odd little doodads. There was a spiny top, an special type of ear plug holder that my brother got when he had his ear operation, and needed special types of ear plugs that kept the water out of his ears. The list goes on.

            It was a most enlightening box full of junk. Junk that told a story.

            There were other boxes like that box, boxes filled with special items my mom had carefully saved from our childhood. Stories, pictures, drawings, beautiful scribbles. Simple gifts and cards we had given to her. These were priceless. And full of memories. I couldn't help but thank my mom for saving those things. Things that brought back beautiful and happy days.

            Truth be told, after excavating the attic for nearly two months, most of what I brought to the surface was useless.  Most of what we kept was junk. And not important. And the stuff that was important and beautiful, and worth keeping had been hidden under the junk for so long that it was really appalling.  Why had we stored so much needless rubbish?

            That is a very good question.

It took a miracle to de-junk it all. My brain felt overloaded with sorting, and tossing, and sweeping, and carrying. I worked in the attic through the hot months endeavoring to de-constipate and rid the colon of our house of the clogg-age it had been accumulating for so long, making the wiring to our house unsafe, and our lives cluttered, and our whole house's metabolism slow.

Look I'm making progress!
            The Attic was dusty. The dust was so thick that I had to wear a face mask while I worked, or I'd end up sneezing, and my eyes would start watering, and my lungs would start burning.  It was a stale, old place, and dark, and very hot. There was only one window that was impossible to open. It was such a huge dirty, dusty, hot, hard task that I sometimes have nightmares about cleaning it.

            I'd grab boxes, sort through them, and heave them over the rafters, and then haul them downstairs, then take them out to the truck, or the front room to let my mom sort through what I wasn't sure about keeping. It was a slow process, but it did have it's perks---I felt like a detective, looking for clues about our past. I never knew what I'd discover next.

            I found a pile of boxes full of my brothers stuff, just before he left on his mission. He's been gone for a long time since. Married, with a house of his own. So I decided that these boxes were going back to him. The funny thing was, when he opened them, he smiled, and reminisced for a short while---a Frisbee, old parts to rockets he had built, telescope parts, games, science books, cassette tapes, old scraps of paper. After going through his stuff, he kept only a few items, then tossed out what we had stored in the attic for so long.

            The more I cleaned, the more I realized how very odd it was that we had held onto things that no longer served us at all. The dust, and the clutter, and the things we thought we might some day use, but never did.  Most of we had thought to save was really, and truly junk. Very little was worth keeping.

            We had held on so tightly, afraid to let go, hoarding for a rainy day, that it had cluttered up our lives, and weighed us down so that it was almost nearly an impossible task to dig ourselves out, to get to the good stuff we had saved.

        
Getting even more empty. But a long ways to go!
    But truthfully, don't we all have an overloaded 'attic' of sorts? An attic so full of rubbish that we cringe if a friend or neighbor peered in. It isn't the place we'd first invite our guest into. "Here, come sit down here on this old box, and um, I'll get you a cup of...bad habits, or box of old resentments out to chew on. No, we hide the fact that our attics even exists because they are so full, and filled with things we'd rather keep out of public view. Embarrassing habits, or tendencies we squirrel away when company is afoot.

        Isn't that what we all do in various ways? Sweep the clutter that is afoot and hide away, out of sight. But it's still there, deep in subconscious 'attic.' Growing more ponderous every day. It is where we store our old grudges, and toxic relationships, and bad habits, hoping someday that they may helps us in some way. We know they are ugly, and bulky, but we can't seem to let them go, just yet.We are afraid that if we do let them go, we won't have anything to fill the empty space. We heap our fears in piles, like old clothes that we will some day get out and wear. We stack papers of past mistakes in disorderly rows, and line our bookshelves in stories of past woes. Such things haunt us, and weighs our house down, and bends the strong beams of our frames, causing a strain on our backs. We store our old resentments like piles of old shoes, whose 'soles' have long worn out, but we think if we keep them, and try them on again and again, and we will somehow move forward. But instead of moving us forward, they keep us stuck---they are unbending, brittle, stiff, and ugly on our feet.

            In such a stale attic, the thick dust of insecurity settles on it all, causing the wiring inside our souls to become faulty, keeping us in a gloomy, decayed state of darkness, disconnecting us from the from the light, our highest selves, and the paths that could take us forward. Deep down we know its getting ugly. We don't know where we stored the good stuff because its buried in all the junk we thought we ought to keep.

            And the more we hold onto the junk, the more impossible it is to store the good stuff. Because there's no room for it. So we are held back from the good, by the junk we so ardently hold onto.

            Year by year, it gets more and more mountainous, and unattractive, we keep the door closed. And only open it to shove something else in.

            It isn't until we go searching for something we have lost, do we dare open up the attic, and really look at what we have collected, stored away, and held onto for so long.

        
Getting emptier! 
    In that moment, you have two choices. Slam the door, nail it shut. And run. Or look around, and face everything you have packed away, and begin to bring it out into the light, and sort the good from the bad, and toss out what you no longer need.

            So go ahead. Crack open the door. And take courage! For you will need it in such a dark place. Step into the 'attic' of whatever it is that is weighing you down. Start where you are. If you can't seem to move. That's okay. Just begin one box at a time. Gradually, you begin to take small steps. It might take you months. It might be hot, and miserable, and hard to breathe. But let go of fears, your resentments, and the clutter of self doubt. You are now a detective uncovering your own secrets, an archaeologist digging out your darkest corners, you are a paleontologist, uncovering the fossils and skeletons of your own mind, and tossing them out.  And bringing to light what needs to be cleaned, and renewed, and perhaps thrown away.

            And once you have dug out, and your space is finally clean.
You can stand and revel in the empty beauty, and keep the good things you discovered close at hand. 
                In such a clean state, I would give a word of caution. A cleaned space is like a vacuum, and asks to be filled. So keep close guard on what you let into your attic so that no junk enters in. Make a statement, that  "Nothing goes into here unless it's good, and will add to my life!"

            You will have to be firm. Your family, friends, and neighbors, and even strangers might want to deposit all sorts of needless rubbish in there. Or leave large, bulky, useless, items on your porch for you to store.

            But do not think you have to hold onto everything that other people want you to keep. Be vigilant in letting go of what will weigh you down, and keep you from the good things in your life.

            
 This is my new year's wish for you all. And myself. May you keep your attic's clean for the coming year. Toss the trash of the previous years aside, and keep the real treasures that add value, and meaning to your life. Guard your doors, and keep a watchful lookout for those would dump garbage on you without reason. And do not let them in.


Store the good, and only the good. And you will always have room for more good, and more light, and space, and possibilities. Thus your journey will be made better by the things you choose to carry with you, and what you choose to let go. Remember, you are the guardian of your door. Let none pass through who would deposit rubbish in your space. Let in the air, and dust out the cobwebs that hold you in place. Make windows, where there were walls, so that all shadows are gone, and you will be able to see clearly the paths on which you walk, and all that you carry with you will be beautiful.
Clean!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


That is my wish for this coming year. That in this clean space, beautiful things will grow.
 
This past year has been beautiful. And something beautiful right now has just just happened. A storm has come, and the clouds have lit up a bright golden amber hue. And a double rainbow has just appeared. The washing of the world is made clean, and moist and beautiful by the cleansing storm. 
May the storms that may come, and the rain, and tears you shed this year be marked with the golden clouds, and laced with rainbows just as the brilliant one I have just witnessed.



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Summer I turned into A Mermaid. My experience of 13 plus weeks of Swimming.


         It's been a very warm summer
And I've been busy doing a lot randomly weird art stuffs.

Hiding away from my writing. Seriously.



It's a wonder I'm coming out of my hobbit hole. Sometimes the world is a very big and scary place, and us hobbits like to stay in our burrow, and eat cheese, and scribble, and draw, and keep away from people, because it is very peopley out there.  And though I like people very much, they do make me tired.



Hm....



"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on--"Louis' Amour.



Wise words. But frightening words.



What happens if you turn on the faucet and nothing, but sand comes out.



What then?



What if it's a drought in your brain. What if all the words are dried up, and stuck to inside of my skull, like sticky rice that's been heated and cooked, and then dehydrated in the fridge.



It takes a bit of courage to turn on a faucet that has been shut off for a while.  Dehydrated rice, and other derbies are likely to come out. And that's not pretty.



So, this is what I'm doing right now, turning on the faucet, in hopes that something resembling coherent words will flow, not drip out of this dry, faucet before it evaporates in the summer heat.



My thoughts are in constant competition with the to do list in my head. My brain keeps on telling me that it's been so many moons since my last entry you've all quite forgotten about me. And that I should just keep putting it off.



            But as of now, I'm telling my brain to chill, and that I AM WRITING!



            Helloooooo?



            Echo.

           

            It sounds kind of quiet out there in cyber land. Hmmm. Oh dear.



Then comes the foreboding question. What to write about, since I've neglected you for so long. That's a very scary thought, actually, it's probably why I keep on shutting off my writing faucet in the first place.

There are too many things that want to be written down all at once, so it clogs me writing any words. How can I just pick one thing to write about, when I want to write about a million things?



            It's a tough decision---So tough that if I do happen to finish writing this post, I'll feel very proud, because it will mean that I've freed up some 'constipated' words, and maybe the writing faucet will work more smoothly. 



            I need some writer's Ex-Lax to free up the clogg-age in my brain........Hmmmm what is writer's Ex-Lax?  Think, think.. Ah HAH! Maybe it's the Alphabet. That's all words are, really. That's every book summed up in a few letters. Okay, ah.... let me get it out of my system. 



            (You may skip this part)

.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.... .....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyzv.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyzv.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz




Ahhhhhh. There.  That feels a little better....I think.



Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, I think perhaps I can now write. I mean, look at the Alphabet, it's only 26 letters. Twenty-six! Anything I write has got to be more interesting that reading the alphabet over and over for an hour. So I guess I can venture forth, and hopefully not have a diarrhea of words now. That also is a little messy.



Oh dear. I sound kind of gross. But I can't help it. It's making me feel better, just being free with my thoughts, no matter how garbled.



Now, back on track, (hopefully)



Summer. It's been a hot one. And it's gone by FAST! Super, triple fast, in my opinion. Looking back over the past few months, I think I'm going to call this summer,

The Summer I was baptized in a thousand sunsets.




How does one be baptized by sunsets?

Well, I'll tell you. You swim out doors under the open sky, until the sun sets, and then you are bathed in silken purple robes, silvery Mercury sheets, Crimson reds, and vibrant oranges, rich deep yellows, and crystal clear blues, that darken, and glisten with contrast as the sun goes down.



My soul has been refreshed, renewed, and bathed in every color on the color wheel, and baptized by the descending sun, and moon-lit sky.    


Over the course of thirteen weeks, I've tried to make time to swim nearly every day, (Of course missed some days) with my sister, Bessie Skeem, to strengthen my injured arm, and help my mom with her sciatica hip pain. Sometimes it was a struggle to make time. Sometimes I'd end up swimming in the evenings just as the sun went down and the moon came up, and sometimes I'd end up swimming in the freezing cold, at six or seven in the morning

         
 My swimming obsession started out as a passing thought, that it might help me rehabilitate, and strengthen my flabby, stiff, painful arm, and help my mom who has been suffering from painful sciatica in her hips. My sister and I were worried my mom might need an operation, because she was getting so she could hardly walk. So we decided to motivate each other and try to swim every day.

            We have a local reservoir, that's really quite beautiful. That was our chosen place of swimming. But the water is cold, murky gray/green brown. And the bottom of the reservoir is muddy and squishy, and rather gross. You never know what you might step on. But we all thought that, despite its flaws, we liked the thought of swimming there, out under the sky, rather than swimming in a crowded  swimming pool that smells like chlorine.

            At first, I was terrified to swim. Honestly. I hadn't been swimming since my arm accident. I didn't know if I could swim, and if I would be able to swim out into the deep, far out to the buoys. Part of me didn't want to try. My mom was also afraid.  She has this dreaded fear of the water ever since she was young. She never learned to swim. And she protested the idea of swimming for so many reasons.



   
We couldn't get her to come with us, so my sister and I braved the water. And the first couple of times I just swam close to shore, and it gave me my arm a huge workout. It made my arm very sore. And because my arm was so sore, and popped and clunked, because of the scar tissue, I really didn't dare go out where I couldn't touch.


            I didn't have faith that I'd stay afloat.

            But gradually, after watching my sister swim far out away from me. I was determined to face my fears.  I got braver. I remember feeling very, very proud when I swam out to the buoys. It felt like a huge victory for me, because I had once thought I might never swim, like I had before. But I did!!! And once I was able to cross that barrier in my mind, I felt free. And I kept on swimming.




            After swimming and enjoying it so much. My sister and I were eventually able to smooth talk my mom into coming and trying out the water.  Luckily I read up on the health benefits of swimming in open, cold water, and this helped me to convince her.



            At first my mom's balance wasn't so good. We made sure to put a life jacket on her, so she'd feel safe. We slowly walked out into the water, and she held tightly onto my hand, like death-grip tight.

            I helped her walk. At first, she was very uncomfortable, and made faces. The water was cold, and it made her squeal.

           

            Then slowly, gradually as she grew accustomed to the water, and she began to smile, and relax, just a little. She loved how beautiful it was, and how the cold water took, took the pain out of her joints, and gave her more mobility.



Believe it or note, but my mom enjoyed that one trip to the water so much, that that one plunge into the cold water was all she needed to get motivated. Because after that, she wanted to go swimming nearly every day, since June.


Since then. We've been swimming nearly 13 weeks, we hardly missing a day. Rain, wind, cold or shine, early morning, late at evenings, sun set, sun rise. We've seen that reservoir in every weather condition, except snow. We've swam under a full moon reflected on the glistening surface of the water, and pink, and orange dream bar clouds above us, and reflected in the water around us.



       
     In the peak heat of the summer, when the water was starting to get warm, we decided to try out the water very early in the morning, to see if the water would be cooler.



    
   We went just as the sun was rising. Not a soul was around. The beach was deserted. Calm. Clear, as glass, like a mirror. The water was very cold. But it was refreshing. Once I took the initial plunge, my body got used to it.

            The cool water against my chin felt comforting. Being at eye level with the water, was like swimming in a mirror, and the only ripples that I could see were the ripples I made as I swam. That morning, my sister and I swam well out past the buoys because there were no boats around. It felt wonderful to swim past the boundaries, and explore other parts of the lake that we had not dared to swim in when there boats around.  I felt like Columbus, discovering a new land, except, in this case, I was discovering new water for myself. 

            That was one of the first morning swims of many.

            One morning, around six or seven. I remember waking up, with my mom standing above my bed. Fully garbed in her swim suit.

         
   "Ready to go swimming?" She asked.

            I moaned, and rolled over in bed, and then, she said, half joking, half serious. "Hmm. Maybe you should sleep in your swim suit."



            Ha.

           

            That is my happy thought. Because that's something I didn't think I'd ever hear from my mom.



We've been swimming in frigid storms. When no other soul dared touch their toes to the water because it's so cold.  We've swam when the wind was terrible, when the waves rolled over us, and punched us in the face, slapped our ears, and forced its way into our mouth nose, and lungs. We've swam when the rain pelted our eyes, and all we could do was put one arm in front of the other and swim, and keep our head above the water.

        
    We've been swimming so late in the day, that we've watched the moon rise over the mountains, and reflect on the water.

            We've swam when the water level was so low you could walk out to the buoys and back. When yucky pussy looking moss that looks like it's growing warts and teeth are floating over the water.  



            I've swam so much, that I feel like I own the reservoir. Because I know it. I know that there's a a res cat, that lives off of the junk food discarded by picnickers. I know where it's shallow, and deep. I know where the fish like to jump. I know that for the most part, adults do not swim. Only children.

            Adults just watch. Adults are afraid of the cold. And of being seen in their swim suit. I've seen a lot of teenagers, too, just sit on a bench with side by side, with cell phone in hand, staring at a screen.

            Children still have fun. They swim.

And the grown ups get more grown up by the second, when they could be swimming, and growing younger.

          
 

    I've swam as a white pelican watched me watch it as it floated on by. I've learned that the reservoir is not as nearly as popular as I once thought. I've also learned that it is mostly only occupied on the weekends, or holidays.   I've nearly been run over by a  large sail boat, with beautiful orange sails, that had caught the wind, and came barreling at me past the buoys at a frightening speed.

       
    It was funny, just the other day, I went swimming, and a big boat came by, and swamped me with waves. A little girl pointed at me from the boat, and said. "Look, mamma, that person is drowned."

I looked drowned? Seriously? I thought that was very funny. It made me chuckle to myself for the rest of the evening. I may have looked like my head was just above the water, but I was very far from being drowned.

 Once, while on the beach, I watched a large party of people push a homemade boat-thingy into the water, (it looked quite interesting) it had these cylinders on the bottom, that went in circles to power it. But sadly it just floundered in the water, and took 15 minutes to just do a half circle. I felt bad for the guy who built it. I couldn't help but identify with the feeling of embarrassment he must have felt after putting so much work into his project, and only to have it flounder in the water, while all his family stood around, with phones, and cameras raised, to record his inventions epic fail.



I've found many treasures at the bottom of the reservoir. I've someone's sunglasses. A dog toy. Several pop cans. Large chunks of cement. A lacy shirt. And several other things, that slipped from my hands before I could pull them out of the water. I've saved several tubes and rafts that the wind grabbed and zipped across the water, and returned them to their owner. 



            The one object that really disturbed me that we found was one my sister stubbed her toe on by the dock. It was when the water was very low. My sister started shouting out me that she thought she stubbed her toe on a car.

            A car? I thought. How? What?

I went over to where she had injured her toe, and she had me step on top of the object in question.

      
   It did feel weird. It had several long round pip-things that protruded up, like the exhaust pipe on the end of a tractor. The whole object felt like big hunk of cement, that was, in my opinion very dangerous to swimmers. Especially if someone fell onto it.

            Upon further inspection, my sister felt a long cable running from the object, that ran clear over to the dock.

We concluded that it must be the dock's anchor.

            I think that the water level got so low, that we found it. I'm hoping that now that the water level is higher, that it won't be any danger to anybody. But I'm still wondering, who to ask about this odd dangerous object. 




            We swim nearly two hours every time we go. At first I got very tired, my hips, my knees, my arms, my ankles---EVERYTHING hurt!

           

            Gradually I built up muscles, and got more flexible.  But, honestly, I still get sore, so after 13 weeks and still being sore, it's just something that I live with, because I enjoy the benefits than I'm afraid of the pain.



             I have learned never to eat banana shake while swimming, because it gives you acid baby burps.



            If I do eat before I swim, its something very easily digested. The water is so cold sometimes, I get really hungry when I get out of the water. And really sleepy. Which is good when we swim at the end of the day, because it relaxes my mind, and body, and puts me in a nice Zen sort of state. Swimming helps me not to think, but to be.

And that in itself puts me in a poet sort of state.

                       

            My mom is gradually reducing her fear of the water. Her balance is much better. She doesn't feel as self conscious in her swim suit, like she first did. She's braver. She doesn't need me to hold her hand anymore, while water walking. She uses her life-jacket, and is able to go out farther by herself. I have high hopes of teaching her some basic swimming skills, when she's ready.

            Her hips still give her pain. But I believe that with time, and perseverance, her hips will heal. She has grown to love the water. It helps her not feel depressed, and to feel more happy. She's able to stand more straight than she used to. She's building muscle, and courage. The water is the only place that takes gravity off her hips, enough so she can exercise, and the cold water takes away the pain.

            She constantly amazes me. Some days, when I'm not feeling like swimming, she'll ask, "So are we going swimming?

       
     Days when I just don't want to dive into the water, she wakes in before me or my sister, and splashes in.

           

            At the beginning, when I was trying to get my mom to get excited about swimming, I told her. Maybe all you need is to bathe in the river, like in the scripture story. Maybe it's that simple.

           

            Maybe it is.

            All I know is, now my mom has faith that is helping her.



            As for myself. Even if it didn't have any physical benefits, I'd still swim. It makes my soul very happy, and gives me a huge endorphin high, especially after swimming in really cold water. 

            I have more endurance, and strength. It didn't happen in a day, or weeks. But months. Now I'm able to swam from the one end of the reservoir to the other several times. The other day, I was proud to say that I did six laps across from one end to of the reservoir the other. 

            Did I get sore? Yes. But it was worth it. I'm a happier person for swimming. My sister and I have concluded that we'd rather make time in our busy day to swim, because it makes our days more worth living. 



            My arm is stronger because I swim. Yes, it still pains me. But I'm getting stronger. It's the one exercise I can do that makes me feel like I am strengthening my arm, and body, with light resistance.

           

      
      I have been baptized by a thousand sunsets. Washed by the light of the moon. Bathed in sunlight, and moonbeams, rainbows, and strengthened by waves, and stormy water.

            I feel reborn in
the womb of the water. I feel stronger mentally, and physically.


          
  I think Aerial had it wrong.

            Who wouldn't want to be a mermaid?

            Water is one place you can fly, and be weightless.

            I may never walk on the moon, but I have swam with it, weightless, and immortal for a moment.

            I may never walk on water.

            But I have stepped out into it.

            And swam through the storms, and waves.

            Who knows?

            That initial cold, bone chilling splash that you dread, may be the one thing that will take your pain away, and strengthen your arms.

  Waves. Cold. Water. Fear of the unknown. The sharks, the derbies at the bottom. Feeling venerable. Wearing a swim suit.


 These are the things that hold us back. 
 The unknown scary things.
The squishy mud.


The germs.


What if I can't float? 

What if I can't swim?

What If I sink?

            What if I drown?

            What if?

            What if you were brave?

            What if you decided to go beyond just sticking your toes in the water, and take the plunge, despite everything inside of you that says that it's too cold, that it wont work.

           
What if you had faith?

            What if you actually enjoyed it? What if you discovered that walking into your fears, stepping out of the boat, into the 'water' whatever your water is may, is the first and best thing you can do to strengthen not only your body, but your spirit.

           
Once the shock of the cold wears off, I promise you, you will begin to see the beauty your fears have been keeping you from.

            The oceans. The Lakes. The pools. The reservoirs. The rivers.

It will unfold like rippling water, reflecting the sky, and you will be amazed at the beautiful thing you see, once you stepped away from the shore, and looked out beyond the horizon.
The moment you take the plunge, will be free, and made strong.  It will be the season you will be baptized by the open sky, and renewed by things that cannot be bought, or earned.

   But experienced. 
Note all photo credits in this particular blog post were taken by my mom, Jeanette Skeem of the reservoir. 

         

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Messages in Bottles and feather art

Hi, 

It's been a couple weeks since I posted last. Since then, I've been busy helping my mom with her etsy shop, getting it going, and working on my own shop.  I've changed it's name to Flutterbye feathers, because I'm doing a lot of art on feathers and selling them. 

The funny thing was, I started out painting on feathers one year for Christmas when I had zero money to spend on gifts. I also had no way of going shopping because I was deathly sick with pneumonia and felt like I might cough myself to death. So, still wanting to keep with the Christmas spirit, I painted while I coughed, even though it was painstaking work, because I had to paint so small. 

I painted a feather for each family member, and tried to personalize it to their interests. I didn't know these feather gifts would be appreciated. But to my surprise, they liked them so much they kept on telling me I needed to make some more and sell them. 

So hence, a few years later, now I decided to go ahead, and paint some more.  

Here's a sample of a few that I've done in the past few weeks. The feather's aren't particularly large, so I have to paint with a very small eyeliner brush.








These are just a few of the feather's I've done, and am planning on doing. You can see more as I upload them onto my etsy shop via this link. https://www.etsy.com/shop/Flutterbyefeathers?ref=hdr_shop_menu


Also I wanted to share some of the amazing pencil work of my mom. Jeanette Skeem. I'm helping her become etsy savvy. For years she's been toiling away working on raising us kids. (nine of us) and her art has taken the back burner. Now I want to give back to her, and help her promote her art. But for some reason, she's worried that her art wont sell. Please prove her wrong, and check out her amazing colored pencil cards and buy one. It will seriously make her day and mine.  Here's the link to her shop.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/VividLandscapes?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Below are some samples of her beautiful work.  She has tons more, hundreds, all beautiful, some more even amazing than these. But It will take a while for her/and me to get them listed. So check back soon on her etsy shop to see more.

country silhouette at sunset colored pencil card printDesert Donkey and barbwire fence colored pencil card printshadows and light inside old barn/ colored pencil card printAt Porter Rockwell Ranch, Utah, colored pencil card printrolling hills of Utah colored pencil card print 

Anywho. This is a bit of a show and tell blog post for me. I promise I'll write a much more interesting post next time. I have been composing several blog posts in my head over the weeks. I hope that I remember some of the topics I've been wanting to blog about. 

Before I go, I have one more thing I want to ask you because I'm really needing your help.  Seriously. 

My book, The Unsame Ones has zero reviews. I feel this close to begging you. (Which I already am) If you've already read my book, I would really, really appreciate your honest review on amazon, smashwords and wherever you'd like to post it. It doesn't have to be a long review, just a line even.  If, however, you haven't read it, I've listed it for free on amazon so you can now read it for free, and *happiness* leave  a review. Here's the link to get it free on amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Unsame-Ones-Stephanie-Skeem-ebook/dp/B01C249IRM?ie=UTF8&keywords=the%20unsame%20ones&qid=1463093972&ref_=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2&sr=8-1


I also have obtained my codes from audible and can now gift free review copies of my audio book to any who would be willing to review it on audible. 
If you're interested in doing a audio book review, email me at junesbugs@hotmail (dot) com
And I will send you a free gift code. 

Note that if you have a teen or young adult who may be interested in reviewing a copy, I'd be more than happy to let them review the audio book as well.  

You could also do me a huge favor and share this link on your Facebook page. The more free downloads my book gets the more views it gets, and the more views it gets, the more free downloads, and somehow, just knowing that maybe someone out there is reading my writing it makes me feel like I've sent out at least a few messages in bottles that someone's read, and somehow knowing that gives me courage to keep on sending out messages in bottles.  Because that's what my writing is like to me, as Neil Gaiman so eloquently put it. 
Here is the my little message in a bottle that I'd be more than happy if you helped me share it.
https://www.amazon.com/Unsame-Ones-Stephanie-Skeem-ebook/dp/B01C249IRM?ie=UTF8&keywords=the%20unsame%20ones&qid=1463093972&ref_=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2&sr=8-1

For those of you who haven't read my book, and want to know what it's about. 
Here's a synopsis.


MAGINE A world where Everyone was exactly the Same, including YOU, BECAUSE Same was Safe. 

The Unsame Ones, is a riveting story of an ordinary January whose Same life takes an extraordinary turn, when something different throws her off of her Same track, and propels her into the forbidden realm of Unsame. Where once her life revolved only around the clock, and listening to only its sound, she starts to hear something different, something real, and powerful that ignites a fierce desire to overcome the pull of Same, to know the truth, and to discover the vibrant power of music, even at the deadly cost of being infected with the Unsame virus, and losing her place in the world of SAME FOREVER. The Unsame Ones is a Young Adult dystopian story that will appeal 7th to 12th graders, music enthusiast, kids, and individuals who have trouble fitting into the "in" crowd.




Back Cover Blurb

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 seventeen 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 eighteen.
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. Before now, I never felt pain. I know I must turn myself in. That is the only logical thing to do.
It all started with the hideous Unsame One who 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.

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