Posts Tagged ‘learning experience’

images-31Lately I’ve been thinking about making it through things. It could be an event, a period in our life, an illness, a test, a divorce, a wedding, a meeting, a drive, or just whatever “it” currently is. And the interesting thing is the “it” tends to change as time progresses, but there always seems to be some form of “it” that we are always just trying to make it through. Or at least it seems like that for me.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been battling a cold-turned-acute bronchitis. Simply put: I have physically felt miserable just about non-stop for many endless days. And during this time I’ve had overlapping pet care dates scheduled and multiple doctor appointments while still maintaining my full time job and attempting to catch up on writing chores and household responsibilities whenever I could in between. You could safely say I’ve felt stretched like the cookie dough under a rolling pin.

So I’ve had a whole bunch of “it’s” to make it through. Some were fairly short, like the drive to and fro the various places I needed to be, or the doctor appointments, and those brief moments where I could knock a few to-do items off my list. Other things are longer, like waiting for the bronchitis to run its course and the gut-retching cough to go away and waiting for test results to come back.

About a month ago I started reading a book, called “You’ll Get Through This” by Max Lucado. I like his writing style, and to be frank, the title appealed to me. It is a study of the life of Joseph from the book of Genesis, and how his life was a series of making it through some unfortunate experiences. He had misfortune, one after another, and always ended up triumphant in the end. I’m not looking for triumphant. I would be satisfied with a short break in between things I need to make it through. A period of calm in which nothing is expected of me except to just breathe.

I’d love just a temporary respite to soak in the afterglow of nothingness. A time to drift, not needing to do, to be, go, have, say, or get. Anything.  My very own “Calgon, take me away!” moment.


However, this raised a bigger question in my mind. Why do we feel we have to make it through “this”? Or climb the mountain? Or clear the hurdle? Or whatever metaphor you happen to personally like. Maybe we’re watching the  clock slowly creeping toward five o’ clock (or our own individual quittin’ time), counting down days until some big event or turning the pages of the calendar wondering where it all went or any other method of getting through. It seems life has become one big never-ending series of the next big-something. Something to dread or something to enjoy, something to endure or something to revel in. It’s always the wait for it to get here, the actual time spent, and the period immediately after to breathe deep or wipe the sweat away.

Sometimes for me that’s the time to grab chocolate and coffee. Celebrate. I’m big into celebrating even minor, small happenstances. Competing projects, surviving rough patches of time, and accomplishing challenging tasks will all garner the reward of chocolate and coffee and a few moments of treasured nothingness– to soak in the glow of satisfaction.

But still, I wonder, if there is some way to live a life that isn’t constantly filled with the sense of “I will make it through this” or worse yet, “I have to make it through this.” Can we just reach a point were life is lived, hourly or daily or by the minute, without the constant looking beyond the “right now”? Where escapism isn’t required or used as a reward for surviving? Because, in all honesty, I suspect my chocolate and coffee treat is sometimes a means to escape as much as a celebration for success.


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I sometimes pet sit. One of the dogs I walk takes us through a moss-lined, wooded path under a canopy of green trees and climbing vines. A stream runs alongside. Ahead, near the wooden footbridge, slick with moss, I can hear racing water. Because the dog I walk is a hound, we frequently pause so he can conduct in-depth sniffs of particular odors. This gives me time to notice and enjoy to flowers, ferns, plants, orange-capped mushrooms and small wildlife. I see ducks, squirrels and untold numbers of birds. And insects beyond number.

Today I glanced back to where we’d come. It was a pretty view. Green moss rolled out like a carpet. Trees reached out, touching branches to form an arch. Ferns and flowers made countless bouquets and fallen flower petals formed a white trail, stark against the green. It made me want to go back that way instead of crossing the bridge to the road, like we normally do. I knew what was back there and it was pleasant.

And the whole event, which lasted maybe two minutes before the hound was done sniffing and investigating, got me to thinking. As writers, is it important to stop and think about where we’ve come from? At least once in a while?


Only we can tell about the path we’ve been on, first the road to publication and our journey since. We know how hard or easy it was, how long it took, how pretty of an experience or how painful and terrible. Knowing this, having the memories fixed in our minds, we tend to concentrate on the trail ahead.

Where do we want to see ourselves? Like the dog and I, we must cross the bridge and trudge up the road to reach his driveway and ultimately home. He has a bone and water waiting for him.  As a writer, I know where I want to me by the end of this year and where I hope to be five-ten and twenty years from now. I have a plan — a footbridge and road– to get me there.

However, as I reflected today, it might be wise to include some reflective study in that plan. Once in a while, I should pause on my writing journey and look back at where I came from. The awkward first starts, the endless queries and just as endless rejections, the first few acceptances. The high of the first time seeing my name in print. The author events, workshops, practice of my craft, networking and the people I have met, seeing my book on a library shelf for the first time, and the list goes on. All the great, wonderful, exhilarating and all the sad, heart-breaking and bad things that have made me the writer I am today.

And in two years or five years I will be a different writer then I am today.

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A thought on how art, my world and writing all lately reflect reality, blending them into a therapeutic cocktail. Much like some artists paint or sculpt to find their inner self or new direction, oftentimes so do writers.

directions sign

On a personal front, I feel as though I’ve been living two lives for a while.

On one hand, I am blessed beyond imagination, surrounded by wholesome goodness, sweet success and pleasant pastimes. I can sit at my desk and listen to the happy chatter of my pet parrot, watch the songbirds merrily gathering at the feeders and know what tranquility feels like. I have my home, my pets, a growing writing career and a lovely spot in the region to plant my roots. I have people in my life; special and dear, appreciated, liked and treasured. I have coffee and chocolate. God has been so good and gracious to me.

girl at brook writing

But on the other hand, the one with different fingers, I can only describe the feeling as slowly sinking in the quagmire of a toxic pit. Wow, what a sudden change. Hence the emotion of having dual lives. And I pass as easily from one to the other as easily as a person can cross from one room to the next. However, my dual life is not the object of this post, rather my observation of it.

Recently I realized I also gave a character in a current Work In Progress a double life, though slightly different circumstances and situation. She had left one life for a new one, never fully leaving the old one behind. Ultimately, because this is fiction and we need conflict, her two lives can no longer compete and she must make a choice. While I suspect this was unintentional, I now see how much tension it creates for the story.

I see no resolution like that in my situation(s). I suspect they can continue on as thus far indefinitely. Back to that other hand with the different fingers.melting time

Interestingly, I have written this method before. I used it as a coping strategy. During a period of time when I was working through some health issues, I scribbled a short story. I took a character, the heroine, and plagued her with health concerns that resembled mine. And because it was fiction, I gave her the conflict of pending love to compete with her burden. Which would win out? The result is a ten thousand word story that I just this month signed the publication contract for. It’s called ‘Glimpse Eternity’.

In another Work in Progress, one I’ve been chipping away at for over a year now, I feature the heroine who has a sibling. The relationship they share closely mirrors the relationship between my sibling and I. Sublime message or unconscious thought? Art or life?

And I will make a guess that somewhere down the literary road, I will do this again. Something will pull that trigger and art will imitate life. I will write a story based on reality. Health challenges, family dynamics, dual lives, we can only guess at what will be next.

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Life from cut stump 7-31-14

I spotted this tiny maple tree shoot growing up from where a maple tree had been cut down. The tree was removed perhaps one or two years ago and I just discovered the fledgling shoot yesterday. It made me very happy as I stood there, thinking about it.

It tells me we have the ability to start life over when our original lives are in one way or another greatly altered. I spend a lot of time feeling like things are frequently changing in my life. Sometimes if is good change and sometimes not so much. Many times I lack the heart, strength or desire to begin again in whatever capacity I need to. I don’t want to have to pick up the remaining pieces and move on, especially if it requires learning new methods or changing comfortable old ones.

But here is this little tree. The original lovely tree had been removed, ground up for mulch. The site has been barren and void of life. Now, a brave shoot has gathered itself together to push up through the dirt and mulch and reach for the sunshine. It is trying its best to begin again.

What fate has in store I don’t know. It might get pulverized by a lawn mover or it might grow to great heights. Either way, it is trying and that is the lesson I need to take from this scene and carry with me when I feel like the remaining dead stump. There is still a spark of life left inside me that wants to reach up and grow and begin again.

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Okay, confession time– I really don’t like to self promote my books. I’m not very good at it, either, or so I think. I am a bad salesperson and would starve to death if my sole living was just selling things on a commission.  But I learned something interesting the other day while I was at my doctor’s office.

I was sitting in the lab, chatting with the lab tech who was drawing my blood. There was another patient resting in the suite over so I was trying to be respectful of her need for quiet. The tech and I talked about my day job, folks she knew who had worked nearby where my day job is located and so on. Finally I casually, almost embarrassed, mentioned I just signed for my third book and had the free-lance work this year.

“That’s right,” she remembered. “Children’s books, right?”  Not even close. I haven’t written a child’s book since I was a child. “No,” I said, almost sorry I mentioned it. “No, murder, right?” she asked, “The murder and who done its?”  Again, not so close. I just shook my head and said ‘No.”  She considered the next option. “That’s right, it’s more a romance, right?”  Much warmer. “Yes,” I said, “basically love stories with a few twists and turns.” And I left it at that. She covered my boo boo site and I left.

Minutes later, while checking out and discussing stuff with the receptionist, the lab tech came up to me, whispering, “What’s the name of your books again? My patient was interested.”  Startled, I wrote them all down, along with what is available now and expected release dates for the others. I thanked her and left, still pondering what had sounded interesting in that small conversation.

Whatever it was, it worked to do what I always try so hard to do, garner interest in my books, hopefully enough so to go look them up and buy them. And my day was not done.

Hours later I was at my day job when an associate walked by. He gave me a huge smile and asked if I was a writer for  the ‘XYZ’ Magazine. I said I was, positive I was blushing by then. Other co workers were listening by now as he said he had been reading that magazine over the weekend, liked my recent article and did not know it was me until he got all the way to the end and read my name and bio. My name is unique as there are no others around (that we know off). So we chatted about that free-lance opportunity and the other one I write for, and ended the conversation with a sentence about the upcoming books.

One sentence. That was all.  But people are listening and sometimes, they are interested in what little they hear.

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I will make no excuses for what I cannot do. I will make no apologies for what I cannot do.

If I think or suspect I can do it, I will most certainly try. If I know beyond reasonable doubts or expectations that I cannot, I shall not try. And if that decision happens to upset someone, then so be it. That is their problem, not mine. As for me, I shall only do the very best that I can for as long as I can.

Others may be irritated at my limitations, perhaps not understanding them. Or caring. I cannot help that either. I am not like more able-bodied people. Not anymore. And I make no apologies for that fact. No one is more aware of my limitations then I am, or more upset by them. No one is more inconvenienced or affected by my limitations then I am. So if there is any apology to be made, it should be made to me. But none is required.

I know what I have been reduced to. I live it each day. Others do not. I know what has been taken away from me, forever. Others might not. I still travel on. Others can only watch and form their own opinions. To each their own I say.  I know what I once was capable of, and more so, what I will never be again. I know the bitter taste of unfairness slowly melting in my mouth.

So for this I make no apologies. I am no not the person I once was. I am now less. But I am also more. Because I have had to become more in order to overcome.

I also know what I can do and do quite well. Things that so many others cannot. What most of the population cannot do actually. When I look at my list of personal accomplishments, I have to smile. How many can really do all the special and unique things that I can do? And to do so while carrying the unfair load I must carry and ‘look good’ while going it?  So few really. Just the travel weary warriors that share my same spirit of being a riser. Just those few who are like me.

When I look back at the life I have lived, at the accomplishments I have achieved, and what I am still doing, I have nothing to apologize for. The trivial things, everyday, ordinary things that I cannot do are nothing compared to the extraordinary things that I can do.

Philippians 4:13

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Each Day is a New Beginning

Each day is a new beginning…
Another chance to learn more about ourselves,
to care more about others,
to laugh more than we did,
to accomplish more than we thought we could,
to be more than we were before.


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Today is an anniversary of sorts. It was ten years ago that I received the email that would forever change my life. Initially shocking and unbelievable, in time it changed my thoughts, my heart, my marital status, my geography and so much more. I had not thought about anything specific being tied t today’s date until I read my morning devotional.

It was Psalm 37, specifically verses 23-40 pertaining to God’s will. What an abstract thing that can be. But several thoughts occurred to me as I read the and pondered the words.

First, because of the events of September 16, 2003 and the months to follow, I can now say I know I am blessed to know God’s will. (most of the time) I can hear His words when I take the time to listen and ask. And I can reap the blessings that come with obeying His wishes for me. What an honor to be a child of the High and Holy King! I did not have that honor ten years ago.

Verse 24 appealed to me: “though he (I) fall, he (I) shall not be cast down, for the Lord upholds (me) with His hand (emphasis/modify mine) I am grateful for that mercy because I still continue to fall

Verses 34-39 spoke of waiting on the Lord, how the wicked who prosper now with pass away in time and the righteous will inherit the land, to be preserved forever, will know God’s mercy and be exalted. And I believe this will happen. I have no doubts. What struck me is how long this sometimes takes. So very long. In my case, ten years and still waiting on some of that to happen. Actually, longer than ten years.

But what is time to God? What is a span of ten years? Or longer? Nothing. A mere breath. A vapor of mist. Here for but a moment and gone.

But the lessons I have learned in those years are priceless. And necessary to achieve the blessings of verses 34-39.

If all our unfair trials and tribulations came and went within a period of hours or days, weeks even, we would never learn to wait on the Lord, listen for His word, have the faith to step out in obedience to His will. That all takes lots of time spent in the fiery furnace.

So while I don’t like the fact there are things in this world that take a long time to achieve, when I look back and see so much progress and positive growth mixed in with those stumbling steps where I sometimes fall, I have to pause and be grateful. I also have to admit to a few moments of plain old arms-crossed, balking disobedience as well, until the lesson is learned fully.

So on this anniversary, I am happy. I have the continual opportunity to change my ways,  grow, learn and one day inherit a Holy Kingdom. What a special gift.

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Well, it seems a while since I posted. I feel as though I have been skipping school. But I have a really good excuse–honestly.

Do you recall the post about how my computer caused a wreck of my trusty old Jeep? Well, what I did not know that day, but have since learned, is how one single incident triggered a series of events that have left me ‘tardy’ from my work for almost five weeks.

Betwixt the initial car shopping, finally buying a replacement for the Jeep, experiencing continual problesm with the replacement and ultimately having a second altercation with said replacement–well, it’s no wonder I am tardy! I’m breathless actually.

So now, after a number of visits to the place I bought the new replacement, it is believed the mechanical issues are hammered out. As of yesterday it has been delivered to the shop where the body work from the recent altercation can be repaired. Once more I am in a rental vehicle and perhaps now I can return to the work at hand–writing!

So please forgive my absence. I shall try to make it up to you readers of this blog in the days ahead. And wish me luck with the future endeavors of the vehicle drama. I am looking for a happy conclusion….

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IN truth, I had really sort of expected the first event to be more of a -everything-that-went-wrong sort of learning experience. Instead, things went smoothly right from the beginning–sans my getting lost dowtown of course. Apart from that, however, thanks to research and planning, the entire time was wonderul, the location was lovely and I so enjoyed spending time with the people who came. Whether they stayed only a short while or lingered, whether they bought a book or not. It was time well spent and I am appreciative.

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