Hermiting

Can I make hermit into a verb?  I’m going to because it describes my world a bit right now.  Two weeks ago I deactivated my personal Facebook account and it has made a huge difference.  I’ve gone into the cave again and though I have moments of judging this “anti-social” behavior it feels right.  I know there is stuff I’m missing (like the pics my sister posted of my niece after her heart surgery), but the stuff I’m not missing is doing wonders for my attitude.  I haven’t been offended, annoyed, or angry in two weeks.  In saying that though, I also can’t pin point any one person who posted stuff that pissed me off either (in fact for a while there I was an instigator).  Maybe it was my fault but the energy in that old group became so uncomfortable for me.  It’s made up of past and present real life friends and family…including a lot of people with very strong views on religion and politics.  In logging on to that page I felt the same way I would if I brought all of them into a big room and had them actually discuss religion and politics.  Talk about stress!  They are all great people and I’m sure I’ll return to them, I just have to be in a mental place where those two topics don’t bother me so much.  Thus, I’m hermiting.

I’m also returning to reading one of my favorite authors, Sonia Choquette.  I loved Sonia and devoured many of her books before I decided that I needed to focus my spiritual pursuits elsewhere.  Sonia’s a psychic and writes about intuition and connecting with angels and guides.  Right now I’m reading her book “Ask Your Guides” and I’m remembering how tuned in to my intuition and open I was to the possibility of getting guidance and help from the spirit world when I was reading her works a couple of years ago.  It’s actually a huge relief for the fear and anxiety I’ve felt as I’ve observed the world these past six months or so.  The idea that I can call on angels and/or spirit guides brings me comfort in this present moment.

Other than delving back into an area of spirituality I enjoyed and benefited from in the past, I’m also thinking a lot about the novel and preparing it for querying.  I’m planning to get down to business on the second draft in about two weeks.  Ultimately I think that’s really what this hermiting is about.  I am limiting my distractions and remembering how to tap back in and open myself up to guidance and inspiration.  Hopefully it all pays off in the end!

 

Vacation Reflections

Sorry for the very long break from blogging!  Last weekend I attended the annual Tallahassee Writers Conference and on Monday we went to Disney World.  We just got back today and had a fabulous time.  I’ll just be quick right now and reflect on the highlights of this week.

1.  The writers conference was great!  I was able to spontaneously pitch my book to the literary agent Katharine Sands. Honestly, I’m not really sure what she thought of it.  She knew it was a work in progress so she listened and gave me a little food for thought.  It at least gave me the opportunity to think about how I talk about my book.  I learned a lot from the sessions I attended.  Katharine and Chuck Sambuchino taught me a lot about query letters, agents, and book proposals.  Adrian Fogelin, who is an amazing kid’s author and member of my writing group, gave me some ideas to think about in writing for young readers.  And from James Scott Bell I learned some tips I’ll use when I’m ready to edit my book (which includes waiting a few more weeks to get started on the edit).

2.  I love Disney World so very much.  This trip was one of the best we’ve had.  At Hollywood Studios we watched a kid named Jordan McIntosh perform in The American Idol Experience.  He was AMAZING!  I really feel like we will all know his name some day!  As for the rest of the trip, the weather was perfect, crowds were not too big, and the girls had so much fun.

3.  I was really reminded of how lucky I am this week.  I have the best husband in the world, two sweet, smart and well-behaved little girls, and the means to go on a great vacation.  I often get caught up in wondering what the future will bring.  I think a lot about goals and dreams I have but this week I had this moment of remembering how great things are right NOW.  Instead of visualizing certain dreams coming true, I need only to open my eyes and look at the dream I’m living right now.  I am so very grateful for all the blessings in my life!

It’s Personal

I’ve probably said this before and I know for a fact that guest bloggers and commenters have definitely said it.  Spirituality is a very personal thing.  The minute that you start applying your spiritual or religious standards to others is when judgment enters the equation.  Once that happens it is no longer about how connected you are with God.

I spent an hour today walking around Lake Ella.  I felt God there.  I made eye contact with every person I met along the walking path.  We smiled, exchanged pleasantries.  I admired the majestic Oaks, the geese, the odd dog-like ducks, and the turtles sun-bathing on rafts floating in the lake.  I walked to the rhythm of the music on my Ipod with the warm sun beating down and a cool breeze blowing across my face.  I had coffee with a friend, closed my eyes in prayer with her.  I asked God for guidance on my current undertakings.  It felt like I received an answer.  I counted my blessings and considered my role in this life.  I was in communion.

I can tell you about it here, but I can’t tell you to go and do what I did.  I wouldn’t expect you to see God in the eyes of the dirty man sitting on the bench or find those weird looking ducks the least bit amusing.  In fact, I’m not even sure I could recreate the experience I had today.  It just so happened that for whatever reason I had a spiritual experience by that lake.

In our world there are a lot of people with many different ideas about where and how to find God.  For me I find God by not limiting him.

 

Compassion and Empathy

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and asked to be given a message to share.  Obviously what has been on my mind the most lately is the political actions being taken around the country.  At this point the two-party system in the USA is completely broken.  I would be surprised to find anyone that still stands firmly with their “side.”   If we are paying attention at all it should be clear that the voters, the average citizens of this country, aren’t really being represented anymore.  What is sorely missing in the system is compassion and empathy.  So today I wrote in my journal “What would you have me say on the topic of brotherly love and compassion?”  This is what flowed onto the page in response to the question:

In this time we are seeing a rise in self-protection and fear.  There is a sense of competition strong among us.  The feeling that if something is given to a suffering brother it is thus taken from me.  We’re clinging to our morsels, standing behind a shield of superiority-that we have earned something we dare not be forced to share.  We walk with blinders on.  Ignore the pain of others until it becomes our own.  We put mere humans on  pedestals and worship them even as they fall.  We ignore the beat of our very hearts and the spark of divine within us.

We have decided to hide our light under a bushel to protect ourselves as the world goes dark.  We call on the name of Christ as we defend the unborn children and let those born go hungry.  Why pick and choose the innocent to protect?  Why not love and honor them all?

It is easier to close ourselves off.  Censor the message of humanity.  Life thrives on compassion.  From that place we give.  As we give we shall receive.  As souls we are one-united as God’s children.  In service to one another we are made stronger.  As we withhold love, compassion and support from those who need it our spirit becomes fragmented and dark.  It is then that fear drowns out love and though we may claim to know the name of God we are far from his grace.

Take off the blinders.  Step out of yourself.  Invite empathy and compassion into your experience.  Without it the light in this world is much too dim…

At the end of the day I don’t care about this liberal verses conservative crap.  I care about people and when I hear about the pain of others it breaks my heart.  My utopia is a country or society where people care as much about the needs of others as they do about themselves, where they can actually take a second or two to imagine how they might feel if they walked in another’s shoes instead of judging from a safe and cozy distance.

Guest Poet-Sada

I’ve talked about my teaching years a bit here lately.  I taught for 5 years and have a handful  of students that I will NEVER forget.  They are the ones that touched my heart and made my years as a teacher so worth it.  I’ve been honored to reconnect with a few of them through Facebook.  I was very excited to find Sada and to discover that the young boy I watched grow by leaps and bounds in second grade is now an intelligent, thoughtful, and talented 11th grader.  He is also a writer.  With his permission I am sharing a poem that he wrote and posted on Facebook yesterday.  I found it to be a powerful piece.  Thank you, Sada!!

Burning the Bridges to Humanity

Cannot see the world as I used to

Sickened

By every face that passes

These wretched eyes

Mind full of malice and unvoiced hatred

Tell me what is it

You see me doing in the near future

I admit I have truly lost my wits

We’re all in a circus

Alas I’m the poor fool who fell from the tight rope

Human

A good word

But I’m sorry to say it no longer applies to me

Views have changed as the seasons do

The tides of fate are

Pushing and pulling me to

My ever fortunate victims

Pained outcries

Dreams filled with laden sorrows

I am a wretch freed from the constraints society

Continuously placed on him

No beast that can be shackled

Delve into my world

Come, come

Being that I’d love to see the very

Fabric of your mind unravel

Colorful torture ensues as you test my limits

Strong

Allow me to be the judge on that

You may know

What it was you were living for

But that does not mean

You know what you are dying for

My sacrificial lamb

Bit by bit

Die so that I may

Burn the bridge

Linking me to

My own humanity

Fear and a Mission

First things first: my anger is letting up.  Maybe the last post I wrote was my official invitation to be healed of it.  I’m not going to stop posting informative links on my Facebook page and if I feel like writing about politics I will with my bleeding heart behind it.  But…I don’t think I’ll do it with such angry energy anymore.

I’m really starting to think that this latest political news has hit a nerve in me for a reason.  Over the last few years I’ve decided I don’t want to go back to a teaching career.  My students always learned what they needed to learn and I like to think for a few of them I made a valuable impact on their lives, but I wasn’t good at classroom management.  And in my opinion in the teaching field that is everything.  I wasn’t consistent enough or stern enough.  Even with my small group of wonderful kids at church I often struggle to keep them on task.  I don’t like to be the bad guy and in fact I’m not even good at attempting to be.  But still I have an education degree and five years experience in the classroom.  I suppose I could go back to that career and I could also go back to the routine of coming home often in tears because I just don’t feel I’m good enough at my job.  So this latest news is like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  On top of going back to a career that keeps me locked in self-doubt and anxiety, I’d also be even more under-paid and under-appreciated (what is happening to teachers elsewhere will happen here in FL very soon).

I have, once again, found myself in a position of wondering what I am meant to do.  I love writing more than anything but I’m scared to assume that is the career for me.  I’m so scared that I’m barely even trying.  There was a writing contest in a local publication here.  I’ve been published in the magazine twice.  I could have had success in the contest but I just didn’t bother to enter.  There’s another contest with a deadline of March 15.  I want to enter the narrative nonfiction category and write about Amy.  I’d love to get her story out in a real publication where many people will read it instead of just here on this blog.  But, I’m dragging my feet…blocking myself.  I’m scared.

Last Wednesday I received 1.5 copies of my book read and edited by two of my writer friends.  I love this book and want it published.  I haven’t even touched those edited copies yet.  I’m afraid it’s going to overwhelm me and I’ll give up.  I’m worried I don’t have it in me to make a book publishable.   A few days ago Bella told me that she has changed her mind about being a Scientist when she grows up and she now wants to be an author.  That statement made me realize it is more important than ever that I do what needs to be done to make this book a success.  If I do my best and fail that is one thing, but I can’t just sit here being paralyzed by fear.  I want Bella to see that I tried and not think I just wrote novel after novel and shoved them all in drawers.

I have reached the point where I must “feel the fear and do it anyway.”  Over the history of my life, too often I have gotten to this place and given up.  I’m not really sure what I’m afraid of.  If it’s failure, well giving up is a form of failure too and if it’s success that’s just scary because it’s so unknown and unpredictable.  Today I will sit down and look over the suggested edits my friends have given me.  I will put in place some concrete steps to get to where I want to be.  And if I do it for no one else, I’ll do it for my little girl!

Are You There God? It’s me, Angry!

Alright, so lately I’ve been really really angry about everything going on in American politics.  I decided to be vocal about it and now I can’t seem to shut up.  I’m pretty sure there are people on my Facebook list ready to unfriend me at any moment.  But I am just soooo pissed!  I used to be a school teacher and am the daughter of a retired postal worker.  My children learn through school, community, and TV shows that teachers, firefighters, and policemen are valuable assets and noble positions to aspire to.  The people holding these positions are under attack and they aren’t even asking for more…just to maintain what they already have.

But all of that aside, I’m just consumed by anger right now.  I’ve spent four years of my life learning about the real nature of God.  I’ve returned to reading Joel S. Goldsmith because I really need something to pull me out of this madness.  He talks a lot about how if you are in communion with God then everything falls into place.  If you trust, God will provide.  He says that you should give and give some more because that is the bread you throw out onto the waters and it will return to you for sure.  I read this and I try to believe it.  I try to remind myself that what I think is reality is just an illusion.  God is everywhere and in everything.  BUT, reading this and saying this is not healing my anger.  It is not making me stop worrying and hurting for the people who are facing pay cuts that may create a situation in which they can no longer stay in their homes.  It doesn’t keep me from wondering what kind of education my daughters will get in public schools if the classes are too big with teachers even more stressed out about money.   It is not making me stop wanting to scream at these GOP governor’s who think the answer to their budget crisis is to lay off and give pay cuts to government workers while providing tax cuts and other incentives to big corporations.

In the spiritual world I just have to wonder what this means.  There is one side that I’m sure would argue that I should let go of my anger and forgive these politicians.  There is another side who would say I should feel my anger and communicate those feelings.  And where does apathy play in all of this?  If I say well I’m not a teacher in Columbus, Ohio anymore so this just isn’t my stuff, isn’t that basically the same as posting an anti-union slogan on my FB wall?  Or is my own personal peace of mind really more important than getting the word out about the disservice being done to the people we rely on so much in our community?

I really feel like I’m in the midst of a real spiritual conundrum.  I don’t know what the right thing to do and feel is.  I don’t know how to stop being mad.  I don’t know how to use the anger in a productive way.  So for my friends and readers who are further along on the spiritual path…please tell me what you think.