Friday Five: Signs That Winter is Coming to a Close

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With February coming to a close, we can begin to see signs of spring. Although the signs are different in different areas, this part of the world has a few of its own. The following are the ones I’ve observed recently:

 

  1. Commuting is now done during daylight hours. No longer do I travel country roads in the dark.
  2. Skunks are seen and smelled. Mostly this is due to wandering on the road, but generally, this critter doesn’t appear until the end of winter.
  3. The sounds of songbirds. There is nothing like the sound of a bird singing and a balmy breeze in February to make a person impatient for spring.
  4. Fluctuation in temperatures. Although this winter has had its ups and downs, the highs are higher as February draws to a close.
  5. Each snow storm that appears on the horizon is determined to be the “last one” of this winter. Of course, this is Michigan and while there are rumors of snow in July (I’ve never seen it), having snow on Mother’s Day is not far outside the realm of possibilities.

Are there any I missed? For myself, I look eagerly at each black feathered bird trying to see the red spots on the wings. Redwing blackbirds are often the first avian’s to arrive in this area, even before the more traditional Robins.

What are your favorite signs of spring?

The Privilege of Encouragement

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Do you remember as a child being so excited about something and some well-meaning adult spoke a few less than positive words? Do you remember that feeling of your hope crushed like a balloon releasing all of its air as a pin breaches the rubber?

I do.

I remember several times throughout my childhood where I gave up before I even started.

One was during 8th-grade parent-teacher conferences and when the counselor asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I replied either a veterinarian or a lawyer. The response I received was I’d better learn to like chemistry, which I hated, or I would not be able to do that. I am neither a vet or an attorney today. And, I never took a chemistry class.

Another time I expressed that I wanted to be a writer. The response? You have to have a job to pay the bills. I have the job that pays the bills, and I am a writer. Go figure!

Each of these instances (and there were probably more) stands out in my mind as life altering events. Neither of them large when looking from the outside.

The inside is another matter.

I immediately decided that I wouldn’t be able to be a veterinarian because I didn’t like science. The thought that I wouldn’t be able to stand the sight of blood or seeing animals in pain didn’t come into play until years later.

Being a writer was something else. I didn’t know anyone who made their living as a writer although one of my classmates father was a writer. I didn’t make the connection that I could do that.

The belief that writing is a job just like any other at never entered my mind. I just assumed that writing was for a hobby, but the “real” work of life had to be the drudgery of a 40-hour work week. This type of work pays the bills but is soul killing.

My writer’s group sponsors an annual writing competition for young writers. It’s called ‘Write Out of Hibernation’ and is for the local high school kids.

This year I have the privilege of being one of the judges. I even volunteered for this.

Although I haven’t begun the process of reading through the entries, I feel the weight of my task.

These young writers have poured their soul’s onto the page and have opened themselves up. Each hopes to win though only three can. It has to be difficult.

Each of these young people is braver than I am as I struggle with submitting my work.

I have a chance to encourage someone to follow their dream. A chance to live a fuller life. A chance to encourage each of them in ways that I wasn’t.

I hope I am up to the task.

What have you done to encourage someone today?

Seeking the Light

sunlight-867222_1280This weekend has been beautiful. The sun was out and the sky was blue. Even the temperature cooperated and reached high enough that coats weren’t necessary.

For those affected with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this is a wonderful tonic. For the rest of us who are simply tired of winter or just plain tired, the sun is a balm to the soul.

I find myself seeking the light. Not enough to do much more than turn my face to the sun but I feel the warmth down to my toes.

The juices have begun to flow again, much like the maple trees in which the sap will begin to run shortly and we will see trees tapped for that sweet gold, and I can hardly contain myself.

As I sit in my writing shed looking out over the fields and farm, I find myself wanting to play in the dirt. I find myself dreaming of planting my garden. This is a shared trait among those who play in the dirt. I can already taste the vegetables that will grow this summer. Patience is the only requirement now. Planting too soon will only result in failure.

Many things in life are like this. Change comes slowly and all things happen in their own time. I forget this lesson sometimes.

As I feel myself coming out of the darkness, I forget that I must be patient with myself. I forget that healing comes slowly. Seeing this light makes me want to go full speed into the next big adventure of my life, but I must slow myself down. I don’t want to go trip myself up.

As with my garden, I will dream and make plans, deciding which seeds to plant and which box to put them in. In my own life, I will dream and plant seeds, patiently waiting for them to grow.

My husband became inspired by the weather also and began some yard tasks that will come to fruition later this year. Even the beast got in on the action and didn’t want to come inside, no matter how many times she was called. IMG_0826

Apparently I’m not the only one who is looking forward to the return of the light.

In the meantime, this balmy weather has been fabulous and I will enjoy it as much as I can, knowing that winter isn’t quite over. Spring is coming and I will soon be complaining about the heat. As much as I don’t want to do that, it happens. Every year!!!

Nothing stays the same and that is a good thing.

Friday Five: More Journaling Prompts

fountain-pen-447576_1280It’s time for some prompts to encourage your journaling. As always, the “rules” for journal writing are as follows: paper, fast pen and a timer.

“Paper” doesn’t have to be a pretty journal. You can use loose leaf, bound book, spiral bound or just a composition book, which are my favorite.

Fast pen means that the ink keeps up whenever you are writing. I’ve been using fountain pens. These can be hit or miss so make sure it is working before you begin.

Most phones have a timer and some can be accessed via your computer. The only purpose is so that you don’t have to watch the clock.

Remember, you can do anything for 15 minutes.

Prompts:

1. Start an Abundance list. Learn to see the blessings you receive each day by returning to the list often and adding to it.
2. Name 10 activities that make you feel good about yourself.
3. All endings are beginnings.
4. How are you feeling right now?
5. The funniest thing I ever saw was…?

I hope you have fun with these.

Happy Anniversary to Me

blackboard-620314_1280Just over a year ago, the first post on my blog went live. I cannot tell you how frightening it was to push the “publish” button. But I did and here I am one year later.

When I started this blog, I was in the middle of a class designed to take a person from idea to blog. I had lessons each week and assignments. The idea was to make plans for the blog and posts. I had this glorious idea to have a blog to promote healing through journaling. Life had other plans.

One of the assignments was to write some letters to yourself using a site called FutureMe.org. This site allows you to write letters and schedule them to be delivered to yourself at some future date. I wrote these letters and scheduled them. Apparently I added the wrong date because the first of these letters arrived today.

Reading this note from the past made me remember just how scared I was to have my words out there for everyone to see. I was so excited and so terrified all at the same time. That has eased over time although I still have anxiety on occasion.

It will be interesting to receive the other two letters I wrote.

As I look back over the past year and all that has happened, I am surprised where I am today.

My first blog post was entitled, ‘Dare to Dance Naked in the Light of your Own Truth‘ and that is what I felt at the time. Writing by nature is a sharing of a person’s internal life for the world to see. The moment I pressed publish I felt naked, exposed. I do have to say that one year later, I no longer feel that way.

Over the past several months, I have struggled with keeping up with the schedule I set for myself. I’ve had a lot of life happening and that seems to have created this struggle. My hope is that things will calm down and I can get my focus back.

Thank you for traveling this journey with me. And it has been a journey. I’ve learned so many lessons and have met many interesting people along the way. I can only believe things can only get better.

Reading as a Sport

DSC_0282I’ve been reading since before I could remember. My mother tells me that I could read books since I was three. I’m not even sure that it matters anymore. Reading books have been a source of pleasure for my entire life.

Although I love to read, my book consumption tends to rise and fall with my moods. When things are normal, I read at a normal pace. What that means is unless I hold myself back, I won’t put a book down until I’m finished. Well, except for bathroom breaks and snacks, food is important to keep up the energy to read. When I am in reading mode, this is about a book, maybe two a week.

During grad school, I kept books in the bathroom. I felt guilty for reading when I was supposed to be doing homework. But if I had a book in the bathroom, that was okay. Who cares if I spent an hour in there?

My choice of reading material has changed a bit over the years and I still collect all sorts of books. I will even read books over and over. I’m a fast reader so sometimes I have to read them again to make sure I’ve read the whole thing. In speed reading, one tends to skim rather than read for detail.

There is so much pleasure in books.

When life is a struggle, I tend not to read as much. I just can’t sit still and get lost in the story.

Last year, I decided to keep a journal of the books I read and there were months that I didn’t finish a book. It wasn’t a good year for reading.

This year, 2016, began in a difficult way. I’ve struggled to write, work and to live my life the way that I want to. Reading, the thing that gave me so much pleasure in my life, was something I couldn’t do. I wasn’t able to sit still long enough to finish a book or anything.

In my book reading journal, January is blank.

Moving on to February, things have changed. Have I mentioned how much I love to read? Well, It is only the second week of February and I have read seven books, documented in my book journal.

I’ve taken reading to another level.

Reading has taken over my writing time. While reading isn’t a bad thing, not writing can be.

Stephen King said in his book, ‘On Writing’, “Read a lot, write a lot.”

I seem to be bouncing back and forth between the two. Well, maybe not bouncing. More like feast or famine. Either I am reading a lot or not hardly at all.

There has to be a balance.

I would like to be able to pick up a book and read a chapter or two before bed as a way to relax. I would like to savor the story and spend time thinking about what I am consuming. Yeah, nope. That doesn’t happen.

Once I am hooked, I’m not moving until I find out what happens. It is a sprint to the finish line.

Where is the happy medium?

I haven’t written on any of my current projects although I wrote a bit of flash fiction last week that looks promising. There is little else I am working on. I am sticking to my goal, however, of writing 500 words each day. Most of the time, this writing consists either of a journal page of ramblings or a blog post, sometimes both.

DSC_0275Reading is a hobby, and as a hobby, I cannot allow it to overtake my life. I do have other things to do.

But for now, I will read whatever and whenever I can. At least, until I run out of books.

Maybe not even then.

The Three’s of Life

I’m not sure how true this is but it is interesting to think about, especially since I found out this morning that an old friend of mine passed away.

For those who have been reading my posts, this is the third death of someone in my life in the past six months. Of course, this isn’t even talking about all of the celebrity deaths that have happened in recent weeks.

I don’t want to discount any of these but for this moment, I want to think about those things I am grateful for.

I was lucky to be able to spend some time this weekend with all of my kids and grandkids. We were there to celebrate a birthday. Even Great Grams got in on the action.

Who knew that zoo’s were open in winter? Not me. We visited the Detroit Zoo and had a great time.

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Although it was chilly, everyone liked seeing the animals enjoying the winter sunshine. After eating at a fabulous restaurant, Onyx, we were blessed with this sunset on the way home (dirty windshield and all):

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Whether bad things come in three’s or not, I chose to live looking for the good times. How we live life is the most important thing.

Friday Five: February Favorites

flowers-270985_1280I’m excited about today’s Friday Five. Not only is this the shortest month of the year, it is also my birthday month. I have come to the conclusion that regardless of how old you are, any chance to have cake is a good thing.

February tends to be a busy month for me. Several members of the family have birthdays during this month, not to mention Valentine’s Day. Sometimes, I just need to stop and acknowledge the great things about this month of my birth, as if February only exists for me. Right.

Here we go:

1. Winter is half over. Officially, regardless of what the groundhog says, the halfway point of winter is February 2nd. We can all now believe that the sun will return and the white stuff will go away.

2. Purple. Those closest to me will not be surprised at this one. I love the color purple although I am a bit picky. Well, not too picky.

3. My Birthday. As I wrote previously, anytime cake is involved is a good time. But I also believe in celebrations and my birthday is as good a reason as any. As an adult, I’ve taken over this day which sounds weird. I don’t wait for anyone else to decide what the celebration is going to be. I just do what I want. It’s the best thing ever since I’m not usually disappointed. And if I am, it’s my own fault. Keeps peace in the family.

4. This is my new year. I am anti-resolution as I previously posted here. However, I do believe in looking back over the last year and to see where I am going from here. At some point around my birthday, I will look over my accomplishments for my year and set some goals. These goals tend to be life goals. Sometimes I achieve these and sometimes I don’t.

5. Blogversary. I began my blog one year ago this month. This has been quite an accomplishment for someone who struggled with putting myself out there. I still do in some ways but I am closer than I was before. I plan to write and post about all the things I’ve learned in the last month so I won’t go into it here. Suffice to say, this is another favorite for me.

So there you have it, my five favorites for February. What are your favorite things about February?

Writing Through the Difficult Times

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2I’ve come to the first Wednesday of February and time for another installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and I wanted to share some of the thoughts I’ve had in the past month.

Writing is hard. Especially when emotions run wild and out of control. This is a surprise to me since I use writing in my work with clients and I’ve used it for healing myself.

My dream to publish hasn’t died even though my heart hurts at the moment. I’ve tried not to be too hard on myself even when I feel I should be writing.

Healing from emotional pain takes a lot of energy. There has been very little left over for anything or anyone else lately.

Creativity hasn’t disappeared. It’s just muted. I’ve had moments of brilliance. There haven’t been many but enough to keep me going.

There are few words to describe the emotions of the past four weeks. I’ve given up trying and am just moving on.

Blogging on a schedule doesn’t work when life is topsy turvy. I am working on it. Hopefully, I can get back to normal.

As usual, life is full of lessons and I am learning them at full speed. Life will go on, whether I write or not, so I will follow my dream.

I will write.