Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Disgust Exposed

Disgust saunters over, snatching the card from Fear's fingers. She glances at it once then throws it back into Fear's lap, barely missing her mug of hot chocolate. "Ridiculous!" she huffs, then throws herself into the armchair opposite the couch.

I look between Fear and Disgust, gauging the conflict. Fear looks more annoyed than scared, but as she sets her mug aside, I notice a slight tremble has returned to her fingers. I grind my teeth and turn scowling to Disgust. "What was that for? Can't you be happy for Fear?"

"Happy?" she scoffs. "She's exchanged one delusion for another. To think you can live in a world without conforming to another person's standards is not only stupid but impossible."

Fear whimpers slightly and I watch as Anger's shoulders tense and her back straightens, her body positioning itself for war. "Mind your words, Disgust..." she growls softly.


Disgust simply waves a hand in dismissal. "Sadness doesn't want to be alone and Fear doesn't want to be rejected. They want to be vulnerable and expose themselves to a firing squad, be my guest, but I have more decorum than brandishing my mistakes likes some bloody brand of dignity."

"And that's why no one likes you," peeps Sadness, nestling in beside Fear.

I try to hide my smile. Sadness finding a voice, I never thought I'd see the day.

But Disgust brushes it off too, holding her head high. "Thank you, Sadness. I don't need to be liked. I represent image and that is all that matters." She tosses her hair and begins to examine her nails.

"And why is that?"

Myths has reappeared, standing directly before Disgust. I can see her slowly remove her gaze from her nails to meet Myths'. Her body becomes rigid and her face drains of all color. "No..." she breathes.

He turns to address the rest of us. "Disgust wishes I do not share her deepest fear." She scrambles  to grab his arm to pull him back but he evades her with an easy side step. "While I am to remain impartial, I disagree with her request. As a result, I feel I must share with all of you--"

Disgust lunges at his legs. "Don't you dare!" she screeches, clawing up his body and clasping a hand over his mouth, at least, where his mouth is supposed to be.

It doesn't deter Myths, however. He continues to speak, as if to each of our minds. "As you can see, her desperation runs deep. Just as Fear didn't want to face her fear of creative rejection, so Disgust fights in her own why. Ironic that an image can turn so ugly, isn't it?" He turns his head to catch Disgust's gaze. She immediately releases him and melts back into her chair, pulling up her knees and curling into herself.

I measure the terror now gripping Disgust's hands to her knees. "She's obviously... disturbed," I begin, still marveling at the proud figure turned humble, "but what is it she fears?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Fear asks, speaking for the first time since her declaration of freedom. "She's afraid of being exposed."

Myths nods. "To be more precise, she is afraid of all her mistakes and failings being uncovered. In short, she is afraid of vulnerability."



"Oh," I murmur, hugging my arms to myself and gazing at Disgust's huddled form. The truth of Myths' words, again, cuts too close to home.

...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Qualified

We surround Fear like a mob of hovering mothers, fussing with the afghan at her feet and shoving newly warmed beverages into her now steady hands.



She smiles timidly at our efforts. "You guys, I'm fine. Really." Disgust huffs away, back into the kitchen.

Joy shakes her head, beaming. "We're just in shock Fear. You had us so worried." She lays a hand on Fear's knee.

I don't know how she had sensed the change, but within minutes of Fear speaking, Joy had burst through the door, throwing a bundle of sunflowers on a nearby table. Anger and I had shoved our argument aside. Our differences were many but we were united in celebration of Fear's return to reality.

I took in her appearance from my point on the other side of the couch. Her eyes were clear, her cheeks rosy, probably on account of the many layers of blankets we had piled on top of her. She sipped at her mug of hot chocolate, dodging the floating marshmallows with little flicks of her tongue. She was uncharacteristically calm. Her eyes didn't examine her liquid for hazards nor did she flinch at the crashing noises emitting from the kitchen. She was truly at peace. So strange.

"Fear," I say, pulling her gaze to mine. "What changed? What brought you back?"

"This," she says, putting down her mug and lifting up a small business card. She offers it to me and I read, in scrawled lettering:
I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williambla165311.html
I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's; I will not reason or compare: My business is to create. - William Blake
I flip the card over and on the front is my name and underneath is one simple word: Creator. My eyes grow heavy with tears. I hand it back to Fear and ask, "What does it mean?"

Her smile expands, lighting up her face as she sits taller. "I'm qualified," she exclaims, shoulders back, sitting tall. "It means I create my own standards and I do not hold to anyone else's expectations but my own. I am my own master."

I nod absently, swiping a stray tear from my cheek. The words are a balm to the ache left from Myths' reveal. "My business is to create..." I whisper, accepting the proclamation as my own.

"That's ridiculous."

We all turn to find Disgust, hands on hips, mouth pursed, lips sour from her exclamation.

I sigh, sinking back into the couch. "Well, that was good while it lasted." Round Three is about to begin.

....

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Embrace Yourself

We all have people in our lives whom we have designated as experts in specific fields. Our "go-to" list is vast, including people specializing in an assortment of hobbies, beliefs and industries. From exercise to faith to parenting, we look to these people to guide us. They have earned this expert status by living lives worthy of sharing their wisdom and knowledge. They have experience where we lack and we admire their opinion because of those experiences.


The danger of admiration, however, is that it often turns into idolization. We begin to forfeit our own right to a voice and let them speak in our stead. Worse, their voice is often given the power to determine how qualified we are in their area of expertise.

In my nightmare scenario, a jury of "qualified" professionals was given the power to determine my worth and quality as a writer.  Rejection after rejection only added to the desolation of my future self until it crushed me under the weight of the jury's decision: You are not a writer worthy of our time. The final blow comes from my husband's mouth, gentle and subtle: You are not a writer at all. That future self accepts the verdict with barely a blip of argument. The scythe has fallen and the creator has been cut deep, never to lay pen to paper again.

But what of the other scenario, where success is plentiful and the outlook positive? How can their be two drastically contrasting futures? My gut tells me it has everything to do with acceptance and self love.



Accepting yourself is a process that begins in childhood with a full embrace. As a child, we have no inhibitions. We proudly wear mismatching outfits, sing at the top of our lungs and feel without reserve. The confidence fades, however, as we grow up and realize that other people's opinions have a weight on our decisions. That  embrace, once firm, grows light and tentative as the scale of Self vs. The World is tipped back and forth.

The lie I have believed for so long is that I have no power to influence this scale. How wrong I have been. The truth of the matter is we are the ones placing the weight towards one end or the other. We decide who wins, whether ourselves or the world.

The good news is we have the power to change the outcome. We have the voice to say, "No, that's not for me," or "Hell, yes! Let's do this!"


We cannot short change our futures or our innermost beings by handing those outside of ourselves the power to condemn or redeem our lives. They are arbitrary. Their opinion is based on their experiences and can change from one moment to the next. They do not know our heart, our past or our dreams for the future. We do.

My nightmare scenario does not need to end with a defeat. Drawing from preparation paranoia, I can choose today to tip the scales. An opinion from the world, though wise and knowledgeable, may only give me insight. It does not disqualify me. The only person who can disqualify myself is me and I'm choosing to hand myself the qualifications.

I am choosing to write.

I am choosing to create.

I may make mistakes. I may not achieve all that I hope to but the opinions of others will not weigh in on my worth. I choose and am choosing to accept myself and let my voice be heard.

Won't you join me? Choose the you of your childhood who had no reservations. Be brave and embrace yourself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Face It! The Scenario is Analyzed (Finally)

Our fears reveal truths about ourselves. As if we stand before a mirror, they highlight the shadows and flaws we avoid. They are a reflection of hard truths. Sometimes, when we are faced with the truth, we run.

Photo Credit: Pixar Wiki

This was my initial reaction when I wrote about Fear's trepidation over a week ago today. I felt exposed and raw. I didn't want to acknowledge that my biggest fear was my complete loss of faith in my ability to write. I ran and hid my emotions behind a locked door. I couldn't pep talk myself into the right frame of mind, though I tried. I reminded myself repeatedly that I had committed myself to a challenge and people had expectations. The guilt didn't help. It just caused me to burrow deeper into my hole.

Until I did some research. After watching a TedTalk by Karen Thompson Walker, I realized that maybe I could learn something from the fear.  Walker equates fear with storytelling. As with any story, fear creates a plot, suspense and questions, pushing us, the reader, on to figure out "What will happen next?" She suggests that the interpretation of our fears depends on how we "read" them. 

In my creative portrayal of my fear, I painted a bleak outlook. My biggest fear of "not making it" was spurred by the belief that I was/am an  inadequate writer. Now, I've avoided this fear because a part of me believes there is no alternative to that future. Note how brief the "success" story was compared to the "failure": one paragraph to multiple. I've spent a lot of time determining my downfall. This says a lot about how I view my ability to influence my environment.

In my failure scenario, I did all I could to be seen as a writer. I applied to collegiate programs to advance my skills and submitted query letters to publishers. My good work, however, could not change or influence the outcome. Yet I continued to try, desperate to find one institution that believed my work mattered. The saddest ending, was losing the faith of the one person who supported my dreams coming to believe the opposite, the ultimate rejection. So the scene ends with the laptop closed and dreams ended. Fate has won.

On that note, I could easily walk away and leave well enough alone, but the examination of this fear is not finished. In her speech, Walker discusses productive paranoia, the act of closely studying our fear(s) so that we can be prepared for and take action against them coming true. To avoid a result you need to look at the cause. So the question is, "What is at the heart of my fear?"

The short answer: A need for acceptance and approval.

...

Tomorrow, the long answer.

Selah: The Practice of Grace

There are times when you are a facing a hard moment and all you want to do is stop the world so you can breathe, but you can't; you have to push through. Then there are times when despite the demands and expectations, you just need to stop and take a moment to care for your heart and soul so you can return to that challenge refreshed. The latter is the reason for my absence these last few days.


When I do a challenge, I do it BIG! I thought the act of taking every aspect's biggest fear into the light and examining it would prove both creative and beneficial. While it is both of those things, it is also very taxing. I needed a break, so I took a much needed three-day break.

My husband and I attended his college band director's retirement dinner and caught up with friends we haven't seen in months.  I listened to each person's speech lauding this band director who had such an impact on my husband's life. The constant themes of "Be kind," "Pay it forward" and "Be true to yourself" resonated deeply as I thought of the people I interact with on a daily basis. These anecdotes reminded me to remain soft and focused outward when I am struggling internally.

The next day, a friend and I traveled to a nearby farm to enjoy a corn maze, cool pumpkins and each others' company. Later that same day, a big group of us took a hay ride and afterward, converged on our friends' house for a potluck. The outdoors and hearty laughter can do to tend to the aches of your heart.


Finally, on Sunday my husband and I skipped church (gasp!) to have breakfast together. Afterward, we visited a discount bookstore to peruse the stacks. Bookstore browsing is one of my favorite pastimes but it is also a place I go to be embraced by words and to lean into inspiration. We traversed the store, not needing anything but taking the time to look and jot down a few titles to pick up from the library later in the week.

Then, we journeyed home and pulled out a neglected game (Eldritch Horror). If you've ever played, you know how difficult the game can be, but this time, we won! And no one got devoured! We felt accomplished. It energized me to plunge into a book and lose myself between the covers, something I don't do as often during the daylight hours, but I indulged.

Why do I share this? For you to be inspired and because you need to allow yourself the same space to play and energize your soul. You need permission to stop. Maybe you don't have a whole weekend to devote to play and rest, but what about fifteen minutes? Five? Don't let guilt hinder you. Say yes to yourself and take care.

Breathe. Relax. You're worth it.
...

We will resume our journey into my aspects' fears tomorrow. Today, enjoy the now. Go play!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When Our Silence Awakens Anger

"This is ridiculous!" Anger announces, launching out of her perched position in the winged back chair. She begins to pace back and forth in the small space before the couch. "We've been sitting around for days hedging the elephant in the room. We need to do something!"



I sigh deeply. Fear has remained incoherent in her corner on the couch. Sadness eventually ran out of tears and now leans against me, a pile of used tissues surrounding her like fallen leaves. Disgust hovers close by waiting for her opportunity to snatch up the refuse. She's been compulsively cleaning since Myths disappeared. I've money on the rearrangement of the furniture any time now.

My internal gambling is the only joy I've been able to muster. Since Myths unveiled Fear's deepest trepidation, I've felt numb and listless. Joy eventually needed a reprieve from our somber disposition and retreated to her fields of sunflowers, or wherever we goes when we're too much for her.

I break away from my thoughts to find Disgust waving a feather duster in Anger's face. I perk up. This ought to be entertaining.

"I am doing something!" Disgust screeches, flourishing the duster like a sword. She squeaks as Anger grabs it out of her hands and snaps it into two pieces.

"You need to get a grip," Anger says, stalking over to where Fear slouches amongst pillows and blankets. "We need to help her. Brainstorm solutions, toss her into a cold shower... something besides this congregation of melancholic couch potatoes!"

I frown, leaning deeper into the couch cushions. "That won't help. Nothing will help."

Anger pins me with a narrowed gaze until I am squirming in my seat. "You," she growls. She takes two steps and is suddenly an inch from my face. "Snap. Out. Of. It." She moves away from me and looks at each of us, Sadness now awake from the confrontation, groggily wiping sleep from her eyes. "All of you need to snap the bloody hell out of this 'woe is me' attitude. You are all acting like her illusion is true. Why?"

"Because it could be," I mumble, looking into my lap.

Anger pauses, turning back to me. I glance up, hoping for an empathetic expression, but she's not Joy. "So? You might die tomorrow, but that doesn't keep you from making up dreams and taking care of business today. Why let a possibility and an extreme possibility at that, stop all gears?" She pauses. "You know what I think?"

"No, but I'm sure you're about to tell us," huffs Disgust, throwing herself into Anger's vacated chair.

Anger ignores her quip. "I think you're all being selfish."

"Now wait a minute," I start, pushing up from the couch to my feet.

"Denial," she tosses at me before continuing. "We all agreed we're in this together when Sadness faced her fears of abandonment and rejection, but Fear goes deep into a psychological delusion of her failure and you all just lie down, wringing your hands? And for what? It's not helping, that's what. If anything, it's hurting us. Joy has even left. Joy! We're depressing her." Anger shakes her head. "Never thought I'd see the day optimism would retreat in the face of a pessimistic attitude. You sicken me."

"You talk a big talk, Anger, but I haven't heard you say a peep since Myths left. You've been sitting here with the rest of us, quiet. Well, you know what I think?" I say, coming level with her. "All your self righteousn accusations sure as hell won't bring Fear back either!"

"Back off, little birdy," she says in a low voice, fists tighening, "or I might break one of those delicate wings of yours."

I poke her in the chest. "Try me."



"Stop," croaks a small, timid voice from the couch. Anger and I twist, about to rip Sadness to threads, but stop. Fear has spoken. She's back!

...

Join us tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fear Knocks

A word before you begin: The fear below is not the personified aspect I have spoken of before, but rather the general fear we all welcome and hold in our souls. Those fears once served a purpose, but no more. 


Fear knocks.
Rata-tat-tat.
Fear waits.

You peek outside.
A light illuminates the face:
twitchy, friendly, small.

"Hello and welcome," you call.

Fear walks in
and stays
speaks.

Warns like a loyal Labrador
Pointing out danger
"There, there and there!"
Gratitude flows
"Stay longer,"
 you say.

Fear smiles
and grows.

Opportunity, Creativity and Inspiration
knock at the door.
"Don't, don't, DON'T!"
Fear shrieks, falling to the floor.
"Don't answer, don't! Don't let them in!
"Beware! Don't dare! They are not kin."

Confused, torn, 
you stop
and stare as figures disappear
down the walk
away, away, away
into the dark. 

The loss
the gain
are measured like grain.

A question, drops:
"By letting in fear,
have I bargained to remain?
Can I stay besieged?
Who bears the blame?"

The scale dips 
shudders
decides.
 
Pack up the belongings,
part on good terms.
Fear's outstayed its welcome
"Goodbye,
All my love."

Fear walks
away, away, away
into the dark.

Then, one night,
a knock.

Rata-tat-tat.
Fear waits
once more.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Paralyzing Fear

"Fear? Fear, look at me. What did you see? What's wrong?" Joy crouches in front of the couch, hands reaching out to Fear who huddles in the deep corner, Sadness sobbing at her side.


Fear had sat in the same position, blinking only occasionally while we attempted to reach her. Joy's radiant smile had dimmed when Anger's abrupt shaking and sharp slap wouldn't even cause Fear to focus on anything but a distant mirage. Disgust has taken a seat on the couch but won't look at the quivering, weeping pair. She sips at a tepid drink from a sky blue cup, one of the few left in the cupboards.

I sit to Joy's right, stunned. When Fear had stopped registering our presence, I had gone from casual regard to concerned patron. I panicked. Now all I can think is this was my fault. I had pushed her, pushed them all by demanding they tell me about their fears. Before, she had been panicked. Now she was a mere bundle of frayed nerves.

"What have I done?" I murmur, reaching out a hand to touch Fear's knee. She starts back and I recoil to lean against the coffee table, cradling my hand as if stung. I look at my hands and whisper, "This is all my fault."

"Not your fault, madam," rumbles a deep voice.

I look up to find Myths standing on Joy's other side. I shiver. "Wh-what do you mean?" I stammer.

Myths waves a hand in Fear's direction. "She saw her biggest fear, fears, come true."

Joy extends a hand and clutches Myths' long, gray fingers. "Oh, please, Myths. You must tell us what she saw."

He looks down at their connected hands, her uplifted head and pleading eyes. I tilt my head assessing his dark gaze. He nods, curtly. He breaks the grasp first, clenching his hand into a fist.

"She viewed two realities. One overflowed with confidence, light and determination. Inspiration flowed, that version of yourself, " he nods to me, "had a full calendar and a stack of stories on her desk. This was the image of ultimate success. The other," he turns to look at Fear, "was ultimate failure."


Joy exhales sharply, Anger stiffens and Disgust takes a deep gulp of her tea. I wait for him to continue.

His gaze finds my own. "In this reality, there is little light or hope. All attempts of recognition or publication are denied. You cannot find words for projects in progress and inspiration has gone dry. Any avenue to regain creativity goes sour. Your husband, the one who has believed in and supported you the most, has lost faith in you and asks you to quit." I shudder at his words, a lump forming in my throat. "Defeated, you close the door to your dreams and walk away, never to create again."

Joy is aghast. "That's horrible!" She looks back at Fear, worry etched on her face.

I am silent, unable to look at anyone besides Myths.

Anger recognizes my anguish and marches up to Myths and pokes him hard in the chest. "Take it back! Show her something different!"

Solemn, Myths shakes his head. "I cannot. Until she faces the fear, it will continue to play on repeat."

"That's torture! You can't do this!" Anger is livid. Her face has become flush and her hair is beginning to frizz. In any other moment I would snicker, but I'm numb, hollowed out by his words. The ultimate failure and ultimate betrayal, too.

Myths faces her quietly, letting her rail. "It is my purpose to reveal your fears. I can do no more." With that he disappears again, leaving Anger waving her arms at empty air.

"We have to do something," Joy whispers. She looks at each of us in turn and asks, "What can we do?"



Silence seeps into the room, chilling all present. No one speaks because no one knows the answer.

...

Join us tomorrow as we continue to unravel this dilemma.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Dark Illusion

"They don't see it. They can't," Fear thinks, staring ahead, paralyzed. She can feel the softness of the couch, the warmth of Sadness and Joy sitting near her, but it doesn't register. Before her, like one of her beloved movies, unravels her deepest fear.


The scene is split, as if a mirror divides the world in two. On both sides, Brianna sits before a laptop. Beyond their positions, there are few similarities.

On the left, she is clothed in a white cable-knit sweater with black tights, socks thick and fuzzy. Outside, soft, fluffy snowflakes fall to adorn trees and shrubs alike. A candle burns and a cup of coffee steams at her side. A stack of papers sits at the top of her desk and a calendar full of scribbles flanks her.

Fear can tell that the image on the left is peaceful. There is an air of certainty and determination about the confident tapping on the computer. She smiles, her tension easing. But then she looks to the right and, inwardly, takes a step back.

The right is dark. A storm rages outside, rain streaking the window panes. Brianna is wearing a black hoodie and baggy sweatpants, palm to forehead as she scrolls through something on the screen. Mail is strewn about the surface of the desk, with a few crumpled pages at her feet.



Fear feels concern overtake her hesitancy. "Brianna is normally a very neat individual. To be so careless is unlike her."

She takes a mental step forward, closer, deeper into the scene.

A fourth wall descends around Fear, blocking out the opposite scene so she is ensconced in the stormy room. A tremble begins at her hands and a shiver tip-toes its way down her back. "This feels like a horror movie," she thinks, turning in a small circle, taking in the room.

She stops her rotation when she hears a painful groan from the dark corner. Fear turns and finds Brianna, forehead pressed into the keypad of the laptop, hands clenching the back of her neck.

Fear creeps closer, so she can look at the illuminated screen. "We regret to inform you..." the missive begins. She looks to the side panel of the email page and sees multiple emails, full of the same short description. Rejection letters.

Fear jumps back, gasping, heart racing. She takes a closer look at the litter on the table and the floor. These have intricate letterheads and collegiate insignias. They're short, polite replies. The consensus is a resounding no, like a gong that clangs in an abandoned monastery, empty and eerie.

A door opens to Fear's left and she looks over her shoulder to find the husband has come home, soaked from the raging storm. His expression tightens when it lands on Brianna, his shoulders tensing. He shrugs off his coat before coming to stand before her prostrated form.

"Another 'No'?" he mumbles.

A small shake of her head as affirmation issues against the computer keyboard.

He sighs, backing up and sitting on the nearby couch. "Maybe it's time to give up."

Both Fear and Brianna start at his words, a knife in an already tender wound.

"We agreed I would give you time to try to make a profession of your work. But it's been a year with no progress. You struggle over your words to your novel, rejection letters flood the mailbox and you've not a had a new story idea in months. It's time to face it: You're not going to be a writer."

She snaps up her head, startled at his words. "But, maybe if I..." she attempts.

Fear's bottom lip quivers, her hands unsteady.

He sighs again. "Another writing book or course isn't going to fix it. You've tried that avenue, remember?"

She dips her head in a shallow nod.


"I'll give you a few days to..." he swallows, "to grieve. Then, I think it's time to start looking for a full-time job."

Brianna's head jerks up again. "I did that! You know I did! But there wasn't anything I was qualified for besides retail or management, and you know I've hated both those positions."

Another long heaving sigh escapes his mouth. "I know, but it's something," he says, resigned. He pushes up from the couch and moves away into the darkness of the bedroom.

Fear watches as Brianna turns back to the glaring screen. A shaky breath fills the silence as she closes all tabs and shuts the laptop. Fear watches as she leans back hugging her arms around her knees, the light from the window casting shadows under Brianna's eyes. Her expression is bland, like a stone pummeled too many times by incessant waves, all sharpness rounded out to leave a smooth surface.

"She's giving up," Fear gasps, watching as Brianna pushes away from the desk and slouches into the darkness.  "She's never going create again."
 
...

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fear Panics

"Fight?! What do you mean "fight"? I can't fight!" Fear screeched, hyperventilating. Anger huffed off the couch and returned with a brown paper bag which Fear promptly began breathing into.


I rolled my eyes and focused on Sadness, examining her face. Light had returned to her eyes and no tears welled., but I could sense a hesitancy in her still. "What is it?" I asked.

Sadness looked deep into a mug of hot cocoa Disgust had given her after her tears had subsided. "I'm not very strong. How will I be able to fight off those thoughts?"

"Simple," Anger interjected. "You've got us."

Joy nodded, smiling. "You don't need to be alone when things get hard."

"But... Myths..." Sadness whispered, glancing quickly to the corner where I had last seen him.

"Myths evolves," Joy explained, hugging an arm around Sadness's shoulders. "His purpose is for us to have our fears embodied so we can better face them. You're doing that."

Sadness's head dipped a bit in response. "Oh. Okay," she murmured, hands clenching a bit tighter on the mug.

"It's okay if you're still unsure," I said, knowing what Joy had left unsaid. Myths evolves, which means one fear will replace another. It's a cycle but one that doesn't need to be quite so daunting.

"Easy for you to say!" squealed Fear, shooting me with a daggered glance. "You don't have to face them!"

"What? Wait. Yes, I do. You're in my head, so yes."

Fear straightens, crossing her arms. "So? It's not the same," she scowls, indignant to my assumption.

I push back from Sadness, unfolding my legs and stretching them out in front of me, leaning back on my arms. Casual, I need to look casual and not defensive. I see Anger's sly grin in my peripheral. She knows my annoyance has peaked at Fear's outburst. I resist the urge to stick my tongue out at her and instead look up at Fear huddled in the opposite corner of the couch. "So, what are you afraid of Fear?"

She goes very still, her gaze fixed on a point in front of her. "Being disillusioned," she whispers.

...

Join me tomorrow for the break down.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Facing A Schoolyard Bully

In the writing profession, solitary work is expected. You can brainstorm or collaborate with fellow artists but inevitably, it's just you, the blinking cursor and your thoughts for company. But what happens when your thoughts are none too gentle?


Sadness revealed that the heart of her fear of being alone is the damage those thoughts can do. Those thoughts I speak of are the ones that scream defeat into your face and cut you till you bleed. The harshest of those thoughts are laced with Rejection, a venom that can kill overtime if not treated appropriately.

I've been prey to the gleeful ravages of Rejection. It met me early.

During elementary school, I experienced a schoolyard exile from my group of friends. To my memory, one day I was friends with them, laughing and playing Sailor Moon, the next I was no longer invited to play. When I wrecked my brain for any reason they could do this, I wound up with this slithering statement: They just don't like you.

My essence. My being. Something about who I was had been found wanting in the eyes of our clique's leader. No matter what I did to reverse the sentence, I was never again fully accepted by she-who-shall-not-be-named.

I've had similar run-ins with Rejection since those days on the schoolyard, but this one cut me deep. It left me wounded, unable to embrace my voice or to let it be heard.

For years, any time I wanted to write, my immediate thoughts were not filled with the joy of discovery, but rather with sadness and fear. What if I offend someone? What if they misunderstand me? What if they don't like what I have to say? Will anyone even listen? I'd get so wrapped up in the fear of facing Rejection again that I would eventually muffle the flame of inspiration, deciding it was safer to remain silent.

With nothing pouring out, I became sedimentary in my creativity. I wasn't exercising my talent and the result was volatile. Self pity reined my thoughts and I found a dark, dank corner of my heart in which to wallow. Depression ruled and still, I didn't create.

I began, however, to share this desire to create, to write, with others. Instead of ridicule, my dream of writing was nurtured and celebrated. Hope returned. Soon, my constricted breaths were loosening. I started writing in my journal. I learned about other women who had opened their computers and taken the chance to share, who had picked up a pen and written that story that wouldn't leave them alone. I followed the bread crumbs they laid and found myself again.

After years of silence, I'm finally writing. A story has taken root in me and won't let go. Having grown from a short story written for a class in college, its expanding and transforming into something I'm not quite qualified to write...and yet I am. I have my an army of champions spurring me on and the permission to create.

What Rejection had intended to keep silent and held captive in darkness, Acceptance has set free and will never be held captive again without a fight.

...

Tomorrow, our saga continues. Join to see what happens.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Selah

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I humbly apologize for the interruption to our normal programming. We will return to our normal post flow tomorrow. 
Today, a pause and reflection on silence. 

This morning as I laid in bed, barely awake, I listened as the tinny whir of the ceiling fan became mute. The blades slowed their cyclical dance until they came to a graceful stop. I clicked the lamp at my bedside to confirm what I already knew: the electricity was off. Then the second thought dawned: I don't know for how long. So much for my plans, I thought, glancing at the time before rolling out of bed.

Having grown up in a rural community, I immediately started going through the checklist. Open the blinds to let in natural light; keep the refrigerator closed, but get in and out quickly if you need something; and remember, don't flush the toilet. This last one comes from living on well water. We had an electric pump, so if you flushed there would be no refilling of the toilet bowl. Even though I've lived in the city for 5 years now, I still forget that rule can be ignored.

Practical list aside, I began to take stock of how my morning was going to pan out. No internet, obviously. You need a plugged in router for that, but I could surprisingly open applications if I needed a false sense of connectivity. I didn't find that fulfilling, so I set the device aside and grabbed a neglected book off a stack. Time to catch up.

But then I stopped in my tracks. What is always paired with a good book? A big cup of some hot, steamy beverage, usually caffeinated and comforting. No coffee maker, no electric water kettle and a rusty, dusty water kettle meant no pairing, no caffeine. I cringed. I was intently aware of how heavy my eyes felt, the sand in the corners gritty, my body sluggish and unmotivated. I began to feel the stir of panic.

No internet was one thing, but no easy access to caffeine? I think I discovered the way America will come to ruin, in that moment. Sleep deprived, decaffeinated  people would suddenly become aware of everything, distraction and ease free. Cue the hysteria!


All the inconveniences aside, the silence gave me a gift: a respite from a to-do list of demands.

I had planned to wake up, down some coffee and type up a post I had drafted the night before. Then, I would get to work on household chores. Without the advance of electricity, many of those plans were laid to waste leaving me with the freedom to enjoy myself, by myself. Surprisingly, I wasn't intimidated by the prospect.

Too often, silence is a heavy weight of expectation. The voices of others become loud and demand I get to work, look at this post, read this book, do, do, DO! But without the immediate gratification of connectivity--something I often feel as a need rather than a privilege-- I found beauty in the present. I was able to slow down and embrace myself. What did I need? What did I want? I could finally hear my inner thoughts and they weren't crucifying me for my lack or my laziness. They were at peace, quiet, listening.

It wasn't until I heard the familiar buzz of the refrigerator two hours later, that those voices, like gnats, began to speak up and nag at my mind, pulling me away from my journal, my creativity. I felt disappointed. The reprieve had been revoked and I was being pulled back to the world of distraction. No matter my resistance, I knew the inevitable: The siren call would win.

And it did, but not without a change.

For so many years, being alone in the silence has intimidated me. I haven't been too kind on myself. My husband says I don't know how to rest. While I think he is right, I think the bigger issue is that I haven't known how to love myself. Taking moments of self care, saying no, or giving yourself space... these are the things a person who loves and accepts herself/himself does. I'm only just beginning.

...

Tomorrow, we resume our regular post flow. Join me as I go into how rejection from our past can affect our present and impact our future.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Being Alone

Sadness stirs next to Joy. Wiping away a tear, she looks into my eyes and confesses, "Being alone."


I swallow, my throat constricted with sudden tears. "That's your biggest fear?" I whisper, kneeling before her.

She inhales a shaky breath. "Y-yes. Being alone... it makes things...worse." She shivers. "It's like the walls start talking to me."

"S-sorry," murmurs Fear. All eyes to turn to her. "I guess I sometimes get a little too into my monologues."

I quirk an eyebrow. "You mean the movie quoting happens even without Myths around?"

Anger groans from her new perch against the couch. "You don't even know."

Fear shrugs. "I like dramatic scenes."

I shake my head, chuckles echoing around us. Sadness even exudes a small grin.

I turn back to Sadness. Hating to end the small joy, I focus back on her fear. "It's more than that, though, isn't it? More than the silence and being left to your thoughts?"

Sadness avoids my gaze. "Yeah. Being by myself isn't bad, not always. It's the feeling that those voices--Fear's, Myths' or my own... It's the feeling that they're it. They're all I will ever have, echoes and isolation. It's believing that everyone has abandoned me and it's all my fault." She hides her face in Joy's side, tears shaking her shoulders anew.

I nod, resting my hand atop hers. My own tears finally break the barrier and trickle down my cheeks. I know her pain, I realize, squeezing her hand in mine. I know her pain because ours is one and the same. I've experienced it before; many, many times before.

...

Join me tomorrow as I share how pain from our past can infiltrate our present and impact our future.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Myths Dispelled

I start, hiding behind Joy. "Wh-What is that?! Where did he come from?"

Photo Credit: Tiffany
Joy laughs, pulling me forward and wrapping an arm around my shoulder. "That's Myths. You wouldn't notice him because he doesn't want to be seen." She pauses, taking an offered cup from Disgust, before moving across the room to stand beside the creature. He smiles a bit brighter.

"Myths represents each aspect's biggest trepidation."

Oblivious to our conversation, Anger huffs up to me, disrupting my focus on Myths. "Would you mind?"

I sigh, bending over and lifting Sadness to a standing position. She remains sniffling next to me as I look back to Joy. Myths is gone!

"Where'd he go?"

Joy smiles. "He's still here. Remember he doesn't want to be seen and you don't want to see him, so he stays invisible."

I look between her and the space where Myths had stood awkwardly a moment before. "Can you see him?"

"Of course! I have no fears."

I roll my eyes. "Of course not," I mutter. I look around and notice Fear has become quiet, Anger leaning solemnly against the bedroom door jamb. Disgust has returned from the kitchen and draped an arm around Sadness at my side, but none of them look towards Joy. "That doesn't explain why the others became so upset or why they won't look at you now."

Joy walks to the couch and sits down, pulling her feet up under her. She pats the seat next to her, welcoming me and the others to join. The others slowly make there way towards her, but I remain standing.

"Mentioning Myths makes the others uncomfortable. Imagine if there was a spider in the room. If it's small, you're okay to leave it where it lounges, giving it space but keeping track that it never crosses that invisible boundary." Sadness cuddles up to Joy who offers a tissue to dry her eyes.

"But if the spider is large and imposing, you might become paralyzed. You might flee the room, shutting the door or you might smash it with a frying pan. Myths is the embodiment of our fears. We don't want to face them."


"Ahem," Anger coughs, shooting Joy a scathing look.

"Except Anger. She knows Myths exists and fights his affects."

 I nod, understanding blooming. "That explains why she was so calm while the others..."

"Went bat shit crazy?" Anger quips, grinning. I sigh, always the virtue of truth.

Joy frowns slightly, displeased at Anger's choice of words. "Yes. We-- they-- go all squirmy when presented with their fear."

"Okay... but what do they fear?"

A collective silence descends on the assembly.

Sadness stirs next to Joy, wiping away a tear she looks into my eyes and confesses, "Being alone."
...

Join me tomorrow as I explore how Sadness's fear manifests in my life.

A Curious State of Strange

I didn't realize that getting to the bottom would mean hitting bedrock. For the last hour, I've sat surveying my aspects in some strange manic state after I asked for the truth about the myths.


Disgust had done an about face, immediately walking back into the kitchen after I confronted the others, returning minutes later with mugs of tea or coffee for everyone. She's repeated the process three times. After the third trip, she ran out of mugs and had to use juice cups. Now various liquids scatter the room like discarded Skittles, stale and unappetizing.

I shake my head as Anger shoves away another cup, annoyance rising. Disgust merely sits it on the table, blinks hard, then turns back to the kitchen, Anger yelling obscenities at her back.

Sadness quivers on the couch, a pillow and two stuffed animals added to her fortress. I run my hands through my hair as Fear starts to recite various quotes from Lord of the Rings. She's gone from Pirates of the Caribbean to Finding Nemo and has briefly reenacted a scene from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I cringe as Anger tells her to shut up, not hearing the door open and close.

"Are we having a party?!" squeals a honeyed voice from my right. Joy stands, barefoot, a garland of wildflowers adorning her head. Frolicking in a field of flowers, indeed.

She smiles brightly as I stand from my arm chair and walk over to her. "Thank goodness you're here," I sigh. "They've been like this for an hour." I gesture to the couch where Anger is now shaking Fear. I flinch at her vigor. I look back to Joy, pleading, "Maybe you can talk some sense into them?"

"Hmm..." she murmurs, unhurriedly unwrapping a scarf from her shoulders and hanging it lightly on the hall tree. "How'd they get to be so... strange?"

"That's a long story," I mutter, rubbing the back of my neck. "Sadness and I were talking-"

Her head snaps away from the others to beam at me. "You talked to Sadness? That's wonderful!"

I shrug, uncomfortable with her enthusiasm. "I thought I'd try... I don't know what," I trail off, shaking my head. "Anyway, she said something about each of you having a set of rules--myths-- that you adhere to that might help me understand why it's so hard for me to write. But then Fear interrupted and Anger came home..." I sigh deeply, shrugging slightly again. "With all of them together, I thought maybe I could get some answers, but then..." I gesture to Sadness now clinging to Anger's leg, Anger's attempts to dislodge the weeping leech failing.

"Oh, well, there's a simple explanation for that."

"Oh really?" I scoff. "And what would that be?" I cross my arms and arch an eyebrow.

"Him," she states, pointing to a corner of the room vacant of mugs and crazed aspects.

In the corner stands a tall, slender man dressed in a dapper suit with long gray fingers and deep black eyes. He smiles a little and waves a hesitant hand of acknowledgement my way.


... Join me tomorrow to learn who the mysterious man is and why he caused such a stir.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Sparks Fly

"Oh, I like her," smirks a voice from behind me.

I turn, my annoyance crackling off me like lightning. Fear trembles at who I find leaning against the front door's entry. Anger has just gotten home and she looks ready for a challenge.


"Hello, Anger," I grit through clenched teeth.

"Hello, Muzzle," she purrs viciously.

I flinch at the barb. She is the aspect I repress the most. Her power to cut with words and icy demeanor are my least favorite defenses. I tend to lean on Fear in those situations when Anger's words claw to the surface. Fear always urges me to think of others and Disgust usually tosses in her two bits about following rules and exhibiting control. I often listen and Anger is then shoved back into the shadows, silenced.

But Disgust is MIA and Fear is cowering behind me, now huddling on the couch with Sadness, as Anger pushes off the door, sauntering over to inspect the scene.

She examines me narrowly, then tosses a glance to the couch, a feline grin stretching her mouth. "Looks like a party. Can I join?"

I take a step towards her, closing the distance. She is a couple inches taller than me, using all of the advantage to her benefit, pulling herself to full height and crossing her arms, strong and imposing. I can sense the tension, her eagerness to spar narrowing her gaze.

"Back off," I growl. "I don't have time for--"

"Time for what?" she smirks. "I'm not allowed in on your little tea party?"

"You're not invited."

"Ooo, scary," she scoffs, looking back at the other two behind me, leering. She attempts to move around me, but I block her.

"I won't repeat myself," I grind out. I'm running out of patience.

She pauses, then glares down her nose. "So the muzzle has grit after all," she sneers.

Annoyed, I push passed her, snatching up my mug from a side table as I go. "I'm done arguing with you," I toss over my shoulder, no longer caring what scheme she will unleash on the two in the living room.

I enter the kitchen, moving to the sink, yanking the facet knob up so the water runs quick and hot. I pour out the tepid tea, setting it aside. My hands grip the edge and lean against it, frustration building.

This was not how any of this was supposed to go, not at all. Sadness and I were to meet, build bridges and come to some sort of... I don't know... understanding? I shake my head, trying to clear the buzzing annoyance radiating off me. How did it go so wrong?

"Messing things up again, are we?" quips a tight, lightly accented voice.

I groan inwardly. Disgust is here. Great.


I straighten but do not turn around. "What do you want?"

"Oh, I thought I'd just come and see what all the hubbub was about. Sadness is blubbering on the couch, again. Was that your fault, too?"

I turn, slowly, fingers forming into fists at my side. "If all you are going to do is critique my actions, then leave. You know where the door is."

Disgust is leaning against the dining room table, examining her nails. Her appearance is immaculate. Not a hair out of place, glasses sparkling clean, no lint to be found. I still don't know how she achieves the latter. I assume magic elves are involved.

"Oh, Anger, darling!" she calls into the living room. "Are you stirring up trouble? Our dear Brianna seems to be all heated up about something." She focuses on me. I can feel her assessment of my appearance and bearing, like a PR representative gauging how to do damage control. Even without words, she has the power to make me feel small.

I sigh, suddenly tired. I run my hands through my hair and cross my arms. "If you're going to stay, then I'm going to need your help."

She quirks an eyebrow and tilts her head. "Me?"

I nod. "What do you know about these myths?"

Her smile dims a bit as she swallows. "If we're going to discuss this, we should wait for Joy."

"I'm done waiting," I respond stiffly and walk into the living room, not caring if she follows. "We're getting to the bottom of this."
...

Join me tomorrow to discover what all this cryptic talk of "myths" is really about.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fear Chimes In

The bedroom door flies open and we both turn to see Fear emerge in a frenzy, near hyperventilating. "What do you think you're doing!?"



She storms over to Sadness, her diminutive form puffing from outrage. I've never seen her so agitated. Fear has a habit of keeping herself out of everyone's way. She is so concerned about others, she rarely argues. To see her in such a flurry sets me on edge.

"Don't tell her anything, Sadness! You don't know what she'll do!" Fear screeches.

At her tone, Sadness recoils into the confines of her cushy cave, a bad puppy outcast to her dog house. My heart twists at her quick submission and something breaks loose within me as I stare at my huffing aspect. Fear... Fear is a bully.

This weak, demure aspect who has so often whispered words of doubt into my ear as I sat between her and Sadness has manipulated me fror her own benefit. She keeps me on the couch, inactive and alone. She feeds me morsels of hope only to have them snatched away when her paranoia cries, "Poison!" And I've let her, just as Sadness is, huddling in the darkness of her comforter.

My hands clench on the mug, forgotten in my hands. I was going to dismiss Fear as worried and distrustful, all to protect me, but seeing her fly into action over the suggestion--the mere suggestion-- of a truth being revealed, snaps those preconceived notions into shredded mulch.

I unfold myself from the couch and pull myself to full height. "And what is it you think I will do, Fear? Get rid of you, because right about now, that is looking to be like a very promising alternative to your whimpering presence."

"Oh, I like her," smirks a voice from behind me.

I turn, my annoyance crackling off me like lightning, Fear trembling at who I find leaning against the front door's entry. Anger has just gotten home and she looks ready for a challenge.
...

Tomorrow, Anger joins the fray. Join me to see how the conversation goes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Conversation with Sadness


Sadness sits on the couch, cocooned in a down comforter, her head barely peeping from the folds. She burrows deeper as I approach with two warm cups of tea in my hands, a peace offering. This isn't a common display of affection.

She and I have a strange relationship. Out of the five aspects, she is the one with whom I am most familiar and in some respects, I'm okay with that. Like a black cat, she is aloof and mysterious. I respect her need for distance and accept her melancholy attitudes, most of the time. But we don't chat. We often just sit together is silence, both under that big, comfy blanket when the weight of all we aren't gets too heavy to face.

Sometimes our hermitage is enlightening. I hear more and learn much, but it's when she forces me to stay and remain hidden that our camaraderie is shattered. I struggle to break free. I'm done with the introspection, the locked doors and silence. I want to go out into the sunshine, have some time with Joy, but Sadness isn't trusting.

She teams up with Fear and keeps me stuck. When they're at their strongest is when I'm at my weakest, and then depression comes. They think they are protecting me but I rail against them, pleading with Anger to do something. I usually just end up yelling at Sadness, causing her to retreat further, causing me to become more withdrawn and disconnected from her true intentions. A cup of tea isn't enough to cover the multitude of sins between us, but it's a start.

I place her cup on a navy steam trunk and lift my own to my lips. The liquid sunshine bolsters my nerves. I turn and set the cup down behind me, then breathe in a deep breath. "How are you today?" I mutter.

She blinks. Not used to a calm tone, I assume. "I'm afraid," she whispers, her voice cracking.

I look to the bedroom where Fear broods. "What are you afraid of?"

"You."

Now it's my turn to blink. "Wh-what? Why?"

"You're going to get rid of me." I furrow my brow in response, speechless. "I heard the others talking. You are going to get rid of us so you can create. You don't like us, and you hate me."

How did she... Oh right. She's in my head. "Well..." I begin, but stumble over her spoken truth. Instead, I reach around for the comfort of my tea. My original goal behind these "interviews" was a simple dissection. Figure out how each aspect works and then exile them to a walkabout. Goodbye, good luck and good riddance. Guilt makes my throat tighten. "You aren't wrong," I confess.

"I can be useful," she says, emerging from her cave. "I can help."

"How?" I scoff.

"I can..." her voice falls off a cliff, abruptly shut up. She glances to the bedroom. "I know it's not much and maybe it won't make a difference..." Her eyes lower to her lap and she whispers, as if to herself, "I'm never really good at talking." Her gaze finds my own. She can tell I'm growing impatient. "Myths."

"Myths?" What is she talking about?

"I- It's more of a list of rules... like a religion. We each have them."

"Myths."

"Yes. I could tell you mine." She looks over to the mug, quickly snatching it up and taking a whiff.

Intrigued, I set my own mug aside. "Go on."

A rare smile stretches the corner of Sadness's mouth. "Well--"

The bedroom door flies open and we both turn to see Fear emerge in a frenzy, near hyperventilating. "What do you think you're doing!?"
...

Come back tomorrow as the conversations continue.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Meet My Companions


As I was thinking through the reasons (nay, excuses) I give to not write, I began to think of the characters from Inside Out. Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust seemed to easily embody those excuses, while Joy seemed to represent the enthusiasm of inspiration. Instead of simply using images from the Pixar hit, I decided to sketch those emotions to illustrate these different aspects of my internal conflict.

Say hello to my little friends! AKA. My psyche laid bare.


Five parts that represent the whole me and wow how accurate they are.

Sadness is exceedingly sad, wrapping up in a blanket of sorrow and separating herself from the others by sitting on the floor. She doesn't want to be completely alone, so she leans in close to the group.

Fear seems unsure about the other two on the couch, huddling closer to Sadness. She seems to be trying to make herself smaller so the others won't notice.

Anger is dominant. She takes up the most room on the couch and is ready to fight, obviously not wanting to be touched.

Disgust is all business and intellect, selecting clothes that appear both modest and proper. She seems to say, "I'm not with them," as she examines her neat manicure.

Then there is Joy. Out of the five, she is the smallest in size. She sits apart from the others in a world completely of her own making. She doesn't see the others because her eyes are closed. I imagine her saying, "Tra la la la la," humming to herself and imagining she's in a field of flowers with sunshine.

For the rest of this series, these five will become flesh and blood, figuratively speaking. I will speak to them as if they were sitting across from me and we will become more familiar with each other. What do they fear and how do they influence my creative decisions? These are my companions and we're about to get down to the nitty gritty.

Join me tomorrow as I interview Sadness. Sympathy blanket not required but certainly appreciated.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Permission


Dear Sojourner,

Before we are in the thick of this journey, we need to establish one thing:

                                                                    You have permission.


You have permission to BREATHE. Stop and think about your words before they spill across the page. Breathe deep the smell of leaves laying to rest upon a verdant lawn. Expel the haste. Breathe in the aroma of coffee. Breathe out the stress, the expectation, the fear. Just breathe.

You have permission to TRY. Write that alternate scene with all your main characters as rabbits, either verbal or not. Visit that new spot with all the uncertainties of parking and beverages. Tap into the hurts and the pains, letting light illuminate the darkness. Despite what Yoda thinks, you do get to try.

You have permission to FAIL. Miss a day and the world will not end. Create a lousy graphic, they will not crucify you. Argle your bargle and misspell the words. If a Jabberwocky can exist from a jumble of nonsense and still convey a message, you need not worry.

Lastly, you have permission to SCREW UP and STILL BE LOVED. Yes, you. Your works do not determine the measure of your worth. We see the fullness of your being and everything has a place. Not a hair out of place is ugly or unexpected. No mistake is unworthy or useless.

 All has worth. All has belonging. All has love.

Remember, we are with you as you walk into the unknown. You are not alone.

Truly Yours,

JOY, GRACE & LOVE

Create 31 Days: Introduction


A Lil' Background

I am a collector of creative advice. I hoard it like Smaug atop his pile of riches. I have a whole shelf dedicated to the sages of creativity, espousing wisdom on habits, writing style and inspiration. If I see a tome that gives me a new perspective or better step-by-step advice to achieving my creative goals, I snatch it up and bring it home, all with the hopeful intention of filling myself with that author's knowledge. Too often, however, it sits upon that shelf, gaining only dust and the occasional, cursory glance, my inspiration and creative habits no more enlightened than an unopened box of light bulbs.

Enter Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.


This book found me in a season of depression when all I wanted was change but nothing was changing. It was one of the few inspirational creative self-help books that I've actually read and I don't even own it. Apparently a library deadline with holds on a title is enough to spur me to complete my reading.

At one point, Gilbert personifies Inspiration as something that comes and visits you, but will move on to someone else if you don't hear its call. I got scared. For years I sat still, simmering an idea for a novel over a hesitant flame of hope that one day it would come to a boil. I didn't want to lose the idea so I started to care for it, letting it stretch its legs bit by bit. But then I hit another wall.

Come summer, my momentum had waned again, until I discovered Magic Lessons, a podcast led by Elizabeth Gilbert. She interviews creatives facing obstacles to their dreams, counsels them by identifying the hurdle, and gives them an assignment to exercise their new found truth.

Being both entertaining and full of truth, I listened to every episode. Then it hit me: I was hoarding, AGAIN, becoming fat on advice with no output. I needed to DO something, but what? I wasn't going to get a creative therapy session with Gilbert herself and, despite my desire to do so, I couldn't lead a group of creatives to find their own truth if I wasn't practicing my own.

Write 31 Days

With nudge from God, I remembered the Write 31 Days challenge was drawing near. What better catalyst for my creative life than a community of like-minded individuals bought in to the same goal? Besides, countless resources proclaim 30 days of practicing a habit will make it more likely to be continued. I could use this opportunity to do my own personal creative therapy session while partnering with Inspiration to stretch my creative muscles.

So for the month of October, I will be embracing my four constant companions-- Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust-- with Joy's wisdom, identifying their fears and exercising truth, so we may all walk forward into the freedom to create.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hello, Fall


The First Day of Fall, otherwise known as the Autumn Equinox, has become a special holiday for me. When September dawned, I looked up the date and highlighted it on my calendar. Then I started dreaming about all the things I would do on that day:  fall drinks, fashion and decorations. I planned, I pinned, and I waited.

Let the summer lovers enjoy the end of their sunshine affair, wringing out every drop of extra sunlight, warm weather and lack of layers. Let them have their time to say goodbye. But when autumn dawns, I shall rise and say, "Now is my time."


I love everything about fall. The scents, the football games, the colors, the baked goods and warm soups, the drinks that slip down your throat and warm your soul. These are my days that speak of a slower, more thoughtful rhythm. As trees begin to trade shades of green for the bright jewels of ruby, amethyst and topaz, my heart sighs long and deep.

That softer ray of sunshine and those colder evenings stir in me a deep longing for intimacy and connections. Something new in my heart and soul dawns with those colors. This is the rhythm God has crafted for me. Fall means new things, exciting beauty, and discoveries to behold.

While some begin to dread these cooler days which inevitably inch closer to the darker days of winter, I revel in the now. Maybe it's my way of postponing the worry and stress about winter's coming or maybe it's my husband's influence of everything having its own time--Christmas decorations should not be put up before Thanksgiving, according to him.

Whatever the reason, I wanted to mark that first day with some autumn delights. I made a list and set out to fulfill it.

 Number One: First Official Pumpkin Spice Latte


I got up and out early so that I could sip my first PSL in the cool breeze of the morning. Here in Ohio, the temperatures have been nearing 90 degrees. That, however, didn't stop me from fulfilling number two on my list.

Number Two: Boots


Boots are my sweet spot in foot ware. I've got a black pair, a brown pair and these black and brown. What I lack in flashy foot ware, I make up for in practicality and comfort. (Don't worry. I changed into sandals later, because, heat.)

Number Three: Fall Flower Arrangement


Because sunflowers and fall are a must.

Number Four: Burn Fall Candles


I cheated a little and lit my Pumpkin Pecan Waffles a couple of days earlier (my Warm Apple Pie candle has departed :( ), but I waited until the first day of fall for my Autumn candle from Bath and Body Works. It was a hard wait but worth it.

Number Five: Baked Goods


I've tweaked my first batch of Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Filling and I think I found the right proportion of everything. This was before they were baked and topped with Paula Dean's cinnamon roll icing. They are so very, very good. Go ahead. You may salivate.

Number Six:  Fall Decor


This is the pinnacle of my fall prep. I found a stack of leaf stickers at our local Target and snatched up two packs. As sticking them on the window would mean a permanent fall of leaves, I slapped them on some wax paper and then cut them out, one, by one. It was time consuming but the end result was perfect.

BONUS! Number Seven: Cool Weather!




Would you know that those high 80's temps have fallen and this whole week is forecasting to be in the 70's? Be still my fall-loving heart!

Whether you are in full autumn celebration, like myself, or mourning the loss of summer's kiss, take the time to let go and let yourself enjoy in the now.

Pause. Breathe. Smile. It's gonna be a good fall. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sparks of Joy: August Edition


Where did August go? Although the last time I posted was midway through the month, the days still seemed to vanish. Now it's September, and I'm late again (eventually I will get this blogging groove back), and it's time to gaze back at the embers of joy August gave. It's a shorter list this time, but still fun. Enjoy!

Books


Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

I'm still in the process of reading an Advanced Reader Copy, but can I just tell you how important this work is? Shelly breathes grace back into keeping the Sabbath. She shares how the Sabbath is a weekly rhythm that restores our hearts and connects us deeper into relationship with Christ. I've been chewing on what I've been learning and will soon share, but until then, you can pre-order her book now. Release date is Oct. 4. 

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist


I'm steadily reading through this work. Shauna's message is about removing the busy and settling into the still. As both rest and stillness are a current reoccurring theme in my life, I grabbed a copy of this right before my e-book rental expired. I've been taking daily sips since then, savoring the taste of being still. I resonate with Shauna's drive, her desire to rest and her struggles therein. While I'm not done, I can confidently say this is going to be one I keep returning to read.

Simple Delights


Deep-cleaning.
 Sometimes you just needs to purge the clutter in your home. August was my time for fall cleaning. We have lived in the same apartment for five years and I've never been satisfied with our bedroom. It's supposed to be the most restful room in the house, but it never felt right. So I deep-cleaned the bedroom, washing the walls, pulling out furniture to vacuum, and quieting the space. I can now say, that our bedroom is a peaceful refuge.

But I couldn't stop just there. I moved to the dining room and then tackled the living room, repeating the same cleaning process. The flow feels more cohesive and peaceful. I can't wait to show it off this fall for parties and casual hangouts.

Painting/drawing.

I've returned to my creative side. My painting I completed in a day. I was impatient to hang it in our newly rearranged bedroom. It was the finishing touch to serene environment. My dragon is slowly coming into being, but not without hurdles.


Milton thinks drawing time is a perfect moment to gain attention. Either that, or he just really likes the feel of the paper on his belly. I'm not sure.

Fall scented candles.
(I'm detecting a theme.)

Bath and Body Works released their fall candles early in August and I was quick to descend upon the hoard. I resisted, however, to burn any straight up "autumn" scents, but I couldn't resist the Warm Apple Pie candle. Oh. My. Goodness. It's like a warm hug. I've burnt it down to almost nothing and am itching for another.

Soon, however, I will be able to burn Pumpkin Pecan Waffles and indulge in that Pumpkin Spice Latte.

 First Day of Fall, you guys. NEXT WEEK!

Giggles


Summer vs Fall.

This is the perfect depiction of how I feel. I am made for cool breezes, scarves and multiple layers. Summer? Meh. But fall? YES!

How was your August?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sparks of Joy: Summer Edition


This morning, my Facebook feed was flooded with pictures of first days back to school, officially marking the end of summer. In honor of ye old summer's passing, here are the highlights from my sunny hiatus, what I read, enjoyed and laughed at for the past three months.

Books 


 A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas


In May, I devoured the second installment to A Court of Thorn and Roses series, A Court of Mist and Fury. The series details a huntress, Feyre, who kills a faerie and is taken into the faerie lands as retribution, a life for a life. The first book is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with Feyre learning about the magical world, the fae that inhabit it and the foes that threaten its peace, but the second (ACOMAF) outdoes the first, rich with world building and character development. I won't spoil ACOMAF for you, but I will say that it left me with a two week book hangover and the immediate need for the third and final installment. I recommend it for anyone who loves a new adult, high fantasy novel filled with faeries and intrigue.

Red Rising Series by Pierce Brown

 Over the course of a month, I enveloped myself in the futuristic world of Pierce Brown. The story takes place in a futuristic society where a caste system based on color defines the peoples socio-economic station and their role in the society.The protagonist, Darrow, is from the lowest caste in society, a Red, but joins the rebel force to take down and upset the system created by the Golds, the highest caste. The series spans about seven years and is a fascinating journey of Darrow's development. There are space battles, tragic deaths and deep friendships. It's a sweeping epic, with a cinematic feel. I recommend this read for anyone who enjoys space operas and science fiction.

Bella Grace 

Okay, not a book, but this is a lovely magazine with beautiful photography and grace-filled articles. I would read it as I sipped on my morning coffee, savoring the encouragement to rest in the simple things. You can find it at your local bookstore in the inspiration section, but if you're looking for it at Barnes and Noble, it's found up front at checkout. Tricky marketing B&N.

Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison


If I'm being honest, the title is what first caught my attention. How can a mystical creature of Lewis Carrol's creation be connected to faith? In Morrison's words, a Bandersnatch is "a person with unconventional habits and attitudes" (back cover). The book is really about discovering your uniqueness and how that feeds into your experience with the Holy Spirit. I'm halfway through the book but am finding it a fresh look on faith and spirituality.

Simple Joys


Coffee

When the heat rises, I put away the comfort of my tea for the ease of coffee. My favorite, though, is a local cafe and coffee roaster called Coffee Emporium. I've tried out a few different ones, but so far, my favorites are the OBM Espresso and Cool Carnivore blends. 

Instagram

Part of my morning routine is opening up Instagram, a portal to beauty and inspiration. I enjoy scrolling through the posts and reading the brief captions. There's something about that square format that ignites a lightness and joy in my soul. 

A Few New Discoveries: kittiesncoffee, charliebowater, keishua, woodsermom
Old Favorites: shannanwrites, shellymillerwriter, emilypfreeman

Nature

Whether I'm kayaking with a group of friends or taking off to Hocking Hills for a week with my husband, nature, during the summer, gives me life. The stillness of the forest, the sun glancing off the water, the fresh air, the solitude, it all brings me back to the center of who I am. Being in nature calms the restlessness of my soul and rejuvenates my ravaged heart. I'm so glad I got to get out and enjoy it this summer with amazing company.


Giggles


Queen Beryl is at it again:


So many people...:

Hank from Finding Dory, favorite quote:

Here's to you summer. You served us well. Bring on the fall!
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