Perfection … ?

NOWHERE IN THIS WORLD WILL YOU find a person that is perfect. Nope. Not anywhere. One can strive for perfection. One can attain a moment of perfection—like a tear drop in the ocean of life—one tiny moment. That’s all. Life is too messy for perfection. Those that continually attempt to achieve the impossible can find themselves very unhappy because it always remains just out of their reach. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Oh, absolutely not—we must realise it is not something to attain, but rather, something to use as a goal … to continually strive toward.

For me? Well, I think I love the “messiness” of life. It creates challenges, discoveries and life lessons. Of course, there has been only one being that managed to achieve perfection. Only one—and it was not just anyone. I use His perfection is a goal—a goal I know I will never fully manage in this worldly life. But He knows that. We are all damaged goods, but He knows we are worth salvaging … worth saving, if we ask …

The messiness. I’m trying to figure out why I’m writing about this. It’s as plain as the nose on my face, right? My life is messy. Beautifully messy. And since I seem so disorganised of late, is everything around me is too (insert goofy grin). My home, yard, cars, my art and writing … it can be overwhelming. Honestly. But for some reason, it isn’t—once upon a time, it certainly was … but not now. Back when I was incapable of getting out into the yard to do the tiniest bit of cleanup or lacking the energy to do a simple pick-up around the house, or even put words on a page—oh, yes. That was overwhelming. Emotionally and physically. Thankfully, now my energy and strength is returning—finally (aaah, insert Snoopy’s happy dance here!!) I have been in the yard and puttering around the house all the time. Creativity abounds. Words flow. Still messy, but delightfully so.

The mess created over the last two years is mountainous—but I’m finding as long as I keep going (and with the occasional help of a team of gardeners), it gets better looking, which encourages me to do even more. Weird, but it’s the visual accomplishments—improvements—that keep me at it. The pressure is off (but not forgotten)—where fire safety is concerned—rain has quelled that. I’m past the “ugh—I need to get out of this mess (read: MOVE!) and start over”—I’m so glad to have moved beyond that horrible feeling of frustration. And, finally, my mind is beginning to move beyond “what’s next/now what?” to “how can I improve/beautify?” Ideas are pouring into my mind from who knows where. It’s exciting.

My messy life extends into every corner of my creativity. I find myself (finally) back to seriously working on all three of my Writerly projects—book one’s edit (so it can be republished with Inknbeans Press), book four’s edit (so it can finally be published … and book five (I am progressing in it nicely—it is an exciting “chapter” in the series). The life lessons continue through the series … and I still don’t know what the final book will be—book six? Book seven? Only my characters know for sure. They’ll clue me in at some point—hopefully.

Even my Painterly side seems to be re-ignited. I’ve acquired a new, much larger printer so I can make larger pieces of art—that definitely excites me (still have to figure out out to set it up, but that’s half the fun, right?)—I can hardly wait to begin playing with it. The funny thing is, there are only two more events (one this weekend and one the second week of December), so there’s no way I’m going to produce any new material for this year’s events. The nice thing is, that doesn’t really bother me. The important thing is that I’m re-energised … on fire. And I’m loving it!

The end of November and the whole of December are times of renewal for me … I do have personal (fun) commitments—parties, family events and outings with friends, both day and night. I am so ready to get back to being normal … it has taken two long years. God is good … especially when I remember all things can be done and will happen—in His time, not mine. So … I’m not going to waste a moment.

In the meantime, my dear readers, try not to stress over the upcoming holidays … just be in the moment, take in the joy where you can and shake off the craziness that others try to foist upon you. There is so much to be thankful for. Start counting all of those little things that help you get through each day … have a blissful, blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and I’ll see you just after Thanksgiving—no Black Friday for me. Maybe I’ll wander around Point Lobos or venture down into Big Sur—it’s opened partway, so it would be nice to see the area again!

And readers—watch out. Keep an eye out for New Things in the New Year.

FINAL EVENTS:
Book Signings and Art at Craft Fairs

Saturday-Sunday 18-19 November 10am-4pm
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

Thursday-Friday 7-8 December 10am-4pm
Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville CA

 

 

 

Pollyanna

WHEN I WAS A YOUNG ADULT, ONE of my younger brothers was called a Pollyanna by some family members. I’ve even called him that (to others—not sure if I’ve ever told him to his face). I’m not sure how he is viewed by the outside world. He’s had plenty of hardships, but he always managed to spin them positively when we were talking with him—he still does.

I’ve always been an optimistic person—for as long as I can remember, so I think I’m a bit of a Pollyanna myself—none of my other brothers have called me that to my face (but then, I don’t know if they’ve ever told my younger brother to his face either—always was behind his back with other family members). I’m forever looking at things positively (yeah, I do grumble a bit now and then, but I usually turn it around to a more positive attitude—eventually). I can’t help but have a positive outlook—God is with me and no matter how bad it gets, there always seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel I can crawl towards.

I presumed, the way people used the term (usually rolling their eyes when said) that is was more of a negative thing—that the person had blinders on, not thinking straight—not looking at the whole picture. My computer dictionary defines Pollyanna as: “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person”. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I guess it really depends on what you consider excessive, doesn’t it? So, I went a wee bit further and clicked on the definition of excessive: “more than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate.” Giggle … that led me to the definition for immoderate: “not sensible or restrained; excessive”. Then I turned to the online Merriam/Webster version. It defines Pollyanna as: “a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.” I like that even more.

Well … I guess I’m found guilty. To the average person, I definitely fit into that category, but I do not see it as a negative—not one bit. Pollyanna (and all that the dictionary espouses) is just a worldly view of life. A view that makes many uncomfortable watching. For me, it’s more like I’m filled with joy. Cutting to the chase, my computer’s definition of joy is: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Merriam-Webster’s definition?
“1 a :the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :delight
b :the expression or exhibition of such emotion :gaiety
2 :a state of happiness or felicity :bliss (complete happiness)
3 :a source or cause of delight”

Merriam/Webster’s version is the true Me. I’m overflowing with Joy. When I’ve apologised to friends for the over-exuberance (especially my giggles and laughing), they tell me they love it—it leaves them feeling better, so please don’t stop! Knowing that has helped me know it’s not an irritant to others—I’m simply sharing my Joy with others!

There are always going to be good and bad days, but how I view each day … each hour is the big thing (at least for me). When I’m down, nothing seems to go right. The moment I lighten up and think more positively—the joyous feeling returns. The Bible’s got it right:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Phillippians 4:8
When I do that, things start to turn around (insert glowing smile …).

… and, as usual, this is not where I’d planned on taking this blog (not sure exactly where I was headed, but not down this path …) But all of my writing is guided—it sure took me a very long time to realise that and I am very much okay with it. Apparently this is what I needed to talk about today. So, I do hope this has inspired you in some way. If nothing else, it’s been a reminder for me to be more focused on what really counts in life—not all of the people-bashing, doom and gloom, and nay-sayers that is permeating the media. I’ll stand firm in my beliefs, stay positive and spread my joy. How about you?

May this day, this weekend and coming week find you blessed with abundant joy.

Balancing Act Take Two

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED BALANCING stones? There’s a trick to it. Stacking is one thing—I love to find stacks of rocks. There’s one gentleman in Carmel Highlands area that is always making delightful stacks here and there … and when I walk the rocky coves in Point Lobos, I am sure to find one or two. Stacks seem to stick around for others to see. Once, my daughter and I spent the morning walking there and were intrigued by them … we both pulled out our cameras and started taking photos of them at different angles. I’ve yet to see any balanced rocks in person yet.

Yeah … balancing rocks … that is something entirely different. More fragile, I’d think, so winds might upset their balance if left alone. Or, even curious critters that might want to check them out. I’d love to give it a try some day. Some day … when I have nothing else better to do—or perhaps on a day where I need to be still (in my self-made busy life, that would be always …). That would be a good time.

Balancing rocks. Takes concentration, knowing … feeling where the points of contact should be. A little math (shudder) might help, but I’ll go with my gut. I’m just a seat-of-the-pants (sop) kinda gal, after all. I will try it. And I will post my success (or failure—though, I like to think positive … insert huge grin).

I really wasn’t sure which direction I’d be going (that’s the sop gal talkin’) with this post. I could get all philosophical—I certainly could … or I could try to find some photos or links about this balancing act. The link I posted above (from Facebook) is what triggered the idea for this post. Facebook is a goldmine for blog ideas. Oh, yes indeed. I just need to figure out how to wrangle the posts I see into a blog. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I’ve got lots of “starts” in my pile of drafts here on WordPress … some of them worthy of expounding upon, others not so much.

This one is definitely worthy, since balancing rocks is not unlike the precariousness of balancing everything in each of our lives. School, work, play, family, church … the list goes on (seemingly forever in my case). Knowing which is most important—that would be your foundation stone, so to speak—and then balancing all the other stones above it to keep the harmony. Definitely a challenge. But I do know what my foundation stone is. Church—well, God to be more specific. I try to revolve my life around Him (oh, I’m not so successful at times, but I do keep trying). When I do, things balance nicely—no matter how many things I’m juggling. If things begin to topple, somehow it manages to right itself—if I’m keeping Him in the center. When I don’t (and it’s only natural to stray now and then—we’re not perfect, after all) … well, let’s just say I certainly know it. I always get back on the path, leaning on Him for guidance, wisdom … and so much more, which keeps me centered, calm … and joyful. There may be storms, but I know I’ll make it through to the other side … one way or another.

So, let me ask you—what is your foundation stone in this crazy world of ours? Are you trying to “get through it all” by yourself, do you have a village of friends to help you, or do you lean on a higher power to guide you through your day? I would love to hear from you.

May you be blessed abundantly with joy, strength and wisdom.

 

 

 

Struggling …


 

I AM STRUGGLING WITH ALL that has happened in these last few months—both personally and in the community at large.

I’m still recovering—a painfully slow process, for sure—from my surgery last month. I’m just shy of four weeks post-op and I’m still drained of energy and my artistic (writerly and painterly) mojo, leaving me frustrated. Very frustrated.

The events of the last six months (I actually did a little research)—all around the world—leave me speechless and deeply moved. I am not one to foist my political or religious feelings on anyone. I’d rather set my examples through my day-to-day actions. Though right now, because I’m semi-confined and physically hampered with headaches and fuzzier-than-usual memory, my actions seem to be stymied. Stifled.

I struggle with what to say. On Facebook. Here, in this blog. Even when I’m chatting to someone in person. I’m not one to put my head in the sand and ignore all that is happening around me, but I’m also not one to shout out to the world what we should be doing. I’ve never been a good debater. I require way too much time to contemplate issues.

In this world seemingly filled with of pessimists, I am an optimist. A “glass-half-full” kinda girl. I’d rather seek out the good than point out all the bad that is happening. There’s plenty of both, but the bad seems to be getting all the headlines in the media.

I think this blog started out as one to explore mankind’s intentions and how fast it is leading us down the wrong path. Instead, I think I’m simply going to say that I feel it’s more like the story of Alice and her falling down the rabbit hole. There will always be experiences (that’s what we call life, right?)—dare I say adventures?—that, depending on our decision-making skills, will either lead us to victory or defeat. Each adventure will have its ups and downs, but in the end … where will you be? What choices will you make and where will it ultimately take you? Will you be one of the Red Queen’s minions or will you be an Alice—ever-ready to face a challenge?

What about me, you ask. Well, I put my trust entirely in God’s hands (that’s not to say I take it back on a regular basis, but I do try to give it back …). As crazy as the media makes this world out to be, I know there’s plenty of good left, if only we are willing to open our eyes to it … and be part of it. I put my trust in His hands for my healing, for my understanding (and patience) of all the political craziness, mistrust and mayhem—I know I will make it through to the other side—however long it takes.

I am reminded of a verse: Galatians 5:22-23 “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (tolerance/patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.If each of us used those things in our daily lives, life would get better. I know—”Polyanna syndrome—rolls eyes …” Mmm. No, I don’t think so … but maybe. More likely it’s a little Utopian or Arcadian, but remember—I’m a glass half-full kinda girl and I can always hope … and pray.

… and on that note, I’d like to add, may your day and weekend be blessed. I’ll be busy with my book signing, so it will be blessed, indeed!

… Friends

YES, LIFE CAN DEFINITELY BE like a roller coaster ride … with plenty of ups and downs. Right now, I think I’m ready for a placid boat ride on a tranquil lake. I enjoy an exciting ride, just like most people … but let’s keep it to “now and then”, please. Maybe it’s because I’m becoming addled in my old age (tongue in cheek—honest … well, most days, anyway).

Yup … old age, as the saying goes, is not for the faint of heart. Sigh (and giggle … please insert eye-roll). I won’t bore you with the details, but I’m glad I have someone much stronger than I to lean upon—for all those ups and downs. And I have a whole village of friends for additional support. God is ultimately my pillar—the one that is there for me no matter what, but friends are definitely awesome too. I have friends that understand my cryptic comments on Facebook. Some are silent, waiting for me to give further information (they know it’ll come eventually), while others fill that immediate need by inquiring as soon as they hear I’m not up to par—allowing me to vent a wee bit … or to commiserate. We need all of it—well, at least, I do.

I hold my friends close like a precious commodity. Some I can go without seeing for ages … and when we meet up again, it’s as if we’ve never been apart. One or two, when I met them for the first time … well, it was as if we’d already know each other for ages, syncing perfectly, understanding each other. Others are there in my every-day life, tapping me on the shoulder occasionally (with a knowing comment or making a “knowing” face) to keep me in line, or are there to “watch my back” or give me a hug. Others simply shake their head knowingly at my antics and smile (or make a comment to diffuse a situation). And … there are those that are there, helping me to “let it all hang out”—goofing around, having ridiculous fun. Some know the agonies and trials needed to get through the writing, publishing and promoting of a book. I’m glad to have every single one of them in my life.

Sniggle. I must tell you of one such friend—a fairly new friend at that (so, I was delighted by her response). Over this last weekend, a bevy of writers (Central Coast Writers, to be more specific) planned on walking in the parade at the Good Old Days event in Pacific Grove. We were all at our booth when the text came for us to converge at a spot along the parade route. All but one (who had to stay and man the booth) headed up the hill to the location … and as we walked, I warned everyone that I’d be lagging behind because hills were my nemesis, but not to worry. They kept an eye on me & altered their speed to accommodate me (sweet of them!). I made it to the top (sadly, panting—sniggle) and we continued to our meeting point. Along the way, I was asked several times if I needed someone to drive me back to the booth—I declined each time. It was not necessary. When we arrived at what we thought was our meeting point, my body was screaming at me to lie down. So, I did (it takes the weight off the ankles, bad knee and aching back—and, oooh, it felt nice an’ cool on my achy back). I did tell them what I was doing … I think. Anyway, the next thing I knew, I had all sorts of people (including a fireman) asking if I was okay. I kept saying I was fine. Apparently someone thought I’d fallen. Once I explained why I was lying down (rolls eyes … isn’t saying I’m okay enough?), most of them backed off but the fireman kept asking if I needed anything … a pillow, water … whatever. I guess I said something that he laughed at, saying “Okay … you just want us to leave you alone, right?” I laughed with him and said thank you …

That’s when my relatively new friend (a writer) showed up. Perfect timing. She walked up to the “scene” and announced, “Is this a murder scene or something?” Laughing, I flopped my arms out in a “dead man” position … and she added, “Who’s got the chalk to outline this?” I laughed so hard. Nobody bothered me again. (Then she told us we were in the wrong spot, that we needed to go further down the line … groaning, I got up and we trudged off.) She diffused the situation so perfectly. Laurie, you rock!

They are all a blessing, in every phase of my life. During my ups, my downs, my goofiness, my trials and frustrations … in my sadness and elation.

I am blessed abundantly and ever so thankful for each one of them.

Until next Friday … have a blessed day and a gloriously wonderful weekend, wherever you are.

 

 

 

Memories …

MEMORIES CAN BE GOOD … OR THEY CAN BE ones we don’t particularly want to remember because they are so terribly wrong and/or bad. But, no matter what memories there are in our lives, they are what makes us who we are, whether we like it or not.

Last Friday, I was trying to get my head into the “blog space” of getting my current one finished when my mind flooded — literally flooded with memories. What brought it on? The simple act of slicing up an orange. Oh, so many memories. It was like the domino-effect of one memory on top of another, cascading in my mind. Good memories, mostly, but some sad memories came too. Because, that’s life. The memories centered around my dad. As he climbed the business ladder as a chemical engineer into management, he managed to keep our lives rich in family things, like simple meals: sliced oranges (yup, remember, this was the trigger) with powered sugar, usually followed by eggs and bacon, or cornmeal mush, and fresh squeezed orange juice with our breakfast. Or there were the family vacations he was able to squeeze into his busy schedule: camping trips to the Sierras, to Trinity, Twin and June Lakes areas, to Tuolomne Meadows (my personal favorite destination); a trip up into Oregon and another time through Four Corners and the desert and mountain states … the list goes on. I caught my first fish (later — much later — I was told they’d just stocked the lake … sigh) on one of those trips; watched my dad as he floated a the highly saline June Lake, spouting water like a whale … all fond memories.

But, I also remember taking care of him as he slowly and painfully lost his battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. The agony he (repeatedly) went through when he found out mom died (how does one deal with this while you yourself are trying to deal with it??). I finally stopped telling him when he’d ask. I couldn’t stand seeing the fresh pain that stabbed him in the heart each and every time he heard of her death; discovering he felt abandoned — he thought his mother had deserted him (she died from an illness when he was very young and he said no one ever told him — not sure this is true, but not important … he did feel abandoned) and trying to help him understand that. Falling then being stuck in a wheel chair as his fractured hip healed, he could not understanding why he couldn’t get up and walk around like he used to … and calling me his wife — I learned to constantly give him verbal clues (“Daddy”) to help keep it straight in him mind what my role in his life should be. Other things like his wandering off — scaring me half to death when I found out he’d somehow managed to get across the freeway with his dog to buy a leash; his time in the hospital with “good-intentioned” doctors and staff that didn’t know how to handle him (wanting to restrain him!) — or properly medicate him when medications he’d been taking ulcerated his stomach. These are part of the sad memories of my dad, but each experience (and how I handled them) has helped shape who I am.

I am a better person for having encountered each experience:  each has helped to shape how I respond to new experiences; how I handle encounters with people — of all sorts; how I live my life. Through them all, having a good foundation (thanks to my parents) — something to fall back onto when things get sketchy — is paramount. First and foremost, my dad was a stickler for attending church. We all grumbled (to varying degrees) about it, but we learned about God and what an awesome pillar of strength He could be if we allowed it. For that, I am forever thankful.

That one thing — having God to lean on — and each experience building upon the next helped me through the deaths of my parents and my husband … and through all the ups and downs in life.

I was too young when my first grandmother died — I don’t even remember being allowed to attend the funeral. When my grandfather (her husband) grew ill, I was not allowed to see him in the hospital, but when he died, It was felt I was apparently old enough to attend the grave-side burial services. All I remember is sitting in the back with my cousin, goofing around and giggling (and being shushed by my mom) — obviously not old enough for the proper decorum. With the death of my dad’s father, then mother, I was much older and the gravity of their deaths was felt deeply. As my aunts and uncles passed away (both before and after my parents and husband’s deaths, each one was a blow, but God helped ground me, helped get me through. And before his death, with each of my husband’s catastrophic illnesses, again, I remained calm (people kept commenting on it and I was beginning to wonder if I was not engaged with the gravity of the situation, but finally realized it was simply because I leaned on God for my strength — and that was a good thing). I was able to come through to the other side in one piece, at peace … and refreshed.

Repetition, life experiences and leaning on God. Yup. That pretty much sums up how we build our lives. Well, it’s how I formed mine, at least. And, it seems to be a good formula for me.

…And in light of the news from today: the loss of an icon, Leonard Nimoy … a all-time favorite of mine, that’s what I’ll be doing — definitely shedding tears, but mostly, praying for his family and friends and leaning on God

May your life be peppered with ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, creating the strong, vital character that is you. Hopefully you too have someone to lean on to make it through to the other side, in one piece and at peace.

Issues…

YEAH, I’M HAVING ISSUES. SO WHAT…?

Don’t we all? But that’s a bad attitude if I’ve ever heard one.

We all have problems that hang over our heads, producing little dark clouds (well, some may be larger than others), pouring rain down now and then. It’s how you handle them that counts. Do you hunker down, grumbling as it drenches you? Do you pull out your raincoat or handy-dandy umbrella to protect you from most of the fallout? Or, perhaps, fling off the rain coat or toss the umbrella aside and dance in the rain, relishing your “storm”, wondering where it will take you…adding to your myriad of experiences, coloring your life in ways that would not otherwise have been possible?

I have my good days, going along in life, taking it all in. Like most people, I enjoy life to the fullest during these time.

But then, there are the days where everything seems to go wrong no matter what I do to stave off disaster. I realize it is out of my hands and I need to just let it happen, pulling anything that could be positive from the rubble. I pull find a smile, shake my head and laugh. All of that usually helps me. It’s either that or grumble. I’d rather not go there.

Or tears are waiting in the shadows, ready to burst forth for no obvious reason. I would love to blame it on the ‘change of life’, but I’m passed that. Instead, I look to see what season I’m in—I mean, what month. What life experience ‘anniversary’ may be coming up. If there’s nothing, then I shrug my shoulders and blame my wacky thyroid (it is hormonal, just a different beast). And continue on with life, dealing with the tears as they come, considering them a gift. Helping me look at things around me in a more sympathetic way.

But, right now, I just passed an “anniversary”. Each year, little things have  triggered my emotions as the date of my husband’s death draws closer and closer. I handled his death all those years ago fairly well, thanks to the support of friends and the ever-presence of my larger-than-life shoulder to lean on—God. All I need to do is to remember he is still there for me. No matter what. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I find myself concentrating too much on the emotion, getting wrapped up in myself and it’s like a weight, pulling me down. Then I remember. That life-preserver, always at the ready if only I would look for it and reach out to it.

Always lean on Him. Keep Him close.

Also, what I need to remember, instead of concentrating on that death date is to focus on the celebration date—my husband’s birth date, which is so close to it. Take the focus from death to life.

When I remember, and finally bring my focus onto Him, life is better.

Always.

May your troubles be few and may you always be a shoulder to lean on…

Confidence Building…

AS A WRITER, I LOVE THE ACT OF putting my thoughts onto paper. It took me a long time to feel comfortable sharing them with others, always wondering what they might think. Once I finally realized that it didn’t matter (well, it did…but not so much) what others thought–I knew that there were some readers out there that would enjoy my stories, so I finally started sharing–first in the confines of a classroom…and when I didn’t get booed back to my seat, I was resolved to further to make publishing my work a reality. First with my blog, then with my sci-fi fantasy story.

And now that it’s out there, I fret. Is it a waste of money? Yes, I did use a “vanity press” to get my book published and they dig deep into your pockets–I’ve been scolded on numerous occasions by fellow indie authors for going that route, but at the time, it was the best way–for me. No, I haven’t gone crazy trying to publicize the book–I’ve been very low key about it. What I have done is to give it to God. Does that mean sitting back on my laurels and let Him make it happen? No, it means I trust that if this book series is meant to be, it will fly. It may take some time. I’ve done a few book signings, now have a twitter account (but refuse to flood the twittersphere with ‘buy my book’ stuff), posted (a lot) on my business Facebook account, a little on my personal FB account, a little on my LinkedIn account…you get the idea.

Friends have give me verbal feedback on how much they liked Secrets Beyond Scymaria. Only one person has given me a ‘so-so’ comment, and I respect that. The book is not for everybody. But, not even one written review. Not one. My confidence has been flagging. Were these wonderful verbal high-fives just to make me feel good? I know many authors go through this. Some more than others. They need to see those reviews (and those reviews are important for sales, too, since most people look at the reviews before considering their purchases).  Those visual ‘pats’ on the back. They want to see lots of them. Lots of five star reviews.

So, I was beginning to seriously doubt myself, my book and starting to feel pretty down, since fellow author friends have had scores of reviews on their newly published books while mine has been languishing since September/October, 2013. That’s a long time in the life of a book. And a long time for a writer. I finally decided I obviously wasn’t ‘giving it to God’ like I’d planned. So, I gave it back to him (again)–and relaxed.

I busied myself with my second book (it”s almost ready for the publisher–I know, I keep saying that, but life keeps getting in the way of completing it!) and have all but one problem spot worked out. Then I realized I needed to come up with verbiage for the hardbound cover inside flaps. Yikes. So, I’m working on that too.

Out of the blue, an indie author/blogger/reviewer Facebook friend, Ey Wade, said she’d do a review on my book. Not just an ordinary reader, but one that does this professionally. I was honored. I sent her a pdf of Secrets Beyond Scymaria and within days, she had a review posted on her webblog (which has some very good reviews, by the way–you might want to check it out if you’re looking for a new book to read)…and on Amazon and GoodReads!

My confidence has been renewed, since not only was it a good review, but she gave it five stars (doing a happy dance). Now…back to getting the second in the series done so I can finish planning for my trip!

And, yes, I am certainly not ashamed to admit it, I did thank and praise God for all that happened…I know His hand is in it, helping me move forward.

A Cause, A Purpose and A Piece of My Life

NEARLY EVERY MORNING, AS I GET dressed, I put three silicone bracelets onto my wrist for all the world to see. They are not color co-ordinated with my clothes: one is yellow, another is purple and the third is teal and white swirls. Nope. Definitely not. I’ve collected them over time and I really don’t care because they are part of who I am. If anyone asks about them, I say they are all about a cause, a purpose and a piece of my life.

If that piques their interest and they ask more, I explain:

The purple band is a reminder of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory Walk. Well, they don’t call it that any more, but that’s what it is. I’ve had this band for well over ten years. The walk is to bring awareness to a disease that is effecting more and more people–not only the individual with the disease, but those closest to them–as time goes by.

My dad had Alzheimer’s Disease, as did one of my husband’s aunts. I watched my dad lose touch; slowly he had more and more difficulties with simple daily tasks; his most recent memories disappeared, then more and more to the point he only recognized me some of the time–and only as someone he knew was ‘special’ or ‘important’ (his words) to him.  I was in his life most days, and I thank God for that. My brothers all reside a long way off and their lives were like any other persons–busy. They would visit as often as possible, but there was too much time away for my dad to remember them. They were strangers to him. I felt sorry that they were not able to see the delightful things, the childlike things he did. I have some wonderful memories from before he passed away.

So, this purple band is personal. Very personal. Most years, I walk in the Santa Cruz and/or Monterey “Walk to End Alzheimers”, held annually in September for Santa Cruz and October for Monterey. I’ll be doing both again this year. I’ll tell you more about it in another blog later this year.

The yellow band is a reminder of what I must do: write. It is for National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve had it for about four years. I do support them annually also, in addition to participating in their Novemeber novel writing frenzy. It forces me to put thoughts to paper daily–well, almost daily–for a solid month. It has been useful to help me create some good stories.

That brings me to the third band. My teal and white swirled band. It’s pretty new–less than a year old, but a lovely reminder of who I have been for quite some time: a writer, a blogger–and now, a published author. Secrets Beyond Scymaria is the on-going sci-fi series, rolling around in my head and I am constantly working to put it into words on paper. Book one is in print, book two just came back from the editor after a second round of editing (I need to polish a few points here and there…then it’s ready for the publisher), and I have book three to get ready for the editor and…well, you’ve heard this all before and it must be getting repetitious. Sorry.

So, my writing is part of my life, as is my art and photography–but I don’t have a band for that (hmm…maybe I should), so I like to think the artistic choice of colors and swirl of the three bands represents that.

There is one other very important part of my life that is not represented on my wrist “for the world to see”. I don’t need to. It is deeply rooted, interweaving all four–and so many more (family, for example)–aspects of my life. It is my love for God. It’s not just a go-to-church-every-Sunday kind of relationship. He’s my gyroscope. My stability. My reference point helping me navigate this thing called Life. I try very hard to have Him at the center of my life; at the center of each activity I do as I wade through each and every day. I’m not perfect at it because I am human. There are days that my life gets busy or I get grumpy…or tired…and I forget, but always, the moment I realize it, I draw open the door and invite Him back in to take center stage. Things always get better when I do. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect with Him at center stage…but it sure helps move through Life with Him there, at my side, ready to comfort me, celebrate with me, listen to me…even guide me, when I take time to listen.

So, a cause, a purpose and many pieces of my life, interwoven together like the colorful ribbons on a May Pole with God acting as the strong, anchored central pole. As I negotiate life, He stabilizes me as I weave, bobbing in and out and through situations, struggles, and triumphs, creating a beautiful multicolored tapestry called my life.

Right now I’m still just a ‘work in progress’ with loose threads running everywhere; incomplete. But, I know the craftsmanship. And it’s creator. I know it will be a beautiful sight when it’s done.

 

Seasons

THE RISING SUN STREAMS IN LOW, lighting the far side of the kitchen floor. As I stand in front of the coffee maker, attempting to prepare my much needed first cup of the day, the sun drills into the corner of my right eye, making it difficult to measure the water.  It also warms me on this chilly morning, which reminds me that all too soon, part of my morning routine will be to dash outside to lower the shade across the window. A race to block the heat as the sun’s penetrating fingers try to grasp onto my nice, perpetually cool living space.

For now, I am allowed the joy of soaking up the radiant heat, as I wait for the coffee to finish brewing.  I’ll worry about too much heat later.

Only a week earlier, I was wondering when I would ever put my winter clothes away.  I live in the questionable state of ‘Sunny California’. Well, that’s what people that don’t live here call it.  Oh– and probably the California Tourist Board.

The only places you will find with almost daily sunshine would be in the desert — and perhaps the Central Valley.  Even Los Angeles has its fair share of overcast, gloomy days.

Here in the north-western edge of Central California, we could have winter-like days just about any day of the year.  This nearly drove us crazy. At least in Southern California, amidst the smog and overcast, the summers were reasonably warm.

When we first moved up here, my husband and I found that the ‘summer’ weather toyed with us–gorgeous, with a little overcast mornings during most of the week days (whilst we toiled inside buildings), then, as the weekend approached, gloom would set in. Our real ‘summer’ weather came in a two to three week chunk, in very late September or October. Our weather forecaster calls it “Local’s Weather”.   Then, with clear skies, it could get unbearably hot–at least for me–climbing to the 80’s and 90’s.  The rest of the year, we became accustom to dressing in layers, never knowing what the day might bring.

Which leads me back to my initial question.  I would love to think that my thermals, heavy socks and turtle necks will go into my ‘winter box’ soon, but the weather has been so bizarre lately, I am beginning to wonder.  Several times, I’ve started to collect them for storage, but a cold snap or high winds with a damp undercurrent digs its heels in, so I hold off for yet another week or so.

Such extremes.

Maybe it’s just my bad memory, but I really don’t recall the weather being quite this fickle, nor this extreme.  Our high winds usually come in January. Maybe February, at the very latest, bringing with it beautiful storms. Rain, decorator clouds. The clouds came, but no rain and very little wind during the usual timing. Now, it’s past the middle of April, time for gentle rains, yet we get 30-50 mph winds on occasion.  Higher constant winds than usual–not the gentle breeze I’ve become accustom to over the years.  No rain (well, maybe a teensy bit). Some gorgeous clouds, yes, but the rain bypassed my little corner for the most part.  That means I have to do more watering to keep the status quo for my yard.  It also means my grassy/weedy areas will die off faster, turning to the dangerous dried kindling for fire season, which means I get to trudge amongst the poison oak and whack at the weeds to keep my home safe from fires.

These freakish seasons seem to be taking root and becoming the standard.  I am not sure I like that.  I love and embrace changes–it’s what life is all about, but I also cherish the predictability of the seasons the Central Coast has given us over the years.  It’s my security blanket in my ever-changing life, filled with ever-changing seasons.

I have to laugh!  As I wrote that last sentence, I felt a mental ‘tap’ on my shoulder.  Well, it’s the ‘physical’ security blanket.  I have a far more enduring security blanket in my God.  Never changing, always present, always willing to listen what I have to say (whether good or bad), always willing to instruct, aid, heal, envelope me in times of need, placing earth-bound angels in my path to help me as needed…as he did yesterday…

And for all of that–and more–I find myself always praising and thanking Him.  It is because of Him that I am able to deal with all the changing seasons that make up my life, whether weather-related, relational or physical.  He makes me smile…and laugh.  So, when you see my smile or hear my laughter, you now know why.

I hope you are able to find peace in your ever-changing seasons of Life.

God be with you.

Solitude

I HAVE BEEN A SOLITARY CREATURE for so long — even as a child. Coming from a large family, one learns to covet the solitary time in the beautiful, chaotic life of a family.  We each had our own special way to escape. My older brothers, under the hood of some car; my younger brothers, in imaginary play in our forest of a yard. For me, it was writing, drawing or imaginative play — creating stories for my characters to play out (I used dominoes…wasn’t partial to dolls–weird, I know, but, I had my own little MASH unit before that TV show was ever dreamed up:  double-even numbers were doctors, double-odd were nurses–everyone else ended up being patients).

I loved to climb up in a monster bay tree that crashed across my swing set one year in a storm. My dad, grandfather and older brothers helped cut it back to one massive main trunk, with the ‘nubs’ (each probably 3 foot circumference) of several large branches still intact, and just let it lay there. It was a most excellent place to sit quietly and let my imagination work, and a place to draw or write.

I even had a ‘stash’ of writing material and drawing supplies tucked in the trunk of another multi-trunked bay tree on our lot.  All so I could escape the busyness of my family and have my quiet time — alone.

Throughout my teen and college years, even with close friends to enjoy life with, I’d still find ways of escaping to that solitude.   Once out in the business world, I established friends both in the workplace and in my private life, though, my circle of friends was smaller. That didn’t bother me. Some people need to be surrounded by other people, but that has never been the case with me.    Goofing around with friends when they were available was fine, but, when ‘confronted’ with alone-time, I relish it — I always had my drawing, reading, and/or my new camera to keep me company.

Once married, my husband and I loved to get away from the ‘big city’ and explore small towns, back roads and camp in the mountains, so this became my new way to enjoy solitude, with my husband–in addition to reading (always had a book), photography and journaling.

Once my daughter was born, I found a new solitude:  watching her, whether she was asleep or at play.  A time to re-energize, too.

Then, another form of solitude entered my life.  One that remained a constant; it didn’t matter who I was with or what I had to do, it followed me wherever I went.

I  was brought up in a Christian home, went to church and believed in God,  but once on my own, ‘slipped’ away from the church, with the excuse of not finding the ‘right’ one and that my life (then, our lives) were too full to fit it into the busy weekend schedule.

It wasn’t until I experienced the beautiful miracle of the birth of my daughter and knew she needed to be brought up in the church (no way I could adequately train her or explain my religious convictions to her), that I finally found a great place to build her foundation and ‘grow’ my faith.  Together, we took our baby steps towards Him.

It was in Him that I found the greatest solitude.

I still need and enjoy my quiet time — time away from the hustle and bustle of Life — and always will, I’m sure.  But I’m never alone now.  Whether I am heading into a store & see decorator clouds hanging so beautifully in the sky or as I am walking at one of the State Parks in our area, I can extoll to my Creator of the beauty that surrounds me, thanking Him for the new vision He gives me.  Such peace and joy!  He fills me with abundant — (hmmm…abundant what, I ask myself)  Abundant everything!  There is not one thing in my life, that is needed, that is lacking.

Some say that is a weakness to ‘need’ God. I know that is not true. I’ve tried to do things on my own. Sure. I get through life just fine, but with Him?  My life is so much richer, and acknowledge that without Him, I cannot do near as much, nor do it as well!

His handiwork is everywhere I look–there is no escaping it, thankfully.  His fingerprints are on every aspect of my life, proving his presence in my life.  So, my solitude draws me closer to Him; brings us ever closer together.

Thank God for the need for solitude!

I would like to wish each of you the blessed, safe and thought-filled Easter.  May your heart be filled with joy at the thought that He has risen!

Let It Go!

FINE.  I’LL HAVE TO ADMIT IT.  MAYBE THE DOC was on to something.

I had a splendid week, full of energy that I haven’t been able to muster for…I can’t remember how long.   I’ve gotten more of my novel written this last week than I have since NaNoWriMo ended!  Chores done that have languished for ages.  In addition, I’ve slept like the proverbial baby!  A wonderful feeling!

And it began the day one doc told me I might have SAD. That’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, in case you were wondering (seasonal depression caused by lack of sunlight), which is weird because you wouldn’t think California would be too far south for it.

I thought about it as I waited, freezing to death and using the delightful sun as a way to keep warm, for my next appointment.  After about fifteen minutes in the sun, the doors opened and I went in (to warm up) for a revisit with another doc.

Now that my throat had cleared up he was able to give me a better diagnosis of an underlying problem.

Now, two problems reasonably resolved.  I left his office feeling better, finally able to put a name on the face of one of my dragons.  The sun shone down, even as it started its last dance in the western sky just above the horizon.  Energized.  SAD?  I think not.

By the end of the day, I was feeling better.  Not as fatigued.  Able to easily stay awake to watch the late news–something I haven’t been able to do for months. That, in itself was invigorating.  As the week progressed, the sunny days buoyed me, keeping me warm.  I was back to my old self…well, almost. My sinus infection was finally gone too, but the sinuses were still talking in whispers (forever-allergies will do that). I could certainly live with that!

Uncertainty has a habit of dragging me down. When faced with a problem, I must know the why and what so that I can move forward. Not knowing drains me. Just all my exaggerated aches and pains, some with known causes, some not, were slowly draining me.

These last two days grew cloudy, with only glimpses of sun. My energy seemed to take a bit of a nose dive.  And, sadly,  my old sleep patterns returned.  So, now,  new questions arose.

Was it indeed, SAD that pulled me down for so long, or perhaps was the uncertainly, the unanswered questions aiding in the decline?  Or perhaps, with me spending more time outside in the wind, might my allergies and sinus infection be rearing their ugly heads again?  And with my renewed energy, perhaps I’ve been trying to ‘burn the candle from both ends’ a wee bit too much…

I have a dear friend that I can count on to give me sound advise, and I can hear her speaking to me in my mind as I am pondering all of this, “You are over thinking things again, my friend.”

Perhaps I am. Perhaps I should just let life happen and quit requiring those whys and whats. Simply put it all in God’s hands, get out of the way so He can do His job, and move forward.  It is much harder than it sounds, but well worth the attempt!

I foresee this child doing a give and take with that for years to come, but hopefully, when I finally remember to give it to God, I’ll let Him keep it a little longer each time until finally surrendering each problem, each worry — each health issue — forever.

In the meantime, the groundhog has forecast an early spring, so I’m looking forward to renewed energy staying with me for a long time to come, especially if I cloak myself with the promises He has given me.  I can deal with my chronic aches and pains as long as I have Him to turn to.

Happy belated Valentine’s Day and a beautiful Spring to come — watch it emerge with new life and rejoice.

Happy New 2013

AS THE NEW YEAR APPROACHES, I  wondered how I would be “celebrating” it.  It has been a long time since I’ve deliberately stayed up to see the New Year noisily heralded in.  In recent years, I try, but fall asleep, only to be awakened by neighbors celebrating.  Not an irritating thing…a little bit like an alarm clock reminding me of the time, so I usually mumble ‘Happy New Year, everybody’ to my critters and fall back asleep.

Yesterday, I finally figured it out (tentatively), for both before and after the new year debuts.  Writing, writing and more writing before the celebration.  Then, I get to go play on the Peninsula, sketching and photographing nature with a group on New Years Day, so I certainly won’t be staying up late.

The New Year’s Eve celebration craziness is less and less appealing to me as I get older.  I don’t think it’s age related.  It’s not that special of an event for me.  It’s just another day.  Yes, a new year is making an appearance, but I’ve never been a ‘party-hardy’ kinda girl, so I don’t need it as an excuse to party, which is how so many look at New Years Eve.

For me, it means I’ve managed to fly through another year relatively unscathed, look forward to another adventurous year ahead and, I’ve got to remember to write 2013 rather than 2012.  Historically, it will take a few weeks before I can, without thought, scrawl the right date on my checks, notes and letters.

And what about making New Years resolutions?  Has anyone been able to keep their resolution? (Where on earth did this tradition come from, anyway?) For many, many years, I would make, then turn around and almost immediately break all of the resolutions I’ve ever made.  Finally, I made one resolution I was able to keep.  My resolution?  To never make another resolution.

Instead, I find that I prefer to review my life, weighing the accomplishments, wishes and dreams to see how I’ve fared.  I celebrate those things done well and try to figure out what I should do better with the other stuff — and there is always room for improvement and another year to work on it.  So, would these qualify as resolutions?  I don’t know.  And, honestly, I don’t care.  To me, it’s simply an ongoing, personal evaluation.  Moving forward, with a positive twist to it.

I want to improve, as would most people I know, so these little “PEs” help me.  Over this last year, without realizing it (too much), I improved my diet enough to lose 25 pounds.  That was a wonderful feeling, and has inspired me to keep up the good work (once this holiday feasting is done), to continuing the losing–I’d better…I just paid a fortune to have all my pants altered to fit the skinnier me.  And, my writing volume (and quality, I might add) has improved also.

Today, in one of my frequent spontaneous moments, I found such a renewed joy in walking while at Garland Park in Carmel Valley.  I would have been dragging around my camera and tripod, but discovered I’d left an all-important item (bag

sketched view of Garland Park

never said I was good, but I do enjoy sketching. This view is looking southward into the hills at the ranger’s station at Garland Park, Carmel Valley on 28/12/12

with all the memory cards) at home, so instead, I pulled out my sketch pad and pencils, and drew the landscape after walking around the park.  Admittedly, I am a much better photographer than sketcher, but then, I don’t practice sketching much.  Walking helps me lose more weight, the natural setting energizes my mind for my writing and gives me a cornucopia of material for my photography and sketching.  All in all, it was a wonderful couple of hours between errands and appointments.

I’ve found that If I try to micro-manage my time, I usually end up spinning my wheels.  When I am spontaneous, even if it doesn’t work out as I imagined (like today), I find so much more.  The sketching is something I don’t do as often as I’d like.  I always default to my camera, so having to go to a ‘back-up’ plan turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  In my spontaneity, I am allowing God to work in my life.  When I do that, amazing things happen.   You’d think that with results like that, I’d keep God smack-dab in the center of my life.  Unfortunately, not.  I keep getting in the way.  Barging to the front of the line with the ‘me first’ attitude that inevitably results in unhappy or at least unsatisfactory endings.  To help me cope with the problem, I’ve put up notes in the car and various places in the house, reminding me, it’s not about me, it’s about Him.  It has helped.  More often now, I find me as the ‘satellite’ with God at the center.  There are still bad days, but even they are more tolerable when I remember there is an unconditional, non-judgmental friend to lean on, no matter when I need Him.

So, as the new year approaches, I will be focused on my tasks–writing, classes, every-day chores, along some play, but will keep spontaneity in mind, ever-ready to do something fresh to engage my mind, spirit and heart.  But, for right now, I will put the bag of memory cards back into my camera bag so I’ll be ready for my next adventure jaunt out.

As my last post for the year, I wish you and your family the best every New Year.  May your dreams be fulfilled and may God fill your years to come to overflowing with Joy and New Beginnings.

Happy New Year.

 

Choices

A DEAR AND EXTREMELY TALENTED friend of mine, Nan Madruga has given me permission to use her poem for this blog:

love,
care,
give, help,
forgive,
touch,
encourage,
sacrifice,
accept, … repeat. ♥

Another friend made the suggestion of writing a letter to the people of Newton:

“When I most feel helpless, I have to do something so I don’t feel so helpless.  My therapy after the Aurora shooting was to write a letter to the town. I felt like I had done something.

Six months later, I received a printed thank you note that was very grateful and kind. I did make a difference in some small way to some one.

The mailing address is Newtown, CT 06470.  Please, just do it.”

All of these are choices.  This simple poem and the plea to write letters were my friends ways of coping with yesterday’s tragedies in Connecticut and China.   Their choice to use their voice constructively.  Instead of condemning or lashing out against the troubled young men, Nan prayed and mourned the loss of innocent lives and of ever feeling safe again.

The choice to follow your feelings — are feelings ever the best thing to follow?   The dictionary says it is an emotional state or reaction.  Everyone’s gut reaction to these events was one of disgust, anger, sorrow.  When in this state, it is difficult to think straight.

My minister once preached on reacting vs responding.  For me, praying, Nan’s poem and the letter writing are wonderful examples of responding.  These are all things we can do to help in these awful situations.  The disgust, anger, sorrow simply feed on themselves, perpetuating the feelings.

Make a choice, use your voice to help change the situation from despair to a sliver of encouragement and hope.

 

I Am Blessed

IN THE LIFE I HAVE chosen to live, one day can, and often does, blur endlessly into another.  The days are peppered with errands and chores that could happen just about any day, without any set routine, making it hard to define a specific day — none of the “I’m doing laundry, so it must be Tuesday…”  Nope, not in this house.

I must have my coffee first thing every day.  Animals must be fed daily.  But, aside from that, there is no set day for laundry or chores that shout to be done.  My Artistic Siren may beckon for a trip out into the woods for a photo shoot or a day at the printing press or even for me to hunker down in front of the computer typing madly putting my thoughts on ‘paper’.  I am able to pick and choose what to do (usually) when I wish.  Things that really should be done may pile up, but I’m okay with that.  I’ve come to enjoy this randomness.

That is, every day but Sunday.   I thoroughly enjoy the beautiful routine that make my Sunday. It does start the same as every day: caring for the animals, my cherished cups of coffee (and breakfast), but after that, I am able to get a little dressed up.  I’m a country girl and a little bit of a tomboy, too, so I find an occasional dress-up day is fun.

I get to spend one-on-one time with my Father and my church family.  To sing beautiful worship songs.  Listen to godly words of wisdom that seem to be just for me, to learn to weave into my daily life.   It is a time of reflection, celebration, communion and praise. A time I look forward to, and need.  Every.  Single.  Week.  I cherish my Sundays.

This is not to say that Sunday is the only day that God is in my life. I know this may be the case for some people.  Not me.  Far from it.  It’s just the day that I set aside to celebrate Him fully.

Every day of the week, I am continually awestruck at the beauty that surrounds me.  All that He has made for me–the natural beauty of a sunset, sunrise, how the clouds hang in the sky, how the wind sounds as it dances through the branches of trees, or the graciousness I see in people around me.  The miracles of science made possible with mans existence — and our existence made possible by Him.   I am thankful to be healthy enough to work in my yard and home, for all of my friends and extended family…oh, thankful for so many things.

This life God has blessed me with is one great adventure, every single day, especially when I open my eyes and see it.  Really see it.  There may be pain in my life, taking various forms (mental, physical) in different degrees, but just like everyone else I breathe, I walk, talk, crawl, sing, laugh, shout out in anger or joy…weaving in and out of and negotiating with this thing we call Life.

I am thankful, joyful, humbled.  I Am. Blessed.  It’s that simple.

Sometimes I do think, “Oh, if only I had more money. I could do this or that…” I am quietly reminded to be satisfied with who I am and what I have. I am reminded that I can accomplish so much with what is at hand.

I have a smile and I use it abundantly.  I have time–well, that I’m not so proficient at managing. I have talents–some found and constantly explored, some yet to discover. I have compassion.  Desire, and more.  I know I am commanded to use all of these things. Create. Live. Love. Share. Help others find joy.

What I need to remind myself–and wish to share with you, is that is important to share your wealth —  your blessings, whatever form they may take, with others.  Appreciate the little things in life.  Sometimes that is all there is for the time.  God has blessed each and every one of us, in one way or anther, so that we may in turn bless others.

I’m just saying.  I’m blessed.  How about you?

 

Corn Flakes Kind of Day

Today is a corn flakes kind of day. I certainly don’t need the carbs.  Nor the extra food. I just ate lunch.

But sometimes, I go with what my body seems to be craving — I know, with a relatively large common sense filter, it really does know what’s best. But, sometimes it is hard to discern what the craving truly is.

So, today, since I had a small lunch, I knew I’d want more of something. I tried a spoonful of Nutella, which triggered a desire for even more. I knew that no quantity of Nutella (I think I could eat a whole jar–I’d be sick, but I could eat it!) would satisfy the craving, so I thought about it. To satisfy the sugar needs & fill me up healthily, corn flakes seem to have become my standby.

Cravings come in all sizes and shapes.  Cravings for food, possessions, success, friendships, conversation, change in environment, intimacy. That only names a few, to be sure!

Constantly acquiring possessions or battling your way up the ladder of success doesn’t necessarily fulfill the cravings — it can be a symptom of something else. Conversations need to be more that filling silence. Constantly moving about to see new things may say more about you than you think.

Friendships and intimacy — “oh, yeah! I know what you’re talking about there! Wink-wink, nudge-nudge…” — also come in all sizes and shapes — not just in a sexual context.

Relationships with friends. An ongoing relationship, hopefully always growing, with God. For me, these are the most cherished of intimate relationships. To know and be willing to be known fully. Being available, rain or shine, no matter what your temperament or perceived availability is at the moment. Your friends could need you at any time, just as you might need them. God wants me all the time. And I know, though there are moments I don’t want to admit it, I need Him all the time! I love this about my relationships with my friends and God. It a wonderful constant. It is so much easier with my friends, though — to be available, but of course, do I try to put God at the center of my life to keep it in balance and to keep it running smoothly, which will allow me to be there for my friends.

There are times I do not always succeed. But, thankfully, both my close friends, and especially God are forgiving in my moments of weakness. I try not to let my cravings ‘lead’ my feelings, but it certainly does help that I do crave friendships. It makes me want to try to reciprocate my feelings. I am quietly reminded by God that I am not the only one in the equation. My friends are on the receiving end, wanting a giving friendship too. And conversation. Or, just a little time.  Time to be together.

I have a few that love an occasional change of environments — like me, enjoying tromping through bushes, up hills and down to creeks, to marvel at the cornucopia of beauty that has been placed there before us by God. We may speak very little, only soaking up all that we can, either visually or through what we hear, with only the clicking of our cameras disturbing the peace of the moment. Others simply want one-on-one time, with a cup of coffee to catch up on what’s been going on in our lives. Some like to drag me out biking (I do love it, really) or to go walking on the beach to collect sea glass. In each case, I treasure what makes each friend tick: their up days, down days, likes and dislikes, days of celebration and grief, triumphs and pitfalls.

I know that God sees in me all of these things (and oh, so much more) that I see in my friends, cherishing me in my good moments as well as my bad moments. I am ever so thankful for that. Thankful for His grace. Grace to cover all the stupid things I do in my life. And to still love me, despite my gross imperfections. In return, I simply must keep Him in my sight, trying my best to follow the path He has for me.

Oh. And that usually involves friends.