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.

Changes And Letting Go …

I SPENT A LARGE PART OF THIS WEEK looking up and verifying words in the dictionary and thesaurus. Why? Because, I’m trying to figure out how to explain my reluctance to discontinue a medication I’ve been taking for years. Looking for words to express myself. To justify my reasons for not stopping the medication … or to finally get a grip on why I should stop taking it and then follow through.

I justify continuing it with “it’s benign—won’t hurt me to continue” … and at the opposite end, “it’s so blasted expensive … just stop taking it—it’s not doing you any good!” I’ve been on this see-saw of emotionally rationalising this one way or the other for quite some time and it’s exhausting. Honestly.

Also, I feel like I can’t explain it so you’ll understand—which is childish, really. It was started as an experiment, to see if it helped my memory. It did, but only a little. After a year, the doctor said I could stop … but also said I could continue it if I wanted (since there were little or no side effects). And because of one little thing he said so long ago I chose to continue it—fearful of stopping it. I’m hoping I remembered it wrong … if it really is working, and I stop, my memory might regress. Restarting the drug is always an option, but I’d be starting at the regressed point, if that makes sense (the drug slows the progression of memory loss, not improve it). I saw him a while back and he would not admit to saying that. So, is it because new information has proven that theory wrong … or did I hear it wrong from the get-go?

Well, for years, I’ve taken it—my “security blanket”—wondering if I stopped, would my memory worsen or would it stay the same? Memories can be precious—whether they are those of past delights, of errors made that you don’t want to repeat … or simply of what you did an hour ago; to be able to draw on your memory to engage in conversations with friends … so, seeing what Alzheimer’s  did to my dad (an extreme example, I’ll admit), I am reluctant to knowingly do something that might jeopardise my memory.

Recently, another doc had me trying another simpler (more natural) method to improve my memory. He thinks I may have a deficiency due a lousy diet, which certainly makes sense when you look at my longstanding lopsided meals. I’ve been trying so hard to make sure I get enough protein and keep carbs and fat down that I’ve forgotten about vegetables—colourful greens and oranges and yellows—that have carbs but are so very important (“good” carbs). Oh, yeah … plus the fact that I love my breads, pasta and cornmeal mush and … so many other things that are not so healthy. To give me a “boost”, he put me on a folate supplement. Hmm. I think it may be working. Slowly—but it is working. I’m also working towards increasing my veggies (sadly, not the potatoes, which I adore)—which is harder than it should be. My busy (aka: rushing around) lifestyle makes that a bit more difficult, but now that the “busy” season is over, hopefully things will improve.

So, back to this expensive, useless medication. I’m down to the last couple weeks of pills and I’ve promised myself I’m going to stop. I’m not panicked about it, but … well, maybe a wee bit anxious. But, I am hopeful that the changes in diet will bring me back, at least a wee bit, to a more normal memory and I won’t have anything to worry about in stopping the medication.

As the days dwindle down towards Christmas and the end of the year—and to my need to make that decision to change—I wish that this coming week or two turn into an amazing experience for you and those that are special to you.

May joy and peace find a place in your life (and mine …).

Joy


I LOVE LIFE. JOY IS A LARGE PART of me — my natural state. Joy seeps into almost everything I do, think, create. I am the proverbial optimist, with my view on life being half full, rather than half empty. In life, I countered my husband’s “half-empty” attitude. We balanced each other in so many ways: my sometimes impulsive, energetic, adventuresome curiosity to his restrained, analytical reserve. We were quite a pair. To this day, I wonder how we managed to stay together “until death do us part” … but we did.

So, without him as a “governor” to reign in some of that enthusiastic energy, I seem to have higher highs … and lows that I don’t recall being there before. Maybe it’s simply my faulty memory playing tricks.

In any case, I love my half-full attitude. And this week I find my cup of joy overflowing. I’ve got pressures to meet some deadlines, NaNoWriMo is afoot and I haven’t even started … yet, I’m filled with joy.

On November 1st, I decided to begin posting my gratitudes—things I’m thankful about and for. That—and playing with my photography, using canvas to lay the image onto—seems to have pushed my joy button even more (insert giggly smiley face here). I was downright euphoric on Monday when I produced my first image. Some of my images will make their way into the Open Ground Studios show at the end of the month (through mid-January, 2016) … some will be at the book signing/art event that Aromas Hills Artisans puts on annually in November (21-22 of November this year) … and another unrelated event this weekend (Yikes! Where did the time go??). I’m tickled to be involved with both organizations … and finally have something new to show at all events (aside from my books).

So, this post… and the next several weeks (or more)—since Thanksgiving comes near the end of the month—will be about being grateful … and joy filled. We all find ourselves fretting about so much. How often do  you take a moment to think about all that you are thankful for? For me … well, I know I should be spending far more time being thankful. Here’s part of the list I started at the beginning of the month:

I am thankful for …
•met deadlines, with more to come (yes, thankful for even more pressure)
•food in the cupboards and fridge
•my dog snuggled at my feet
•the cat curled up, purring in my lap
•rain rain rain. Thank God for rain in parched California!!
•the sound of rain on my roof, running down the downspouts
•warm dry clothes on a wet day
•muted light from an overcast sky–easy on my aging eyes
•a friend’s relief from pain … and finally after so long, a diagnosis so they can move forward to manage her pain
•hot tea to sip on chilly mornings
•automatic thermostats that knows when to take the chill off the morning air
•that first long rain of the season, when everything around me is painted in deeper, richer colours
•being able to share my abundance with others
•visitations from my local deer. They are so beautiful

May your day … and the coming week be blessed with a multitude of reasons to be thankful and joy filled.

UPCOMING EVENTS (hopefully I’ll see some of you that live locally):
November 1-30 24/7
(starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
You can still sign-up online: NaNoWriMo.org

November 14   Saturday  9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing (and some of dj’s art)
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22   Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing & art
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4   Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA
dj jameson smith will have her art on display for sale in various forms (framed, matted & unmatted pieces along with note and post cards), plus her books will be available for purchase
(the exhibition will be available for viewing from Nov 25, 2015 – Jan 20, 2016)

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T and J O Y

IT IS INTERESTING WHEN I SEE DIFFERENT groups of friends bringing up similar topics of discussion on Facebook and/or in face-to-face conversations. Or, sometimes it’s a certain piece of music popping up on the radio (usually KLOVE) multiple times and then have the same thread of thought come out in a sermon on Sunday. I’ve found that when I see or hear the “same” thing possibly stated a wee bit differently multiple times, I need to take notice, since I’ve found it’s usually God tapping me on the shoulder … “hint-hint”.

So, it was with a mix of curiosity and bewilderment that I’m tackling a repetitive mention of respect. I feel I’m pretty spot on with respect. Respect of elders, peoples’ desires, etc.  Hmmm. What am I missing? Honestly, I’m still scratching my head. Is it something I’m doing—or not doing? Or, something I need to address in a blog?

I am respectful—of others in general and of people’s desires—but that does not mean that I will bend over backward to accommodate someone if it goes against what I believe to be right and true. That said, I will definitely not trample others to make sure what I believe is heard over their words, desires and beliefs. I’ve been putting off dealing with this for a long time … perhaps in hopes that it would go away.

Well, I actually know better than to “hope it will go away”. That never works. Funny, that. If it’s something that needs to be reviewed, analyzed (oh, I’m sooo bad at that) and/or acted upon it does not go away.

I’m still unsure, but perhaps this nudging was just to help me to center myself for all that has happened over the last few months. To stay true to myself. To stay true to what I believe. And to stay true to God. I think I have done that—I hope I have.

Now add to all of the above, a thread of “joy” and I’m even more perplexed. Lots of songs, a sermon and bible study centering around joy. And possible issues are developing. Will I need respect and joy to get through them? Perhaps. Only time will tell.

As with respect, I consider myself a joyful person—mostly. We all have our ups and downs, but my life seems to revolve around joy … which is a good thing. It helps pull me up from my down moments and days. As far as I’m concerned, I cannot possibly see getting though life without joy. It seems essential. Mind you, I’m not talking about “happy”.

Things make you happy. Depending on things like good company, friends, good music, yummy food to buoy spirits, to get one through life won’t cut it for me. When company or friends are absent or turn mean, jarring music rattles through my brain or a bad tasting food hits me, happiness vanishes. It is not permanent.

Joy comes from within. It’s not an external thing. It’s hard to explain. It is one of the Fruit of the Spirit, found in the bible (Galatians 5:22-23). Through our ups and downs in life, joy seems to run a parallel, dwelling in us, waiting for us to notice. I’d much rather grab hold tightly to joy, making it a partner to lean on as I dance through life. Seeing the good in things—even if the day has gone down the toilet. When people disappoint, seeking the silver lining. Joy is there to help me through those times. Trusting that God will provide an answer, no matter what. I don’t know how else to explain.

My bible study has pretty much come to an end and I’ve learned a lot from it. I plan on holding tight to joy, loosening the grips of things that try to take it away. Things that I didn’t realize were trying to suck the joy from my life (like the clutter in my life—groan). And I will succeed … eventually. I want to be a joy-giver. A joy-mentor. Someone that savours everything around me. Joyfully.

I hope you are blessed with the ability to find and cherish—and even share the joy in your life.

Wandering Mind…

SOMETIMES, MY MIND WANDERS (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). It’s how my creative side works, so I try to never squelch the process. Recently, I almost posted something on Facebook, but decided to hold it for this weeks blog, because as I contemplated the original thought, the more I thought this would be a better place for it.

The simple post idea grew into one of my ‘personal musings’. So, here goes:

Breakfast finished, sitting on the back porch on a cool, grey morning. It will change. The forecast is for 80 degrees today. I look forward to it. But for now, I will enjoy the still morning.
Listening to the jays calling out between each other, morning doves and rock pigeons (at least, that’s what I call them. They look like ring-neck morning doves on mega doses of steriods with their beautiful grey feathers and white ‘collar’, but sound like pigeons) cooing in the distance and faint—very faint echos of a plane overhead. Off to my right, an occasional ‘chirp’ of a hummer as the buzzing of its wings makes its presence known.

The air fluctuates between stillness and gentle gusts, stirring the cool morning air. My chimes, all over the yard, resonating as the breezes and the chimes play tag.

I bought and hung a new, much deeper toned triangular chime at Costco just before I left on my trip (oh, my—that was over two months ago, already!) It rests under the eaves edge, so it doesn’t pick up just any breeze that passes through. I finally heard it for the first time the other day and cringed at the discordant tones. I even contemplated taking it back. I wanted ‘pretty’ tones, not the harsh, clashing noises it was making. But today, I heard it again, playing, intertwined with the other sounds—the other chimes, the singing of birds and the discordance somehow fit together nicely. Pleasing, even if a bit jagged around the edges.

Isn’t that how life is: all warm and fuzzy, rolling along smoothly one minute, then some jarring life experience blocks our way, making any forward progress nigh to impossible to proceed?

We can choose to give into it—turn around and go back; fight it—ending up bruised and scarred from the battle, losing momentum or even forgetting where we were headed in the first place; or we can go around it—no matter where it may take us, finding the original path just beyond its borders.

Going around it allows for discovery of other things along the way. New experiences to enrich our lives. Lessons learned. Perhaps, even strengthening us for the next obstacle.

A good example (though on the benign side) is one of the many experiences my daughter and I had on our first trip abroad: inevitably, as we drove through countryside into towns, we would get lost. In almost every single town. Without exception. Had my husband been with us, it would have caused him to become extremely agitated, making for unpleasant company. It was just the way he chose to respond to situations. My daughter? Well, she (the navigator) was getting frustrated because it felt like we were constantly getting lost.

Lost. What is it to be lost? The dictionary says, “unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts”. Were we really lost? I think not.

I chose to look at our recurring ‘situation’ differently, in a lighter, more carefree view. In this Old World, so very new to us, everywhere and everything was a wonderful experience waiting for us to discover. Even wrong turns produced awe-inspiring views to soak up. So, why be frustrated? When life pummels you with lemons, make lemonade, right?

Make the most of what you are given, whatever it may be. Incorporate it into your life and enjoy it. Live joyfully. Be thankful.

I lost my husband of thirty-plus years. Devastating. Life-altering. How does one live joyfully with that circumstance?

I could have been angry and/or saddened (well, I was—both—for a short while) that I was now alone in the world, without my life partner to support me, to confide with, to enjoy life with. But I chose to sidestep the grief and anger, to allowed myself to grow. And flourish. Growing in ways I would never have with him by my side. Flourishing, trying things I would never have thought to try while my life-partner was there to lean on.

Creating a new path.

One for me to explore—with all of its ups and downs, delights and challenges, enriching my life day by day. I know, with God’s help (He is always at my side), that I’ll do more than just ‘get through’ each day, I’ll become a better person than I was the day before.

Living joyfully. Thank you, Lord!

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!