10 things to smile about

It was a rough morning. I didn’t sleep well last night and this morning had my heart racing. Missy stepped in a yellow’s jackets nest during her potty round. She got stung a few times. I rushed her to vet office. Luckily, she doesn’t seem to have any adverse reactions. They gave her a large dose of Benadryl and told me to monitor her. She is limping because her foot got stung. I think perhaps it was worse on me than her. My job was all right with me taking the day off to watch her. My face is currently broken out with a mysterious rash, too.  It’s days like these you have to take time the to remember the things that make you smile.

  1. The thought of always having an adventure, no matter how small or big. IMG_3887.JPG

2. The beauty of nature makes me smile all the time. From flowers in the field to watching the fireflies at night in the trees…beauty is a joy.

3. The love and support from my friends and family.

4. Losing myself in a good book bring a comforting smile to my face.

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5.  Creating something beautiful that brings joy to myself and others.

6. The feeling of when a poem or song just fits in a perfect moment.

7. The happiness at seeing a tiny seed turn into a flower.

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8. Moments of peace when the thoughts in my head are kind, and the anxiety is quiet.

9. Simply having time with someone or something I love.

10. Taking pictures of Missy’s weird and cute faces.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what makes you smile, but it’s well worth it when you do. And as an update, the furbaby is doing well right now.

Light the candle

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.– Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve been saying this quote to myself each day for a long time. It’s more of a personal goal than anything. Needless to say, 2016 was a rough year for the world. Each of us has had our personal trials as well. Speaking from experience, it really is easier to give up. I nearly gave up entirely last year. With the love of friends and family, meds, and what I call my therapy dog, I pulled through. Some days are still a struggle and worry about the state of the world. However, if I can’t shine like a star, I will try to be a candle.

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Image from Morguefile.

I know the last two posts were personal, but sometimes you just have something important to say. There are many great books coming out, and I’ve fielded some review requests, so don’t worry. I just feel like sending a message of hope that those that need it. Don’t ever doubt the positive influence you have on someone. Even the smallest gesture can make the smallest difference. Just responding to a message can help make a person’ day.

I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions. It’s more of an overall goal to be a candle in the darkness. It’s to appreciate people and things more. It’s to let myself be guided and not force myself to feel things liked  I used to and to be kinder. Most of all, I need to try to be kinder to myself. Loving yourself is the first step to giving that love to other people. I think another overall goal is to give more myself to passions. Art and writing are important to me and I need to follow my creativity.

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I’ve been given many gifts this year along with many challenges and choices. I had to go through the experience of letting go and inviting new things in. I acted and managed to travel to a place I’ve never been before. It was a tad overwhelming, but I enjoyed my trip. New people have entered my life and I’m happy about this fact. I’ve witnessed many good things happen to my friends and how they made it through changes. I think that has kept me inspired as well. Remember, you can never underestimate the gifts you have to give to the world.

Where are you, Muse? Come back!

My Muse has been on vacation for the past few months. She doesn’t seem to be inclined to come back anytime soon. The thing is, I really need her to come back. October is coming up and that has always been a creative month for me. I post many Halloween themed articles on Fandomania. I like to write a short story or two. Although I have ideas rattling around, my creativity levels are at a low. I can’t seem to get anything started.This creative block isn’t just for writing, either. I got a nifty set of new sketch pencils on sale at Michael’s. Each time I get out the sketchpad, I stare blankly at the page. I try to doodle, then I get made that I can draw as well as I used to.Yes, the absence of my muse is starting to make me angry.

ALL THE TIME.
ALL THE TIME.

 

The three Muses of Greek mythology would be ashamed of me. There just seems to be a block in my system. I’m not sure how to get over this block. Some of it may be because of stress. August was a bad month where I spent nearly three weeks with my leg propped up and limited to any activities. I was worried about doctor bills, even with insurance, and other bills besides those. I was in pain from the leg. I could see how that would put a damper on things. Well, it’s almost October. I can’t say my Muse has been entirely silent all year. I’ve created some artwork. I practiced my burgeoning photography hobby. That is as far as my creativity goes right now. Maybe my spirit has been dampened this year. I’m waiting for the smoldering ashes to become fire.

“‎And yet I have had the weakness, and have still the weakness, to wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire.”- Sydney Carton, A Tale of Two Cities

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Of course, I’m going to take a chance to insert my favorite book quote of all time in here. Another culprit is work, I know. I took on way too much last week. I tend to take on too much. It wears my brain down mentally. However, even days of rest do not bring my muse back. It’s starting to bring me down. Creativity and stories are a large part of who I am. I don’t like their absence. My characters sit in a dark room with no direction. Maybe I need a change of scenery. My goal is to save up for a trip to Iceland. That does not help the October creativity issue.

I suppose people have their personal cures for writer’s block. Or in my case, a creative blockade that doesn’t want to allow anything through. If someone has a cure, I would love to try it. I feel frustrated,even when I try to relax and not think about. Meditation, nature walks, yoga…none of these things are working. Some would suggest just wait for things to come to you. I’ve been waiting for months now. Come back, Muse!

For Whom the Radio Tolls

Every afternoon, my Grandma had a ritual. It was an important time of the day that you didn’t interrupt. The ceremony involved turning on an old-fashioned square radio that had a knob and a speaker that looked like a grill. It was set to the same AM radio station and remain unchanged. I once changed the station and got a scolding in the process. The sound quality on the radio wasn’t that great, but she refused to get another until the square box finally died. Even after the death of the old radio, the ritual continued. You see, at the same time each afternoon, she listened to the funeral announcements.

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Photo: MorgueFile.com

I don’t know about other places, but people in the south have a fascination with death. Funerals are treated more like family reunions and lives are celebrated. The deceased is gossiped about in great detail; from old scandals to their final moments, nothing is sacred. People take photos of the recently departed in the caskets and mourners comment how good they look. Family and friends stay at the funeral home all day talking and catching up. They look more like a family reunion than a funeral. Southern funerals are a bizarre mix of joy and sadness. And like almost like the memento mori fad during the Victorian era, people photograph the dead. There are pictures of the dearly departed in my own Grandma’s photo albums. I still don’t know the exact reason why. I mean, there are plenty of pictures of the dead when they were alive.

My Grandma had a slightly morbid fascination with knowing who was dead. She would pause whatever she was doing to listen to the sonorous voice of the man reading out the obituaries. His voice sounded like it was meant to read about deaths in the community. The soft sounds of a piano playing “Amazing Grace” added to the somber radio segment. If the television was on, you were expected to mute it until the announcements were over. Playing loud games was also not allowed during this somber time. The man would begin his announcements and read out the details of about the lives of the deceased. My Grandma would not and exclaim if it was someone she knew. Her greatest disappointment was if there were no obituaries that day. If no one had died, she would turn down the radio and mutter “Well, shit.” My Grandma didn’t cuss often, but that was one of her favorite cuss words. Life would resume after the man was finished.

Now, if it was someone she knew, the phone vine was activated. She would immediately call someone she knew to relate the news. By the end of the day, the whole county would know who had died. Nowadays, we have the internet in which to share obituaries. Back then, it was by word of mouth. I’m not sure if that radio station still exists, but it was part of my childhood. I can’t hear the song “Amazing Grace” without thinking about obituaries.

Paper Dolls: When I was one

When I was a kid, I loved paper dolls. I collected them with a passion. I had a few cheap Barbie ones, but I was addicted to the Tom Tierney ones. I loved the fancy vintage styles, as I was fascinated with history and the past. Now, did cut them out and play with them. However, I was extra careful when I cut them out and played with them. They were all stored carefully in a box when I was done. I loved paper dolls probably a tad more than I loved Barbies. Some time ago, I had a dream about paper dolls. The details aren’t important, but it made me realize something. I’ve spent many parts of my life being a paper doll.

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I remember this being one of my favorites.

 

This blog is intended for books, but sometimes I can’t ignore a post building in my head. So, what do I mean by being a paper doll? Well, some comments over the past few months have made me realize how many times I’ve worn my paper doll clothes. People have commented that they never knew I liked gardening so much. Or some didn’t realize I like to paint and draw. There are other things, but only a few realized how bad my depression is and that I’ve always had it some form. Well, it’s because I hid it and other things as well to fit in with the crowd. And the worst crime, to be loved.

I made the Otaku life a priority, putting things I used to love in the backseat. Now, don’t get me wrong. Otaku life brought me great friends and experiences. My love for all things “kawaii” was genuine. But it was consuming. I sort of forgot my love of mythology, period dramas, history, and some of the simple country life. I followed a path that many of my friends were walking. Do I regret it? No. I just hate that I let so many other things go. I wore other doll clothes as well. I sort of passed myself as a brash, cool chick who scoffed at the issues of others. That was mostly me hiding what a mess I was. One thing I’m happy I never hid was being a bookworm. That is something I never could or would conceal.

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Yes, I definitely had this one.

 

At heart, I like growing and taking care of things. I’m an old soul who likes nature. I enjoy being with friends and talking about nerdy things. Having discussions about history or period dramas is an added bonus. I’m a romantic who likes looking at old pictures. Maybe I will write romance novels under a pen name and fantasy novels under another. My dream travel destinations are Scotland and Iceland. I could really go on and on. I’m tired of being a paper doll. But I realized I slowing began stripping off those layers years ago. It’s really uncomfortable wearing all those layers. However, I have always been sincere with my feelings about people. My friends and family are amazing gifts.

I was reminded of the importance of being authentic recently. I think it is when the seed for this post was planted. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Likewise, don’t alter your personality so much that you start to hate yourself for it.

Life with a learning disability

A post on my aunt’s Facebook wall made the point that not all disabilities are visible. This is true of having a learning disability. The signs are not always visible. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, 4.67 million Americans over the age of six have a learning disability of some kind. My learning disability is in math. Many people say they are bad in math. In my case, it’s an understatement. My inability to grasp mathematical concepts has led to many issues in my life.

I had a hard in school. I did pretty well in the humanity subjects. When it came to math, I was a horrible failure. As math became more advanced with each grade level, the more I fell behind. An 8th-grade math teacher just accused me of being lazy and said I would become a high school dropout. I wasn’t lazy, I just didn’t understand what was being taught to me. Pleas for help were ignored. Gradually I started to feel shame. Something had to be wrong with me. High school was even worse. I was placed in lower level math classes. It was a fact I mostly managed to hide from my peers. While my friends were complaining about the rigors of geometry, I was still in algebra. I passed these classes by the grace of a devoted teacher named Frances Warren. She recognized my problem and always worked with me. I graduated high school. Take that, 8th-grade teacher!

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I’ve had nightmares about this.

I nearly flunked out of a two-year college. If you failed a class three times, you got kicked out. I was on the tipping point when a counselor suggested I get tested. If I proved I had a disability, I could have more chances to take the math class I kept failing. So I went over what would later be the college where I got my B.A and got tested. Well, the results were pretty clear and they were so interesting the tester wanted to use them for a dissertation. Most people score a little below average an there isn’t a huge gap between their strengths and weaknesses. My test results had a huge gap between my reading scores and math scores. My math scores were at a mental retardation level. (Note: These were the professor/test giver’s words). Well, that settled it. It also saved me and with sheer determination, I got through all my college math classes. Also, I got longer time during tests and each math teacher got a file that told them about me. I was thankful to never have to take a math class ever again. But my life is still affected by the disability.

It has a name. Having a learning disability in math is called Dyscalculia. Not only do you have problems with mathematical concepts, you have issues with spatial relationships and sequencing. I suck at gauging distances. I have to really concentrate when I pour a drink into a class. People with this condition have issues seeing 3D objects and relation to surrounding objects. I can’t ever hang a picture straight. Rows of numbers or any type of mathematical equation sends me into an anxiety attack. In a number-driven world, it’s hard to function.

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My math face. (From memecenter.com)

I manage to live in it. As a freelancer, I have to keep up with my expenses and earnings for tax time, especially if I want some good deductions. I keep a careful spreadsheet that does the math for me. I’m not afraid to ask for help, either. I keep careful records. I use a calculator for almost everything. I would be lost without one. I have to have help all the time with any type of math concept. Outside of math, it’s hard for me to handle problems in a logical, sequential. This, too, causes a lot of anxiety. Any type of planning takes a lot of step by step consideration. My mind doesn’t go A, B, C. It’s more like A, G, Z, and back to D.

Dyscalculia makes it hard to get into certain types of employment. I worked one retail job in my youth. It didn’t go well. Yes, I know most registers are computerized nowadays. But what happens when the system is down and you have to count out money by hand? What if you have to work out the discount amount in your head? My brain doesn’t know how. Having this disability is just a fact of my existence. I live with it by asking for help and taking advantage of anything that helps me solve a problem. If you have a learning disability, you are not alone!

 

Anxiety is my backseat driver

I think most of us experience anxiety from time to time. It’s natural to be a little nervous about things like a job interview, a new job, a date,  or meeting new people. A lot of people bounce back rather quickly from these. Then there are those people at arent’s so lucky at bouncing back. People like me whom anxiety is constant in our lives. It’s the backseat driver that never really leaves me alone. It’s the grumpy old man or woman inside that makes you think the worst about everything. I’m talking about it today because I took a scary step forward this morning and it caused a boatload of anxiety.

Anxiety is…

You can look up the medical definition here. For me, anxiety is like background noise. I can ignore it and go about my day usually. But there are triggers that make that noise extremely loud. That is when the anxiety really sets in and takes me for a ride. I get really anxious about long-term things. Anything that has to do with the future can set me on edge. I signed up for my technical writing certification course this morning. I had some serious anxiety leading up the decision. My backseat driver made me question and doubt myself a hundred times. What if this course doesn’t pay off? What if my career doesn’t improve? You get the drift. I signed up this morning and took a deep breath. I won’t say I’m still not anxious, but the first step was taken. But if it has to do with large, future decisions I become a total wreck. I can’t sleep. My digestive system takes a turn for the worse. It’s hard to take a deep breath. My mind races like a horse a the Kentucky derby. It’s really quite awful.

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Comic by nataliedee.com

Another thing is my social anxiety. It can be mistaken for shyness. “Oh, she’s just shy”. No, being in this large room full of people is causing me to freak out. Or I go into a near panic when my phone rings with an unknown number. Or the times I’ve had to cold call people about jobs or something similar. It’s usually accomplished with a good dose of nausea. The sucky thing is you can just “STOP IT”. I’ve had that said to me when I’ve been in the throes of anxiety. If anxious people could stop it, we would. It doesn’t work like that. I’ve found ways of coping and managing it to some extent. Learning to deal with this monster has been a life long experience that I haven’t mastered, but I’m thankful I know some things that help me.

I’m not medicated and unless I get so bad I can even function at all, I don’t want to be. I’ve found that yoga/meditation really helps. It’s a good focus for all those raising thoughts. Yoga is all about being the moment. Being in the moment is a hard concept for me. It’s all about past wrongs or future anxiety. Yoga offers that grounding. Books have also been a form of relaxation. I can get out of the moment entirely. I recently got back into flower gardening. It relieves so much tension. There is nothing like the zen of seeing something beautiful grow.

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Talking helps or writing down why I’m anxious. I’m just careful who I talk to. Some people just don’t get that anxiety is a condition. Most of the time people with anxiety just want someone to listen. Talking out why we are anxious helps. We aren’t looking fo are fix, just a release. Anxiety is a horrible backseat driver. One of these days I hope to find a way to eject it entirely from the car.