EAT!

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
Said the man who blew his brains out.
Sorry if that seems course,
But Hemingway would understand.

Write?
Yes.
Hard and clear?
Yes.
What hurts?
Everything.

Isn’t that why you became a writer in the first place
Instead of blowing your brains out?

I’m far too sensitive to my environment to be a normal person.
I am:
Someone vulnerable to suicide.
Someone who writes and thinks about sunsets, and waves, and injustice.
Someone who wonders how the world was created.
Or why the world was created. Or who created the world.

I have to taste life twice because I can’t believe how rich it is.
I want to savor
The full-bodied flavor
Of life in its burgeoning flourish.

The blossoming zest and delicious zing.
The sour punch of even a sting.

To gorge on the layered palate/palette of artistry that is our living, breathing world,
Even bitterness,
Is a meal too sumptuous to refuse.
But I can understand why Ernest would want to push away from the table.

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Take Heart

Psalm 61:2 (NIV)
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

OR this version which is much cooler and grammatically correct (LOL):

GOD’S WORD Translation
From the ends of the earth, I call to you when I begin to lose heart. Lead me to the rock that is high above me.


So, like, bring me to a higher place, a higher ground. Right? High above me. Like, way up there! Pull me up!

But about losing heart. Losing nerve. Losing courage.

It’s hard to be brave when you’re playing chicken with job satisfaction and basic human needs. Right?

Justification upon justification says, “Pay the rent. Enjoy air-conditioning. Eat food.”

And Jesus said to the rich man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.Mark 10:21

Gulp. He didn’t say anything about A/C and paying the rent.

But this was the rich man’s stumbling block. The thing that kept him from God. The one thing he wasn’t willing to do. Walk away from his most precious accomplishment. His most closely-held ideal.

Jesus knew that. He knew the man’s heart, the core of what drove this man every day–get money, things, wealth and power. And Jesus challenged that. Like he does!

The man was rich. You don’t wake up rich, I’ve tried. You have to really bust your hump to get it. You may even have to screw someone else to get ahead. In fact, most definitely.

The passage ends with sadness. The man is deeply sad because his eager heart is confronted by his unmotivated flesh. The account reads, “…the man’s face fell.”

So, his face was all “Yes! I love you Jesus! *SMILES* I’ll do anything for you, just tell me, ’cause I don’t know what to do with all this intention and I’m so excited by you!”

Jesus: Give it all up! Walk away from everything you hold dear. Be like me. Live on faith.

And then, his face was all “That’s the worst news I’ve ever gotten.”

I’ve been there.

This is hearing from Jesus:
To a porn addict: Just come on over to church when you get that whole porn-sex thing figured out.
To an overeater: Stop eating so much and I’ll see you over here!
To a gun collector: Yeah, sell all those things that make you feel safe and powerful and then follow me into a really bad neighborhood.

Uh. What?

Yeah.

I don’t think Jesus was telling the man do this or you can’t hang out. He was saying, “Oh, you want the answer? You won’t like it. It’s not easy!”

He was explaining. “The road I choose for you and the path you’re on don’t merge. Getting to my road isn’t going to be easy. It’s complicated. And you’re going to have to let go of everything that is materialistic. Can you do that? Are you still happy and eager?”

It’s like hearing about this job that you can have where all the best versions of life come true and you have everything you’ve ever wanted emotionally, financially and physically. But you have an hour commute. Or the job is on the other side of the world. The neighborhood is rough. Or there’s no neighborhood…on the other side of the world!

Have everything you ever wanted, but here’s the price: giving up everything that ever made you feel comfortable.

It’s like losing your heart. Losing the very thing that you thought made you tick, motivated you, drove you, inspired you. And you find out, all along, you were ticking to another machine. A greedy, oily machine that disgusts you. But you can’t live without it.


It’s much harder when you’re making decisions for 3 people and not just yourself. I’m married with one child. That’s a decision I made a long time ago and didn’t even have to think about. Yes! A thousand times, yes. Give me those choices, over and over, and I’d give the same answer–yes! Yes, to my husband. Yes, to my baby. Yes, to a lifetime of laughter, love and fulfillment.

But I have wandered this lonely planet for years in search of the right “job” for me. Because wife and mother doesn’t pay very well. 😉 I would love to be a writer who gets paid to spit wisdom on paper. I would love to work from home doing graphic design, photography, acting, writing, creative stuff. But nobody pays you for that. Or if they do, it’s not enough to pay the bills.

I would actually love to serve a mission before I die and help others. Live in a hut. Roll around in the mud. Haul water. Build things. Take showers outdoors. Not take showers at all. Meet people. Love on people. Stinky people.

I know that comes with many challenges. Sickness, loss, difficult physical conditions. No luxury! And how can I choose that for 2 other people?

But if I know anything, those moments are the ones we live and die for, the ones where we feel most connected to other humans. We don’t clean and count our possessions. We see and touch and talk to other humans. What are we living for if not God’s people, each other, our neighbor?

Things are nice. Things are really nice. Comfortable. Secure. Reassuring. Downright luxurious. But I don’t think God created us to be comfortable. Right? Idk. Most of the time, following Christ has moved me out of my comfort zone. Which I hate. But what does a person accomplish in their comfort zone? Even internally?

I’ve never truly loved another person inside of my comfort zone. My husband regularly pushes me into Uncomfort Zone. Being a mom isn’t always comfortable. High rewards in both relationships, but I am often challenged to love without limits. But I don’t want to!

Loving cute little babies and sexy husbands is easy. It’s when they aren’t so attractive that makes it a challenge. “Hey, Babe, do this thing I know you hate just because I like it.” or “Hey, Mom, drop what you’re doing and come help me.” Sigh.

OR

My husband said to me the other day, “Triggered!” Which is our shorthand for, “Leave me alone, I can’t deal with your issue, get off my back! Back up off me, Bro!!” And I hollered back, “Me triggered!” And he just softened so much. His eyes changed to deep compassion and empathy for me. At the drop of two words. He was way outside his comfort zone and loved on me. That’s marriage. That’s being outside of your comfort zone and loving.

Dropping your life, your issue, your house, your car, your bills, your ego at the door and following Jesus. Loving without limits. Driving to the bad neighborhood and helping. ‘Cause where else do they need help except the bad neighborhood? Doing the crummiest jobs because who else is doing them?


I have a chance for a job and it’s everything I always wanted. High emotional satisfaction, working for a nonprofit that espouses Christian beliefs, helping poor people find housing, using my graphic design skills, photography and other creative talents. 100% health and dental benefits. But it’s in a different part of town. It’s a drive for sure. But exactly what I want. Probably very rewarding. But I haven’t been offered the job. I’m in the initial stages of interviewing.

BUT! I have a job offer on the table. Office work. Part-time. Nothing glamorous. Not really in my field. A little, but it’s mainly answering the phone, scheduling rides and data entry. Some social media perhaps.

What do I do? Hold out for the perfect job? Or take the first thing I can get? I feel confident that I will have a job before the end of this month or next. (Unless I become famous for blogging, retire early and eat coconuts. LOL) Do I wait? Do I take the okay job and then quit when offered the full-time dream career? The okay job made it clear, “People come in and then leave me in a lurch, and I just need someone who’s gonna stay.” In light of that very explicit detail, I don’t want to start and then bail when I get something better.

I have been out of the traditional job market for so long, I don’t know what to do. Ethically and idealistically, my gut says don’t take okay and wait. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. But we need the dough. The perfect job isn’t so perfect either. There are drawbacks. But it’s my field of graphic design. I’ve waited so long to do what I went back to school for. Ugh.

What do I really want? What do I need to do for my family?


I’ll figure it out. But this is hard. Deep breath. Don’t spiral.

Take heart, be brave, find courage. Follow Jesus. Get dirty. Love without limits today. It’s just that easy!

LOL No. It’s hard.

But try it! It’s like climbing a rock. 🙂

You can be lead to that rock.
But you have to decide to climb it.
But you don’t have to climb it alone.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than me!

 

Sore

This morning I was really struggling with paralyzing doubt. But I blogged it off. 🙂 I wrote a poem. The emotional equivalent, for me, of pulling one’s self up by the proverbial boot straps.

Dealing with doubt. Doubt that I can be on top of my potential. Doubt that I will get a job in the profession that I chose 12 years ago. The profession that I entered at 32, went back to school for at 36, and at 44, the profession in which I’ve never had much success.

Doubt that I will ever be known. Doubt that I will ever be the person God wants me to be. Doubt that I can write with any caliber. Doubt that I have any value whatsoever.

Doubt that I can offer the world anything at all. Or worse yet, doubt that the world, when met with my offerings, will ever accept or understand me.

Fear, doubt, self-hatred. Shame, guilt, remorse. It’s been coming to a slow boil for days. Plus, I have a horrible headache from bumping my head yesterday. Very painful, sore arms and just a lethargy that I cannot shake. Whenever I feel physical pain in the company of depression or anxiety, I become very vulnerable and weak.

Physical pain aside (because what can you do except take a Tylenol and ice it down?), the author of the negativity is not God. The authorship deserves co-credit. Me. The world. Satan.

You can’t believe lies if you write them down. The power of the past disintegrates as pen touches paper. Or fingers touch keys. Lies evaporate when met with the truth of God’s words.

Don’t doubt. God, self or what’s been promised.

Jer 29:11 NIV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Don’t listen to lies. Wasted energy that could be used for pursuing your dreams. Or healing your bumps. 🙂

I have better things to do. And writing turned my whole day around. Super productive and feeling cheerful now. Still sore, but happy. Who woulda thunk?

Growing Doubt

If you’re going to plant something, make it your:
Feet.
Humility.
Kindness.
Reliance on God.

Don’t plant doubt. Doubt is a weed.
Grows fast and takes over everything.
No fruit or flowers can grow
With doubt around.

Doubt will have your well-maintained yard of confidence
Looking like:
A Jungle. Chaos. Hell.
In no time.

Who’s the:
Constant Gardener?
Lily-tender?
Bird-feeder?
Weed-killer?

God
Jesus
Holy Spirit

Doubt is like poison ivy:
Invasive.
Creeping.
Starts an itch that can’t be satisfied.

Once doubt takes over, I can’t stop it.
I’d have to burn my whole house down
To the ground
To beat it.

Scorched earth.
Have no worth.
I steal my mirth
With a Confidence dearth.

I can’t keep this yard on my own. Ask for help.
I’m an inexperienced novice with no skills.
No one ever taught me how to be awesome.
Everyone only reminded me of fear and failure.

God’s been doing this since the beginning of time.
OG-Original Gardener.
So pay attention.
Leave intention.

Oh, Petal. Doubt has no place
In a garden of self-esteem and worth.
Stop tearing up this dirt, sweating over the hurt.
Stop watering negativity with tears, bitterness, and concern.

We were made to blossom and thrive, Buttercup.
Don’t worry, Late-Bloomer.
Every plant has its cycle. Be patient.
Sometimes, the most rare flowers take the longest.

My value and worth aren’t earned.
Or learned.
They. Are. Inherited.
Passed down from my Father.

Genetic. Kinetic. Poetic. Prophetic.

No one can take it away.
No one. Not even myself.
Unless I give permission.
So how can I doubt that, Tulip?

Domestic Violence

So, I’m writing a play. I’ve written two plays so far and this is my third. I started this really cool piece about domestic violence and shelter living for women. I had planned to offer as a charitable fundraiser for local DV shelters. Then I got derailed, the project stalled on the other end and I haven’t been back to it. I was hoping to share here for some feedback. Here is an excerpt, let me know your thoughts.


WOMAN 1: Yeah, even her husband acts this way. (Referring to WOMAN 2)

WOMAN 2: (Lights go down on group, WOMAN 2 comes down front) It’s true. She’s right. I mean, I don’t know if all men act this way, but my husband does. The only difference between her husband and mine is that he buys me a diamond ring to apologize. We never know what people are going through behind closed doors. I don’t wanna be here, but I have no place to go. My dad is gone, my mom is in assisted living. My kids are at college and the house is in his name. Everything is. Bank accounts, cars, houses. I don’t want any of it anyway. I never did. I only wanted him. And I wanted him to want me the same. The first time he hit me, we were in college. He was drunk and I was mad. He’d been flirting all night with our friend’s new girl. Kissing her on the hand?! Laughing at all her dumb jokes. After we left, I complained the whole way home. I’d never been so mad with him before and he did not like it. He didn’t say a word until we got to his apartment. He shut the door, it was dark, he cornered me and whispered, “Don’t you ever talk to me that way again.” He waited for a few seconds. I thought he was walking away and then he turned and knocked me silly. I never questioned him again. I’m not sure why I didn’t leave that night. I know I felt guilty for thinking the worst of him. That was the first time, but for sure not the last. When I said nothing at his flirtations and when I said nothing about his business dealings and when I didn’t interfere with the kids, he’d still find a reason to hit. Or choke. Or…humiliate. All alone, at night, in private. In our room. In bed. I don’t keep this ring because I love jewelry or I like how it looks on my finger. I keep it because I’m not ready to give up on love. And I feel safe with it on. That’s ridiculous, I know. But you know, I earned this ring. I had to take a punch or two…or ten…to get it.


So that’s just one of the women I’m writing for. The idea is that they are in group therapy in the shelter and one by one, between dialogue, we hear each individual story over the course of the play. Really minimal set. Also, flashbacks of a woman from the 70s, winding up in the hospital for the umpteenth time, finally able to go to the new DV shelter that just opened. Her name is Hope.

I’d love to hear ideas, stories and feedback. Thanks for reading.

Swimming, Drowning

Swimming through the past. An ocean of negative feelings and tremendous waves of guilt, doubt, hurt and resentment pound you against the sand of time.

I swam in several oceans. Just this morning.

If you can read this, it’s because I trust you.

No.

It’s not.

Well, sort of.

It’s because I’m willing to give you one chance before I don’t. So I trust you. For now.

It’s funny because I trust this online group of fellow writers more than I do my own flesh and blood. I trust you more because you and I are the same.

You understand the tiny intricacies and intimacies of out-loud emotion. Sensitivity to environment and relationships. You observe life and tell it again. Live it again. An editor said to Susan Weidener, “Writing is living twice.”

Writers are brave enough to live, even the bad parts, twice. Suck the marrow.


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”  Henry David Thoreau


YOU (Reader/Writer)=Preservationist. Historian. Testifier. Guardian. Lover of words, people, experiences, life.

I understand. Mad respect.

This morning, I crushed a tiny flying insect between my index finger and thumb. Without thought. It continued to fly around my face and it was extremely annoying. S/he landed on my shirt and I took my chance.

Somehow, now and again, I feel just like that bug. Crushed without thought by some annoyed acquaintance.

I’ve mainly felt that way around certain creative types who have enormous ego and too little time to care for another. Improv actors. Improv actors are good at one thing. Thinking up jokes on the spot. Otherwise, adulting is just too hard.

The trouble is impulse control. They have none. I should know. I married an improviser. Ironic, I know.

The same impulse that tells them to say something funny or true on stage? That’s the same impulse in life that gets you socked in the gob by a gnarly stranger. Most of us learn to control that impulse to blurt out something ridiculous. Improvisers are rewarded for such behavior with laughter, slaps on the back and applause.

My husband’s improv friends for the most part were a tightly-loomed clique of quick-witted attention whores who constantly tried to one-up each other. If you couldn’t hang, you were just a hanger-on.

I’m damn funny. But not an improviser. I’ve tried. I’m not an improv-er mainly because I have strict impulse guidelines and fear rejection. Plus, my brain just does not work that fast. My judgment slows my reaction. I can improv. Just not at the same level as my husband.

For years I tried to fit in, be supportive, hang on. But it is wholly unsatisfying to be surrounded by adult toddlers most of the time. It’s exhausting.

No one ever seemed to be able to hold more than a five-minute conversation. Never about anything real either. It was usually a 5-minute joke-off/caffeine/smoke break. And they certainly didn’t care about your personal details unless it benefited them in some way. Exhausting.

Most successful improv-ers IMO have compartmentalized lives. Improv is over here. Family, life, job is waaaay over there. And that’s just not me. I want to be fully integrated. Real. Whole. And I want my husband to be, too. He’s working on it. Doing really good. But we haven’t seen that whole improv crowd for years.

I mainly swam around in regret for a few minutes this morning because I just finally deleted most of those people from my LinkedIn page. Seeing all those faces again just made me sad and mad all over again. The rejection of my true self, the rejection of my ability, the rejection of my offer of genuine friendship. Tears came fast and hard without warning, without rationale.

But, I’ve written about it and I feel okay now. Plus, I am too busy to tire myself in this choppy ocean of feelings. I’m sure you understand. 🙂

 

Nikon

Even though I carefully cradled you
*Camera on Board*
I dropped you on your eye.
Sorry ’bout that.
You’ll be okay.
You have a permanent scar, however.
Eye still works.
You’ve taken me places
I only dreamed were true.
You’re so important to me
And I want to capture you.
But you take all the pix.
How can I take a picture that does you justice?
You’re too good for selfies.
Sacrifice.
I’ll steal your soul with this shot.
Camera phone is jealous of just how good you are.
Thanks for the memories.
Friends for life.