Top 10 Tuesday: Things I do when I need inspiration

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Artists are not bottomless pits of inspiration. Although most of my posts are derived from some creative thought process, inspiration is not something that just happens all day every day. At least not for me.

One of the things that really irks me about myself is these random times that I’ll have a good idea for my writing and then before I remember to write it down, it’s gone. Poof. Vanished.

I bought a digital recorder a while back and I’m about to start keeping it with me all the time. 

But I digress. 

All artists have their own ways of maximizing their creative process. But for me, inspiration cannot be forced. I can try to gently coax it out, but that doesn’t always work. 

I don’t “work” at writing like I work at other things. It’s something that feels very organically a part of who I am. So to “do” anything to try and get inspired feels contrived and phony. And we all know how I feel about authenticity. 

So it probably doesn’t sound surprising that when I feel uninspired, I often just don’t write. At least not here. I can be totally inspiration-less when working on a writing JOB. But that’s different. It’s work. It’s research. It doesn’t always feel overly creative. 

But when I’m writing what I like to write, I do rely heavily on inspiration. But just like tonight, I’m writing this post in advance because I’ve been letting Tuesdays slip up on me and I don’t like halfassing my material. So I’ve been writing my top 10 posts early, when I can. 

I don’t feel necessarily inspired this evening. In fact, if I’m being quite honest, I have been kinda down today. But I’m doing these top 10 Tuesday posts, and I’m getting good response from them, I like writing them, and there is more structure to this weekly segment so I’m writing without a whole lot of “inspiration”.

Now, that being said, I try to write every day. And I pretty much do. But there are days when the writing gods are simply not smiling on me. Not even LOOKING at me. In fact, on those days, I’m pretty sure I’m dead to them. 

So what do I do?

1. Sleep

I do the majority of my writing on the weekends. If I’m not feeling particularly creative, sometimes it helps if I just go back to bed for a while. If nothing else, it gives me a bit of a “reset button” on my mindset. Usually. Sometimes it makes it worse. But hey, naps.

2. Read

There is nothing like good reading material to get my mind in that creative zone. It doesn’t have to be a whole novel or anything.

Good quotes, posts by other writers on social media, comments left by other people, articles, etc. Just reading other peoples’ words typically warms up my writer’s brain.

3. Meditate

Meditation is something that I suck at. But it helps. I need to do more of it.

4.  Nothing

My favorite thing to do, first thing in the morning, is to take my first cup of coffee back to bed and then drink my second cup outside on my patio. And do nothing. 

Just listen. Observe. Be in the moment. These are the moments when inspiration seems to wash over me like a cleansing rain. It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.

5. Take a walk

Nature itself seems to be conducive to creativity. Taking a walk down my old home country roads or in a pleasant park or even downtown my little quaint main street all help me gain inspiration. Usually different kinds too. It’s odd how different settings put me in such different mindsets.

6. Listen to someone

I can’t even tell you the times that a conversation with someone else has inspired me. In fact, I’d say the majority of my inspiration comes from my interactions with others. 

My daughter especially.

Talking with her puts me in such a reflective, introspective frame of mind.  I find that with a lot of people who have artistic mindsets. They seem to spark something within me. It’s good to have people like that around. 

7. Crosswords

Sometimes I just need a distraction and inspiration will show up after I’ve done something else. Crossword puzzles work my brain and help me be distracted from the writing process at the same time. They also help me relax. 

8. Reread some of my old stuff

Sometimes if I’m lacking inspiration, I’ll just go back and read things I’ve already written. If nothing else, the better posts remind me that I do not, in fact, suck at writing altogether, which is sometimes what my writer demons like to tell me when I’m feeling uninspired.

9. Drink more coffee

Sometimes I just need caffeine. Yes, it’s a stimulant. It’s also magic.

10. Try again later

There are days, for all my best efforts, that inspiration just will not land on me. 

But it’s okay. It always comes back.

I mostly just try to work through it and not give up altogether for the day. My inspiration most often comes in the morning before my days get too overly distracted. But I have written some good stuff late at night as well and also in the middle of the day. 

So, you see, inspiration cannot be controlled and/or manipulated. In fact, it seems to have a mind of its own and I wouldn’t be surprised if it knows I’m talking about it. 

Let’s hope it doesn’t go into hiding after this.

The Greatest Debate

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I made the…..mistake? this week of sharing some thoughts on Christianity on a comment thread about atheism/skepticism. 

I didn’t post my comments to start an argument, nor did I post them to try and convince anyone of a notion that somehow by me being a Christian that I am superior or more enlightened than someone who claims no association with spirituality or belief in a deity. 

I closely follow on social media the guy who started the thread because he is a brilliant writer. His posts stir my soul, and my mind. And I was quite honestly surprised that he posted his thoughts on religion, simply because I’ve not seen him do that before. 

It wasn’t long before someone came along with a snarky response to my comments. Though I said nothing and mentioned nothing about politics, that’s where their argument aimed. A less provocative yet still somewhat belittling commenter followed up and proceeded to pick apart something I said.

Both hurt my feelings. Because I do neither. I’m not a smartass about people’s faith or lack thereof, and I also don’t pick apart every statement they make. As I said, I wasn’t trying to convince anyone of anything. Sometimes it’s best to just let someone’s comments be what they are.

I don’t typically get into a pissing match with people about my religion. I don’t really care if people agree with my decision to be a Christian, but nobody likes to be treated like they’re stupid. Because I’m not an idiot. And something as personal as someone’s faith….well, it seems like a below-the belt thing to do to try and be condescending to them about it. But one of the comments implied that I was being condescending with part of what I said, so, apparently before I post any more thoughts in the future, I must be much more careful. The learning curve continues. 

I realize that Christianity as a whole gets a bad rep among many groups of people. But as much as I get why people are atheists, and I really do get it, because we’re all wired very differently when it comes to our acceptance of supernatural belief systems, I don’t understand why so many of them take it upon themselves to be hateful about it. Especially when hate is exactly what they don’t like about many who claim Christianity. 

What I hear within the atheist community is that they don’t want to be oppressed by religion.

As a Christian, I completely and utterly agree.

The fundamental belief systems of any religion should not dictate how others live their life in a free society. 

I might actually believe that I am on the right spiritual path, but that does not give me the right to tell someone else, in a free country, that they must live, work, and raise their children under the same umbrella that I do. 

My questions to atheists and skeptics is always, if they don’t believe in an Intelligent Designer, how do they explain their moral code? Where does it come from? 

While I’ve gotten some good and interesting answers, the thing is, I haven’t seen any evidence as of yet about why human beings seem to be hardwired with a type of spiritual longing. Why we want so desperately to make sense of things that make no sense (why bad things happen to good people, etc.). Why people who have never known anything about God, religion, etc. have belief systems that so mirror Christianity as though it is somehow part of their genetic makeup. 

Maybe, according to the atheist, the people who struggle with those types of questions (because not everyone does) are just ignorant. 

I can only know what I know. What I’ve experienced. What has enlightened me on both a physical/mental and spiritual level.

Christians, as a whole, are perceived more and more to be an exclusive bunch. And I can think of nothing further from the message of Christ. A message that longs to include, to lift up, to encourage, and to heal. But that perception is real, and in many cases, sadly more often than not, it’s reality. 

I know, from studying Psychology, that our conditioning and genetics work hand in hand to make us who we’re going to be. I take that extremely seriously because I am a mother. I know the gene pool from which my daughter came, and I know how my parenting has conditioned her.

But if that’s all there was, I would think we’d all be able to shape our children into exactly what we want them to be. And my own daughter is evidence that that kind of thinking is ridiculous. 

She is a natural skeptic. We have talked about her struggles to accept everything that I believe about Christianity, even though she has been repeatedly exposed to it all of her young life. This is why the atheist/skeptic argument matters to me on a personal level. I care about it otherwise, but when your own child looks at you and says, “I have a hard time believing that.”, it’s hard to accept that it’s not my job to try and convince her. I can only live an example of what I believe true Christ-like behavior means, and hope that is enough for her to see that THAT is actually the only part that really matters. The love part.  

I don’t know a single solitary individual that was solely convinced of the existence of God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit by factual evidence. 

This is why it’s a difficult and often fruitless conversation for believers and non-believers to have, especially if the mentality of each is not to really try and understand one another and only to convince or “win”. We’re approaching the subject matter from two entirely different perspectives. 

I think, for me, having been raised as I was, having the personality I have, faith comes somewhat easily to me. Holding on to that faith in difficult times has been a struggle on occasion. But it remains. Maybe that’s a defense mechanism of my brain. I don’t know. I just know that, at the end of the day, it is my peace. Regardless of what is going on around me, resting in an eternal unchanging nature of a Divine presence is peace to me. And my personal experiences within my religion transcend my human understanding. It is…..unexplainable. 

Reading back over this, there are countless places people who are skeptical of Christianity could pick apart my words. In truth, we could all do that to each other all the time. 

To be quite honest, I don’t have the energy to live my life like that. If you want to have a discussion, that’s fine. If you want to try and mutually understand one another’s position, that’s great. 

Where there is room for improvement on both sides is the need for compassion, and a willingness to listen and reserve judgment. 

I can understand how many atheists and skeptics feel oppressed by religion in this country. And by me identifying as a Christian, many of them see me as one of the enemy. 

But I do not hold to many of the ideas that are put forth by those who also claim this religion. And I think it’s wrong to be labeled that way. 

I think, until we can put aside our own need to be right long enough to try and understand someone else’s perspective, this debate will forever rage on. Often in a heated way. 

I’m still learning how to de-condition my own self from the need to be right. To actively listen and see other perspectives with compassion and validity. We all, Christians, and otherwise, have a long way to go. 

All I know to do is live my life as authentically as possible. Seek the truth. And love others as Christ loves them, as He loves me. 

I wonder sometimes, if more Christians did that, how many skeptics there would be.

The Reverend Doctor

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Today is my priest’s birthday. She is a perfectly flawed, beautifully broken person, and one who has become someone I count among my dearest friends.

Susan is a mother, sister, advisor, teacher and mentor to me and countless others. Her intelligence shows in every aspect of her life, but what shows even more is her compassion.

I don’t know very many people like her. Utterly committed to the betterment of people, especially those on the fringes of society. The outcasts. The ones that everyone else allows to hide in the shadows because it’s just too easy to let them stay there.

Susan doesn’t subscribe to that philosophy. Her love for Christ shines a spotlight on the people and causes that make many people uncomfortable. In that way, I think she emulates our Lord and Savior in a way like no one else I’ve ever met. 

We bond over spiritual matters, but psychology as well. We both have an understanding that human behavior and conditioning go hand in hand, and believe that basic human needs: mental, emotional, and physical, to be addressed before someone can be touched on a spiritual level. 

Her ability to be compassionately detached is something that I am learning from all the time. How to love others without letting that empathy completely destroy you from the inside out. I have a gut feeling this is something it took her a while to learn, and I’m finally, finally getting there. You can care deeply without letting it overtake you. 

That might sound cruel, but if you’re not a deeply feeling person, I can’t explain it to you. I can only say that it’s necessary for the sanity of those who are.

Her candid admissions of her own struggles with depression and anxiety have provided freedom for me and I’m sure many others who struggle with these kinds of demons. Knowing that someone of her intellectual and spiritual caliber has the same issues as myself gives me a sense of being “okay” in that mental illness doesn’t prey on those who are weak. It just preys on people. And being honest about it is liberating. 

I do not feel the need to put on a mask with Susan. That may be the most beautiful part of knowing her and having her for my priest and friend. 

Susan, I love you. I appreciate you. Knowing you has changed my life in so many ways. And I’m so very thankful for you.

Top 10 Tuesday: Best things about my job

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I really do love my 9-5. There are days, of course, where I want to pull every one of my red hairs out. But they really aren’t so often.

Mostly, it’s a fantastic place to work and here’s why.

1. The people

My coworkers are the best on the planet. I can say this with absolute certainty because I have worked with some AWFUL people in the past.

They care about each other. Help each other. And go the extra mile to be a support system to one another.

I have made lifelong friends at my job. That alone leaves me thankful for the place forever.

2. My boss….es

I have several, but the two I deal with on the most regular basis are very good and very good to me. 

They are brilliant guys and I’ve learned so much from them and continue to learn every day.

3. The work itself

My job is never, ever boring. I have learned more in the last two years than I ever thought I could and am taking on new responsibilities these days. 

I love learning. Expanding my experience. It keeps me interested in what I’m doing and I enjoy a challenge.

4. I’m using my education

Psychology doesn’t really seem to appear to go with banking, but psychology is about people. While banking is most certainly about numbers, what sets our institution apart is how we deal with the relationships we have with our customers. 

My education in psychology has given me a great grasp of how human behavior works. And it helps me every single day.

5. The OTHER people

I work with a lot of outside help. Contractors, attorneys, repo agents, etc. These folks are fantastic people. I’ve learned a lot from them too and they make my job a much more enriching experience.

6. The schedule

Bankers hours are pretty much a myth if you actually care about your job. I work much more than 40 hours a week sometimes. But my employer is extremely flexible for my family and has always been understanding of the fact that those family needs come first.

I also get to get out and about. I’m not always stuck behind a desk and that makes a HUGE difference in my level of job satisfaction. 

7. The benefits

I have never worked somewhere with better “extras”. Period.

8. The food.

My lord my coworkers can cook. We eat like a bunch of Baptists on a regular basis. We’re starting another biggest loser competition at my branch next month. Thank God. I’ve already gained back so much of the weight I lost last year. Okay, all of it. I blame my coworkers almost entirely. 

9. My assistant

The very fact that I have an assistant now is AWESOME. But she hasn’t even started yet and she is going to be a tremendous help to me. I am so excited about having her aboard.

10. It’s where I met my husband

Shey and I work for the same employer. It’s a strange love story, but we wouldn’t be “us” without it. 

It gives us a connection that a lot of people don’t have. We understand a lot of each other’s professional frustrations and triumphs. It’s been a good part of our relationship for most of our life together. 

I have never wanted just “a job”. I have always wanted a career. Something I could grow with. I really feel like I have that now in both my 9-5 and my writing. It’s a great feeling and to have contentment in this part of my life and is something that I do my best to not take for granted.

Redemption Alleluia

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For 40 days, it has been quiet. 

In the Episcopal church, we use the “Alleluia” refrain in every liturgy, except during Lent. 

It’s a type of fasting in and of itself, to not use this word. It’s not that we don’t praise God, or thank Him during Lent. And we’re not fasting from joy itself. We’re just observing a time of introspection. A quiet period of contemplation about the journey of Jesus that led Him to Golgotha.

When I left the Baptist church, I was in my own period of quiet contemplation. It wasn’t Lent, it was actually more around summertime. 

There was a stirring in my spirit that led me to lay down my keys to the church that had been my home for several years and walk out of that building into something……….else.

I’m not even going to lie. I was afraid.

And weary.

I visited several churches in the months that followed, but nothing “settled” on me. I felt like I was caught in an endless cycle of spiritual homelessness, with nowhere to feed my soul, or find rest.

It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted physical rest, but there was that as well. I had always, always been active in my churches. Pianist, teacher, VBS leader, prayer warrior. I was always there, ready to help, to go above and beyond for the sake of the call on my life as a Christian.

Oftentimes, if you have this type of willing spirit, you will be taken advantage of. People will assume that you will shoulder any and all responsibility and they will often readily let you.

But the problem was also with me. My workaholic tendencies slip into my spiritual life as much as they do my professional life. And my evangelical background taught me that even if you were saved by faith, if you weren’t actively participating in that faith in legalistic ways, you weren’t exactly a “good” Christian.

Most evangelical churches don’t come out and explicitly say this, but it is implied. Over and over again. 

The focus is often on how many come to church and how much they give when they do. They older I got, the more the focus on these numbers went from making me uncomfortable to downright pissing me off.

So I started looking. Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, non-denominational: all of these, I’m sure, would have eventually welcomed me with open arms. 

But I was not only weary, I was wary. What would they want from me? And would that be the only thing that gave me worth in their eyes? Would I be just another desperately needed number, or tithe?

I want to stop here and say that I do not disparage my Baptist background. Quite the opposite. My upbringing helped to inspire my deep appreciation for the spiritual and supernatural. I would not be who I am without that foundation.

There are issues with any denomination, my current one included. But my point is, I was no longer at home in it. And try as I might, and I really, really tried, I could not make it so. 

Fast forward to yesterday evening. I make a one hour drive to Jackson and walk into St. Philip’s Episcopal church. It’s not my “home” church, but it’s special to me. 

I walk in and take a seat and let my mind get transported into the creation story, the valley of the dry bones. I think my spiritual upbringing was the assembling of my own bones, my later experiences in the evangelical church as laying the sinews and skin upon them, and my most recent journey as the breath that brought everything to life.

Our Bishop presides over the service. During his sermon, my eyes sting with tears as he reflects upon stories from his own life. He compares how God takes what is broken, and redeems it, gives in new purpose. 

I know he speaks with humility and sincerity, because he is a former alcoholic. And now he is Bishop of the state Diocese. 

As I sit there, I think about how my own redemption story started in this same building. I’m there tonight for an Easter Vigil service and to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord. 

5 years ago, I sat across the aisle in the same building, tears not stinging my eyes but flowing freely, as I remembered the life of one of the best friends I ever had. And what I didn’t know at the time, was that there was a resurrection happening that day as well. 

My own.

From that moment forward, my life hasn’t been the same. Scales, one by one, began to fall away from my eyes and I eventually found exactly the place and people that I felt, and still feel, absolutely certain that I should be and call my spiritual family. 

It felt like, and has probably looked like, my life did a sharp 180. In some ways, I suppose I did. Some of the things that I had adopted as part of my belief system in my younger days did not survive the refining process. Some are still being burned away. Some are ingrained deeper and more profound than ever before.

But I don’t think of my spiritual resurrection as a 180 shift in who I was. I think of it as a natural progression from where I had been to where God was ready for me to go.

I don’t think Eric had to die for me to get there, either. But I think if he knew how much I’d grown as a person, and as a Christian in the years since his death, he’d be incredibly proud and supportive. 

So I sat there last night, listened, sang, prayed, accepted the bread and wine, renewed my baptismal covenant. 

I watched as the dimly lit room was brought to full brightness with the proclamation of “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” The incense filling the room. The voices of the choir swelling with an Alleluia song. 

This morning, at my own church, we “flowered” the cross, as is our Easter tradition. 

Once again, the message of how God transforms the ugly into something beautiful. 

Rebirth. 

Redemption.

We exchange God’s peace with one another. I feel the tangible presence of love everlasting in the room. Joy in our hearts. Alleluias on our lips. 

I am home.

Writing for what?

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Last week, I took some time off from my side writing gig. I had to move 2 carloads of files to my new work locale on the heels of a promotion, and it was also my birthday weekend so I decided to take a break.

But today I was back to the grind and honestly dreading it with my whole being. I have to churn out A minimum of 5 articles a week and while that doesn’t sound like much, I walk into the assignments completely blind.

I have to write either 500, 1000, or 1500 word minimum articles on subjects ranging from real estate to product descriptions to financial issues to legal situations and just about anything you can think of in between.

There is no heads up. You request an assignment and the system gives you one at random. It might be 500 words on digital marketing or 1500 on some kind of Google algorithm. And yes, I have written both kinds on both subjects. My point is, I never know until I click that assignment button whether or not I’m going to be in for a long night.

The company I work for doesn’t hire just anybody, and prefer for their writers to have a college degree. I now understand why. It’s not just that college educated writers write better (usually), it’s the fact that you have to know how to research and find legitimate sources to back up your content. 

I can write all day long. It’s the research that gets me. I’m good at research, it’s just time consuming and cuts into my profit if I have to spend an overt amount of time doing it. 

Today, thankfully, the research was minimal and I turned over 3 articles of each word length possible in about 5 hours. Research time included. 

But I have spent some nights, up until 1 or 2 in the morning, writing and researching 1500 word articles on subject I know nothing about. Those are the nights I want to quit. Because I like to sleep. A lot. And I need to sleep. 

However much I want to write, or even need to write, I cannot put my 9-5 at risk of becoming anything short of my first professional priority. It is my bread and butter and it cannot suffer.

So I’m here, in this balancing act, trying to figure out what direction I want my business to go.

I’m a year into the freelancing thing and have done really, really well for someone with a rudimentary understanding of owning my own business. But freelancing is a double-edged sword. Yes, there is immense satisfaction in working for myself, but there is also something to be said for a steady paycheck.

Some of my projects have been very lucrative, but they are staggered. Not steady gigs. The blogging thing was appealing because it is a regular paycheck for writing. I sacrificed some of the better money for more consistent deposits.

And honestly, I sacrificed some of my better writing also. I don’t slack at what I’m doing, don’t get me wrong. But I give them my money’s worth, which isn’t the same as what I’d give someone paying me my usual hourly rate. And that’s fine, because they want these articles written on about an 8th grade level of understanding. 

That’s challenging though, because I use big words sometimes. Complex sentences. And they don’t like that. So I have to “dumb it down” a little.

But I’m looking for ways to have the best of both worlds: a steady check while doing the kind of writing that means something. And I think I can have both, I’ve just got to make a plan. And I’m working on one. 

I pray it isn’t just a pipe dream, but something I can turn into a reality. I’ve already achieved more by stepping out into the world of entrepreneurship than I ever thought I could. 

But I want to do the writing that I believe I was meant to do. And these articles are not it. I believe the experience will help me down the line, but it doesn’t feed my soul. Just my bank account. But the bank account matters too. More than I wish it had to.

I just know there’s more to this passion of mine. Even though it might be minimal, what I’m doing here touches people. Even when I don’t expect it to. 

I want to take it beyond where it is. This particular direction I’ve been heading with writing professionally isn’t the way I want to go. But I have to do it a little while longer before I change course. 

I believe I have a gift for writing, and I believe and see that it can be used to help me and my family financially. But I don’t want it to just be a choice between the two. 

Ever the idealist, I continue to look for ways to make it be both. 

Lent Reflections: The Wreck

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Sometimes you can’t go forward until you look back.

In fact, I think maybe that’s what holds a lot of people hostage: the fact that they can’t or won’t deal with what’s happened in their past.

A lot of what makes us who we are is the ugly, traumatic parts of our lives. And try as we might, we are hardwired with all of it: the good, and the worst.

Some people just suppress. Suppress and bury it, deeper and deeper. But those things cannot and will not be ignored forever. They will eventually surface whether through our own coaxing or through another trigger that can send us spiraling into a dark, scary place.

Three years ago, my mother and I had a bad wreck. Out of nowhere, on the way to the first of Holy Week services, we were suddenly on the side of the highway in a crumpled car and waiting for an ambulance. 

I will never, never forget the sound of the impact nor the look of pain on my mom’s face. The fear in the eyes of the other driver when he came to check on us. The compassion in the eyes of the church member who came to see about us at the scene.

I will never forget the burn of the airbag or the smell of the smoke that came out of it. I will never forget the frustration mixed with fear and thankfulness and all of the mixed emotions that I dealt with in the days and weeks that followed.

I drive a lot. Every day. Hundreds of miles a week. But there’s not a time that I pass that intersection that I don’t remember wrecking there.

But I also remember all the places I went in that car. All the memories we made. All the miles we traveled. I remember the wreck. And I remember healing from it. 

That’s how it is in life too. You have the before moments, the traumatic moments, and the after moments. And they all impact each other. 

And Holy Week….well, it feels like the perfect time to reflect on that.

Christ came. He lived, he taught, he healed, he loved. And then he experienced a painful, agonizing, traumatic death. And then he rose. He overcame. 

But we cannot bask in a resurrection if there is no ugliness before it. We need to remember. We need to place ourselves there, observe the brutality and the pain and the brokeness. 

As Maundy Thursday ends, Good Friday begins. The darkness is beginning to settle. The remembrance becomes heavy upon those of us who have traveled the Lenten road these 40 days. 

It may seem strange to find a Divine meaning in something as…..earthly as wrecking a modern vehicle on a paved highway. But as I thought about it, the profoundness of it gripped me today. 

Christ and his followers were traveling along, then suddenly halted by their worst nightmare. 

And we have to revisit that nightmare to appreciate the dawn that is reborn every Easter season. 

“for the remembrance”. 

Remember. Painful as it may be. Remember. Go there. Feel it. Know it. Grasp hold of the pain. 

Remember the wrecks of your own life. Embrace them. Nail them to the cross with Christ. And watch what happens next.

Tiara State of Mind

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I was looking at a picture of my mom and me today. The day we bought our tiaras and wore them for the rest of the day: shopping, out to eat. It was awesome. 

Nobody bothers you when you have a crown on your head. I mean people “bother” you, as in, they ask what the hell you’re doing with a tiara on….. but the little things that we so often worry about are….beneath you.

And really, there’s no reason why it can’t be that way every day. Because a tiara isn’t a $7 item you place on your head, it’s a state of mind.

It’s a statement. It says, “I don’t care what anyone else says about me. I know my own worth.”

There’s a difference in pride and confidence. And I’m not talking about being conceited or belittling to others. It’s more of a not-today-satan attitude. 

I’ve had to make some decisions lately that might make me come across as selfish, maybe even bitchy. And maybe it’s the aging process, or maybe it’s that tiara state of mind, but I’m not losing sleep over them. 

I’m doing what I believe is best, for me. And by doing that, it’s what is best for others, because I’m being my best self.

It’s not an easy place to get to if you have people-pleasing tendencies that are ingrained into your very being. But it really delivers on freedom. Mental and emotional freedom. 

I have too long been a slave of the mentality that I have to keep everyone else happy. That’s an impossible task. And I’m done with it.

Done.

Finito.

When I look back on my Facebook memories in another 5 years, I want to see that tiara mentality in everything. I don’t want to see that my life was ruled by fear and anxiety.

The first step is in dealing with the root of the problem. For me, that meant hours in therapy. It was worth every single second. I was finally able to let go of a LOT that had been suffocating me for 30+ years.

The next step is taking a little white pill every day of my life. Maybe forever. Because I cannot beat my own genetics into submission. Not with 100 tiaras or even one with real diamonds.

And the next step is making the hard decisions, every day. The ones that might hurt someone else’s feelings or cause them to question my motives or simply don’t make sense to anyone else but me. 

At the end of the day, I’m the one that has to live or die by those decisions. And I’m not, by nature, an overly selfish person. But I will self-preserve. Because I have a daughter to think of. So even my most basic selfishness isn’t really selfish.

In the last 5 years, I’ve done things I never thought I’d do. I’ve graduated from college. I’ve buried people I loved. I’ve started my own business. I’ve gained some professional ground. I’ve come to terms with my own mortality. And I’ve made leaps and bounds with my spirituality and relationship with God.

There have been times when I wish I could go back to simpler moments. But growth comes at a cost. Always. And I’ll take growth over stagnation any day of the week.

I know who I am. At 35 years old, I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I struggle with insecurities about a lot of things still, but most of them are superficial things. Inconsequential. They will take care of themselves. Eventually.

There’s no changing a tiara state of mind once you’ve adopted it. That one decision can make a lifetime of difference. And I’m ready to wear it for life.

Uninspired 

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It’s good to know that the best among us (as writers) suffers occasionally from lack of inspiration.

Usually I don’t have to look for it. It finds me. Unexpectedly and without prompting. It’s when I’m trying that it seems to be harder. And suckier.

My blog views are down. Way down. It’s depressing. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. That seems to be the way it goes. Other things go right, something else suffers.

I’d like to write a lot of things. Personal crap that’s bothering me. I just don’t have the energy to articulate it right now.

So I’ll wait. It will come back. Inspiration will strike again. It’s just a dry spell. 

Top 10 Tuesday: Greatest books that were turned into a TV show or movie

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Reagan picked this topic for me. She’s recently turned into a TV junkie and had gotten really lazy in her reading.

For anyone who knows anything about my daughter, you’ll know that this is not in character for her at all. The lack of reading, not necessarily the laziness. 😂

To get her to read certain books, I have bribed her at times with the promise of watching the movie with her when she was finished. 

But I digress. 

I do love to read a terrific book and then find out it’s being adapted for film. I almost ALWAYS read books before I see the movies that inspired them, but I have been known to read one afterward on occasion. 

For instance:

1. LONESOME DOVE

This book was made into a television miniseries when I was a kid and my dad absolutely fell in love with it.

When I got older, I watched all 6+ hours of it myself and then read the book. 

This is one of the rare occasions where I did not find one to be greater than the other. The miniseries and the book were equally fantastic. And it may have been because it DID end up as a miniseries. Some books are just too good to condense and make into a two hour film.

2. CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

Now, this isn’t a book, but it was a play. And I DID read it. But the screen adaptation is flat out fabulous. 

Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor? It’s smokin’ hot and one of the rare movies set in the south that I find entirely realistic. I know everyone in the family portrayed. It’s downright spooky.

3. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 

Another classic that I think was extremely well done by the filmmakers. P.S. I am in love with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. 

Little-known-fact: If Reagan had been a boy, she very well might have been “Atticus”.

THAT is how much I love this story.

4. THE HELP

Reagan actually just finished this book and we watched the movie a couple of weekends ago. She agreed with my assessment (of which I’d been trying to convince her forever in pushing her to read the book) that they were equally fabulous.

I really hope Katherine Stockett puts out more material because this story is really, really good. 

The movie was partially filmed in Jackson, MS, and it’s pretty cool to see familiar places on the big screen. 

5. TWILIGHT 

Hahahahahahaha!!! Just kidding. 

I read the books. Yes, I unashamedly admit that I read every single one of the 4 part series. And I saw every single film.

The friend that loaned me the first book in the series went to see the first movie with me. And we laughed through the whole thing.

Total, superficial indulgence. Because the movies suuuuckkkked. The books were actually not bad for YA fiction. But the films ruined them. 

6. THE WALKING DEAD

Not trying to take liberties with the subject, but TWD IS based on a graphic novel series so Imma say it counts.

The Walking Dead is one of my favorite TV series. I’ve read bits and pieces of the comics, but not a lot. I think I’d like to eventually though just so I can make a legitimate comparison.

7. HARRY POTTER 

I know a lot of people who definitely have one preference over the other when it comes to beloved books being made into movies. But Harry Potter was done well.

I absolutely love the books more, but I think each filmmaker really did a great job in capturing the story and the entire world of JK Rowling’s imagination being brought to life on screen was really incredible.

8. LORD OF THE RINGS 

I’m gonna make another confession here: I’ve never completely finished all of the LOTR books.

I know, I know, I’m a sham and a disgrace to writers everywhere.

But I do know that the films were painstakingly made to be as visually and verbally precise as Tolkien purists could dare to imagine.

These movies, in my opinion, are the best epic masterpieces of filmmaking in my lifetime.

I will also say this, in my defense of not finishing reading LOTR. I find Tolkien to be over-descriptive at times. I get buried in it and lose what’s happening in the story. 

I’ll try to read them all again one day, “But it is not THIS day!”. Heh

9. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE 

A&E ran a miniseries of this a long time ago when Colin Firth really started to gain popularity with American audiences.

It’s a delightful adaptation of a timeless piece of literature.

10. ALICE IN WONDERLAND 

I LOVED this book as a child and then they created a TV miniseries for it when I was a kid. It had an all star cast and was turned into a musical for this version as well.

I have more titles still running through my head. I’d love to hear about your personal favorites in the comments!