Filled Slate

Another page turned,
365 days of memories
fresh in my mind;
like too-thick paint
on an oil-slicked surface.
I wake to the problems
of so many yesterdays,
yet resolve to remain resolute
in my desire to see hope
where I once saw darkness.
It’s hard to lift my chin
and I search my heart for praise
clutching a half-full glass,
trusting it will never be empty-
rather, overflowing with counted blessings.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post- it just makes me smile :)
This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post- it just makes me smile 🙂

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

As I do with poetry, I’m going to explain the thoughts behind the words I chose.  I wrote this poem on the first day of the year.  I admire those who approach the new year with such a strong sense of hope and excitement for what the next 365 days might hold.  I want to hope- I really do, but if hope was a candle’s flame, reality would be the wind gust gathering the strength to snuff it out.

I woke up on New Year’s Day, hoping my heart would feel giddy anticipation for the promise of a new year; a clean slate of sorts.  Instead, my consciousness noted the fact there is no clean slate – my slate is already filled with the stuff that’s happened the last year, and it’s too gunked up to be wiped away.  Before the end of the year, I received a confirmed diagnosis of the culprit of my younger son’s pain:  juvenile arthritis, specifically, ankylosing spondylitis.  (He is an amazing kid who happens to turn 10 this week.)  The new year doesn’t change the fact I’m left with choices that don’t feel very much like choices at all.  The first seven lines of the poem speak to this.

Even under the weight of reality, I still want to hope and remember the ways I am blessed.  I spent most of 2015 in a suffocating darkness where I could see no reason for my next breath.  I don’t make resolutions, but I do resolve to do everything I can to not go there again.  Praise is a chore at times, but I want to trust with all my heart that under the thorns of my burdens lives a joy I couldn’t fully appreciate without the struggles.  The last part of the poem is a pep talk to myself to not let my past hog-tie my future and take away my ability to experience joy.

May you find peace today, tomorrow, and the days following- even during trying times.  Have a beautiful Wednesday!

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Goodbye (For Now)

 

Goodbye... until next year!
Goodbye… until next year!

I’m posting this photo in response to Jeanne @ Nolagirlatheart’s weekly photo prompt.  The subject this week is “goodbye.”  She chose to post a sunset photo, which is the perfect goodbye and so hard not to copy, but as I started un-decking the halls last night, I had this idea.

**********

I love decorating for Christmas.  Memories flood in when I unbox the tree ornaments of years past, dust off the snow globes, and string enough lights to temporarily double our carbon footprint.  When the season is over, I pack everything away with a little sadness.  I try to do this by the beginning of the year, which is harder to do when it doesn’t fall on a weekend.  Waiting any longer feels like I’m trying to hang on to the past.  I don’t flip through my yearbook pining for younger days, or read old love letters fantasizing about old flames, so I will embrace the present (and future) here, too.

After everyone went to bed, I had the feeling of being watched as I erased our traces of Christmas.

Why do I feel like somebody's watching me?
Why do I feel like somebody’s watching me?

Yeah, it felt kind of like this.

As I untied the 79 bows from our stair spindles and dropped them in the bag, I couldn’t shake the feeling.  Even though I was sober (maybe spiced eggnog would’ve helped?) the feeling only grew stronger.

Nope, nothin' to see here...
Nope, nothin’ to see here…

I guess it was all in my head.

Or, maybe I was the subject of covert stalking (cats, FBI agents, and serial killers do this.)  It couldn’t have had anything to do with me removing all bright red cat toys!  In retrospect, purchasing red bows with bells was probably not the best idea, but I’ll still put them up next year.  Even kitties should enjoy the festivity of the season.  Besides, it’s an inexpensive distraction from the allure of the always-fascinating Christmas tree 🙂

Oooh, pretty!  And they make noise when you swat them!
Oooh, pretty! And they make noise when you swat them!

I’m here typing this on Thursday morning, so I can rule out being watched by the FBI or a serial killer.

Or… maybe they’re coming back tonight.  In that case, this post title will become an eerie premonition to my fate.  But wait.  “For now” implies I’ll return… I don’t want to be a ghost blogger.

Gulp.

Whoa there, imagination!  Two days into it, I think it’s safe to say we’re all saying our final goodbyes to 2013, with our feet steadying in the New Year.  Apparently, I’m carrying through my paranoia and odd sense of humor into the New Year.  Life is better when enjoyed with old friends, right?  😛 I hope yours is off to a fabulous start!

Do you look forward to the new year, or miss the one that just ended?

New Year, New Me? If Only!

It would be nice if the change of a year meant shedding the bad habits and forgetting insecurities.  If only the New Year eradicated unfulfilled promises, repeated mistakes or realizations that the same shortcomings of years past are still woven into the tapestry of my ‘self’.

I am in awe of the people who commit to making January 1st the beginning of change.  For instance, I know a lot of people have resolved to write more.  How do I know this?  My email “In” box told me so!  I don’t know how long I can keep up, but I’ll give it my best 🙂  I secretly wish I could be excited for the calendar change so I could finally lose that extra fifteen pounds or do the 90 minutes of exercise each week that my doctor kindly reminds me about at each visit.

One year is always linked to the next...
One year is always linked to the next…

I don’t do resolutions, mainly because any commitment I make under the influence of holiday sweets is bound to fail once I come off the sugar high.

Bad for teeth, hips and resolutions
Bad for teeth, hips and resolutions

I do, however, participate in moments of reflection (as I do throughout the year.)  As it turns out, there have been some things on my mind that I need to set free.  (My mind has limited real estate, so this space is desperately needed for other things.)

  • Recently, I did a writing prompt response about guilt.  I feel guilt over silly things – like not having enough time to view all the blogs of people who ‘like’ my posts, or to subscribe back to everyone who subscribes to my blog.  I’ve seen a few comments on other sites indicating that reciprocation is expected, but I hope it’s not really like that.  To me, this is like giving someone a gift and expecting one back in return.   I do appreciate every person who subscribes to my blog – and I visit every one of them…but I sincerely apologize if I have offended any subscriber by not subscribing back.
  • I want to believe I don’t care what others think, but as I prepare to hit ‘publish’ on this post, I have some fear the point above will drive others away.  I want to have faith that my spirit will come through in my writing, and that my spirit doesn’t stand on a mountain top screaming, “I’m a jerk!”
  • I struggle with insecurity.  If I could believe in myself as much as my mom believes in me, I’d be cocky and annoying surely have confidence that I’m following the path God intended.

The last couple of months have left my belly over-stuffed with food that should have killed me by now, but my spirit is starving for something of substance.  I recognize that when I slow down and make time for God, my shortcomings shrink.  My guilt dissolves into peace, I accept that my imperfect self is good enough, and I feel the power of God’s grace reminding me that if I place my trust in Him, He won’t let me stray.

For by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

May this New Year lead you to your peaceful place.
May this New Year lead you to your peaceful place.

Failure: Succeeding In The Opposite Direction

This is the time of year when many folks begin to think of ways to improve their lives when January 1st rolls around.  Many resolutions are made, and then broken before midnight February arrives.  I don’t make resolutions – especially for exercise or diet (been there, not done that.)

Can't see where we're going while looking over our shoulder

I do think it’s healthy to examine the year gone by to make sure we are moving in the right direction.  If not, this is a great time to reorient our life map and chart out a new course.  Reorienting can be done any day of the year, but for those motivated by the freshness of a different year, it can spark revived purpose.

What is not particularly useful is rehashing all the perceived failures of the past year.  (I say ‘perceived failures’ because our failures are often not failures at all…they are valuable experiences that just didn’t lead us in the direction we planned to go.)

Zeroing in on every face-plant only increases the likelihood that emptiness will be drowned in copious amounts of alcohol.  I’ve seen the aftermath of New Year’s binge drinkers and they are a miserable bunch.  I guess dehydrating your brain until it feels like it is being beaten by four thugs in a dark alley doesn’t foster human decency.

Of course I’ve had my share of perceived failures in 2011; I’ve had goals I never reached and dreams that weren’t fulfilled.  But I choose to focus on what I have done rather than what I haven’t.  I’ll use writing as an example, since that’s why I started this blog (even though it now blurs into other areas of my life.)

In 2011, I didn’t complete my second novel as I had hoped.  In fact, I haven’t written a single word of it, but I’m not discouraged.  On the contrary, I’m thrilled creativity hasn’t robbed me and dumped me beside the road on this writing journey.  And 2011 has been a journey….I have:

  • Read 22 novels
  • Written 7 short stories
  • Completed character development short stories for 3 of my novel characters
  • Written 13 poems (links to poetry and short stories are on my Random Writing page)
  • Written about 160 blog posts
  • Read and commented on I-don’t-know-how-many blog posts
  • And…here’s the big one:  I’ve ‘met’ so many interesting blog friends that my writing journey doesn’t feel like the solitary trek that some writers bemoan.  I’m having so much fun!  Thank you 🙂

As I already mentioned, I don’t make resolutions…but I do set goals.  My one goal for next year is simple:  I will feed my spiritual self by setting aside fifteen minutes each evening to read a devotional page or scripture.  Life is about balance, and that is the one area where I am deficient.

My relationship with God is the glue that bonds me as a wife, mother, friend, writer, employee, leader, and compassionate human being. Sometimes I feel like parts of me threaten to peel away, but I want my life to be held tighter than crazy glue between fingertips.

Um, not that I have experienced this, or anything…

How do you approach the New Year – with a bottle of Tequila and 100 of your closest acquaintances, or with quiet reflection and a good night’s sleep?

2011 Calendar? (check); January Budget? (check); Resolutions? (Not Quite!)

Over the past week, I’ve seen many blog posts dealing with the upcoming New Year.  Most of them are hyping up resolutions, and others are tearing them apart.  My apathy toward resolution-making leaves me in neither camp; I can take them or leave them (though I generally choose to leave them.)

I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud, but I don’t see the big deal about the calendar flipping over to a new year.  In fact, I’ll still be writing ‘2010’ until at least March.  I haven’t felt the need to stay up to see the precise moment midnight rolls around to a new year since…well, way before children.  It’s not like it provides a clean slate, because the only real fresh starts you get are the day you were born and the day you die – everything else is just scribbles on the board of life that will have to be dealt with whether it’s January 1st or September 23rd.

Really, I’m not a negative person (though I’m aware those unconvincing words are usually uttered by those denying who they really are.)  I just see things a little differently, that’s all.  I don’t need champagne, party hats, confetti, or to watch a sparkly ball drop over Times Square to have hope for change in my life.  To be honest, I’m still coming off the holiday high (and I’m planning my son’s birthday party, which is in less than 2 weeks) – the last thing I need is to jump into a change commitment.  That would be like bumping into an old acquaintance and suggesting we “do lunch,” even though I never intended to see her again, much less share a meal with her. 

yummy (evil) Oreos

I don’t make it a habit to set myself up for failure – or make commitments I cannot keep.  I’ve tried the resolution thing before.  One year, I decided I would ditch the sweets (cookies and chocolate, mainly.)  I did well.  For two days.  On the third day, I bought a package of Double Stuff Oreo cookies. 

Poor things didn’t stand a chance; they never saw the second week of January.  Folks, it doesn’t get much lower than that.  (Unless I were the drinking type and had a bottle of coconut rum stashed in the cabinet.)

Now if I naturally had will power and motivation, I might feel differently about resolutions.  Although, I doubt I’d need a resolution then, because I’d already have myself together.  There are areas in my life, such as writing, where I discipline myself.  So, I know for sure that if I want something to change badly enough, I will make it happen on my own terms – not because the calendar says it’s time.

Just so you know that I hold no animosity toward the new calendar year:

 

Tell me, what’s your view on resolutions?  Do you make them, break them – or fake them?