Grappling with the Illusion: Words

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My friend Michael sent me the above cartoon last night. The most powerful weapon in the world is language and, more precisely, words. Language is the system by which we communicate, but the tool – our smoking gun – is our word choice. And, ironically, as this cartoon shows, even the same words can produce an entirely different meaning in their arrangement.

Obviously, I’m a fan of words. I’m a writer. I had dinner with my friend Stan Thursday. Stan is an artist. He helped a friend paint some murals for a new restaurant here in town. Neither one of them had ever painted anything on that scale. They adjusted their attitudes and methods to create an enormous artistic replication of a couple of photographs. He learned a lot. They had to get scaffolding. They had to paint and then step way back in order to “see” what they were painting. Ultimately, they have decided to start a business painting murals. They liked it, and it’s fairly lucrative as a business opportunity. Their art is a tool to make a living. Their art – their expression – creates an illusion that patrons are in Mexico. That illusion is what the owner is purchased. I’m sure he could care less about the art.

“Your mouth can spit venom or it can mend a broken soul.”

~ Mohammed Quatani,

Toastmasters 2015 World Champion Speaker

Wisdom at its root depends on having the skill to decipher between the illusion and the reality. If you read my blog, you know I’ve had a less than ideal experience with relationships. My primary problem with those failures was my confusion about the importance of words and actions. I am impetuous and I am passionate. I am easily moved. I am also extremely sensitive. I married a journalist and a wildly successful salesman – both highly skilled in the use of language. My love of words is my most profound and crippling addiction. I never understood that in judging the workability of a relationship I had to slow down enough to determine if a person’s words aligned with their actions. The illusion sucked me in, and I was sucker punched by the reality.

 

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It took a couple of years after my second divorce to understand how my preference for words blinded me. And it was the words spoken during our marriage that wounded me to my soul – too many of them …. the wrong ones ….. delivered in harmful ways. For wordsmiths, words are the ultimate assault weapon. And we are not afraid to use them. In my recovery, I have learned the power of words to heal.

I stumbled across this short and powerful video this morning after I was awakened by a relentless waterfall of words for this blog.

 

My friend Chris is a speechwriter. He lives in Watson now, but he was in D.C. for many years and wildly successful. He has crafted speeches for many of the big political players in the Democratic party. I love talking to him because he has the inside scoop on how the political engine really works. I know – because I’m a former journalist and from a newspaper family – that what we see in the media is smoke and mirrors. And I’m forever curious about what’s behind the curtain. I would like to try speechwriting. I think it would be fun and challenging to arrange words that move an audience but that are delivered from a different person. I’d like to participate in the illusion.

I was born into a family that “crafted” language. It came naturally to us. We are all writers of some sort. But I have an untrained, wild skill. Ironically, language is at its best when used sparingly. Sometimes I nail it with a phrase that cuts right to core. It’s especially rewarding if it playfully or powerfully rolls off the tongue. Just as many times I struggle to find the right word or phrase to express myself. Sometimes language – and my beloved words – fall miserably short. Writing is my craft and my relentless driving demon. I love the struggle. My mind wakes me up in the middle of the night hungering for the fight.

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When I was a journalism student, we were pounded with the instruction to restrict bias. Covering the news was a responsibility, and our greatest personal task was to drive that mission and not our personal agenda. Even with that, media bias has always been present in what is covered and who is interviewed. Today’s media has no morals. Everything is driven by clicks, and I wonder if anyone is focused on eliminating bias anymore. As in my relationships, I want to make political choices based on actions – not words. And it’s increasingly harder to see beyond the illusion.

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I urge you to look beyond the words of whatever you are reading in the media. I promise you that the majority of what you read or hear is a manipulation. Whether the writer wants you to “click” or part with your money or vote or get angry or scared, they know exactly what they are doing. Writers know how to use words as weapons, and they can be used for our good or our destruction. If you don’t want to be a pawn of the media, seek out unbiased sources. They are hard to find, but they do exist. It is more important than ever to be discriminating with what we consume. Our very lives depends on it.

The Rumble of Storytelling: #risingstrong

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I continue to percolate on Brene Brown’s wisdom and process in Rising Strong. Her premise is that the “story” we tell ourselves about ourselves needs to be written in order to create a different ending. And it is the stories of our lives – especially the stories of our falls – that make us who we are. By denying or hiding or minimizing our stories, we become less authentic.

I suppose that authenticity may not be a goal for everyone, but it is certainly a goal for me. I spent so much of my life trying to figure out who I was “supposed” to be as a wife, a daughter, a friend, an employee and even as a child of God. It was a horrible dilemma. I never could find the manual so I was constantly searching in people’s eyes and words for the answers. Instead of making authentic connections, I was trying to determine if I was acceptable, and if not, what I needed to do to be acceptable. It was exhausting and very, very lonely.

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Brown calls the act of digging into our emotions and our story “the rumble”. The biggest rumble of my life so far – and I expect there will be more – took place after my second divorce. I had gone to counseling before and had worked on my addictions for many, many years. It helped a little, but I obviously was still not functioning well enough to run my own life in a way that was supportive to my spirit. My armor was so solid that it took the blinding emotional pain of divorce and a complete wreckage of my life to give me the motivation to really look inside. I never wanted a real rumble. Who wants to go through that?  I found myself in a place where my armor was hurting me more than protecting me. I literally could not move forward and could not budge backwards an inch. The rumble was all I had left.

I don’t know how to describe how I felt at that time. The grief was debilitating, but I’d had grief before. It was almost like my life force had dwindled to a mere drip. I literally could not move beyond what I had to do that minute. Some days all I could do was cry. Other days I functioned fine. But I had no desire to make plans. All I wanted to do was throw myself into the curiosity that had grabbed me about who I was and how I ended up in this place once again. All of the authors I was reading and my spiritual guides were saying that I needed to really be present and open to this process in order to stop these patterns that were crippling my enjoyment and effectiveness in life. It was a sacred time.

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The whole premise of Rising Strong is that we have to change the story. But, in order to change the ending, we have to rumble with story to understand the truth. I had to look at my tendency toward perfectionism. I’m not the typical perfectionist who wants my work to be perfect and who kills themselves for their “products” to be perfect. I was the kind that wanted you to think I didn’t have issues. I wanted to be “all together”. And, honestly, people always told me that I seemed like I had it all together. But, they usually told me that after I fell apart in front of them, and they were shocked that I was a mess inside. I always felt embarrassed about that, but what I now realize is they were probably very happy to see that I was just like them. I was just too afraid to get that close. My perfectionism kept me in relationship with people that couldn’t be real and prevented me from real, authentic connection.

I wish that perfectionism was my only rumble, but I realized so much about myself during that time. I rumbled about issues around intimacy, my lack of boundaries and my inability to set them, my belief that I was unlovable and a host of other things. I was so supported. What I found out was that most everybody dealt with these things, but only a small percent of courageous souls will actually take on the rumble. Most want to numb out or lead half-lives or double lives in quiet desperation. I just didn’t want to do that anymore.

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When I was in the midst of the rumble, I thought that would be my life. It was very hard. It was time-consuming. It was expensive with therapists and workshops. But after a time, the rumble stopped being my life. And my life got better. Brown hadn’t written Rising Strong, and I didn’t have a process. Re-writing my story happened in bits and pieces and with individuals, but my most powerful part of the process was when I started this blog. One of my main motivators was that I wanted to continue to rumble with my perfectionism. I wanted the people I knew to know the real me. I didn’t want to sugarcoat it, and I knew that it was hard for me to do that with the short times that we could spend together. I knew that telling my story in a blog for everyone to see would push on every button I had. And I was ready to strip away the facade and see what would happen

There are times when the rumble with my perfectionism has been painful, and I’ve truthfully felt shame after some blog posts. But I’ve never taken one down. I used blogging as a spiritual practice, and my blog is sacred space for my own work in being authentic. It has been powerful for me in that way. But I’ve been most surprised by the power of writing itself. I’ve always heard that writing will help bring closure. That first year of blogging I slammed doors shut all year long. I wrote my story. I re-wrote my story with the power of hindsight. It was profound, and it literally changed my life.

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Today, I blog more about my daily life than I do my past. I’m not rumbling so much with past anymore. My fear about rumbling being my life was unfounded. The rumble was and is worth it. I am at peace with who I am today. I know my boundaries, and I set them. My relationships are real and authentic. Surprisingly, I have many more friends than I ever had before. I thought I would have less, but boundaries help me be cleaner with the people in my life. And if we don’t mesh, the connection dissipates rather quickly. I still rumble on occasion, but the process is just how I “do life”.

Brown’s book is helping me define my process a little more. Rising Strong outlines a process for something that is inherently messy and hard. It gives me structure and a language that makes sense. And I just love the fact that her books are becoming mainstream. I dream of a world where we all rumble with ourselves instead of each other. If we could do that, we could all rise strong – as individuals, as a culture and as a world.

 

 

Feeling the Love from Lakeland

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Three years ago, I was doing some leadership training for Fedex in Lakeland FL. I was just starting to write my blog, and I was really having fun chronicling all of the cities I was visiting with work. I wrote a little blog about Lakeland, and, to my surprise, it became my most-read blog for over a year and a half. It seems that the people of Lakeland are fond of their little town, and I hit a community nerve.

You can read the blog “I’m Not Leaving Lakeland… Please Send Money” here.

I left Lakeland the day of the big Christmas parade, and it seems that last night was this year’s parade date. I received a comment on my dusty old blog from a woman in Lakeland who works for the Chamber of Commerce or the City of Lakeland. At any rate she handles social media for some organization in town. She was responsible for the circulation of my blog initially.

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So it seems I’m embroiled in a local political battle about lawn chairs. That’s just the type of controversy I love. It has meaning beyond the obvious, but it’s relatively simple to air the issues.

I received a message this morning that my stats were booming. I had forgotten about the Lakeland comment, and I was wondering what had struck a nerve this week. Several comments from Lakeland residents clued me in. The little burg was once again reveling in their community’s charm in the arms of Midlife Moments. So far this morning, over 1,000 people in Lakeland have viewed my blog with an additional 400 yesterday.

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I think I’m sort of a local celebrity by this point. Maybe next year they’ll invite me to ride in the Christmas parade. I can’t wait to see what the stats do the rest of the day, but I think the Lakeland blog is once again going to surge past my blog on Southeastern Football for most reads. In blog-land, that’s kind of a big day! Most of all, it’s bringing back some great memories of a beautiful little piece of Americana.

Have a great weekend, y’all! I’m headed out to do maintenance on a trail with my new tribe. 🙂

More blogs on Lakeland…

Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland and 24-Hour Love

Living: Leaving a Legacy

I Created Something Different … Midlife Moments

Me on the beach in Hawaii in March 2012

Me on the beach in Hawaii in March 2012

Note: All the pics are from my first blogs. You can find them chronologically in the sidebar in the Monthly Archives (scroll down on your computer). You can also follow me via email from a spot in the sidebar!

I’ve been noodling how to make money from my blog. Apparently, lots of people make six figures on their blogs with topics ranging from raising urban chickens to how to live full-time in an RV. One young couple has traveled the country in an RV and paid off all of their student loans with proceeds from their blog that details how to live full-time in an RV and pay off your student loans. Other young people have made fortunes writing blogs about how to find a job you are passionate about and even personal blogs like mine.

Ashok and my Dad...Pilot and co-Pilot

Ashok and my Dad…Pilot and co-Pilot

I would love to make a fortune off writing this blog. I love doing it, and I can’t seem to stop doing it, so it would be a great fit. So, I started researching HOW people make money off them. You can sell ads, write blogs advertising products and sell links to advertiser’s websites. One weekend, I looked up all the ways to make money and started applying to get some of those dollars. In less than 24 hours, I got a note back from Google Adsense that I needed to have more text in my blog in order to run their ads. I grimaced. I’m not going to change my writing in order to put ads on my page. Then I started looking at some of these bloggers’ sites, and the ads were all over the place. They were irritating. Some had pop-ups where you couldn’t find the X to exit. Videos blared. Many were placed in the content, and I kept clicking on the ad instead of the article content.  Ugh….

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I write my blog for the writing. I’ve been doing this for 3 years and have posted almost 800 blogs. I am an avid blogger. Yesterday, I happened to be looking at my stats, and I noticed that I had exactly 100 email followers. Some people follow me on FaceBook, some on Twitter and some find me during a Google search. Other WordPress bloggers can subscribe to my blog in their reader. But, my most avid readers are those who get my blogs via email. They never miss a post because they receive an email in their inbox. Some of my followers have followed me for over 3 years! That means they have received every one of my almost 800 blogs in their inbox. They read it or delete it, but it’s right there in their face.

Me at 19 years old

Me at 19 years old

Since 100 followers is sort of a momentous number in my book, I sent them all an email thanking them for following my ins and outs and reading my blog. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to read about my little solitary adventure, but people are always confessing that they read my blog. I giggle a little because I can’t imagine that I’m that interesting. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe I’m pretty normal, and it’s just interesting to read about a normal person’s life. If you feel like sharing WHY you find this blog interesting, I’d love to hear about it! It’ll probably make me giggle just a little.

Hiking at Shelby Farms in Memphis

Hiking at Shelby Farms in Memphis

Anyway, I sent them an email thanking them for their loyal following. One by one I got emails back that blew me away. Some of them I know in my personal life. Others I’ve only met once. And then there was one that I’ve never even met. She is friends of an old co-worker and was having some of the same issues that I have. She told me that she was so grateful that I share about my life so that she can learn from it. Giggle, giggle…. Another reader told me that she’s started going to 12-step meetings because of my blog. Others mentioned that they love reading about my adventures with Ashok, and several mentioned the word courageous. I saved them all. I want to read them on those days after I hit send, and the silence is deafening. I’ll know that Midlife Moments is sitting in their inbox waiting for them if they need it.

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When I first started writing, people would send me private messages and tell me that I was really helping them. One of my friends stood in a coffee shop with tears in her eyes and said, “You are helping people. You are helping me.” That was the reason I started this blog. If you read my first blog “You Can Create Something Different”, I put forth this intention:

For me, the past 10 years or so has been about learning to pray, learning to surrender to God’s plan for me, learning to ask for help and connecting to that little curly haired girl who was ignored and silenced by my own and others vision of what a “successful” life looked like. I want to share the work I’ve done. I also want to share with you the day to day struggles that I still battle in order to stay grounded in this life that changes every moment. I want to share resources that were helpful to me as I’ve gone through divorce, addiction recovery, financial upheaval and various other life struggles. I hope that you will find it helpful. If not, I hope you will find it funny and hopeful. If nothing else, I have learned to laugh as I move through this.

My life is nothing special. I still have issues in relationships. I’m still scared. I still feel lonely. But I’ve found that by sharing with others and being authentic I’ve developed a strength that I didn’t know I had. It’s the strength and bond of community. I’ve made new friends that I’ve never even met. I’ve rekindled relationships with old friends. I’ve deepened friendships that already existed and, yes, I’ve culled relationships that couldn’t weather the authenticity. I don’t tell you everything, but I do tell you a lot. The writing has changed my life, deepened my relationship with myself and helped me get closure on a lot of things. I would not be in Baton Rouge if I hadn’t blogged.

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When I thought about cluttering up this sacred space – and it has become that for me – it seemed so inauthentic. A business asked me to blog about how I make myself warm and cozy in the fall and to link to their bedding website. They didn’t want to pay me or send me any product. I didn’t like that deal, but what I really couldn’t do was subject my readers that follow me on this intimate journey to an advertisement of something I’d never used. Would I want my readers to start questioning if this was real, or if this was something that was generating income? Maybe I could start a different blog for that purpose one day, but I don’t think I can do that to Midlife Moments. It would be like prostituting my soul for a few bucks.

Running with me in the Memphis Track Club Cross Country Series 10K

Running with me in the Memphis Track Club Cross Country Series 10K

So, I won’t be writing blogs for money here. You can always be assured that what I write is real and sometimes raw and always genuine. I promise the blog site will always be clean and adorned with my stuff. I know WordPress runs a few ads through there, but, hopefully it’s not a lot. I don’t want to ever irritate you unless I mention something that convicts you of a change you want to make in your life. I do want you to know how much this space means to me. My first words to you were “You can create something different”, and those words ended up being insanely prophetic for me.

Writing Naked

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I had no idea what to expect when I started writing this blog a couple of years ago. I know that my intention was to write about some of the resources I’ve found that helped me through Recovery, depression and anxiety. I found out pretty quickly – the first week actually – that I couldn’t really do that without baring my soul to some extent. The first time I did it, I wrote about my blackout drinking. I remember being really afraid to hit send. Now … with a click of a button … anybody who visited my site knew that I had a drinking problem. Even though it’s been licked for the most part since my 20s, there is still a stigma attached to alcoholism or even drinking problems. A large percent of the population has  a problem with drinking, but it is better to be a drunk than a recovered drunk.

A friend of mine commented this weekend that it looked like my move to Baton Rouge has been really good for me. I had to think a minute before I responded because I could see where she might get that idea. She reads my blog more regularly than she talks to me, and my blog has all kinds of great travel stories and fun things in it. This is the big disadvantage of writing for public consumption. People think they know what is going on with you because they read your stuff. And, yes, it is all me. I’m not making it up. But, it’s a snapshot of one thing in a million moments of time. I might have a day filled with stress and drama and hurt  and disappointment, but I have a fun evening with a friend, and that snapshot becomes the picture of the day. I don’t find it necessary to dwell on all of the negative stuff that goes on. Nor, do I find it necessary to dwell on all of the positive stuff either. It’s a writing exercise. The content is filtered. In truth, my job here is very frustrating and has not turned out at all like I thought it would. I have been struggling to make friends locally. The city is not conducive to the things I like to do. So, you see, I was a little taken aback at how to respond to her comment.

I consider that I write ‘naked’ because I try to write about my feelings without filtering them too much. It probably appears to readers that I’m very open and honest about the way I feel and how I react to things. And, I am … to a point. My closest friends know there are things going on in my life that I never write about. Frankly, a large part of my life is nobody’s business but mine. I write about my depressive episodes after I’ve gone through them. I wrote about it once when I was in the grips, but I did that as an experiment. I don’t want to do it as a common topic. And, honestly, I am depressed fairly often. Sometimes it’s for a short period of time, and it has been a long time since it settled in for a long stretch. When I have written about it, I have worried some of my acquaintances, so I decided not to do that very often. My blog is not a cry for attention. If I need support, I’ll call those closest to me. It makes me a little uncomfortable when people I don’t know very well start worrying about me.

Writing ‘naked’ has brought me some great things. It has helped me find closure on some very significant events in my life. That first year of writing was the most cathartic thing I’ve ever done. I finally shut the door on my second marriage once and for all. That was huge, and I attribute it to the writing. The writing helped me meet people that I would not otherwise have met. It has also deepened some relationships with people that I already knew, but we didn’t realize how much we had in common. Other like-minded people wanted to get to know me better. It also caused some of my ‘friends’ to go away. They just disappeared .. unfriended me on FB … never heard from them again. It hurt a little, but I figured once they really got to know me in person they would have gone away anyway. In some way, it seemed efficient. Why waste time with somebody that doesn’t like me anyway?

I also blame some of my dating dilemnas on my blog. Sure, there have been guys I’ve met who liked the blog and thought it was cool, but I’ve found that writing – just like Facebook and other social media – creates a persona that may or may not resemble who I am at all. I have friended people on Facebook who seem really shy and reserved, but, in social media, they become very animated and personable. In person, they are not like that at all. I’ve also seen quite the opposite. Social media and blogging are entertainment; they are not real life. So, I’ve started warning men that I meet that – if they wish to read my blog – they need to realize Midlife Moments is a persona. It’s me … but it’s not me. One man said he thought my writing in public was a problem. “What would be left for your significant other,” he asked, “if you put everything out on the internet.” I tried to explain there was much of me to get to know and share that has nothing to do with my writing. He ended up being a wacko, so I didn’t care in the long run, but it bothered me that my writing might give somebody this impression.

I love writing. And, I love the immediate feedback and connection I get from blogging. I love the benefits for me personally when I write down my goals and the things I’ve learned. I even like to go back and read some of them from time to time to see how I’ve changed. Often, the words don’t even seem like mine. I can’t believe I wrote that – in that way – with those words. It has in a way created an alter ego that sometimes I like and sometimes I think is a little bit narcissistic. That’s sort of how I feel about myself in real life, too, I guess. But, when I write about it, it’s so …. public. The biggest downside is that I believe it causes loneliness for me. I write, and people feel like they are having a conversation with me. They just heard about my day … my trip … or my struggles. Their curiosity and desire for connection with me has been satisfied. But, for me, nothing has changed. I’ve made no connection other than the one with myself. It can feel very lonely. Occasionally, I think I should quit because nobody cares about this stuff, and I hate what it’s doing to my social life. Then, I meet up with somebody, and they tell me they read my blog all the time, and they love it. I’m always shocked. I see that I’m being read in the stats, but I don’t know who it is. It could be somebody in Spain as well as my next door neighbor. I don’t miss the connection with the person in Spain. I don’t care about them. I miss the connection with those people who are my friends. They feel like they’ve already made a connection with me, and they don’t miss me. I, on the other hand, miss them terribly.

A friend of mine just started writing her own blog, and she’s writing ‘naked’, too. She’s doing a project blog called Settling Mud, but the topic is requiring her to talk about herself. I get to see how my friends’ feel when they read something vulnerable that I write. It’s cool. It is very connecting. And, it’s inspiring. It tugs at me to give a little of myself. We’ve connected in some ways over the years but we’ve never been super close. It’s cool to connect with her in this way. I like the writing connection. It feels like we are totally getting each other, and it’s a great conversation. We are both writers, so we’re really comfortable with the medium. It’s different than sitting in a room and chatting. She opens up, and it feels intimate but without the face-to-face visual.  It’s all up to me to decide how she feels about opening up like that and how much I’ll reciprocate. It feels private and close, but it’s not. It’s public. It’s helping me understand how readers see my writing. I also know that, even though she’s opening up, it’s not all of who she is. It’s a small piece of herself from her day that she’s willing to share with whomever wants to read it. It’s a gift. She’s so much bigger than that!

 

I Need Your Advice! What’s My Sweet Spot?

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I started this blog in August 2012 with this post. My hopes for this blog were published there, and, more importantly, it let me tip my toe into the blogosphere to see if I would be accepted. I do remember being afraid of what people would think in my talking about addiction and divorce, but I had to try it … I had to push past my fears of being unlovable and see if there people out there who resonated with the REAL me.

In the past year and a half or so, I’ve written about all kinds of things. I’ve written about my daily life. I’ve written about my past. I’ve detailed my day-to-day struggles and my successes. I’ve done biographical pieces on people that I care about and know. I’ve written about being single, dating and sex. I’ve written about places to travel, books I’ve read, and fun things to do. I’ve even written about fashion and hairstyles. I’ve touched on a lot of things that are important to me.

I know which ones I love writing about. I love it when I’m writing a piece, and it takes me away on a cloud. At those times, I know the words I’m writing do not only come from me, but they come from a wisdom so much greater than me that has inspired my life and my vision. Other times, I feel very little joy when I’m writing. I’ve dubbed those times my “writer’s block”.  I’ve asked for suggestions from friends on Facebook to keep my writing when my brain says I have nothing to say. You’ve provided me with improvisational topics, inspiration and more encouragement than I ever thought I would get. For that, I’m really grateful. There have been times when I struggle to get through a blog, and I think it’s horrible. Sometimes I’ve even thought of deleting it after I write it. But then two or three of you will contact me and say that you really needed to hear that today. It’s taught me that I often can’t hear my own voice in the way others do.

So, I’m considering taking this a step farther. I sort of hate to put this out there because then I’ll feel the pressure to do it, but I’m considering writing a book. I don’t want to do a book of blog posts, although a morning meditation book could certainly be a way to do that. I would like to do a book in the sense that it has a focus and a distinct audience. I’d like to teach others what I’ve learned and inspire them to find their own path. I don’t care if I make a lot of money, although it would be a pleasant surprise if I did. I would like to leave a legacy, maybe even jump-start a new career or teach. I don’t want to think too far ahead. Right now, I just want to think about it and see if it’s a good fit and if I can pull it off.

Given that I don’t always hear my own voice and appreciate what others appreciate, I’d like to ask for your feedback. There’s a list of topics on the top of this blog. If you caught me somewhere in mid-stream, you might want to read some of those topics that you missed. I’d like to know your thoughts on what are my best subjects for a book. What would you be curious to know more about? What touches you? What would you like to have in your bookcase or on your Kindle for reference? Inspiration? Levity?

There are many ways to contact me. You can comment on this blog. You no longer have to provide your email address, so it’s not a hassle anymore. However, if you don’t tell me how to contact you, I can’t reply. You’ll just have to check the blog again in the future. You can “like” my Midlife Moments Facebook Page. You can tweet to me on Twitter at midlifemoments1. You may email me at yogini.sharon@gmail.com. All of these links are also available on my blog page and can be found in my About Me section. If you know me personally, then please feel free to text or call. I really want to know where you see the value in my writing as a reader … because a smart gal would focus on that, wouldn’t she?


 

 

Come on, Y’all!! I’m Behind by 2% … WHERE ARE YOU? :)

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Okay… you’ve had a few days off for the holiday, it’s time to get back to work. SOMEHOW Midlife Moments Blog has fallen to second place in the Vibrant Voice Blogger contest. That is unthinkable. You can vote EVERYDAY! From every DEVICE! If I have ever made you laugh, cry, think about yourself differently or even irritated you, I’ve made you feel! Please help me get this … I’m getting new readers everyday because of it! It’s fun. Have a great Monday… even if you don’t vote for me.

https://www.facebook.com/replens/app_303561899745219

 

Writing My Life

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Okay… that’s enough of the depressing crap. I’m done. I’m back… maybe feistier than ever. That’s the great thing about feeling my feelings. After a couple of days, it’s done… history … door closed … locked … and bolted. This time it started on Tuesday morning. By Thursday night at 7 PM, I was back. Thank heavens. It sucked.
In the past I’ve written about my depression AFTER I was over it. I didn’t want to put myself out there. It concerns my friends and family, and I hate to get them all hot and bothered about me. For me, it’s a normal ebb and flow. I don’t really think of it as “bad” anymore. It’s just part of my emotional process. I don’t enjoy it, but if I start to panic and think of it as bad, it just makes it that much worse. So, I just hang on for the ride and do the things I know I need to do to help me through it. I never thought of myself as a creative person until I started writing, but, now that I know that it is a creative outlet for me, I identify with the brooding, creative type. We just have to go there sometimes. It’s food for the creative machine.
Awhile back, Jessica, my coach and fellow blogger, sent me an email during her graduate class at University of Texas. She said they were discussing the benefits of writing in a class called The Psychology of Sport. Her teacher said this about writing:
  • It doesn’t matter how often you write. 3-4 times/week may be better.
  • It doesn’t matter how long you spend writing.
  • The subject matter should be determined by the individual – by you.
  • You should write in a comfortable environment.
  • Writing is most effective when done immediately after trauma.

The benefits of writing are many. It works for coping with:

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • cystic fibrosis
  • chronic pain
  • losing job
  • PTSD
  • depression
  • anxiety
It also helps in achievement settings. It helps remove any fear and anxiety.
Health benefits of writing are:
  • improved immune function
  • fewer visits to health care facilities
  • better self reports of overall health

I have intermittently kept journals throughout my life. I mainly wrote in them during bad times. I have scads of them in my bookcase. One day, after I’m long gone, someone can read about the rough times in my life. I was always told that if you have things swimming around in your head – obsessions, anxiety, fear – the act of writing them down takes them out of your head. Our brain only keeps circulating that which we haven’t processed. Once I wrote things down, it helped to clean out the messy clutter in my brain. Plus, it actually made me think about the issue I was dealing with in a way that made them real … or made it obvious that they were all in my head.

This time I decided to write about my depressive cycle while I was in it. I did it partly because I wanted to paint a picture of what I was feeling for myself. Now, I’m on the internet, so it’s a little embarrassing to put my nuttiness out there for everybody to see. But, I’ve been doing this long enough that I know there are people out there who are suffering and need to know that they are not alone, and the process helps me. By writing about it, I really did get to tease out what I was feeling, and it helped me to stay above the lowest point. I got there that first night, but, after writing my “box full of darkness” blog, the worst part melted away. The writing shined a light in the darkness.

I love the fact that my writing is also a record and sometimes a scrapbook. I go back now and look at past blogs when I’m struggling or if I’m frustrated about something. What did I do last time? Would I do that now? Did it work? Or, was it a temporary fix? I remember going back to my journals when I started counseling after my marriage ended. I had this idea that we had at least a good year  or two before it started to crash and burn, but my journals told me that we crashed 2 weeks after we married. In fact, 3 months after my marriage began, I asked a marriage counselor if it was too soon to call it quits. When I read that, I remembered it, but I had totally wiped that early memory from my brain. My recordings taught me that I wasn’t blind to what was happening. I knew it early on. I just failed to act. I have such a problem trusting my instincts. My journals show that over and over. Page after page, I talked about how I need to set boundaries… I needed to get out… this was not healthy … it was killing me. I knew it. My failure to act was the issue.

When I started blogging at Jessica’s prodding, I immediately loved it. I couldn’t sleep for 4 days with all the stories that were flooding my brain. I wanted to tell them all, and now I had an avenue. Most days, I don’t even have to think about what to write. Something just shows up. Every now and then, I get writer’s block. It’s real. I can’t think of what to write. If I do start writing something, I hate it. It’s too dry. There’s no creativity to it. There’s no “me” in it. It’s like a newspaper article devoid of any of the flavor of good writing. The last time I had writer’s block, I learned a new trick. I posted on FB that I had writer’s block and asked for topics. I got help from friends. I used a couple to get started. But, what it really did is it shook up my thinking. They had GREAT ideas. It was like a primer for a well. Their energy about my writing ignited mine. What I realized is that when I have writer’s block, I’m usually in a period where I’m judging myself too much. Maybe I’m not feeling good about myself. That particular time I got in a funk about what people think about me, and I censored myself so much that nothing could come out. I learned from the process.

I sometimes wonder if one day I’ll just stop writing as suddenly as I started. That might be kind of neat. You know… the old story of a spiritual impulse that eventually just ran its course. The well is dry. I don’t know. I just know there are days when I can’t NOT write. I didn’t want to write a second time today, but this topic was begging to be written. I have to do it when the topic is driving me because I won’t sleep otherwise. The urge is that powerful. I can see why artists get into a flow, and they have to work furiously to get something done. It’s as if something else is in control, and I am just a tool for expression. Those blogs are the ones that I love. They are imaginative, creative and interesting. Some days I just write. Eh…. not so good. But, I have to put my fingers to the keyboard on a regular basis in order to get to the gold. I can’t believe that I waited until I was 51 to start this incredible writing journey. I wonder where I’d be if I’d started sooner. But, I know this… everything in this world is as it should be. And, I’ll continue to work hard to take action on my instincts. I’ll have a legacy … a record … a picture of who I was in my short time here. That’s really freaking cool.

There’s No Place Like Home …. Dammit

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I presented my boss with a letter of resignation today. I’ve accepted a position in Baton Rouge. Of all the things I said I’d never do, I’m moving home. I moved away for college in 1979, and I’ve never lived in the Baton Rouge area since. And, I’ve never had any desire to do so …. until now.  Life takes some funny twists, and at 52, I’m looking at life a lot different now. It didn’t come easy, and it wasn’t my doing, but, like Dorothy, I’ve finally decided that there’s no place like home. Damn those ruby slippers. They sure were pretty, but I had no idea of the power they held to change my world.

It’s not surprising to me that God used a man to get my attention. I’ve done a lot of work around my relationships with men, and I know the power they hold over me from the very first man in my life, Daddy. I have had a love/hate relationship with the opposite sex since I was a girl child with a crush on Bobby Sherman tempered with a lust for power and control. They were contradictory sides of my personality, and I have never been able to reconcile them. But, there is a man that came into my world awhile back bringing an attraction that blew away every sensibility that I had. And, this man came from Louisiana, my girlhood home. On paper, everything about him was not what I wanted. I remember laughing when my sponsor asked me about that. “Hell, nothing makes sense about this,” I told her. The attraction was beyond comprehension intellectually on so many counts that I just threw all my intellect out the window. I decided to let myself go and take a trip on the vortex of emotional and sexual energy that was threatening to snap all of the restraints I had. I literally decided that I had made wrong decisions with my head about men all my life, and I was going to see where this led. And, I did.

This attraction took me by surprise because it was like nothing I ever wanted. Since I had no defenses up, it pulled me in. By the time I woke up to what was happening, I was already gone …. long gone. Everything happens for a reason, and I knew there was some reason in this. Like a tornado that rips buildings from their foundations, this combination of emotional and sexual energy picked me up and ripped me away from what I had long said about going home. My beliefs that I didn’t belong there … that I couldn’t relate to people there … that I was unlovable … that there was no going back … all of those beliefs that had shackled me to a decision to never go home began to strain and buckle amid its intensity. By the time I realized that the relationship itself was not sustainable, my belief system had changed. What had previously been a solid foundation for decision-making was now a vast swath of destruction. Nature hates a void, and, in the void that remained, came a distant call of history.

This blog has been a huge part of my life in the last year. In it, I have processed feelings that had long been lingering unkempt in my soul. I have found closure on relationships that had left me with open wounds. I have made connections with people that have shared their journey with me. I have emptied myself of garbage and fed myself with compassion and love. In a sense, this blog has become a place for me to rebuild. This ripping away of my former belief system has been coming since August of last year when I started writing. I know that I am a spiritual being having a human experience, and my blog has become a spiritual practice of sorts. With each topic I’ve covered, I’ve learned to love a bit of myself. The ability to hold onto myself with an opposite sex attraction of this magnitude is growth for me …. monstrous growth. And, what I’ve learned is the lesson of the ruby slippers. I’ve always had this power within me. I just had to tap into it.

In hindsight, I believe this storm has been brewing for years. I created a Dream Book a few years ago, and its title is I’m Done with Hiding. My moving away could be considered hiding in some ways. In fact, in twelve step groups, we talk of geographical cures. They never help us escape ourselves. I don’t regret moving away because I’ve loved it, but I do think it was a way of avoiding intimacy with myself. I created an altar in my yoga space that has begun to be filled with pictures painted by my nieces and nephews, gifts from my sister and mementos from my childhood. Those items, especially when filling a sacred space, start to build a spiritual connection between me and what they represent. I have my PawPaw’s bedroom suit and with it his memory. I know that he is around me all the time. While writing my blog about my deceased cousin Mike King, I tapped into some powerful emotional connections with the people who lived through that with me. This movement within me has been building steam for years, and it finally came to a head with the events of this year and that relationship. Right now, there are more contacts in my phone from home than there are in Memphis. It didn’t happen overnight, but its happened.

What I know now is that I had walls up that prevented me from seeing home as it was. I had fears about not being good enough that kept me from being real. With all of that gone or at least stripped of as much power, I have had the freedom to really look at home a bit differently. And, in the void, I’ve begun to feel an intense pull bringing me back there. I don’t know what all of that means because I’m not done yet. But, I do know that I’m curious. And, when I’m open and curious, God starts to play with me. He’s put a really attractive job opportunity in front of me and the path has been easy to navigate. My last hurdle is to get moved and sell my house. I have to close the Memphis chapter of my life. I don’t really know what this move is all about, but I know that somehow my writing, my love and compassion for myself, my history and the people of my youth will somehow be a part of it. I’m anxious to see what gifts this next adventure will bring. I pray that it will bring passion, love, success and peace. I hope that it will really, truly bring me home.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.