Rest stop…

Rest area

First it arrived – a rest stop

Then, it was occupied

Too soon he left

It was empty –

Then only indents –

A shadow

Memories…

Hello – if you saw my post from April 3, you will know that I am in the process of grieving the loss of my father – who passed away suddenly, but not unexpectedly. So this is going to be a short entry for my World Poetry Month and one of my shorter posts…

Final Day(s) ❤️

PopApril is not only “World Poetry Month”, it is also now the month for me losing my father. I knew it was coming – I just did not know it would be today. I wrote this in December of last year, but it seemed appropriate today.

He was a good man in many ways – he took good care of my mom, making sure during the first 25 years of her working for H&R Block, he would make and deliver her lunch, he always made sure her car was washed when she was going to a special event…provided well for his family.

They were married just over 61 years.

A chair pushed in
A place not set
Someone missed
Missing?

Once a pillar of strength
Now a crumbling monument

Once a mighty man
Now weak
Almost in defeat

Curled into the corner
Trying to retain
To remain
Alive

Passed away 4/3/2018

Precipice of Life…

Yesterday was a day with several titles. April 1st is of course”April Fools Day” but it was also to some Easter and to others Resurrection Day, and to still others just “plain ole Sunday”. It was in the waking moments of my day yesterday that I had this idea to put out some of my random yet very intentional poetry – a.k.a “Cryptic Lyrical Messages” I decided to start with this one entitled “Precipice of Life”. It was intended to be the bridge to restoration of a fractured friendship – it served its purpose for a season…and then a break beyond repair and well, the rest is history as they say. Without further ado, here is my foray back into the “blogosphere”.

As I stand on the precipice of life

Over the Edge I peer

There you stand beckoning –

My choices are: Run, jump or hide…

Narrow the road behind – the path I have come so far along

The choice is now mine – with you I want to be…

The road behind, I know so well

To run, would be to hide…

So I jump

There, I find you – with hammer in hand

There are no more rules – they have all been broken and defied

The spirit of life has been found and regained

The journey has begun –  limits are gone

A headlong dive over the precipice of life…

As I read this now, years beyond the events which led up to the writing of this, I realize this could look a lot like the initial steps one who is choosing to leave their old life of sin behind and follow the One true path of Christianity – the one which leads to eternal life, a life with Christ.

No matter how you read it, nor your circumstances in life, everything breaks down to a choices – some lead to life, others not so much. If you have not chosen the path that leads to Christ and to life, I would like to encourage you to “jump”.  If you have, hallelujah!

Alas, onward and upward – stay tuned because tomorrow’s selection will be something you won’t want to miss, or maybe you will – but why not “jump” with me?

 

 

On being “human…alone.”

People What it mean to be human? This is an age old question that has been debated throughout the said ages and one I am not likely to define on here.

Yet, I would like to take a moment and stab at what does it mean to be human? One word that comes to mind is “alone.”  Some it would seem are alone amongst many, like the woman in New York City, who wrote to the newspaper asking how does one go about making friends in this day and age?

Tonight as I was having dinner with a friend/boss who I met through a Meetup event because we were both feeling “alone” in our living situations, we joined the same book group looking to meet and make new friends.

Our conversation turned to travel and road trips – I am not afraid to take various and sundry trips alone, I have traveled in state and out of state by myself and had an absolutely glorious time of it. However, my friend just about had a panic attack simply thinking about the prospect. Things like that make me really curious about people – because why is one person is more than willing to take on the wild blue yonder and the other just about turns blue simply thinking about it?!

Is that all part of the “human experience”? Having something so simple scare the gizzard out of us? I have another friend who is closer to heaven’s door who too, absolutely abhors the mere idea of being alone. Yet there are some who relish the idea of traveling to foreign countries alone with nothing more than the clothes on their back and perhaps one change and a couple of other personal items in nothing more than the most basic of backpack.

I have been giving a lot of thought to this idea of being human and what it really means of late. Is our whole goal to work, maybe get married, find a few shows on T.V. to enjoy, perhaps have some kids and then die? What about our legacy? Is it really important? I know a few people who would miss me for a season should I not be here – but thereafter, say, 5 years tops and I would be like the city of Atlantis only less famous and still gone forever.

Few it seems really take the time to either make a name for themselves or leave such a legacy that we can’t help but to remember them for generations to come, arguing about what they did or did not say, or how they meant the words they left behind. I have about 5 or so people who actually read this blog – and so it too would simply go further into obscurity.

Perhaps it’s time we all took our collective human experiences and turn them into something more? But what would that really look like if we all were able to create a gigantic platform as they say – where we all knew the other 699 billion other people on the planet? Would it be a modern day version of the Tower of Babel? Or do we already have that in the form of CNN and other 24 hour news networks? I suppose if we all tried to rise up and become known, no one would know anyone else any better…

The church talks about praying for revival – is leaving a legacy of a more than a shadow of a footprint here on the earth part of that “revival”? What are we really reviving? The revolutionist would call for a political revival, the communist would like to see more collectivism, the baptist more “holy living” and the heretics would call for more questioning of other religions…and around and around we would go

Interestingly, it would seem the people of the Babel era had one common goal, that of building a tower to heaven…when our language got scattered, is that when our common goal became scattered as well? Perhaps we should just go back to being human…

 

Tear down this wall!! (Part two)

WallHello again! In part one, I shared some thoughts on tearing down the wall of writers block brick by agonizing brick. I would like to share some more thoughts on how to tear down the wall of being stuck in our singledom or other seeming rut in life. We all experience seasons where everything seems blah, boring or we just become apathetic and want to give up. Below are some ways to beat these blues away

  1. Give stuff away! I’m not talking about the expired block of cheese in the back of your fridge, I am talking about clutter and clothes and stuff that still holds some value, but not to you.
  2. GET OUTside! Enjoy the sunshine, sit in a park, take your shoes, socks and orthotics (if you wear them) and feel the grass between your toes! Connect with the earth,  there are actual scientific health benefits behind it.
  3. Send someone a special care package. Since it’s the flu season, create bundles with Kleenex, Vernors (ginger ale) and microwavable bowls of soup and give them to families with children – or to the elderly who are often prone to contracting illnesses due to weakened immune systems.
  4. Take a “mental health day” off from work. There will be plenty of time to make more money – we all wish we had more memories with friends and family.  Take a random day off and enjoy doing something different.
  5. Invite people over to play board games, eat snacks and laugh at dumb jokes!
  6. Write a note to a friend – yes, this was mentioned in Part 1, but truly, we all love getting mail that does not ask for money!
  7. Pack up the car and go for a drive to a new city, find some local eats and learn more about your state or another one near by.
  8. Take a class on something you would like to learn, or something you already enjoy, but would like to hone your skills. For instance, there’s a great glass blowing studio in Benton Harbor Michigan!
  9. Go to a nursing home and ask if there is anyone who rarely/never has any visitors – become their friend and see what you might learn, if nothing else, you’ll make their remaining days brighter.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I would love to see your ideas, please pass them along in the comments section, I am always looking for new adventures!

Tear down this wall!! (Part 1)

WallThose words, (Tear down this wall!) were spoken by the one and only Ronald Reagan in 1987 referring to the Berlin Wall which separated the nation of Germany.  Recently, I and several others were personally asked to write pieces for the Breathe Writers Conference Blog on a given topic or any other of our choosing as long as it pertained to writing. As “luck” would have it, my mind started formulating a piece on the topic of writers block. However, I think many of the factors that contribute to writers block also contribute to our feeling stuck in our singledom.

Of late, I have been reading a very good book on being single and how it’s really a gift from God. However, most of us don’t see it that way. Myself included for the most part! Yet, I am learning to see things differently and while the post I will be pasting below is geared towards writing, I think some of the principles could apply to “tearing down the walls” that keep us stuck in our thinking and sometimes destructive patterns.

Here is what I submitted to Breathe – I might dissect some of these ideas later for the non writers so we all have a chance to live lives that make us proud to be single!

-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-                      -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-              :-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-

BONK! OUCH, BONK, OUCH, BONK OUCH!! Does it ever seem like every direction you turn, you’re hitting that invisible wall of writers block? We try to wrack our brains trying to create that next blog piece or the middle chapter of a book or sometimes just the idea of writing seems daunting. We know there are things, fragments, and ideas up there somewhere – but how to get them out and have them make sense?

Sometimes that last part is the hardest…trying to explain scenes, sequences and scenarios that make sense to others but for some reason don’t quite make sense to us because we have hit that invisible wall like a dog with a shock collar; it’s next thing to torture.

Please allow me to give you some ideas of how “TEAR DOWN THAT WALL”!

  1. Write a letter to a friend, or if there’s something bothering you, write a letter of complaint, no said you have to send it!
  2. Free write, it does not have to make a lick of sense for instance, “Swing from the tail of the q, grab the hook of the g, the ring of the o…oh what fun to roll and tumble like a weed, I am free as a bird to write what I might to your delight!”

See, that was actually kind of fun to read even – string words along on a theme, or a rhyme, this invigorates and stimulates the mind to keep going, thinking of words as something fun, whimsical. Nothing about free writing needs to be “perfect”!

  1. Try writing something out of your norm. For instance, try outlining a book of the Bible and create a devotional study from it. Esther is a great book to do this with. Or try writing out how to make toast, or another favorite daily activity step by step.
  2. Pretend you’re a newspaper reporter chronicling your day or one of your kids, answering the 5 W’s “Who, what, when, where & why?
  3. Find a luscious word like “quixotic” and work it into a sentence, or try to create a character around this as a characteristic.
  4. Pick an emotion and write a list of all the things that emotion smells like, tastes like or looks like.
  5. Take your shoes and socks off and connect with the ground, leave your phone, computer and e-reader, fit bit etc in the house. Look up at the sky, let your imagination wander, see shapes in the clouds, smell the grass and the earth, and BREATHE.

Remember, man’s first day of life was on the day God rested from His work – let that sink in the next time you feel the pain and pressure of writers block. We are created for community and fellowship, commune with the Lord, rest in Him and ask for a hammer to break down the invisible wall, block by agonizing block.

 

New Year, New Goal Tracking

Hello!

Welcome back to the first week of the new year! I had the distinct honor to once again write a blog post for the Breathe Writers Conference blog – but this time, it was not a general submission call, it was a special request! I was GEEKED I tell ya!

The moderator of the Breathe blog asked me to write about how using a “habit or activity tracker” could help with our writing goals, since I find the exercise of using a habit tacker to be a very good way to help me stay on top of some very key areas in my life. Such as water intake, writing, time in devotion and bible reading, and a couple more items, but I think you get the gist of it!

Without further ado, I am going to put up my posting for Breathe below, I hope you, my fans, might consider using a ‘habit or activity’ tracker to help mark your progress in becoming more of who God created you to be and to stay on top of your new years resolutions and goals! Below is of course geared towards writing, but you can fill in the blank with whatever you fancy or would like to make sure is being done on a daily basis!

*—*                                                                                                   *—*

Ah, the fresh smell of a new year! As writers we often aspire to fantastic goals of how we’re going to write 1000 plus words per day, and we’re going to blow the dust off last year and make it happen THIS year! The question becomes, how are we going to make sure we keep and stay on track of our writing progress throughout month, let alone the year?

May I suggest using the ever-popular bullet journal, habit or activity tracker?

The wonderful thing about an activity tracker is that it’s a visual reminder. We are built for sight – we all love seeing the words we write appear just before that pesky blinking cursor. (Ever wonder about that word? Its’ root is curse…eek!) Even those who prefer the old school method of writing by hand love watching their words flow from the nib of their pen.

I have a tracking system that that flows well with my virtual obsession with graph paper. One of the greatest sights is watching the line I have designated for my writing fill up with beautiful red squares!

In tracking my writing I use 3 symbols to designate the type of writing I am or am not doing. If I write a blog post, for singlesliceofcheese.wordpress.com, my dystopian novel, or other writing geared towards a larger audience, I get the coveted full red square (I promise I am not a communist, red is just my favorite color!).

If however, I choose to write out my prayers for the day or only write a personal email, I get 3 or 4 hash marks filling in my square. If I am negligent and don’t write, I get an ugly red X.

Using the varied symbols method helps me to see what types of writing I did throughout the month. Some months, the line is a lovely shade of red, others, sadly look more like a one sided game of “tic tac toe”. In all of this, when I see my favorite color taking up most of the line, it becomes a race to see if I can fill the rest of the days in a similar manner.

While creating fantastical worlds, phenomenal characters and plot twists, we don’t want to over complicate how we track our progress, so here are some practical tips to “make it happen!”

  1. Find your notebook! It could be anything, from a fancy leather bound volume to a simple $.25 back to school, 1 subject wire-bound notebook. Whatever it is, make sure you’re willing to write in it!
  1. Identify your desired way of tracking the months and days. Some folks draw a calendar, some, use the days of the week, others draw a block with the dates…experiment to find your style.
  1. COLOR! Using your favorite colored pen, pencil, crayon or marker, discover how you want to make your writing month sing!
  1. Have FUN! Keeping track of your writing progress should not feel like tracking your mileage for the IRS.
  1. Start NOW! Make this your best writing month, turned into year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Reso-what?

Take a deep breath, smell that? It’s the fresh scent of a brand new year! For those of us fortunate enough to be blessed with a January birthday, it’s a new year and new age all within the first month!

So, what’s next? Did you make any new year’s resolutions? I think we all ask ourselves this question and sometimes we come up blank and other times, we go with the standard “Well, this year I am going to lose those 15 pounds that are really bothering me and I am going to go to the gym everyday to make sure they go away and stay gone. Then I am going to start saving more money for a house, car, retirement – whatever it may be. Could it be our resolutions don’t really mean anything to us because we have become “jaded” by life and it’s easier to do nothing than to try something and fail yet again?

Is that why by the middle of February, we have a half eaten bag of “Cheeto’s” and a box of “Twinkies” sitting next to us on the couch, as we “Netflix and chill”?  Somehow,  it seems life suddenly got a lot crazier than we ever expected, and well, the gym is over-rated and it’s too crowded… with work, bad weather, and other social happenings…suddenly it’s “really, are a few ‘Cheeto’s’ and ‘Twinkies’ going to make that much of a difference anyway?”

It’s definitely easy to fall off the resolution bandwagon, especially as singles because if we don’t choose to tell anyone about our resolutions, we’re the only person we have to be accountable to. When we have an accountability partner, it provides more incentive to follow through with our goals and desires for the New Year – it’s a recipe for success, not disaster.

When it comes to succeeding with our resolutions, I believe it is a twofold equation. First the old adage comes to mind “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Keeping our resolutions is a matter of planning around our excuses and mapping out a way to really “make it happen!”

Second, excuses aside, there will be times when life gets in the way of our plans – or as John Steinbeck wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men…” in the instances where circumstances truly rule the day, we need to be willing to give ourselves some much needed grace in life. This being only the second day of January, I need to be willing to give myself some grace for not completing my “morning pages” – one of the things I wanted to incorporate into my routine this coming year.

Frankly, when I woke up this morning, I had completely forgotten about the desire from the day before to start my morning routine writing about whatever was on top of my head! In conjunction, I have a nominal goal of writing 500 words per day.  This is actually a very low number, but I also know it’s attainable. Here is where grace applies, I did not accomplish one goal (morning pages) but I will hit over 500 words in this blog post! We need not beat ourselves up if we don’t hit the mark exactly as we prescribed to ourselves every day.

So, here is what I and perhaps you as my reading audience need to do in order to make sure 2018 is a stellar year and make sure we stick to our resolutions like super glue to fingers!

  1. Write them down! Goals, dreams, desires and resolutions etc
  2. Tell someone, ask them to help keep you accountable this year.
  3. Give yourself grace – but not excuses!
  4. Make sure your goals and such are ones that excite you!
  5. Create a “Habit Tracker” to document your progress – vision works!

Let’s come back together next January second and see how we did on our resolutions to make 2018 our year!

Kindness Matters

A theme has Kindnessbeen playing on the virtual screen of my life of late. That of being kind to one another. It started in a book I am reading, and then it came again in the form of a friend leaving the virtual world of Facebook for a season because…well, she didn’t really say why she was leaving. I can speculate of course, she’s a mom of four, operates a small farm, it’s Christmas time, and it’s snowing! What more reasons would one have for leaving the virtual world behind for a bit? What really struck me though, was her parting message. Be kind to one another because we’re all fighting one battle or another.

My current battle is that of snow, I am not a fan anymore! Truly, I have deeper battles than that I am fighting, we all do. Back to the thought of kindness though, having worked in retail, I have seen first hand what kindness looks like in contrast to the ugly underbelly of consumerism.

As shown in the book I am reading, the main character is a 11 year old girl, (my favorite age in life)…yet, she finds herself in a struggle to be kind to a girl at school who seems to have everything in life. The rich girl often does not give Pearl a reason to be kind, but rather to return the “favor” of snootiness’. Pearl, would technically have every reason to be rude back, as she was hurting deeply from the volitional loss of her mother running away with a man who stole her heart.

Yet, despite her losses, Pearl chooses to befriend the poorest girl in school, because kindness matters. Often, I think we forget kindness – we see the bell ringers out in front of a store, so we will put $10 if we’re feeling generous. Or perhaps a pocket full of change and some lint for good measure if we’re not and we think we have been kind, that we’re making a difference. Yes, in some measure, all resources collected, no matter how large or small do add up and thus the act is a ”good” one.

We all see people in a store or on the streets, and think, “their life must be “perfect” based on their bright smile fancy clothes, or whatever else catches our eye. Yet that momentary smile might be hiding the fact their loved one dying of cancer, their own ugly diagnosis… that, my friends, is where the even the smallest of kindnesses can run soul deep.

A once popular theme from a book turned to a movie was “paying it forward” an idea of giving kindness to one would then spur them onto kindness to another and what the world could look like if we all participated. In the book as well as life, there were times when his project looked like it was failing, yet, was working out in the background in very unexpected ways.

True kindness however, run soul deep; as, we’re all fighting battles that others may not know about… I know the surface of some of my friend’s troubles, and she might know the surface of some of mine. A simple act of kindness might be what is needed on a dark day. We often don’t know the full impact of our kindnesses towards one another, but we know how the acts of kindness from another impact our lives.

Acts of kindness can cost us nothing in the moment and reap the greatest of rewards in the end. Let us all end this year doing a kind act for another, and begin the year to come in the same fashion!

 

 

 

Lost in the Crowd

IMG_6246As a single person, I cannot tell you how many times I have been lost in a crowd – and I am not just talking about Disney World either, although, that was bad enough. I am talking more of when you go out with friends, but they’re all couples and you’re, well, not.

It can be a bit awkward. I was at a restaurant not too long ago where this very scene played out in an all too real way. I was late getting there – mistake number one. Number two, when I arrived everyone was seated with their spouse except for one place – holding a purse. Turns out the wife of one was planning on sitting there when she got done serving. Great. So all seats are taken in the group table.

Yes, there were other seats in the restaurant – outside of the group.  I took up residence on the wall facing them – I was just about in full blown panic mode. In an attempt to lighten my anxiety one of the gentlemen there asked me “if I was supervising?” He meant nothing by it – but it heightened my sense of “alone in the group” all the more. A few minutes later an extra table was brought out and thankfully another single, in the moment, lady arrived and we sat together. (She’s married but her husband was not there) we ate together – yet, she was more a part of the other group than I could be. Needless to say, I left as soon as humanly possible.

Today, another author was asking what kind of books the rest of us liked to read and to “convince her”. I referenced an odd book, (leave it to me) and the reason why it stuck to me like super glue on my fingers, is because it made me think. It made me question all kinds of norms, patterns and possibilities. Despite living in a utilitarian environment, Ayn Rand’s character Equality 7-2521 wants nothing more than to connect soul deep with Liberty 5-3000. He calls her “the Golden One”. He is looking for more than his street scrubbing to satiate his soul.

It is human nature to want to belong to someone, or a group of someones, that is why we have “clique’s” in high school & beyond. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

Even the quietest of introverts wants a little outside attention. The agoraphobic on the other hand, wants outside attention without having to go outside and get it…ok, I will quit wandering around and find my point. The point is, when I read “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton in the seventh grade, I learned something about myself. I longed for a gang, a group of friends who would stick closer than my tongue glued to the roof of my mouth with a ball of peanut butter. I wanted  to connect deeply on a heart level with other people. I think that is why “We Are Your Friends” resonates so deeply with me. Yes, it’s a dumb movie on one hand, but if you deconstruct the party scenes from the heart of the movie. Friendship, devotion, and finding our own path amongst the noise of life, you find what we all want on some level or another.

Conversely, I watched the movie “Wonder” where the main character is almost a mini Moses, parting the Red Sea of people because he’s “deformed” from multiple plastic and other forms of surgery. He says “You can’t blend in, when you were born to stand out”. True as that might be, we all want a little of both. We want to blend in with those around us, but yet stand out so we will be noticed for who we are.  I mean truly, isn’t that why we have a “blogosphere”?  We’re all putting our voices out there to be heard by someone. Sometimes our signals are picked up by those who are not good for us, nor we for them, yet the desire, to not be like my car, alone in a world built for more. Thus, I have decided, I am going to to knock on a new “friendship door” this week.

How about you? Is there someone with whom you would like to make a greater connection – but just haven’t taken the time, or gathered up all of your emotional energy – to “make it happen”? I think we waste WAY TOO MUCH time worrying about being rejected, that we wander into the vague “We should get together sometime…” when really, they might just want to be our friend as much as we theirs and we’re too busy wasting time worrying about a sure fire losing proposition of, “What if they don’t like me?” or “We have nothing in common…” On the surface, I have nothing in common with the “door” I am about to  knock on, but who knows?  At the very worst, I will have tried and been shot down – and at best, a new friend!