The Grass is Always Greener

 

 

You know the proverbial grass is always greener on the other side. Well, it’s literally true here. I’m perched on dried-out, shriveled-up, light brown blades. Looking out the window, it’s like I’m living in the desert. I eventually had to call someone. Here’s what he said:

“Your lawn is really stressed.”

Oh, man. I laughed.

There’s so much stress in this house, it’s seeping outside? I mean, our lawn is stressed? It’s kind of funny.

 

I recently wrote a post about some silly perks during this difficult time but, that said, it’s tough. What with fear, sickness, isolation, uncertainty… The normal, everyday stress that plagues us has been plugged into an amplifier. I guess that’s what happens and we’ll just have to ride it out. But that’s life right now, isn’t it? Yeah. It is.

But here’s the thing, my bloggy friends:

Stress looks different for everyone. It feels different. It comes from different sources. Always has. But now, with the shared experience of a global pandemic, everyone is supposedly “going through the same thing”.

I get where this is coming from but it’s wrong. The assumption is that everyone’s stress looks the same right now. And alleviating that stress looks the same as well.

It doesn’t.

It never has and that holds true now. There is no one-size-fits-all.

We all have our own stress. We all handle it differently. We all need individual coping strategies.

My neighbor’s grass may be greener, but perhaps, when I walk over to admire their lovely lawn, I notice their front door is hanging off its hinges. Maybe their house has termites. Who knows?

So be kind to yourselves. Don’t buy into the notion that, because we’re “all dealing with the same thing”, we should all be able to find relief with the same things.

If you like yoga, downward-dog do it. If you like meditating, breathe in…breathe out. If you like running, go for it. (I, personally, do not. Unless I’m being chased by a bear. Or is that when you should stay still? I don’t know. And sincerely hope I don’t stumble upon a bear anytime soon.) Take bubble baths, hug trees, drink tea, garden, bake… Whatever floats your boat. Sail away, my friends. ❤

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

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How are you, gentle readers? How’s the stress level around your house? How are you dealing with it?

 

My One Word for 2020 #OneWord2020

 

pine-cone-sig

 

I was going to switch this up a bit for 2020 but guess what? I’m not. This is (unfortunately) perfect:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Seriously. Like Move Yer Arse, Girl! Or, you know, something nicer, like, Excuse me but would you mind moving? Same, same. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea.

I’m still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

my One Word for 2018 was: Self. It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

Well. Isn’t that something? And here we are again. Another year, another word. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

 

I’ve noticed my blog has its share of posts about overwhelm. Just a few, really, not, like, dozens. Ahem. So I got to thinking about being overwhelmed. Too much. Too many things. So, naturally, I need to make lists. And prioritize. That will work. Except for the times it doesn’t. Which is to say always. Or never. Whatever.

I’ve got to sort out my priorities. This is more important than that. That is more pressing than the other. Things get put on The List, shifted, knocked down a number, back up, and so forth and, soon enough, nothing is done.

So, instead of putting my life on a piece of paper in order of importance, I’m changing my mindset. (FYI, this is always, always, a good idea. You should try it.) I’ve always sucked at multi-tasking but I’m not sure that’s what this is anymore. I’m thinking it’s more that I’m utterly unfocused.

So here is my ironic focus word for 2020:

FOCUS

I was at a cemetery last month and grabbed my phone to take a picture.

When I tapped on the screen to focus on the little pinecone in my face, the gravestones blurred in the background. And vice versa. Right? Because whether it’s a mobile phone or a fancy camera, it cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.

I hadn’t written my One Word post yet but, there, right then, in that cemetery, I wrote it in my head.

I’m not prioritizing the pinecone over the gravestone. But if I try to focus on both of them, they’re both blurry and I don’t get either one. If I tap and zoom in on one, I get an amazing shot. Then, *tap*, another great shot. Done.

Obviously, there will be times when something will demand my focus be drawn to that issue or situation but I will focus on it and move on.

If I’m constantly trying to focus on everything, then everything is out of focus.

Narrow my focus and, boom, I’ve got a clear shot.

As always, a definition (because I’m a nerd):

 

focus

/fōkəs/

noun

  • the center of interest or activity.

center, focal point, center of attention

Get me a spotlight, man. I’m shining it on whatever shit needs attention. Laser focused, my friends. 

  • the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

clear, clear-cut, well-defined

Producing a well-defined, clear-cut visual? Please hold. Your patience is appreciated. The clear visual will be with you shortly. 

verb

  • (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

Seeing clearly? Yes, please. Adapting and becoming able to see clearly are HUGE challenges for me. Two great goals.  

  • pay particular attention to.

give emphasis to, highlight

Dude, this makes me want to whip out one of those big, neon yellow markers and highlight the hell out of the book of my life. On it!

 

I’m going to focus this year. I know I said this last year but 2020 will see another book from me. The manuscripts are sitting here glaring at me. They are more patient than I.

Happy New Year, my friends. ❤ Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 🥂

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2020.

 

When the Year Grows Old

 

 

When the Year Grows Old

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget–
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net…

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her…

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

The year has grown old, died, and been reborn. It is ‘new’. There are beginnings. Yet I acutely feel the year growing old.

When the clock struck midnight December 31st, when the calendar ceased to count days for 2019…what happened?

Nothing.

It’s as if I’m waiting for some unknown force to press the ‘reset’ button.

As I work on my One Word for 2020, I realize I’m stuck. Not in my decision of which word to choose but in the way I feel caught at the end of last year. In a time when I listened to the wind whistling a melancholy tune and brittle leaves scraped the window panes, begging to be let inside.

When I had the look of a frightened bird flapping helplessly inside a net.

Yet there is a difference. The trap has weakened, loosened. I can breathe.

I find familiarity in the world around me and there is comfort and beauty in that. In the moments when I take that first sip of coffee, tie my hair up with an elastic band, lace my warm, winter boots. When I lose myself in sunlight creating intricate patterns on my floor or notice wind catching a hydrangea flower hidden since last spring.

Sometimes, when the stress is too much, when the weight is too heavy, when the ropes are too tight, our struggles increase the pain. Sometimes relaxing into the discomfort and fear is all we can do and, sometimes, that shifts our world enough to see the beauty.

 

Health and happiness to you, gentle readers.

 

My Brain Freeze

 

 

I looked at the frost on my flowers the other day and thought, “Huh. That’s like my brain right now.”

You know when you were a kid and ate ice cream too fast or slurped one of those slushie things? It was like, “Whoa! Brain freeze!” Remember that?

Yeah. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. It’s more like stumbling out of bed at ridiculous-o-clock, shuffling into the kitchen, opening the cabinet, and staring at the coffee mugs.

Almost daily now, I find myself in the middle of a task and I get brain freeze. I just stop what I’m doing and my mind goes to sleep for a second. What was I doing? Why did I come in here? What was I looking for?

This has happened to me many times, of course. Usually in the early morning. But now it’s like permafrost—it lasts all day.

On top of that, I think magical things are going to happen. Not consciously but in a “this-will-be-completed-with-no-assistance-from-me” sort of way.

If I stare at the coffee maker, I will have coffee. If I stare at the computer screen, my page will be edited.

I’m getting time back by focusing on what’s important and ditching the rest (which is awesome) but I’m not getting the stuff done I’ve made time for. I know. Irony is delicious. Just don’t eat it too fast.

Maybe I need to get used to having that bit of extra time before my frostbitten brain can thaw and function properly.

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My Sunday thoughts in (around) 200 words.

 

I know everyone wonders what they went into the kitchen for at one time or another but, realistically, how often does this happen to you? Should I be worried? 😉

I think I just need to adjust to this new-ish schedule. Hopefully, after a transition period, this will mean I actually finish the books I’m working on and get them out into the world! *fingers crossed* 

 

 

My One Word for 2019 #OneWord2019

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Wow. So this is fun. I love reading posts from past years and seeing I’ve learned my lesson…

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

So, last year, my One Word for 2018 was: Self.

It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

The year before that, my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

And…here I go again. Another year, another word, another promise. Despite everything, I really do believe in the power of focus words (and in the power of me not failing). Success to me and my One Word!

It’s difficult choosing just one word when we writers love language the way we do, but, unlike past years, it wasn’t too bad this time. I’ll say right up front, I did shop around for synonyms because it’s not a pretty word but, eh, what the hell. Here it is, my friends:

MOVE

As I said, not the most beautiful word but, seriously, check this out:

 

move

/mo͞ov/

verb

  • go in a specified direction or manner; change position.

proceed, progress, advance

Proceed? Advance? Count me in.

  • change or cause to change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.

change, shift one’s ground, change one’s tune

Changing opinion/activity as we speak (or, read, whatever). Already whistling another tune, my friends. Done.

  • take action, act, take steps, do something

inspire, prompt, motivate

“she was moved to act”

Dude, just reading this makes me want to DO SOMETHING. Watch me take action. I am motivated! I am moved to act!

  • provoke a strong feeling, especially of sorrow or sympathy, in.

stir up (an emotion) in someone

affect, touch, upset, disturb, make an impression on

“I was deeply moved by the story”

This. Yes. This is what I hope to accomplish with my writing so I’m keeping this one in here. I would love to provoke strong feelings in readers. Affect people. Even upset or disturb them with my stories. It’s all good as long as it makes an impression.

  • make progress; develop in a particular manner or direction.

make progress, advance, develop

I’m marching here. I am. Advancing. Stepping ALL OVER the enemies: self-doubt, imposter syndrome, procrastination, stress, overwhelm… I am making progress!

 

I’m moving. And 2019 will see another book from me. (Preferably two.) Here’s to moving, my friends! ❤

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2019.

 

Safe Upon the Solid Rock

 

 

Second Fig

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Another of Edna’s poems to ponder and share. Though, honestly, there’s not much to ponder here.

To quote a lesser-known poet, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. (I jest. I actually do know Shakespeare penned that. But we’re getting away from the subject at hand. Which is to say, this poem is brief and witty.)

And it is here today because, yet again, Edna’s words have moved me and I want to share them.

How easy to find stability on solid rock. And yet, what else will you find there? True beauty lies in dreams and desires. These are often found perched on less-than-solid ground. Is instability a part of being creative? Of following dreams? I don’t know.

But if it is, I’m letting my feet sink into the sand where my shining palace stands.

It could collapse.

That beautiful place I’ve worked to build.

I could lose everything.

Or it could remain.

I could gain everything.

Best not to dwell too much but, instead, look upon the ugly houses I don’t want.

Then, I daresay, I will be willing to live surrounded by the glimmer of my dreams or sink with my shining palace.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Can we indulge in our creativity and follow our dreams while still keeping our feet on solid ground? When it comes to your dreams, are you willing to live with uncertainty?

 

 

Shifting Focus

 

 

Self. 

It’s a tiny, loaded, powerful word.

For people whose natural inclination is to take care of others, using time and energy to care for themselves can be upsetting. Depending on the person, it varies from slightly uncomfortable to downright distressing.

When faced with the idea, there may be a freak-out: “What?! Myself? How will…? What can…? I can’t do that!”

You can. You really can.

Here’s a thing I’ve realized.

If you have a tendency to focus on others, it’s difficult to shift that focus. It may seem unlikely to happen. Impossible even. When you begin focusing on your Self, you’ll find a thought popping up often (the persistent little bugger):

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else!”

Wrong.

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of everyone else!”

That’s it, my friends.

 

Take that in. Accept it. Embrace it.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.ThoughtBubble

You can’t do it all.

Don’t be that person. The harried, stressed, wreck who tries to help everyone and tries to do everything to the detriment of his or her Self, family, health, relationships…whatever.

Yes, this means you have to make decisions. When will you agree? When will you decline? Choose wisely. And ditch the guilt. (It can be done. I have faith in you.)

 

A lot has happened since I chose ‘Self” as my One Word for 2018. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. All of it eye-opening. Take care of yourselves, gentle readers.

 

My One Word for 2018 #OneWord2018

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Well, I did a bang up job last year with my One Word for 2017: Accept. I didn’t. I raged, raged against the…everything. It was brutal choosing a focus for the year and I faltered. Failed. Time to move on.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I don’t do ‘resolutions’. However, I do believe (previous failure aside) a focus for the year is an excellent idea.

This is how I figured 2017 would work out. It did not. But, still, props for trying:

Choosing ONE word for the entire year? Not easy. I finally narrowed it down to three:

Present

Engage

Accept

I want to be more present in my life and I realized that, if I fully engage, I can be. And to engage, I need to accept some things. (This is how I worked it out, anyway.)

Therefore, my one word this year is:

Accept

 

I’m going to try again.

I’ve really had a time of it, this year, choosing a word. I even thought of cheating and picking two (or three). But, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it right. So I’ll work it out again.

I like the words I narrowed it down to:

Present

Mindful

 

I had passing thoughts of choosing something like Assertiveness, Determination, or Focus but they didn’t feel quite right. It’s just that I’ve been yammering on this past year about standing my ground, choosing me, sticking up for myself, keeping on target, saying “NO”, etc. so these seemed good, too.

It’s all about me, right? Sure. Why not? I went into this weird line of hyphenated “self” stuff:

Self-Esteem

Self-Motivation

Self-Care

Self-Awareness

Self-Kindness

Self… Er…

Self… Um…

Self-Centered

Self…ish

 

Crap. Never mind.

But I do need something “self”-like.

So, when continuing to narrow down my choice, I decided it must include me.

 

I’m sick of being stressed-out and overwhelmed, of not doing what I love, of doing things I’d really rather not be doing. I’m sick of ALL OF THE THINGS!

 

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

Forget it! I’m done. Or, at least, my OneWord is done. And here it is:

Self

This is my favorite definition from Webster’s New Explorer College Dictionary:

 

self

combining form: to, with, for, or toward oneself

 

See? I’ll be kind to, gentle with, caring for, considerate toward…myself. Brilliant.

By choosing Self, I’ll be incorporating all sorts of other wonderful words I’ve been thinking of here: Awareness, Mindful, Focus, Kindness… How can I have Self in front of me and actively abuse or dismiss it? I cannot. It would be awkward. And weird. And mean.

As I said last year, this is not going to be easy. I’ve got to change my whole mindset to get to the point where Self is what I focus on first. I’m up for the challenge though.

I’m taking my Self out of here, wishing you a Happy New Year and hoping you all can find a perfect OneWord for 2018. ❤

 

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2018.

 

There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here (Oh, and a #CoverReveal)

 

Been talking a lot about joy. Making changes, both on and offline, and living the most joy-filled life I can. (Trying, at least.)

There’s been some dancing in the rain, eating of chocolate, drinking of wine, deleting of emails…

Also, a social media makeover, hugging trees, letting go of lists, listening to AC/DC, saying “NO” to things, and “YES!” to others.

What I’ve noticed very recently is that I’m starting to slip. I’m swamped, drowning, stressed…

So I’m going to revisit my list of things that are important (my health, my family, self care…) and things that are not, then adjust my life and time accordingly. Which means I may or may not be blogging regularly. I have a lot going on. I will not blog when it overwhelms my already-overwhelming life. But I will blog when it brings me joy.

You know what else brings me joy? Writing. I’m currently (happily) working on my novel (due out 2018) and have finished my second collection of flash fiction due out this fall. Cover completed. Formatting now. 🙂

 

 

Thank you, gentle readers, for your continued encouragement and support. Whether it’s been on social media, behind the scenes, or on this blog where you’ve read, liked, commented, and created the amazing atmosphere I love here at Lemon Shark.

On the Edge of a Raindrop will be available Fall 2017.  🙂

 

Thanks, again, to the lovely Rachael Ritchey for designing my cover.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

 

 

Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

Truer words were never spoken.

Or perhaps they were. Regardless, these are up there in the top ten of How to Live Your Life.

Eleanor goes on to say that “you’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” Hot damn! She’s right.

You can never please everyone. Let me just go ahead and say that again. You can never. Please. Everyone.

Stop trying.

I’m speaking to myself, of course, as I often always do on this blog but I believe these words fiercely.

I know I’m a good person so why don’t I just do what I feel in my heart to be right?

Worrying what others might think or how they may perceive what I do (or don’t do) is a terrible way to live. How people choose to see me is not in my control. (And really not my problem. Unless I make it my problem. Which we’ve just established it’s not.)

The bottom line here is that, yes, you’ll be damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So…

Do what you want. Dammit.

ThoughtBubble

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Have a lovely week, gentle readers!