Secret Doors


This post was one of the first that I shared on Quotidiandose.  It is difficult for anyone to bare their soul and expose their weak spots. I’ve been involved in teaching a course dealing with emotional healing and recovery from abuse for the past ten years. It is still difficult.  I can, however, get through sharing my story without inconsolable sobs.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I hold my head a little higher than I did a few years ago, carry myself with more confidence that I did a few months ago, and I look for the bright side of life on purpose.  Each of us has a touch of destiny in our lives, it’s up to us to find it. It takes work.

All rights reserved to original artist. I do not own copyrights to this image.

All rights reserved to the original artist. I do not own copyrights to this image.

 

Those parts of us that we hide away from everyone else, whether it’s for acceptance or for some other reason, they still remain.   Some have skeletons inside and others have treasures that were never opened.

Abuse in my childhood put skeletons behind one door.  I was ashamed, scared, and scarred.  I didn’t want everyone else to know my personal hell.  Their view of me would be colored with the stains of my shame.  I wanted desperately to fit in and be accepted.  In more recent years I faced those skeletons and kicked them out.  I’ve spoken publicly about it.  The scars, the shame, and how it colored other areas of my life.  I’ve shared my heart, the hurt, and the pain, and some people look at you like you’re damaged goods.  Others, most often the ones who have experienced the pain themselves listen and hear.  It has been cathartic for me and those I’ve shared with.  I’ve been an open book, shared things that kept me bound in shame, in anger, and rebellion for years.

A certain woman who experienced the same things as I did to a greater degree came up to me after a public speaking session and poured her heart out.  We cried together, comforting each other.  There is healing in revealing, and those skeletons don’t keep me bound in chains any longer.  I didn’t have the perfect suburban upbringing as my peers, I experienced dysfunction.

For years, I allowed it to color who I was and how I saw myself.  It has shaped me — both good and bad — to who I am today.  I am thankful for the opportunities to help others break out of their prisons.

I still have secret doors, though.  Secrets that were stuffed inside, hidden in a shoebox under the bed.  Secrets that were shelved and now covered with cobwebs.  Recently, I dared to open one of my secret doors.  I found hidden treasures and shed some tears at my forgotten dreams.  I’m coming to terms with myself, the parts I locked away and hid from the world.

Unrealized potential and unrealized dreams.

It’s amazing what a couple rays of sunlight can reveal in a previously dark and dreary cobweb-filled scary room.  Tattered mementos that were long forgotten, happy moments that I rarely allowed myself.

I gave up on myself for many years.  I went through the motions: giving to others, fulfilling my roles, but experiencing no personal joys.  It just wasn’t worth the pain of failure.

What failure?

Failing myself.  An ever-present sense of unworthiness that clouded every aspect of life.

I made decisions based on what other people wanted and expected of me.  I’ve taken responsibilities and commitments that are acceptable in the eyes of my family and friends.  I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I have reached the point where I am no longer satisfied with status quo.

I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and nonconformist, but most people would be surprised to realize just how much I have conceded and conformed.  I know precisely  and how much it has been killing me inside.  I haven’t been true to myself, nor pursued my own dreams.

I took those items out of that room and threw away the key.  I’m examining each one and evaluating whether they are valid or just childhood fancies.  I’m never going to take a wooden raft on the Mississippi River like Tom Sawyer.  I have a healthy respect for the Old Muddy and have no desire to do that anymore, plus I have a few more operative brain cells than I did at 11.  It was a nice visit to a childhood fancy.  Other things, I’ve decided I’m going to tackle.

Just as in spring cleaning there are three boxes: keep, file, and throw away. the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was the first book I read voluntarily, one that sparked a lifetime love of reading.  The folded and yellowed piece of paper with a raft, colored in a childish manner will go into a scrapbook – a fond memory.  There are other things that were just silly and are no longer relevant.  I looked them over but decided to discard.

The ones to file, now that’s what prompted this post. They go along with my SMART goals.  Things I still feel are viable worthwhile goals and are worth attaining.  There’s going to be work but anything worth having is worth working for.  Ironically I found a shell of who I thought I’d be and it doesn’t even resemble the me I am today.  There are some aspects of the me today that are better, but the longing in my heart for those other dreams, well  it’s time for a change.

My personal pursuit for life, liberty and happiness were derailed.  After all, doesn’t the Constitution guarantee us these inalienable rights? It’s not the government’s fault that I’ve failed myself – epically.  That responsibility lies solely on my shoulders.  It’s back on track and I’ve got turbo fuel in the hold and the engine is revved up and ready.  I don’t think many of my friends or family will necessarily approve.  I’ve lived for their approval long enough.  I want my own approval because if you can’t have an inner peace with yourself, what does it really matter?

Some of my secret doors have been locked so long, I think I’ve lost the keys.  Maybe I’ll find them in this new chapter.  If nothing else, it will be an exciting adventure and, at least, I will know that I tried.  I don’t want the regrets of omission to cloud my consciousness.

It’s time for revision.  I’m about to rock the boat, hope you have a life jacket!

Write on my friends, write on!

And So It Begins


images (4)

First off – I know  you are waiting for a full report from Penned Con. It’s coming, but I want to give it the full attention it deserves.  I am  assessing my notes, making some new notes,evaluating the event,  and processing a whirlwind couple of days. I promise to give my full report soon. Just not today.

Today, I am asking something of my readers.  Something that I wouldn’t normally ask.  Tonight I begin a journey of exploration into my psyche as part of a counseling course, to deal with root issues in my life that stem from  abuse, rejection, living with an alcoholic parent, living with a self-absorbed parent,  and a variety of other issues that a lifetime of living has brought.

I’ve not made any secrets about my past,  about the skeletons in my closet.  I’ve not candy coated or diluted much of anything. NO, I haven’t divulged nitty-gritty details, this isn’t a horror story. I am not blaming anyone else for my problems.  They may have begun way back there but I have been a responsible adult for some time now and my decisions are my own.  My reactions to things are my own. Some of those reactions have become a real issue in  my relationship with my husband. He’s been an absolute amazing guy  and  if there is anything I can do to fix me, I will. I have caused him  a tremendous amount of pain, and  I feel horrible for the pain that I have caused.

So, I start this class tonight and for the next 12 weeks. It is going to be intense. It is going to be emotional.  It is going to force me to deal with issues that I’ve pushed under the rug for years. I have to face my demons full on. That’s where you, my readers come in. Patience, hang in there with me, and  maybe a word of encouragement now and again by leaving a comment.

Today, before the first counseling session – which lasted an hour and a half – I started an online course that I have to pass in order to renew my mortgage license.  Last several years when I took the course, I’ve passed with a 92 to 100%.  You can imagine my shock when after the first section of the course I failed that module with a 62%.  Yeah, my mojo is definitely off. My ability to focus  has dropped off the bottom of the chart and still plummeting.

I have deadlines looming for work projects, the first of which is passing this course to renew my license by a deadline that has always been December 31, but has been moved up to October 1.  Nothing like a little extra pressure, right?   I have a technical writing gig that the deadline has been extended  for two weeks because of a variety of things on my end and theirs. Thank goodness they gave me an extension.

Family issues, financial burdens, emotional baggage all combined to a cumulative of  off the chart stress.

So, hang with me please.  I haven’t completely given up and I haven’t lost very last brain cell.  It’s just a stressful time, and I have to make some hard choices about self-evaluation.  Cyberhugs accepted! Sometimes you just have to yell: ” Jane! Stop this crazy thing!” and get off for a while.

How do you handle stress?  How do you face your demons, or do you? Have you ever sought counseling for your issues? Do you view people who seek counseling as broken? Damaged?

That’s it in a nutshell.  I shall follow-up soon with a full report on Penned Con.  It was an awesome 2 days that opened my eyes to numerous possibilities and shattered a few ideologies I had built up in my mind. But life presses in and demands my full attention in other areas.

So while I am undergoing psycho-analysis, and battling demons –  write on and remember to tune back in for Penned Con updates soon.

 

Guidelines


First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate’s code to apply and you’re not. And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.

Captain Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean

Remember back in grade school when your teachers told you to color inside the lines?  We had seasonal cute pictures, often coinciding with  the upcoming holiday.  (I’ve always been looking forward to the next holiday!) One specific example comes to mind.  My followers that aren’t in the US will have to put on your imagination caps here, but I think you’ll get the gist.  The teacher passed out pages of turkey feathers to color just before Thanksgiving.  The pieces were numbered, and each little space was numbered, corresponding to a color.

The exercise was about following instructions.  The turkey feathers were supposed to be brown, yellow, orange, and red in a graduated scale.  I wasn’t a good rule follower even back then.  No, in 2nd grade my turkey was black.  Everything was black.  I even stole my friend’s black crayon because I ran out of my black.  What can I say?  It was an angry time of my life. They didn’t send us to the counselor to see why we didn’t follow the rules. They didn’t ask what was going on at home, or why I was rebellious.  We were expected to be good little boys and girls regardless of how dysfunctional our family was, and abuse was something that was swept under the rug not talked about with your teachers.  I lost my recess and had to stay in to redo my peacock.  Oh yeah, it was supposed to be a turkey.  Therefore, I had to miss more recesses.

The teacher never cared to find out why I didn’t want my turkey to look like everyone elses.  My 2nd edition was more or less a peacock with brilliant blues, greens, and pinks.  I even cut its wattle off to make it look more ‘peacocky’.  By the third time I had decided the teacher was just mean, and I was tired of missing recess.  I scribbled as fast as I could and colored each segment its appropriate color, cut them out and glued them together in record speed.  I still got an F.  I believe the note to my parents was something to the effect that I refuse to follow directions.  Whatever!

Fast forward a couple of years, we had our turkey pictures with more details.  This time we were expected to follow the general guidelines, and color our turkey in a realistic fashion. Apparently grade school teachers are not fans of surrealism, or even abstract art.  Such narrow views in life encourage rebellion in the hearts of troubled kids.  Trust me, I know!

I personally thought my turkey rocked, but the teacher was of a different opinion.  “Why can’t you simply follow the rules like everyone else?”  The exaggerated sighs of her frustration did little to soothe my rebellious nature.  Of course my smart mouth got me in even more trouble, when I stated that my turkey was unique.

It wasn’t like I was really a trouble kid.  I got straight A’s.  I just didn’t conform to the general consensus.  One of the times I had to miss recess, my 4th grade teacher actually asked me why I was angry. I didn’t answer, and when she came over to my desk and saw that I was crying she backed down her tone.  Mrs. Williamson was the first teacher to ever look past bad behavior to see a hurting child inside.  There are often reasons behind the behavior.

Fast fast forward to the present and there are still guidelines.  As adults we aren’t graded on what color our turkey is, or if our turkey is cut exactly on the lines or not.  As a cartographer I had to have precise lines, and follow SOPs (standard operating procedures) that were in a document nearly the size of the federal budget.  When you’re charting the geo-coordinates for missiles, you must have pinpoint accuracy.  As you can imagine, it was restrictive to my creative nature.

As a writer I can flex my creativity and dash the rules as I see fit. Grammar rules always seem to have exceptions.  I will admit, that as I’ve gotten older my rebellious nature has been channelled into specific areas.  In real life I’m a rather conservative law-abiding citizen.  I believe in playing by the rules of life, with the exception of speed limits.

In my fiction however, there is only one rule that is hard and fast, and that is with suspension of disbelief!  I can believe there are ancient mages that can weave powerful magic.  I can believe that there are shape-shifting dragons.  I can even believe that a magical mirror exists that can transport someone back in time.  What I can’t believe is an independent strong female character that puts up with a cheater repeatedly, allows herself to remain in an abusive situation, or one that surrenders herself to a complete jerk.

I just read a paranormal romance, set in modern times and the female lead was supposedly a strong-willed independent woman.  By the tenth chapter, she caught her man with two other women in the act.  Really?  I know people in real life are cads, but in a romance we read to escape.  Lose his sorry butt and move on lady, there are better men out there.  This was one of the few books I did not finish.

I’ve already stretched my reader’s imagination by creating a world of dragons and magic.  But even non human characters tend to display human characteristics.  Believable characters have good points as well as bad points.  For instance most strong-willed people are natural leaders, but they aren’t good listeners.  They see their own goals but often don’t weigh the consequences of their decisions. A strong-willed independent woman is not going to put up with a cheating liar!

She also wouldn’t be content to just let him walk away without extracting the pound of flesh due to her.  The manner in which she would extract her revenge can be quite interesting.  He’ll pay, you can be certain of that.

In real life we have to choose our battles.  I choose to follow the laws and stay out of jail.  I choose to cut myself some slack for not being supermodel thin.  I choose who I give my affections to.  In a fictional world, we can break the rules and never get caught.  We can extract our pound of flesh from the liars and cheaters, and the ones who have crossed our characters.

In real life we have to deal with nosy neighbors, judgmental peers, and backstabbing coworkers and wait on karma to pay them back.

There are certain aspects of life that have to be flexible, more like guidelines.  I plan my grocery shopping from a list which is made from a planned menu.  Just because it says we are having fajitas on Thursday doesn’t mean we are actually having fajitas on Thursday.  One day between Sunday and Saturday, fajitas will be served because I bought stuff to make fajitas.  It’s a guideline.  This logic is fuzzy for my logical thinking husband.  It creates chaos in his supposed well-ordered life.

HA!  Which proves my theory: boxes are bad.  Even rule followers yearn to get outside the lines and experience freedom.

Are you a rebel or a rule follower?  Are you selective in which rules are guidelines?  Let me know what you think.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Bad Mom!


I have two teenage daughters, one whose personality is similar to mine and one whose personality is similar to my husband.  When they were younger I used to say a mini me and  a mini he.  That doesn’t work anymore, as they are both taller than me now.  I won’t even begin to go into how unfair that is!

My girls have been off school for Spring Break since last Thursday.  It has been a disruption to my already disrupted habits!  Don’t get me wrong I love my kids, I do!  It’s just that I had envisioned their teen years to be more self-sufficient.  I only have my own teen years to compare it to, and thank God they aren’t that much like me!

I planned on them being self-sufficient,  they’re not.  I planned on them being somewhat independent by now, they’re not.  I planned on them preferring to be with their friends instead of hanging out with their uncool mom, they don’t.

Sometimes they seem more helpless than they were at 2.  I know the “fits” are on par to that age.  Independence? HA!  I guess that’s what I get for being an overprotective helicopter mom when they were small.  Yes, I admit it I’ve been overprotective in many ways.  I wanted to make sure no one abused my babies the way I was abused as a child.  I wanted to make sure they were kept safe from harm.

The first time my oldest daughter got a cut, she was maybe six months old.  I was on the phone with my mother when she crawled over by the air conditioner vent in the floor.  she ran her little finger under the edge of the metal vent; and cut herself.  She didn’t cry, but I noticed blood on my tile floor.  Then realized she was looking at her little finger.  I practically screamed into the phone at my mother – “oh my God she’s bleeding!”.  To which my mother replied, “Well for heaven’s sakes,  what did you expect to come out, grape Kool-Aid?”

I know, it seems silly now.

I rarely left them with babysitters, I didn’t trust enough.  When I worked full-time and took them to daycare, I asked a gazillion questions, called at odd hours in the day.  I was a pest, I know but these were my precious babies!  It was a very good day for my mental well-being and that of the daycare staff when I retired from government service to be a full-time stay at home mother. The only drawback was that it fostered my hovering overprotectiveness.

I arranged playdates with safe families.  I took them to the parks, to Grant’s Farm, to the Zoo, and many other outings.  Now they expect it and I get complaining if it involves a train.  In St. Louis, we’ve visited the Museum of Transportation many times. It mostly consists of trains and the girls have developed an aversion to trains.  Yes, sometimes we go there just because I know they are cringing.  Yes, I know, bad mom!  Ever heard the old saying “If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy?”  Don’t poke mama bear, she has claws.

Instead of my children going to their friend’s houses, their friends come to ours.  On one hand, it’s nice to know that my house is considered the cool house, but teenage girls can eat you out of the home almost as quickly as teenage boys.

Don’t agree?  Consider this: typical teenage boy gathering is 4 to five boys; typical girl gathering involves up to twelve girl max; more if you allow it but my limit is twelve!  Even if they are “dieting” you have more mouths to feed, and frankly most teenagers aren’t that hung up on calories yet.

It’s the same principle as the group bathroom break.  Ever hear a dude ask his friends “I’ve got to go to the bathroom, who’s got to go?”  No, and if he’s smart he never will!

When I was a teen I was very independent.  I did my chores, which were much greater than I require of my girls.  (NO ,I didn’t walk 5 miles to school uphill both ways in the blinding snow, it was only 1 mile) We didn’t have microwaves, we didn’t have a dishwasher, and we didn’t have air conditioning.  Open windows meant more dust on everything.  I can’t even get them to push the vacuum, much less use a feather duster! Yesterday when they were home, my oldest daughter complained that I went to my room to avoid them in, using her whiny voice.

I was changing over the winter clothes for spring and summer wear!  I had asked them both to do the same with their own clothes, a request that was ignored.  Oh well, those long sleeve shirts will be pretty hot in a few weeks, maybe they’ll do it then.

My husband pointed out after a frustrating episode of them not doing their simple chores that it was my fault.  Big mistake buster – not making any ponts right now! He stated that it is my fault because, although I get frustrated with them, I do it for them.  Guilty as charged, but it doesnt’ really help to point that out right now!  I went three days without them doing their chores and leaving it for them to do.  I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I did it!  Come on, three days worth of dirty dishes on counter top?  I had nowhere to prepare dinner, it had to be done.

Of course now I’m the bad mom again because I’ve taken away privileges.  Too bad, because Uber Nazi writing muse has a sister called Uber Nazi drill sergeant mom!  She’s lean, mean and unmercifully obsessed with clean!

I have a little over a year to  make certain that the oldest is ready to be on her own, as she will be heading off to college.  She’s got a long way to go.  She asked me yesterday how often the maid service changes your bedding in college.  I nearly spewed my coffee on the computer screen.  I’m not sure how things were at other colleges, but the one I attended didn’t provide maid services or laundry services.  It was all up to the students to care for their things.

I never got any instruction manual when they were babies and I was too protective.  I haven’t received any updated manuals now that they are teens, and I’m trying to encourage them, strongly suggest, and yes even push them to becoming self-sufficient responsible people.  It’s my job, it’s what I do, be the mom.  Good mom, bad mom, unappreciated mom, and even the comforting mom.  It’s a 24 hour a day/7 day a week/ 365 days a year job.  It tries my patience as nothing else can, yet provides the biggest rewards in life.

Even though we’re having a rough patch right now, I”ve got great kids.  They aren’t taking drugs, breaking laws, or getting into fights.  They are both smart and get good grades in school.  Good thing too because we’re really hoping for a scholarship!

In my current state of temporary disability, they’ve been less than helpful.  I guess that’s the root of my frustrations.  The fact that I’m not able to do the things that need to be done, and the fact that they don’t see the need to pitch in and get them done.  Meanwhile, it does nothing for my current mental state which is a mixture of self-pity, obsessing over the things I am unable to do, and my over achievers nature.

I don’t make a good patient.  It’s not life threatening, just restricted mobility for a short period of time while my injury heals.  I’m dealing with it, just not well!  It’s against the nature of being a  mom to  remain inactive. My dad used to say to my mom that she had springs in her butt!  It’s true, a mother rarely lounges around letting others wait on her.

My girls go back to school tomorrow.  Is it bad that I’m rejoicing?  It will be nice to get almost back to my daily routine. Well, except for not being able to go downstairs to do the laundry, and other household chores that involve kneeling, bending or even walking.

OK, I confess I really missed my quiet time to write.  I often have the music turned up, or the tv on for background noise, but it’s not the same as having actual conversations going on in the same room.  Especially when they are directed towards you. I put my laptop aside, and gave them my attention, but my heart was with Zane and Isabelle in the highlands.

Bad mom!

Bottle Blues


I’ve spent the last two days trying to make a rather dry subject seem interesting.  Assigned topics are never as exciting as the subjects that we would choose on our own.  I wouldn’t have selected the topic of alcoholism and it’s effects on the families even though I have experience with it.  My father was an alcoholic, and I watched it destroy his health.  The effects it had in family dynamics can be attested to first hand, yet it’s one of those subjects that I don’t like to talk about.

I loved my father and he was never a violent drunk.  I am often very reserved in sharing personal information about myself and my family, because I don’t want to ever disrespect them in any way.  I understand why he started drinking, why he continued to drink, and I understand  the long reaching effects it had on our family.

I”m faced with research facts and medical documentation of symptoms that I experienced first hand.  For me this is a particularly difficult assignment because of the emotional pain behind it.  That’s the most devastating part of alcoholism that is never  considered in the younger “party” days.

My dad was a WWII veteran.  He went in on D-Day and lived first hand through horrors that were far greater than could be shown in the movie Saving Private Ryan.  He was in an Engineer corp on the front lines of battle throughout the European theatre. When most of our soldiers came home, the Engineer Corp stayed behind to clean up Auschwitz, Nuremberg, Dakow, and such. He saw depths of human despair that most of us will never experience.  I don’t begrudge him coping with those horrors through alcohol.  If it were today, doctors would overmedicate him and claim post traumatic stress disorder.  But that’s not how the heroes of World War II handled it.  They resumed life the best they knew how, jumped in with both feet and worked hard in their jobs to support their booming families.

Dad will always be a hero in my book.  He was a sweet gentle man who was slow to anger, and approached life with humor! He was a quiet unassuming man who stood 5’7″, but in my book he was a giant.

Over the years the alcoholism progressed, and he stayed comfortably numb most of the time. Between my siblings and myself, we exhibit every potential symptom of children of alcoholics.  Understanding is often the first step to freedom. The 12 step program that many help groups offer are great tools to achieve this freedom.

This assignment has hit a little too close to home with me, and as I begin to churn the facts, my emotions pour onto the page.  The loss of my father, the respect I will always have for him despite his problems with alcohol overshadow my words. Personal slant – uh yeah, I’d say so.  Personal experience pieces often sell.  I’m concerned that when it comes to matters of the heart, and especially when it concerns my father, this 48-year-old woman is reduced to that 7-year-old girl in pig tails running along behind daddy, trying to keep up with his strides.

How well this one will sell when the main emphasis is put on the emotional fallout rather than the clinical issues remains to be seen.

What gives you an edge over the competition to sell articles?  Your slant, or unique perspective.  How you convey the gleaned knowledge, the volumes of research and combine them into a winning recipe depends on you writer’s voice. Yet, it can’t be too personal or readers won’t relate.

It’s different for fiction than it is for nonfiction.  My nonfiction voice tends to fluctuate between an intelligent midwestern American voice of experience, and the sagacious wit which I often approach life with.  On occasion the two combine for a truly unique perspective on a chosen topic.  there’s not much opportunity for humor in this current piece, and I”m concerned that any intelligence fled the moment the emotions began to rise.

However, an assignment often means a guaranteed sale.  YEAH!  So, there’s hope yet that the editor may indeed accept it, or ask for a  revision without a complete rejection.

Writing from the heart can be deeply satisfying, yet emotionally draining.  If it’s truly from the heart it will carry impact to the reader.  It will grip them, until they feel the choking sensation rising within themselves.  Maybe one of their loved ones is experiencing the hell of alcoholism, or maybe it will bring conviction to their own drinking and help them see it through someone elses eyes.

An alcoholic never intends to harm those around them. In my dad’s case, it was to numb the pain, a self-administered medication.  How could I possibly fault him for alcoholism when I’ve done the same thing to myself with food?  In my case I can recover from the extra pounds with minimal damage.  It wasn’t the case for my father, it ruined his liver and his heart an eventually was the cause of his death.

I hope this piece does get published and that it has an impact on someone.  Many tears were shed in writing a 2500 word article on a topic I would not have chosen. I’ve put more energy into this piece than I thought I would, and it has been strangely cathartic. I’m also hoping this one gets published for the effort it has taken me.  I may not have sweated but it sure involved many tears.

Thanks for dropping by today and listening.  I’d appreciate any comments you wish to share on the subject!

Monsters From the ID


One of the best science fiction movies of the 50’s is arguably Forbidden Planet.  Many of the 50’s movies were cheesy with visible strings, plastic rockets, cheesier costumes, and poor acting.  Forbidden Planet stands out by a mile with state of the art technology for the time. Any good science fiction work will accomplish one thing: make us look introspectively at ourselves.

The storyline of Forbidden Planet, for those not familiar is an adaptation of The Tempest by William Shakespeare.  This is one of my all time favorite movies!

So what do monsters from the ID have to do with the connection in my brain?  Hang on we’ll get there.  Enjoy the scenery along the way.

I was watching – sort of – Burn Notice on tv while I was writing.  I was having a continued flash of my “rockin’ it”  writing that I blogged about yesterday, and only occasionally glanced at the tv.  Anyone else need background noise?  Michael Weston always comes out on top in each episode, yet the bigger  fight of discovering who burned him has continued to elude him.  That got my little brain in high gear, as my villain is hell-bent on his path of destruction.  He is so focused on destroying his nemesis – my hero – that he fails to see the bigger picture.  Suddenly I was engrossed in the show and well, the actor is attractive anyway.  My gears are turning, I”m taking mental notes as Michael does what he does best, all the while explaining to the viewers what he’s doing.  I nudged my  cantankerous villain to pay attention here, maybe things won’t have to end poorly for him.

He hissed at me and went back to his plans of destruction.  He really should have paid attention, it would have helped him in the end.

OK, hang on because we’re jumping tracks for a moment.  My daughter had a friend over, and the discussion came up about writing.  My ears of course perked right up. The younger daughter prepared a snack – toast with Nutella on it.  I couldn’t resist.

I asked the girl ” Did my daughter tell you what happened to Kyle when I gave him hazelnuts?”  (For those who don’t know Nutella is made of hazelnuts and cocoa) This led into the conversation about how Kyle (my hero from first WIP – FAERE GUARDIAN) had a severe allergic reaction to nuts and ended up in ICU from anaphylaxis.  He also received blunt trauma to the head, but that’s a different matter.

She looked at the snack and set it back on her plate.  My daughter explained that Kyle was a character in my book.  A few minutes later, she asked me what some of my hobbies were.  “Devising take over the world plots and the demise of my perceived enemies.”  OK, in my defense I was deep in the zone of my villain’s motives and frame of mind.

I hope I didn’t scare her too badly.  I think the awkward laugh after my statement might  have been over the top.  Later when I took her home, I had a chance to talk with the girl’s mother.  We hit it off pretty well.  We talked about our geekiness and about the sci-fi things we liked; the Doctor Who marathons, the Red Dwarf series, and Star Trek conventions.  I explained to her mother that I was a writer and I maybe might have scared her daughter earlier.  As I explained it to the mother, I think she understood but I’m not convinced that my daughter’s friend will be returning to my home.

OK, back on original track now.  The conversation with this teenage girl came to my mind as I’m watching Michael Weston get out of yet another impossible situation, and glanced internally at the villain I had created in my ID.  He had a long way to go to be truly scary.  I thought about the exchange with my daughter’s friend, and laughed.  Pretty sad when a midwest housewife was scarier than a villainous dragon.

It was time to go to my think spot.  He had to be more.  Had to go deeper, darker, scarier to get a villain that was not just fun house scary, but your worst nightmare come to life scary.  I have had some intense nightmares, so I started looking there.  What is it that  makes something scary?  What characteristics make a really bad villain?  What motive would my villain have to have to psychologically terrorize my reader?  Don’t worry, I don’t unleash his specific brand of madness on the readers, but I want them to get a glimpse of his potential.

Master of the macabre, Stephen King made his name by employing the psychological terror in his work.  The monsters from the ID are truly the most terrifying things we can imagine.  Hmmm, I had to take a break from my writing.  It was time to probe the other 90% of my brain and breathe some truly frightening  ideas into my character.  He really should have paid attention earlier.

Victims of abuse or torture become immune to the fear after a while.  A victim can be turned to an abuser when a line is crossed.  Such is the case with my villain.  Erik’s mother was a bit of a sociopathic dragon you see.  She inflicted her specific poison upon Erik for years contributing to his psychopathic tendencies.  Of course madness is genetically inherited in some instances as well.  There’s a certain amount of sympathy you can’t help but feel for the child that was Erik, the formative years of a young dragon being tormented and poisoned by an insane mother.  It was all very sad, it turned him into a true monster.

For the good of all humanity whether it be in the dragon realm or human realm, monster’s simply can’t be allowed to terrorize and destroy the harmonic balance of the universe.

No power in the ‘verse can stop me now that I’ve unleashed my monster from the ID.  MWAHAHAHA!

dANGERerous


Continuing in the vein, because I get a repeat performance of my presentation: more emotional issues.

In learning to manage our emotions we have to deal with anger.  Admit it, we all deal with it, we just handle it differently.  You’ll never get to the point of not feeling emotions, just learning to manage them and not let them manage you.  Having said that, anger is a very volatile emotion – no pun intended.

Ever notice, on many of those reality shows that people are just behaving badly?  I’m not sure if they think they are being “cool” by acting out or if they are blind, but I just see it as immature people being fools.  Some are just too blind to see their own foolishness.  I don’t watch those shows for just that reason!  Why would I waste my valuable time by watching plastic people who don’t have a clue, behave poorly on camera?  I wouldn’t!  I have better things to do with my time.  I have goals I want to achieve which aren’t going to get accomplished watching someone elses life on television. It doesn’t stop me however, from using them as examples to get my point across.

On the other hand, there are those people that take bad news and turn it around for good.  A friend mentioned over the weekend about contestants on American Idol that take their rejection and say; “Well,  I’ll be back. I”ll take what you said and work on it.  You wait and see, I’ll be back next year and I’ll be better.”

I like that!  My example would be Ali Vincent from Biggest Loser. Ali was sent home in a season where if she succeeded at home, she could win a spot back on the campus to still compete on the show.  I remember the  scene when she was voted off.  There was a determination in her face, one that was set in resolve.  ” I will be back.  I AM going to be the Biggest Loser.”  Guess what ? She did it, she came back to win.  Instead of blasting those people who voted her off, or getting angry because it wasn’t fair, or feeling like her opportunity had passed; she took the news and turned it around to her own victory.  It gave her a focused energy for her efforts.  Make no mistake she had to work for it.

Directed anger, with a focused energy can be a good thing.  It’s often one of the elements that gets us off our duff and  determined.   Take a look at MADD founder Candace Lightner.  After the tragedy of losing her daughter, she founded the organization – Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers.  She could have easily given up, and cried in her loss and stayed there.  Instead, she focused her efforts into lazer-beam intensity for a needed cause and has made a tremendous difference in our national community.

On the flip side, we all know that anger can be a very destructive force if not directed. I’ll admit I have anger issues.  Big surprise right?  If you’ve paid any attention to previous blogs, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I have a tendency to be volatile.  I’m working through it and I”m much better tha I used to be.  Recently, my friend Tim Notz outlined four ways people express anger.  I think his analogy is interesting and surprisingly accurate.  Not surprised that Tim came up with it because he’s a very intelligent man.

ANGER STORMS:

snow storm:  the person gives a cold shoulder, says everything’s fine even though it obviously isn’t,  may shun the person they are angry at, and give icy dagger stares, but doesn’t really do much more about it.  They tend to internalize a lot of their anger, and may never  outwardly express their displeasure, but you know. They make certain you know.

thunderstorm: they moan, they whine, they may cry.  They make a lot of noise, sometimes slamming doors and drawers shut, stomping around with a scowl, but never really do any damage.  Can you say “bad attitude”?

tornado: they drop out of the sky unexpectedly, sometimes with pin-pointed accuracy.  they can be very explosive , destructive and leave a path of destruction behind.  There is nothing left to pretend it didn’t happen, so they are forced to rebuild from that point.

hurricane:  it builds for a long time out on the ocean.  It swirls and grows stronger, building, building before heading into land.  It may form for weeks growing the entire time.  Then when it hits land it causes complete devastation.  Again there’s no chance of brushing things under a rug here, but this can tear families apart forever.

So what!  Why go there?  I can hear those among you (like me) that know you have some issues here.  Everyone deals with anger at some point, it’s just a matter of how.  Be patient little grasshoppers; I’m getting there!

A big key to dealing with anger, especially if you tend to be prone to tornadoes and hurricanes is to understand why.  What is causing you to get angry?  Tim outlined 13 reasons, but I”m only going to give you some of those, my top five. Not  just the ones I deal with, but what I think is the root reasons why we get angry in the first place.

1.  Learned Behaviour   If you grew up in a house where there was yelling, and loud displays of anger you may have learned it from your folks!  Learned behaviours are hard to break, but not impossible.  Dysfunction has become the norm in American households, not sure if this is true abroad or not.  The stable household with two loving parents is a very small percentage of the population.  My own upbringing was in a dysfunctional home.  My parents were married 54 years and ended only because of death.  Trust me when I say it was less than an ideal relationship.

2. Abuse, neglect, or mistreatment   Whether the abuse is physical, mental, verbal, emotional, or sexual this will cause a deep-seated root of anger and resentment, and a general mistrust of authority. It may foster a victim mentality or a strong sense of independence.  My suggestion is to get counseling if you’ve experienced this category. This is the hardest to overcome and often cannot be accomplished without seeking some sort of counseling.  I could write volumes on abuse, perhaps one day I will.  It’s one of the main things that got me in the public speaking forum in the first place.  I don’t have all the answers, I’m learning along the way.  What I do offer is a voice of hope to the victims of abuse.

3. Low self-esteem:  If you are not happy with yourself, it’s easy to fault find with others.  Check out my previous post of Happiness Is Just a Teardrop Away  that deals with unhappy people.  This addresses the naval gazers who tend to fault find within themselves. Their root of unhappiness is dissatisfaction with themselves that is often expressed in lashing out at the world around them.

4.  False Expectations  Many of us had the Fairy tale version of marriage in our minds when we said ” I DO”.  It was a short lesson of reality that happily ever after wasn’t exactly so.  Ladies have a vision of her inner Prince charming, and guys have a mental image of their personal Cinderella.  We soon discover that we actually married a real person with faults (GASP).  Yep, my husband scratched his butt and did the same disgusting things that my brothers did, like fart and leave the room laughing.  Nothing in the fairy tales mentioned the morning dragon breath, or the leaving clothes where they lay.  This isn’t golf guys – put it in the hamper!  He envisioned that I would clean house with the same energy that Cinderella did even though she was essentially a slave to her step sisters.  Reality fell far short of that, because I’m still praying hard to afford a housekeeper.  Don’t come to my house for a dust inspection. Trust me, I have three kinds – old dust, recent dust and Endust.  The Endust doesn’t get out much.

5.  We’re Tired and Stressed  OK, I combined two of Tim’s points here but they go together.  Aren’t you the most volatile and prone to anger when you’re tired?  Think about it: you come home from work, it’s been a long hard day, and you just want to relax.  You come in the door and water is spewing forth from the fountain that was formerly the kitchen sink, and the kids have made yet another mess in the living room.  Chaos has just dropped in to pay you a visit when all you want to do is just unwind.  Or how about the PMS ladies??  How many times are the hormonal swings causing you to be a Pretty Mean Sister?  (LOL – had to put that one in Tim, good one)  We ache, it’s unpleasant and then someone – usually the spouse is demanding your attention and wanting something from you.

In that state of tiredness we complicate our lives further by adding additional stress.  Deadlines at work, being overworked, having too many irons in the fire (hello? anyone else do this?) . We have to know our own limits and when to take a time out so we don’t lash out at others, and we have to learn a simple word: NO.  This one thing here has been a Godsend for me.  Learning to say NO.  It’s difficult especially if you’re a people pleaser to take on someone elses burdens.  After all we just want to help, right?  But what happens? We stretch ourselves too thin, and then we don’t get our own things accomplished, further adding to our already stressed lives. Then the explosions start  going off leaving your house looking like a mine field.

Great!  A lot of info there but what am I suppose to do with that?  Examine where you are in these examples and figure out how to manage your life better. If you’re perfectly happy with how you deal with anger, come look me up so you can teach me.  If you want to improve, decide what you need to do and apply it.  It’s the Doers who are blessed, not the ” yeah I got that” people who never actually do apply what they know.

If nothing else, you can say ” Well at least I”m not as messed up as her!”  Thanks for listening, even if it’s just to make yourself feel better.

Leave me a comment! I’m always interested to know how others deal with life issues.

 

Overcoming Emotions


This is an excerpt from the presentation I’m doing for Saturday’s seminar.  The entire presentation is called Soul Matters: Your Mind, Will, and Emotions.

The root source of the term emotions comes from the Latin ex mocrere; which means to move away.  Isn’t that what we do when we allow ourselves to be overcome by our emotions?  We move away from rational thought, move away from our balanced being?

Nobody will ever reach a point in life of not experiencing a wide variety of emotions.  Our job is not to get rid of those emotions but to learn to manage them.  Instead of throwing ourselves down and having a temper tantrum like a two-year old, we have to learn to reign in our feelings and communicate in a more mature manner.  How many examples of bad behavior do we really need to see on tv anyway?

Do you think that anyone on Jersey Shore would last a minute in a board room meeting? I don’t, they’d be laughed at and escorted out of the building.

Here’s a few observations pertaining to emotions:

  • Typically women show emotions more than men.
  • phlegmatic show the least emotions of the four temperament groups. (Reference: Tim La Haye; Why We Do the Things We Do.
  • Sanguines show the most emotions of the four temperaments.
  • Melancholics have the most problems with depression – they are deep thinkers.

It’s not an easy thing to overcome your emotions, but it’s possible.   Emotionalism is being dominated by your emotions.  Think about the drama queens you know.  Everything is to the extremes and they are led by the rollercoaster of their emotions.

One of the keys to overcoming your emotions is honesty.  Be honest with yourself.  Get gut level real and examine why you feel the strong emotional reactions.  this is the beginning to understanding and eventually being able to control your emotions instead of allowing them to control you.

There are two things that can handicap us in the development of our emotions.  Abuse and responsibility put on us at too young of an age.

Abuse  can be in different forms: verbal, physical, sexual, and mental.  All of these forms hinder our developing psyche, but sexual abuse is the most damaging, causing shame within our sense of self.

Abuse to a deep thinker sets them up for a lifetime of performance orientation. they never enjoy life.  They feel they have to be perfect to earn the right to enjoy anything.  To a strong-willed person it can cause a reaction of rebellion and distrust.  Rebellion as a statement that they will never allow another person to control them in any way, and distrust of ever allowing another person to get close enough to be able to hurt them.

OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder often stems from abuse.  It’s not the only cause but it can certainly manifest from abuse.  It’s a control issue, an area that the person feels they can control where control was taken from them in the abusive situation.

Abuse robs a person of their childhood.  The same thing happens when a child is saddled with a burden of responsibility that they are too young to handle. Not being allowed to play robs a person of their childhood.

All of these things cause a person to constantly be on edge, they don’t know how to relax.  They don’t enjoy life, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Perhaps they waited with baited breath to see of daddy was in a good mood when he came home each day.

They make a mental to-do list for a single day that would require a team of four people to accomplish in a week, then beat themselves up for not being able to accomplish everything.  Then in self punishment, they haven’t earned the right to relax and have any fun.  Is it any wonder high blood pressure is such an issue in our society?

We have to learn to relax and let our inner child come out and play.  Relearn a better way to process the garbage in our lives so that the emotions don’t reign over us.

What are some characteristics of a child?

  • They have fun no matter what they do.  You can put a child in the corner and they will make a game of it by counting the flowers on the wallpaper.
  • If you tell a child to sweep – they’ll be dancing with the broomstick while they work, maybe .  They may just forget they were suppose to sweep.
  • Children have imagination!  Grownups forget how to use their imaginations and get stuck in ruts, going through the daily grind.
  • Children laugh.  Have you laughed today?
  • By nature, children are uncomplicated, simple.  We add dimensional complications to our lives by our own psychological malfunctions.  We need to get back to our simpler selves!

Let your inner child come out to play once in a while and it just may help to get a handle on the emotions.  It’s ok to feel.  Sometimes it hurts, but sometimes it’s great.  Trying times are learning times and through learning to relax and allow yourself to be human,  we learn to manage our emotions.

Adults are just kids with wrinkles.  Smiling causes fewer wrinkles than frowning.

We have to develop a tougher skin as we mature, learn to manage the mean kids in our lives.  We don’t have to become autonomous zombies.  Although if we referenced ourselves as zombies it might cause our teens to be more interested in what we say.  OK, maybe not!

Maturity doesn’t mean we have to become grumpy old people.  It means we become  responsible adults. Responsibility doesn’t have to be boring and sedate.  I’m fighting the aging thing every step of the way. One of the ways to do this is by releasing the inner child!  Life suddenly becomes a game, one that I can win.  Because I set the rules to my game, and I control the moves of the game.  I’ve already won, it’s just a matter of crossing that finish line and getting the blue ribbon prize!