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!

Tuesday Tidbit

Ever have those days when you have a jumble of things on your mind that you have to sort out?  Yes, well it’s one of those days er, weeks actually.   I’ve been rather surprised by the overwhelming response for Love Notes.  Chapter 5 is posting today, if you are so inclined to  click over there and check it out!

This may cause me to rethink my stance on “Pantsing” my stories in the future.  Love Notes started as an impulsive inspiration.  (For the readers here’s a little insight into the  catacombs of how my mind works.  For the writers, the chambers vary but many are familiar with the process.)

What if?

The magical star stuff that fiction is made of.  During a conversation with a friend, I got the spark of an idea. One spark was all it took and I was off and writing.  I didn’t stop to plot things out until chapter 5.  So I suppose if y’all start commenting differently past chapter 5, maybe I should go back to pantsing.

The same sort of inspirational spark happened for Kiss of the Dragon. While having a conversation with my daughter, a reference was made about the ‘Dragon Complex’.  My eyes lit up, the gears clicked into place and my daughter said I got a strange, somewhat scary expression before I darted down the hall and began writing.  Seventeen pages later, I asked her to read it and tell me what she thought.

She glanced down at the pages – my masterpiece – and looked back up at me like I was crazy for expecting her to be able to read my furious scribblings. (OK, so my handwriting isn’t the best!)  From those seventeen pages it has blossomed into something much greater than I ever imagined. I’m discovering details as I go, and I am anxious for people to read it.

It’s sort of like the same satisfaction of preparing a great meal.  When everything comes together it looks, smells, tastes fantastic!  It may even sizzle.  Waiting with bated breath for the reaction of the person dining; the expression of satisfaction, the moan of delight.  Verbal praise or approval really isn’t necessary when you nail it!  You know, you just know when you hit the ball out of the park!

You can prepare the same meal a thousand times.  Sometimes it just doesn’t turn out right, but there’s the times when the family requests to have this again because it was that good.  Writing is like that on a much larger scale.  It takes time, a great deal of time to write a book.   I have the whole story completed inside my head.  Finding the time to get it down is frustrating at times.  I know though that I nailed it.

I cook our family meals, and I’m a darn good cook!  (Do you think I’d be overweight if I wasn’t?)  There are times when I surprise myself, both good and bad.  I’ve made the worst fried chicken I’ve ever attempted to eat – really it was bad.  Conversely I’ve made the best coconut cream pie I’ve ever had – as well as the others who inhaled it then asked for the recipe.  Here’s the down side to being a dump cook: when you tweak the recipes you don’t always write down everything you did. So I spent several months trying to reproduce exactly what I did to make the perfect pie.  Honestly, how much pie does one family need to consume?  Ahhh, but when I ‘happened’ on the perfect combination again –  I knew.  The expressions, the slow savoring over each bite told me.

I think I’ve nailed a  couple of my stories here.  I”m still working on them.  Trying to balance more writing time with family time, a job, a blog, and all those little unexpected things that come up.  Stick with me and I think you’ll like the finished project.

Which leads right into the part that I had planned for today’s post – editing.  After Editing Isn’t For Wimps, I received some emails and pms asking me how I edit.  I will share that part on Thursday.  It would make today’s post too long, and I’m sure everyone has other demands on their time just like I do.

I recommend you check out my friends over at  Storytime Trysts.  Free stories, who doesn’t like free?

Write on my friends, write on!

Sir Rustalot

As the seminar approaches I am feeling very unprepared.  (breathe, breathe, breathe)  Let me fill you in on a secret – I tend to be  a perfectionist. I know it doesn’t seem like it at times because I fall short of perfection by a mile, but that’s only because I just keep trying.  I want it to be perfect. I want to nail it!  It’s the same thing with everything I do, part of why I’ve been a quitter in the past.  If I can’t be the best then why try?

If I left it at that I’d never do anything!  Instead, I give it my best try and then spend a very long time convincing myself that it was the best I could do.  It’s not like I’ve been shirking on this, I’ve been preparing.  I spent weeks deciding what I would speak on given the broad topic I was given.  I spent another two weeks gathering research.  I have enough material to do the entire seminar by myself on the expanded topic of Soullish Matters.  Alas, I only get one hour to make my presentation and leave the audience in awe.

I’m so not feeling it!  Maybe it’s because I’ve been over the material so many times, or because to me this is old news and I’m ready to move on to the next shiny.  I edited  my material down to an hour and twelve minutes.   I realize that most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying.  That’s not my problem, although I do get nervous.   I learned a long time ago not to eat much before I speak.  I can always eat afterwards.  Lucky for me they scheduled me for the 10 a.m. slot before lunch.

My problem is the perfectionism thing.  I want to be the best speaker they’ve ever paid money to hear.  I want to wow them, dazzle them with my brilliance, baffle them with my . . well, you know.  I want to give an excellent performance, make an impression, and give them something to think about after they leave the seminar.  It’s got to be worth them sitting in those hard chairs all day.

I don’t want to just read from my notes either.  As a writer, I tend to write out everything I’m going to say, even the jokes.  They deserve better than that though.  This is the second year in a row I’ve been invited to speak at this seminar. Last year, I felt the same way; unprepared and unqualified, yet it turned out well.

I’m recycling some of my props I used from last time.  Last year I had a wooden sword, a small letter opener that looked like a dagger, a Civil War sword and a claymore.  At the end of the stage I had Sir Rustalot propped up.  It was all about training yourself from the wooden sword to be able to swing the six-foot blade of the claymore with precision and accuracy.  The difference between a play sword and the real deal.  I like swords.  When we move to a house that has a fireplace, I will have a sword collection above the mantle. Weird maybe, but whatever.  It was an impressive demonstration and it got the point across about weilding our swords effectively. My slogan was “Armour Up!”

This year Sir Rustalot will return as the main star.  He didn’t get a proper introduction last year.  This former stage prop of a seven-foot tin knight is showing his age.  There are a lot more rust spots on him than there used to be.  I thought about repainting him and making him all shiny, but I decided to use the aged rust.  On stage left there will be a mannequin representing the plastic Barbie people.  You know who they are,  bubble heads that can tell you all the latest celebrity gossip but can’t figure out how to actually do much of anything. Between them lies Mt. Doom.  A mountain made from cloth draped over the percussion set.  The mountain is our trials in life, the ones everyone has to go through –  the trying times we learn from.

I get to strap on my flame thrower.  I inherited it, it was my fathers.  It is World War II vintage, and he used it often.  He planted zoysia grass so he could burn the yard.  We raked the leaves to the ditch so he could set fire to them.  He had a thing about fire, but never torched any buildings.  We lived in the country so it was ok. Anyway, they won’t let me actually fire up the flame thrower – some nonsense about fire codes.  Also, the shop owner wants her mannequin back on Monday.  Darn the luck anyway!

What happens to plastic in a fire?  It melts into a puddle of goo.  Sort of like the Plastic people do under pressure.  What happens to metal?  Metal is tempered by fire, made harder, stronger, more durable.   In between the two lies the secret.

While I’m making references to Barbie, I’ll be taking them out to the woodshed via Mt. Doom.  The badlands, the place even Murphy was scared of.  Mastering our minds, taking control of those wandering thoughts.  Engaging our wills and not operating on autopilot.  Mastering our emotions and not just working when we “feel” like it.  Yeah, I’m not going to be very nice to them but it’s the tough love thing.  the fun princess will pop in for a few jokes and visuals, but Fräulein Task master will  have them saying: Yes Mam!

Boot camp is tough for the soft boys and girls that get off the bus, but the commanding officer turns them into men, and women of valor.  They’ve been trained, conditioned, and toughened up from the civilians they formerly were.  It’s sort of the same thing here, I’m not actually allowed to make them drop and give me twenty or take them on a five-mile road run, but I am allowed to point out simple things that they’ve been missing.

I speak from the voice of experience here, I’ve been the soft person and I had to make the choices for myself.  I’m more of the warrior now than the plastic Barbie but inside my suit of armour is a child shaking in her boots!  I’m sure everyone will appreciate when the seminar is over, because I’ll get off this subject.  I always feel like this before I teach, and before I speak in public like this.  I’ve never felt as unprepared as I do this time.  I’ve never had such a difficult time beforehand with life trials.  It fits though, my trials were dealing with the very subject I’m teaching on.  Ironic isn’t it?  The teacher is the one that learns the most.

The first time was like the tip of the iceberg.  Each time thereafter has been an increased learning experience for me.  Afterwards the people seem to be thrilled with my presentation, many sharing with me that indeed they struggle with these very things.  I’m going to believe that it will go well this time as well.  If not, maybe I’ll just toss Sir Rustalot from the stage and run like the wind!