Addiction and the Creative Types(In My Opinion)

Addiction:  the condition of being addicted (to a habit), spec. the habitual use of narcotic drugs.

Creative:  (3) having or showing imagination and artistic or intellectual inventiveness(creative writing).  —- Webster’s New World Dictionary

I’m a writer:  Creative.  Word lover.  Avid reader.  Imaginative.  Deep down there’s a pull to make believe; the desire to convince others that my imaginary friends are living, breathing human beings.  My mind is alive with various characters, dialogue, settings, and plot lines.  A chaotic place indeed.

But what is the correlation between addiction and creative people?  Is it because we have so much inner turmoil constantly brewing that we struggle to numb; to quell our demons?  Reaching for just a few minutes of quiet respite?

Some forms of addictions I am acutely aware of:  Sex, drugs, alcohol, money, food, and even work; just to name a few of the better known ones.  A beloved author of mine was besieged by his own inner demons:  Edgar Allan Poe.

I still drink at times though older now I have learned to control it.  But it my younger days I’d go all out.  A mind crowded with thoughts and ideas to the point that either I wanted to either scream or numb it so that it could be controlled.  Addictions find us in a frightening place.  Sometimes I believe we rather not get the help so as to keep the juices of creativity flowing.  Maybe we see our addictions as helping us be part of the bigger picture.  To let us taste of the real world.  To help us understand humanity on a deeper level.  To make our character more real to those we are fortunate enough to have read our words.

Creative types are continually striving to create.  We cannot put down that pen, brush, or instrument.  We have learned not to fit the sway creativity hold over us.  It is near impossible to still the hand, the heart, or the mind.  Like air and water, creating is what keeps us alive; nourishes our souls.  Without it, we are at a loss.

So if you have a child who decides, at a tender age, to pick up a pen, or a brush, or an instrument, or whatever they desire to do, do not discourage them.  Even if you yourself feel bound to do one of these, do it!  For it is the creative types who eventually change the world.

Everyone’s Back Home Once Again.

Have you ever had a loved one go away for a few months?  Have you ever known the fear of:  what if they never come back?  What would your life be like?  How would you go on with your life as usual?  My son was gone for four months and it wasn’t easy.  I eased the pain by not focusing on it.  I eased the pain by writing letters to him, or hearing his voice on the phone, or chatting on Facebook.  It lessened the loneliness; sure.  But all the letters, calls, and chats did nothing to completely erase the ache in a mother’s heart of not having her family complete.

And forget about the holidays.  Thanksgiving wasn’t all that much fun.  Yes, I still had much to be thankful for, but the day didn’t have the same feel to it that it normally did.  There was someone missing from the table.  Missing them so badly in fact that we didn’t even sit at a table for dinner but in the living room, watching t.v. to bide our time.  Bide our time until we saw him again.  My younger son.

Now, we are a complete family unit once again.  And this is one happy mama.  To be able to hug him, and talk to  him face to face again, to see him, to hear his voice and his laughter.  It is a blessing to behold.  And then it reminds me of all those out there in the world that do not have that opportunity to hug their loved ones.  Those who won’t be home for the holiday, or ever again.  That’s what frightens me.  How would I deal with that if that ever happened to me?  To my family?

I truly cannot fathom that emotion since I’ve never been through it.  And quite honestly I never want to have to go through that ordeal.  To those who have had that baptism by fire, I am truly sorry for your loss.  I can never fully grasp the grief and heartache that you must live with each and every day.  May you find peace.  May you find comfort.  My prayers go with you.

Day 11 — Are we there yet?

Participating in NaNoWriMo month-long endeavor, I’ve become like a mother nursing her sick child back to health, while forsaking her other children in the process. Ever since November 1, I have put all of my other works on hold, focusing all of my attention and energy on this one piece. These 50,000 words that have drawn me into its evil clutches, not allowing me a day’s rest. Which, for this contest, is a good thing.

But along with this comes the fretting: will this novel ever take off? Will other people want to read it? Will it be good enough? Clever enough? Emotional enough? So my other ‘children’ cry out to me from my inbox. Pay attention to us! We’re so lonely! Don’t you care about us anymore? But I do. Very much. The separation is almost painful. I try to dwell on the thoughts and images of my unfinished works. I know that I need to return to them, to nurture them, to love them back into existence.

This narrow focus on one novel takes a lot of energy out of me. Though I have discovered how much I enjoy writing this way. It forces me to write. To produce. To share. To release my imagination out into the world, come what may.

I am happy to announce that I have stuck with it. We have just entered the second week and I am nearing 22,000 words. I believe that this is the most I’ve ever written. So along with the vast amounts of energy it takes to write this novel, I also am left with a sense of pride. Knowing that I am well on the way to completing something I set out to do. Something I normally struggle with. Commitment. Oh, I hear one of my unfinished babies calling out to me. I need to go and see to what they need. Until next time, my friends, keep those fingers flying!

Will the Violence Ever End?

Senseless. Crazy. Sad. Why is there so much violence taking place in this country lately? Where is the compassion for your fellow man? Are we becoming so heartless that we are no longer capable of apathy? Where did it stem from and where is this all heading to?

As a professing Christian, it is quite difficult for me to understand why people need to hate so deeply. In my eyes, all people are of great worth, regardless what other people may think. God does not make junk and He put everyone on this earth for a reason. This is what I believe. Maybe we may not understand or see perfectly what that reason is, but He knows, and that is good enough for me.

I believe that it all starts with the family. Parents – love, and treat your children with respect. Children, as well, respect and honor your Mother and your Father. I understand that not all parents are good parents. This is sad. So, how does a child grow up with compassion in their heart if their own parents treat them poorly, or abusively? Okay, unfortunately I don’t have a cure-all for the world’s ills, only suggestions.

Get some counseling. Don’t keep the anger and the abuse continuing from generation to generation. It needs to end now. We need people to understand that they are loved, and we need to show others this love. No matter how difficult the person. Patience. Compassion. Understanding. Communication. Yes, communication is so important, especially in this computer-age. Face to face connection. Not just an e-mail. But something more personal. More compassionate.

I just believe that it all begins with the family. Be interested in your children’s education. Take interest in what they like. Let them explore the world, safely. Don’t mock them for who they are. Don’t try to make them little carbon-copies of who you are.

Even spend time with them. Don’t buy them off. It doesn’t take a lot to make a child feel appreciated. Tossing a ball around, or playing make-believe tea party; doesn’t cost anything at all. Think about it this way, the best things in life are free: just like the giant box that an expensive toy or an appliance comes in. What does the child want to play with more, usually? The free, empty box, of course! At least my children did.

Okay, I would love to solve our society’s ills. I’d like to pray it away. Love it away, one smile, one person at a time. Talk to people. Don’t just walk on by, like most people normally do. Just say ‘good morning’ or ‘hi’ to people you randomly meet out on the road when you’re running or biking, etc. Even a simple smile or wave is good. It frustrates me when I’m running and trying to be polite, and the person just kind of looks at you like you’re crazy. The smile won’t crack your face, I promise.

Care about others. Take an interest in what other people are doing. Get involved in just causes. It will make your life much more worthwhile. It will fill your life with meaning and with purpose and with hope. Let me know what you believe would make things better in this country. What are your opinions on society’s downhill slide into apathy?

The Joy of a Happy Marriage

Okay. Perhaps the title is misleading. I don’t believe that any marriage is happy 100% of the time. We fight. We hurt each other. But the good thing about marriage is that you have learned to forgive your spouse after being together for as many years as you have been. For us it is now twenty-three years of marriage. And I can honestly say that our marriage is stronger now than when we first said “I do.” How is that possible? When so many marriage crumble and end up in divorce court, and children are left to wonder what they did wrong, because that’s normally what happens(well, if there are children which resulted from the union). Marriage isn’t easy. When two very different people join together for, hopefully, a lifetime, it is definitely a struggle of wills and personalities. We tend to say that we fell in love with our spouse because of the things we share in common. But even though there may be a lot of hobbies shared, or tastes in certain things, in the end, you are still two very different human beings. And take the stress of raising a family, working, paying bills, getting out from under debt, maybe an illness, and just plain old living under the same roof with perhaps limited amount of space to escape for a couple of hours, couples are in for a very bumpy ride if they don’t understand what they are getting themselves into.

Marriage is NOT playing house. There are real problems. Repairs need to be done. Maybe new appliances need to be purchased. Or you may have recently lost your job. You worry about losing your home, losing your health, losing your loved ones, losing your sanity! The stress builds up and then suddenly your lashing out at your spouse, your kids, or maybe even your neighbors. You wonder how you can hold it all together to make things work out. Especially true if you’re a man. I understand how important your work is to your sense of worth. How you may feel like less of a man if you cannot provide for your family. It is a tremendous amount of frustration piled up upon your already sagging shoulders. But I’m sure women can feel the same way. We should at least try to encourage our men. Let them know that we are in support of them 100%. That whatever happens, you’ll survive; you’ll get by. And all that matters is being together. Yes. That may sound like a cliché but it’s the truth.

In marriage, you must be on the same team, so to speak. Financial decisions must be mutual. Raising the children must be mutual. There must be an understanding on all things when it come to marriage. It is hard work making it all work out in the end. But work out it will if you both just hang on. Yes. It is much easier to quit and get divorced. But if you think it is better on the other side, you would be mistaken. Also, I am talking about marriages where there isn’t any signs of abuse. I would never tell anyone to stay in such a situation, just to make it clear this is about ‘normal’ marriages, if there is even such a creature that exists!

Now, about faith. I think that this is a very important part of a marital union. If one person is a believer, I feel that the spouse should be too, just because of the complications that can arise out of not being on the same page when it comes to faith issues. My husband and I share the same faith. We pray together every weekday morning, asking God to bless our day, for protection for ourselves and our loved ones, and thank Him for the many blessings He provides us on a daily basis. This is very important to us, as a couple. Perhaps you enjoy mediating together, or working out together, or some other hobby that you both enjoy. You both need that time to spend together, especially once you have children. Don’t let the craziness of life draw you further and further apart. You need to be unified. And, here I go, do not postpone the sex part. It is a very huge element to a happy and healthy marriage. There is nothing wrong in enjoying it whole-heartedly, ladies! I don’t care how old you are, go after it with gusto! Read up on all the great health benefits to both men and women that a healthy sex life provides. Having sex with definitely bond you two even closer together; trust me on this one.

So, do not let frustration, day to day living, and children make you resent being married. It is not greener on the other side. You will still have heartache, and anger, and pain, and grief, and bills to pay. Make it work. Get help if you need to. Be patient with each. Forgive each other. Love each other more each day. Don’t take each other for granted. Look into your spouse’s eyes and tell them each day that you love them. Give them an unexpected kiss or hug when passing by them. Have fun together. Play! Tickle each other, works for us, since I’m awfully ticklish. Okay, perhaps that was too much information. Just please, love your spouse. Above all, keep an open line of communication. Talk often. Respect each other. Take interest in what your spouse enjoys doing. And give them space when they need it. So to all, I hope that you have many, many years of a happy and healthy marriage ahead of you. Perhaps you too will discover that you have fallen in love with your spouse all over again.

The Little Things We Sometimes Take for Granted

In light of the tragedy in OK, or should I say, due to the recent tragedies in this nation, I often like to remind myself of not taking things for granted. It is easy in the busyness of our day to day lives that we tend to overlook the little thing, or take them for granted. Like, kissing your husband or wife goodbye when they or you leave for work in the morning. There are times when we are so rushed that we forget that little thing. Especially if you have had a fight the night before or even that morning, we may tend to shy away from showing our affection. But it is always good to remember that this may be the very last kiss that you give to each other. Or hug. Or tell them that you love them. Just a few short words but ones that hold a lot of power. It would be terrible to not say those words and find out later that the one that you loved was now gone. If only I had more time. If only I would have said I love you one last time. If only. If only.

Making time to spend with our children, especially when they are younger and they want to play dress up, or house, or school. Or they want you to read them that story just one more time. Even though they know it by heart, and you do to. But take that time out of your day. In recent months we see how our children can be taken from us suddenly, painfully. Look at that picture they drew or colored for you. Hug them when they ask for one. Never say, “Later.” You may not have a ‘later’ with them. Tell your child/children every day how much you love and appreciate them. How proud you are of them. And keep that up into the teen-age years when they start to drift away from us, hanging with their friends or spending hours at a time playing video games in their bedroom with their door closed. I’m talking to you, Joshua. Let them know that there are limits and restrictions on what they can and can’t do. You are the parent, always, not them. And yes, we know that teenagers will fight us on that tooth and nail. For you see, they are SO much wiser than we are, or were at their age (of course!) Yes. Love them anyway. Set boundaries and be firm.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to watch the sunrise or set. Especially beautiful over a body of water. I’ve seen it rise over Lake Michigan in Chicago, and it is breathtaking. Or watch for the rainbow after a good rain. Or even going outside after a good, cleansing rain, and just breath in the freshness of the earth around you. Or flower blooming; especially lilacs. Well, at least in my case. A smile from a stranger or a kindness shown you, like a door held for you as you enter a store. Revel in children’s laughter, because we all know that their laughter is of the contagious variety. And yes, even we as adults need to laugh more. Be freer, and not so harsh on ourselves. Love your life. Do not take it for granted. Again, life is short. Sometimes shorter than we hope for. Or the lives of our loved ones. None of us know how many days we have remaining. Not to be morose, but it’s true. That’s why we need to look at each new day as a gift given to us. Beautifully wrapped up in warmth and sunshine, with birds singing outside your window.

Love your pets and don’t take them for granted either. They are a blessing to us also. Mine like to lay at my feet or at least be near me when I’m sitting. He sleeps on our bed, which isn’t always pleasant when you have an 80 pound dog on a Queen-size bed with two people already sleeping on it. But he is so full of unconditional love. Those big brown eyes melt even the hardest heart, at least I believe that they can. And last but not least, again, be good to yourself. Take care of your health because we all know that you are the only you that you’ve got. Eat as healthily as you possibly can. Yes. Splurge once in a while. Ice cream or pizza works for me. But find an exercise routine that works for you and try to do it at least three times a week. I’ve finally discovered the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and it is good. Watch some good comedy and LAUGH. It does a body good. Journal if you must to help stave off the feelings of frustration and anger and bouts of hopelessness. Life is not hopeless. We are all here for a purpose. Don’t be dismayed if you haven’t discovered it yet. You have one, trust me on this.

Each day has 24 hours in it. Make the most out of that time to be the best you that you can be. Love and be loved. Don’t spend a lot of time wallowing in depression. Set a time and then be done with it. Think, it will get better. This too shall pass. Life is not bleak. There is a light, a beautiful light, at the end of this all. Be blessed, dear friends, and be happy.

Being Thankful

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, I wanted to be more thankful for the things that I have.  I am so very thankful for my loving and supportive husband.  We have been together for 25 years now and it has only gotten better.  Hopefully for him too.  But I can’t speak for him.  He has made me a better person.  He makes me laugh when I have wanted to cry.  He does amazing voices that make me laugh.(Anyone need a good voice-over actor?)  He urges me to follow my dream to become a published writer.  I am so blessed and thankful for my two sons.  They are healthy, well-educated, and compassionate(well, as compassionate as two teenage boys can be).  I have a roof over my head, a functioning car, work that keeps me happy, and good health.

Now some people may not agree with me on these next ones, but that’s okay.  We all have different opinions, and well we should, but here goes.  I am thankful to all those who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces.  It’s not something they all wanted to do, I’m sure, but they did their tour of duty, or are currently in it.  I am thankful for those families who give their sons and daughters to protect this nation.  I am sure it can’t  be easy being away from their loved ones for that long.  My brother was in the army, during peace times, thankfully; and I saw first hand how difficult it was for my mother.  She was constantly worried that a war would break out and take her beloved and only son away from her.  And she gained a lot of weight due to the stress. Also, she had lost a brother to war and her father when she was still a child.

I am also thankful to all those who are firefighters and police officers.  Being constantly on call has got to be very trying on their emotional well-being and upon their families as well.  Especially with the fact that their lives are on the line whenever they are on duty.  I could never do that job.  Wondering if you’d make it back safely to your family thar night, has got to be beyond stressful.

I am grateful to my mom and dad who raised and loved me.  I saw them as overbearing many times during my teen years, but looking back I understand that they did it out of love and care.  I can now see how tough a job parenting actually is.  And it is a lifetime commitment.  It does not get any easier the older the kids get.  I repeat, it does NOT get any easier.  All you parents out there know what I mean.  But they provided me with clothing, food, shelter, schooling, all the necessities of life.

I am thankful to the few teachers in my life that I believed truly cared about the students and about teaching.  My high school English teacher, Mr. Anderson.  Thank you for taking the time to teach a rowdy bunch of fifteen and sixteen year olds.  It couldn’t have been easy.  He was a fantastic teacher.  I learned.  I advanced.  Thank you to Herr Taylor who made German class fun and a pleasure to come to.  I learned a lot and had a good time all at the same time.

Thank you to my older brother and sister for tormenting me as a child and probably making me a stronger person because of it.  Telling me that the government took out my birthday month, so now I no longer could celebrate my birthday, how cruel.  See what I had to put up with, people?  Older siblings can be so harsh.  Yes.  I love them still and I know that they love me too, their little baby sister.  Though my brother told the doctor a few weeks after I was born that he wanted to send me back because I was no longer wanted.  Imagine, a five year old not wanting his sweet, adorable little sister?  Never mind that I was a pooping, crying, hardly-sleeping, burping machine.  But, hey, I was cute!

So, let’s remember to be thankful, always, to those who love us, and for those who put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  What are you thankful for?