Brewing a Storm

Recently, I started writing something I didn’t expect to write. I was thinking and my thoughts seemed like an nightmarish movie playing in my head. I wanted to get rid of it so I did what I do to cleanse my thinking palate, I put it on paper….well, sort of. My thoughts poured out out of my fingertips, furiously typing to drain the storm cloud over my head. When I finished, I had what seemed like a few pages of a good idea for a book. 

Rainstorm Over the Sea by John Constable

I tucked it away in my documents folder for another rainy day. It’s been a few weeks and lately I’ve been feeling anxious to work on it. More ideas have been stirring on how to shape it and where it will all lead. The inspiration is brewing, but what I really need is another storm.

Every day brings different emotions in varying depths. Whether I’m up or down or pensive or dreamy shapes how my writing develops. However, never have I intentionally looked for a dark mood to come to create an intensive writing environment. This week will be my trial. In the past few years, I’ve made it a habit to wake up deciding to be happy. So, this week, I’ll decide to be sad. Sad and morbid with my heart heavy.

It’s a path I haven’t taken before, but I’m interested to see its effects on my project and my life. It should be a strange week, but hopefully a productive one.

I’d love some advice from other writers on how you “get in the mood” to write darker pieces.

Little Boys Lost

I generally try to avoid the news because all too often, it’s too depressing.  I might skim over a news site to educate myself on what’s going on in the world, but I don’t read every article or sit through an hour of the news on television.  We are all aware there has been an overwhelming number of suicides being publicized recently.  While I usually try to stick to topics that are not so saddening, I think these kids need their voices to be heard since they can’t speak for themselves anymore.

Asher Brown

My heart aches for these parents.  I imagine they have spent many hours wondering what they could have done differently.  Endless tears shed for the boys they will never see again.  These victims need to be remembered.  Look at their young faces.  Remember their names.  Think about what you can do to be there for your loved ones, so that they don’t fall prey to the same fate. 

 

Billy Lucas

As parents, we want the best for our kids, but we don’t always have the answers. What we can do is try our best to create an open and honest relationship with them.  Talk to them, support them and most importantly, accept them.  Accept them for who they are and what they want to be.  Support their decisions and provide guidance when they need it.  These children are ending their lives over what other people think about them.  They are dying because they had been pushed so far down by others that they couldn’t bear to live another day and put up with it.  How does this happen?!

Seth Walsh

I don’t know what happened to these kids.  I don’t know if they told their friends, parents, or any adult that may have been able to help; I don’t even know if they received any help at all; What I do know is, whatever happened, it wasn’t enough to keep them on this earth.

Tyler Clementi
Raymond Chase

 

Please, get involved.  Remember these faces and use them as an example that we have to listen AND act to help our kids and our friends and our students.  Make our kids aware that they have a support system.  Let them know that they have a voice.  Most importantly, help them understand that they are wonderful no matter who they are.  If we cannot get rid of the bullies in this world, than we can arm our children with the confidence to be proud of who they are and the ability to stay strong.

The Need for a #DailyGiggle

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that every day I post a #DailyGiggle.  Most days it is either a silly photo or video from various sites.  The only requirement I have for choosing one is that it has to make me laugh out loud.  Whether hysterical laughter, or just a little chuckle, it has to initiate a reaction from me.  And for videos, I try to keep it under five minutes in the interest of people at work who might be checking it out.  I pick a new item every day and usually put in some time searching.  If I’m lucky, something that I recall that has made me laugh in the past pops into my head and I just go find it.

Who is reading these tweets?  Let’s do the math.  I have less than 300 followers  and I’m pretty sure that about 100 of them are bots, businesses or people that don’t even read my tweets.  Still, that leaves about 100 or so that might read them.  Even if only half of those people see the #DailyGiggle, that could be 50 people that I have made laugh.  To me, that is an extremely successful day. 

Why do I post these tweets?  I’ve come to find that if you make it a point to get some laughter each day, you can make a difference in the way stress affects you.  Being happy doesn’t just come naturally.  You have to help it, nurture it and encourage it to be able to keep it.  It may seem like hard work, but you’ll find that when it comes to making yourself happy, it doesn’t feel like work. 

Still not convinced?  Let me list a few of the health benefits of laughter for you:

  • Relieves physical tension
  • Decreases stress hormones
  • Increases immune cells & infection fighting antibodies
  • Improves blood vessel function & increases blood flow
  • Decreases pain
  • Eases anxiety
  • Increases energy

The list goes on and on.  A good laugh may give you temporary benefit, but when you are laughing regularly you could see some real long term advantages.  The improved blood vessel function and better blood flow can protect you from heart attack.  Relieving anxiety can help you avoid stress related illnesses such as anxiety attacks and stomach ulcers.  Taking care of your body can be difficult for people on the go.  We don’t always eat right and exercise.  However, it’s still important to do what you can to keep your health in check.  Better health means less trips to the doctor.  That means less doctor bills to pay and one less stress to worry about. 

I’ve been on quite a journey in this past year and the most important lesson I’m learning is that happiness is easy to come by when you are looking for it.  And with this lesson, I hope the spread around the joy a little.  I feel like if I can be this happy, more people should feel this way, too.  So, if you’re on Twitter, look for me and my #DailyGiggle hashtag.  For those of you that follow me already, I hope you enjoy the giggles.  And for those of you that retweet them, thanks for spreading around a few laughs!

Whether you are or aren’t on Twitter, please, do what you can to get some laughs every single  day.  The more you laugh, the more you’ll see what a difference it can make. 😀

The Makings of an Optimist

Life is stressful.  It just is.  We have jobs, kids, friends, family, money and whatever else we deal with weighing on our shoulders.  We multitask, reschedule, overbook and overwork to get everything done.  It’s hard to stop and breathe sometimes.  Our bodies take stress in and it can affect us in different ways.  Headaches, backaches, stomach pain and anxiety attacks are only a few of the culprits. 

I have been on a quiet journey for a few months.  While trying to read more and write more, I have also been trying to calm my mind and body in the meantime.  Maybe we could say I am on a path to enlightenment.  Too cliched?  Ok, I am learning about meditation.  When I first began reading about it, I thought what can it really do for me?  I can barely sit still for several minutes let alone get my mind to focus on a mantra.  Isn’t this only for hippies and people who live for yoga?  Besides, I have kids, a dog and a cat, so there is no chance of me ever having a substantial amount of undisturbed silence to obtain any benefit. 

Wrong.  I was so wrong.  I am so wrong it makes me wonder why have I not done this before?  Meditation does not mean sitting and chanting “Ohm” for hours on end.  There is so much more to know.  You can meditate by looking at a candle, listening to ocean waves or even doing daily activities.  Positions vary from lying flat on your back to performing yoga poses.  The middle of your living room is a great place.  So is your back yard.  Or your desk at work. (You may not want to lie across your desk, though.)  The point is, meditation is not about one position and one practice.  The importance is in the results of your meditation.

The ability to breath deep and allow yourself to let go of your thoughts is a true gift.  The breathing can calm your body as well as your mind.  When we let stress affect us, it can make our muscles tighten and our breathing to become short and shallow.  By forcing a deep breath, you can feel your muscles begin to relax.  And somehow, some way, the more you do it, the more the calm bleeds into the rest of your day.  You are more likely to handle tasks with patience and skill.  You are less likely to be upset by coworkers, spouses or your children. 

My favorite outcome is I feel more aware of my own self.  I am starting to discover so much more about who I am.  I feel much more in tune with my body and mind.  When I feel frustration or anger building up, I am much better equipped to pacify my emotions.  Just one or two deep breaths can help me refocus when I feel like I am losing control.  Most of all, I relish the fact that I can learn to appreciate so much more in my life.  A mere smile from one of my kids or a trip in the car without an accident is enough to make me remember what is important in my life.  Each day, each moment can hold something precious. 

So, has meditation made me an optimist?  Maybe.  Or maybe it just showed me what I’ve been missing.

I Bet You Think This Blog is About You

We all want to be happy, right? Even the most miserable, self-pitying rogue just wants to have a good day.  I think we can all admit to that. 

With that said, I’d like to file a complaint…with the complainers.  When you spend your time defiling others, whining about what’s gone wrong in your life and basically lamenting endlessly, you will never be satisfied in life.  It is the truth and I’m sorry, but the truth might hurt today. 

Let’s first clarify the difference between complaining and explaining your situation.  It’s completely acceptable to ask friends for advice or bend their ear a bit when you are feeling down.  When you have a great support system, they don’t ever mind being there to help pick you up when you’re down.  I must confess, I have some intangible quality that often gives people the capability to tell me their secrets and woes quite freely.  To be clear, I love this about myself.  I will gladly provide advice or just a shoulder to cry on to any of my friends, or even complete strangers, no matter what the problem.  It gives me a sense of pride to know that I have helped someone I care about improve their outlook.  And for those of you that read this that qualify as one of these people, I adore you all and will always be here to listen.

However, those of you that can only pick apart every aspect of your life need much more assistance than I can provide.  To you, when it’s sunny out, it’s too hot.  When it’s raining, it’s too wet.  When someone brings you flowers, they are the wrong kind.  Murphy’s law is your daily motto.  When you go on Facebook you say what a lousy day you had.  If you see your friends, you tell them your job is horrendous.  You are probably to blame for the insensitive comments at the bottom of web articles that pick apart whomever the piece is about.  None of this is ever going to get you what you want.   

If you want to get out of that rut you are in, you are going to have to make big changes.  You have to start your day finding something good to notice.  It doesn’t matter how big or small it is.  Wear your favorite shirt.  Eat your favorite breakfast.  As the day goes on, find the good around you.  Compliment someone’s outfit.  Read a page of jokes instead of the news.  Listen to your favorite music to put you in a good mood, maybe some Carly Simon. 😉  Instead of publicly announcing your dissatisfaction with everything, be public about your appreciation.  If you can put the negative aside, you will be more likely to appreciate the positive.  And for the times that you need to talk about the negative, find a trusted friend to listen.  Having a one-on-one conversation can provide stress relief and the sense that things are not as awful as they seem.  Don’t forget to return the favor when they need someone, too.

Even when things seem abysmal, finding a silver lining is going to be the first step to turning it all around.  We all have bad days.  No one has a perfectly happy life.  I am not June Cleaver and I never will be.  And that is not a complaint.  I like my imperfect life.  And I am much better off appreciating what I have than whining about another pile of dishes to wash.

So, if you think this blog is about you…maybe it’s time to make some changes.

FTW

The Big Wheel

A lot of people are finding it hard to be happy these days.  With unemployment at an incredulous rate, the economy getting worse by the minute, and disasters occuring all too often, I can see the difficulty.  However, lately, I am finding it hard NOT to be happy.  And I am one of the currently unemployed.  In fact, I don’t think I have been this happy since receiving my Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel for my fifth birthday. 

Every day, I have found more reasons to love my life.  I have never trusted any person like I trust and love my husband.  My kids, despite the occasional outburst, are amazingly intelligent and wonderful children.  My family is loving and supportive.  We moved into a new home in a neighborhood that I love.  The list goes on and on. 

My point is, no matter what your situation, you can find a way to really appreciate what you do have and magnify it.  Being happy with your life can start a chain reaction of unexpected events.  If you are unhappy, it’s important to find ways to make the changes to get what you want.  Take every small win as a success.  Did you make an amazing dinner?  Chalk that up as something to appreciate.  Did someone tell you that you look good in that shirt?  Enjoy the compliment. 

So many think it’s just easier to be miserable with so much going on.  But the truth is, your life as a whole is much easier if you can be happy with what you have.  Sure, who doesn’t want to hit the big lottery winnings?  What are the chances of that happening?  Anyone can be depressed about what they don’t have, but wouldn’t it feel better just to take a small win and celebrate that for a minute?