Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Heat wave...

I pull myself out of the cold water and drain the tub.  Temperatures are in the upper 90's (F) and without any air conditioning the townhouse feels as if it is in the upper 100's.  Heat rises, and the second floor is sweltering. There are no windows to open downstairs other than the front and back doors to get a cross breeze.  They face north and south and the winds blow east to west.

Still dripping, I dress in a loose sleeveless shirt and light shorts before going out to sit on the upper deck on this late afternoon.  Ceiling fans move the air, but do little to cool me.

I watch oak trees, four stories tall sway in the wind, but don't feel it touch my skin.  The panting of the dogs worries me.

A flash of blue catches my eye, and I look to see a blue jay land on a branch and squawk its arrival.  The quiet pip of the female cardinal draws my attention.  I can hear her, but she stays hidden in the leaves.  I hear the trill of the male cardinal.  Perhaps in response to his mate's call, but he too is not to be seen.

Spanish moss hangs from the trees...
Spanish moss hangs from the trees, a mourning dove lands on the telephone line before flying away as a squirrel does its tightrope act across the wire.

I watch a bug crawl across the screen, slowly stalked by a lizard.

Clouds are moving in, but little promise of rain.

I close my eyes, listening to bird calls and the wind moving in the trees, trying to picture myself in cooler times.  I drift to sleep and dream of summer in Alaska...

Friday, May 25, 2012

No accidents

"There are no accidents, Cindi.

If it's appeared on your life radar, this is why: to teach you that dreams come true; to reveal that you have the power to fix what's broken and heal what hurts; to catapult you beyond seeing with just your physical senses; and to lift the veils that have kept you from seeing that you're already the person you dreamed you'd become. 

And believe me, that was one heck of a dream. 

Tallyho, 
    The Universe"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How College Can Help You with Your Writing

Writing can be a funny thing. Some people are perfectly capable of picking up a pen or sitting down at a computer or typewriter and letting words just pour out of them, while others need a few hours just to come up with a single page. It's also highly subjective, meaning what may look like a surefire Pulitzer winner to one person might look like meaningless rambling to someone else. Some people see writing as an art form, and like many art forms there are some that are better at it than others. This doesn't mean that there isn't a lot that someone can learn about writing.

As with anything else, a person's writing skills can be vastly improved through higher education. Yes, there are plenty of people who have become brilliant writers without the benefit of college, but there are plenty of ways in which being a college student can make you into a better writer.

Better Writing through College Writing Courses

Some people can teach themselves to become better writers simply by reading other works. After all, it's been said that all great writers are readers first and foremost. While that is one of the universal truths to becoming a great writer, there are plenty of things that are best learned from a teacher in a classroom. For example, you may be able to recognize a good poem when you hear it, but would you be able to identify the form and structure of the poem and put a name to it? This is just one of the many things that literature and creative writing professors have been teaching for years.

A college writing course will be able to teach you about meter, structure, form, and other elements of poetry that may have otherwise not been made known to you. When you learn about these elements of poetry, you will be better able to apply them to your own poetry and come up with something much more polished than your previous work. The same goes for writing essays, short fiction stories, research papers, and any other style of writing. By gaining a better grasp of the fundamentals, your writing will improve, and there's no better place to learn about this than in a college classroom.

Writing Tutors are Available for Help

One of the greatest aspects of going to college is that you are never without help. It may certainly seem that you are left entirely to your own devices sometimes, but there is always help available to you whenever you need it. This is especially true for those who need help with their writing. Whether you find yourself struggling to overcome writer's block or you simply don't know how to get started with your research paper that is due in two days, there are always tutors available to help you. A good tutor can provide you with enough advice to help you complete any project you may be working on.

Writing Centers are Available Online and In Person

Much like the writing tutors that are available for help when you need them, most schools have writing centers that can provide several invaluable tools that can help you with your writing. Unlike writing tutors who have set schedules or times when they may not be available, these centers are often open throughout a school's regular hours. Many schools even have online writing centers in case you find yourself stuck and in need of some help outside of regular school hours.

While it's far from a prerequisite for becoming a great writer, earning a college education can be a great way to improve anyone's writing ability. Of course, going to college doesn't have to mean spending time on a physical campus in this day and age. If you would rather earn a degree from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of great schoolsthat offer online writing degrees. No matter how you choose to learn, just remember that an education will always be a great way to improve your writing abilities.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What do you wish to walk away from?

     I've walked away from a lot in the last month.  And looking back over the last ten... twelve... years I realize that I've walked away from so much time and time again.  It feels at times as if my life has been nothing but walking away from things and people.

     I suppose it is one of the 'complications' of growing up in a transient military lifestyle.  You learn quickly that nothing lasts.  Friendships.  Homes.  Schools.  It can all change in the blink of an eye.

     I'm tired of walking away from things.  I want to walk towards something instead.  I want to walk towards healing, health, and happiness... towards security, sincerity, and serenity.  I want to walk towards financial freedom, friendships, and a future filled with possibilities.

     If there is anything I want to walk away from... it is my past.  My history.  I'd like to take the lessons learned and be able to forget the tests.

Walking towards my future...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jungle gardens...

     My secret garden became an untamed garden while I was gone.

     Bamboo ~  which I used to call alien invaders ~ took over.  Some of it as tall as the second floor.  One of the fences was broken and it appears in the process that the Confederate Jasmine which covered it was damaged so most of the vine has died.  On the side where this lizard was photographed climbing up the screen, one of my two Trumpet Vines has died.  The Seven Sisters Roses looks like it still hasn't bloomed, and was damaged as well.

     But the local natives don't seem to mind the change.  As I mentioned before, the cardinal family seems to be quite at home.  A squirrel jumps and climbs around on the fences, screens and bamboo... as if to antagonize Trooper on purpose who dances on his toes wanting to charge out and catch it.  Lizards dart in and out of the plants... if Ebony were still alive she'd be out there hunting them.

     In better years, this was my secret garden.  Vibrant.  Thriving.  Hibiscus.  Spearmint.  Rosemary.  It is doubtful that it will get to that point again.

     Gardens grow.  Die.  And are reborn.  Just like people.  We change as the seasons change.  We grow, change, and are reborn.

     I feel as if this is my season of rebirth.  A season of change.  When the old me dies away... and a new me is born.  A time of letting go of the past... planting new roots... where my vibrant soul can grow again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

College dreams and other things...

     I was approached recently about a post regarding how college can help with your writing.  I was asked if I would allow someone else to write it, and then post it as if I wrote it.  They would pay me [a very small amount] to keep it on my blog.  After much haggling, I agreed but only if I had the option to edit and censor the post.  The 'educational website portals' link that they will include in the post will be one that I research before I finally do make it public.

     The truth is, that I believe writing can help with your college dreams... as well as college helping with your writing.  Writing is just one way of communicating with each other, and if we learn to express ourselves in written form it is often easier to express ourselves verbally.

     I taught for several years at a University.  Most of my students were adults who were at a mid-point in their careers.  They either needed the college degree for advancement in their jobs, or were seeking an alternative career once they retired from the military.  Occasionally I would get a new military recruit who realized that he/she didn't like military life and just wanted to get out as soon as their enlistment was up.

     I would always encourage all of the young military members to reconsider leaving the service, and just cross-train into another field if necessary.  I told them that the military offered them more security and opportunities [at that point it did anyway] than most civilian jobs.  If they didn't like their commanding officers [boss] or fellow enlisted associates now, I could pretty much guarantee that there would be bosses or co-workers on the outside that were going to be just as bad.

     The military offered medical care, housing, travel opportunities, and educational opportunities that most civilian employers aren't able to offer.  I tried to encourage them to stay in as long as possible, to retirement if possible, and take as many educational opportunities they could.  To set career goals that they could meet after retiring from one career in the military to start another in the private sector.  If they advanced their military careers, they would be able to retire with a paycheck every month and still be able to follow their dreams and goals at a relatively young age.  If a new recruit at 18, just out of high school, put in 20 years with the military and advanced up the ranks as much as possible, they could retire at 38 and still have the whole world in their hands.  Plus a steady income to support them and medical care while they reached for the stars.

     To be all they could be... both in and out of the military.

     And it all begins with writing... communicating... expressing ourselves in ways that reach others.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Silent Sunday...

Looking up through the Aspens at cousin Sue's house in Chugiak, Alaska ~ May 2008.
I would give everything to go back to that day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday High Fives...

     I know it seems like with all that is going on, I would have a list of Low Fives, but actually there have been a lot of good things this week.

     1.  The heating element on the hot water heater died while it was still under warranty, so it was just fixed [for free! *heavenly choir sings*].

     2.  A new friend took me to lunch yesterday and offered to drive me to my doctor appointments next Thursday.  She also drove me to the grocery store so I could get some much needed groceries [and dog food! *heavenly dogs bark*]

     3.  The broken belt on the car opens the door for another car to be found.  Sometimes we can't welcome new things into our lives until we get rid of the old.  "Circumstances" often appear in the form of problems that allow for us to grow.  Nothing ever happens by chance.

     4.  There has been a family of cardinals that seem to be at home in the back yard.  Dad sings quite loudly at times, while Mom and their daughter peep and hop around the vines in the yard.  They make me smile when I see.  I love the bright red of Dad, and the soft peeps of the females.

     5.  My townhouse is at the end of one of the runways of the Air Force base across the bay.  My morning wake up has been the sound of F-22's and F-15's at takeoff, flying low over the house.  While it doesn't seem like that would be a good thing, for me it is a familiar sound and more comforting than the occasional sounds of explosions coming from the Army post.  It is the sound of freedom.  A sound of security.
Freedom in the air...
P.S.  After I sent this to publish, I read my email and my Note from the Universe.  "Circumstances."  Nothing is by chance...



"Remember you once told me, Cindi, that if ever all of the circumstances in your life were aligned just so, your soon-to-be friends were in all the right places at all the right times, and the financial markets, social climate, and global energies had all reached optimal points... you'd want to be gently nudged as a subtle sign that it was time to start doing new things, saying new things, and visualizing so that you might catch these gargantuan waves of change and surf to dazzling new heights?

TODAY'S THE DAY!! 
Hang ten, 
The Universe"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fear...

     Today's question on my Mind-full Year journal asked the question about fear...  It seems that my life is centered around getting to the 'heart' of that matter lately.
For Everything A Reason...
     Fear... False Evidence Appearing Real... or... For Everything A Reason.

     I made some doctor appointments today... had some conversations with nurses... and confirmed that this is a "life changing diagnosis."  My hope at this point is to find out just how "life changing" it will be... I won't know until the 24th.  Until then... I realize that I need to "take every chance... drop every fear."  If this is going to be a "life changing" time for me, I want to decide just how much it will change... and make some changes of my own.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Standing still in time...

     I've been in Florida now for about nine days.  In a sense, it has been like time stood still here.  In others... it has moved on... and so have I.  I have so many mixed feelings and emotions.

Released in 2011 by Disneynature
     This morning I was waiting for doctors offices to open to begin making appointments.  I watched the last part of African Cats while I was waiting.  [Spoiler alert] I found myself sobbing uncontrollably at the scene when elder lioness Layla dies after securing a safe position for her daughter, Mara, within the pride.

     I keep telling myself (and mom) that I didn't come back to Florida to die.  But the truth is... I don't know.  I'm terrified and on totally unfamiliar ground.  I've been working or in school full time (sometimes both) since I was sixteen.  To purposely put myself in a position where I am not "in control" of my life like this is out of character for me.  To admit that I don't know what tomorrow will bring... terrifying.

     I don't know what to do.  I don't know what tomorrow will bring.  There is soooooo much going on right now... so many variables in our lives... and such a huge leap of faith for me right now with everything.

     My faith has always been strong.  Always been something to help me hold on.  And I'm hanging on... hanging on...

     

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Love you.

Thank you for being my friend,
... for being a shoulder to cry on,
... for keeping me focused on living,
... for getting my warped humor and giving me some of your own.
Thank you for being my mom,
... someone I can respect,
... someone I can admire,
... someone I can like... and love.
Thank you.
Mom & Uncle Brian ~ mid-40's ... Don't they just look like they are up to mischief?

Mom (L) and Aunt Sue ~ mid-50's.  Bright faces & futures.

  

Galatians 5:13

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

     Events in the news the past few months... even years... testify to how anger and hate destroys us and our neighbors.  Not just those in the house next door, but in countries near and far.  Families torn apart.  Marriages destroyed.  Friendships ended.  Wars started.

     Not long ago a friend and I were having a conversation about the concept of "loving your neighbor as yourself."  She interpreted it to mean that she needed to put others needs before her own.  That she should sacrifice self ~ herself ~ to make others happy.

     I disagreed.  If we are to love our neighbor as yourself... would we treat our neighbors like we do ourselves?  If we don't take care of our own needs... how can we help or care for anothers needs?  She responded by asking if that wasn't being selfish.

     How can caring for myself, so that I can care for others, be selfish?  I am not ignoring their needs, but I am recognizing that my needs are important also.  If I do not care for myself, tend to my needs... love myself... then it is not possible for me to care, tend or love others.

     We cannot give what we do not have.

     If we do not love ourselves... how can we love others?

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I miss...

     ... being able to sleep.  I'm exhausted [still] from the drive, then from moving furniture from the storage unit where the movers dropped it [see previous post about what I've learned about moving] to the garage and into the house.  I should be able to fall asleep at the drop of a pillow, right?  No.  Too many things running through my mind about this move are preventing my brain from shutting down for the night.  Last night I was up all night tossing and turning.  Each time I would fall asleep, a nightmare, noise or thought would jerk me awake.

     So I'm up earlier than I want to be.  Getting ready to make some coffee and grab a bowl of cereal before digging into boxes.  I need to find the sugar I packed... and the big coffee maker.  The tiny two cup brewer that the boys club has is not cutting it.  Ask anyone I used to work with... it takes me at least a full pot before I'm a happy camper.

     But out of curiosity I looked at this morning's horoscope and found what I hope will be a solution for tonight's slumber...


"Your instinct to sketch out your thoughts on paper will lead to clarity on a matter that's been bothering you.  Make a list of known factors, and then make one of unknown factors.  You'll quickly sort this one out."
What I know...


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Messages...

     Sometimes I just need to feel like Someone is hearing me.  Most of the time, my Notes from the Universe are right on target for what I need to be reminded of.  Like today's...
"...if you understood the extraordinary gifts every single challenge in your life makes possible, even inevitable, you'd celebrate your challenges, new and old alike, as the omens that they are of new beginnings, spectacular change, and enhanced superpowers."

     I read my horoscope occasionally, just for entertainment, and usually the day after just to see how accurate it was.  This was my horoscope yesterday...

"You have the solution to your problem. This is hard to believe in the moments when you lack self-confidence or feel stuck or oppressed. Cultivate faith and optimism. It will help you move through the valleys and find answers."

     Today's, however, I read this morning mostly just hoping for something to give me some hope.  This week it seems that I need some extra reassurance that I'm on the right path...
"There's something good about being uncomfortable with your situation. Being too comfortable is dis-empowering. Go deeper into your agitation. Let it move you to make a difference."

     Change can be unsettling.  Even when we are going back to familiar things.  Comfort can become a box that confines our gifts.  This time in my life... these new challenges... this discomfort... will give me strength to become the writer I am meant to be.
It's not who you are that defines you... but what you've survived. ~ Cindi

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"... so glad to have been such a blessing to you..."

     On what turned out to be my last day of work on 3 May, the usual office drama erupted over something as petty as a monitor privacy screen.  Words were said, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and pretty much blown out of proportion.  The person who made the title comment to me, I'm sure intended to make me feel guilty, and to regret a decision I made.  But instead, she showed a side of her self that surprised me.
   
What gifts, blessings and talents will you share?
     The way I look at things is pretty straight forward.  Like an hourglass.  When we are born, we are filled with gifts, talents, and blessings.  We have "free will" so can choose to do whatever we want with those gifts, talents and blessings.  And the funny thing about it is, that the more you give, the more you get.  Like an hourglass, it may appear that the top of it always empties into the bottom, but when you use those gifts, talents and blessings ... actually... when you FREELY SHARE those gifts, talents and blessings with others, and without the expectation that you are "owed" in return, you will find that your hourglass is constantly being turned.  Constantly filled, and never running empty.

     But when you give... bless... share your talents with someone expecting to get something in return... you often find yourself running empty.  Because you aren't doing it with the same intent that you were given those gifts, talents and blessings.

     The person who made that comment had been a blessing to me at a time when I needed help.  She gifted me with things I needed... things I didn't ask for but things she felt compelled to give me.  Her talent... what I thought was her walk with God... seemed to be genuine, and I thought that I wanted to have the same walk, the same relationship with God that she did.  I was almost envious (isn't that one of the seven deadly sins?).  I "coveted" what she had spiritually, and apparently she coveted something I had materially.  The problem was that the "thing" I had, wasn't really mine to give.  It was government property, and so really just shifted locations... shifted cubes.  It certainly wasn't worth the pain that it caused, especially to someone who was innocent in it all.

     Consider this... what if God watched us with our "free will" and how we ignored His Commandments and decided that He was going to change His mind because we weren't giving Him what He wanted in return?

     What if Jesus sat and prayed on that Mount the night before He gave Himself for our sins and said "Ya know, Dad, I think I've change my mind about this whole dying for their forgiveness crap.  I mean, really Dad... I just can't say anymore that they 'know not what they do.'  Not only are they fully aware of what they are doing, they do some of this stuff on purpose!  And they expect to be forgiven.... say that they are owed it!

     Even if you aren't religious or spiritual... can you imagine a life where even the smallest kindness... the smallest random act of kindness... came at a price?  How willing would you be to help someone?  How would you feel if no one helped you?  How did you feel when someone has helped you?  Did you expect it?  Did you reciprocate?  Or did you feel it was owed to you?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Mayo...

     This post is dedicated to my mom because today is my 50th birthday.  Actually... as my mom likes to point out... today is the day I start my 51st year.

     I want to say thank you, Mom, for choosing to give birth to me.  I know that in 1962, there weren't really many other options, but as with all things, where there is a will, there is a way.  Thank you for choosing life for me.

     Thank you for always believing in me, for encouraging me, and for pushing me to become a better person.  Thank you for setting the example for me of what kind of humor it takes to survive this world.  Thank you for loving me.

     Thank you for talking with me every night, for laughing with me, crying with me, and just providing those long distance hugs that keep me from feeling alone in the dark.

     Thank you for being you... and being a part of my now.  I love you, Mom.  Happy Birth Day!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ethel...

Mom sent this to me after I tried to explain to her how the lady on the card from Monday looked like.

     

     Now you know where I get my warped humor from.

The road ahead...

Two roads diverged... and I took the one to the beach.
  Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ~

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost, 1916 ~


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bathroom Vanity...

     Aha!  Caught you looking!  I bet you were thinking you could catch me looking like Medusa!

     Actually, this is another of my Dad's projects for the oral surgeon's vacation house in the woods.


The thinking process...
      Dad was a scribbler.  He had tons of these yellow note pads.  Tons.
Literally, a hoarder's dream.  He would take them to a job and scribble down ideas, measurements, and what not.  Like this one.

     And believe it or not... it would come to life.
The creative process...
Well, maybe with a little work....
The finished product
      The top is a Corian knockoff that was made locally. He wanted something really dark to compliment the red of the Mahogany and contrast the really cheap porcelain sink. His idea was to get the feel of an old fashioned wash stand with a porcelain bowl and a pitcher of water. Here it is finished with the mirror and lights.