Dogs, Blogs and Logs…Ten Things of Thankful

Vinny.

I haven’t mentioned him in awhile. But he’s the most crotchety dog I’ve ever loved.

He doesn’t like strangers. He doesn’t like kids. He doesn’t like other dogs.

He likes his air-conditioned house. He likes his soft bed. And he has a toy platypus he only plays with when husby and I are both home. He’ll leave it for days and days, in fact, if one of us goes out of town. But as soon as we’re both home? He gets it out and squeaks it.

Funny story about Vinny. We can’t ever take him to the beach again. He was miserable and if he could have spoken to us this is what he would have said,

“You turds! You bring me here to camp at this hot beach? The water is terrible to drink, there are bugs everywhere, campfires stink, the tent is uncomfortable, I don’t like the other campers, the sun bakes my fur, the ocean water is too dirty and too loud. You call this fun!? And to say nothing of…what do you call them? Palmetto Bugs? I will run every time! Do not ever, EVER get me near those blasted cockroaches AGAIN! And if you ever take me to the beach again, we’d better be staying in an air conditioned beach house, and you’d better bring my soft doggie bed, you dolts, or I’ll blow chunks!”

 

Yes, that’s our boy. He made it loud and clear that he does not approve of beach camping. Or swimming at the beach, for that matter. Or the ocean. Just forget it. Stay in the mountains.

Hiking in Western NC
Just keep Vinny in the mountains. He’s always up for a hike.

The Wakefield Doctrine.

I’m thankful I found Clark and all his clarkety thoughts. Plus there’s Almira and the other novel. Glad I’ve known Clark and Denise for years. I always look forward to their posts. And just wanted to give a warm shoutout to them.

 

Morning breakfasts made by the husby.

The mornings are a time where, before work, I like to get all my creative work done. So there’s writing, exercise, journaling, meditating and tea making.

I generally just can’t fathom “cooking” breakfast. Dinner? Fine. I’ll cook up a storm. Breakfast? Eh…if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll just grab a piece of toast knowing that it wouldn’t be enough and then I’d have a low blood sugar crash mid-morning.

I know breakfast is my most important meal of the day. If I don’t have some kind of protein, it’s awful. Even if I have the best of intentions, without someone else to cook, I’ll grab whatever I can find and run out the door, though. I just run out of time or don’t think about it.

So, Husby has taken it upon himself to make sure we eat to start the day right. I don’t think I’ve told him enough how much it means to me.

 

My job.

It’s demanding. There are days where I wonder what the hell I’m doing, but I’m grateful to work in a beautiful place with an awesome office, surrounded by dedicated people.

I know that I’m fulfilling a need to help folks who all need help with resources and language learning. I’m interacting with many people, and I know I’m affecting lives. It’s a little intimidating, sometimes, in fact.

Here’s a little story. I was at a conference and I was at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. You know, the office that interacts with the State Legislature and Governor.

I was looking for a bathroom and stumbled into the State Superintendent’s office. I decided not to ask her where the bathroom was. But still…I was marveling at how I ended up there. And I’d just heard her give a speech to a delegation of coordinators and directors of programs across the state.

Sometimes I really wonder how I got here and…it wasn’t really intentional. Between that and having the superintendent of the county schools where I work help me change my car tire a couple months ago, I think to myself, “well, I’ll be! We’re all just humans in this race and we all really do pull our pants up the same way, don’t we?”

work at university
A recent photo of the university campus where I work.

Writing. Novels. Articles. Blog posts. Journal entries.

After writing so much in the past few months, and sort of living in these worlds of ghosts and goblins, of harrowing hauntings and such, it’s time to come up for a breather and soak up the sunshine.

I’m just about finished with the last draft of the second novel before I send it off to my “free” editors. (Haha.) But, I think it’s time to take a hiatus and…perhaps get back into drawing.

It seems I cycle through these things with the seasons. Summer for writing. Fall for drawing. Winter for writing. Spring for drawing.

 

Yoga.

I’ve discovered that I like it so much that I am thinking – just thinking – about getting good enough to become a certified yoga instructor.

I’ve been watching these YouTube videos with Adriene.

I’ve taken to getting up in the mornings and meditating, then doing some yoga, and then spending time either journaling, working on the novel, or writing on something else.

My hardy jade plant.
My hardy jade plant.

My jade plant.

Back in 2012 when I left my teaching job for a self-imposed sabbatical, a parent brought me a jade plant.

I had no idea that she’d done that and it sat in my former office for THREE MONTHS, in the dark, and survived. I found it when I was giving my replacement a run-down of everything before the new school year started.

Yesterday, my cat accidentally knocked it off the wall of the porch and it dropped five feet to the ground.

It survived, intact, with only one or two of the little pods (I’m not sure what they’re called; they’re not leaves) breaking off. Husby added more dirt and nursed it a bit, but otherwise it’s none the worse for wear.

That plant is a survivor and really, is teaching me some lessons about life.

 

iCloud.

So…I have a work computer, a work laptop, a work iPad, a home laptop and an iPhone. I just LOVE that when I do something on my phone – like write something in my notes, it shows up on my work computer.

Or when I need to take my work laptop to a meeting, all my notes and calendar events also show up on my desktop.

Now, I realize this can also be a real drag having all this crossover between work and home, BUT it’s not actually too bad keeping everything separate.

I have separate folders for everything and have notifications set for specific times and events. I do really believe in work/life balance and make a conscious effort to be mindful of when I’m doing either.

 

Amazon Prime.

So…I’ve had Prime for a few years, but I had not taken full advantage of all it had to offer until recently. Mostly I loved the 2-day free shipping.

BUT, I’ve discovered a really interesting series called Man in the High Castle (it’s a thought-provoking show about what might have happened if the Nazis did win World War II) and I’ve discovered all these great curated playlists that you can download to listen to in the car or offline.

I especially love the Zen at Work and the Piano Guys playlists for soothing background music.

Podcasts...hmm...maybe I should make some of my own or something.
Podcasts…hmm…maybe I should make some of my own or something.

Podcasts.

So, anyone who follows my writing knows I’m a huge fan of personal development. I’d love to do seminars about personal development and spirituality sometime.

(And, oh, if you have an idea, I’d *love* to hear it. Would you ever want a webinar? You know…like do a Google Hangout and chat about life…?)

Anyways, I’ve discovered a feature on my new phone where you can download podcasts and listen to them anywhere.

I’m sure this feature has been available for quite some time, but I had a relic for a phone before with virtually no memory storage, so I missed out on these things…

But still. I have a commute that takes an hour and ten minutes out of my day. Podcasts are a way of furthering my own education and development.

 

Going on a Retreat and a Writing Update

meditative retreat

Before I tell you what’s going on, I just have to remark that it’s fun to be back on my blog fairly regularly. It involves a lot of 5am days and writing before going to work, then writing in the evenings after work, but I’m just having a lot of fun right now.

The Retreat

Back when I was doing a lot of those posts on meditating, I signed up for a meditation retreat. At the time, I was really thrilled about going on a little adventure like that: getting away, having undisturbed meditation time, and truly having no access to technology.

Here’s the part where I admit where I’m utterly human and have changed my mind.

Okay, I pride myself on not being *that* addicted to technology. I don’t like having my phone with me all the time, and I make sure to not have any technology in my room at night, save for the alarm…which, unfortunately, is my phone. But, I make a point to not look at it until I’m ready to wake up, with is usually right before the alarm.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand waking up to the noise of an alarm and it doesn’t matter how soothing the sounds might be. However, I’m scared to not set it and sleep way too late, but I usually wake up right before it goes off. Anyways….

I think I am addicted to technology, though: I check email at least several times a day. I check Facebook too much – sometimes once a day, but sometimes more. A lot more. There’s Twitter and Kindle and Google and…and…

My life is too encased in my computer. I use it for not only work, but for leisure, too.

It gets hard to separate the two.

That’s one of the reasons I signed up for the retreat. I told myself that I will pull away from it all, get back in touch with nature and have a “reset.”

But now, I admit I’m not so excited about going on this retreat later today through the afternoon on Sunday.

I get the feeling that it’s pretty rigid in terms of schedule. I’m not a big meat eater (avian and fish foods make up the biggest part of my meat-eating habits, even then, most of my meals during the week are vegetarian). All the meals are vegan at the retreat center. And there are mandatory silent hours.

I love to write and create, and I do my share of talking. In fact, people tell me that I tell way too many stories sometimes. Yes, I share too much and love to think out loud. Yup. This girl right here. They could very well kick me out.

I would rather stay home the next few days and write and watch movies. I may end up having to get up at 4am and spend hours on a meditation cushion. I have no idea; I don’t know the schedule. I’ve always wanted to try meditation for 8 hours or longer in a day, but I’m not sure I want today or tomorrow to be that day.

But that’s what I always default to: staying home and writing. I write all the time…and I wish I had more to show for that writing, but…that’s neither here nor there.

The Book

Which brings me to “the book.” The ghost story.

At the time I booked the retreat, cranking out a novel in a month’s time (that’s what I intend to do, anyways) wasn’t on my radar. I was in the height of stress at my day job. (I often wonder how much it’s worth it to be under so much stress, even if it isn’t year-round.) I needed meditation just to make it through the day.

I make it sound like an addiction. At least it’s an enlightening one. Ommmmmm….

But, as I’ve gotten back into feverish writing, I’ve slacked off in my practice. I tend to think of writing as quite meditative. If you’re writing a novel, you don’t think about the rest of what’s going on in your life:

You enter a different world where there are all these characters you’ve invented and you’re sculpting them into 3-D figures who are totally believable.

I know I’m not there, yet. I’ve finished the first edit – it was a content edit and took about a week to do. It went fast, but I’m doing that on purpose: if you go through quickly, you can spot the broader plot problems more easily.

Which is exactly what happened. I corrected a lot of things as I went through the first draft.

I’m halfway through the second edit. This edit is more of a read-through. It’s another look at the plot and character development, but not many additional words or corrections. As of right now, though, I have about 147 different notes I’ve added.

Draft three will be addressing all the problems I’ve spotted. It’ll be more like a content edit.

Draft four will be a final read-through.

And then it will be off to alpha readers. (Or are they called beta readers?)

Except it’s killing me that I won’t be looking at a computer for 4 days.

True, that’s a complaint. I really have nothing to complain about. It’s just that I feel like I’m on literary fire and I don’t want the flames to die out and my words to get drenched.

I have entertained the thought, however, that this could be perfect timing. That stepping away for a few days will help my mind subconsciously process everything so I come back with the best third draft ever.

If you need me, I’ll guess I’ll see you on Sunday. I’ll be headed off into the deep recesses of the jungle, where few people have ever tread in that undisturbed wilderness…

Just kidding. It’s in the mountains near my old stomping grounds, where I used to live. Ironically, it’s not far from there. But it IS isolated, and it is in the wilderness. I’ll be in my own tent. Wish me luck.

37 + TTOT

It’s been a busy week and I’ve actually been trying to do more than just one post a week. This week that didn’t happen. Ah, well…life.

It sometimes has other plans for us, no?

But today is a day that really makes me count my blessings.

  1. I am thankful for another trip around the sun. 37 is my number. It’s hard to believe, and at the same time, I can believe it: all my experiences, all my family and friends that have grown (and multiplied) over the years, all my jobs, all my travels…they add up, you know? It makes for an amazing commentary of a life.
  2. I’m thankful for Melanie, Janine, Bill, Clark, Denise, Sue, Lizzi, Brad, Aquileana, Christy and all my blogging friends. You all have touched my life in such a way that I often find myself giving thanks for the friendships I have forged in the wee hours of the morning, when I make it a point to get up and “be thankful” for ten things.
  3. I’m thankful for the rain. We had plans to go camping this weekend. But, the Universe had other ideas. I love that life can do its own thing without my intervention and things often turn out better than if I had orchestrated and planned everything.
  4. I’m thankful for the blue moon. Yes, today is a rare blue moon. Kinda makes a girl feel special when a rare celestial event happens on her birthday.
  5. I’m thankful for the day off I had yesterday. I still had to do some work at home, but all in all, I spent most of the day in my PJ’s. I didn’t do much, either. Just when I thought, “uh, you’re not being productive,” I silenced my inner critic and enjoyed another cup of tea.
  6. I’m thankful for Lake Junaluska. We’ll probably walk there later today. It’s one of my favorite things to do: walking in nature.

    walking around the lake
    Lake Junaluska on a cloudy day.
  7. I’m thankful for walks with my dog. I’ll be honest: he’s a mess. He doesn’t do well around other dogs or kids, and is really sensitive. You can’t say “bad dog” without getting this look of utter despair from him. So, I try to make sure I say way more “good boys” than anything else. He gets a spring in his step that way.
  8. I’m thankful for writing, in general. I would like to “do something” with my writing sometime. Publish a book? Make an ebook? Something. At the very least, I hope to inspire others with shenanigans of adventure.
  9. I’m thankful for living in town. I used to think I wanted to be a lot more secluded. I lived in the country – at least 10 miles from the nearest grocery store, 22 miles from work, 7 miles from a library and post office, and only forest and mountains between. It was serene, tranquil, and beautiful. For a long time, it was my sanctuary. But I grew tired of always having to drive and plan a whole day around errands – because it was insanity to just run one errand, go back home and then go back out. Now that I live in town – it’s not a large town, maybe 10,000 people – I can walk everywhere, ride my bike, take my dog to the park, play tennis, and the grocery store is a two-minute bike ride away. I love being able to walk downtown within five minutes, but in ten minutes, I can drive to the refuge of the mountains and go hiking, biking, camping and even boating (but I have to drive like forty minutes for that).
  10. I’m thankful for morning breakfast downtown. After days of rain, the sun boldly came out, I enjoyed my chai and veggie sandwich. I’d been wanting to get breakfast at this place since we moved here…but had never gotten around to it. Today, we finally did!
    City Bakery
    Breakfast in downtown Waynesville

    This is part of the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop.

Going on a Journey…To the Center of My Mind

A Journey of Mindfulness and the Challenge of the Gap

It could be an interesting journey.

But I want to take you with me.

You see, I’m learning to navigate the intricacies of being mindful, releasing stress in healthy ways, and continuing a journey that I have been on for a few years…except I haven’t entirely taken anyone else on this journey.

Sure, I’ve shared a few things and you’ve seen the creative side of me. I’ve even remarked here and there on recent posts about using gratitude and abundance to improve upon life’s challenges.

But now…I’m going deeper. And well, honestly, I haven’t written much in the past couple years – not here, anyways. My journal, however, has absorbed the bulk of my sanguine thoughts and aspirations…and it’s partly because there are two things I can’t or won’t share much about: my day job and my husby. (The day job…well,  you never know when the boss is reading and I want to keep husby’s life private. Unless, of course, he starts his own blog. Then it’s all fair game.)

More than that, it’s been an issue of time. Sure, there are 168 hours in the week and I work roughly 50 of them. I sleep around another 56 of them. So…that leaves about 60 hours to work with, right? That still has to include cooking, eating, transitions (like getting ready for work), getting groceries, paying bills, cleaning, getting exercise, spending time with husby and/or family, and just plain ol’ down time.

If I’m completely honest, my day job isn’t exactly conducive to having the energy to run a marathon in the evenings, either. Me being an introvert and all.

But, I still want to commit to writing here more.

Reading a Book a Week

I recently read somewhere that if you read a book a week on your chosen subject, that you’ll read anywhere from 52-60 books per year (depending on how fast you read). And that if you keep that up for seven years, you will then become an expert in that subject.

Well…I can say that I have been drawn to positive psychology, personal development, success, and otherwise books known as “self-help” for a long, long time. I have no idea how many I’ve read, but the number is probably in the hundreds.

Everyone from Tolle to Chopra, Dyer to Maxwell, Pavlina to the Dalai Lama – and many, many, between – has occupied space in my brain from their words.

Their wisdom, their ideas, and their thoughs have indelibly imprinted their essence in my head. And coupled with my own life experience and my own perspective, I feel like, well…that I know a few things.

And I feel that now it’s time to share.

It’s an evolving process for sure. And I will continue to read. Continue to learn.

Getting Into the Gap

The above is a phrase for when you actually succeed in silencing the chatter of your inner mind. It’s otherwise known as meditation.

If you talked to me in October or November, I would have told you that I meditate for 15-20 minutes per day.

And I did. I really did.

In January or February, I increased that to 30 minutes. Partly to cope with the stress of my daily life and partly to cultivate something that just seems to work really well for me.

Recently, however, I’ve increased that time again to 45 minutes in the mornings.

Sure, it would be good to meditate again in the evenings, but…unless I want to fall asleep each time, it has to be in the mornings for now.

I want to share (in a future post) what’s happening with that. What I’m experiencing as a result of deciding to do that.

And well, I do want to build up to 8 hours. Not all the time. But maybe once or twice a month. Eight hours sitting on my tush? Yes, I can see your face right now. But you don’t have to do it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Partly to see what will happen (other than a backside that fell asleep and got numb). Partly because I think I experience some serious happy energy from that process. And partly to see how my mind will evolve.

It’s interesting, too. While meditation is not this “miracle” thing, I can totally see why this practice has persisted for millennia. Since ancient times.

I think our ancestors were really on to something. They had a connection to their roots and beginnings that is not so easy to know now. With the advent of modern civilization, for all our conveniences (and I like my conveniences for sure), we’ve lost something. A connection with the energy field that is nature? A connection to self?

But, I already know it’s possible to reestablish that connection: through meditation, observation of silence, and spending time in nature, among other things.

So…here I am. Ready to share. And it’s going to be an interesting ride in what’s probably a beat-up car, clunckily rolling through the axions and dendrites of the neurons of my brain. If you’d like to come along and don’t mind the occasional sputtering and ear-splitting backfire, come along then and help me shift into second gear. I can’t promise the clutch will last the whole way, but coasting is allowed.

 

Learning to Just Be and #10Thankful

 

Find freedom in yourself.
Be free. Be as you are.

Personal Development Books on CD

I spend a lot of time in the car.

Therefore, I listen to a lot of radio. But not just any kind of radio…

I often find myself at the town library on Saturday mornings, stocking up on personal development CDs to listen to during the week. Because right now, my commute is one hour, ten minutes round-trip. Five days per week.

I listen to everything from Earl Nightingale to Wayne Dyer to Deepak Chopra to Karen Armstrong. I get so inspired to  be my best and I actually derive so much energy from listening to these people.

And well, maybe I don’t believe everything they say. But really, they want to make the world a better place as much as I do.

So, I listen to like-minded people to propel myself forward.

And that’s the thing.

Propelling myself forward.

Because I listen to personal development stuff for hours and hours each week, I think it’s literally changing my brain make-up or something. I get so many ideas and things I want to do and things I want to try….

But more recently, I was listening to a conversation between Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. There was a strong message about acceptance: of the way things are and of who you are.

Which led me to thoughts of “just being.”

Your “To Be” List

Chopra reminded me that we’re human “beings,” not human “doings.”

A few years ago, a friend shared a book with me called, “Your To Be List.” (No affiliate link there.) I remember thinking, I have zillions of “to do” lists, but I never thought of a “to be” list.

And it stuck. I vowed to become more contemplative, more mindful.

Be mindful.

That has a certain ring to it.

And honestly, I am looking at how I revamped my blog a few months ago. All the categories here now fall into:

  • be a leader
  • be aware
  • be creative
  • be divine
  • be grateful
  • be knowledgeable
  • be motivated
  • be spiritual
  • be the change
  • be your light

I had unwittingly created my own “to be” list. I smiled that I already have been working on just being. For that, I am grateful.

But most of all, and one that I didn’t include was “be me.” To be as I am. Flaws, perfections, mess of thoughts and smiles and all.

Be me.

There’s a certain peace that comes with acceptance of the self. That we really don’t have to be better than exactly who we are.

Coaching Others

Which brings me to another item of “grateful.” Because I listen and get so inspired by personal development-type stuff, I feel this need to share it. To share in this special knowledge that I’ve acquired that has changed my life. Especially more recently.

I’m grateful I’ve discovered free life coach courses online that I want to take. I’m not sure when: my day job takes a lot of time and energy at the moment. But I hope to do these soon.

I’ll have to hit up all my blogging friends for free life coaching sessions to hone my skills. But I want to look into being a spiritual/personal development coach. I keep thinking and thinking about this.

Will I quit my day job? Only if it’s meant to be: I am working on accepting life as it is. And I accept (and rather like) my day job…though I’d prefer a little more free time…like most of us, anyways.

But coaching feels right: I can incorporate all sides of myself: the creative side, the mindful side, the listening side, the desire to make a difference…

Spiritual Development

And I’m grateful for the spiritual journey I’m on. It’s a trip, really.

I’ve started meditating every single day. I’m no pro at it: my thoughts swirl like marbled ice cream, but the act of sitting but trying to be consciously quiet, well…it really does change you. Slowly. Over a long period of time.

I feel it. I feel it in the way I respond to stressful situations now. I feel it in all my interactions with others. I feel it in the way that I listen to my own instincts. And it engenders compassion.

And no matter what walk of life we have: religious, spiritual, or no affiliation with anything, compassion is at the core of every major doctrine and it’s wired into our brains.

If the whole world cultivated more of it, we’d know peace.

12 Steps to a Compassionate Life

I’m grateful for the very interesting and very compelling Karen Armstrong recorded book I’m listening to called, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.” Wow. What a powerful piece she’s written. And so poignantly relevant in today’s polarized world.

Morning Yoga

I’m grateful to Melanie for introducing me to Yoga With Adrienne. I don’t do yoga every day, but when I have the extra energy in the morning, Adrienne has a few yoga morning sequences. After meditating, I do a session of yoga and feel completely and incredibly energized and ready to start my day.

Actually, it would be good to do this every single day, but that’s not always practical…

But still…learning to stretch and breathe and be kind to myself…ahh, yes.

The whole breathing thing that goes with yoga and meditation…I really am embracing it.

Daily Meditation

I usually do about 30 minutes of focused meditation per day.

But I have this wish to try it for 8 hours sometime.

30 minutes can be hard, to say nothing of 8 hours or more.

I read about people going on meditation retreats and that’s all they do for 10 days straight – or longer.

I think about that with hesitation. First because meditation seems to be such a personal thing and doing that with others around does sort of freak me out a bit. But second, my legs fall asleep after not too long…I’d need a meditation bench or something.

But I read story after story about how people emerge from long meditation sessions and they literally see the world differently and their level of compassion is at a maximum. I really want to try this sometime and then write about it.

Perhaps I should next week when I have a couple days off….it would be so interesting.

I have no idea how many gratefuls I talked about in this post. But I can say it’s so much fun being part of Ten Things of Thankful. 

Acceptance, INFP, and TToT

It’s been so long since I’ve camped out and stayed long enough on my own site to eke out a post.

Well..it’s about time I change that. And why not join that most grateful of blog hops?

Thankful for Employment

First things first: I’m immensely thankful for my job. But that’s the biggest reason I don’t find myself visiting my humble abode of cyberspace nearly as much as I had in the past few years. I went from being “just a teacher” to an administrator, managing 35 people plus 54 students, translating and interpreting for the families of those students, ordering supplies, running daily operations, being a liaison for four agencies working together to pull off this program, among other things.

In other words, I’m doggedly tired when I get home but relish in knowing that I have this incredible opportunity to mentor college students and young minority students whose first language is probably not English.

It’s kind of mind blowing, sometimes, when I think about it.

It brings me to muse about how I’m a clark and an INFP personality.

And how, those days when I’m feeling quite stressed out and wondering why I put myself into such an interesting job situation – that is grant funded and never had any guarantee of continuing beyond June of this year – for better or worse.

Well, for one thing, I crave change. You usually don’t hear people say that.

I once wrote here on nearly a daily basis (and oh how many times I’ve thought of deleting this site to get rid of the potential baggage I’ve created for myself here…and in the end I always decide that this is a running record of my journey and that, no matter how little or how much I write here, this is an indelible part of my own footprint, whether I recognize that or not. I recognize that enough to keep it here, me thinks). But see, since I crave change, I don’t write here as much now – obviously.

But that’s the thing.

I used to chastise myself for not “sticking with it.”

I’ve dabbled in palettes of creative: photography, drawing, painting, writing, knitting, crafts and more.

I did all with the notion: ooh, I’m going to make a full time living out of this! I see people online do it all the time! Two Zazzle shops, one Etsy shop, and multiple sites later….

Eh…my focus ebbed.

Do you know how many times I’ve felt like I’ve failed myself?

But before you think this post is going to be oozing lumps of depressive ectoplasm, I promise it’s not.

It’s about the journey. The journey of understanding and accepting yourself.

The Wakefield Doctrine

So the second thing I’m thankful for is the discovery of sites like the Wakefield Doctrine and reading everything I can about INFPs (introverted, iNtuitive, feeling, perceiving) according to Myers-Briggs.

I never stop thinking. It’s the “clarkest” of clark characteristics.

Apparently many INFPs struggle with finding their place in life. And often lack follow-through.

This is me. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire. I want to get those emails in my inbox that read, “you do not understand how you’ve changed my life.”

But then after I’ve gotten all caught up in the moment and my heart is bursting with “I’m here. I’m on it! I’m making a difference!” I sort of get this burned out feeling because I suddenly need to go hide. And recover from the massive energy expenditure of just being me and absorbing the energy of everyone around me.

I swear, if it wasn’t for the “you’re locked in” nature of having a job, I’d probably float all over painting sidewalks one day, volunteering at the nearest Hispanic agency to translate to Spanish the next, and still  on the third day I’d be taking a hike with my slightly deranged dog who looks like he drank one too many kegs of beer. And well, sometimes he acts like a mean drunk.

But that’s neither here nor there. I accept and love him.

Meditation

Which leads me to number three. I’m thankful for meditation.

This practice alone has saved me from many a nervous breakdown. And by that I mean going from being “just a teacher” to managing an organization with all eyes on you is not exactly what an INFP would do. We’re those sorts of people who do not want to lead or follow.

Honestly, that idiom, “marches to the beat of a different drummer” is quite true. Except, I’d probably take that drum, paint it in all sorts of geometric shapes and put a hole in it from too much banging.

I find myself in the reluctant position of being a leader. It’s a strange feeling of attention that you get and every day I’m grateful for the smooth-running nature of the program and how my employees say they feel like they’re all extended family and that the students in our charge are like adopted children.

That’s pretty cool. That very notion keeps me going – despite me feeling like all these folks are watching every move I do, down to the last footstep.

I wonder if they’ve figured out that I’m a free spirit, yet. I’m sure they have; some of them know I have an artist website….

I try to keep it under wraps. But I still find ways to express myself, despite the serious attitude I have to adopt each day: I wear crazy socks that usually only I can see, I go home and draw or watch bad Spanish videos at night (it’s for practice…but I do get hooked), and on the weekends I find myself reading books about Buddha; still, I’ve recently taken an interest in yoga.

Contemplative Coloring

Back in January, I finally decided to create a site where I’d put all my “sharpie art” drawings in one place. Yeah, once had a “Sharpie Artist” website, but alas, blame it on the INFP, it didn’t stick.dragonfliescoloring

I go through bursts of creativity – feverishly creating work after work after work, and then I have to take a break.

But still…drawing is meditative, people want to color, I like to draw things that have spaces to color…so Contemplative Coloring was born.

It’s a way to build a portfolio over time, yes. But I’m a giver. And not a seller. I like to give my work away. If it somehow leads to something else in the future, well…it won’t be because I’ve stuck to it religiously like a daily ascetic practice.

It’s because I had fits of starts and stops, and decided to not delete that website, too…and sort of kept going with it for years longer than I thought possible and surprised even myself.

I have a lot of fun drawing and sharing these. And I’ve been spending a lot of time there that I otherwise would have spent here. So, now, I have a sort of “personal musings” website and a completely niche coloring one.

Writing

The other day, I made a comment on Bill’s blog, Artistry with Words. That’s the inspiration behind this particular strand of grateful.

Bill is an Energizer Bunny: he cranks out articles, books, hubs, and blog posts. He’s done it for years. I commented on his remarkable endurance.

And that post he did also made me think of the four or five (I honestly can’t remember! Isn’t that slightly nuts?) novels I have sitting on various jump drives and such. I tried to write fiction. Short stories. And other such things.

But, my brain isn’t wired for creative crazy imagination like that. It’s okay. I had to write that much to figure it out.

I’m into nonfiction and personal reflection. I always have been.

Interestingly enough, JK Rowling is an INFP. One of the hallmarks of an INFP is the person’s ability to write. J.R.R. Tolkien was another INFP.

Somehow my expression of being an INFP came more on the artistic side of things.

I’ve always resorted to painting, drawing, and finding colorful activities to entertain my optic synapses. The writing I’ve always done? Journals. I just love to write and express myself through secret entries that will never meet another’s eyes.

It’s just what I do.

It’s taken until I’m 36 to accept all aspects of this: the fact that I’m not one to go blindly into the crowd to celebrate the end of a hard-won work week (please, can I just go home, have a glass of wine, read some more on being a Buddha and go to bed after an episode of Águila Roja?). I change my mind a lot. The thought of having to work at a job until I’m 65 fills me with a simultaneous sense of dread and quiet acceptance of what is.

And still I dream of what could be.

Childfree

I’ve never shared this much before, but…

I think I’m electing to live the childfree life. Being an educator, I do get a lot of raised eyebrows at that one.

It’s due, in part, to a family background that yes, made me write a secret memoir that I’m too afraid to publish.

It could be the miscarriage that occurred two months after my brother’s death in 2011.

It could be the fact that I’ve faced infertility since then and there have been times that I thought, “I’m gonna be a mom!” and then it doesn’t happen over and over again. And no, I’m not one to do anything about it except the fact that if it’s supposed to happen naturally, it will. (The thought of fertility treatments, the expense, the spending time as a specimen in antiseptic offices? Yeah, no. I’m lucky to get my own self to the doctor once every five years.)

It could be the fact that I actually do like my life as it is and I’m learning to embrace the notion that, perhaps, I’m supposed to make a difference on a wider scale than the route of having a family.

Maybe I’ll adopt. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll foster. Maybe I won’t.

But I’m grateful for the acceptance I’m starting to feel at it all.

The Magic

I picked up this book at the library in October or November. And it’s entirely related to the theme of being grateful. It’s by Rhonda Byrne, the same author of The Secret, though I admit I didn’t like that one at all.

But, The Magic? The whole book is about being grateful.

I make grateful lists everyday now. Sometimes I write them down, and sometimes I do them mentally.

But I’m learning to feel gratitude as often as I can throughout the day: there’s a special power in the feeling of feeling your blessings through gratitude. It’s the kind of thing that, no matter what’s happening in life, you have blessings beyond that which you’re even aware of.

Until I read this book, I never thought to be grateful for the asphalt street upon which my house sits. But I am. I’m grateful for the labor of the people that endeavored to put all that yucky stuff down so that others might benefit. I’m thankful to the earth for supplying the resources necessary for the street to come into fruition. I’m thankful for all the people who planned all that out. I’m thankful for the streetworkers who come and maintain the roads in the summer and winter.

I am grateful in countless other ways, too.

I never thought to walk 1,000 steps, saying the words “thank you” over and over again.

I have been thankful for my health before, but never on a daily scale that I can walk, talk, and lead a normal life.

I have been thankful for my vision before, but never in a way that understands how lucky I am that even though I’m blind in my right eye, I have nearly perfect vision in my left.

Gratitude, meditation, and acceptance of who I am – on every level – are not only changing my life, but they are practices that often make me deliriously happy at best, and mildly discontent at worst (a condition that, honestly, is short-lived).

I’d better end this post here, lest I end up writing some sort of e-book on all the intricacies of a right-brained girl in a left-brained society…

This is a post in the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop

 

 

This New House Is Like a Miracle

I am so glad to be back. It’s like my “cyber-home” here at the ‘Tude.

There’s nothing like moving (in the real world) to shake up all your routines. Over the summer it was difficult to blog because I was staying with family while we closed on our house and then had to fix it up (we always buy fixer-uppers) so we could live in it.

We closed in mid-July, didn’t move in until mid-August and work picked back up – all good things, but definitely left me with not a lot of time to do much outside of those things.

new ho

To that end, I have continued journaling and drawing wherever possible. I’d like to think I haven’t lost my writing touch.

But more than that, I have an incredible story to share about selling our house and getting into our new one.

Back in May, our old house in Marshall, NC had been under contract. Then came the home inspection. The folks who were slated to buy the house decided to pull out – for various reasons, but mostly because they kept trying to knock the price down to below market value and, well, we wouldn’t budge.

We’d put a lot of sweat equity into our old house and knew that the market was pretty tight because of its proximity to a desirable area.

To get the house ready, we’d painted, repaired and staged it. We’d planted a vegetable garden and really tried to make our old house absolutely move-in ready. When you sell a house, I’d learned, you’re selling a product. And you want that product to be as fantastic as possible.

We also needed to sell and we needed to sell fast. I was commuting 1.5 hours and staying with family during the week.

The St. Joseph Home Selling Kit

After the first contract fell through, there were no showings for two solid weeks. I knew that somehow it would work out, but still: we already had a lot of things packed up and in storage. Our lives were continuing; it was time to move on.

I happened to Google “sell your house faster” one night after about a week and a half of no showings.

I found the Legend of Saint Joseph. I’d never heard of it before, but it was a “thing.” Many, many people on numerous sites had talked about how they sold their house incredibly fast with St. Joseph.

I thought, well, what do I have to lose?

Basically, you can go to Amazon and order a mini statue of St. Joseph. He comes in a small package with a prayer. I ordered him on a Tuesday; he got there by Thursday.

John said, “okay, so I’m supposed to bury him, right?”

I told him to wait because I know that when more than one person sends up the same prayer at the same time, it’s magnified. Multiple people magnify the same sentiments and thoughts.

“Wait until I get home on Saturday and we’ll bury him and say the prayer then.”

On Saturday, exactly two weeks after we’d had our last showing, we went outside. We lit a candle and recited the prayer of St. Joseph – here’s an excerpt:  (The following is taken from the St. Joseph Home Selling Kit we ordered on Amazon – not an affiliate link, by the way.)

Dear Saint Joseph, God the Father chose you from all men to be the husband of Mary and the foster Father of Jesus. You cared thoughtfully and wholeheartedly for them while on Earth.

It was through you that Jesus first learned of His Heavenly Father’s gentleness, compassion, protection and provision.

So close were you that He was known simply as the Carpenter’s son…

Then, we buried the statue upside down. You’re supposed to have him face either your own home or where your new home will be, if you know that information. It is said that he will work twice as hard to help you sell your home if he’s buried upside down. Incidentally, the location of our new house and the old happened to be in the same direction: southwest.

We blew out the candle and hoped for the best. We also believed in its power.

I went inside to take a nap and John went to work out in the shed.

I woke up an hour later to a text message on my phone: a show request.

It was almost exactly an hour later – I’m not even kidding.

We ended up getting two show requests that afternoon for the following day on Sunday and the next was for Monday.

By Tuesday we were under contract for just a little below our asking price! From there on out, everything went smoothly.

To keep the process running smoothly, I decided to also recite the nine novenas of St. Joseph to help sell the house, too.

The last part of the “ceremony” is that you dig up and give St. Joseph an honorary spot on the mantel of the new home. You can bet he has a place of honor.

St. Joseph now sits on the mantel above our fireplace.
St. Joseph now sits on the mantel above our fireplace.

Things Work Out If You Let Them

The funny thing is, we were looking to move to the same town where I now work. But, the houses in our price range were sort of…lacking. Most didn’t have quite what we needed and weren’t in great areas.

We were about to make an offer on a house that we were going to “settle” on when another house 30 minutes away in the next town dropped in price.

This next town was Waynesville – the town where John grew up and where family lives. Furthermore, there were no other houses in Waynesville in our price range – this was the only one. Though it’s a 30-minute commute, this town is centrally located to the larger city of Asheville, NC and the smaller town where I work – in Cullowhee, NC – 30 minutes in either direction.

I drove by this potential house immediately and it was like an electric spark: I just knew that this house was it. It was like everything came together at once: the way it worked out with our old house and this new one coming down in price enough that we could work with it.

We like to fix up houses because if we ever need to sell them, we’ll have automatic equity in them.

Once we closed, we couldn’t move in immediately, though.

We had to fix the heat pump and do mold remediation. The house had an odor and we had to pull up the carpets – revealing the original 1948 hardwood floors underneath. We took up the cracking, warped linoleum in the kitchen: 3 layers worth, complete with rotting plywood.

From there, we (and by “we” I mean John) soldered pipes in the bathroom to get them working again. Every single faucet in the house leaked because all the seals had dried up – the house had been vacant for six years.

There is still the huge rock wall that collapsed a few years ago that will need to be repaired…

The rest of the house will need to be updated (yes, the original bathroom from 1948 is still here: pink tiles with a cast iron tub of the same color – so lovely).

But it’s already a loved house with a happy feeling.

I gotta say I’m very, very grateful.

Yes, we go with our instincts on houses – they have “feelings” and sometimes even ghosts. We made the mistake of ignoring our instincts on one fixer-upper we bought and let’s just say it did not work out.

But now…now things are getting more settled. Work still takes up a lot of my time and it will for at least another year. But, I am getting into a more regular schedule where I can now, once again, return to regular creative sessions: i.e. writing and creating.

There’s that book I was working on earlier in the year….

I hope my fellow readers have been well!

I promise it won’t be so long next time.