And Then She Spurted a Second Novel…

I’m glad to be back, though I’ve been back for a week and two days.

I haven’t stopped by at my own blog much.

Well, that would be for several (good!) reasons.

It’s Been a Life Changing Summer

The stress of my job in this last year had prompted me to really do something I hadn’t done before: delve into travel as much as possible this summer.

I did it to relax. I did it to get in touch with my more spiritual side. I also did it to explore: new places, new stories, new adventures.

Here I am now, writing before I set off on one last little journey before returning to work in August: the beach.

We’d planned these trips in April. Last summer, in 2015, we spent it moving, and the summer before that I was taking classes and working as an administrator for a school. The summer before that? More classes.

I figured it was time to get back into living down some adventures.


Traveling Gives You Great Perspective

I don’t know what great soul recommended “going someplace once a year where you’ve never been,” but I can’t recommend that highly enough.

While on the meditation retreat in June, I finished the second draft of my first novel.

And while on the road trip, I blazed through the fourth draft. Husby started editing. He’s still working on it, but he’s also working a lot and has maybe has an hour or two here and there to work on editing my novel, let alone do the things he has to do in his own life.

That’s fine. Because…while he’s doing that, I cranked out the entire first draft of my second ghost story novel.

That’s where I was this last week. I was putting in hours and hours each day to finish before heading to the beach over the weekend and back to work the week after that.

I wanted to establish a strong routine of getting up early and working for a couple hours before starting my day.

These travel journeys have completely reignited my love of writing. Not that it ever went away. But I had to just be happy with journaling whlist finishing classes and working full time. There just wasn’t enough time or energy to do much else.

On the meditation retreat, I’ll share that the Buddhist monk who led it encouraged me to give into writing. I told her how, now that I’m finished with my master’s and working back in education, that I don’t know if I’m really cut out for that world. All I want to do is write.

She encouraged me to cultivate that love, that often we don’t know exactly what we want until it beats us over the head. And well, very often the third time is the charm (Anthropology and Spanish being the first two attempts at finding my calling).

I intend to finish out this grant-funded position (assuming we have monies after August…I still don’t know, actually) and come next June, I will take steps to indulge my writing while being smart about my income. (That’s an echo from the first time I tried, which was an honest failure. But it was a “good” kind of failure: one in which I learned a lot about myself, and what to do and not to do when it comes to quitting my job, how to have more focus, etc., etc.)


Next Steps to Publishing

The next steps will be twofold:

Get a cover made for the first book and publish under a pseudonym. Then finish the subsequent drafts of the second novel.

I honestly don’t expect much with this first book. It is the first book.

I know for a fact that most authors don’t get their first works published the first time around. Sometimes they do, but many times they don’t.

It’s because the mastery of the craft just isn’t there, yet. That’s not to say that some amazing, fine writers ARE masters by the time they publish their first novels. In fact, I think I know of few of those kinds of folks personally.

But, even Shakespeare’s early plays aren’t well known. It wasn’t until he’d cranked out a number of plays that his really great ones became known for what they were. Shakespeare had finally achieved mastery of his craft and we all only associate him with intricate Elizabethan writing, coining scores of new words for the English lexicon.

And so it is with novel writing. I expect to sell um…7 copies. 🙂 And that’s fine. I probably don’t want to be known for this first novel.

Don’t get me wrong: I gave it my best shot. But my best the first time around is going to look very different than the second time, to say nothing of the twentieth.

This first novel is about a Latino college kid who stumbles back to his college campus, cuts through a graveyard and upsets the gravestone of Marina Oliver. It was an accident, but that doesn’t matter: it unleashes an angry ghost who attaches to Jorge and drags him and his friends into a years old mystery. Their only chance of getting Marina to “cross over” is a bit of luck and resolve before time runs out and Marina drives them to their deaths.

(I hadn’t yet written out the “blurb” for my novel, but that up there doesn’t sound half bad, me thinks!)

The Second Ghost Story Novel

This second novel, I’ll have two editors. And I might spend a little more on creating the cover.

I don’t want to share what the plot is just yet because it’s only the first draft. With a few more iterations, things could change.

But something interesting happened on this second round of writing. The words came a little easier. The sentences were a little prettier, and my oral language has taken on a different layer of expression than how I spoke prior to cranking out over 120,000 words in a month and a half.

My sister in law and I were having dinner the other night and I was telling her about our recent road trip. I included descriptions of the environment: the parched trees, the pigmented sandstone rocks, the effervescent spring waters, etc., etc.

Beautiful places to describe
This image is one of many I snapped while on our road trip. It’s a photo of Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, WY. And one that would be awesome if I had to write up a graphic description of some place beautiful but parched, despite the hot springs.

She blinked at me several times before saying anything. I asked her what was wrong.

She laughed and said that she’d never heard such a vivid description of a simple little story before. Most of her friends will say something, hope it’s witty enough to crack up a bit, and then be done with it.

Of course, I knew exactly why that happened, and relayed it to her.

In any case, I have much work to do before this second novel is complete.

Watching the iterations will be fun, too.

When I finished the first novel, it was right about 50,000 words. But after four more drafts, it expanded to 73,000.

For this second novel, it stands about 43,000 words. I know that will swell. There are side things I thought of while I was writing and descriptions I know I’ll need to flesh out.

This second novel is different in that I used a technique called “Deep Point of View.” I wrote it all in first person, from the perspective of one character. I decided to try that to “up” the scary factor.

I do love a good, solid scary book.

As a side note, I’m reading the non-fiction book, “The Haunted” by Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s scary, but honestly, after watching lots of scary movies, seeing lots of ghost shows, visiting so-called haunted places, it takes a lot to ruffle me.

I’ll have to compile a list sometime of some really awesome scary reads that I’ve read in the past year (in addition to everything else I’ve read; I do have a voracious literary appetite).

Achieving Goals

But I cannot fathom how, at the end of May, all I wanted to do was finish a novel.

I’ve completed one, save for the edits that I’ll need to do once husby has finished the first one.

I’ve completed the first draft of the second one.

I already have ideas for a third and fourth one.

I’m cranking them out fast. It’s taken years to figure out, but if I don’t blaze through that first draft quickly, I won’t get through it at all. It wasn’t until I got the idea from that book, 5,000 Words an Hour, which just emphasizes getting through that first draft.

Now that I figured myself out – at least as it relates to writing – I feel like I’m in “crank ’em out” mode.

And yes…I’m going for the mass market paperback segment. This is why pseudonyms are good. If I want to channel the esoteric Barbara Kingsolver, another pseudonym will suffice.

It’s been an incredible summer, full of personal growth, and many, many realizations. These include wanting to write at HubPages more, wanting to include photography here again, wanting to spend quality time on my writing.


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.

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. 

Higher Consciousness and Ten Things of Thankful

Gratitude Is Changing My Life

Yesterday, I was making a “Ten Things I’m Grateful For” list (not related to the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop). I started this practice back in October where I either write out ten things I’m thankful for first thing in the morning (well…after some meditation) or mentally catalogue ten things for which I’m grateful.

The Magic

I started doing this because I make it a point to work on my own personal development. This involves reading inspirational books, listening and watching uplifting/inspirational material, and watching my thoughts. One such book – I’ve mentioned it before – is called The Magic, by Rhoda Byrne.

This book is not like The Secret. I actually didn’t buy into a lot of what The Secret says, so I was hesitant to give The Magic a try.

I’m glad I did. Between the gratitude I practice now each day, meditation, and doing activities to increase my mindfulness, my life is changing. Bad days aren’t as bad as they used to be. Stressful events aren’t as stressful as they used to be. My mind is calmer and other things are happening.

Life will always have its ups and downs, but more and more I see the “downs” as a time to reflect, give more thanks, and take away important lessons that can guide me back to the “ups.”

Life Is Happening Now

Every experience we have really does have the potential to teach us something: from how we handled that encounter with the colleague at work, to the way we spend our free time. It all matters. Because life is happening now.

[Tweet “Every experience matters and has the potential to teach us something. Life is happening now.”]

So, I’m glad for the lessons, the ups, the downs and gratitude.

I’m glad for what it’s doing. Let me share an experience of awareness I had yesterday:

I was at work, and I was feeling particularly grateful. I was giving thanks for the beautiful snowflakes I could see outside my office window. I was giving thanks for the good working relationships I had. I was giving thanks for the abundance of funding that I have right now for my after school program – it is grant-funded and is set to run out in June (more on that later).

Responding to Positive Energy

It seemed like during the entire day, people were responding to me. Maybe it was the energy I was putting out – the positive energy of gratitude. But things were happening.

I was at the central office for the public schools where I work. The assistant superintendent’s grand-baby was there. I was going about my business when I wandered into a room and there he was. For what seemed like five minutes, that baby wouldn’t stop smiling at me and held my gaze. It was at once so powerful and humbling. This little creature was adorable and calm, and wouldn’t stop looking in my direction.

I’m not saying that I’m the prettiest thing since Marilyn Monroe – far from it. But I am saying that I swear the energy I was putting forth as a result of the gratitude I felt for having met the little guy was causing this wonderful reaction.

From Crotchety to Positive

Next down the line was how a friend and colleague responded to my presence. She’s normally kind of crotchety. She’s a bit of a negative person, so I do consciously limit my contact with her – I need positive energy in my life as much as possible. But, I found myself giving thanks for our working relationship as well as how she really wants to learn Spanish. I gave her some suggestions for websites and she went out of her way to help me out on a project and was even nice when she returned to doing paperwork that she did not find amusing.The path to enlightenment

Still, I was offered some extra food at lunchtime for someone’s birthday party and back in my office on the university campus, my group colleagues enjoyed the rest of our lunches over casual conversation – which hadn’t happened much before – we’re usually always buzzing around with lots of things to do.

It was just one of those days when it felt like there was a positive charge of energy everywhere I went. And I’ve been aware of this energy growing.

A couple days ago we had a parent night and did a survey of parents’ satisfaction in the program. I make sure to run my program with so much love and kindness and instill in all my employees that we All Are One and we need to treat each other like it.

There was not a single complaint about the program – and we have 54 kids in the program! Parents came up to me, as well as the students we teach, to hug me, to hug each other and share in love and camaraderie. The employees I have under me all know I love them and that they matter.

You’re a Life Coach

Last evening I met up with a another friend. We were sharing stories about work and life and all its offerings – both good and bad.

The conversation meandered to spiritualism and talk of energy – this has been on my mind so much lately.

I mentioned how I want to make a difference on a wider scale than just a small organization. Granted, the experience I’m gaining is priceless, but still…I find myself wanting to affect people in a way that really makes the world a better place.

She just said to me, “you know, I have an acquaintance who decided to become a life coach and all I could think was why?” She was telling me how she wasn’t sure he had the personality and even the mental practice in place to claim such a position.

But then she turned and looked at me and said, “Cyndi, you’re not a life coach by name, but it’s in your DNA. You’re here to make a difference and be part of something bigger than you even know. You’re supposed to teach and bring light to others. And I think you’d be a great life coach!”

I could only look at her in that moment while my mind entertained the possibility, and simultaneously gave thanks for such a beautiful compliment. She asked if I would ever write a book on how to help people be the best version of themselves through mindfulness and creativity. I told her, “well, not yet.” 

But, I’d like to. Sometime.


Not Nervous About the Future

Furthermore, I remember seeing the awe on another colleague’s face when we were talking about funding for our program. She asked me, “don’t you get nervous not knowing if you’ll have a job in a few months?”

I smiled and looked at her and said the following: “I’m in the business of helping people. I came into this job knowing it was grant-funded and it was a risk I was willing to take: to get the experience, to work with this particular population and I know that I work to help people. Therefore, no matter what happens, it’s going to be all right.”

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


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.’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.


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.


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.


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



It’s all in the Tree

Dead tree

After sharing the post about the urban door, I decided to see if I could find something on the web about a similar test like that one that my teacher shared.

I did!

If you go to A Walk in the Woods, you’ll see a fun little personality test.  I’m sure it’s not scientifically based but I took it myself when I found the website this morning.

I had to laugh at the results.  It wasn’t exactly like the one my teacher told us, but it was close.  The results, however, had me shaking my head in places.

I’m going to talk about my results below, but it’ll ruin the test for you if you read on.  If you don’t care about taking the test, read on (and hopefully laugh at my expense), but if you think you might want to take it (it’s fun!) don’t read my results until you’ve taken it yourself.


The first question relates to who’s most important to you.  I was a good little Cyndi and answered “my husband” for who I was walking in the woods with.

For the second question, the animal I saw was a deer.  The results say that the size of the animal relates to how big you think your problems are.  Good thing I didn’t see a sasquatch!

The third question asks about the interaction between the two.  I smiled at the deer.  Apparently, I smile at my problems, too. HAHAHA.

The fourth question asked about my dream house.  Okay, my dream house is not a big house.  For the record, I don’t want to clean it, and two, I’ve always felt that living in decadence, unless perhaps you can absolutely afford it, is…um…well…not simple-living (I’m all for living simply) and I feel too guilty taking so much when there are so many people in the world with so little.  So my dream house is sort of like one of those cob houses with funky rooms and curvy crevices and brilliant blue stained glass windows and those cool-looking turrets.

Now, that 4th question is supposed to represent the size of my ambition to solve my problems.  Well, dang.  This would suggest I approach my problems using addition rather than algebra!  1+1 = 2, as opposed to the quadratic equation.  It’s wrong.  I’m ambitious.  That test didn’t know I was valedictorian in high school…even if that was…a little longer ago than I want to admit.

Question five asks if I have a fence around my house.  Okay, we’re in the freaking woods.  Why would you have a fence unless you’re herding alpacas?  No, I don’t have a fence.  Apparently I have an open personality as a result of my aversion to fences.  Go figure.

I do consider myself to be an open-minded person.  Heck, I’d even join Elizabeth Gilbert to pray at a Buddhist monastery to see what it was like.  Maybe I’d find some degree of enlightenment.  In equal measure, I’d love to meet Jesus on the side of the road and check out his Birkenstocks and old corduroy pants, plaid shirt and unkempt hair.  That’s what he looks in my mind anyways.

The next question, question 6 asks if I see anything in the dining area on or around the table.  Okay, so if I have a house in the woods and we’re talking life philosophies, I’m sorry but I’m thinking a really cool slab of varnished wood with lots of burls would be cool, with maybe a bowl of pine cones on top.  This answer indicates that I’m not happy.  An amazing burled table with a really cool antiqued, brassed bowl would make me very happy.  And yes, I’m assuming I’m sharing it with my Honey.

For number 7, I said that cup was made of clay.  Thank god that’s a durable material because I do, in fact, think I have my lifetime love.

In number 8, I put the cup “down” in deference to it being an earthen vessel that wasn’t mine.  The explanation for this question is “my disposition of the cup is representative of my attitude towards the person in question one.”  I guess that means I respect him – at least I hope so.  Otherwise, it suggests that I left my love hanging in the dirt.  Aww…I need to go kiss him.

In question 9, I envisioned a small pond.  That’s supposed to represent my desire for love.  FLAWED.  What about all the peace (and love) I want in the world?  What about despising confrontation?  Or are they talking about true love?  Well, if it’s that then here’s the thing: I’ve always thought it’s better to be single and living life to the fullest with friends and family than to be attached to someone who brings you down and keeps you miserable.  So, yes, if “love” means spending your time in a “quality” love situation, then I have that and I’m eternally grateful for it.

Question 10: I went around the pond.  This is a similar question in that it’s supposed to represent the relative importance of love in my life and how “wet” I get is indicative of that importance.  Well that’s crap.  I didn’t go in the water at all.  I don’t like water.  I’ve always lived in the mountains.  Even when I go to the beach I don’t swim.  That’s not a fair question.  Come on – I used to argue with my mom when she’d make me go swimming at the Y.  I HATED swimming.  I always will.

So there you have it.  The baring of my personality through some whacked test about a Walk in the Woods.  It was annoyingly fun.

To that end, I thought the picture at the top was fitting.  I went for a walk in the woods and I happened upon this tree.  It’s splitting bark startled me and I loved it.

Of course I’m going to ask: what did you think of when you saw it?

I thought of death and re-birth, of something that has the ability to stand tall – even if you’re struck down, and perseverance.  I could go on, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who’s still thinking about how that picture moves them.

Feel free to also report some of the results when/if you take the test.  What did you do with the dang cup?  What’s your dream house?  I want to know!