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.

 

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Ten Things of Thankful – Before the Voyage

Looking back on the past week and a half, I have so much to be thankful for. Writing about my gratitude will tie together – quite nicely – all the different things going on in my life at the moment.

The Meditation Retreat

I continue to feel the effects of so many days of meditation. Being with 28 other folks who were from all walks of life and had all sorts of different beliefs, this validated for me how we can all coexist peacefully – if we but just understand that all we need is to love and have compassion for each other.

Meditation
The quad area at the retreat center. Incredibly restful and peaceful.

The Last Day of Work

I finished the school year. It’s been stressful and tiring and, you know, sometimes I wondered if I was cut out for working in the academic world. Still, working with so many people – from elementary students to superintendents, to parents and church leaders – the experience has made me grow in ways that I can’t even describe. I have a level of confidence I had not known was possible in my existence. I can read and understand people on a different level now. Furthermore, I have a much deeper understanding of the idea of “the boss.” Where I used to question the decisions former principals and directors made, I now have utter sympathy for those in charge having to make unpopular decisions. You never really know what’s going on behind closed doors.

The Novel

This morning, I finished the final “content” edit. I’m going to do one more read-through to try to catch typos and other such errors, but otherwise, I’m going to send it to my editor – my ever-supportive husby – in the coming week. This being a first novel, I’m not looking for any high dollar investments as far as editors and book cover artists. I will publish on Kindle and we’ll just see how all this goes.

The Possibility of Publishing the Novel

I have now gotten further than I ever have on any novel I’ve worked on. Littering various hard drives and thumb drives, I have an assortment of unfinished novels in different genres. I figured out somewhere along the way that I love to write about scary things – ghosts, the unexplained, supernatural phenomena, and even superhero-type characters – and the possibility of FINALLY publishing has me really giddy. Honestly, I don’t expect much with this first one: the goal was to get over the hurdle of publishing. I’m still not there, but I see the hurdle itself coming up along the racetrack and I have the confidence to jump and clear it. So many times that hurdle came up on my running sprints and I stopped when I saw it. I’ve been training hard to focus on the success of not only jumping it, but briefly looking back to marvel at what I just did.

Discovering Chris Fox’s Books

These have helped me churn out a novel really quickly. Here’s what I’ve read while I’ve been working on my novel (these are affiliate links):

  1. 5,000 Words Per Hour
  2. Lifelong Writing Habit
  3. Write to Market
  4. Launch to Market

As a side note, I didn’t discover some of these books until this 3rd content edit, so some of the tips he talks about won’t apply until the next novel I start – which will be immediately, actually. But still. I can churn out 2,000+ words in half an hour if I don’t let myself edit and I have a clear plan of what I’m doing. I even emailed him to get clarification on something in one of his books and he emailed right back!

The Upcoming Epic Road Trip

So, school’s out and I have five weeks to have some fun. To be sure, I’ll continue writing while I’m on the road, but we’re planning on doing a road trip through Kentucky, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and then to Colorado. See, at least once, if not twice a year, I head out to Colorado to see family (starting out in North Carolina). But we often drive out there and then drive straight back and don’t have a lot of time to see other things. This year, starting in January, we started saving for an epic journey. We leave on Monday morning. We’ll check out the Badlands, Deadwood (remember the TV show?), The Devil’s Tower, Bighorn Medicine Wheel, Thermopolis (for the mineral waters) and then head on down to Colorado.

Close College Friends

There are people who have lots of acquaintances and then there are people who have a handful of lifelong close friends. The latter would be me. I made three friends – that I managed to not run off – from my days at Colorado College. At the risk of dating myself, I graduated in 2001. We live all over the US now but our friendship has transcended distance and time. We joke that we’ll be the scourge of some nursing home one day, throwing Oreos at staff and having wheelchair races. Hopefully those days are far, far off into the future.

Close Friends Who Graduate

So…out of the group of us college buddies, all of us have completed our Master’s degrees. One even completed her PhD. We run the gamut of people studying different things: I have my Master’s in Spanish. One has hers in Divinity. Another has hers in Psychology. The last just completed hers in Education at our alma mater, Colorado College. While I’m in visiting family and friends in Colorado, we’re also going to celebrate her graduation and accomplishments.

Age and Wisdom

My mom runs an assisted living center out of the house I grew up in. While it is unusual – I just love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I grew up in a nursing home – there are some really neat things about it. One of them is this patient who is turning 106. Yes, you read that right. She’s still pretty sharp and completely fluent in Spanish and English and my mom now takes care of her 85 year-old son. But, to celebrate 106 years of earthly living, my mom’s going to bring in a mariachi band to serenade her. We already have word that various news outlets will be there to witness this incredible milestone. Doctors told her she’d never live past 95. Just look at that miracle!

The Library

For our road trip, we have an assortment of books and CDs to keep us entertained. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been to Iowa and my perception of it is that it’ll be flat with no radio stations. It’s always good to be prepared but open to the possibility that there might be hills and pretty things there, and maybe even a good radio station or two as we pass through. And hopefully no dustbowls!

This has been part of the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop.

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.

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.

 

Thankful – The Visionary Edition

hold the vision

I used to own a pear (haha, get it?)  of rose-colored glasses. And though those fun frames have long since disappeared into oblivion, I still don the imaginary pair.

[Tweet “When life throws lemons, I make furniture polish. And use strawberries to make moonshine! “]

Just kidding, I really just sit down and make lists of things to be grateful for.

Here is this week’s list.

It was Friday: cloudy, kind of cold. Didn’t get some great news at work. So, I get home and I get The Phone Call. This random person calls me to tutor her in Spanish. Maybe it was a sign. You know there are a lot of people out there who totally believe in signs. Remember that line from the movie, “Fools Rush In” and the priest tells the girl, “There are signs everywhere.” Yes, well, I think I’m slightly illiterate when it comes to interpreting life’s signs. Like I need to be beat over the head with them. And how shall I interpret that?

Tutoring. Outside of work, I tutor people in Spanish. (This is also one reason I have trouble with signs: how do you reconcile your identity as a Spanish teacher and possibly wanting to launch a tutoring business for real with this crazy desire to write, write, write?) I’m grateful that even though I haven’t promoted myself at all lately, I still get people who inquire and call. So…that must mean there are people who do want to learn Spanish. Tutoring online is a possibility…that is as long as my satellite internet doesn’t have a cloud over it…

My ancestors. Really. Besides the obvious fact that I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the family tree, I am grateful to them. They’re the angels that look over your shoulder and do the gentle tap, tap, tap to remind you that you really are important. They know how to help. So, I ask them to beat me over the head with signs. That I can actually understand. Because they should also know that I’m challenged when it comes to signs (see above).

For vision boards. I watched The Secret. To tell you the truth, it’s not really different than other inspiring videos, books and blogs that I’ve read. In fact, I think the creator of The Secret read The Magic of Believing, but you didn’t hear that from me. Don’t get me wrong: it’s good in that it spreads a positive message. It’s got some good tips. My two favorites are “visualize” and “be grateful.” Sure, I’m grateful. I got a whole list here. But, I’m a believer in visualization, too. There was one good tip I walked away with: create a Vision Board. I spent the better part of New Year’s Day creating one.

How do you make one, you ask? Well, you think about the end-product of what you want in life, but the key is to think about it a little differently than just “get out of debt,” for example. See, if you use the word debt, even though your goal is to “get out of debt,” theoretically you’re still putting “debt” energy out there. So you never really get out of debt. Positive or negative, if there is something you want to avoid, just don’t use that concept. Instead, take something like a pay stub, add a zero or two to the amount, and visualize that in your bank account…so, you know, you can pay your debts.

You want to travel? Print, draw or write those place out and post them on the vision board.

Of course I believe in the power of abundance – responsible abundance. I admit that having a $47 million dollar house on a hundred acres is not my idea of responsibility. You know? Visualizations of a completely carbon-neutral solar-powered house? Okay, yes, that is one of my ideas of using the earth’s resources responsibly.

For birthdays. Yesterday, I had a chance to celebrate two birthdays: my husby and my sister-in-law. Another journey around the sun, taking in life and living another day to make a difference, have more experiences, accomplish greater things. Indeed, I’m very grateful.

For 43,600 words. I’m working on a fiction novel. Yes, another one. I’m compelled to write…but I’ve been having a “finishing” problem (shhh, we’ll not talk about those four other novels I have in various stages of first drafts that may or may not ever see the light of day…). Can you imagine what might be on my Vision Board with regards to this? But this one could be the one. It’s a ghost story. And I’m on that shitty first draft, working through all those doubts you get as a writer, but you force yourself to plow through in the hope that your friends will still consider you a quality human being after reading what you wrote.

For The Doctrine. The other night, as we were preparing dinner, we discussed some of the issues regarding different people in our lives who are rogers, scotts and clarks. And those hard-to-identify people that usually end up being rogers. And if roger-roger relationships are feasible. It’s just so fascinating to determine what worldview a person has because then you understand where they’re coming from and why they may do what they do. It’s a key to understanding people and relationships. I find it indispensable, really.

Brown Mountain Lights. There’s this place called Brown Mountain near where I live that reportedly has all these lights that vary in color that show up in the night landscape. People have reported seeing these for over 800 years and the US government even launched an investigation as to what they are. Locals think they are the spirits of Native Americans who used to live in the area. I haven’t been there to see them – I only just discovered that this is a possible haunted place near me.

But haunted places? Ohmigosh – I’m so into that! I’ve always loved ghost stories and mysteries like that. Part of why I think I was compelled to write my own imaginary story.

Have you ever seen a ghost? You know, I haven’t. But I have experienced unexplainable things in my life for sure. I definitely believe.

I feel a budding interest coming on…I might end up talking about ghost stories here more and more…OOOooooOOOOooooOOOOooOOooooOOo.

Chris at Iworkofftheclock. We started these conversations last week about cranking out ebooks: both fiction and non-fiction. And, I want to try my hand at it, especially after reading, “Writing a Kindle Book a Week” by Alex Foster. So…I’m not that inclined to write 25-30K words a week to crank out book after book – although that is what he recommends. I’m afraid my eyes recommend stepping away from the computer after an hour or two of solid writing. And working on a computer at work for most of the day. So maybe I’ll go for the “Writing a Kindle Book a Month” club.

Workout videos. Because after a rough day, there’s nothing quite so therapeutic as a kickboxing session where you imagine pummeling hidden enemies and kicking them out figuratively and literally. I got the idea from Melanie’s ebook and have been hooked ever since.

Graduation…And Ten Things of Thankful

Graduation

graduation

Well, I made it.

I walked out into the Convocation Center and hadn’t thought about graduation that much. I’d bought the gown, paid my student fees for graduating, but…it hadn’t really hit me. Finished a 200-page portfolio (it was something like that…I don’t know how many pages, really. It was a compilation of ALL my work as a grad student). I also finished the final investigation (a long 36-pager) for my last class and…they allowed me to march down the aisle.

Until I marched out, and saw the sea of graduation black and gold that are the hallmark colors of my alma mater, did I begin to get those all-too familiar butterflies. The music. The Chancellor – oooh, yes..so formal.

I started this degree in the fall of 2008. Took one class and said, “working full time and doing this? Forget it.” But then it nagged at me. I wanted to finish. So, in the spring and summer of 2009, I took three classes. And then I burned out all over again. I tell ya, people who work full time, AND do the school thing at night are superhuman people. When I went to part time work in 2013, I decided to finish this degree once and for all. I had four classes under my belt. Only eight to go.

In a year and a half, I finished the rest of those eight classes.  I worked full time for a total of five of those classes. It was brutal. And why I was a dropout twice over.

But I arrived. I am here. And I’m thrilled. To be done. To have the “Master’s” behind my name.

 

Hubby

To commemorate the occasion, I must acknowledge a few people. First, of course is the hubby. These last few months I was like a zombie. I got up, went to work, got home and did coursework, ate dinner, went to bed and repeated that. He took on everything.

That is love.

I swear. He cooked. He cleaned. He drove me to classes because I don’t see that well at night. He supported me when I was deliriously happy for finishing all my requirements, and supported me when I sat on the floor, despairing and wondering how I’d ever get through.

Everyone is someone because of other someones who stood by and supported them. That is my Juanito. He was and is my someone who supported me through it all.

 

Denise and Clark

And yes, there are many other wonderful people to thank. In my internet world, I must thank two people: Denise and Clark.

You see, over the last few years, I’ve really become a Wakefield Doctrine scholar. As a side note, and this is no joke, I’m wearing the sweatshirt Clark sent me when I decided to go back to school. I didn’t mean for it to work out that way, but funny how things do work, don’t they? In any case, I’ve enjoyed the many call-ins with fellow clarks and all the study and conversation about the insights into people’s worldviews and ways of dealing with life.

So, on Saturday, I got a card from Denise. Totally unexpected. That’s what made it so sweet! I’m so amazed/happy/awed that someone I haven’t met in real life would take the time to send me a card like that. If you haven’t been to her blog, you should really head over. She’s a special, insightful gal, that Denise. And so ding dang sweet!

denise girlie on the edge

And then there’s Clark. Who sent me a compass. It has to be one of the coolest, most symbolic gifts, ever.

You see, even though I have a Master’s, what remains to be seen is what I will actually do with it. Right now I’m teaching some and working in an office. I envision my life taking on a more creative turn…one that involves more travel, more photography and writing. Perhaps some teaching. But…writing has been whispering to me. Coaxing me back into the comforts of linguistic regalia and the tap, tap tap of the keyboard.

This compass shall give me direction.

wakefield doctrine

 

clark compass

 

Hershey’s Kisses

With almonds. Hubby just celebrated another year around the sun and I put 47 kisses in a jar.

I don’t think he’s eaten any of them, but I sure have. I like that I keep taking away from that 47. Now he must be 33 or something.

47 kisses

The Gift of Time

I have two weeks to make a bang.

We went on winter break starting after school yesterday. Of course, there was still the staff party, the running around to get stuff for said party, and the general exhaustion that comes from a Thanksgiving in Colorado, defending my portfolio, graduating last Saturday, getting the flu, doing holiday program for the school, a campaign fundraiser, the final days of teaching before a big, exciting time of year and…I was so glad to get up at 9:00 this morning instead of 5:00.

But now I have time.

You know what I intend to do with it? Write of course! And sleep, and read, and figure out my next projects.

I’m going to try to “just be,” too. Be relaxed. Be thoughtful. Be present. Be loving. Be kind to myself.

 

For My Supportive Friends and Network

I have felt guilty that I haven’t been exactly “present” with my group of friends that have been my support network. I’ve been so busy and so exhausted, that I just want to send out heartfelt thank yous to Bill, Melanie, Ruchira, Lizzi, Sarah, Rich, Chris and so, so many other wonderful people that I’m forgetting to thank properly at the moment but, in time, I will catch back up with you all!

 

For Indecision

I’ll be honest. This is something that I struggle with. I am interested in so many things and have a heart to do photography and writing and teach languages. I love to write, to paint, and to knit.

I may have just spent a lot of time on studying the theories of teaching Spanish. I’m a little burnt out on that. What I will be doing is writing. A lot. Maybe some on this blog. Maybe some on HubPages, but, honestly, I need to get myself published.

Suffice it to say, I’m going to spend my mornings and evenings writing. And I look forward to every second of it.

 

Maybe that’s Ten Things…maybe not. But I am sure glad to have some time to be back!