Simple Joys, Simple Steps to Dreams

I have big dreams. I want to travel the world on my lottery winnings (that I have not won yet). I want to write a book. I want publish a photo for National Geographic. I want to always have gorgeous hair. (Winning the lottery may actually have higher odds than consistently gorgeous hair though.)

However, before all these dreams can happen, life moves on. Bills roll in and therefore I work-two jobs at that. Now balance those two jobs with an occasional photography assignment, a child preparing for college, another child in college, a wonderful new relationship, settling into a new home, and a list of ever-increasing demands, I can get a little busy.

Busy is the killer of dreams. And frankly, I don’t have any more time to wait. So if I want my dreams to happen, it is up to me. Granted, I need to be realistic.

My world travel plan has not yet happened since the winning lottery numbers continue to elude me. And more often than not, the buying of the lottery ticket eludes me too. In lieu of this downfall of money, I just travel on a budget. I utilize special offers, Groupons, and the like. I almost never go anywhere or do anything at full price. And when my military assignments have me hit the road, I explore. They may not send me to Paris or Sweden, but I have seen spectacular local sights I may not have otherwise found. And if you count deploying three times…well, I have traveled parts of the world indeed.

My book writing career is very stifled as well. However, I am doing more writing now than I have in decades. I blog articles, poems, fiction and random ramblings. My Army Reserve job required me to write articles a few years ago, and now that I am done with my command job, my new assignment will allow me to write again too. I am also working as an editor in my civilian job. Granted, I edit military manuals. So unless you are interested in mobile gun systems or parachuting, it may not be page-turning suspense.  Nonetheless, all of these things are helping me become a better writer, or at least I like to tell myself that.

I am also reading more. (Fun books that is, not just technical manuals.) I have a list of books that I want to read and I am actually working through it, and not just saying one day…

I find that the more I read, the more I want to write. I love the way words offer images, show emotion and call me to action. I am inspired how some authors craft their stories with such elegance. I don’t know if I will ever reach such level of mastery at this point in life, but that will not keep me from trying. Either way, every step I take now is a step closer to the writing I put off year after year.

Odd fact. When I was young, I dreamt of being a writer. I even have stories and poems I wrote in elementary school still. (Maybe I will share a few of those one day.) Not once did I ever think about photography though. That dream didn’t surface until I joined the Army Reserve at 29 years of age.

It was then I learned my pictures could be stories in themselves. My pictures were like a canvas (only better since I suck at painting). I also learned that I was pretty good at it. Of course, there are some really amazing photographers out there. I would not say I am amazing per say, but…I do get paid to take a picture from time to time and had some pictures published. So, I guess I am doing pretty good for someone who didn’t start until they were 29 and really isn’t that technical. Considering these facts, I am realistic about my National Geographic dream. To come close to that dream, I need to work. I need to take my fortunate gift of a good eye, and expand that with technical skills. I have to push myself to learn more whiz-bang, geek-speak stuff. I should understand bracketing and slow exposures. I need to try to master the use of a flash. (I hate flash photography since it vexes me.)

Techical aspects are hard for me though. I don’t like them. I am not a technical person. But…I am trying. What is refreshing is that what I am learning is slowly paying off. I can see my photographs evolve. I am slowing down to work on quality photos rather than quantity. (OK, I still take a crap ton of photos when I go out, but I am getting better quality each month. In my defense though, when the Army sends us out to document events, we shoot like crazy. Every element, face and task…) So before National Geographic gives me a shout out, I will prepare through my photography blog, taking classes and picking up my camera to experiment whenever I can.

I guess the point of my rambling is that my dreams won’t happen if I don’t take steps towards them. Albeit they may be baby steps, but that is ok because if I don’t reach dream-level success, I will still be happy. I can’t help but be happy as I look around at my life. There are so many changes for the better now. I am actually doing things I put off time and time again. I am embracing the little moments I get and taking all I can from them to get a bit closer to my ultimate goals.

Oh but wait. I forgot my gorgeous hair goal….hhhmm. My baby steps for that dream is to regularly brush it, wash it, cut it …and well, drink some wine while reading a book. I figure, if I drink more wine, I will eventually believe my hair really is quite gorgeously styled after all. And, if it is not…I will just go back to reading.



For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Black and White.

Shared Pain

Sara didn’t normally sit at bars, but life wasn’t normal anymore. So she took another drink.

The cool wine slide down her throat and held back the tears. Nothing would be the same anymore, and she didn’t really know how to go on. Mark was her life, her soul, her motivation. Without him, she was just a shell. Nothing really mattered, though she had been putting on a good show for friends and family. Everyone knew she was sad, but they saw her moving on with life. She went to work and the gym. She even managed to be social with friends on occasion. It is what everyone expected so she tried to ease their worries. Sara half thought that if she stayed busy, the pain would subside. But it didn’t. Instead, it grew with time.

It had almost been a year since Mark died, and she only felt more lost without him. There wasn’t a moment that didn’t go by where she didn’t think of him or yearn for him. Every night she cried. Every night she dreamt of his smile, his laugh, his touch. It was as if part of her heart had been ripped from her chest. How did someone recover from that? How could people live with half a heart?

Numbly, she motioned the bartender for another drink. As he brought it over, a lady two stools down caught her eye. She looked sad too, Sara noticed and thought, ‘I know that look. Maybe she could use a friend.’

As Sara grabbed her wine, she looked over and gently smiled at the lady. “How long has it been?”

The sad stranger paused, and rested her lifeless eyes on Sara. “Is it that obvious that I am mourning?”

“I recognize the look since I see it in the mirror every day,” Sara replied.

“Oh. It’s two months today. How ‘bout you?”

“Eleven months and two weeks.”

The stranger took a sip of her drink and after a long pause asked, “Does it get easier?”

“I wish I could say it does…but so far no.”

“So it’s like ticks and tocks of essential time, sink the spirits lower than wine?”

Sara looked into the grieving lady’s eyes and offered kind smile. “I have never thought of it that way, but yes. That is exactly it. Though, I am not sure if you will ever see that on a sympathy card.”

The sad stranger smiled ever so small, “Yeah, I suppose not. I guess I may as well drink then. Maybe it will help me forget some of that time.”

“I hear you. I’m on the same mission.”

Sara and the lady nodded to each other and sat, sipping their drinks, and soothing their pain. ‘At least one person understood me,’ thought Sara.

So they sat in comforting silence.

After a few minutes, Sara offered, “I know nothing I say will really matter as nothing did to me when everyone spoke. But, I will offer you this. I know what it’s like to be alone now and want people around, but yet don’t want them to speak. So, if you need a friend who gets that, just give me a call. We can hang out and not say a word.”

The lady looked up from her drink, with tears in her eyes. “I think I could used that. What are you doing Friday?”

Sara smiled. “I guess I will be sitting here.”

“Great. I think I could use that friend.”




“Ticks and tocks of essential time, sink the spirits lower than wine.”

  1. Include the above sentence somewhere in your work of fiction. (Required.)
  2. Keep your word count at no more than 500 words this week. (Suggested.) Do NOT let your story suffer because of the word count limit. Remember, it is a suggested part of the prompt.


Desire of a Stale Heart

Greed is your style.

Nothing is ever enough.

Your soul’s never fresh.


But, I wish you well.

May love touch your empty heart.

Wait. Can you feel love?


For your heart is cold.

You are always the victim.

At least in your mind.


Move on. Get a life.

Change your style-learn kindness.

Then, things could start fresh.



Prompt words: style & fresh

The Tools to Success

“A good leader should focus on making sure everyone is being given the tools to do their job, not just expecting – poof! – that they’re going to produce great work.”

~Anne Sweeney~

This last week, I finished my job as commander for a unit in the Army Reserve. (Hence my lack of posts.) When I started I wasn’t sure how I would do. I am a creative type. I like to read, write and photograph. I tend to be fun and silly. I dislike paperwork and confrontations. These are not really the typical qualities of a commander.

However, I commanded for 29 months. Now that it is over, I look back and think, I did OK. Sometimes, I even think I did very well considering all the challenges. Of course, I am sure not everyone would agree though. But you can’t make everyone happy after all, and frankly, making everyone happy was not really the goal. The goal was to make the unit function, to make the Soldiers ready for possible deployments, to learn to work as a team.

I know that with all my heart, I worked diligently on those goals. It was hard. It was challenging. It even down right sucked at times to be honest. That is to be expected though I guess. If it were easy, they would not need commanders, right? When I left the unit yesterday, I paused and thought, what did I really accomplish?

When I looked at all the tasks I left my replacement with, I feared I failed. Then I took a step back and looked at all that was done. Sure, there was still a lot to do. There would always be a lot to do when you consider military budgets, aging equipment, personnel turnover and the complexity of humans in general. But I know I genuinely cared for the unit and my Soldiers. I was passionate about our mission. And one of my main goals was to get my unit the proper tools and training. I didn’t get everything I wanted for them, but I got a lot. I even had certain events and supplies set in motion to come later this year. So when I saw the quote above by Anee Sweeney, I smiled. I may not have crossed every task off my list, made everyone happy, or done everything perfectly. But in the end, I left my Soldiers with more tools to succeed than they had when I arrived. What they chose to do with them now though, is up to them…