Finding Strength


April has had some incredibly hard and terrifically fun moments. I thank God for the balance. If I didn’t have it, I can’t say for sure I would be sane right now.

Balance and variety are keys to happiness, at least for me. I find that in the roller coaster I call my life, the low points are somehow more survivable by the mere fact that I know I will rise another day. It may not be much higher than my valley, but if I hold out and have faith, it will get better – eventually. When I am low, I try to remember it can always be worse and that I have endured more difficult times in the past.

If I cannot pull myself out of the slump, I get active. I go outside. I seek comfort in nature. Recently, I have learned to kayak. I adore the calm waters of slowly paddling down the river. I watch the water and how it parts from my path. I observe the raw beauty of the riverside. I notice the fish jumping and the birds flying. It is very calming.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed I crave variety in my activities depending on my mood. I enjoy everything from painting to cooking to running. I certainly am not a master at any of these hobbies, but I enjoy them regardless. My paintings assuredly have no art value or applied art techniques, but I find peace in the process. When I try new recipes, they don’t always turn out as I want. Sometimes they are even bad, but my kids are gracious enough to say, “Mom, this one was not your best.” When I run, it is not even fast enough to qualify as running on fitness applications. I say, “whatever” to those judgmental apps, lol. The fact that I am putting one foot in front of the other is good enough for me. I feel my blood pumping and enjoy the fresh air. After doing these hobbies, I tend to feel more alive, more hopeful and more ready for the next challenge.

I suppose that is the main purpose of hobbies/downtime – finding things that help us maintain our strength and hope. So regardless of whatever is happening in your life, I hope you take the time to find your strength. Go try new new things. Retry old things. Attempt activities that you think you might enjoy even if you are not great at them. Find your smile in the little things around you. Life is too beautiful to lose hope.

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Life is Like an Abstract


I think most people have plans and goals in life. However, very few, if any, can say they have never experienced set backs and challenges to those plans. In the long run though, I think those obstacles are what really form our character. And out of our struggles, we learn to adjust, cope and modify ourselves to situations. This is where we breakdown, or where we develop our personality and strength.

I meant to post this earlier this week, and then we had a family emergency. It threw off my plans for the week, and we all went into crisis mode. We adapted. We clung together. We cried. In between all of that, I thought a lot.

When I think about how fragile we are as humans, I find it amazing that we can endure so much. We endure physical pain. We tolerate setbacks. We struggle through loss. And sometimes all of this leaves us in a heap, barely functioning. But this is where our amazing strength comes in. When we have hit rock bottom and think we can endure no more, we have the chance to become more than we were. We may never be able to be the same again. No, some things alter us forever. While there are other things we can never get “over,” but we can get learn to get ‘through” them.

The thing about struggle though, is the beauty in our recreated selves. We are different…and maybe a bit off. But we are a new form of ourselves, which can be even more striking and interesting than we were before.

I think this thought can apply to abstracts as well. Take a look at the BEFORE and AFTER photos below. The AFTER photo is an abstract of the BEFORE. It is the same photo, just distorted. However, to me, it has a different kind of beauty.

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For the Lens and Pens by Sally Phoneography Challenge – Abstract. Make sure you check it out by clicking on the badge below.
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Lost in Darkness


Sometimes my mind takes me to dark places. I don’t know why exactly, but I sink into it like warm bath water, slowly and deeply. It is not always scary or lonely, but most times, it is. When I am there, I look around and find that I feel terribly lost. Lost to my life, my dreams and my loved ones.

Most times, people don’t realize I am even there though for I cover it with smiles and activities. I stay busy a lot as I know this helps me avoid this dark path that I don’t like to travel. Yet, I can’t avoid it at times no matter how hard I try.

It is like slowly falling into cold darkness and being surrounded by nothing. Nothing but your thoughts. Thoughts that you cannot stop. They bombard your head like bullets. Each piercing some belief or hope. Each reminding you why you should not do something, be happy, or expect more from life. It tells you why you are worthless. It tells you that you are unlovable. It tells you that you are a failure. It tells you that the bad things were all your fault. It tells you that you deserve to be sad. You try to rationalize these bullets, but there are too many to fight. They are flying around you, through you.

This is a great time for dark writing, forlorn poetry and heart-wrenching tears of release. It can be useful to stand on the edge of madness and see what lurks deep inside your soul. The key is to not step over that edge…because if you do, it gets worse.

After that, the barrage of mental bullets stop, which you would think is a good thing. But it only leaves you in emptiness. Utter emptiness devoid of thought. You just sit there. You can’t cry. You can’t talk. You can’t think. You are just there and alone and numb. This is what I see/feel when I hear Great Big World’s (with Christina Aguilera) video Say Something, which nearly brings me to tears every time.

It is such a beautiful song and yet rips my soul out. It reminds me of lost love and being lost in my own darkness. It makes me think of times when I tried so hard to reach out to someone I loved to only be ignored or pushed away. It makes me relive times when I myself am unreachable. It makes me think of my veteran friends who can’t escape some terror in their mind (or my civilian friends who are just fighting depression). It makes me feel like no matter how much you love someone, sometimes you can’t help them, pull them out of themselves.

I like to think there is a path out of the darkness though. I find my way out all the time. Unfortunately though, I find my way back just as easily. But I am probably lucky; many don’t leave the darkness and can’t find the path. That’s when it gets dangerous. That’s when people give up on you, like the song says. Sadly, when we are lost in that darkness is when we need people the most. If only we could say something to them, they might be able to understand and pull us out into the light.

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Antisocial Enjoyment


The past few months, I have thoroughly enjoyed being antisocial. I don’t seek to be that way, but I just get into what I am doing and then, I don’t really feel like talking.

For example, I will go downtown and sit at a coffee shop or bar and start reading. I may make some small talk with the bar tender if it is one I have seen before and they recognize me. But more often than not, I just sit, read, and then enjoy a drink and maybe some food.

A few of my friends say reading at a bar is not really “acceptable.” Well, I never got that rule book so I say, whatever, screw these imaginary rules. Why would reading at a bar be less acceptable than reading at a coffee bar? I see other people reading at coffee places all the time. So does the presence of alcoholic drinks make it mandatory for social interaction? I would hope not.

Just this past Friday, I went to a restaurant bar, a place I had gone to several times before. I had about an hour to enjoy a drink before watching a ballet across the street. So, I sat and ordered a drink. I was about to pull out my book but this gentleman came and sat down. He just started talking and talking. He was a nice guy and about 25 years older than me, but I just didn’t care about what he was saying. I really wanted to read and enjoy my drink…alone. I could have told him to leave, but I am too nice at times, particularly if the “offender” is nice. I hate to be rude. I can totally do rude, but it’s usually only if approached in a rude and disrespectful manner. So, if someone is just being nice and bit too chatty, it is hard for me to scream….OMG-please just go away.

Other than reading, I like to take a few random pictures. Pictures of my drinks, my food, my book, the light hitting the bar. I am sure I look like the lonely lady at the bar with a book and her camera phone, but you know what, I am happy and don’t really care. It is my quiet time where I deal with stress.

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I am sure I would enjoy someone tagging along with me (and sometimes that does happen), but if I want to go and my friends are busy, I will go. I spent too many years waiting for other people to do things with me. No more. If I want to go out. I go. If that means I go out alone, so be it. And clearly, I am perfectly fine with it as I seem to feel invaded when that time is interrupted.

Has anyone else ever felt this way? I would like to think that I am not the only antisocial person out there. And for those of you who are like me, how do you nicely say – leave me a lone?

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For the Phoneography Challenge (Challengers Choice ~ Food), click on the badge to join the fun!

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But make sure you check out the host’s post today. Sally always has some great information and pictures!