This is a picture of the plant that sits on my desk at work. When I first started working here, the plant sat behind my desk in a dark corner. It was this tiny little thing that just seemed forgotten in a forgotten corner of the building. Well, I moved it up to the front of my desk where it would be directly under a light. It flourished, it grew, it is still growing. It has become a conversation piece in the office, folks just can’t believe it is the same tiny little plant.
Nothing Can Dim The Light That Shines From Within
Humans are very similar to this plant. We grow, we flourish if allowed to bask in our light; and when we are given light from others. But, when a person is stuck back in that dark corner of life (from our own doings or from others) we simply will not and cannot grow. So, grow we must! Allow nothing or no one to take your light away.
The park at the end of our street has saved me many times. It’s my peace restoring place when I feel stressed by life. It’s where I go for solace and solitude when the world around me gets to be too much. It’s where I go when people and things break my heart. I can stand on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and let the gentle sounds of the flowing river calm and comfort me. I always walk back home feeling better than when I left.
The picture above is of the historic bridge located on the opposite side of the river from the park. Built in 1904, the bridge had a relatively short life, being in need of repairs by the 1930s, and then closed in the 1940s. That’s when some enterprising thieves, disguising themselves as contractors, started dismantling the bridge for scrap metal. By the time the authorities caught on to the ruse, they were long gone with half the bridge. So, for nearly twenty years, I’ve stood and looked at this bridge during my many walks along the river’s edge. It’s been one of the constants at the park that I have found so very comforting. Well, sadly the bridge collapsed this past week. Being old and tired, it finally gave up and let go. At first, I couldn’t understand the strong emotion I had when I read about the bridge falling into the water. But, it was part of the park. It was part of the place where I went for solace in the bad times. Now, it’s simply a tangled mess that will probably be too dangerous to leave in the heavily used river.
So, sometimes life feels like that bridge. Do we lean into the troubled waters of life and think, “How much more can I take?” But, endure we must! Maybe we lean into friends, family and others for support. And we brace happily and let them lean back towards us in their times of need.
So, I’ll miss the old bridge. But, I have my happy memories of it standing across the river. Time to go forward and make more memories.
Go make some memories Y’all!
Just me, keeping it real.
Each day we face an ocean of information on how we ought to be, a vast sea that threatens to drown us in information and ideas. But, deep down, don’t we already know how to be our authentic self? Yes, I think so. The challenge is to have the courage to be that real person. But, we must do it to truly be happy. This emotion hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend after I attended the monthly meeting of the writers club of which I am a member. You see, one of the guest speakers was an up and coming young author named Brian Panowich. Brian is his own man, salt of the earth, as real as it gets. He told the story of how he got his start as an author. Then, he read from his upcoming book. Wow! He writes his fiction with the same grit and honesty that he uses to describe his real life. He’s a classic American southern writer (think William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and my all-time favorite writer Pat Conroy.) As a matter-of-fact, Mr. Panowich reminded me of Pat Conroy; I told him so at his book signing. It got me a huge bear hug from the said author! He totally got it and was very flattered. I meant it. He was just a regular guy who had submitted some of his writing. An agent saw it and asked him if he wanted to write a book. He’s now on his third book. He’s won several awards. Brian Panowich inspired me to keep writing!
So, I’m driving home after the meeting and I actually said aloud to the car, “There is nothing wrong with me. Sure, I’ve been scarred in life just like everyone else. But, it’s important to be the real me.” I highly recommend these pep talks to yourself, very therapeutic!
Anyway, I realize as a writer I have to be authentic. For me, a great part of my reality is faith-based (I don’t think it is something that translates well to social media, so I usually don’t discuss my faith here on my blog). So, it may not be popular, but it is me and that is okay.
So, live that authentic life, whatever that means for you personally. Live out loud and enjoy the journey. The ones that matter in your life won’t mind a bit.
Prison Cell Alcatraz San Francisco, CA
Bill Baker has had his share of dark days. At 23 years old, he landed in what was then one of the most notorious prisons in the United States, Alcatraz. He was sent there because he constantly tried to escape the other prisons that he was sent to due to his life of crime. When my husband and I recently visited Alcatraz, we were surprised to get to meet Mr. Baker who was signing his book about his time on “The Rock” in the gift shop. Talk about living full circle! As a young man, a prisoner. As an older man, an honored author with his colorful story to tell.
A view looking up towards the prison. You can see why Alcatraz was given the nickname “The Rock”
Honestly, I’ve been struggling to write this blog about Bill. You see, he calls himself a career criminal (he’s only been out of jail for four years for his last offense). I worried about glorifying someone like that. But, to his credit, he’s turned his life around. As he says, he’s married now. He has a dog. He has a home. And you know what? His story is painfully real, like life is at times. We humans, we make mistakes. Some of us just make them on a grander scale than others. So, it’s how we choose to define ourselves that counts. We can wallow in the dark days, staying stuck in the quicksand of the bad forever. Or, we can turn it around…at any point in our life journey. Good can come from our full circle. We just have to be determined that our road turns that way.
We live in a heavily populated area of Atlanta. So, when beautiful creatures like the one pictured above show up in our yard, it is a pleasant surprise (although we do live very close to some woods and the river, so it is a pretty safe area for him) . When things are at their worst, when life throws you some curve balls, sometimes it helps to look for the simple joys in life. The things that make you stop for a moment and just breathe. The little laughs that can come along. This deer and my two cats were having a stare off. My cats started pacing back and forth in our sunroom, and the deer was fascinated, it was really sweet, and made me laugh. He stood there and watched them for a long time.
I hope you had joy in your universe today. And, it’s almost the weekend! Happy, joyous universe.
As is often the case, I was daydreaming. Unfortunately, I was thinking about something that was annoying me. And this thought came to me, “That’s just a pain in my universe.” What! Where did that come from? Then the silliness of it made me laugh. It snapped me out of my bad mood, and I was able to go on with my day.
So, I thought, could this be a theme to my blog for a bit of time? I do believe so. Not always a pain in that universe, but sometimes a joy, or a smile in same said universe. I’m sure my book project will come up often on both the pain and the joy side of this thing.
I hope y’all will join me in my little part of this universe of ours. And, I hope your universe pains are not too great today!
One of my best friends in all the world let me know she was diagnosed with cancer yesterday. You know those friends that are in your core group of friends? The ones dear to you that you have been friends with forever? She is one of those friends. So, my world stopped spinning for a moment. It whirred back to life of course, with a jarring start. I paused for a moment, breathless in the thought of life without her. But, I simply cannot think that way. I must be positive for her!
Then all the stupid things I worried about all week, well, they were gone in an instant. What is important? The ones we love. The good we can do. The joy and enjoyment we can get from our lives. We must not waste any of it, this gift of life. And, we cannot let anyone or anything rob us of our joy in living our unique and beautiful life.
So, please, go hug someone you love. Call that person you’ve been mad at and try to make amends. Yes, our living is beautiful. Yet, it is can be so fragile.