Soooo…did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I sort of did and didn’t at the same time. What I did was decide not to make any resolutions. I’m going to take it one day or week or month at a time. I’ve made some decisions that could be viewed as surrenders when taken individually.
I’m not buying into the woe is me-ism of people who say “thank God we made it through last year; maybe this year will be better.” ***yawn*** My last year was pretty good overall. Sure there were less than stellar moments mixed in there. I got sick a few times and made a complete and total ass of myself on few occasions. But there were wonderful moments too. I’ve been having a blast with painting class.
I have a mother-in-law who takes finding the dark cloud in any silver lining to a whole new level. If she won 500 million dollars in the lottery she would bitch about paying the taxes on her winnings. If you gave her a brand new Cadillac, free and clear, she would complain that now she had to figure out how to operate the seat adjustments. Or worse, refuse to figure it out at all and call my husband every time she wanted to get in the car.
Surrender #1: I am never going to love my in-laws as a collective whole. It’s been an unnecessarily stressful endeavor to even try, and this has been dragging on for 10 damned years. OK, I admit it there are occasions when I out-and-out hate them. Sometimes just the thought of them makes me grind my teeth together. I’m going to stop beating myself up for having these feelings. Just acknowledge them and let them go, like the urge to install a laser cannon on the hood of my car to vaporize people who cut me off on the freeway.
My brother-in-law pulled the biggest gifting boner ever, and I mean EVER in the history of mankind. We got him a custom framed sports SIGNED jersey from a team member of his alma mater college. His reaction? He looked down his nose at it and said “I don’t think this thing will fit in my car. Days later he informed Hubman that it just wasn’t going to work in his house and refused to accept the present. I didn’t say anything when Hubman told me, but it festered all day and I finally told him, at the top of my lungs, that I thought it was beyond rude and that all jerky brother-in-law gets for Christmas next year is a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club. I’m not kidding!!!
Surrender #2: Being bipolar I’m going to have mood swings. Taking enough medicine to prevent any swings at all is a chemical lobotomy. Not enough and I’m angry enough to take out the entire neighborhood. And furthermore, sometimes things happen that just flat-out piss me off, they would piss off anyone. (see above behavior by brother-in-law)
Surrender #3: My weight. No, I’m not going to give up trying and eat a chocolate cake every day for breakfast, but stressing out and beating myself up about it is not helping. I know what I need to do and I haven’t been doing it. I was talking to my sister the other day about it. The most dangerous thing about getting older is that you get really good at sitting on your ass for long periods at a time. That used to drive me crazy. My weight maintenance secret for the first 40 years of my life was that I was a fidgety person. I spent my time flitting around the room like a June Bug that flew in when the screen door got left open. Aging and medication has stopped that behavior so I have to consciously make an effort to shake my booty on a regular basis or turn into a mound of blubber.
Surrender #4: Some people, maybe even a lot of people, are going to laugh at my artistic endeavors. I’m just going to suck it up and go on anyway. I can’t control what other people think about me. Example: I had a wild and colorful dream recently. I woke up at 6:30 am and spent 4 hours painting it. When I showed it to Mr. Husband he burst out laughing and almost choked on his coffee. He tried to back pedal, but he didn’t succeed. I thought that I rose above the ridicule, but it just occurred to me this morning that I haven’t picked up a paintbrush for 2 weeks. Phooey on him I say! I’ll just cover up my paintings when I’m not working on them if he persists.
Well 4 surrenders is enough for now. I need some opinions to stick too. Why I don’t know, but there you have it.
PS: to fellow bloggers. Don’t forget to renew your web domain name, etc.
This past month of unintentionally taking a break from blogging taught me a lot. One thing it taught me was that it won’t all come crashing down on my head if I need to step back and deal with private issues. I know, I know, since I talk about just about anything that comes in my head, you may wonder what on earth could be all that private. Well I’m not going to tell you…directly anyway 🙂
In this last month of silence I got a whole lot of new followers, go figure. What a blessing. I love meeting new people online, in person or however the Cosmos choses to send them. Also people went right on commenting on older posts. I guess that button that says “click here for random post” is working after all. I don’t advocate neglecting your blog on a regular basis, but it seems that readers can be forgiving if we careen off the rails occasionally. I have created a body of work extensive enough that it can amuse people in my absence.
A few months ago, out of curiosity, I downloaded my entire blog. I ran a word count on it and guess what? It turns out that just from blogging alone I have written enough that if I had directed those words towards writing a book – I’d have written not 1 but 2 books by now. Wow, that’s a lot of words! Some of it may be total blather, but who is 100% every day? Not me, that’s for sure. There are days that I do well to manage to even speak a few words, let alone grab a whip and a chair and round them up into sentences and paragraphs and commit them to paper.
As I’m coming up on the 3rd year of blogging I’m doing a bit of pondering about what direction it’s going in. I’ve also been wondering about the different advantages, pros and cons of WordPress.com VS WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a simple, easy and low-cost way to blog, but I’ve already passed that by and paid to have no WordPress generated ads on my site, I own my domain name, and I have a premium ($) theme. There are limitations to what I can do with my blog such as selected advertising that I am in control of and limits on what plugins I can run.
So here I sit on the blog fence. I should put a saddle on this sucker because I sit on the fence a lot. What kind a blog to have? What is my focus…my niche? Should I talk about “politically incorrect” topics? And what the hell is this SEO that everyone who claims to be a blog expert is talking about?? What to do, what to do? Or I could keep right on doing what I’ve been doing? Could be, but that shoe is starting to pinch a bit. I’ll figure it out…eventually.
Hello all. I’m trying something new here today. A guest post. This is exciting and a little scary at the same time. On the one hand this blog is my baby and I’m scared to let anyone else hold it. On the other hand I feel the need to grow and try new things. So here goes. Hope you enjoy.
Guest Author: Claire Holt
Healing and Self-Identity through Fiction
That beautiful quote by American-Iranian writer and professor Azar Nafisi continues to resonate with me until this day: “What we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” It’s a succinct articulation which sums up my entire sentiment towards reading fiction which I could never put into words myself, but felt for years. And oddly enough, it is through literary fiction (as well as art, music, and film) where I have experienced the most fulfilling embodiment of revelation in my life. Whether reading a piece of short fiction or throwing myself into a multimedia project of elemental proportions, my sense of the world is encapsulated in this perpetual process of creativity and interpretation. And equally profound, it’s one of the few things which have empowered me to come to terms with my own psychological and metaphysical challenges.
Finding Our Inner Strength through Fiction
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for several years, and my constant mentors have revealed themselves through the heroic and not so heroic endeavors of protagonists and narrators from classical epics, Renaissance poetry, modernist fiction and pretty much everything in between. If the resilient strength which emerges and encompasses an inspirational sense of humanity prevails in even the bleakest of circumstances, then this is enough to restore faith in the greater good, and the readerly response will transcend from the page and into “real life”. When we sympathize with key characters, regardless of what superficial similarities they might or might not appear to share with us, we begin to discover the world through their perceptions and perspectives as well as holding our own. Their story becomes our story; their suffering and triumph becomes our suffering and triumph; and the experience carries with it a poignant kind of reality where we have felt and responded in very real ways.
Within these experiences, we discover a remarkable inner strength. Often, long after we have finished reading, we continue to spin around the ideas of the last great book we read in our heads, contemplating, analyzing, in a way giving life to the work’s ongoing legacy. Some people may argue that dramatic fiction fuels dramatic notions about the world – that we get this sense where good must always prevail and where people who choose the right will eventually be rewarded. Yet here is where fiction becomes the most crucial – we see what should happen, what could happen (whether for better or for worse, like in a critical dystopia) and what does happen, revealed in a light that few of us get to see. Works like P.D. James’ Children of Men highlight a reality which is not so far distanced from our own, while Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns sheds a staggering truth about what already is. But because in the midst of this we see the perseverance of our protagonists prevail no matter what the cost and our hearts echo their resilience, we too learn to be better human beings, even by relating to less than ideal archetypes who are not cardboard cutouts of the perfect hero.
So fiction in one sense teaches us to be good, or at least digs deep inside us to resurrect the urge to live by greater strength and become true to our morality. But it also helps us explore the many complexities and facets of our own personalities with a sometimes brutal, but sometimes gentle honesty. I did a lot of reading during a dark period of my life, where I felt shamed for my own disregard for myself and longing to turn my back on everything. I never touched a self-help book despite appreciating the importance of resources available to help those of my demographic, but buried myself in required reading for my classes and if I had time, my own choice of fiction. I found tremendous consolation in both – not because they distracted me from my own turmoil, but because I found an opportunity to face them in another universe so to speak. I learned that my emotions were complex and tangible, that I was actually quite an average human being, but one who merely felt the intensity of life a little more burningly than others. Even through collaborative efforts such as classroom discussion, I was able to come to terms with not only varying outlooks on life but with my idea of self. The healing process which takes place through reading is a very powerful one and even recognized worldwide.
But then there is also the fiction which directly deals with mental illness itself. I’m not just talking about iconic pop-culture works like Ken Kesey’s brilliant piece One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which is more about countering institutionalization than mental illness itself – but about all kinds of fiction where a particular character is featured who appears to be facing an internal adversary. Sometimes these characters are almost mis-portrayed, with their unique attributes played up for dramatic effect – while at other times they can produce a heartening effect, whether through courage or empathy or both. Even more bizarrely, I found that in a profoundly grounding sense, the more bizarre the work, the less of a bizarre individual I felt, learning to process my own world with a greater perspective.
Even through the exploration of delusional antagonists, out of the world plot sequences and disturbing events, we can find healing through reading, and help to better outline the contours of our identity and take this with us into the world. After all, literature only seeks to find a way to define what we already know deep inside.