After the Storm

Last week, we had tropical storm Zeta pass by our county. Our area received strong winds and lots of rain. At one point, I became a bit worried about the roof. Will it hold? Immediately, a favorite Bible verse came to mind. It is one I have written on a blackboard in the kitchen.

2 Timothy 1:7

Having experienced hurricanes Irene and Sandy when I lived in Jersey, both late fall big storms, I realized that my worries were valid, however, a bit out of proportion. Our minds play games when we feel vulnerable. We all experience many seasons in life, some more challenging than others, but through it all we survive, learn, and become stronger. Although fear is a normal human emotion, if we let it take root in our lives it will prevent growth and development.

As writers, we attempt to portray our characters as real and believable as we can. Even super heroes experience fear and face it. That is the moment when transition happens, followed by growth and development. Characters evolve through the progression of the story; they don’t remain the same. They grow and continue to evolve whether that evolution ends up being positive or negative. A character may experience fear and learn, grow from it as it conquers it, or become paralyzed and eventually, destroyed by it. The important issue here is that characters don’t remain the same, at the same level throughout the story unless the writer has a specific goal and determines so; however, with purpose.

Sometimes, fear comes from not understanding something or from denial, and many times, denial comes from fear, thus perpetuating a circle. Whatever the outcome, a character will advance the plot. Dinorah Sandbeck, the main character on The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, resisted her birthright in part because of denial and fear of the unknown. Once she gave in to knowledge and acceptance, she was able to embrace her purpose and ultimately become. However, you can see this transition happening and evolving throughout the trilogy. At the end, she becomes what she was meant for, and fulfills her birthright. The Dinorah Chronicles is available in paperback and eBook formats via Amazon.

We face many storms during our lifetime, some stronger than others, but ultimately, the human spirit holds on and goes on with the help of God. When the winds stopped I expected to see a mess outside, and thought that the few flowers that were left in the garden would be gone for good. Yesterday, I spotted this through my window, and I thought, it is never too late neither hopeless.

After the storm roses. Their color is so rich and beautiful.

When Reality Mimics Fiction

I came across this open letter to President Donald J. Trump from Archbishop Vigano, and I was very intrigued as to why this has not been shared on the news more, and not at all on the news channels I watch regularly. It warns the president about a global reset, and a system that is created to erased our rights and freedoms, and that has been instituted in other countries, and is to be implemented by the end of this year in more countries. If you are familiar with Catholic hierarchy, then you understand why this was such a bold move from this Archbishop. I found it so interesting because of his use of words that I decided to share the letter here, and let you make up your mind about it. If anything, it makes you ponder. I also find many similarities with The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, hence why I am sharing it.

A Sign of the Times

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Photo by M.A.D.

As of today, it is mandatory (yes, mandatory/law under state executive order) in Virginia to wear a mask when you are out and about in public. For a while, Virginia has had a law that it is illegal to wear a mask or face covering in public (unless needed for job, health, costumes, etc.). I find it interesting. At least for a while, it has and will continue to be part of my outfit. I never thought that the day would come when it would be a common item found near the door.

Reflection

The stay at home order here in Virginia extends until June 10, so far. There is no doubt that this time has been sad and challenging for so many people in so many ways. I don’t think that there is anyone on this planet that has not been touched in one way or another, whether health, grief, loss, financial issues, isolation … so many ways. It has also been a time to pause and reflect on many things. Also, a time for enlightenment in so many levels. For me, I have seen so many blessings in my life, and also on the outside world. My eyes have been keened; it is the only way I can describe it.

I have always been grateful to God for so many things in my life; however, I have discovered many more during this time. I have also seen another side of humanity, a better side, one that I thought had been lost. My faith in it has been renewed. We have learned to appreciate everyday little details, things that we have been taking for granted – touch, company, face to face conversations, gatherings, health, outings, the free outdoors, the freedom to walk around without reserve, and normalcy, whatever that was for you. Just think of the “joy” and/or relief you feel when you see that roll of toilet paper at your grocery store. It may sound as a joke, but doesn’t that feel different now? Our routine, our life has been halted and flipped upside down. Thanks to that, most of us have been able to see better. We appreciate more the work and dedication of so many people, the ones that out of the sudden we call “essential workers.” If we ever looked down on many of those jobs, now we see how meaningful these occupations were. These people were always there, but now we see them better. Now, we call them heroes. Now, we can see better.

Yes, we also have the people who are still thinking about “me, myself, and I” – their modus operandi. The ones who protest about having to spend time at home for over a month. The ones who say, “I’d rather die from Covid-19 than live like this” (yes, someone actually said that when interviewed on the local news). The ones who say, “I already got it; I don’t have to worry.” The ones who cannot stay just a few more weeks home, social distancing, because they are not having “fun.” I think that most people are on the same page, but for those who are not, it has never been about you, or your life, or your body/health, or your fun. It is about the other, your parents, your siblings, your kids, your grandparents, your neighbors … even your pets. You are staying home for them, not for you.

Our first responders, doctor, nurses, aides, grocery store employees, gas attendants … are as human as we are. They get tired, they get hungry, they get sad, they cry, their bodies hurt from those long hours, their hearts feel; they too, have human limits. Don’t take them for granted. They have made their calling a priority at this time. They don’t have to be there for you or me, but they have chosen to do so.

It is easy to yell and protest about “my rights,” but not so easy to see the thin line that exists between our rights and those of our neighbor. It has never been about you, or me.

Future Projects

I should call them intentional endeavors because I would like to work on these as soon as possible, however, experience has taught me different. There is a small backlog of stories that are begging to be written and I am planning on tackling those, one by one (I am no James Patterson, and my mind can only handle one story at a time) and maybe some will end up as part of a compilation of short stories I am planning to publish. A book of poems (poetry book sounds pretentious) is another project I would like to handle in the near future. Although I have made a considerable dent on my reading backlog, I have yet to clear my shelves. A few book reviews  will be included as posts. I find that I have neglected that side. This takes me to my art, which I have neglected as well, but intend to resume, and share a bit of it on this blog. I find it so difficult to separate my interests because I see them as a whole, each fueling one another. I had purposely made this blog a writing blog, and eliminated many posts about the farmhouse restoration and other interests, and I am not sure if that was the best thing to do. I miss that part of it. If you have been with me for a while, you probably saw these disappear, and I regret not saving or printing them before deleting them for good. Oh well, those are gone.

On the home front, there are countless projects, many of which need to be finished and date back to when  I moved to Virginia. We still have work to do on this old farmhouse and its surroundings. The small potager is almost completed, but needs some more planning. The hard part is done. The garden is in what I consider the early stages, according to what I imagine it will become. Knowing the morass and wilderness it was, I should pat myself in the back (and my husband too) because we really have worked hard on it. This is obviously a long term and ongoing project. I think a place grows with you through the years, and one grows with it as well, complementing each other. A house whispers what it wants. We intend to live here for a long time so there is no rush.

I have many personal goals I would like to see to fruition, and these are just that, personal. They range from personal development, education, wants, and other. My point is that all these things take a considerable amount of time, money, and effort. Some are implemented right away while others take years to materialize, and I must learn to recognize the difference. I used to make life maps from time to time. Months ago, I found an old map I had created many years ago (more than a decade). When I looked at it I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the things on that map had become reality, and according to it I was where I was supposed to be. I had forgotten about it. On this map things where scheduled to happen faster, but in reality they took much longer. However, the outcome was the same. This made me reflect on something very important. It is all about vision and faith, speed and time are relative, and these adjust accordingly. So many times we chastise ourselves (I am guilty of it) when life doesn’t go at the speed of our dreams and planning, and we end up feeling sad, frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned, and even as failures. Society tells us to achieve, multitask, perform like an octopus in fast wheels, and shapes our minds from an early age. When we fall short according to this timing and expectation, we blame ourselves, sometimes by being to harsh and even unkind. Many people keep going at that speed until the end, others crash along the way, while other souls learn to apply the brakes from time to time, and even take the scenic/panoramic way along with rest stops.

A day has 24 hours, one’s life has none defined. Longevity is a mystery and no one is guaranteed another day. If we happen to live it, it is a wonder in itself.

 

Have We Forgotten?

Fiction – A product of the imagination. The category of literature with imaginary characters and events, including novels, short stories, etc. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Medieval Social Times

Times have changed in the last few decades, or have they? With the advantages and perils that the internet brought to our society, what looks to me like an extreme righteous mentality seems to dominate social media. This strict social conscience – a righteous mob – seems eager to point a finger and to burn the victim/person right away. It seems to feed itself, and the power of the mob creates martyrs of social media when guilt is assumed without giving the person the benefit of the doubt, a chance to present truth or facts that will point to redemption/innocence. Sometimes it seems as it is not even about the cause, but of how I ( the me, me, me) fit into it and can also participate in the latest crucifixion.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, as writers we develop characters and we try to portray them as credible and real as the pen allows. This only means that we make use of language, imagery, certain types of words – historical and period appropriate, popular and unpopular views, and even cliches, which might be necessary to create the story’s “environment” in order to tell it as best we can. How does this forced mentality, this “medieval” social mob hysteria affects writers today? Are we faithful to our story without letting the pressure of the times bind the pen, or do we quietly censor it? Do we exercise its free will or are we cautious about being perceived as the personification of our words? How do we separate character from writer without giving in to the righteous mob inquisition? It seems to me that sometimes, people cannot separate one from theother, and this might present a challenge for writers.

Will these medieval social times have an influence on future writers, their minds, and by default the pen? Will stories become diluted? Diluted enough to be politically correct? Historical fiction writers are presented with a challenge. It has been said that books, whether fiction or not, speak of the times when these were written, of the social conditions and atmosphere of the time. It permeates throughout the pages of a book, and many times, it remains alive between the lines.

A New Page

New Year, new page. The arrival of a new year is an exciting time. It signifies a new beginning, a clean slate, a new page, a new opportunity to do the things we could not accomplish the past year; it is a chance to do better. We reflect on the past year and make new goals, new plans. Dream new dreams. Look into the future. A new year is full of new expectations and good wishes. Overall, we welcome a new year with a sense of hope and joy. There is something special about receiving the new year – a sense of renewal. I thought about it the other day, as I looked back at all this year brought into my life, and also, at what it took away. I realized that every single day offers this same opportunity of renewal. When we first open our eyes each day, it is a new slate, the chance of a new beginning, to do better than yesterday. Until next year.

Happy New Day! Happy New Year!

Inkspeare

Photo by M.A.D.

Your Way is My Way

Every soul has its journey, every person a purpose for living, but sometimes, it is not as clear as we would like it to be. The following words are according to my journey.

For many years, I worried about not knowing my true purpose in life. I read and studied countless books on finding your purpose or “true purpose,” and became a “positive thinking book junkie.” Although it helped me very much and I enjoyed reading those, it left me feeling the same – yearning to know and find my purpose in life. I worked/trained for every interest I had as far as jobs/careers, and although I enjoyed those very much, I felt that was not it. I was far from my purpose. Agonizing about it did not help. I admired the people who seemed to have found their meaning of life, their way in life. When I heard people say, “If you love what you do it never feels like a job,” I became more confused about purpose. Well, I had fulfilled many interests that I loved, however, I still ended up feeling without purpose and hungry for meaning. A very smart woman who had been a teacher all her life and was now retired told me once, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” She said this after I told her that I could not see myself doing only one thing for the rest of my life. What a sharp woman; she saw what I did not at that time. Part of my misunderstanding was to believe that a career path/earning income and purpose were one and the same. These are two different things, and although one can find purpose through a career, a career does not have to be one’s purpose. Once I understood that, I viewed purpose in a different light.

Writing has always been in my heart, although put aside for a long time, as a career path that is. I found the path again after a series of unfortunate events, and because I felt I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try. I feel at home when I write. Is it my purpose? I don’t know, nor am I waiting for it to become. It gives me purpose. Only God knows what my purpose is; He created me. Once I realized this, I stopped worrying about finding my purpose. It did not make sense anymore. I don’t have to feel incomplete, hurried, or worried about time running out and not finding my way in life. Instead I say, “God, your way is my way.” By knowing this I am open to do, be, and exist just as He wants of me. His way is my way, and that is purpose enough for me. The search was over once I understood that.

I see and hear many people who are worried and stressed out about finding their true purpose in life. They fear that they will grow old not knowing. I understand how they feel; I’ve been there. It is the reason why I decided to write this post. When I understood it wasn’t my burden to know, I was able to see beyond the limits of material and earthly fulfillment. A Jon Bon Jovi song comes to mind – “you are where you are supposed to be” – or something along those lines. My journey is/has purpose, but my purpose is in part my journey on this earth, and it is much more. It is how I have come to understand its meaning. It doesn’t mean that I will sit around waiting for enlightenment and clarity of mind; for me, the process is the journey, and the journey, the pathway to a different kind of purpose. My aimless search for purpose took me to the understanding that my Creator’s way is my pathway to complete fulfillment. When I become restless or unclear for whatever reason it may be, the most sincere prayer I can say is – Your way is my way.

Image by M.A.D.

Every Little Blessing

For us who celebrate Thanksgiving day, when we think of this day, most likely, a turkey will pop up in our minds. The holiday and the turkey that is traditionally served as a meal have become one and the same. Turkey or not, Thanksgiving symbolizes a time to pause and reflect on all the blessings we have received during the year, and give thanks. We live at such a hurried pace that we forget to thank the Lord for everything that we have been blessed with, and when we really think about it, we have plenty to be grateful for. Even the tiniest of blessings in our lives counts. Just to be able to write this post is a blessing for me. Just think of all that it encompasses – I am able to write because I had the blessing of an education in a public system, and later on a college education, which made possible becoming able to read/write and later on, developing my interests (things that we take for granted but for many others are not possible). I am able to write this post because I have been blessed with health – mentally and physically. An internet connection, and a PC makes this possible too, but for it to happen these had to be invented at one point. All of it, small blessings that are many times, taken for granted. When I think of all the other little blessings that make this possible, it brings to mind a truckload of other blessings, and so on.

There is so much to be thankful for, from the moment we open our eyes to receive another day until the moment we go to sleep and rest. One blessing is preceded by an infinite amount of other blessings that made it possible, and if we go back in time/history, an entire humanity has been blessed and connected by tiny blessings. Right now, I am writing this post from the USA, and later on, you might be reading it on another part of the world via your PC, phone, or other device, but it is all interconnected and it all comes from the same source of blessings. Isn’t it a wonderful thing?

Any day is a good day to give thanks for the infinite blessings we enjoy, and to realize that every little blessing counts. Happy Thanks Giving!