Home Sweet Home?

When we started to fix this old farmhouse, we decided to frame part of an original wall as a picture, a reminder of where we had been. I placed a flower box under it, and I was very happy with it until a few weeks ago. Every time I passed by it, I felt a bit annoyed and definitely not at ease but had no idea why. Suddenly, I disliked the flower box. It puzzled me. It wasn’t until I looked at it and asked myself what about it bothered me that I made the connection. The flowers that I added to the box reminded me of an image I had seen over and over everywhere I looked during the past two years – the coronavirus spiked ball shape. I knew I had to replace them right away, so I discarded the ill-looking flowers and placed a different greenery with a happier vibe.

Before
Now.

This was a good example of how media can influence one’s perception and emotional response to people, concepts, things; even the same things one liked before. As writers, we are in the quest of using words and imagery to create a story that translate into emotions and perception for the reader. The words we select, not only tell the story, but live beyond it.

How Do You Begin Anew?

Photo by M.A.D.

For many, the start of a new year signifies a blank canvas, a new opportunity, a fresh start, a chance to do better than in previous years, a hopeful outcome. It is a chance to start anew, new beginnings, a chance to erase, to forget, to try once more, to take inventory of one’s life, and to view the new year with fresh eyes. It is why so many people receive a new year with joy, new hope, and a refreshed outlook. Somehow, it signifies leaving the past behind and moving forward. Rarely one views the start of a new year with a gloom and doom outlook; most likely, it is viewed in a positive way, hopeful.

For me, this year represents much of that but also, the opportunity to look at different areas of my life and be humble, honest, at answering crucial questions: What works? What doesn’t? What would I like to change? What doesn’t fit my lifestyle anymore? What should I simplify more? What are new areas of interest? What would I like to learn? What needs improvement? What needs to be left behind?

These questions can be applied to any areas of one’s life, even projects, or household management. The answers will vary and change throughout a lifetime because we are always evolving. These simple questions help me focus on the year ahead, but also free me from remaining stuck in something that doesn’t “fit” anymore, and also, in not viewing issues as failures thus bringing discouragement into the new year. I do what I can, my part, but also rely on my faith to seek direction/guidance from God when things might not be as clear. For me, starting anew is asking the question, answering honestly, and following through in faith.

New Beginnings – Left Behind

Photo by M.A.D.

A new year is just around the corner. The past two years have been difficult for almost everyone around the world. Each country with its own challenges. I usually like to focus on a theme (a word or phrase) during the new year. This year, it will be New Beginnings. My attention to whatever I do will be centered around it. For me, new beginnings mean leaving behind many things that don’t serve growth. I have decided to leave fear behind – fear that is being promoted all over this planet, and behind I will leave the shadow of Covid as well. I refuse starting a third year in this way. I refuse to be controlled by media, and giving in to doom and gloom. I think it is time to reevaluate many things in my life and household, and take a hold of the reins.

God has not called us to live our lives in fear, but instead, He gave us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2Timothy 1:7). Two years of doom and gloom everywhere you look takes a toll on people; it breaks people’s spirits. I am not on board with it. One has only to look at free countries that have turned into dictatorships of fear and its citizens under it. God did not intend for us to live that way. He gave us free will for a reason. If the Creator of everything gave you freedom, who is man to take it away? Think about that. In a fallen world, Jesus came to give you back what had been taken away from you (and this is my perspective as a Christian). If He was willing to die for us, who is man to take it away? I realize that I don’t have to let anyone influence my days, and that I can decide how I wake up in the morning and how I live that God-given day. I can focus on the blessings, beauty, or not. Free will is about that as well. I am excited about this new year because I want to be, and I am looking forward to new beginnings, with God’s blessing. I wish for you a beautiful and loving year and a fresh start as well, with all the blessings that God meant for you.

Act As You Mean It

This post is mostly directed at people who live and work in the USA. It has to do with a topic that concerns me a bit, and affects me as well. If you are a published writer or a small shop owner, even if you sell your patio set (or anything) for over $600, it will affect you too. It is about the new laws under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Why am I concerned? Well, for various reasons, and the first one is why are people not talking about it more, and why some people I have talked to do not even know about it (maybe because Mother Main Media is not reporting it)? Second, as I writer, and a small online shop owner, it will affect my pocket. Under the old requirements, (including 2021), a 1099K form was issued for your taxes if you made $20,000 and/or more than 200 transactions during the year (transactions varied by state so check your state guidelines). Under the new requirements, if you made $600 and above starting on January 1st 2022, you will be issued a 1099K and it will be reported to the IRS so you can pay your 2023 taxes on your small fortune of $600 plus. That is a big difference in amounts. For example, let’s say that from January 2022 until the end of the tax year, you sell a few books and you make $600 or more in gross income, you will be issued the 1099K, and will be responsible to pay taxes on that income. This will also affect how banks report your income, so it really affects everyone who has a bank account in the USA, and most people do. Banks will report to the IRS any transaction $600 and above, and don’t think that it doesn’t affect your savings account because it does not qualify as a transactional account like a checking account is. Under the new laws, a savings account will be treated as a transactional account. But it gets better, transactional accounts are not required to be insured by FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – what protects your money in case a bank goes kaputz). Other types of accounts will also be considered transactional accounts, see what I mean? Where is this really going?

Going back to my concern, what upsets me most is that every time I ask someone that I know (most likely) will be affected by this, they do not know or do not seem to care. How do you not care that your money/sanctity of your bank account will be monitored in such a way, and that it will be uninsured if it is labeled as transactional? Ah, but wait, most people think that taxes will go up for the rich and prosperous, sorry, but the definition of rich and prosperous has changed – you are one of them if you make $600 or more in sales, whether you sold your washing machine or your latest page turner. Somebody has to pay for all this – look in the mirror. Already 86 billion have been set aside to hire over 86,000 IRS employees who will monitor your riches. Need a job? Don’t you just love all that “rescue” power? By the way, if you have been selling on Ebay or Craigslist or Etsy or whatever, watch out you “non-tax payer criminal who abound in riches” because if you have been naughty, now you will need a tax id/number to keep selling or your selling account will be frozen. Remember, these venues must now report any gross sales over $600 or in the case of banks, any transaction over that amount, (deposits and withdrawals, yes, withdrawals too, because we need to know) – the treasure chest has been opened and you don’t have the key anymore.

How will this affect me, and most likely anyone who breathes and bleeds when poked? Although I am at peace with Uncle Sam (I have been a good girl, oh, lucky me), this $600 windfall might put me over the line a bit, resulting on a smaller refund, which is already tiny, or maybe pay something back. It all depends. Will keeping an online shop and ventures worth it if it is hurting more than it is being profitable? I will have to wait until 2023 tax season and see. Well, good luck you hardworking American, and may the force be with you. Now, don’t you be naughty, I saw that huge garage sale you had going on, you filthy rich citizen. Deposit that!

Life’s Staircase

By the end of the year, I find myself looking back, reminiscing of the year, and years back. It is an exercise I welcome; it opens one’s mind and perspective. Whether good moments or less than good moments, it all makes up the big picture, an entire year that turns into memories. It makes me think of life as a staircase. You either go up or down, or sometimes you get tired and rest in the middle. Sometimes, you take one step and back up many, and sometimes, it feels as if you never took one single step, even when you have taken many.

Some people have more steps to take or climb than other people, or it seems. Once you take the first step, you want to go up, even when you don’t know what awaits. During the climb, one defines the staircase, its shape and style, its design, or maybe it has been already defined in part, and our job is to climb it, putting our own print and style on it with the decisions and indecisions we make. It may be winding or straight up, see through or solid, wide steps or narrow. It reminds me of a line from the old TV show The Honeymooners. Norton said, “Be nice to the people you meet on your way up, because they are the same people you will meet on your way down.” Falls hurt, ones more than others. Stumbles are scary, especially the further up you are.

One thing brings comfort. If you don’t like where it is going, it is ok to turn back down. Eventually, you will reach the last step, and inevitably, you will think of the first, and all in between.

“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

Psalm 119:45

“Not a Hypothesis or Conspiracy Theory …”

Came across this very interesting video of Archbishop Vigano. In it he tells it like it is, and presents his opinion (and warning) according to his knowledge of recent events. The video is in Italian, however the subtitles are in English. The subtitle part that was missing because it points at the Vatican is translated in the description. I find it very interesting, thought provoking, and eye opening as well, so I am sharing it. It also reminded me of chapters in my book Sunrise Souls, when a Catholic leader of the church sounds the alarm, and works with the Divine and Dinorah to fight evil, which is trying to take over the entire planet and establish its reign. Another very bold move from this Archbishop who seems to put God and faith ahead of Vatican ideology. Make of it what you wish, but interesting non the least.

11/3/2021 Note: It looks like this video has been taken down. I am not sure of why because it was just the Archbishop speaking about what he believes and what he has seen. But this doesn’t surprise me at all. It seems that these days, anything and everything that has to do with an opinion, especially if it has religious connotations is canceled and removed from media. It is what our society has come to be. No more thinking for yourself, you have to agree with the global mentality or you are canceled and erased. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said in one of his movies, “You have been erased.”

Fearless

Fearless – Without fear; brave. (American Heritage Dictionary)

The word fearless has been overused, thus becoming a “fashion” word, a word that people tend to use without discrimination, a cliché. It has become almost meaningless, just as the word love, used with disregard and abandonment (of meaning).

The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “without fear.” Without fear does not mean in the absence of fear. One can be truly scared of something or a situation, and be/act fearless in the presence of the object of fear. There is no “fearless” without having known fear. It is a word that I take seriously, rather than “in fashion” because it pertains to something deeper than the outside persona, but more of the internal self, of the condition of the soul, and even spirit.

Fearless is rooted in spirituality, in the condition of the heart. I have been truly scared in some occasions but fearless at the same time. It has only been possible because my strength has come from Jesus, and not from my own efforts or disposition. Faith has a lot to do with being fearless, but also knowing that your supernatural strength comes from God, and that changes the whole meaning of the word.

“For God Had not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

Photo by M.A.D.

Of Words – A Society’s Decline

If you live in the USA, by now you might have heard of the new Texas law on the abortion issue. Let me disclose for the purpose of this blog post, that I am pro-life; however, there was a time when I was much younger, in my twenties, that I considered myself pro-choice. Maturity, and understanding life from another perspective, which I will not discuss here because it would be a lengthy philosophical discussion, led me to what I believe and support now – the right of every human being to live, a shot to be on this planet and become whatever he/she wants to be with God’s blessing. Who am I to prevent that?

I was watching the news on this issue, and two interviews caught my attention. In one, a physician who worked at an abortion clinic in Texas said something about the situation and the Texas law – “It is inhumane, and we are tired …” I am not here to judge anyone, that is God’s job, not mine, but it is interesting to me the choice of words this doctor used. While it is inhumane that he cannot perform abortions on his clinic, apparently, killing babies is not. Uh? Denying a chance for living to a baby is not inhumane? Last time I checked, that fetus belonged to the human species.

On another interview, a nurse at another abortion clinic in Texas said, “..for a woman to have to drive x amount of miles to another state that allows abortions, for a procedure that would take 10-15 minutes is cruel.” Here is another word – cruel – so, it is cruel for someone to have to drive so far, an inconvenience for sure, but it is not cruel to kill a baby. I guess we will have to redefine the entire dictionary eventually.

Pay attention to the words people use around you, and you will see where society is headed. The words that we use today are the reality of tomorrow. Of its words a society becomes.

Common Ground

Realizing that we are more alike than different does not come easy, especially when everything around you is telling you the opposite – news, financial status, social media, protests, our own views of the same … Sometimes, one thing, one incident, something you heard or saw, reminds you that in the end we all want the same things. We want to be loved and love, we want to be safe, we want to prosper, we want joy and happiness, we want a happy home, we want to be fed properly, we want to have fun, we want to help others and be givers, we want to care … Sometimes, in the pursuit of those same things we become boulders in the path of others, and in the one to our own journey. Sometimes, it is so hard to understand one another, but what makes it a bit easier is realizing that we all want the same things. In illuminating our own road, we can also be a light for others.

Photo by M.A.D.