Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflections in Silhouette: Poems is Now Available in Paperback on Amazon

The journey for the truth of self offers the opportunity for triumph and failure. Often as we search for who we’re meant to be in life, we misplace ourselves for a little while. Even when we’re struggling to reconnect with our misplaced cores, we can’t help but be ourselves. Life is simply a journey to fill in the gaps, to find our truths, to become our best selves. When we embrace the all of who we are, we live richer, fuller lives and avoid being simply reflections in silhouette…

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fearless... or Not

On my best day, I am fearless... Well, unless there are snakes involved and then I'm a shivering, quaking, squealing, screaming, shaking ball of fear wishing I could escape to the top of my laundry room cabinets like my cats do when a stranger steps into the house.  But, we're not talking about that kind of fear.

We're talking about looking at obstacles and knowing you have the power to overcome them, work through them, or just walk away from them. Each reaction serves its purpose in life. Determining which is the best option can be tricky depending on the situation.

So again, on my best day I am fearless. I like those days. On those days I smile no matter how frustrated I feel. I laugh at the absurdity that this thing - whatever it is - in front of me seems so incredibly important and the likelihood I'll even remember it in a month is pretty much nill. On those days, nothing phases me. I tackle obstacles with gusto and conquer challenges without so much as a crack in my smile. Those days you can insult me, criticize me, hate me, or run right over top of me... Well, you can try because your negativity won't phase my positivity or my outcome.

On my worst day, I fear both success and failure! What the heck creates that diachotomy? Talk about a styming state of mind! On those days, I am my own worst enemy. I criticize every move I make, second guess every decision, demand perfection when great would be better, and create obstacles where there are none. Those days someone else's criticism is like a bomb being dropped right into my core. I take it to heart, mind, soul, and body. Those days even a compliment somehow becomes criticism or at the very least suspicious. Luckily, I'm beginning to recognize those days and tailor my activities to match the mood as much as possible.

I've come to a place in my life where I have more fearless days than days where I fear both success and failure, I think. It's still a struggle. From childhood on, I received the message my best would never be good enough but failing wasn't an option, so it's a mantra I've had to rewrite continuously throughout my life. Will I ever be free of it? I don't know. I hope so, but I can only take my life as it comes. I never want to become so fearless that I become arrogant and ignore sound advice or fail to appreciate the encouragement, support, and inspiration others so generously give me.

I know that my best is good enough and that it's really the epitamy of what I have to offer. It has taken me a long time to accept that as truth, but I'm finding my life improves every time I let go of a little more of my need to be seen as perfect, to actually be perfect. The less I care about perfection, the more fearless I feel!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Announcing the Cover for Reflections in Silhouette, My Second Book of Poetry

The journey for the truth of self offers the opportunity for triumph and failure. Often as we search for who we’re meant to be in life, we misplace ourselves for a little while. Even when we’re struggling to reconnect with our misplaced cores, we can’t help but be ourselves. Life is simply a journey to fill in the gaps, to find our truths, to become our best selves. When we embrace the all of who we are, we live richer, fuller lives and avoid being simply reflections in silhouette…

Check back soon for the release announcement!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Listening When Life Speaks

I wrote a post earlier this week that I've been tweaking all week. It's not that it needs that much tweaking. I realized today that it's about timing. While the timing was right to write it, it wasn't the right time to share it. So I've put it aside. I will probably share it sometime next week provided the timing feels right then.

Instead I decided to share a little something else with you.

This week has been a little odd for me. I had it all planned out, BUT life just refused to cooperate with my plans. Now that part isn't all that unusual. The part that was unusual was that I let it go. I didn't stress myself out or overtire myself trying to add the unexpected chores on top of what I planned to be doing. I didn't have a choice but to address the unexpected chores, so I did. I let my schedule just go. I didn't beat myself up - well, not too much anyway. I didn't feel like a failure. I didn't have any of my usual "I suck" attitude just because life decided my attention needed diverted. Instead, I tried to look at it through the advice I recently gave a friend. I told this friend that maybe the desired thing wasn't happening because there was something in the bigger picture that needed resolved or learned first. So I sat back, decided that maybe this minor inconvenience occurred when it did because the bigger picture of my life knew the timing was wrong for my plans for the week.

So what does this delay mean? Well, it means that as much as I wanted Reflections in Silhouette available to you by the end of next week, it likely won't be. It probably won't be available until early next month. It means that I let myself off the hook. It means that I'm working today instead of reading and watching television. It means that I'm not a hypocrite. I actually do believe what I tell others even if I don't always apply it to my life like I should. It means above all else that I took care of what needed my attention without compromising my need to take care of me. Yes, that means my work timeline suffered, but the book I release will be better than if I'd pushed myself to complete it while dealing with my minor inconvenience because I can give it the attention it deserves now that my minor inconvenience is under control, at least for the moment.

Mostly, it means I am human, and that is okay!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sometimes... Love...

I recently published a book of poetry, Love in Silhouette, about love. Problem is I'm not feeling very loving lately. Don't misunderstand me, I live my life from a place of love. I'm just feeling like I'm a little out of sync with the love in my life, but to quote Luther Vandross. "Sometimes love is wonderful, but sometimes it's only love." I suppose I'm in an "only love" state of mind lately.

Love is a journey we take as we travel through life. We find people who offer us love, and we choose whether or not to accept it. Sometimes we love when we it's against our own best interests. Sometimes we love when it hurts more than we can imagine. Sometimes we love against our will. Sometimes we love even when we can't express that love. Sometimes love lives in our hearts waiting for the right moment to be shared. Sometimes love tricks us into making decisions that seem right in the moment but haunt us later in life.

Also on the journey of love, we find love that is rewarding and uplifting. We find love that make us smile. We give love willingly and receive love that is open and real. We love because we deserve the best and the best is offered. We give love because we want the best for someone else. When two people give love from open hearts with honest intentions, love truly is wonderful even when it's only love.

Sometimes the journey of love brings us to a place where we love because we are so drawn to one another, there is no other choice. Sometimes we fight that love for as long as possible no matter how true we know it to be. Sometimes that's the right thing, but usually that's just fear interfering. Sometimes we give in to that love and find it's so hot even ice can't squelch its flame from consuming our hearts and souls.

Sometimes love gets lost in the mix. We think it's love when it's really just the next move on the chess board. We think it's love when it's really just need. We think it's love when it's really just security. We think it's love when it's really just what's familiar. We think it's love when it's really just settling for a substitute for the real thing. We think it's love because the true love we feel can't be expressed.

Sometimes love is only love. Sometimes it's wonderful. Sometimes it's nothing but a substitute that seems real. Sometimes we blind ourselves to reality to keep love. Sometimes we latch on to anything that resembles the love we think we really want. Sometimes we blind ourselves to the love that could be real because we fear it won't be returned.

Sometimes we forget that love changes. It grows. It morphs in to something unrecognizable. It grows stagnant from lack of nurturing. It can even die if not cherished and cultivated. It can revive after years of dormancy. It can be the most beautiful thing in the world and can lead to both our most exalted moments and our most painful ones.

Love is never a sure thing. The risk of love often seems too great, so we deny it, we walk away from it, we pretend it's anything other than love, we blind ourselves to the love that won't let go. And, then love bleeds out of us and reminds us who we are, what are dreams are, and what we denied ourselves.

Sometimes... Love...

For more thoughts on love, check out my book of poetry.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Love Never Demands Perfection

My next book of poetry (coming soon), Reflections in Silhouette, is all about the struggle to find, accept, and love one's self in spite of... well, everything life throws at us. It's all about looking deep inside and saying "I don't have to be perfect." It's all about looking at those who demand perfection, even if they don't realize it, and saying "This is what I've got to offer. You don't have to like me. Someone will love me for who I am. Even if no one else does, I love me. And that's a start." It's also about recognizing those in our lives, who really do accept us "as is" and who genuinely think our best is perfect enough. Those people are truly rare.

Whenever someone makes us feel like we need to change to be with them, or we need to "fix" things about ourselves to be acceptable, that person isn't loving us as we are. That person doesn't think our best is enough. Whenever someone doesn't support our growth and our own desires to be our best selves, that person isn't loving us. The person is loving an image he or she has created of us.

Sadly, we do this to ourselves as well. We look at other people and try to makes ourselves what we think they want. We try to fit the image we think they have of us. Everyone loses when we do this. We become inauthentic. Then we build lives and relationships build on deceptions we don't even realize we're committing. When we deceive ourselves into believing someone else knows better who we should be, we deny our own truths. When we deny our own truths, we blind ourselves to the reality we live. When we deny our own truths, we cease to truly live and settle for simply existing.

The scariest thing is that we often deceive ourselves into thinking we're happy when adapt to meet someone else's image of us. We believe that because the other person or persons seem to like us better, perhaps even love us, we are better and therefore happier. This type of inauthentic happiness is actually intoxicating and can become resemble a drug. We become addicted to seeing the look of approval in the other person's eyes, and we may even begin to think that approval is love.

Approval and love are not the same thing. Love accepts us even when we're not perfect. Approval only wants us when we do what's acceptable to the person granting approval. That is a setup for inequality in a relationship. When you take back your power by embracing your true self again, you will find the approval will likely disappear and the love you attributed to the approval will also dissipate.

Being one's self may lead to a lack of approval from others, but if it costs you someone's love, even your own, it wasn't love to begin with. It may have been infatuation or perhaps even genuine concern. But love never demands perfection because love realizes perfection is only a dream.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ride-a-Long with the Albany Police Department

I arrived at the Albany Police Department a few minutes early for my ride-a-long. Officer Jason Camillo introduced himself. We exited through the back door to go to his patrol car. The temperature outside was around twenty-nine degrees. The car wasn't much warmer. I suddenly felt very glad I'd opted for warm clothes including my knee high brown boots, calf length tan wool coat, and striped scarf! Oh, boy, I began to second guess doing a ride-a-long in winter!
Officer Camillo got his gear settled. He stashed his duffel bag and some other things in the trunk, positioned his shotgun and assault rifle in their holders between the seats. I thought "I really hope we don't need those tonight, but it sure would be exciting." (Oops! There went my naughty side tempting my nice side.) I said with a little smile "I think I won't touch those."

He showed me the electronic ticketing machine (I forgot if it has an actual name) and explained how much better it is when it's raining since pens and paper are both affected by water. This machine is perfect for the Oregon weather. I'm sure those getting unsmudged tickets might disagree... Those nice, clean copies have to be harder to fight in court.

Our first activity of the evening was to arrest a woman on a warrant. She needed to finishing serving her jail time. It was only a few days on a misdemeanor charge. We went to the address on file for her. Another officer joined Officer Camillo to attempt the arrest. Officer Camillo asked me to stay in the car for my safety. I didn't argue. I had no desire to stand out in the cold. He returned to the car without the woman. She no longer lived there. He entered a quick report.

Then he learned it was possible she was living somewhere else, so we went to that address. He and the other officer approached the house. I sat in the car watching people's reaction to the police car and the officers. It's amazing how many people look the other direction or cover their faces or make some other concealing gesture when they see a police officer or a police car. I wondered if I do the same thing without even realizing it. A little while later he returned. The people at that house said that she was living there but wasn't home.

I kind of hoped she would come walking up the sidewalk while we sat there, so I could witness the arrest. She didn't, so we went on our way. They would try again another night.

We were driving along chatting about "what if" scenarios when we passed a bicyclist who seemed to be trying to avoid being seen. Officer Camillo gave a U-turn that reminded me of the EVOC driving we did during the Albany Citizen's Police Academy. Cool! We pulled over the bicyclist. He had a record, but his only violation for the night was not having a light on his bicycle, so Officer Camillo issued a warning.

Shortly thereafter, we stopped another bicyclist who also received a no light warning. He looked like a teenager but turned out to be in his late twenties.

We drove around for a bit checking out areas where people are known to do drugs, but no one was out. I guess even drug addicts have enough sense to stay indoors when it's that cold.

Officer Camillo was called to help search for a juvenile who'd stolen enough jewelry for a felony classification, but she was long gone.

A domestic dispute call came in. This got my heart pumping. A couple was fighting in a driveway while a child sat in the car. By the time we arrived, the parents were gone. The child was with his grandparents. Any argument was denied. The child was safe.

We drove around again looking at other spots where criminal activity was known to take place.

A call came out for an apartment complex we'd just passed. Someone was sleeping outside in the common area and might have been looking for drugs earlier. Officer Camillo and another officer went to talk to him. After hearing his story, they were able to ascertain he'd done nothing illegal and found him shelter for the night.

We searched for another criminal who'd pulled a knife in a lobby somewhere, but we didn't find him.

We followed a couple of suspicious cars and Officer Camillo pulled license plates to make sure there were no warrants, stolen car alerts, or other criminal activity related to the car or the car's owner. One car showed up as having formerly been listed as stolen but no longer was; however, the female owner had a restraining order out against a male and a male was driving, so Officer Camillo confirmed via photo the driver wasn't the male with the restraining order. We went on our way.

We chatted about family, life, and police work as we drove around Albany. There were many times when I had no idea where I was and then would suddenly recognize something and feel anchored again.

It was an interesting experience. Officer Camillo kept apologizing that there wasn't more action for me to see, but that's not such a bad thing. As much as I would've liked to see more of the police at work, crime not taking place is a good thing. Besides, it was a reminder that law enforcement really isn't anything like what we see on television or read in books. A lot of it is finding the details to make the puzzle pieces fit and that can be quite mundane.

He encouraged me to sign up for another ride-a-long and suggested August, since apparently that's when you get some really busy nights. I just might have to see if I can make that work...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Emotional Quicksand: AKA My Poetry

In a recent Facebook status update, I said:

just realized that I've spent much of this year wading through the emotional quicksand I call poetry while managing to stay afloat though at times it is tempting to just let go and sink...
While some might see this statement as negative for me it was a point of pride. There was a point in my life where the work I did on my poetry this year would've sunk me into self-destructive behavior. There are only a few people in the world who know how truly self-destructive I can be when properly motivated and even fewer who know what it takes to bring me to that place or how to then get me out of it.

But this year, when I felt tempted to let go and sink into that emotional quicksand, I did things I'd never done before. They may seem like no-brainers to you, but for me this was revelatory.

I allowed myself to cry, to sit at my desk and let the tears flow while I worked. I didn't stop working, and I didn't stop the tears. I didn't make excuses for the tears. I didn't question the tears. I didn't analyze the tears. I didn't judge them. I just let them be. I didn't fight them, and they didn't fight me. It was positively cathartic!!

Other times, I called/texted/IMed (oh, today's verbage. gotta love it.) with my friends. Sometimes we talked about the poetry projects and even my feelings about certain poems. Other times my friends distracted me enough that I didn't get bogged down and distracted by the content of the poems while doing more tedious tasks.

My friends chatted with me, analyzed poems with me, reminded me of why I decided to publish my poetry, encouraged me, and reminded me that great is actually better than perfect. One friend texted with me for a couple of hours one night as I worked through a particularly emotional set of poems. It was a light conversation, for the most part, and the friend didn't even know I was working through most of the conversation, but it kept me balanced.

I also turned to my community on Facebook with status updates about my progress and to share poems. This brought encouragement, insight, and support often in ways people likely didn't know they were giving. A silly comment that made me laugh in the midst of a group of painful memories. A word of encouragement about my progress. A "like" about a post related to my poetry or my gratitude statement of the day.

There were times when I also put myself first and disappointed others. This is always hard for me, but it became necessary for me to concentrate and give my own work the attention it deserved. There were those who understood. There were those who respected me for it. There were those who, well, didn't respond so kindly. The unkind responses made me appreciate those who truly care about me and my goals that much more.

As I prepared to release Love in Silhouette, I couldn't help but wonder if some of these poems will make people who think they know me well, question just how well they really know me. I also wonder if some of the people who inspired certain poems will recognize themselves in the poems should they read them. The last two things that occasionally concern me are that someone may misinterpret a poem or assign a poem to an incorrect time period in my life, but that can only happen with people who think they know more than they do about me and my past. Strangers won't care, and those who love me know the truth.

So, I released the poems into the world for judgment because I know that in the end no matter how the world judges them, my friends will be there to remind me of what's important.

I'm nearing completion of the manuscript portion for the second book, Reflections in Silhouette, right now. At least I think it's almost complete. As I rearranged the order of the poems and added a few new poems to improve the flow, I realized that I've learned a lot throughout this process. I've learned that sometimes you have to reach out and say "support me, please." because your friends can't know what you're feeling, but their inability to read your mind and heart doesn't mean they don't care. I've learned that sometimes a distraction that presents itself is there to help you through something tough making it as much blessing as distraction. I've learned that my feelings don't have to be hidden or tempered or changed for those who truly care about me. They will continue to care about me even when I'm sitting at my desk crying tears they don't see while reading their silly texts designed to make me smile. I've learned something about accepting support and asking for help. Sometimes you don't have to ask, sometimes you just have to accept the support offered even when the person offering it doesn't know they're offering it. Sometimes that is the best help of all.

I managed to stay afloat as the emotional quicksand that is my poetry surrounded me, but I didn't do it alone. And, that's okay. Strength doesn't mean pulling yourself out of the quicksand on your own so much as finding and accepting the resources and support of those who will throw you a lifeline when you need it. Much love and thanks to all my friends who support, encourage, and inspire me whether they know they help me or not as I traverse the emotional quicksand that is the poetry I've written.