Life Well Spent

Redux
Originally published 5/11/2018 on I Write Her. Posted here with revisions.

at the end of the day
i want to be exhausted
by the best life can offer me
not the worst it will throw my way

aiming for maximum pleasure
while diligently eliminating extended frustration
it’s a daily goal
one i will gladly work hard at achieving

Let’s Take A Journey With Annabel Harz

I was touched to have Annabel reach out to me to read her poetry books – Journey into the Dark and the Light & Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine. Having never done a book review on my blog, it was an honor to do this for a fellow poet. Plus, getting out of my day-to-day routine to try something new is good for me. I felt up to it with my current schedule, and more importantly, enthusiastic in providing one for her.   

The titles and prefaces of both books immediately set the tone; you know you are going on an emotional journey with Anna as she recounts and confronts the darkness in her childhood. While the subject matter is a difficult topic, her superb writing continually has you standing with her, however painful it might have been to deal with. The honesty reflected endears you to her with each piece, then championing her success in the latter chapters of each book. The first part recounts the aftermath of the abuse, while the second part speaks to recovery and hope. All of humanity can identify with tragic circumstances and having hope; that is life! In her words and art, these books reinforce the idea that we can all overcome our adversities. It may take some time, but clarity does come if we face it.  

After finishing the first book and immediately devouring the second, it was plain to see that they are both about courage. Whether subconsciously through the artwork Anna immersed herself in or how she expressed her feelings, it was courage that enabled her to bring her past to the forefront. It pushed her to confront all the trauma endured during her most innocent of times. In these books, Anna shows us the necessary steps she took to understand what she ultimately came face to face with—being taken advantage of, misused, and abused in her childhood. No one should have to experience these things during this most vulnerable and innocent state, but she did, bravely. In doing so, she propelled herself toward a life relieved of the depression and the nagging lack of connection she had felt in her childhood and beyond. Annabel was filled with hope and a changed outlook. These books are a testament to what addressing the somber and horrific bits in our lives can do for our psyche. They share with us not only the possibility that things could get better but that we can thrive in an even happier and more stable future for having done so.  

What is saddening is that in a society where this occurs too often, many readers will probably be able to identify with Annabel’s excruciatingly honest reflections, art, and thoughts, having gone through similar situations. But on the other hand, should these pages reach them, they will learn that hope is on the horizon if they can break through their trauma too. Possibly they will see their necessary healing tucked in these words and images. Ultimately, it’s a beautiful thought these books could have a pay-it-forward effect on a large segment of readers.  

I’m thankful that Annabel asked me to read her books; they will stay in my thoughts for some time to come. I will likely review them often as the writing is direct, honest, and carries such depth. It’s a habit of mine to gravitate towards good writing.  

I leave you with a sample of her exquisite writing. This piece is from the first book – Journey into the Dark and the Light

Feeling Small and Lost 
 
My inner child cries,  
“Help!”  
as my outer adult stands and watches,  
unable to move,  
unable to talk,  
unable to assist … 

even unable to scream.  
 
How will I find my way  
out of this dark labyrinth—  
what others call my mind—  
if I cannot  
move forward  
and help myself?  

The road is long, and I am weary;  
I am cold, and I feel old.  

What will be my salvation?  
Where will I find my asylum? 

Surely not inside myself,  
for I feel I have meagre strength  
for such a  
hard journey  
into the depths of my soul. 

Yet, from within it must be. 

May you be moved to read the rest of Annabel’s work! You won’t regret it. Click the links here – Journey into the Dark and the Light & Journey into the Shadow and the SunshineYou can also find her blog HERE

12/17/12

Photos of Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims sit at a small memorial near the school on January 14, 2013, in Newtown, Connecticut. (John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore/Getty Images

I recently came across a Messenger thread from eight years ago I’d written to a friend. It was a message that I’d shared with many on my Facebook friend’s list too. These thoughts were written three days after the Sandy Hook shooting…

I woke up at 3:30 AM this morning with an overwhelming urge to fix what was wrong with this world. The sadness from the Sandy Hook shootings seems to be the last straw for my psyche, especially with all the other things that have transpired for my family and me this year. I need to ‘heal’ emotionally from all the upheaval in my life and from all the rottenness I see occurring everywhere. My nerve endings are at the last bit of handling stuff, and me being as emotional as I have been since this morning is a real good indication of it.

The thing I keep coming back to is ‘How do we teach people to care, and how do we make it easier for the next person?’ I don’t know if you can ‘teach’ that. Still, I have to think that, as mature and responsible people, we will do whatever it takes to, at the very least, do what is necessary for our own families, our inner circle, and in our communities to reflect humanity that will go a long way towards avoiding, solving and changing the possible tragedies to hope-filled possibilities.

It’s not just situations like the Sandy Hook shooting that is a burden to us all, things as simple as not doing what you said you would do contribute to the pain of others. Let us end the cycle of disappointment we create for people when we aren’t being as responsible as we should be.

I wish that we all, myself included, become kinder, gentler, and more loving people towards our fellow human beings and creatures. I need your help to call me on it when I’m not doing that, and I hope you’ll respect me when I see that a kinder, gentler you could handle a situation differently. I sincerely want unnecessary heartache to end. Life is one immense suffering after another already, but it seems to me that it would not be quite as sucky if we had more good times in between or at the very least a less chaotic life if all people had more peace.

My recent personal ‘bad times’ are my reality, and I’m ok with those. Healing happens in unique ways when we see things for what they are, but the intentional cruelty I see so much of has got to stop. I want to do what I can, and I hope that you will be a part of it with me. Thanks for letting my guts spill out and taking the time to listen to me. Hopefully, my humanity will touch you in a way that we can see some real change in this world. It might feel or sound silly to you and feel free to tell me that I’m all wet, but I feel like I HAVE to do something… anything… everything. I want something better for myself, my family, my friends, and the entire world. The unnecessary hurts need to end.

♥

As I reread my thoughts from so long ago, I wonder if anything has changed at all. Thoughts?

Skilled Response Required

Redux

I Write Her

not-sure-if-overly-complicated-or-if-i-am-stupid

I’ve always said humans are both – detrimentally stupid and utterly complicated.

The wide variety of situations we find ourselves in and the sheer volume of inappropriate choices we make, show us time and time again we are. We depend on our feelings and instinct, and then stupidity inevitably makes an appearance. Full-on reaction mode.

The best stance to take in all complicated situations is to clearly and calmly reflect on what the hell occurred to create this current tizzy. Determining the next best, logical step to take would be most prudent.

It’s the guaranteed solution for less stupidity.

Complicated is a permanent state.

You’ll still need to buckle up.

View original post

On Drinking

I’ve recently been thinking about alcoholism because of Gabriele’s post regarding the subject. His position tells me that he is against it. I am, too, since I grew up with it in my life, and it wasn’t pretty.

He has this to say, “Alcohol is like a hook .. they bite the most tempting palates. And as Saint Augustine said: Perfect abstinence is easier than perfect moderation,” which prompted my response, “It is a great quote for alcoholics as they are the most tempted, but I think he was referring to sex? Got me thinking – maybe someone who felt pressured to not have sex because of religion should not slut-shame others. LOL” It was more to indicate that St. Augustine probably wasn’t speaking in regards to alcohol.

But the post did get me thinking about alcoholism and my family’s struggles with it. In an alcoholic’s mind, their desire may be perfect moderation, but that will never happen because that is precisely the definition of the disease – being totally out of control. Maybe a better way of saying it would be, “Perfect abstinence is better than imperfect moderation?” Sure would have been nice if that thought had crossed a few minds in our family.

My dad was an alcoholic. For the most part, he was an absentee father, which was more the predominant injury than his drinking. Not that his drinking didn’t harm, as I recall quite a few instances from my childhood were problematic. My dad mostly pulled my mom into his drama. Us kids stayed away from it, but I do remember her being somewhat humiliated because of it. There was usually an awful lot of crying and hysterics going on; in one incident, she had ketchup all over her shirt. 

My stepfather, divorced from my mom a long time ago, was a heavy drinker and, I would say, also an alcoholic. Booze always available and readily stocked in the globe-shaped liquor cabinet for him to imbibe whenever he chose. I remember stealing a nip or two from it myself when my sister and I first experimented with alcohol. Again, with regards to his drinking, humiliation seemed to be a recurring dynamic for my mom. One afternoon, I believe it was a Saturday, he’d already hit the stash pretty hard, and my mom’s leg became the receiving end of a glass shard from a glass he’d decided to slam down on the dining room table. I could hear her screams outside on the front lawn where I was playing with my friends. I remember them surrounding me because I was panicking and crying. Going into the house to confront him or maybe seeing that my mom was injured made him realize he’d gone a step too far, and he calmed down; I don’t know which one was the catalyst for peace from that point on. Regardless, I remember many instances where he put all our lives in danger with his drinking, primarily that he would always drive home drunk if we’d gone anywhere that he’d had a few. We were lucky that nothing unfortunate happened on the road.

After I left my home, I had several failed romantic relationships with alcoholics. In the early years of my adulthood, I’d indulged in risky behavior concerning drugs, but that stopped entirely in my mid-20s. When I became a mother at 29, even my drinking slowed down, although I never eliminated it. I remained a responsible social drinker with my second child. That is not to say that my kids or my husband, especially my friends, haven’t seen me ingest copious amounts of alcohol. Fun times were had, for sure! I paid for it the next day.

I have to be honest and say that I enjoy drinking alcohol for its effects on me. Other than weed, I don’t know of any other substance which can make me feel that relaxed or not have a care in the world. If weed were legal here in Kansas, I’m guessing I probably wouldn’t drink at all. Because let’s face it, alcohol is not good for you, and we all know that. Consuming large amounts of alcohol and being dependent on it will damage you physically and mentally, not to mention that it will impact your relationships with family and friends. It may not happen right away, but it will eventually if drinking goes beyond a social setting, beyond moderation, and is something you are addicted to. 

At various stressful points over the years, I’ve worried about becoming an alcoholic. Genetically, my kids and I are predisposed to being alcoholics. For as much as I’ve enjoyed drinking, it’s always on my mind to be careful. I know things can quickly get out of hand. And I hope I never go down that path that the alcoholics in my life have. I think it would hurt too much to lose the ones I love and, for that matter, their respect for me as well. I wonder if my father and step-father ever thought about the damage their drinking caused to our connection, or if they even cared enough about it. I’m guessing not. But I’ll never know now since they are both dead.

It’s sad. Such a wasted opportunity.

Embodiment Of Self

Alexandra Mirgheș – Unsplash

Inspired by Suzette B’s Blog – A Supreme Self

Suzette gave me one of those opportunities that I thoroughly relish: examining someone else’s thoughts and re-examine my own previously held views. Thank you, Suzette. 

And this is why I thoroughly LOVE the WP Community! Isn’t this what life is about?

While I agree with the quote she posted, a question arose for me. How do we get there? From what I see around our world, people are either worshipping something outside of themselves or do not even have the slightest idea that they have it within them. And in between, others are working towards more understanding.

For me, this is indeed the happy place we are trying to reach. It feels like it would be a place of peace and calm. Where our supreme self exists and allows itself to express to everyone, the people that I’ve encountered in my life who seem in agreement, this is where I have felt the most ease. But maybe it’s more of the idea that they have accepted me? Because I know that many of those I am close to still struggle with issues themselves. My comment on her piece was merely to explain what I felt would be what that would actually look and possibly feel like…

The place within us that has forgiven all the hurts, remembers all the joy,
and knows itself honestly and completely.

Do I, myself, or others achieve it 100% of the time? Hell no! But I would think it should be the end goal. Your thoughts?

Faith

The dictionary would define faith as having complete trust or confidence in someone or something. For those with a religious bent it is strongly related to a belief in a god and the dogma or doctrines of their chosen religion. For those indoctrinated into their religion as well. Faith to me simply means trusting something or someone without evidence they are worthy of that trust. And I generally don’t do that because I question everything that has not supplied me with reasonable evidence to be trusted.

Roots of Hope by Shantanu Baruah inspired me to think a bit deeper on the topic of faith and it also elicited this comment from me…

The roots of faith are steeped in commitment.

What a person believes deeply without evidence is their prerogative. I’m okay with that. That’s why my comment reflected what I felt about faith. Most believers of anything are committed to what they believe. It feels natural, correct and unquestionable. That last bit – unquestionable – is the part I’m not okay with.

Since the beginning of time, we have seen simple beliefs overturned with explanations as to why they are not the truth. As we increase our foundation of knowledge, beliefs get tossed out right and left, leaving us with more surety than what we had before. Belief in something then just becomes silly. As an example, how many of us were told that Santa Claus existed? And how many of us still do? If you do and are no longer a child, please seek help! But seriously, you understand the concept of “When you know better, you do better.” that Maya Angelou was referring to – when truths make themselves known, you can’t simply continue to believe in what is not true. It doesn’t make sense.

Many of you know that I don’t subscribe to the supernatural. I prefer a life based in reality and knowns but I realize that there are still many unknowns to contend with as I go about living. What I feel I do know is that those truths haven’t been understood or discovered yet, and may never present themselves in my lifetime. And that, makes sense.