Many of you know that I have my bachelor’s degree in psychology. My original life plan was to get my master’s degree and become a therapist but obviously, that didn’t happen. I went into administrative work, started writing, built a house, and now here I am.
I’m still glad I got my undergraduate degree in psychology because frankly, that education is something I can apply to every area of my life. At some time or another, it’s helped me in every area of life and it continues to. But I don’t regret foregoing the higher education and the original life plan because frankly, I think I’d be ill suited to be a therapist. I thought it would be a great way to
help people, but if there’s one thing that the 16 years since college graduation taught me, it’s that people won’t change unless they are internally motivated to do so. That usually comes from one of two things: the threat of losing something they don’t want to live without, or a court order (and those are violated often (and frequently enough that I’m thinking about taking that off the list). Usually, when people break down and seek guidance for things, they either want a pill to fix them nice and quick, or an excuse to stay exactly the way they are and demand that the world accommodate them. As if that’s going to happen.
I know this sounds cynical, but people thought I was an idealist when I was younger. They should be happy to hear such an admission out of me. Few people would have the guts to go on an open forum like the Internet and say yep, you were right on
that one. The idealism isn’t 100% gone, though, because there are still some things that, to this day, blow up my brain. I just don’t get it, and no amount of talking is helping me to understand the logic behind some things such as:
1.People that “let it fly,” then complain about being lonely. I’m not saying to sugar coat everything because that’s fake and ridiculous, but every word that flies through your brain doesn’t need to fly out of your mouth either. The problem is; people don’t give a crap about what you think 99% of the time, and the other percent it’s only to get your agreement, money, support, or vote. Truth is fine but you have to deliver it with discernment. If you just say what you think, unedited, then people are going to avoid you because you come across as rude, and everybody responds better to respect than to criticism. Building and maintaining relationships means you have to at least act like you care, even if you don't care anymore about them and their problems than the extra 40 minutes in a Martian day.
2. Envy and jealousy. Folks, I’ve known people that have married, moved, bought high ticket items and ruined their finances because they simply couldn’t stand the fact that someone had something that they didn’t (or had something newer, bigger, or better than they had). Then they got depressed and angry when it didn’t work out for them. Usually, that failure came from not being willing or able to do the work that goes with having the prize. Then again, I remember hearing Joyce Meyer say once that if you put yourself in a place that the Lord doesn’t mean for you to be, then it’s up to you to keep yourself there. That’s tough, but there’s another reason I don’t understand this: if you have time to fixate on what other people have, then you aren’t investing enough into making your own life the best it can be. Sure, you should care about and support other people, but your primary focus should be on taking care of and growing the talents the Lord provided to you, not on what He gave to other people. Work with
what you’ve got and if He means for you to have it, He’ll bring it to you in the best timing – and give you what you need to keep you there.
3.People that are sure they’re better than everybody else. I like what C.S. Lewis said about “a good man knows he isn’t good because he can see his badness. A bad man thinks he’s great guy because he can’t see his badness.” Before you say “it’s not personal, it’s just business,” I’ll be bold enough to tell you that’s absolute crap. I’ve worked at different places and I can tell you from recent experience that people are not like that everywhere. There are good, honest people working hard to do what’s right and succeeding at it. I’ll go further and say that I’m fortunate enough to work with an entire group of them. Acting like you’re king or queen of the world isn’t commanding respect, it’s arrogant and makes you look like an insecure fool. Please, get over yourself before you sprain something sticking up your nose at people. There will always be people in authority over you. You gain more by working hard and being dependable than having attitude and playing games. Because folks, nobody wins all the time and if you play games, you'll eventually lose.
4.Know it alls. You know the type I mean. There’s always somebody around that has seen it all, heard it all, and done it all – and probably bigger, better and more recently than you did. I have to admit that these types are a paradox to me. The pompous attitude is infuriating, but they also amuse me greatly because through all that big talk I know that a jack of all trades is a master at none. I’d rather know a few things well then know nothing well at all, but I guess some people don’t feel the same way. Anyway, the Bible says that King Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived, so give it up. You aren’t him and nobody knows everything under the sun. It seems to me that people respect humility over knowledge any day. And nobody likes a know it all.
5.People that use the telephone as a surrogate brain. This was the #1 reason why we (and many others, I hear) gave up our land line. The amount of time wasted by dealing with unnecessary phone calls is ridiculous. There are people that feel like they need to make a telephone call every time they have a thought. There are other people that feel like they need to make a telephone call every time a question pops in their head. There are some that do both. And this is what makes the telephone the #1 most abused thing in human history. I hope that Alexander Graham Bell isn’t still in purgatory answering for why he created something that has incrementally decreased human intelligence over the years because I know he didn’t mean for it to come to this. But I take heart in knowing that the abuse of this tool is offset by the greatest things that have been invented since the telephone: Ignore buttons and “do not disturb” mode. If only every telephone were required to be equipped with these!
6.Basketball. I sent out tweets and posts on Facebook in the fall asking people “do you like basketball?” I don’t, but I was just wondering because the last people I heard admit to liking it were of my grandparents generation. The request was largely ignored, but the few responses I got were a resounding “no!” So why is it all about March Madness now? Hello? I thought people didn’t like basketball?
Hmm. Maybe I should have been a therapist because I could charge these people by the hour to explain themselves to me. As it is, all I can do is avoid them when I can and take notes to put them in my next novel when I can’t. But who knows? I have several books published and if I keep writing then this will all work out okay anyway.
As for the basketball thing, I don’t know. Maybe that’s something else to add to the list of crazy that I am. But at least I know it’s a strange thing about me. That’s the one thing about having a psychology degree. Other people think you’re always analyzing them, but the truth is that you spend more time analyzing yourself. And there’s no hiding from what you know is out of whack there!
I hope you enjoyed this silly musing on reality. Happy Friday to you. Take care and have a great weekend.
I entered a counted cross stitch in the State Fair in October 2009. It was my largest stitching project and, I thought, a masterpiece of creativity. Unfortunately, the judges didn't agree. I didn't win a ribbon.
I was heartbroken. This piece took nearly three and a half years to complete, and I felt it was my best work. But under the scrutnizing eye of others, it didn't measure up.
Family and friends consoled me and urged me to keep at it. Don't give up, they said, because eventually you'll win. As I considered the situation, though, I started to realize some things. That project had been very time consuming and difficult for me to complete; to the point that it became frustrating in the end. In fact, part of the reason why it took me so long to finish the project was because I put it on hiatus for a period of 7 months while I wrote Blurry. I realized that looking over that period of time, the hobby that brought me the most contentment wasn't the cross stitch, but writing the novel. It made me ask myself what I really wanted to see bear fruit in my life, and the answer, without a hitch, was my writing. So the next time a friend encouraged me to start a new stitching project, I finally admitted a truth that I should have faced sooner. "You know," I said, "I realize now that stitching is an arena for others. Writing is mine, and I need to return to it."
That wasn't well received. A lot of people assumed I was quitting and saw it as a bad sign and completely out of character for me. What they didn't know was that an idea for another novel was developing. Soon after, I began work on Anywhere But Here, a novel about a young woman battling depression in the face of major life transitions. I made it my mission after that failed contest to grow and develop as a writer, and it paid off. Blurry was published by Wings ePress in August 2011; Anywhere But Here will be published by Whiskey Creek Press in April 2012, and I recently completed Splinter, a sci-fi apocolyptic novel that I successfully completed a rough draft of during 2010 National Novel Writing Month.
I could have given you a monologue about mining your talents and finding your passions, but I felt that relating this experience would be a better demonstration of the process of using your interests and experiences to find authenticity and purpose. All of us have a number of talents, skills and abilities with potential for development, but our time and energy are limited. There simply isn't enough time in a day, week, month, year, season or lifetime to do it all. You have to set priorities by making active decisions on what you want to see bear fruit in your life and investing in those purposes. Prayer, of course, is the best way to do this, because it helps us to look within and be absolutely honest with God and ourselves about what's best for life.
Another point I hope you take from this is that finding authenticity and purpose is a journey. I didn't wake up one day and say "I'm putting stitching on a back burner while I focus on writing more material and learning how to get published and promoted." It was trying and failing, assessing myself and learning from mistakes, making realizations and trying again. It's a process of trial and error, and you will certainly make mistakes. Don't look on it as wasted time, though. The missteps and mistakes can be mined for wisdom that leads to success in future endeavors. I knew that hard work was the key to progress, but this experience also taught me the importance of focus. I saw the true meaning of "a jack of all trades is a master at none" and realized that I needed to pick what meant the most and zoom in on that as my primary goal.
Above and beyond all else, I hope you see the importance of being true to yourself. Others can mean the best and still be wrong. You are the only one that has to live with yourself and your life 100% of the time. The path will only be revealed to you, and there are many steps in that path that won't make a bit of sense to others. That's ok. The ones that are meant to share the journey will learn to accept you for what you were created to be. The others will fall away. Simple as that.
As a final note, I'd like to mention that I haven't completely given up cross stitching, but I'm limiting my projects to very small scale items. That's more practical for my current lifestyle. Maybe one day I'll tackle another large project, but for now my focus is on becoming a better writer. And to me, that's what really matters.
Next time: Standing Alone - Staying Strong Under Attack.
I wanted to let you know that there have been other things going on in life besides the book contracts. Yes, life marches on no matter what's going on. Here's an update:
The first bit of news isn't good, I fear. You know that we lost a friend at church to cancer a couple of weeks ago and in fact, it was nearly a year to the day after I lost a coworker to the same kind of cancer. Well, we found out that a third friend that's battling cancer has taken a drastic downhill turn. Her's is lung cancer and well, it's spread to her brain and they've given her 3-6 weeks. We're absolutely floored, because for a while she was actually improving and the tumors were shrinking. Or so we were told. Turns out, she wasn't being completely honest with any of us about her true condition. We believe it's because she wasn't being completely honest with herself. There's been speculation that she didn't fully comprehend the severity of her situation.
I don't even know what to say at this interlude. I've seen two people die and now it looks like a third heading down the same road. To say that I'm tired of seeing good people suffer seems to be a pretty obvious point. But one thing they've all had in common was that they have fought to the very end. So the point, it seems to me, is that every battle isn't won - but you fight nonetheless. Because if you don't fight, hope is gone and you're dead already (spiritually, anyway). But as long as you fight, there's hope whether the battle ends in victory or defeat.
That may or may not make sense but a second thing I've learned does, and that's how important it is to live. There are too many people satisfied with accepting mediocrity and bad things in their life, and if there's one thing I've seen in these three ladies, it's that this isn't how we're supposed to live. While we live, this is OUR WORLD. We need to live life to the fullest: To take advantage of every opportunity, enjoy everything we can, defeat what discourages or holds us back, and just get out there and DO STUFF.
So there you have it. My take on death and dying these days. And by the way, the reaper can quit touching people I know anytime and that will be a-ok.
Moving on ...
I think my cold is clearing up. Thank God, too, because I really didn't want to go on antibiotics. I don't like them.
The roses are doing very well, which is pretty amazing given the soaring heat around here. Then again, we water them every day.
I finally took off the purple nail polish and have replaced it with pink. I have some meetings coming up, and I figured going conventional would throw people off. But don't worry. The purple polish will be back.
Here's one you may or may not believe. Last week, the principal at the school where they found Ollie a year ago had the nerve to ask for him back. Can you believe that? And she didn't even remember his name, just said she wanted the bird back. Rick said no. While she forgot Ollie for the past year we have loved him, housed him, fed him, and otherwise spoiled him. This is his home. She's bought an iPad and a 50 inch TV. I think she can spring $20.00 for her own darn bird.
I'm finding that I understand baseball a bit better this year. But those players are so skinny. Do they feed them? Rick says they probably sweat it off playing in this terrible heat.
My parents just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Congratulations! And so you'll know, my brother is 41 and I'm 35.
My mother-in-law told Rick she'd like to get to know me better. Um, we've been married 13 years. A bit late on the uptake, don't you think? And gee, look at the timing of that one too. The day after I sign a second book contract. I will let this one go without further comment.
Ok, that's all the fun happening in my corner of the galaxy. I hope you're doing well and that the new week is a good one.