... yesterday's entry reminds me to take a look in the mirror, and to be mindful of how my own behavior could contribute to how others act. Because I know I have my own moments when I'm not at my best. I get stressed, and frustrated, and lose my temper. That doesn't exactly help others to be at their best.
The truth is, I'm just like everybody else out there. I'm stressed. My schedule is chaotic. People are clingy that need to back off; people that need to hang around disappear; people that are supposed to be giving direction and guidance give the run around - we can't seem to get it right. It's misfires, miscommunications, and misunderstandings all around. Everybody has too much to do and too little time. I'm no better than the rest.
And yet, I want to do better myself. I want to handle things better. I want to be more patient, and understanding, and to handle the natural increases that come with the holiday season with more grace and fortitude than I have in the past. So what's the answer? How do you break the pattern?
I picked up one of my C.S. Lewis books a few minutes ago, and read something that might be helpful. It said that when we say The Lord's Prayer, our addressing God as "our Father" is "dressing up as Christ." We're called to be more Christlike, so the way we're advised to achieve that is to get in the role - even though our faults and fobilies make us woefully inadequate to even dare to step into this role - so we can learn to rise to it. We're commanded to act the part. This isn't "fake it till you make it" mentality, but rather, stretching ourselves to achieve above and beyond our current capacity so we can rise to a higher level, as the Lord helps and guides us.
So, if I want to be more patient when things are hectic, then I need to take a deep breath and act like I'm still holding it together, even if I really feel like smashing the telephone with a hammer if it rings ONE MORE TIME. It means continuing to ask relevant questions when people are giving me the run around to encourage them to open up, instead of telling them to get their crap together. It means encouraging people to find their gifts and to use them to become more independent instead of telling them to quit being a clingy pain in the rear. It means engaging in "prayer without ceasing," which means to lift up my burdens instead of trying to plow them through my own.
I said yesterday that I found people could match me "attitude for attitude" when I called them on their wrongs. Obviously, that wasn't a good approach. Maybe this is a better way. So instead of driving like maniacs, losing our cool, honking horns, and popping off, why don't we try a better way? Why don't we take Lewis' advice and act like the better people we want to be? Really, why wait until January 1st to make new beginnings? The Lord's mercies are new every morning, and every day is a chance to start again. Let's start right, now, by acting like the people we want Santa Clause to believe we are ;)
Oh no, I'm not innocent. But I don't want to be guilty any more, either. I'm trying to do better; I really am. And there's no reason why we can't all do better this holiday season, with the Lord's help.
That's all today. Next entry, I'll pass along some fun, inexpensive gift ideas.
A year ago, life avalanched on me. I had more on me than I could handle, and I really needed the help and support of people around me. I decided that if I asked someone to help me and they made good on the classic "if you ever need anything ..." admonition instead of making excuses, then I'd find a way to greatly bless them. I mean, I'd go out of my way and bend over backwards if they ever needed me.
I never had to make good on that offer on ANYBODY besides "the usual suspects." The tried and true people came through, but when I tested this on those outside the inner circle, they failed with filing colors. Apparently, the "if you ever need anything, just call me" is a polite blow off. But I heard an amusing and creative variety of excuses about how "oh, if I could if I would but I just CAN'T because I'm SO BUSY."'
I remember that today because in the past week, I've asked for help twice, and it's a rerun of last year. Nope, too busy. And people really aren't at their best, either. I've heard more fussing, complaining, and wisecracks over the past week than, well, last December. And it's everywhere. People are stressed, they know it, and they're going to let you hear all about it if you dare to get in their way.
For the most wonderful time of the year, people sure are miserable. I don't know if they mean to look that way, but that's what I see.
I know, having a tirade won't help. I tried that last year, and found people could match me attitude for attitude without missing a beat. So instead, I'll just say thank you. Why? Because it's given me the concept for the next novel I want to write after I finish Incursion in 2014. And this idea has so much potential that it could possibly spawn more than one creative work in the new year. It's really basic and nothing more than a theme right now, but I want my next story to be about someone that loses something very dear to them - perhaps more dear to them than they realized until it was going and couldn't be retrieved - because of laziness. They just couldn't be bothered to do what they should have done to keep it, and poof! It's gone and they can never get it back. It won't be a lost love story, but there are a lot of things that can be lost to atrophy - just being "too busy" (or rather, too lazy) to bother with it. And I think I'm going to find a lot in this concept.
So thank you for not having time for that. Now I'm going to start working on this concept of exactly what DOES happen when you misjudge what you need to have time for.
Thanks. And in the meantime, if people get an attitude with you then you can share the advice that Rick came up with earlier today: if you want holiday cheer, get your head out of your rear.
That's all today. Have a great week and be careful out there because if you aren't, well, people ain't got time for that!
For all of the lessons that life itself has taught me, I have to say that I've picked up some good tidbits from fiction as well. Whether it's from books, movies, or TV, I've learned a few things that have been invaluable in reality. They say truth is stranger than fiction, but I think it's more accurate to say that sometimes, fiction reflects truth all too well. For example:
1. Sometimes, you can never go back. We saw it in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, when Frodo returned to The Shire after his quest. He tried to return to life as it was before, but after all that he had experienced, he couldn't, and wound out sailing to the West. We saw it in the close of The Inheritance Cycle, where, after the enemy was finally defeated and peace was restored, Eragon elected to retreat to a realm outside of Alagasia because he needed time to process all that had happened to him on his own journey. We even saw it in the close of The Clone Wars when, after she was acquitted of murder, Ashoka refused the offer to return to The Jedi Order because "I have to work things out on my own now." Sometimes, the journey affects us in ways that makes it impossible to go back to the same old, same old. The hurts are too deep to fully heal, as it was with Frodo. The changes you go through are too big, and you aren't the same person, like with Eragon. You've see too much that you didn't know and need time to figure out who you are, as with Ashoka. I know these are the endings that readers/viewers don't like, but sadly it is reality sometimes. I know I've been through experiences that left me a different person, and I can say from experience that some things shift your paradigm too much to stay the person you were.
2. Yes, angels are sent to protect us, but it's best to stay out of their way. If you watch the TV series Supernatural, you know that angels haven't always been portrayed in the best light. While I'll admit that I believe the show creators have taken some literary license on their interpretation, I also feel that they're more right on some things than we'd be comfortable with admitting. You are aware that those beautiful angels in fur-lines robes that you see in the stores now are 100% fiction, right? Angels are warriors, and I can tell you that they aren't playing harps and singing all day. They're fighting demons and keeping us safe (both from the forces of hell against us and the messes we get ourselves in). And in case you haven't thought about it, they see all of creation (this world and "the next"), and they don't have the gift of free will. You better believe that their methods (if we knew them) would probably seem somewhat harsh and tough at times because their perspective is radically different from anything that we could possibly know or understand. Take a look in The Bible, and everybody that saw an angel fell on their face out of reverential fear. Yes, I believe angels are good. Yes, I believe they protect us. Yes, I love them. But I know well enough that they don't have time for mundane human crap when they're fighting the forces of hell. So I offer them my utmost respect, and get out of the way so they can do their job.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I refuse to put an angel on top of my Christmas tree, or to have them on my Christmas cards. They don't have time for that.
3. Fear is the greatest monster we face. I wasn't as impressed with The Green Lantern movie as I hoped to be, but they hit on an indisputable fact: the worst thing humanity faces is fear. Fear causes more problems than any other thing in this world. It keeps us from doing what we should be doing and puts us in ruts we aren't meant to be in. Fear is a trap that kills us slowly, from the inside out. The only way to have the life of fullness and abundance that we're supposed to have is to find our courage and move forward, despite our fear. And that is the hardest thing in the world to do.
4. Some people can't be saved. This is one I really don't like to admit, but sadly it's true. And while I've experienced the frustration of trying to help people and having them reject it, it took Arrow, the CW series now in it's second season, to realize that it's not personal, it's just fact. This really hit home when Detective Lance told Thea Queen that "The Hood" (as they called him in Season 1) had sent 26 people to his morgue, and that was two episodes before the season finale. I shuddered at that, because he was being marked as a killer and yet those were 26 people that he wanted to turn over to justice, but the circumstances didn't allow it - they tried to kill him or others in their escape.
This is an extreme example, of course. Most of us don't deal with organized crime or defending ourselves or others in life or death situations. But we do deal with trying to help people, and they reject our help, just to come to harm later. People reject our advice. They slap away a helpful hand. They deny those trying to help them to a better way, because correction hurts and they're comfortable with their own way, no matter how it hurts them or others. And really, as much as it hurts, we shouldn't be surprised. Even Jesus couldn't save them all. Why should we think we deserve a better track record?
5. Sometimes, the best way to flush out a leak is to flood it. When you suspect there's a busybody, traitor, or blabbermouth in your midst, the natural inclination is to zip it up and confide in a close circle of friends. And indeed, this is advice that I accepted - until I started watching Game of Thrones. Do you remember the time Tyrian Lannister suspected that someone on The Small Council was leaking things to the Queen (who was also his sister), so he told each member that he planned to marry off her daughter to a different person, then waited to see which one she chewed him out about? The guy he caught didn't think it was funny, but every other member of the council had to admit that it was a very clever ploy and they admired it. I did too, so I've tried it a few times. Folks, it works like a charm. And in this day of technological advances in communications, it works in about 2-4 hours. It's not a trick to overdo, and you certainly don't want to throw anything "real" that needs to remain under discretion. But throw out a tidbit here or there, and see what comes back. You'd be surprised at how fast people forget to play coy when they're hit with something unexpected that sets off their alarm bells.
Yes, it's amazing what you can learn from fiction. And maybe that's why we love it - because sometimes, we can learn valuable things about reality.
That's all today. Take care, and have a great week.
I know people always say "the holidays are about family!" but the sad truth is that some people don't have a good relationship with their family. I know I've been fortunate to have a good family, but I'm also aware that some are torn asunder by dysfunction, disagreement, strife, or estrangement. And it seems I hear a lot of those stories this time of the year. Or worse yet, see them for myself. Awkward!
I know you say I can't understand because I haven't been there, and you're right. But I can still care, and I do. Sometimes, you need a little help from your friends. And the truth is that even if you do have a good family, they can't be everything to you all the time. You need friends. You need peers and an extended network to support you. People were created to be in relationships with one another, and that isn't limited to blood. Caring knows no bounds.
People suck. God knows, they can let you down, and it seems those closest to you can stick the knife in the deepest. I think that's why God gave us extended relatives, friends, colleagues, and a vast network that can, with the Internet, literally stretch all over the world.
Nobody's perfect, and we all get plenty of practice in the struggle with forgiveness and setting boundaries. But I will say this: all it takes to get my support is a good heart. I'm not one that can be bribed by favors, goodies, or flattery. Rick isn't either. Words are meaningless to us. We try to see the heart and honest intentions. If you're really and truly trying to do what's right with best intentions, you have a trustworthy friend in us. We do value people more than things, or position, or power. People are what matter. And you don't have to be blood to mean the world to us. Just last night, we were talking about how we missed seeing a couple that we haven't been able to see in a while due to schedule conflicts.
Today, I'd like to tell all of our friends out there that we do care and love you. We don't say it much, but we want you to know that we're here if you need us. Maybe we do or don't "get it," but we certainly want to support you. We promise we'll try to suck a little less for our friends!
So to the members of Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church, to Joe and Elizabeth, to Chris and Jackie, to extended family, to colleagues past and present and the connections we've made with counterparts in other agencies, states, or even countries, to my writing buddies, to our followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google, Goodreads, and everywhere online - we love you guys! We hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that the Holiday season is merry, bright, and festive for you.
Geeze, for a hermit in the woods, we sure know a lot of people. I guess that's what happens when you leave the house.
Take care all, and have a great week. Safe travels to those of you heading home from Thanksgiving adventures today.
As we enter the 2013 holiday season, I’d like to urge you to be aware of a few things:
1. Drive carefully. In January, I heard a highway patrolman say that the State of South Carolina averaged 2 fatal car accidents between Thanksgiving 2012 and New Year’s Day 2013. “That was two families we had to call every day to tell them their loved ones were never coming home. It was awful,” he said. I wish you could have heard his voice, because it would have gotten the message through to you loud and clear. When you drive this holiday season, lay aside all distractions and fully focus on operating your vehicle. The text, call, clock, and to-do list can wait. Life isn’t a video game. Dead is dead forever. So please, drive carefully.
2. Be patient, and plan more time for everything. Everybody crawls out of their hole, gets in the car, and goes this time of year. It’s more traffic, more crowds, more lines, and more waits. What took 10 minutes in October can very likely take 30 minutes or longer now. You need a pound of patience to get through the holiday rush, and unfortunately most of us don’t have that much. So plan ahead, be practical, and understand that things are going to take longer to get done for the next six weeks.
3. With that being said, I also urge you to be mindful of deadlines. Strange but true: the world is still operating and there’s still plenty to be done in the coming weeks. Don’t let deadlines sneak up on you. If you’re have a goal to get something done before the end of the year, get started (you really should have started in early November) and look for deadlines. Remember that this is peak season for many businesses as they close out for the calendar year – it’s not limited to retail. Sit down with your calendar today to make your goals, figure out deadlines, and find out how to get things done without the last minute OMG attacking you right when you don’t need it most.
4. Be mindful of your finances and get organized. With so many Christmas presents to buy, it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve bought, how much you’ve spent, and what you’ve missed. After you figure out the deadlines in #3 above, make another list of people you need to buy presents for and take an inventory of what you need to put Christmas on this year. Save that list in your smartphone and update it daily if you must. There are lots of ploys and traps to part you from your money this time of year, so be smart and be aware. Do you really need that giggling penguin with its foot smooshed in a cupcake? Do you really want it? If you think about it a little longer, I’ll bet you’ll actually find it quite disturbing.
5. Watch what you eat. By this, I mean that goodies are everywhere. Before you eat something, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. It’s easy to mindlessly munch (especially if you work in an office), and then hit a midday slump or reach for the TUMS without realizing you did your own self in. So be mindful of your noshing in the days ahead.
6. Take some breaks. The holidays can be a fun time of year, but it’s easy to get “Christmas overload.” I know you want to enjoy the season and all the fun that you only get once a year, but turning off the holiday carols for a day, foregoing a holiday movie in lieu of a sci-fi movie, or leaving one room undecorated doesn’t make you a Grinch. It makes you a well balanced human being.
7. Plan some time to yourself. It’s also easy to get social overload with the constant bombardment of celebrating with family and friends. Yes, it’s good to see everybody, but you also need some time to yourself to rest and restore your balance, and you need to take care of yourself. Again, skipping an event here or a party there doesn’t make you a Grinch. It makes you a savvy entrepreneur of your time. Face it; nobody can do it all during the holiday season. Pick what you like best and do that. The holidays will always come back around, and you can catch a few things you missed next year.
8. Realize that how others act is a 100% reflection on them and a 0% reflection on your or anybody else. We naturally deal with more people this time of year, and as such the emotions will flare up. Human beings have a complex yet not really sophisticated array of defense mechanisms to deflect the responsibility of their behavior to others, but the wise among us realize these tricks and know that each is responsible for himself alone. You simply can’t take everything people say or do to heart. I wrote an entire blog entry on this last holiday season called “Don’t Flinch,” and that’s exactly what I remind you to do again. People will certainly, get emotional and have fits of their some variety at some point in the coming weeks. Say no to the drama. Don’t cave into that. As my brother once told me, you don’t have to take other peoples’ problems just because they want you to, and you shouldn’t. Let them keep that crap. Take the higher ground. Stand firm in what you know is right. And Godsake, don’t flinch.
9. Be aware of what’s going on around you. It’s easy to get sucked into our own little world with such long to-do lists this time of year. It’s also dangerous. Diversion and inattentiveness are why so many people get attacked and robbed this time of hear. Be aware of your surrounds and the people around you, and take proper precautions to secure yourself and your stuff. It really isn’t as hard as it seems. Just pay attention.
10. Have fun. I think this is the biggest thing we forget. We keep saying “as soon as I get this done, I’ll relax,” or “as soon as that event/date/get-together is here, I’ll be ok.” Don’t defer your joy. There are things to enjoy in every day, holiday related or not. Find them. Enjoy them. Give thanks for all the blessings you have. And be grateful that we have a fun holiday season in these dark days of approaching winter, because it really gives light to a time of year that would be blah, boring, and depressing otherwise.
That’s all today. I wish all of you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful weekend.
When I was driving in to work on Friday, the radio announcer was talking about a post on social media that he sees every year around this time. The post is a simple question: What if the only things you had today were the things you were thankful for yesterday?
It's a daunting question, and one that's especially timely to think about now, as we enter the holiday season. The two words I hear way too much every year in November - December (and yes, it's already started) are "I want." People are very vocal about their desires, especially at this time of year. And it's ironic, because Thanksgiving is a holiday that's supposed to be about showing thanks for our blessings, and Christmas is supposed to be about giving thanks for our salvation. Supposed being the actual verb in those phrases, because if every conversation starts with "I want" or "I wish," then the focus isn't on being grateful for what you have. It's everywhere but where it's supposed to be. Our scramble to create "the perfect holiday" puts our focus on performance and off of prayer, meditation, and being grateful for the life we live every day.
Yes, I will agree that this is a season of celebration, and we're certainly entitled to enjoying it. But isn't it a mistake to limit that to a time of year, or conditions being met, or of getting what we want? Shouldn't we celebrate our blessings every day? The Bible says not to despise the day of small things, but I'll bet that when the end of it all rolls around, we'll discover that's where the true magic and joy of our lives were at. Yes, the big things matter greatly, but there's just as much joy in the small stuff. Some of my happiest memories are days spent at home with Rick and the birds, or lunch out with family and friends, conversations with co-workers on a slow afternoon, lunches out and dinners in, reading a book, or watching a movie or TV show I enjoy. If I limited my joy to big events and book releases, then I'd be binding myself indeed, and I don't want to do that. I want to enjoy life everyday, not just during certain times and seasons.
I often hear people say they wish Christmas lasted all year, but perhaps it's Thanksgiving that should be a year-round, everyday event. And perhaps this Thanksgiving week is a great time to shift our paradigm and give some thought not to the "I want" list, but to the "thank God I have ..." list. Try it. You might find it's longer than you imagined.
That's all today. I hope you have an excellent week.
Hello world, it’s good to see you again. It’s been a crazy week for me, as I anticipated, but by the grace of God, I’m making it. Thankfully, it seems that some mountains are behind me. No doubt, there will be more mountains to move in the future. That’s the nature of life.
was finally released over the weekend, and that was a huge relief. Splinter
has been a three and a half year journey full of obstacles and fights unlike any I’ve ever seen in writing and publishing a novel. Not only was it the hardest project I’ve worked on to date, but it seems that everything that could go wrong did throughout the entire process. It led me to question whether this was a right course of action many times, but forging ahead seemed to be the answer at every challenge, and now it’s paid off. I’ve fought two arm injuries, multiple illnesses, family issues, work issues, email and technology issues, even what many would refer to as “spiritual warfare” issues – you name it, I faced it. Thanks be to God, it’s published. I can’t describe the tremendous relief I feel now that the process is complete. I did as much publicity and promotion before the release as I could, but there was still a lot that had to wait until it was published and available for sale, and I’ve been busy taking care of those things this week. It’s hard work; but I’m doing it with joy to finally have it published.
Don’t forget that I’m extending 2 special offers to readers to celebrate this release through the month of November. Quarantine
is being offered for free, and Move
is being offered for 50% off (that’s $1.50) through midnight on November 30th. You will need to enter Coupon Code BP43X for Quarantine,
and Coupon Code QN64T for Move.
I also have a prequel short story posted titled “Fractured” on ReadWave,
if you want a sneak peek at it. It’s only 800 words, and you can read it in less than 5 minutes.
Second, I had a 2 day meeting on Monday and Tuesday. Plus, they completed renovations in our office area over the weekend, so my office was a disaster until I got out of the meeting and had a chance to unpack (I’m not mentioning the 2 day pile of work waiting on me on top of that). Again, thanks be to God, we made it through that too. Like Splinter
, it wasn’t without obstacles. Everything that could go wrong did on Monday, and I was so exhausted by the time that I got home that I literally couldn’t think straight. Tuesday went better, and I’ve made good progress since then. Thankfully, all of our staff vacancies are filled now, so things are shifting back to their proper order. Let’s pray it sticks this time. I’ve petitioned some prayer power in this area, and it seems to be working.
Third, Ollie is still struggling with that nerve inflammation in his leg. Rick and I are concerned, but it seems that the final answer on that is to wait it out, because there’s no quick fix or cure for this. The vet said it’s a result of the kidney infection he had last month, and nerve inflammation takes a long time to go down. He’s afraid to medicate Ollie any more because he’s so small, and it might have a detrimental effect. I feel so sorry for the little fellow. It’s hard because he has good days and bad days, and with this shifting weather (hot, cold, rain, hot again, cold again, windy, rain again), it’s not helping his healing, and we want to help him. We’ve tried everything we can, and being patient is hard when you can tell the little fellow is in pain. Ollie is still eating well, and playing as best as he can (although not as much as he used to since his foot is hurt).
I guess one thing that raised alarms for me is that my brother found one of his cats, Macy, dead yesterday morning. Macy had an upper respiratory infection a couple of months ago, but it cleared up and there was no indication that anything was wrong. I feel bad for Stephen and Nicole, because when you don’t have kids, your worst fears are something happening to your parents, your siblings, or your pets. I still remember how awful it was to lose the parakeets I had before my current “flock,” and that was in 1996. You don’t forget that. I have to admit that, given Ollie’s situation, this bothered me a lot. People keep assuring me that Ollie will recover because he’s been fully diagnosed for all possibilities, but things like this tend to push your “freak out” buttons. Stephen and Nicole thought Macy was fine, and she woke up dead yesterday (not putting it gracefully, I know). I feel bad for them, and I’m trying to pray away my own anxieties over Ollie now.
Fourth, our church finally has a new pastor under consideration. We’re voting on extending a call Sunday. All we have is basic information on them. No name – I guess they don’t want the younger members of the congregations to Google him and to vote based solely on qualifications. So there’s another transition stage coming to a close, we hope. It’s been over a year and a half since our pastor and associate pastor left, so this has been a longer transition than we expected. It seems that’s the name of the game these days – transitions lasting longer than usual. Problems, obstacles, etc etc etc.
I’m optimistic that things will settle down into a good place. So positive, in fact, that I rejoined the Information Technology Committee again. I liked being more involved with the church, and I’ve missed not being on a committee this year. Now seems like a good time since my job is settling back to normal, Splinter is published, and we have a new pastor coming in that doesn’t have any preconceived notions or expectations of me or Rick. I’m not officially back “on” the committee until January, but that’s ok. It will be good to be back, and I believe the IT committee is of a magnitude that will fit into my life. I guess rejoining that committee would be a fifth thing that’s happened this week.
Sixth, Dad’s birthday is tomorrow! I hope he has a great day. We’re doing an “official” celebration on Thanksgiving since he and Mom are planning a day trip to Charleston tomorrow, but I did see them for lunch today and gave him his presents. It’s supposed to be a nice day tomorrow, and I hope they enjoy it. Happy birthday, Dad!
So yes, it’s been a crazy-busy week, but all for good because things are more or less settling and I’m seeing the fruits of my labors. I pray that the tide is turning. (Again, I’ve petitioned additional prayer power on this and it thankfully seems to be working so far). The relief I’ve felt over the progress of this week’s hard work has actually had me feeling almost human again, for the first time in nearly a year. I won’t lie – these past 12 months have been tough. Not as tough as the major transitions of 2010, but still tough and challenging in ways that tested and stretched me beyond what I believed to be my own capacity. It seemed awfully soon to have to face it too, after just settling in from so much before. But again, by the grace of God, I’m still standing. We all are. And that alone shows His hand on us to help and guide everybody affected by all of this transition and change this past year. We survived. We’re moving forward. We’re thriving. Thanks be to God.
Yes, I’m relieved. More relieved that I have been in a long time. As I say in the closing line of Splinter
, it’s a good day to be alive.
That’s all today. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a great weekend.
I had a good surprise last night - Splinter was published through Whiskey Creek Press yesterday! I'm so happy! Three and a half years in the making, and it's finally here! Hooray!
It looks like Splinter is up at Whiskey Creek Press and on Amazon now. Barnes & Noble is typically a bit slower, but hopefully it will be posted there soon.
This was a nice surprise. Much better than the one I had Thursday when my car started smoking when I got back from lunch! Those are the kinds of surprises I usually get. When people say "I have a surprise for you," my stomach knots up because it's usually good for them and bad for me. Recent surprises that I've been the recipient of are a wasp sting that reacted VERY BIG, two sick birds, Rick's obscure infection, catching every darn virus that goes around, my car smoking on the way back from my lunch break, break downs, melt downs, and the "I'm outta here" speeches that I've heard way too many of in the past year. So you can see why I'm skeptical of surprises, and so shocked when a good one comes my way.
Anyway, go pick up your copy, and if you like it please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
Thanks for supporting my writing, and I hope all of you have a great week.
Hi all; I thought I'd give you a general update on what's happening in my corner of the world.
is coming out next week! I'm excited, of course, and will update you with buy links for the book as soon as they're available. It's only going to be available in ebook format. Lots of people ask me why, and the reason is that I have to pay to make it available in paperback, and frankly I never recup the costs of it. Almost all of my books sales are ebooks and the paperbacks just don't move, so I invest that money in promotion of the electronic version instead. If you'd like a sneak peek at Splinter
, you can check out the short story I posted on ReadWave yesterday titled "Fractured".
It's told from the point of view of Amelia Eaton, the doctor on Jovan I and Leigh Lybrand's best friend, and it gives a great setup to the novel because it hints at something important that happens about 18 months before Splinter
opens. Go check it out - the story is only 800 words, and you can read it in less than 5 minutes.
If you were on social media Thursday, then you know my car broke down when I went out to lunch that day. What a story! I actually went out to pick up a Christmas gift I ordered for Rick. They tried to deliver it to the house, but unbeknownst to me, they sent it with a signature required, so when it arrived Wednesday and I wasn't there, they left a nice little card in the mailbox. So I already had to explain to Rick why the post office was trying to deliver a parcel to me, because he gets home before I do. I had to go to the post office Thursday to pick it up, or they were going to return it to the sender, which I didn't want, of course. I made it all the way to the post office (I didn't realize how far out in the boondocks the post office serving our zip code was!) and the car started smoking when I pulled back in the parking lot at work. I went in to tell my co-workers what was happening, and took it straight to a mechanic that set up shop about 2/10 of a mile from my house. The car started overheating on that ride, and I had to stop twice to rest the engine before it shut off. (Thank goodness my office is only about 3 miles from home). But thanks be to God, I made it. I walked home carrying my purse, work bag, and Rick's gift (which was bigger than I expected, but thank goodness not heavy). And also thankfully, nobody saw me walking home, as it's a dirt road with little traffic from my house to that mechanic. It turns out that a valve in my radiator had a hole in it, and all of the antifreeze leaked out. They fixed it the same day, which was amazing, and I picked it up before work yesterday (they wanted it to sit overnight to make sure it didn't leak any more antifreeze). The car's doing fine now, but it relieved me of $281. To replace a $8 part, I might add.
Speaking of Rick, he did recover from the tissue infection in his cheek. It was a painful ordeal, and we're glad it's over. We still aren't sure how he got it. I surmise it has something to do with working in a middle school and handling all of those student and teacher iPads. People can be pretty nasty sometimes. We actually had a good weekend last weekend, because he felt better and we had a chance to have a "date day" for the first time in about a month. We went to the gun show, out to lunch, and to see Thor: The Dark World
. We enjoyed it and it was great to have a chance to go out and do something fun together. But now he's down again, because he got a flu shot yesterday, and it has him feeling run down today. He hasn't had a flu shot in a few years, and it seems to have knocked him out this time. He can't seem to win. This should pass by tomorrow or Monday according to the paperwork they gave him.
Ollie is over his kidney infection, but it left him with nerve inflammation in his leg. Some days are better than others. I've bugged the vet about it several time and even took Ollie back because of it. The vet said it will get better in time, but inflammation takes a while to go down, and little Ollie seems to be a slow healer. Some days are better than others. I hate it because I can tell the leg is really bothering him sometimes. But he still sings, and plays, and he's eating very well. The vet said to try to get him to work that leg - a kind of "physical therapy" - and we're trying but again, some days are better than others. We all know that the changing weather isn't helping matters either, because I can tell it bugs him more when it's cold. Poor little fellow.
Christmas shopping is 80% done. I know I won't finish before Thanksgiving, but that's okay because I think I can finish in early December with this rate of progress. I have to, because the workload at my job peaks in December. Along with a December 16th exam deadline, we also have everybody wanting to get licensed before the end of the year so they can start on projects at the beginning of the new year. It's insanity, and I've learned that I have to plan ahead to handle "the crush" if I want to keep from drowning. It can get overwhelming, between a heavy workload and your family and social life picking up for the holidays. Why every place I've worked seems to hit a "crunch time" between Thanksgiving and Christmas is beyond me - I guess it must be a trend no matter where you work. Things just get more active all around during the holidays. But thank God, I hope that planning ahead will keep me sane. I was so stressed and overwhelmed last holiday season that I was miserable and couldn't enjoy the holidays even when I was finally away from all the madness. I just couldn't seem to "wind down" from everything pounding on me, and I don't ever want to be in that place again. I'll err on the side of wisdom and take people snickering and calling me "anal" if it means I can keep an even keel once it all busts loose in a few weeks and actually be able to enjoy the season like we're supposed to.
And that reminds me to give you a follow up that I should have done a while ago. I know I said in July that I was having problems with being angry all the time and at so many people and situations because of the crazy amount of change since last December. I wanted to let you know that I am feeling better and I think I'm making progress in this area. It's not easy to deal with anger. Of course, you have every right to be angry when people are making decisions that you have to pay the price for, but that doesn't give you justification to stay angry. That's putting yourself in a prison and, as I said in July, that's not the kind of person I want to be. I see now that sometimes people just make bad decisions, and whatever consequences you suffer for it, they suffer much more because they're in the middle of it. Periphery problems, as I was struggling with at the time, pass much faster than being in the dead center of the chaos. But another issue is that I also realize that I'm not the only one that was overwhelmed. Many people were, and some still are, but everybody is trying to get settled in a better place. I see intent to make progress and it's paid off in some ways already, so I'm content to hang in there and keep things moving in a right direction. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we're called to do, but it's possible through prayer. Moving on can be hard too, but again it's possible if you're willing to learn from the past and gain wisdom from all that you experience. I have heard that more change may be on the way for me in the new year, and that's okay as well. I see some benefits to it and while I realize that a learning curve and adjustments might be on the horizon (again), I prayed over it and feel this is for ultimate good for me and many others. Nothing is definite, but I'll pass along more if and when it comes to pass.
I think the greatest thing I've come to learn over these past months as I worked through the anger issue is that I had an error in my own perception. I was in a rut for so many years at my old workplace, that I thought the "normal" state of being was just that - being in a groove. But that's not right. I've come to see that the constant change and state of flux I've seen over the past 3 years is actually the norm, and that 6 year rut was the exception. I've been working so long and hard to "get settled down," and now I realize that the proper state of life is actually change and constant motion. "Normal" is constant work and striving toward something better, to making the next steps and to moving ahead, not settling in a groove of the "same old same old" that slowly kills your soul. The happiness I thought I had in those days was nothing more than comfort of routine and fear of change, and I really had to be jolted to get out of that deceptive trap. Although I wouldn't relive that adjustment phase again for any amount of money or reward, I will say that I'm glad it happened, because my life is in a much better place, and the happiness I have now is based not on "comfort," but on faith and gratitude for a life that I finally realize is filled to overflowing with blessings. I had it backwards, and that's been part of my anger and adjustment problems to this big life change since 2010. That was a major revelation to me, and it helped me to start making steps in a positive direction in my own attitude and expectations of life.
So am I still going through with the big life evaluation and purge I planned for January 1? It doesn't look like I need to. I see where things fit now, and I also see the progress and change on the horizon that I was hoping for.
Well, I think that's quite enough for one day. I hope you're all doing well. Take care, and have a great weekend.
There’s a line in the recently released trailer for Captain America – The Winter Soldier that interested me. It’s where Agent Fury tells Captain America “S.H.I.E.L.D. sees the world as it is; not as we want it to be.” That statement stuck in my head, but it wasn’t until the past couple of days that I realized why: most people don’t do this. They act and treat others in a manner that reflects how they’d like for the world to be; not in the way that people actually behave. We base a lot on theory and not on reality, and it’s a problem that I’ve been butting my head against for several months in a couple of places in my life. In a way, it’s sad when a line from a movie based on a comic book character resonates in your personal life. But it did.
And why is this? I know what conclusion you’re jumping to – I’m saying people are selfish. Well, in a way we all are, and there’s no question of that in some people. Especially now that the holidays are coming and we’re entering the “gimme” season. No, not the “giving” as we popularly put it. The magical holiday season are when people start making their demands known – loudly, frequently, and with a bold determination to mow you over with their will no matter what so they can make “the perfect holiday.” The only problem is that “perfect” is an operational definition – as in, there’s not one, singular definition of it, and it depends on your perception.
I think the core problem here, beyond even selfishness and stubbornness, is a perceptual problem. We all see the world differently, and we have our own way of processing and perceiving things. That we are all unique individuals is a fact that most people don’t have a problem with. The problem comes in comprehending that other people see things in a way that we can’t relate to and sometimes might not even understand. This is something I run across a lot. I’ll present something to people, and they’ll see things and pull interpretations out of it that never crossed my mind. That, I believe, is where the phrase “pulled it out of their butt” came from. You look at it and think how on earth did they come up with that out of this? You can’t see anything that even resembles it. But they can, and because of those perceptual differences, you can’t find a way to communicate.
Unfortunately, we like the way we see the world. We’re comfortable with it, and we’re willing to expend a great deal of time and energy trying to drag others in our world, not realizing that the simpler solution is to try to find their world and build a bridge between the two. This is called compromise. It’s a dirty word to most people. And we’d all get along better if we tried it a bit more frequently. But we don’t because it’s hard. Bridge building isn’t easy. In the physical world, it takes a licensed engineer with very special skills to do that, and I think that most people believe that’s true emotionally as well. It may seem like it. In my experience, the two hardest things in the world to do are to change how you think, and to try to understand what somebody else is thinking. It can be done, but it requires a tremendous amount of effort and attention to your own thinking and behavior patterns, and that level of self scrutiny is uncomfortable for most of us.
Lately, I’ve had several instances where people have asked me to speak with a person that they’re having difficulty communicating with. They tried to explain it every way they can, to no avail. In every instance, I asked the question they didn’t think to ask: why do you think that? Instead of trying to jerk them into my world, I asked them where they were coming from. It’s not 100%, but more often than not, you find that the problems aren’t as big as they appeared.
You can’t remake the world, folks. It is what it is, whether we like it or not. What you can do is exchange the mirror you see the world through for a window. Escape the tunnel of your own vision and look to the periphery. Look outside and see what lies beyond your own image of the world. Then you can get a better view of reality, and that can be the difference between moving mountains and wandering in the wilderness.
That’s all today. Take care and have a good end of the week.