Still shaking in my knees

This is a hard blog post for me to write.

Worse, I don’t know why.

Doesn’t matter though. This is still a post I’ve been avoiding to write.

90 Seconds to Courage is now available on Amazon.

Read on Kindle Unlimited

Even though it is out to the world, I still have major trepidations about it and I don’t know why.

I keep asking myself: will it help anyone? Will anyone have positive changes in their life because I took the step forward to put this out? Is it worthy? Is it too broad? Will anyone care?

Continue reading

Thoughts on Witch Week

A short while ago, I finished reading this combo book which had The Magicians of Capona and Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones. I had purchased the audio of Magicians of Caprona and tried to listen to it on a trip, but I had to stop because after awhile, all the Italian names started to blend together and nearly put me to sleep on the road. I had to stop listening. I was afraid that reading the book would be as monotonous and I avoided it for a couple of years. But, I am such a Diana Wynne Jones fan that I just had to have another book to read.

Magicians of Caprona wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t what I was expecting either. In the end, I was really just kind of “meh” about it.

At least it didn’t take long as Castle in the Air.

I was ready to move onto Witch Week.

I’m going to start by saying that I really dislike it when writers hop from one character’s head to another. Witch Week continuously changes which character’s point of view we are seeing the story from. At first, it really bugged me because I didn’t see a point in it. Then I started to get into the swing of it and it wasn’t bad. When I started reading the next book in the series, Conrad’s Fate, I developed a theory that maybe she was doing all this on purpose in order to practice as a writer. Witch Week and Conrad’s Fate are two different points of view all together, Witch Week being third person omnipotent and Conrad’s Fate being first person. I really think now that she was trying to see if “head hopping” could be done effectively. I have seen so many authors claim that their head-hopping shifts were actually the omnipotent point of view, to which I scoff because it isn’t. It is merely a book told from two, three, or four character’s points of view. Witch Week is true omnipotent.

It’s taking me sitting here writing out some of my thoughts to really reflect on the story and what a truly amazing job she did with this. I will have to go back to it again and study this more. I might have to claim that this is the first time I’ve seen true omnipotent point of view done well.

Watch out. The last time I saw a writer attempt something I felt was outlandish (first person, present tense), I ended up writing the Loki series because I wanted to try my hand at it. That was because of Susan Ee’s Angelfall. #AffiliateLinks

In finishing Witch Week, I discovered what Magicians of Caprona was missing and it had to do with the ending. in Magicians of Caprona, the characters of the story, I feel, do very little to save the day. I won’t spoil it, and maybe I was reading fast to get through the story, but I just don’t feel like it had a satisfactory ending. Witch Week on the other hand, was ended by the main characters of the story realizing what needed to happen and carrying it out.

Overall, I’d say that both stories are worth the read. Okay, so far the whole Chrestomanci series is worth the read.

Just a reminder that some of my links may be affiliate links, meaning that if you click on them and then go shopping (even if its for more than the item you that took you to the store), I may be rewarded with some small compensation- like a tip. This doesn’t effect your price, but is paid for by the store you’re shopping on. And if you do use my affiliate links, thank you. I appreciate your support.

I am

I am a builder.

I am an architect.

I am a wizard.

I create.

Last week I ran afoul with my own thoughts. I despise nothing more than those depressing creative moods that drag me down like plough stuck in the mud. I have learned that for me there is only one solution: sleep.

But when the first night of sleep didn’t help. I’d gone to bed early, but didn’t sleep well. I spiraled into an even worse mood: an angry, depressed creative mood. It seriously didn’t help that the Universe seemed to want me in that exact state and was doing everything it could to keep me there.

The second night of sleep was better. I actually slept, probably because I hadn’t slept correctly the night before. Afterwards, I felt somewhat better, no longer stuck in the mud, but not quite pulling along like I should.

I asked the Universe what I needed now and it quickly replied with “The Freelancery, of course.” I headed over to Walt Kania’s blog. Now, I love Walt’s blog posts, but he doesn’t write nearly enough of them for me. I want more. But, I also understand that he’s got his freelancing going on and so I’m glad that he puts out his words of wisdom as he can for the rest of us.

Fortunately for me, he had put out a post since my last visit. And, just as the Universe had promised, it was exactly what I needed. In this post, he talks about the difference between an entrepreneur and a freelancer. At first, I was all ready to disagree and yell that a freelancer had to be an entrepreneur and understand that they were a business for themselves. But as I read Walt’s blog, I understood his point. And I saw that I most definitely ended up in the freelance side of things.

But as I read on and I got to his line, “…a freelancer says “I built this,”…” something inside me snapped as if two pieces were clicking into place together. Immediately I discarded the remnants of the funk plaguing me.

I am a builder. I build books, paintings, audiobooks, comics, photographs, and whatever else suits me at a given moment.

I am an architect. I see structures of plots, of systems, of storylines, of compositions all in my mind’s eye.

I am a wizard. I bring forth that which was not there into our world as if by magic using the tools I have.

I create. I make something from nothing, giving form and substance to the things I build.

I write this in order to remind myself should I ever forget. Maybe along the way, someone else needs to hear these thoughts so as to bring his or her own mind back together.

Maybe it will help, along with some sleep.

Riptide of emotions

I am writing this post after having finished writing my rant that went up on Monday. I have to say that my emotions are a little raw right now. The psychological distance is the reason why I usually save thoughts like that for my fiction.

But I know this feeling will soon pass.

Our bodies are meant to feel emotions. Chemicals, many of them constructed in the brain, are released to give our bodies the many varied sensations we feel. And it usually takes about two minutes for those chemicals to dissipate.

Already, I am beginning to feel better.

I suspect it would have taken longer for my emotions to level back out if I had continued to dwell on them.

This is why the news media latches onto a story and keeps repeating it over and over. It continues to flood the viewer with negative emotions which feed the irritation. This is why our society is getting angrier and we have so much bad going on. Solution: quit watching the news! No, seriously. Read headlines and ask yourself if you really want to invite a story into your life before reading. Don’t view any news. Read it. Choose what you read wisely. You can stay informed while not giving into the drama and trauma that our news outlets want you to surrender to. Don’t give them your energy.

All of life is about choosing how you wish to spend your life energy.

More importantly, YOU get to choose how you spend your energy. Don’t give it to someone who is willing to influence you in the way they want. You make your own choices.

This is the essence of my book coming out in October, 90 Seconds to Courage.

Coming October 13, 2020

People aren’t taught how to flow with their emotions and their energy, or how to focus them into their lives. I really do believe though that humanity needs to mold itself differently and that is only going to happen one person at a time; only you can choose the person you wish to be.

Do you want to be full of anxiety? How about anger? Jealousy? Fear?

I honestly believe many people choose these states. It makes them victims. Then they can have other people’s sorrow, which feeds their justification for living a lackluster life as well as supporting their addictions.

But you can change this. You can quit letting negative, ill-gotten emotions control your life. All it takes is understanding these emotions being chemicals released from your brain and a little courage to live a better life.

The power of our world

I woke up Sunday morning to read the headline of an article which stated that people were baffled by orca whales hitting the sides of boats around Spain.

Has 2020 taught us nothing?

I feel that our world has been sending us one very big, flashing neon sign of a message this year: GET OUT!

I have long told people that when Mother Nature decides to throw us off the planet, there will be nothing we can do about it. I really feel like She’s decided to start that process. Yes, start! She really has yet to begin.

We should have first taken a clue when She sent us all to our rooms with COVID. We didn’t listen. In fact, we took to the streets with violence and mayhem. There were earthquakes and fires (okay, I acknowledge that the Australian fires were first about the time COVID was becoming a worldwide issue). Hurricanes, and now orcas. Nature has gotten the clues that we are not welcome any longer.

Too long have we fought each other because of skin color or cultural differences, or for land/power. Other animals fight too, but we’re supposed to be one of the smartest, most evolved of all the animals and we can’t get over ourselves to realize that we are all out here floating on this little bubble together? Do you know how precarious our situation is? Huh? Any clue at all?

We are freaking idiots!

Worse, I feel like humanity is getting dumber all the time. We prepare our children to do standardized tests (I’m mostly talking U.S. here), but do nothing about preparing our children how to live in the real world.

It all makes me very angry. I usually try to keep my sentiments like this in my stories, let the battles play out in imagination, but I feel like it needs to be said more openly. Especially since no one is listening to the planet as She screams around us.

I am still a believer in hope. I will not stand against racism or war. I won’t be against drunk driving or smoking or drugs. I won’t live in fear against a disease. Any time you stand AGAINST something, you lend it energy. What you resist persists. Instead, I will continue to be for peace, for sobriety, for health. Those virtues are what I wish to promote here. I will continue to support kindness in humanity, beginning in myself. I will see things differently than everyone else and believe in life and energy. I will not buy into what the news tries to shove down my throat. I understand that this is all happening for a reason and I trust that power that is greater than me. Yes, I trust the process. That might be easy for me to say as I am safe right now. I am healthy, I have electricity, and I have my home. That is more than many can say right now.

But, is that because I hold a different view and outlook?

I certainly hold myself to standards that most people don’t understand these days. It’s easier to come home and have a beer, plop down in front of the television, and claim that they deserve to rest after a long day of work than it is to get home and refocus on their own passion and put in more hours on that in order to build a better tomorrow for themselves. It’s easier to get angry, raise a stick, and attack a fellow human than it is to seek out the calm and allow to live and let live.

We would all be better off if we paid attention to the space inside our own jars than trying to get the space from everyone else’s jar.

Mother Nature is only going to let us remain if we can find peace within our selves and learn to live in harmony with Her, not strip Her down of all she’s got. Nature is smart enough to replenish Herself if we can learn to listen to her cycles. She even allows us glimpses into Her secrets as our own scientific advancements. It’s not like She stands against us. No, She is clearly for our survival as well.

But not if we continue to be idiots!

Let’s talk about Loki

After mentioning Cirvel in my blog earlier this week, someone — not naming names here *cough* “Loki” *cough* — got a little jealous. I’ve heard him piping up the background the last couple of weeks politely telling me that I don’t write enough blogs about him. Not nearly enough!

He’s probably right.

So let’s start with a tile card. (grin)

This quote comes to us courtesy of his personal assistant, Jason.

Okay, fair warning here. I’m going to talk about some things which might be considered spoilers if you haven’t read at least the first 2 novellas of the 5 part story arc. If you don’t want spoilers, then I suggest you stop reading this blog post and go read at least the first 2 (1-800-Mischief and For Sale, Call Loki if you want the individuals, or those two in the box set). Otherwise, spoilers ahead for a book that is nearly a decade old.

Wow! Has it really been that long? Sorry, pausing here, I have to go look up the publication date. Yep, 2013; 7 years, nearly 8. Wow!

I’ve been writing mythology mashups a lot longer than that. The first one I did was back in college when I wrote an alternative to the story of Jason of the Argonauts and Medea. I just never felt that Medea could do that (killing her children) without a better reason. There had to be more that we weren’t being told. So I wrote a different story.

I wish I could find that story because I’d publish it now. Maybe its best that I can’t locate it.

What I did have was a big (no, HUGE!!!!) hatred of Jason. What an arrogant S.O.B. Yeah, I sided with Medea. She should have driven a dagger into his black little heart.

So, when I was writing the Loki adventures and I realized that his personal assistant was named Jason, I tried at first to think about a boy I used to go to school with by the same name. Dumb, and yet not; I’ll tell you why: this kid said he was (or adamantly claimed to be) related to Edith Hamilton, who wrote the Mythology book we all had to read in school. I don’t know if it was true or not. Frankly, I don’t think he would’ve had a reason to lie about this since it just got him teased (lightly of course because he was jock and very adored). But all that aside, I just focused on him and tried to keep my thoughts away from Jason of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece.

I would not write about Jason of the Argonauts!

Then, one day I’m writing a scene about him riding along with Loki and Jason casts a spell. I felt it coming.

Then Jason announces that he is Jason of the Argonauts. Loki’s reaction was pretty close to mine. Yet, I knew I was doomed. I knew I would have to reconcile my feelings about the mythological Jason with my character.

It’s a good thing I’m a big believer in trusting the process. Otherwise, I might have edited all that out and revamped it. Instead, I looked at my rather large poster of Loki and said, “Bring it on!”

Of course, at this point in writing the series, I’m actively looking for things which would change my opinion about Jason of the Argonauts. I watched some documentaries, did some research. I didn’t want to get down too far into it as I didn’t want to spark those old emotions about Medea being forsaken, especially considering my own feelings regarding my divorce were still raw and had given me completely new insights and emotions into betrayal. Yeah, my own healing had taken awhile and I had completely new thoughts about Medea and Jason’s story. I knew I couldn’t touch that deeply in the mythology if I wanted to get this story to work (trust the process and that little voice!).

The universe delivered. First was the BBC television show Atlantis. I hesitated to watch it at first because it was about Jason. Let’s just say that I loved Atlantis. It’s a shame it only got two seasons! They did such a wonderful job with it. I’m currently watching it for the second time with my son, who is experiencing it for the first time. While they have adapted the mythology to suit a different creative vision, much like I have done with my own Loki series, it let me open up toward Jason and feel emotions with him. I really feel like this is when Jason started to feel real in my story. I could now empathize with him on the level I needed to be on with him.

Then there was a documentary I watched about the gold and the ancient Egyptians. Now, many times I will put a documentary on while I’m painting. I often don’t remember everything that was said, but I know that this feeds information into my subconscious to generate stories. I personally consider it as “filling the hopper.” I watch (or rather listen to) all sorts of things, but usually ancient history, metaphysical, or speculative conspiracy documentaries are what I put on. I do remember vividly that during this one documentary about the gold and Egyptians, no I don’t remember what it was called, the Loki story had a huge “click” for me. I dropped my paintbrush with blue paint on it, leapt from my stool, tripped over it and my own feet, while stumbling to grab a piece of paper and a pen to capture the idea I’d just received. I raced the video back a little bit and watched that segment again. Then I had a minor mess to clean up. But I had the next step in my story, a little shift in direction which would make such a big deal later.

In the end, I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to rethink my emotions surrounding Jason of the Argonauts and to make him an active part of my Loki stories. It wouldn’t be the same story without him.

Priorities

I came across a great blog by Eric Maisel this week, and one I find myself guilty of: Where will you find the time to paint?

Argh!

Whenever someone asks me how I do all that I, I always reply with, “Choices.” That’s exactly what it is. And exactly what that blog post points to but never actually hits that nail on the head. He asks, “Does your art truly matter to you?” and then alludes that if it does (and it might not), that you need to “make time” for you will never “find time.” All true. However, there is a step missing.

If your art matters to you, is it a priority? It is a choice you have to make.

Here’s a reality: you can either make art, or you can agonize about not making it.

Do or do not, there is no try.

See, there are some times that making art wouldn’t be a priority. Health might be an example. If you really need to lose weight (okay, and we’re not talking about a little bit of weight here, I’m talking about significant weight), then your health comes first. You can’t make art if you’re dead. If this is the case, health has to be the priority. But is there something else you can cut out that isn’t a priority, like sitting on the couch for 2 hours watching TV? TV, news, etc., not a priority. I feel like I’m digressing.

Quit watching those painting videos and go paint.

Sometimes other things in life do need to take priority. I find that during these times, I don’t agonize about not painting. It’s not even on my radar. Same with writing.

But when I do start wishing I “had more time” to write or paint, then that should be a clear flag to me that I am making other things a priority when maybe they shouldn’t be. But I have to make the choice to go sit down at my desk or at my easel. I have to make doing the work important by my own choice.

As he says in the blog, you have to motivate yourself to crawl through your resistance. I am guilty of not doing that lately.

In a recent class I was taking, the instructor spoke about blocking out time on your calendar for things that need to be done. For some reason, I have always found this very discouraging. My artistic child hates to be told to do things at a certain time. But I am more than my artistic child. I am the owner of four businesses now. I have a full time job. I need to be responsible. So here I am crawling around in my own head about how to make more time to work on one of those businesses that my artistic child is the ruler of – the business where it my job to create value from my thoughts and ideas and feed them into my other businesses.

Now, not everyone desires to make money from their art. Some just want to do it. To me, my creativity doesn’t feel complete until it is released into the world for a viewer to see and react. But if you are doing it for the pure joy and you can’t make the time to do it, then something else is bringing you joy. Release the art and let it influence you as the muse sees fit. My photography is like that.

Eric Maisel’s blog made me realize that I haven’t been very good in taking my own words of advice about how far you can go in just doing a task for 15 minutes a day. And that is what has gotten under my skin. He’s right and I know it. There has been no try, only do not.

Time to sit down and rethink my priorities I guess. No, I know that I can’t give up my painting. I know that I only feel complete when I’m doing it all. So I guess I must make time. My artistic child must learn to control her playtime when it is scheduled. Then I have to have the priorities strong enough to not want to go off and do something else that might need to be done.

The frustration, the resistance, the hatred of staying firm to one’s decisions is real.

Now, back to losing weight. I’ve been sitting for far too long in this block of time I’m made to write my blogs for this week. I must now turn to my Cubii Jr. and get a few more steps in.

Expansion

I recently had the seal go out on my toilet. I have known that it was going and been ignoring it probably for far too long. Now it was just done.

So, I set about replacing the seal and the toilet.

Most people probably would have just called a plumber to come and do this. However, I am too stubborn and naively stupid to do that. My brother has always been one to take things apart to see how they worked and I am apparently a late-bloomer in that department. But I have taught myself a many good things by just jumping in and swimming around. That’s how I’ve learned to use Excel, Power Query, and PowerBI. That’s how I’ve built databases. I’ve used this method to change faucets, and now a toilet. I even started my self-publishing and art careers by just seeing what would happen.

As a result, many people have told me that they admire my courage or marvel in all the varied skills I have.

While I am grateful for all the skills I have learned for they have all served me well, I have never seen myself as doing something that someone else couldn’t do if they wished. In fact, if anything, I have seen myself as learning everything not only the hard way, but backwards as well.

Remember, I did say naively stupid.

It always seems like I then have to stop with this intermediate knowledge that I gained in this ill-mannered fashion and go back and get the beginning, foundational knowledge. Yeah, those first important steps to keep the whole thing from crumbling. I think I would have been better off if my dad hadn’t just told me that my forts were amazing because they stood up while lacking a foundation and had actually taken me to a construction site to explain what exactly a foundation was. Foundations?!?! I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know why it mattered if my forts remained standing anyway. Didn’t make sense to me. Of course, I don’t think either my dad or I understood just what a visual learner I was at that time.

But there does seem to be some element which I do possess that others lack, something that makes me even attempt feats that others shirk away from.

Courage.

Behind this courage is a willingness to try. And a willingness to fail. Followed by the curiosity to get back up again and try again. But if you can’t even get over the initial fears, you won’t open yourself up to the attempt to begin with. And we all have the ability to do that because we learn how to walk. We learn how to talk. The instinctual actions of a baby all give way at some point to a need to learn something new. I believe our current school system tempers a willingness to try out of us with their incessant need to have the correct answers on the first try. Failure is not allowed. Trying it again, swimming around in the information to see how to use it, and other handling of the information just fed to us in school is not encouraged or allowed. It’s all about being able to pass the standardized test.

OK, I probably need to stop there. We need the initial knowledge that school gives us, but I still feel like there has to be a better way. And I can say this. I was a good student and got decent grades. I graduated as Valedictorian. But it has taken me 30 years of my life to actually understand HOW to use the knowledge I’d been told to learn. And to figure out how life worked. I wish I could say that I did a better job of teaching my children, but it was only when I saw my oldest struggling and learning that he had learning disabilities which forced us to discover how he learns the best that I really did any self-reflection into this. And I could see what needed to be corrected for my family. I changed my course and tried to assure that life lessons were taught in regards to applicable situations.

I learned a lot from it. I pressed myself into more self-development. I knew I had a lot to unlearn and recondition.

I know that’s a long way of going about writing this blog, but 2020 has been a year of personal growth for me. I decided that if I wasn’t going to be able to do shows due to COVID, I would put my time into learning new skills and molding myself into a better person.

When I looked back, I saw that I had already come a significant distance. I already knew quite a bit about changing the person I was. I even found that I liked motivating others to make the decision to change themselves. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. But when they do and you see the pride rising in them from the changes they see in themselves, it’s a wondrous thing.

Even know as I write this though, I am finding it tough. I am trying to summon the courage to explain. I’ve let a new bubble expand in my life. I’ve started to write nonfiction. I always imagined that if I wrote nonfiction, it would be about writing (the only thing in this world I actually feel knowledgeable about and sometimes even that is doubtful!) . Alas, no, my nonfiction will be about personal development. (I’ve heard it said that psychologists themselves usually need the most mental help, and priests need the most spiritual help, so what does that say about me? Yes, probably that I am still a baking cookie as Buffy put it!) At least, that is where I am starting. Who knows what will happen from there.

Yes, I’m scared to undertake this journey. It might fail. It seems like one more thing on my already full plate. Yet, I do feel compelled to go in this direction. Not that any of the others are going to stop. I still want to write fiction, paint, and narrate, but I have to somehow incorporate the nonfiction as well. My soul seeks the expansion. Yet that doesn’t help overcome the fear. Fear of being judged, of being ridiculed, of falling on my face.

So once again, I just jump in and swim. At least I already understand writing and publishing in this day and age. Finally, for once, I might not totally be naively stupid.

My little hitchhiker

Last week while I was driving home, I saw a little spider clinging to my windshield. Now, I’m not one for spiders, but when they are outside, I’m good with that. Spiders have their necessary place in keeping bugs under control. So, outside is the place they should be.

But this one all hunkered down on the glass intrigued me. Yes, I’ve had spiders on my windshield before, so it must have just been my pensive mood that really made me contemplate this one.

As I drove further and further away from my starting point and he clutched to the glass in a tight little huddle against the wind, I admired his strength. How much force pressed against his body as I drove at 30-30 MPH? Would he hang on long enough for me to get out to the county and could he withstand 50 MPH? Would he make the drive all the way home with me?

Here’s a picture:

Yes, that little black dot is him.
Please rest assured that I took this picture only after coming to a complete stop at a light that had just changed. I knew I had plenty of time, but I also didn’t want to be holding onto my phone long enough to get a focused shot. I really don’t like using my cell phone while I’m in the car, especially in town. It’s more important to pay attention!

While I was stopped at lights, he slowly crawled his way up to the top of my car. I don’t know if he made it or if he finally just jumped. Still, he was so far from the starting point that it was like a trip across the United States for him. If he’d made it across the bridge, it would have been like being on the other side of the world. And if he’d clung to my roof or my windshield the whole way, he’d find himself in a completely different world, one that looked similar but was so far from the other spiders he’d known. Did he leave anyone behind? Would he even realize how far he’d gone?

I hope my little hitchhiker made it somewhere safe after he was done riding with me. I know spiders are resilient, but probably not nearly as reflective as I was being while watching him ride with me. Sometimes, it’s just nice to slow down, notice something small like a spider on your windshield, and think about how its life is in the midst of changing. I think it helps us reconcile our own journey too.