Sunday, January 31, 2016
I can’t help think about the negativity we are bombarded with daily. We can’t get away from it and it’s all some people talk about. If it isn’t the newspapers (but not the InterTown Record because we don’t go in for that depressing media-hype), it’s TV blaring everywhere, radio commercials, Facebook trends, and people constantly on their i-Pads and cell phones.
I refuse to put up with it! Remember all the repetitive messages imprints into your soul! After all, repetition is how we learn – how are parents taught us words, alphabet, multiplication tables, etc. We are taught to repeat over and over to learn.
So think about what all this negative messaging does to you. Is that the kind of stuff you want to embed in your very being? What about all the commercials trying to get you to buy products? How often will you need to be told, “Buy my product and you will feel great” before you totally believe it? And the saddest part is, these commercials do not have to tell the truth.
Think about it. How have we all been being brainwashed all these years? How often have you been told something multiple times only to find out later it really isn’t true? (There are even findings now that some of the history we’ve always been taught isn’t the real truth.)
Well, I refuse! I put my foot down and I will no longer buy into what the media is trying to force me to believe and buy.
This made me think more of my new plan to be a better me. I am happy… and most of the time I am. This is one phrase I repeat and in reading more of positive I Am theory.
How am I going to do this? How am I going to make myself even more positive and manifest my goals? This idea of bombardment of words from TV and commercials gave me an idea. What if I take colored index cards and colored markers (I’m all about pretty color), write down little positive sayings, and post the cards all over the house? This way, wherever I go, I’m getting the messaging that I choose to put into my soul!
For instance, I started with a series of I AM cards. I am love. I am peace. I am happy. I am healthy. (You get the picture.) I am a writer. I am a photographer. What I am and what I choose to be.
Then I changed it up a bit. “I make a great living being a writer!” I am taking lines from the “Tao te Ching” and “Course in Miracles” among other great books to help me reinforce the good.
One of my favorite sayings I read years ago came from Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life.” She said, “In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete.”
I’m going to go back through some of my books and write up new cards. Imagine what our lives could be like if every one of us filled ourselves with positive, loving, peaceful thoughts?
Today I wrote: “I am breaking old brainwashed concepts” (all those years of being told I was ugly, fat, unprofessional, etc.) and “I am building new, better me by positive reinforcement and reminders of the wonderful person I am.”
And a trick to this is feeling what is written. When I write “I am peace,” I am feeling it and believing it. The more I repeat the words, the more I do feel it and it makes me happy. And of course, the best to do is “I am LOVE” and feeling the love; a universal, omnipresent love. (Note the feeling between saying, “I am Love” as compared to “I am loving.” To me, the “I am Love” makes it radiate outward.)
What do you think? What would you put on your positive reinforcement cards? (I’m calling them PR Cards – a double entendre as to the other meaning of PR as in public relations because this new me will be out in public.)
Have a fantastic day, Everyone!
Monday, January 25, 2016
I got so wrapped up in working on the final draft of my book that I haven’t taken the time to blog for a couple of days – heck, it’s been a week. Of course, I’m not just working on that project as other things need to be taken care of.
I’ve made it back through Day 9 as of this moment; only 14 more to go before I’m finished, plus writing the epilogue. I’m printing out copies with a few photos to pass on to Nan, who is proofreading for me. It’s never good for authors to proofread their own work. You get so caught up in your work that it’s easy to miss simple grammatical errors or spelling. Also, another point of view can alert you to the fact that a section might sound awkward or confusing to a reader. There’s nothing worse than reading a good story, but you can’t enjoy it because of the bad grammar and spelling; and for a lot of people, those glaring errors jump off the page in your face.
The finishing of the final draft doesn’t mean the book is ready to go. There are many, many decisions to make. There’s layout and design, choosing the size of the book, the type of paper to have it printed on, front and back cover designs, copyrights, and that’s on top of deciding to just go with a print on-demand-company or to go with a real publisher. These are not easy decisions and this is not even talking marketing, yet.
Print-on-demand is a popular way to go and it’s relatively easy (just remember none of this is as easy as it sounds). However, with the thousands of books being printed this way, what makes your book stand out? And with anyone being able to print anything, your book is mixed in with a lot of poorly written material. These print-on-demand places do not do any editing on proofreading. They are set up and print only. They could care less whether the writing is any good.
I don’t want a cheap, shoddy piece of work. As good a writer and editor as I may be, I still make mistakes. I still need, and appreciate, someone else looking over my work before it goes out to the public. I want my books to look professional and classy. The writing, though time-consuming, is the easy part. From there it gets difficult and to do a good job is not cheap. If you want quality work, you need to pay for it – from editing to designing to printing. And if you don’t have the expertise, then be willing to pay someone who does.
Ouch! But this is the type of work I want to do. I’m learning. Maybe there will come a time when I can do almost all of it myself (as I thought I could in the beginning), but I’m not there yet.
On to Day 10... and I still haven't come up with a title.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
I left on my 2015 trip a year ago tomorrow – a year, an entire year, has passed and I am just getting to the end of the first draft of the book. Of course, there were important issues throughout late spring, summer, and fall that kept me from completing the task. “Too Cold for Alligators,” the book about my 2013 trip took a year and a half to write. This book will take as long. What happens when you take a hiatus from a project? How do you get your mind back on it?
My entire life isn’t solely about writing, especially for someone who is not “just” a writer; I’m also an artist and photographer. My job is editor and freelance writer. Then there are the life issues that get in the way and taking time for family and friends. There are also the chores of daily living and surviving. So what does this mean to my life as a writer?
I just couldn’t jump right in where I left off after being away from the writing for six months. I had to re-look at what was previously done to catch up to where I am in the storytelling. I had to get the feel back, get my mind in gear, while at the same time, continuing to deal with settling into the new house, getting the renovations done, and doing the weekly job requirements of being editor of the InterTown Record newspaper.
Other considerations come into play. I get calls to do an occasional photo project. I see scenes which would translate well to charcoal and pastel drawings. I get mail from various venues looking for artists. (I only participated in one show last year and it’s the same one I’m currently doing.) There’s also the other ongoing book that I’ve been working on for a couple of years. What does all this say about me being a writer?
2015 was the Year of Letting Go. 2016 is the Year of Possibilities. A shift is taking place and I’m not totally sure what this means yet. I enjoy being an artist and a photographer. I am professional. But the call to write is very strong and becoming more so. Perhaps it’s time to become more focused on one medium and the first thing that always comes to mind is I AM A WRITER! So, what do I need to do to focus more on my writing?
This morning I went back to a list I started awhile back on what to pay attention to for travel writing. I love making lists, but I am also concerned with the time spent making them. Could the time be better spent doing the actual writing?
Maybe, maybe not; my goal is to improve my writing skills and if I can develop a go to list, it can help when I have to take a hiatus to tend to other life issues. A list will help me get back or stay on track. My mind easily jumps from one topic to another and I often feel I spend too much time refocusing. What kind of shift am I feeling here?
Perhaps focus is the key word. The pull to write is so strong now that maybe it’s time to put the other creative aspects of my life aside. That doesn’t mean I’m giving them up totally and the photography does go with my writing. My desire to be a travel writer and share the information I discover with others is overriding everything else. Maybe it’s time to give in to it.
I am already planning a trip for 2017, so I need to get this book finished and published and I need to finish the New Hampshire book I started a few years ago. Wow, I guess I’ve made a decision here. This year I will concentrate on being a writer and author. (At least today).
Sunday, January 17, 2016
I was doing well with the blogging for a few days then I got distracted. I got sidetracked onto issues for which I have no control. New self-study set up a few revelations – a good way to start the new year – but now I have to get back to finishing the book. Three days, Jan. 20, will mark the year anniversary of leaving for the trip.
I’ve been slowly whittling away at writing the book these past two months and it’s coming along. I write the chapters using journal, blog, and pocket notebook. I research historical information online to add to the story. Then I go to the photo program to edit pictures, and from the prints, I go back to the chapters to add better descriptions while editing and tightening up the grammar. I reached Day 19 of my 23 day journey and went to edit the photos taken of the day spent exploring Fredericksburg, Va.
There are no photos in the Dropbox folder between Feb. 8 and April 24! Panic rippled through me. (I use Dropbox because I can access all my files from any computer.) Noooo! Does that mean I’ve lost the last pictures of my trip? Stop, calm down, think: this means I imported the last photos onto the HP PC, not into the Dropbox folder. The PC crashed the end of April but Schyler was able to rescue the entire hard drive and put in a generic folder on the new Apple MacBook Pro. Maybe, just maybe, I can find those pictures.
I looked in the photo program where he told me to look. The pictures were not there. My heart broke, tears filled my eyes. What am I going to do? I started looking through every file on that old hard drive. It took over an hour and a little more freaking out, but I finally found the file holding those photos. I made notes of the entire path (and it is quite a path) through the various files to get to the one I needed.
However, it’s a read only file. I cannot edit or do anything to the picture. When I tried, it said the file was locked. I clicked the unlock button and read that I have to duplicate the picture and save it elsewhere. This means my editing process just took on a few more steps; tedious and time-consuming, but doable.
This was a set-back. Now I am moving ahead again. Maybe when I get this book finished, I can figure out a way to go on another trip. There are still so many places to explore and favorite sites to revisit. Oh, I soooo want to travel!
Thursday, January 14, 2016
I’ve talked recently about a shift in perspective that started a couple months back. I got distracted while reading “We Are Market Basket” as negative big business beliefs rose to the forefront. There’s a reason I don’t let myself get caught up in news media and the miasma of the horror going on in the world. I pulled myself back into my little world.
I have to stay with who I am. “Start from where you are,” says Pema Chodron in the book of the same name. I return to my core beingness, the I AM (with a little help from Dr. Wayne Dyer). This past week has filled me with a reawakened awareness; some remembered from previous work/reading and some from new readings, and taking whatever resonates as truth within me.
I took a break for a photo shoot and a lot of the old self doubts came charging in. Am I good enough? Will the customer like what I did for them? Am I charging accordingly? Now is a good time to put the new studies into effect and right now my mantra is “I AM___! Repeat it! Feel it! Believe it!” (The blank space can be filled with every positive I can think of and see and want myself to be.)
I spent the morning writing as I do every day. The writing helps me see my thoughts and not just feel them. I take into consideration words of advice and support from others.
A revelation came through: My entire being goes into every project I do no matter what style or medium! When someone hires me to do a job or if I am writing, drawing, painting or even in conversation, there’s a complete package of who I am that goes into it. This is HUGE!
What that means is ALL of me goes into the project. I may be working on photographs, but the writer, artist, healer, and life-experience-wisdom keeper is also present. All the training and classes I’ve ever undertaken is within me. It’s there when I work and it comes out in the project. It’s the love and joy and excitement that bubbles inside and comes out into pens, brushes, camera, and conversation.
Some of the doubt in the past was a fear that I’ve never focused on one medium or stayed with any one “guru.” I worried that people wouldn’t see me as worthy or truly professional because I don’t have degrees. However, if I made a list of every class every taken; every seminar attended; self-help book read; work in shamanism including sweat lodges and fire walks, Healing Tao, and massage therapy, and more -- it’s mind-boggling.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have room to learn. Every day is opportunity to learn (or realize I already knew) something. It’s exciting, and that’s how I look at life – exciting and interesting.
So, I am a unique package-deal when you deal with me.
Friday, January 8, 2016
Often in my editing work, I put my own beliefs aside and stay open-minded. I don’t have to share the same views of others to do the best job I can with the editing. Many times I put the context of what is being said aside and focus on grammar, punctuation, and flow; just doing the job (which I love).
However, yesterday there was an article that really touched me. It was from David Keller, the pastor of the South Newbury Church. His message was about peace and he said, “Taking care of our desire for peace, brings peace.”
Wow, how could I forget? Lately I’d been allowing my thoughts to get caught up in the negativity of world violence, political dealings and lies, and the lack of ethics in big business. And I know: what you think you become – which is one of the reasons I usually avoid the news and all the crap the media tries to pound into us.
Keller’s words made me remember something I read years ago. I had done a short stint with studying “A Course in Miracles” and remembered I have a couple of small books with selections from the bigger study. I dug through my piles of kept books and found them. One is called “A Gift of Peace” and the second is “Accept This Gift.” The selections within are short pieces, easy to read, but are also inspiring and make you think.
Now, I am not a follower of any one religion or faith. I pull concepts from many that hold what I believe to be true and good. Every so often, something really resonates within me when I read it.
“Nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace.” This line sunk to my core early on as I realized that I am in charge of my own happiness. My happiness and inner peace can only come from within me. If I rely on someone else or something else for that, I am only setting myself up for disappointment.
“Offer peace to have it yours.” I take this line to mean if I am not willing to feel peace towards others, how can I feel it within myself? It is easy to project how we feel onto others. I know, there are times when I’m feeling miserable and, in those moments, I don’t care who knows it. But, in that moment, if I remember to breathe and think peace, I become peace. (No, it isn’t always easy. It’s work. But it’s worth the effort!)
What would this world be like if the media were putting these kinds of messages in the news?
What would it be like if we could carry peace in our hearts?
Can I, every time I start to think a negative thought or how horrible the world has become, can I turn to peaceful thoughts instead?
What do I feel as peace? Breathing in, breathing out; flowers; birds; beautiful landscapes, remembering good conversations and good meals with friends, letting my eyes see the beauty around me. And this reminds me of the old Navajo saying, “Walk in beauty every day.”
I have to remember that. I have to remind myself every day. It comes easily when I stop letting my thoughts run rampant; when I stop focusing on the negativity of the world. No wonder I refuse to listen to news. (That doesn’t have to mean I close my eyes to the world.)
“The only way to have peace is to teach peace.”
Thursday, January 7, 2016
I love the branch where I do my banking. Every time I walk in there, they speak to me by name, not just the teller at the window, but any of the other bankers in the offices who see me. Even if they are with another customer, they will say, “Hi Sasha” or give a wave. That personal relationship with customers is so welcoming. We don’t get that enough anymore.
Customers in line often speak with each other and comments are often made to include anyone listening. It makes for a less tense atmosphere and the waiting in line is more enjoyable. The tellers are smiling and are willing to include other customers in their greetings and not just the one standing directly in front of them at the moment. Yes, the actual financial transactions are private and low-voiced, but the overall ambiance has that old-time community everyone-knows-everyone feeling and all are made to feel welcome.
I thanked the teller for that type of welcome and smiles. She said corporate headquarters is trying to put a stop to the open friendliness. She said they are trying to stand up to the orders. They believe in being customer friendly and it makes the day less tedious.
I find that so sad and have seen that happen more and more as the years go by in various businesses, especially big corporate-type businesses. It seems that good business training goes against personal ethics. People are taught that be a successful business, one must be hard, ruthless, uncaring to the people. The overall feeling that comes down the line is the only thing that matters to the business owners is the bottom-line profits.
They don’t really care about the customers and care even less for those who actually work for them. Oh, they have all the pretty words, commercials to catch people’s eyes, et. al., but that’s all show. The good-sounding words are just words used to placate customers and make them think that the corporation really cares for their customers.
But what is reality? Products are made much cheaper and when was the last time you got any good customer satisfaction if you had a problem? Or what did you have to go through to get that satisfaction? How many phone calls do you have to make? How many phone message recordings to you have to go through? And it’s a miracle when you can get through to a real person – and one who can actually help you.
I digress. I just totally believe that big business now-a-days has gotten out of hand. People no longer matter. They get our business, have our business, but they don’t need to care about us or their employees. They sit in their ivory castles and play with numbers. They buy out other businesses, lay people off, and put more work onto people already in their employ…
We are human beings. We are social creatures. It’s important to have interactions and to speak with others. It’s important to be welcoming and smiling and compassionate with one another. We have feelings! And we should be proud of how we feel. And the corporate, unfeeling world should not take that away from us!
So, with how I am viewing business now-a-days, to walk into a place and be greeted by name is refreshing. To hear other customers chatting with each other (and it doesn’t have to be conversations, but just that they are willing to speak) is wonderful. To have the employees (bank tellers, clerks, baggers, sales people, etc.) act as if they are really glad to see you makes a big difference. That bit of joy can spread.
Let’s spread more joy! Let’s not allow the corporate model of business behavior take away our humanness. We are people! We deserve to be treated with respect. This is more excuses to buy local; support local.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Last night I finished reading “We Are Market Basket” by Daniel Korschun and Grant Welker. The whole Market Basket issue was a huge boon and said a lot about the power of people when they are willing to stick together and stick up for each other. It was wonderful to see people band together to support a belief that provides for so many people.
Of course, when all was said and done, all of the Demoulas’ are still billionaires, some even more so. But the people showed they can make a difference.
I’ve been struggling for some time trying to put words and my thoughts together about the subject of big business and corporate America. So, I am going to go on a rant here, but this is a huge subject and I can only touch the surface. What I am writing here is just a basic overall view. Nothing is black and white. There are always pros, cons, and topics that are not exact. There are exceptions.
I relate corporate America to the feudal lords of old. The owners, CEOs and top shareholders are the wealthy royalty sitting in their castles while serfs and peasants (regular workers) do the work that makes the money for kings and queens and their families. The royals keep their “subjects” far down the ladder with little choice of jobs. It means nothing for the top echelon to buy or sell portions of their holdings, lay people off, change job structures, and put even more demands on the workers that are left. (After all, if a disgruntled employee quits, there are a dozen more looking for a job.)
(Yes, I know everyone has choices, but when people are considered “unskilled” labor, their options of a good job are narrow. Many feel stuck in jobs because there is too little choice. They end up living day to day in fear of losing their jobs. Some end up having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.)
What I see is that as long as it’s in the name of “business,” good ethics do not matter. Or rather, good business ethics is not good people ethics. It’s all about making money for the top few and they don’t care who they grind into the ground to get their riches; and for them, there is no such thing as too much money.
Then they do a charity event and get all kinds of kudos for doing something good while in the meantime, their workers at the bottom of the ladder are meaningless to them. Workers are not charity. Workers do not need the recognition. After all, if the company gave back to their workers, where would the huge public accolade come in?
(Yes, charity is needed… there are so many organizations, so many needing help. But what about charity beginning at home, taking care of your own? Oh, wait, they do take care of their own family making sure they are all wealthy. But how many employers actually look out for the welfare of those who work for them?
I look at all those shows on TV where big corporations give away all kinds of appliances, cars, and such. How can these corporations afford that? How can these contestant shows give away $10,000 to $50,000 a week? Someone, somewhere pays for that! It certainly isn’t coming out of the CEOs’ and shareholders’ pockets.
Who is paying is the consumer! If these businesses are able to give away millions (and still remain millionaires), then what is that saying for what they are charging for their products? The imbalance is widening.
I don’t know what the answer is – but there is an issue here and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Monday, January 4, 2016
Yesterday’s trip to Exeter went well and photographs were dropped of the NHSPA’s 17th Annual Photographic Exhibit at the Exeter Town Hall. My feelings around my photography are changing. I’m not even sure what that means yet, but something within me has shifted.
Last year was the year of letting go as I let go my home and moved to a smaller place. I let go of many, many possessions because I no longer have room to store stuff. And by year’s end, I was letting go of previous concepts regarding family and emotions.
This year, 2016, is a year of possibilities – and the possibilities are endless. I have a couple of concrete goals at the moment, but for the most part, I am feeling wide open. There’s a part of me screaming, “What does this mean?” Then a quieter part of my mind is feeling the excitement of what can be. I don’t have to know ahead of time. Hey, with possibility, it can be very much in the moment.
I realized, as I was getting the pictures ready to bring to the show that photography, my photography, is changing. The subjects I liked shooting in the past no longer mean as much, and yet, even as I say this, I know I will continue taking pictures of them. But something has shifted in my consciousness.
Maybe it’s how I will actually view the scene when I stop to take the photograph. How I see things through the camera won’t be the same as in the past. Of course, I’m not even sure what this means as I’m writing this. It’s just something I’m feeling – and I’ve been feeling for a few months.
I am thinking (yeah, I think too much) about how much I love the traveling. I want to balance that with staying at home for long periods while I write the books and edit the photos. There are these ideas niggling at the back of my mind, but haven’t become concrete plans or goals.
I feel I’m standing in front of a blank canvas. The paint brush is in my hand and I’m just staring at the blankness waiting for a clear picture to come to mind. I don’t even know what colors to put on the palette yet. Ahhh, this moment… waiting for possibility…
Saturday, January 2, 2016
The second day of the new year finds me thinking about winter. I wonder why the atomic clock thermometer reads 74 degrees and my feet are cold. I am wearing an extra sweater, scarf around my neck, socks on my feet, and now I’ve added leg warmers and slippers. Is this just a sign of getting old?
I’m used to being barefoot in the house. There are few days a year when I need to wear socks during the day and to have to scuff around in slippers adds another uncomfortable level. Part of my mind wants to be stubborn. I’m inside with a heating system. Doesn’t that mean I should be warm? It is winter and I need to dress in layers – but in the house?
I swore to myself after the past few winters of freezing while in the house during the cold spells and having the thermostat turned as high as it would go that it wouldn’t be so in the new house. I believed with a tighter, newer, smaller house the inside temperature would be more consistent and comfortable. I guess other factors are at play, though.
Those past winters’ inside temperature levels had to do with older home, original windows and wind coming across the field. This new home is in a more sheltered area. Shouldn’t that account for something?
But, I do also need to take into consideration:
This house is on a slab without a basement which means there is little insulation under the floor. The carpeted areas are not too bad, but bare floors as in the kitchen and bathrooms are very cold. The heating system is forced hot air and while the heating ducts may be in the floor, heat rises which doesn’t allow for the floors to warm.
Now, while this is a newer, manufactured home, it is not built as sturdy as older stick-built homes. New materials do not have the old quality standards no matter what they buyer is told.
This will be a winter of assessing the situation as I learn about my new house. I don’t ever want to move again, so I need to pay attention, ask questions, and research options on how to make this the best house for me. I’m already considering finding out if more insulation underneath will help and I am slowly researching heating systems and types of fuel (a subject I’m struggling with and this is one time I wish someone could tell me what to do.)
I know I definitely do not want something that would make more work as in a wood or pellet stove. I know I need to also consider air conditioning for the warmer months, so do I look for a system that could do both or do I just install a split air system this spring for the a/c and continue research for heat. There are many options and dealing with these types of situations are not in my strengths.
But I’ll get there. It’s always a learning experience.
Friday, January 1, 2016
I put off thinking about 2016 (except where I had to make notes of dates) until 2015 was over. This morning, the moment I sat down to write, wishes for the New Year began to pour forth. I don’t look at these as resolutions as I always felt New Year’s Resolutions was setting me up for failure. Not getting things crossed off my list are not failures because it only means something else came along that I accomplished instead.
I’m big into spontaneity and going with the moment. So I build a list of possibilities, things that would be nice if they happened, but won’t be emotionally devastating if they don’t get done. Plus, it’s only January. What I may want right now might not be something I prefer as the year progresses. Other opportunities present themselves. I do not want to limit myself to set plans. I want to allow for changes; for the ebb and flow of time.
For instance, last year’s list had 15 items on it. I only accomplished five, but those five were huge and took most of the year and all of my energy. I’m still dealing with the fallout as moving a household is a huge endeavor and one which will continue into this year as I Sasha-fy this new house.
There are things that are definitely on any list of good will for the New Year; those same platitudes that everyone prays for: peace, love, happiness, wishing for the best for everyone. I could make a long list of these types of wishes I want for the world, and it is important to want and ask for them.
Then I narrow my focus to the here and now and the more personal future plans. Should the lists be kept secret? Would I jinx my wishes by speaking of them aloud?
One I mentioned above about this new home and another continuation is the writing of the books (two of which are in progress and I’ve an idea for a third). Some of the items not finished from last year will transfer to this year’s list while others might not matter at all anymore. There are new goals to accomplish this year as my work with the InterTown Record expands.
I also need to look at my art career. I’m feeling a major shift and I’m not quite sure where that is headed. Even favorite subjects to photograph are no longer important which leaves me questioning my photography. And what about the charcoal drawings????
Of course, there are the tedious plans (those that are on the lists every year): better organizing and record keeping; striving to be a better person, better artist, better writer; improving art sales; exercise; and working smarter, yadda yadda.
What new can I put on this year’s list to make it more interesting and exciting? Oh, so many possibilities…
So, what is on your list of 2016 possibilities?