Winds of Change are Stirring

New Ideas

person walking near shore

 

As some may have noticed, for the past several months, I’ve had a hard time getting back into a regular rhythm of writing and posting at “Self Censored.”  I can write about why and where my energy is going, but the bottom line is I’m trying to figure out where I want to go with this blog. This ambivalence makes it easy for so many other things to get in the way.

For example, while I’m on a roll and in the groove at the computer today, Eliza – my furry baby girl jumps on my lap because she wants to go out.  I put her down, but she gets back up and desperately tries to get my attention by licking my face.  Naturally, I stop and go out for a while as she examines all the spots she missed the last time we were out.  Needless to say, when we get back, she needs a snack to reward her for doing her business outside, and while I’m at it, I decide to warm up the pumpkin muffin that is still waiting in the fridge.

Let’s get back to why I’m here today.  I want to change things up a bit on my blog.  I’m thinking about changing the layout, title, and domain name. I’ve been working on WordPress.com, but I’ve been recommended to try WordPress.org because it has more flexibility.  As I’m mulling ideas about the nuts and bolts, I’ve also been thinking about my content.  Is the “About” page still accurate? Are my goals the same? Is my motivation the same? Who I’m writing for?  Maybe I don’t want to be censored anymore.

The idea for change came one day as I was at the library working on “collection maintenance” (re-shelving books, straightening up and making the place look presentable). That day I found a little book called “Why We Write. Twenty Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do.” By Meridith Maran.  I tend to be a wee bit superstitious and thought to myself, “Hmmm, maybe this is the insight I need right now.”  Truth be told, the book did turn out to be encouraging and stimulating.  Of course, there was the usual advice from well know authors about perseverance and dealing with rejection, but it was the similarities to my thought process that inspired me.

Like myself, many of the authors included in the book found reading and writing as an emotional outlet early on. I’ve been journaling since I was a kid.  I had poems and prose entered in my school papers and yearbooks since middle school. At one point, I thought I would make journalism a career. A friend and I fantasied as kids about working on projects together.  He’d be a famous photojournalist, and I’d be the writer.  Ahhh youth….

In the book, I found some authors began writing to explain or to make sense of the changing world around them – first to themselves and then to connect with others with the same uneasiness in spirit.  They described taking ordinary moments from one’s particular point of view, “freeze-dry” the moment to let the reader “add water,” connect with the notion and make it their own.   As I read, I could hear that voice of affirmation and validation in my head.

It was from this book that I decided to write fantasy or magical realism instead of continuing with the short stories and snapshots of my memories.  It was with this new project in mind that I started connecting with co-workers in the Nanowrimo model.  But alas, here I am reaching the end of November but still quite far from finishing a novel or novelette or whatever. I do however have a better idea of what I want to write, how, and most importantly why.  I’ve done some research to move my story and characters forward, and I count that as progress.  I see my finished project as a female version of Santiago the Spanish Shepard looking for The Alchemist, meets  King Arthur’s Merlin at The Shack with Mack.  Wish me luck!

As for you, keep writing.  I check in to the blogs I follow and get inspired.  I enjoy getting updates, reading your stories, and delight in how creatively you let your voices be heard.

Until next time, all the best.

(Photo from Pexels in WordPress)

Sweet Lemonade Out of Wrinkly Limes.

She was a gentle spirit who sang her prayers, but even the saintly have limits.  She was an artist, a singer, a storyteller.   She was a mother, a daughter, a wounded healer sought out by her neighbors for comfort and answers.  She was my hero, my teacher, my friend. 

 She was crafts and science projects of carrot tops in shallow saucers or bird seeds in eggshells which later resembled a miniature forest on our windowsill.   She was pastel colored chicks at Easter, picnics, and carousels at the park in summer.  She was happy Christmas carols a shiny aluminum Christmas trees with bright blue ornaments.  

I was her daughter – sometimes rude, sometimes impatient, but always in awe of the brave woman who could make a tall glass of sweet lemonade when life gave her a bowl of tart, wrinkled,  old limes.

full drinking glass with slice of lime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If we were having coffee right now

two brown and black ceramic teacups filled on black saucers
Photo by Jana on Pexels.com

If we were having coffee right now, it would indeed be a special event.  You see I consider myself a social drinker.  I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis, only on occasion.  Every morning I drink hot black tea in round bags with boiled water from my teapot.  I let it sit for several minutes so that the caffeine is extracted and then I add a drop or two of milk.  During the day I reach for green tea –hot or cold, sometimes I pop in some raspberries for a different flavor. 

If we were having coffee right now, I would have been tempted by the rich aroma of the Arabica beans filling the air.  I love the smell of coffee brewing, especially the espresso method that seems to squeeze out every bit of flavor from the finely ground beans.  Coffee fills my senses and reminds me of home; of my mother and both grandmothers who sometimes had sweet bread or pastry with coffee or café con leche in the afternoon. 

If we were having coffee right now, we would be sitting in your kitchen as we had many years before.  We would catch up with stories about our children, siblings and rest of the family.  You would have shown me that you’ve started working on your garden after the harsh winter. I would tell you I’m still trying to get my orchid to bloom after all these years.  We would reminisce about the fun times we had as a group of women getting together to laugh and share our personal philosophies of faith, love and the quest for happiness in our lives.  How I’ve missed that camaraderie with like-minded women!  I consider it one of the blessings in my life to have you all when in time of need. 

If we were having coffee right now, we would talk about our busy week.  You would tell me about your travels and the interesting people you’ve met.  I would tell you that I’m writing a blog for fun and sharing of ideas.  It’s a journal sprinkled with creative writing, poetry, and essays.  You’ll tell me you’re working on another book about the program you’ve developed with your longtime colleague at the Institute.  It will undoubtedly be just as successful as the first one.  I still have my autographed copy.

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you that I’ve started going to town meetings and focus groups in preparation for the coming elections in August and November.  I have found people and politics so different in my new city in the southeastern part of the country.  We would both agree that it is never too early to start examining the candidates, there is too much at stake.  You would get me up to date on the issues in your city, which in large part have not changed much since I was here.  Politics usually leads us to religion.  It’s so refreshing to talk to someone with the same values and level of empathy for our fellow compatriots.   

If we were having coffee right now, I would treasure the moment and file the memory like a snapshot in my mind.  I would save it and document it until we can make it a reality again.   Social media, phone calls, and emails can’t replace the joy of sitting to have coffee with an old friend. 

Day Eleven: A Cup of Coffee   #everydayinspiration

Let Social Media Inspire You

“I can’t decide if procrastination kills creativity or is essential to it.”                                           Grant Snider@grantdraws  Twitter

Today is the test. Has procrastination murdered my creativity?  I’ve been putting off completing this assignment all day.   I don’t know why, but maybe the very essence of the word procrastination is enough to make me fall off the wagon.  I think I’m doing pretty well since I decided to make my blog a priority.   I knew keeping up with a consistent writing routine was going to be a test of dedication to my craft.   I’ve joined Writing Challenges and participated in courses at Blogging U just to make sure that something would stimulate me or hold me accountable to get to the computer to write.

writing muse
Photo by Fröken Fokus on Pexels.com

In the past, when a project was due, I was one that pondered, ruminated and at the final hour moved forward with all my might to catch up. I have found though that if I have a thought, an idea or an inspiration, I need to grab it and run with it at that moment.  If the sentiment passes, it goes up like a cloud of smoke, and it’s much harder to be creative because one can’t force the arts.  I can understand when someone cries that the muse is gone and with it the intention to be fresh and original.  

I’ve said before that I have learned that I am a binge writer as explained by Kara Daly from Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog.  https://brevity.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/staying-out-of-the-headlights-on-finding-my-own-writing-process/.   I need my imagination stirred; I need a catalyst to start churning ideas in my mind.  When I feel it moving, thoughts start flowing, and I write; it may be poems, essays, sometimes it’s a story without end, and I need to find a wrap-up.  Lately, I’ve been better about jotting the random thoughts that come about as well.  I may not use all of the material that flows, but then I have something in the pipeline for when the muses don’t stop by.

In short to respond to the tweet by Grant Snider@grantdraws; Procrastination kills creativity for me because if I wait until the last minute, I am stressed and worried about the time.  Procrastination may be alright in other areas but not when I want my creative juices flowing. 

Please remember that I need your help too with ideas of what you want to see me write about for the final lessons.  You can put suggestions in the comments section of this blog post or go to the Contact Me page on the menu section at the top of the page. Thanks.

Day Seven: Let Social Media Inspire You  #everydayinspiration

Writing Space

Most days I enjoy writing in the quiet of my room, up away from the street noise and TVs.  I have a small computer desk where I perch my laptop on its stand and pull out the keyboard from the tray.  I’ve got a table with a couple of notebooks and pens for jotting ideas or taking notes and always a glass of ice water.  I love a bright sunny day when I can write without lamps and open the window for fresh air.  

My ideal space would be a loft on the second floor of a Spanish colonial townhome on the edge of the Old San Juan historic district; with a view of San Juan Bay.  I would also be satisfied with a loft apartment in the same place but now over a Spanish style bakery with the aroma of fresh Mallorca and expresso spiraling up through the open doors on the balcony which overlooks the cobblestone streets.  Who am I kidding?  Neither one of these would be conducive to productivity.   I would spend hours daydreaming or people watching or maybe not indoors at all.   In that case, I will stay in my own little corner, twirling in my office chair, in front of my computer desk. 

Some of you may have noticed I am working in a group to continue to improve my writing.  Photo by 85Fifteen on UnsplashFor the past few days, at the end of each post, I have identified the task for the corresponding day.   Today’s assignment has a part two.  We have been asked to collect post ideas from our readers that we can refer to in the future.  What would you like to see me write about?  We are to gather ideas that will in some way be integrated with our Day 15 assignment.  I would certainly appreciate your help.   You can leave an idea in the comments section or go to my Contact Me page from the blog menu.  

Here is the link to Contact Me —-  It should be fun. 

I look forward to hearing from you.   Contact Me

Day Six – A Space to Write  #everydayinspiration

Grand Central Station

Blog Grand Central Station

 

I can’t remember the last time I was at Grand Central Station.  If I had to guess, it was probably on my way home for the weekend in my freshman year in college.   I grew up in New York City – the borough of Brooklyn to be exact.  As a teenager and young adult, I rode the subways at all hours of the day.  I was never afraid – I guess that’s the gift of the foolishness of youth.  I remember the splendor of this transit station; the bright lights, the Tiffany clock, the marble that withstands time. blog sardines in a can from monicore at Pixabay I remember crowds on the trains and the streets in the City, but I don’t recall it like a sardine can of people but I saw it the last time I was there.  I certainly have no memory of armed National Guardsmen at all large transit stations.   It’s like another world, another lifetime. 

I can see myself standing against the wall waiting for my train and watching all the people.  Everything around me is a blur of people walking quickly by – just as the photographer caught it.  There is a pulse to this place, a strong almost frantic rapid pulse. The noise level makes me crave at least five minutes at the shore early in the morning; just by looking at the picture my soul longs to synchronize with the rhythm of the waves rolling in an out on the beach. 

Who are these people?  Where are they going in such a rush? What or who is waiting for them?   Was that me of another era?  I remember someone complaining once that I walked too fast.  My response?  “I’m a New Yorkah, whadda you want?”  That was years ago.  Now I pick up the pace just only when I want to get my heart rate up.    

What about the National Guardsmen? They are looking at these people too with different questions; with sharper eyes.  Their presence everywhere reminds us of unknown dangers that have become part of our lives.  Do they have mixed feelings because they crave some action in their otherwise boring day?  I am reminded of the most recent school shooting.  Are more armed officers at the school honestly the answer?  Public schools are cutting down on personnel such as nurses, counselors, and teachers of the arts.  They are spread thin throughout their counties in all parts of the country.  Resources, in general, are scarce in our public schools, and yet the only answer is to arm more people in the school.

And then in the blink of an eye, I’m back at my desk, pounding on my keyboard, in the quiet space I’ve carved for myself.   Like the song from Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, “Then I’m glad to be back in my own little corner; All alone in my own little chair.”

Day Four: A Story in a Single Image;  #everydayinspiration

A List for Everyday Inspiration

Things I like 

  1. Watching pelicans fishing at the beach. They are not known for their grace, but they fly over the water with such skill and precisely the right spot they dive straight down and come up with a fish. 
  2. Sunrise – especially on a crisp morning by the beach or over the mountains.
  3. Laughing until my belly hurts
  4. Spending time with family
  5. Historical novels
  6. History – in order to understand today
  7. Learning about different cultures. The more I learn, the more I realize we are not so different.
  8. Acoustic guitar, Flamingo guitar
  9. Singer-songwriters because they usually tell a story
  10. Old radio shows like Allen and Burns or Abbott and Costello
  11. The Cello
  12. Celtic music
  13. Salsa, Bachata – Latin music
  14. Dogs and cats – even though I have allergies
  15. Making up dishes with whatever food is in the cabinets and the fridge
  16. Local raw honey
  17. Oatmeal power pancakes
  18. Going out with friends to listen to live music
  19. Making up stories of things that catch my eye or my ear.
  20. REAL ice cream
  21. Hawaiian style pizza
  22. Watching live shows – especially musicals.
  23. Sitcoms 
  24. Movies and TV shows that depict seniors as very much alive and active like “Grace and Frankie.”
  25. Walking – brisk walking for daily exercise. Strolling if I’m walking the dog or sightseeing and exploring.
  26. Yoga – I’ve been at beginner level Yoga for half a lifetime. It suits me just fine.
  27. Old Country Gospel songs
  28. Meeting new people
  29. The summer rain – not hurricane season, just the warm afternoon showers.
  30. Seeing animals in their natural habitat.
  31. Museums
  32. Spiritual faith practice and some of the traditional religious rituals and customs.
  33. Hanging out at someone’s house to create something together.
  34. Poetry – doesn’t need to rhyme – a rhythmic verse will do
  35. Looking at old family pictures and keepsakes
  36. Looking at a situation from all sides. Put my feet in someone else’s shoes
  37. Singing with my heart and soul – to get lost in the words and melody
  38. The full moon and a clear sky full of stars.
  39. Watching the first snow. Feels like one is in a snow globe. 
  40. Walking on crisp freshly fallen snow, without freezing wind
Make a list
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

  Working to improve; I chose to write a list of things I like.  I set my timer for forty-five minutes of free thought writing.   Turns out this is still all about me.  #everydayinspiration

 

I write because…

I have stories to tell. I write because I want to make a difference in someone’s life. My head is full of ideas. Some are reality-based; they are the stories of people I’ve met who touched my life in some way. Some stories are what-ifs that swim around in my brain. I see something or someone that catches my eye and that sparks my curiosity. I wonder what’s beyond or why does it happen that way. Sometimes I see things and am overwhelmed with emotion, and I need to stop and sort it out.

I believe we all share a human experience and we learn from those who’ve gone before and even those who are coming up after us.  If we choose to learn, age teaches us but does not give us all the answers. Everyone who crosses our path affects our life in some way. They leave something behind – either a gift or a lesson.

I have worked with people in different aspects of my life in various roles, and I have learned a lot about the human experience. If something I write helps one person take another look at a problem in their life, I will have served a purpose.
#everydayinspiration

Another work group to improve my writing.  Please bear with me.

Reflections of A to Z Challenge April 2018

Blog A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

A few days after I had started blogging again, a blogger I follow posted her theme reveal for the April 2018 A to Z Challenge. https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/a-to-z-challenge-2018-theme-reveal/.   As I read her post, I got excited because this Challenge sounded like a perfect way to develop the habit of writing every day. My life is less hectic now, and I felt there was really no excuse but to be consistent with my writing.  I knew the exercise would help me to be more disciplined.  I also enjoy and actually fare better, when I am working with a team or in a community. I thought this was perfect!

Without much thought to the process, I clicked the link and signed up.  I did not post on all twenty-six letters, but I was glad that I was able to get as much done as I did.  The A to Z Challenge April 2018 did serve its purpose for my personal goals.  I have made blogging part of my daily routine.  I didn’t get much feedback, but I did enjoy exploring other blogs.  Because of my limited experience with blogging, I learned a lot from the different styles of writing, and of course, I enjoyed the creativity.  It also encouraged me to take more pictures when I am out and about. 

There were some issues that made the A to Z Challenge more demanding than it needed to be.   The first was I was sick the first week of the challenge and the next week I was trying to catch up until I convinced myself that was not necessary.  I breathed a sigh of relief and moved on.  Second, my theme was broad and not clear – even to me.  I chalk it up to the fact that I really had no clue what I was doing when I signed up, and I had no overall plan.   Sometimes I felt like I was on Sesame Street trying to find a prompt from random words for the “letter of the day.”   Somedays it was amusing to me as I sang … “the letter of the day is here…” in my head of course.   I was able to come up with a post whether from my unfinished work or an idea that popped into my head while humming that tune all morning.

The only negative thing I can say is that for some reason I did not feel connected to the group.  Perhaps I misread the instructions, and as I indicated I earlier, I didn’t understand the process.  I tried to get back to the original page where I had signed up to review the instructions, but I could not find it.  I did not understand it was a page outside of WordPress.com.  I did not get the daily badges with a different letter each day.  I still don’t understand much about the spreadsheet or how to post to a community page.  I’m hoping this will get there. 

Overall, there is no question that I would do it again.   Thanks so much to the hosts for organizing it; looks like there was a lot more behind the scenes work than I realized. I’m hoping I can get things straight for next year.   Looking forward to 2019.   Lindi Roze

 

Mental Health stories of courage and resilience Part 4

Y is for the true You inside

This post is the last of the Mental Health stories that I will share in honor Mental Health Awareness Month.  As I’ve written earlier, these are memories I carry with me from past experiences. I hope that in reading these snapshots, you can get a glimpse of the struggles for a  person who lives with chronic and persistent symptoms of mental illness and from that glimpse, gain understanding and empathy.  This mini-series resulted from the letter “Y” in April 2018 A to Z writing Challenge. If you’d like, you can go back to Part 1 and start at the beginning.  

I met Margaret as I did many of my clients, in a state-run psychiatric hospital to be a part of discharge planning.  As I had mentioned in my last post, Margaret was on the younger end of middle age. She had been married once and had a child, a boy named Shaun. The boy’s father had full custody.  Margaret had not seen her son, now a teenager, for many years.mother-daughter-love-sunset-51953.jpeg

Margaret carried a dual diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder with manic episodes along with Alcohol Abuse and Dependency.  Hospital records indicated that there was a family history of substance abuse by both parents and siblings. Margaret had lost contact with her family. She had lived “on the streets” or in psychiatric facilities for most of her adult life.

One of the first things that Margaret wanted me to know was that she “was not like the other homeless drunks.”  She wanted me to know she had lived in a big white house overlooking the Bay in a small posh town known as a summer retreat for famous people.  As she stuck out her arm in front of herself, she fanned her hand and wiggled spread fingers to make a point,  “and, I had di-ah-mends…”   

Whenever she was having a hard time, she would repeat the story to me with the same gestures and intonations.  She wanted me to remember. It was her dream to get back to that point in her life.  It was my goal to help her get as close as possible.  She was discharged to a women’s transitional residential program with seven other women and plenty of support.  The structure proved too much for Margaret.  There were curfews, chores and according to Margaret “the staff was pushy and some of the other girls were too young or too sick.” 

We started looking for safe alternative housing.  It was the 1990s. Margaret’s only income was Supplemental Security Income and the minimum allowance of food stamps. Today she would probably get a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs for that amount.  Without a housing subsidy, it was impossible for Margaret to afford even a room in one of the many rundown boarding room houses in the city.  We applied for a rental assistance allowance through a special grant designed for downsizing the state hospitals.  While we waited, Margaret’s boyfriend, Jean found a small attic apartment in an old triple decker. 

Jean was supportive of Margaret’s treatment and personal goals. We were able to adjust the subsidy request to use at that apartment.  With a place of her own, the primary thing on her mind was to see her son Shaun again. Margaret was able to open communication with Shaun and his father.  Now she could tell his dad that she had a safe place for him to visit.  Jean was able to borrow a car to meet her son for lunch near his home. It was the first time they had seen each other since he was a small boy.   She was so excited.  She bought a stylish blouse and slacks at the Salvation Army.  For Shaun, she purchased a gift from a local department store, precursors to Target or Walmart.   They tell me she looked fabulous.  It was very stressful, but she managed to get through it without hospitalization or too much disruption in her life.

It was a year later when Shaun got his driver’s license and a car, that he was able to visit Margaret.   From the moment she got the apartment, everything she did was with Shaun in mind.  Now, her little boy was coming for Christmas!  

Margaret and I would shop for her groceries and personal items at the beginning of each month when her Representative Payee would give her spending allowance according to her budget.  Margaret had planned and budgeted for Shaun’s Christmas visit for months.  She wanted to make sure she had enough for a Christmas tree.  She was extra careful shopping because she also wanted some ingredients for a special dinner.  After we secured her monthly staples, we were done, but with very little left for a Christmas tree. 

Margaret wanted a real tree for Shaun.  She didn’t want a dusty beat-up artificial one from a thrift store.  We searched high and low on that cold New England winter day.  Finally, in the back of a tree lot, Margaret spotted the perfect one.   It was short and lopsided, but not too scraggly and at least one hundred times better than Charlie Brown’s.  To Margaret, it looked like the one at Rockefeller Center. She negotiated and got it for eight dollars.  She cried silent tears as we drove home.

At my next visit, I saw the lopsided little evergreen sitting in the corner glowing brightly pexels-photo-264988.jpegfrom the lights and ornaments that Margaret had collected from around town – donation boxes, thrift stores, and friends.  The little Christmas tree did look like it belonged in a big white house by the Bay with strings of “di-ah-mends” to light it up.  Margaret had poured years of bottled up love for her son into decorating the tiny apartment for that visit. It was Margaret’s first Christmas in a long time as well, and sometimes she would become flooded with so many emotions. It was good to hear they had a lovely time.    

Margaret was a loving mother who also happened to struggle with distressing symptoms of a major mental illness.  I tip my hat to her this Mother’s Day wherever she may be.   

Each one of us has our own evolution of life, and each one of us goes through different tests which are unique and challenging. But certain things are common. And we do learn things from each other’s experience. On a spiritual journey, we all have the same destination. A. R. Rahman  (from BrainQuotes.com)

Please check out the links below for additional information for family supports as well.  Many times family and friends want to help but don’t know how. There is also information about Peer support groups and peer mentoring programs.  No one has to do this alone.

SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) at  https://www.samhsa.gov/

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness (a grassroots organization run by families and consumers) https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI