State of Things July

Wow, what a month!! It is hard to believe that in five days it will be over. And then it will be back to my day job and the stresses and pressures of being an American educator.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This summer, I have taken more steps to eventually leaving teaching to write and create full time. It is a slow process but I am working on it. Even if I never make a complete transition, I am happier when I am creating.

Most of my writing this month focused on editing, journaling and blogging. The outlines for my non-fiction projects haven’t really gotten off the ground. (Meaning, I’ve thought about them but not put time into the research.) I was hoping to squeeze in another trip to Richmond to write and research but alas I need to attend to more mundane things.

I did get to spend a wonderful day at the lake yesterday celebrating a good friends birthday and making some new acquaintances. It was the day of rest and relaxation that I didn’t know that I needed. Thank you to S for not only being my friend, but making me feel like family.

Family is important to me. In recent years, I’ve spent more time with my chosen family than my biological family. It hasn’t been something that I’ve done consciously. I tend to get lost in the day and when my spoons are gone, I am done. I am horrible at communicating with people I don’t come in regular contact with due in part to my anxiety. I want to, but… well anxiety is not a nice person, to say the least.

Momma and Me Many Years Ago.

This month, I got to see Momma and my sister and her wonderful kids in Florida. I won’t lie and say the visit was great. We all have issues that we need to work on as well as how we communicate with each other. Sissy, if you are reading this, I do love you.

The visit has prompted me to return to therapy sooner rather than later. I have a list of things that I want to work on so I can improve my communication skills, establish better boundaries and be a better me. Therapy has been helpful to me in the past, however, I never actively worked on communication skills. My doctor wants to see how I am feeling after a couple of therapy sessions how I am dealing with things on a mental health front. Did I mention that I love my doctor? Cause I love my doctor.

She did ask if the summer had been restful and I hesitated. It has been good to work on other things without the stresses of work. I’ve gotten to travel, hugged my Mom and good friends, saw new things and breathe the fresh air and sunshine into my soul. I’m lucky to have this time. Time to recoup.

The time is never enough. My gratitude for things I have is not comparable to the things I have lost, the things that have hurt me and the things I still need to heal from. The things I love lots, the things that have hurt me, and the things I need to heal from don’t compare to the things I am grateful for. I could rest for a thousand days and still not be ready to return to my work as an educator. I will, however, return, because I both love my job and need that sweet sweet health insurance.

Get Away – Don’t Tell

This is the second weekend that I have left the Big House on the hill for the wonders of the city and a room in a friend’s home.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For the second weekend in a row, the stress and anxiety of the past weeks along remnants of the pandemic have drift away as I left the day to day behind for an adventure. This weekend’s adventure found me traversing the streets of Washington, D.C. in a quest to get to my friend’s house as close to four o’clock as I could. Waze, by the way, I don’t trust you any more since last weekend you guided me to the wrong restaurant and this weekend there was the detour through D.C. during rush hour. I made it to my destination in the nick of time but I fear you will do me wrong again.

This weekend, I decided not to post my trip on social media. Partly, due to fear of backlash for having the ability to get out of town. And mostly because I needed a break from everything. A break from my everything and a chance to refresh and renew my internal control system. I can not be the change I desire to be in the world if I allow myself to be crushed by the weight of things out of my control.

My weekend away let me reflect on the things that have been causing me anxiety.

Other People’s Perceptions.

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

You can not change the way others think of you. You can not control their choices. You can only manage your own reaction. Do not be mistaken, you can not control them. So much of our lives are controlled by habits. The majority of habits are not set intentionally. We set them through routine. Resetting habits is difficult. Resetting thinking more so.

The anxiety that I have been feeling has been intense. I struggle to focus when my entire being is racked doubt, confusion and pain. The pain is so deep inside my core that I don’t know how to deal with it.

Recently, one of my closest relatives has been calling to vent. The anxiety and stress they feel has been passed to me and I have been waking up in the middle of the night racked with worry that I can’t do all these things at once. My relatives perception of what I have or have not done is beyond my control. Trying to control it and problem solve from hundreds of miles away is not working.

So, I am attempting to focus on what I can do and how I can help while maintaining my own mental, physical and financial health. It isn’t an easy balancing act, but it is necessary.

The Return

First, we are never going back to the way things used to be. Not a 100%, too much as happened and it is impossible to go back. Nearly 4 million people have died as a result of COVID. Business have closed and careers have been lost. The “normal” so many crave returning to was toxic to people of color, women and the working poor.

Maya Angelou said “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”. We know as a society how much we rely on low wage workers to keep everything running. While some folks are still refusing acknowledge the importance of these lower skill jobs (there is no such thing as a no skill job, fyi.) and say that people just don’t want to work, that is simply not true. It is an excuse to ignore the issue. I would also argue that they aren’t low skilled at all. My own work history has taught me that much.

As our society attempts the return to “normal”, we will all adjust at our own speeds. Some have already rushed back to their “normal”, others are still testing the waters. Everyone had been affected. The stress I was feeling from personal and work matters stems in part from the pandemic. The pressure placed on family ties and the education system for which I work exposed cracks and widen others. We need to take our time personally so that we don’t go back to what a comfortable dysfunction.

The Social Media Break

Photo by Denise Duplinski on Pexels.com

My weekend break from social media let me two things. First, I enjoyed the weekend without trying to narrative it the same time. Freedom!! The second was living fully in the moment and resting. For myself, not telling folks that I was taking the break or the weekend was key. The people who needed to know where I was did and everyone else didn’t need to know. The purpose of the weekend was to visit with old friends and recharge. Unplugging from my normal was exactly what the doctor order.

It is going to take several more treatments and a lot more hugs to fully recharge. Honestly, I need to recharge on a regular basis and make that a habit instead of running myself again and again to the point of exhaustion.

What about you? Have you gotten away ? Taken a much needed break? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Lucinda Rose is an author and teacher living and working in the mountains of Virginia.  You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagam

Leaving

When I was a child, I sat on the edge of a single bed and listened as my father told me how he was going on a business trip. He never came back. He was, in fact, moving out.

The nuclear family I had been born into died that day. The funeral was the day all of us kids were seated around a lawyer’s conference table when the divorce was final. They gave us odd lemon cream cookies. The sweet stale taste cemented that day in mind.

There is a lot more I don’t remember from those days. Trauma sometimes bestows the gift of memory lost. I don’t remember yelling at my mother blaming her for his absence. Or how things changed. One day they were just different.

I don’t remember even fragments of the first time I met Papa. Pictures remind me of the day that he married my mother and how he took me to college, all of my things packed in the back of his truck. He came to get me in the same truck after graduation and took me to Florida and a new life.

I was there the day he sold that truck. He was so happy that the man who brought it told him what his plans were. His beloved truck was going on to be a farm truck. The truck that had moved our family time and time again would be working gain.

Papa came into my life when I was 14 years old. He gave my mother back to me. He gave me another big brother in Eric. He gave me the family I lost in my parent’s divorce. I understood living with him after college that family life while scared isn’t easy and as he taught me what it was like to have a dad, I taught him what it was like having a daughter.

I was his daughter. My sister’s children his grandchildren and he adored them.

Papa died today in 2018. His life ending in Orlando, Florida surrounded by Momma, my brother Eric and myself. Three years and my heart doesn’t ache any less.

It aches even more for Momma who lost the love of her life. For my nieces and nephews who lost a grandfather loved them unconditionally.

Papa, I love you. Thank you for being my dad and healing parts of me that I didn’t know where broken until you were gone.

The Writer, the Move and Death

This last year has been rockiest of my life.  In early July 2017,  I wrote about my heartbreak when my relationship of over a decade ended.  By early August, I had decided to move.

It was a long time coming; little of the move had to do with my Ex. He only helped in determining the place.  My beloved fairy godfathers had offered several times to help me move back to Virginia and get settled.   Looking around, I realized that there was nothing holding me back anymore.  Well one thing, telling Papa that I was going.

September came with Hurricane Irma.  My little yellow house, my precious little house survived the night. The power lasted until 5:20 am.  It flickered on and off until going out with a crack. It stayed off for four days, I was out of work for a week while they worked to restore power.

On the second day after the hurricane, I got a roommate and lost my office. It’s a long story and only parts of it are mine.

One causality of the hurricane was my purple PT cruiser.  The hurricane froze the brakes then electrical system decided it wanted attention.  For two weeks, I had to pop the hood every time I stopped the car to remove a fuse.

My incredibly wise sister convinced to go looking for a car.  I came home that day with a new car.   The man who sold it to me turned out to be a distant cousin. (thanks again, Cousin Martin)    Papa was there helping me make one of the biggest purchases of my life. It was one of the last times we went out.  The next time would be my birthday.

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Momma, Papa and Me – October 2017

Since May 2017, Papa’s was growing worse.  His cirrhosis which we were lead to believe was treatable was not so willing to be treated.  He was and out of the hospital. The road ahead for my parents looked bleak and was bleak.

My second year as a middle school teacher wasn’t going any smoother than the first year.  Mentally, I was checking in and out at work knowing that I won’t be at the school for another year. Professionally, I had a lot of things to do to prepare for my move. Motivation to move was strong. The motivation to do the things necessary for the move was not.   The paperwork for my new teaching license was left to the last minute.

Eventually all the change meant putting my plans to start a page on Patreon on hold.  I was writing, but not finishing much of anything. I couldn’t see myself asking for me to support my heart if I wasn’t producing it.  Starting and not finishing projects.  My mind was too scattered.  My life was being to be summarized by a series of things that I couldn’t get myself to do.

Thanksgiving came and Papa was in the hospital.  We celebrated our last Christmas as a family and then Papa went into the hospital for the last time.

He passed on January 8th of this year. Momma, my brother Eric and I were with him.  The whole night remains surreal.

img_4296Two weeks after he passed, I reconnected with an old friend. Not only did I have a mini adventure on Sanibel Island, but I am now planning on going to France next summer.

 

June 15th, I moved back to Virginia. Papa wasn’t told I was going. It was an open secret before his death.  Before I left Momma handed a framed picture of Papa to me.  It sits on my writing desk.

I feel at peace here in my new writing nook looking out the mountains. There are walks everyday. The writing routine that was pushed aside is coming back.

I still miss Papa. I don’t think I will ever stop missing the man who choose to be my father.

This Thursday, Papa will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery.  Our family hero will be laid to rest with dignity and respect.  I can not thank my friends and family enough for their patience, love and understanding this last year.  The brightest spots in the year were because of all of you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Writer and Her Papa

1926734_10204222512019405_7922414794304983180_nThis is my Papa. I met my Papa when I was thirteen years old. I was already taller than him. And he still had some color in his hair.  Since then we have both grown quite a crop of steely gray hair.

According to legend, he fell in love with Momma over homemade spaghetti.  She didn’t cook it mind you.  He did and he had forgotten to stock up on red pepper flakes.  When he mentioned it, Momma pulled a large container of them out of her purse. .

I am not sure how a large container of pepper flakes made it into her purse.  Maybe she was using them as a cheap version of pepper spray? Throwing the whole container at would be assailants and hoping that her aim was true to hit them in the eye or at least the shock of seeing a flying pepper flake container would slow them down.

A few weeks or months later, Momma came by to pick me up for an outing with Denny.  After Denny came into her life I saw Momma more and more.  If he did nothing else he brought my mother back into my life.  (But, he did do more)

You see a year earlier, we lost our house.  Momma went to stay with friends and I returned from my annual stay at my grandmothers house to live with my father. The separation would last nearly a year.  It wasn’t by choice on either of our parts.  In the meantime, life became a serious of events where I tried and failed to win the approval of my birth father and stepmother.  Every decision I made questioned and denounced as immature and lacking thought.   My interests were weird and I was disrespectful. I didn’t know how to please them and eventually just retreated to my books and imagination.

My father and mother had divorced when I was six.  He told my mother that he didn’t love her anymore.  And she told him to leave. I don’t know what it cost her to do it;  to go against everything that she had been taught about life and marriage. She came from the work it out generation. Her parents were married for over fifty years.  The only way out of marriage was death.  And she let my father go alive. She could have killed him for cheating on him.  She could have raged against him. She never did at least not in front of us kids. She told him to go.  Told him that he had to go that they weren’t just going to go through a divorce sleeping in the same bed or living in the same roof .  She told him to go and where the boundaries were.  I love her for that and everything she did that followed to do right by us. We never made it easy.

Sadly in the months following the divorce I blamed my mother and tried to fight her.  She rocked and held me close until I calmed down.  She didn’t understand that my father had just told me he was going on a business trip not that he was leaving permanently.

My father is not a man known for his sense of humor or love of literature. Actually, I don’t know why people like my father. I do know that he hated my nose was always in a book and wanted me to get out and do things.   I wanted to do things. The things in the books I was reading.  The characters had horrible lives to be sure (I was a huge VC Andrews fan), but their lives were filled with excitement and love.

Love is something  my father still has difficultly communicating to his nearly forty-year old daughter. He rarely says it and every time I hear it, I question whether he is sick or not.  Dying being the event that would induce an out pouring of emotion from his tight lips.

Papa has never had trouble communicating his love, frustration or anger with me.  It hasn’t always been smooth and he has been so angry at me that I am sure he was seeing cross eyed.   I was never the rebellious teen. No, I did all my stupid, worry the parents stuff in my mid to late twenties after I came home to live with them.  When I was a pain in the butt, he let me know.  And while we will never agree on politics completely (so far we both hate Trump), we always agree on the fact that I am his daughter.

Maybe he didn’t provide half my genetic sequence, but he did provide all the love and support a child could wish for. He showed me what it was like to have two loving and strong parents in the home.  He gave me what I missed as a child of divorce the feeling of a strong family unit.

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Father’s day is hard on a lot of people.  Some people like my Papa didn’t know their fathers or have fathers like mine who won’t accept them for who they are.  Papa doesn’t always understand me, but he loves and accepts me.  All of me. It is what a father does.

 

The Good with the Bad

The day began with insomnia

drifted into lateness

and fell into despair

One found dead, the news feed reads

the reaper’s  prize

at last

sorrows grips friends

still other silent cheer the end of the road

two kids in a doctor’s office sick with the flu

 

two strangers cling to life

victims of happenstance

attended by the best

No news is good news or so the fellows say

No news is bad news worries the friends

beloved ones

Victory arrives late

lesson learned, acceptance obtained

a child born

new shoes,  credit extended ,

then end of an abusive relationship

 

No clever words need

or cliques expressed

Just another day

the good with the bad

the bad with good

perspective the only means of definition

 

 

Why Support Patreon?

Last month my royalties for my book, Blood Child, were less than $5.00.  That’s right. I made less than a fiver for a book that took me nearly two years to produce, not including the time it took to write. And you know what I am overjoyed… seriously. I am happy about it. My writing is bringing in money.Is it the amount that I need to quit my day job or even one of my second jobs? No, but it means that people are buying my work which makes me smile. It takes a long time to build an audience/fan base.

So why do I support Patreon? Why I am writing this to convince you to support it? It is simple. It takes time to produce art whether it is music, books or a mural. It takes time to perfect the skills that make that art something of beauty and value. There is value in an artist’s ability to create. Patreon  is a crowd funding platform that allows artists and patrons to interact and engage.  Like in days of old, Patrons are treated to exclusive content from the artists as well as sneak peeks on new projects. Patreon says that it is empowering a new generation content creators.

Amanda Palmer 's photo from her famous Kickstarter campaign -

Amanda Palmer ‘s photo from her famous Kickstarter campaign -Now, Palmer is on Patreon.

That’s the key phrase, content creators, artists of all types create content that we enjoy. We, the patrons, pay them for that content. Just like we buy songs on i-Tunes or books on Amazon, we can buy content from our favorite artists. The difference is that you are contributing to that content being created. You are helping your favorite artist have the time to create their content. You are contributing to the art you love. You are giving them the breathing room that they need to create.And all the while you are communicating with them and creating a community.

Stant Litore

Stant Litore- Master Storyteller

Stant Litore was the first person that I have supported on Patreon.  His goals were small and have grown with the support of the community he has help to build. He gives inside looks into his writing process, the ups and downs of the writing life as well as what they funds have helped do for him and his family.

In his words, “it puts the community back in storytelling. Patreon is perfect for those writers and readers who are very social. It lets readers get involved in the process and lets writers share more of the process with readers. It takes us back to when telling stories was something that happened around a community fire, rather than in an isolated study. It also represents an opportunity for readers to fund more of the work they like most and for writers to make a more sustainable income.”

That sustainable income allows patrons to get more of the content that they want. It is a win-win for artists and other content creators. I support Patreon not as a writer, but a reader and lover of music and games. I support it because it inspires me to continue creating. Inspiring me to keep working through the all obstacles in front of me.

These are the people that are currently inspiring me – Amanda Palmer, Stant Litore and The Galaxy Next Door . Check it out…

*A special thank to Stant Litore for taking the time out of his schedule to talk to me. Check out his books on Amazon.

Sometimes I….

Sometimes I write bad poetry and sometimes I write stories that don’t make sense.

Sometimes I just write and write for hours in my head. Lately, I have been working really hard to set a schedule up for myself and it hasn’t been working really well.  I did good up until last Thursday and then I fell off the writing wagon last Thursday and didn’t get back to it until today. Writers must write and they have to write things that sometimes scare them and push the boundaries. Something that I haven’t done a lot of in my own writing. I have tried to stick to safe topics so as not to offend people especially the people I love.

I have tried to be a pillar of strength, but really feel most days like I am falling apart and the duct tape isn’t sticking anymore.  This past weekend, I looked back after a phone call from Momma and my sister, Tish, that I realized that my strength doesn’t come from being strong, but each and every time I got myself back up and kept going.

So I am back at it, but with a difference. I am going to write the stories I see around me. The ones that have been pleading with me to finish them. The ones that scare me.  I will be finishing my April Page A Day posts and then going back to work on next book along with other projects. I want to have it finished by the end of summer and begin the editing process.  There are two or three more books, I have notes for but I am going to focus on the one that began this journey.

 

Not A Real Family (April Page 18 )

He’s not your real father.  So don’t expect him to care. She’s not your real kid so don’t expect her to love you. Step-kids aren’t really kids. And Step-parents are just playing a game that they can stop at any time.

But my Papa loves me. He shows me everyday and has always got my back.

Years ago, Papa made a choice to be a father to my siblings and myself. He didn’t have to do it as I have said many times before, but he did and we are a stronger family for it.   My sister and I needed him in more ways than we can count.

Our birth father is a good man, just not an emotional one. He loves us in his own way.  Sometimes however that way is toxic to his children who want love without judgment and strings. Believe when I tell you that your kids need your love more than anything else. They need to show them how to love, how to maintain healthy relationships and how to stick with it.  They also need forgiveness and second and third chances. They need to be told no a times as well.

I know my birth father loves me and is proud of me, but there is a seed of doubt in me when it comes to accepting that it is real.

With my Papa, there is no doubt. None at all.

Last night, I was blessed to be able to take my parents out to dinner for Papa’s birthday which was earlier this week.  It was a new level of adulthood, paying for their dinner without them fretting at me.  Momma told me how proud he was of what I wrote on Tuesday and that he was going to take a copy of it to the family reunion. Some of our northern family has told him that stepchildren aren’t real kids. They have even gone so far as to tell my Papa that we will abandon him if something happens to Momma.

My sister and I aren’t going anywhere. His grandkids, his grandkids, will not abandon him. He is family and he has made us a strong family by supporting us, guiding us and loving us unconditionally.

It is sad that some people have to hate on the happiness of others. I know that our family is unique and not every blended family is like ours, but we work and we are happy. In the end, isn’t that all that should matter.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook.  Her new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.

April Page 11

In the mix of all that life offers, it is easy to get caught up and go along for the ride. Seven hours in a math class today and my brain was real and truly fried. It crispy and crunch and best served with tarter sauce.

We all get caught up on the roller coaster of life. Sometimes it is fun. Tonight with wine in hand, I was dancing again. It wasn’t the wine, but the way that today ended that inspired the dancing. Freedom and safety cause me to start dancing. And also to sing. I don’t do enough of either these days, making a living and staying a head of the bill collector’s girl.

The spring for me is a time for balancing and balancing, a time to figure out what I need to bring into my life.  This spring, I feel the need for clarity. There are a lot of things I want and need.

Sometimes the two get confused. Sometimes, they seem like they are the same thing. Maybe they are.

Maybe by taking moments to breathe, we can figure out the difference.