Comic-Con

Comic-Con

Friday, December 16, 2011

Make a Wish, Take a Chance, Make a Change

The decision to be happy can seem a bit obnoxious, but my attitude decides my experience.  Some people think I live in my own little world full of hearts and flowers, completely unaware of harsh facts of reality, but that is untrue.  I am not blind to the fact that our society is crumpling into a state of apathy, but getting mired down in the same negativity that caused this mess isn't going to fix anything.

Changing the state of this world begins within the state of our consciousness.  The shift is subtle, first taking place at home and in our communities.  Then the ripples are seen at work, when we no longer recognize where our job ends and another begins.  And suddenly, there is an awareness beyond our front doors when a simple question is asked:  What would happen if I stopped focusing on lack and limitation, and put all of my energy towards achieving instead?

I happen to know the outcome of this scenario.  Why?  Because the principle applies directly to me.  Born in the disease called poverty, I spent the first 23 years of my life looking for a way to escape reality.  Internal dialogue was deciding my experience and my perception wasn't pleasant.  Have you ever noticed how everything goes wrong when you are having a bad day, or experienced contamination from another person's negativity?  That is because discontentment is highly contagious and very destructive.  If you agree with this theory, then the opposite must be true as well.  A positive attitude can change everything.

What do you think would happen right now if I told you your happiness is only a thought away?  Or your dreams are right there...waiting for you?  Chances are you wouldn't believe me.  You would give several justifiable reasons to why your aspirations are beyond your reach, but I'm asking you to humor me for just a minute.  Think about what makes life worth living.  If all of these blocks weren't in place, how would you spend your time?  Something came to mind, I'm sure of it and the next step is pretty easy.  Like the Nike ad says: "Just do it!"  Stop worrying whether you have the talent or know how.  That comes later with experience

Now, I'm not telling you to quit your day job in pursuit of rock and roll stardom.  The chances of that happening are very unlikely, but I do want you to pick up your guitar and sing a few chords.  Write a new song and see where that leads.  Take a paint brush and dip it in oils, revealing a picture of your inner heart.  The picture might not be perfect at first, but whose heart is?  Coach a little league team, write a blog, or simply sit quietly with a child and read your favorite book.  Maybe you find joy in cooking or spending an afternoon with a friend.  Find whatever fills you with light.  Give yourself permission to experience the joy and heartache that comes with loving.  As your confidence grows, positive energy will take root and you will no longer care about the endless list of grievances towards your fellow men.  See how your perception changes everyone around you?

Contentment is a state of mind that comes with achieving something unique to our experiences and sharing our joy and heartache with others.  I may seem annoyingly optimistic at times, but that is because my heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for this life I have chosen.  Everyday is another opportunity to bask in the miracle I could not see for so long.  Open your eyes and walk with me, my friends.  Together, we can move the blocks in front of us, rock by rock, if you are willing to believe it is possible...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quieting My Inner Voice

From the time I was a small child, I have always struggled with feelings of inadequacy.  Born with Attention Deficit Disorder and raised in feral environment, I fought my own brain, trying to comprehend the simplest tasks—like tying my shoes and addition.  I watched my classmates excel above me in every way, both academically and socially, overwhelmed by an insurmountable closed gate between me and my dreams.  They went on to college, but a higher education wasn’t even a consideration for someone like me.  I told myself that the opinions of “they” didn’t matter, but my self-worth was slowly eroding away.  How could I not feel insignificant when I failed in every measure society placed value on?  

I’m not telling you any of this to have your pity, but to help you understand my inner workings.  I learned to accept my limitations many years ago, and if I let my head do its thing, we actually mesh quite well.  On most days, the voice inside declaring me sorely lacking remains silent, but I do have my moments, like today, when all of my previous feelings of insecurity come flooding back.  I am torn down to my bare essence and faced with the same gate, taunting me.   It is times like this, when I pose the same questions over and over…

Why have I chosen this path where rejection sits at every corner?  Haven't I had enough of that already?  What makes me believe that I even have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding?  There are times when I consider calling an ugly duckling an ugly duck, but the thought of giving up my dream and moving on is far more painful than being told I am deficient.  Perhaps my childhood was only conditioning for what lies ahead.  I know one thing for sure: quitting is not an option, but I have also decided that I can’t count on the doors miraculously flinging open either.  I knew this going in, but I can’t change my hope or direction anymore than a leaf twisting in the wind can.  As my thoughts keep circling back, I come to the same conclusion—I am not doing this for money or even recognition.  I write because the alternative is too bleak to even consider.     

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dealing With Depression

How do you cope with sadness when the feeling is immobilizing and completely irrational? This is a question I have posed to myself countless times. I have struggled with depression for most of my life, but for many years now, I have managed to set aside most of the symptoms. A while back, a friend inquired as to what it feels like in the thralls of my worst moments and I felt compelled to share my journey, because the truth is if you haven't lived with it, you'll never really understand.

The fires of hell would pale in comparison to the terrible place I was in. The best description I can give you is this:  Imagine a black hole burrowed deep in the earth from which you should climb without the strength to even stand. All of your loved ones stand at the top screaming down for you to "snap out of it," but you are so paralyzed by your feelings of inadequacy that the rope they have tossed in your direction remains untouched.   

Depression is a very lonely and selfish state of mind. Negative thoughts rule your existence with completely destructive and highly contagious victim statements, like “My hands are tied” and “I feel trapped.” You can slide to the bottom with a single careless step and spend months analyzing your fall—time lost for everyone who has the misfortune of loving you. Ultimately, my husband and daughter's suffering was what prompted me to change.

I can recall the moment very vividly. On my daughter's second birthday, I made a cake and threw a party. After everyone left, I compared myself to other women in my life and came up lacking once again. My bad days outnumbered the good ones, and they weren't only affecting me. My entire family was suffering, including my precious little girl who deserved so much better than I could ever give her. I was broken, lying on the bathroom floor, deciding if I should take my own life. I played out their futures without me, and realized something I hadn't considered. My dying wouldn't save them. If I'd of chosen the coward's path, my baby would've spent the rest of her life wondering why her mother hadn't cared enough to fight. I was a mess, but my husband loved me, and cared too much to hurt them like that. I also understood that I couldn't continue for similar reasons. Something had to change. A single thought created a subtle shift within my mind and reality altered. 
I needed to change. 

New hope and purpose blew into my life like a breath of fresh air.  Instead of quitting, I vowed to fight and live with an awareness to which was absent before.  Some toxic relationships ended and focused all of my efforts on being whole.  I've slipped into the abyss since then, but now I can recognize when I'm losing my footing and end the down-hill spiral before I reach the bottom.  Just like any other health issue, early intervention is paramount.

Several years ago, I read that depression is a signal the mind sends out to the body alerting when something isn't right. It triggers a residual primal instinct and endorphins are pumped through the nervous system, preparing for either a fight or flight.  Since neither is possible in modern society, the chemical builds up and manifests in the form of unhappiness.  This idea made sense to me, only my instinct was triggered by the opposite of most people.  The majority of humanity fears the unknown while I fear stability.  For the first time in my entire life I was secure and the feeling was so foreign that I couldn't abide it.  The concept probably sounds as strange to you as it was for my husband or anyone else who comes from a functional family unit, but this wasn't the case in my childhood.  
Looking back on my early years, I discovered that the few fleeting moments of happiness I'd experienced were followed by the rug of security being ripped out from under my feet. Here lied the root of my anxiety.  I had the ideal husband and a beautiful little girl, but my schema was convinced that joy didn't last.  My certainty was such, that I was subconsciously sabotaging my happiness every day, hurting not only myself but everyone closest to me.  The pattern was prominent within my mother as well and I could see that I was carrying on the same tainted legacy.  

Recognizing the why most important step to recovery.  I still held a lot of resentment towards my parents, which inadvertently created their worst attributes inside of my household. Forgiveness and understanding was the only way to get past my negative feelings so I actively sought out their experiences. Through the life-stories of my mother and father, I discovered how much better my childhood circumstances were compared to their own. With empathy, came acceptance and ultimately, the ability to let go of the past and move forward. Forgiving myself proved to be more difficult, but eventually I saw myself through the eyes of others and decided that I was perfectly flawed, and to be authentic, I had to accept all of my aspects. With self-acceptance came a whole new life full of light and new experiences.  For the first time, I could see the world around me filled with beauty and wonder. Why would I want to live in the dark with all of this sunshine beckoning me with laughter and warm breezes?

I am not a medical professional, so the next bit is only my personal opinion. Treating depression with medication wasn’t the right course in my situation. For me, it seemed like placing a band-aid over a gushing wound. Depression was only the symptom and eventually the cause would've reared its ugly head through a drug-induced haze. I made a choice, but also realized the only person who had the power to make me happy was me. Everyone faces difficulty and filters the event through their perception. Do you know that 70% of all experiences are internal and only 30% is external? What happens in life does not define who we are, but how we perceive those trials determines our ultimate outcome.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Self-Publishing

A stirring in the blogging community regarding e-publishing has brought the pot to a frothy boil.  This isn't a new debate for any novice writer attempting to break into print.  In fact, I have posed this question to myself for many years now.  Is self-publishing actually breaking into print?  For me personally, the answer has always been no.  Landing a publishing contract seemed like the only way to earn the right to share my work.  Self-publishing felt like cheating...until recently.  A few days ago, I came across a posting (Are Publishing Agents an Endangered Species?) that changed my perception.  As I read, I began to see my writing from a business perspective rather than an emotional view.

A while back, I worked as a real-estate investor.  I discovered I had a knack for predicting trends and seeing the hidden potential in an under-priced market that was ready to inflate.  My real-estate agents were great at their jobs, but they couldn't work my properties with the same vision or enthusiasm.  Bottom line: they weren't as invested, both financially and emotionally. If I listed a house, months would pass without a contract, but if I put same house up for sell by owner and I showed the property, a buyer would be under contract within a week.  I flipped several properties over the years and everyone won.  But most importantly, I learned a valuable lesson I use in all aspects of my life today.  When someone stands in the middle, you lose the personal connection and both parties are unable to communicate their needs effectively.  The direct path is always the best way.

You might be asking "What does any of this have to do with self-publishing?"  And the answer is... everything!  Just like selling houses to the perfect fitting family, marketing Copper Descent on my own terms would give me the freedom to sell the way I deem fitting.  Taking this step would also give me much needed insight into the green pasture that lies beyond the rejection fence.  This also a controlled way to test for grass allergies before I wade in too far without an antihistamine.  With all of this under consideration, I have decided that if Copper Descent fails to retain a contract by the start of the new year, I will jump the railing and take my novel directly to the consumer.  This decision was not easy and I still get butterflies even thinking about what lies ahead, but the choice feels right for this project.  When I started writing Lucien's story several years ago, I knew publishing would be difficult, but I can see the hidden potential once again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thought is Power

A Frenchman, RenĂ© Descartes, turned philosophy on its ear in the 17th century with a simple statement: "I think therefore I am."  In the 20th century a scientist by the name of Schroedinger took that observation a step further with "The Cat in The Box Theory," explaining how two states can exist simultaneously until the data is observed and recorded.  What does this mean in simple terms?  Seeing ourselves is not enough to say we exist, we must also be observed by others, which means our thoughts and ideas effect one another collectively. 

My non-biological twin and I have always declared our minds to be on the same wave-length.  More often then not, we speak what the other is thinking.  And even when she lives seven-hundred miles away I know when she's having a bad day.  There are scientific studies now proving this phenomenon exists - a sixth sense everyone possesses caused my a magnetic field surrounding the physical body.  This sense allows the blind to read facial expressions while unseeing and connects us to the perception of everyone receiving the same signal.  For instance - if you think on the same wave-length as me, by reading this, your reality is already being altered to match my patterns.  But if you vibrate on a different frequency, you will dismiss these words as bull-huckey and no change will take place.  This is why we are attracted to some and repelled by others, just like magnets. 

So how does this apply to the power of thought?  If you consider there is a frequency and our thoughts are broadcast to everyone who thinks like you do, which effects their perception, then imagination becomes reality.  All of this is getting pretty deep, but I do have a point.  Perception is 70% of our personal experience.  If you look at the world through a negative lense, you will draw negativity (like a magnet), but the opposite is also true.  Try flipping the polarity to positive and see what life sends your direction.  Everyone has something to be grateful for.  Make a list of those things and read it every time you feel yourself slipping into the dark abyss.  Your thoughts will lift you and bring a brighter day, for you and your collective.  May you find peace, and I hope the sun shines brightly for you, my friends!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nice Rejection Letter

I received  a rejection letter from Mary Kole at Andrea Brown Literary Agency today and I wanted to acknowledge how much her words of encouragement meant.  The publishing industry is a hard winding road in the midst of a jungle with many blind corners.  You walk the path, but the only compass you possess are the trails you have forged and the directions given by the occupants.  Mary's letter was an important gauge and I am so thankful she took the time out of her busy schedule to write me.  Because of her thoughtfulness, I know that Copper Descent is ready for me to actively pursue publication.  I will send out four more queries this week and continue to do so until I find the right publisher.  This is going to happen, my friends.  Maybe not tomorrow or even next month, but I just had a prominent agent with a masters degree say that I have skills!  How can I not be bubbling over with enthusiasm? 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Creation is Enlightenment

I was approached with a question this weekend I have asked myself countless times.  “What is the purpose behind writing?  My book isn’t going to change the world or contributing to society.  It’s only a story…”  As I sat up worrying about my daughter for the tenth night in a row, I pondered the validity of that statement. 

I thought about my childhood—sixteen solitary years where friendships were sporadic and never lasted.  The world I lived in was tainted in alcoholism—a reality where everyone was quick to point a finger, but unwilling to own their responsibilities.  I felt like I didn’t matter—just another burden on a heavy situation.  By the time I was eight, I decided this existence was too much to bear.  My only escape was the stories I could lose myself in.  Books were my safe haven in the midst of chaos.    

As I considered if my writing made a difference, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened to the little girl I used to be if Madeleine L'Engle would have decided her craft was just a work of fantasy and didn’t count.  J.K. Rowling sacrificed her marriage and her way of life for Harry Potter, but can you imagine our world without it?  What if Leonardo Da Vinci’s father decided his son needed to be logical rather than creative?  How empty would the music industry be right now if Jonny Cash would have listened to his first wife and kept his feet planted firmly on the ground?  Art matters.  Imagination helps us problem solve, consider other perspectives and without it, our world would be bleak and dreary.  That is why the Nazi’s burned books and the Dark Ages were so…dark.  Creation is enlightenment.

My mother-in-law quilts.  For as long as I have known her, she has sat in her little room, matching up squares and creating these beautiful blankets.  Is she changing the world?  Not really, but her craft touches the people around her, bringing happiness through her fulfillment.  And as the matriarch of her family, she shares the gift of permission to do whatever makes you happy.  I can’t imagine anyone asking her to give up her purpose and even if they did, she wouldn’t allow it and this is why:

Our children are watching us every day.  I can tell you from my own experiences that they learn far more from our actions then they ever will from our words.  If you want our youth to pursue their dreams, then we need to live ours.  To find joy in the menial tasks, there needs to be love behind the action—love that comes from living our lives with a sense of accomplishment.  In order for a baby bird to fly, the fledgling must first watch their parents spread their wings and reach for the clouds. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Greatest Gift

In case you didn't know, my sixteenth wedding anniversary is this week.  Every year I reflect on the beginning and decide that I am a hopeless romantic who believes in love at first sight.  Why?  Because it happened to me.

It was nearly nineteen years ago, when I saw Travis for the first time.  There had been a few brief encounters before then, but he was always doing something outrageous and I never could take him seriously (like wearing Mickey Mouse ears or sunglasses at night :).  I don't consider those instances, because we didn't meet authentically, but this occurrence changed everything.  It was August of 1992 and I was almost eighteen-years-old.  That seems awful young to be so jaded, but I had already decided that love was a weapon only used against you.  After a really bad break-up a few months earlier, I had sworn off the stuff and I was doing a pretty good job of avoiding any kind of relationship with a possible future.  But then my friend Molly called and that phone call changed my life.

She was in Salt Lake, staying at her grandma's and asked me to come up.  My parents were out of town and on a whim I decided, why not?  I left after work and arrived in Sugarhouse at around seven.  Molly asked me what I wanted to do and I told her I was game for whatever.  We ended up at Shane's house.  Molly had spent a lot of my relationship prison-term with Travis and Shane.  I was nervous because I didn't know them, but I had already said  I was game for anything, so I went along.  Travis was working that night, but I met Shane, Bruce and Jim.  Bruce played the guitar and I sang along.  We had a lot of fun and we quickly agreed when they asked us to come back the following evening.  This event was infamously known as 'The Tunnel Night' from there on after.  (If you want the full story, ask me sometime.  It was interesting, to say the least)

There were probably about seven or eight boys there.  I'm going to try and name them all--there was Graham, Shane, Shayne, Chuck, Jim, Bruce and Travis.  Molly and I were the only girls, so we were getting plenty of attention, but not in a bad way.  They all treated Molly like one of the guys and I felt like my acceptance into the group was just a given.  Shane made most of the introductions, but I have to admit that I don't remember any of them, past meeting Travis.  He was sitting in an office chair.  I can remember him pivoting around and our eyes meeting for the very first time.  The blood in my head swooshed and I felt like the floor dropped away from my feet, but I managed to stay steady, even after a tiny voice inside my head said I would marry him.

The next few months were turbulent to say the least.  Just because you know that you are meant to love someone doesn't make it any easier.  Especially for me, who doesn't like being told what to do, but Travis taught me that love is about so much more than three little words.  Out of all of the gifts I have been given, he is the greatest.  Happy anniversary, babe.  I love you!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Endurance

I spent the morning comforting a fellow writer who is sitting at a crossroads.  As I gave her the reasurrance she needed to go on another day, I realized the information I was sharing was insight into what it really means to be a writer, so now I want to share it with you:

Honey, you are so close.  Only six more chapters to go and you are done.  If you really bucked down and forced yourself, you could have your first draft within six weeks.  You have an outline.  You know where to go and now you need to get there!

When I think back to Copper Descent in it's first stages, it makes me cringe.  I had to throw out several chapters and re-write them completely, not to mention how many hours I spent revising the others.  It was Terrible with a capital T, and it wasn’t even my first attempt.  I have taken creative writing courses and worked sporadically for the last twenty years to finally get a sense of my craft.  You have been at this for just a little over two years now, your talent lying dormant since high school and I feel that your work is better than my first draft.  In order to feel that sense of accomplishment, you need to finish what you have started.

 Writing takes patience and a strong sense of self.  That is why it is so dangerous to compare your work to anyone else’s, because you lose that identity which makes you original.  This is the reason why I will never be able to write fluff or comedy, and that’s okay.  I’m not made up that way and have accepted my limitations.  It is not okay to doubt your ability, only your fortitude.  This is a question I have asked myself countless times and now I will pose it to you…  How bad do you want this?  Bad enough to keep going when others would quit?  Because that’s what it’s all about.  Every time you decide to continue, you grow.  Quitting is never an option and neither is doubt. 

Have you ever heard of an author by the name of Andy Andrews?  He spent seven years attempting to publish his first novel: The Traveler’s Gift and no publishing company would take it.  They even went a step further, telling him it would never be published because his writing was crap.  He mortgaged his house and self published, believing in his dream that much.  This book was the first self-published story to ever make the New York Times Best Sellers List.  I assure you he had doubt every step of the way.  In fact, one of my most favorite quotes come from this man.  “You can’t always make the right decision, but once the decision is made, you have to go about making it right.”  You don’t change your choice, you follow it through to the end, and that way, you will never look back with regret.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Final Breath of Our Ten-Year Business

I have mixed feelings as I close-out the 2010 tax year.  Don't get me wrong, I am very excited about where we are going, but it is also sad to see something end.  In case you haven't heard, our company (Heber Valley Welding & Repair) has merged with RJ Masonry to create a new entity (Legacy Machinery).  My husband has been working towards this goal for a very long time and I am so happy to see his dream become a realization.

We started our corporation in January of 2000 while I was pregnant with my son, Tristen.  I have to admit that at first, I was not very happy.  Losing the security of a steady paycheck was a terrifying prospect.  I didn't like the long hours and constant phone calls that always seemed to take Travis away at the most importuned moments.  It was like the company was his illegitimate child--a twin to my son in every way but one.  I didn't feel the love for my husband's second son the way that he did and it only became worse as it grew even more demanding--monopolizing my time as well.  For the first few years, I resented the strain, but I eventually did learn to love my ugly step-child, and now he is all growed up. 

I imagine that this is the way it will feel when my daughter leaves for college.  It feels like a death in some ways, yet the company is still there--evolving into something greater.  Travis is still fully involved and I no longer resent the time he spends with his "other child", because it frees up my time to have a love affair of my own: with writing.