Unpopular Opinions #1

I can’t sleep, so…here are some trees. #ilovetrees

Also, two things are heavy on my mind tonight, both I feel like sharing because two other friends have shared these same thoughts in the past day:

  1. The “I never let my pain/disability/illness stop me” narrative is ableist and harmful. Sometimes, even with illnesses that aren’t considered chronic but pop up just long enough to make you have to see a doctor/go to the ER and piss you off, you ARE held back/unable to do all the things. And guess what? That’s ok. You shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it just because someone else doesn’t understand (or simply refuses to entertain the idea that you shouldn’t have to suffer just for the sake of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” – people like that have health issues way earlier than they’d prefer, and if they don’t want to acknowledge it that’s their cross to bear).
  2. Stop the testing. Bring back the joy. When you sit in front of a kid with a stopwatch to time them on ANYTHING, whether it’s speed reciting multiplication tables or the alphabet or the periodic table, and they aren’t fast enough to beat the clock, they feel embarrassed, like they’ve failed or let down someone they are supposed to impress, or worse – they just feel plain stupid. Guess what? They’re not. Kids learn at different paces and have interests and greater abilities in different areas – JUST LIKE ADULTS DO. Some are good at labor. Some are good at creative endeavors. Some are good at organizing. Some are good at service. EVERYONE is needed. If you’re putting a bunch of rules (besides actual grammar rules) on reading and writing, and putting a bunch of pressure on a kid to meet some ridiculous and possibility unattainable standard (for them), you’re not teaching them to read or write well – nay nay, my friend. If that’s how you’re teaching? You’re teaching them to HATE reading and writing – even about the things they love.

Anyway, just some “unpopular opinions” that I have been arguing with myself about for a little while now.

Do good. Be kind. Be compassionate. And remember, all of those things are verbs, not just words. You’re not perfect either, so give others a break – especially when they’re already down. Try offering a hand to lift them up instead of a foot to the side while they’re down that makes them not WANT to get up. People need help, not hate. One day, you’ll need help, too. Love y’all. 🙏

Looking Forward (Or Deja Vu?)

You never know where the road is going to take you. Be careful with yourself. Don’t abuse yourself or others, or take your body (or life) for granted.

One day you may be in a situation where you don’t know what’s next for it – and whether you believe me or not, or like it or not, or think it’s a dramatic statement or not, I don’t care – it’s a terrifying and uncomfortable place to be, especially when you have small children.

It’s funny how you can be considering the future, looking forward and not behind, but feel as though you are watching your past happen all over again – and you never expected it and thought you’d done everything to prevent it from ever being this way again. Well. When it comes to the body, and to life, really, sometimes things just happen.

Sometimes things happen and they’re scary and they’re hard and you can’t talk about it because…well, no one will understand and you don’t want anyone to act a certain way, or maybe you just don’t want to be vulnerable because you’re already possibly more vulnerable than many people assume.

You don’t mean to be vague but you are just doing the best you can to process your own existence – and you have no clue. None. Not even a tiny one. You’re just waiting. You’re waiting because it’s deja vu and you know what happened then; but, it’s also a different experience and you know it’s “now,” not “then,” but you’re gun-shy from the last experience…so time is the only source of answers, if time or answers even exist.

Life is like driving a car. You can drive all you want, but you never really have power or control over anything. Forces far greater than you do – and sometimes they’re not kind. And, if you think you do have everything under control? It’s an illusion.

Don’t delude yourself. You’re going to be in a world of hurt at some point, if you do. Don’t forget that when you dance, eventually you have to pay the band.

Don’t assume you know people. Don’t assume you know what’s going on in their life. Don’t judge based on what you THINK you know, because in reality? You don’t know squat except about yourself. Focus on that, unless you do know facts and you can be of some emotional or physical help in someone’s life.

That’s what the last few years have taught me, in being treated like crap, and allowing myself to be used by people and abused by the medical system. Did it make me stronger? Wiser? Yes. Did it hurt? Badly? Also, absolutely yes.

Don’t be a selfish jerk. Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Make it a great day. I love you all. ❤️

~C.

A Flower, a Memory, and a Message…

As a child and young teenager I felt like the most unwanted, unloved, motherless human being on the planet. This morning I am reminded that I have had more mothers than I prayed for in those days (and probably more than I deserved), and that blooming takes time but it’s beauty is worth continuing on to experience, to behold within, and perhaps someday express or offer to someone else.

This morning I am reminded that the universe has ALWAYS surrounded me with strong, courageous, positive, mothering and loving women who have given me the lessons and the benefits of their strength and even sometimes their weakness, their hope, their courage, their experience and their love – even when they haven’t realized it, even though they weren’t my birth or adoptive mothers.

This morning I am grateful – grateful for who they were and are, and grateful for who I was, have become, and will be because of the many lights they have shone in my life. I am reminded of my personal belief that we do not become who we are and we don’t bloom into our whole selves because we do it all alone – there are always those lights in our lives to outshine our darkest moments and feed our souls like sunshine. Sometimes the sources of that light are people (and animals) – whether strangers in the market line or at the post office, strangers online who make us smile or even become true friends and inspirations, or people in our daily lives who become our friends, whether they remain in our lives for long or a short time…whether they still live or they pass away.

This morning I am…very simply put…overwhelmingly grateful – for the lights that have shone on me in th past and the ones that continue to do so – the glints and gleams that illuminate and encourage my spirit, that help me to grow and ever evolve into a better me than I was each day that’s come before.

Finally, this morning I am reminded of a very important thing for my soul self: Motherly love is not a label or a static characteristic – it’s a state of being…and it can come from just about anywhere, if you’re open to receive it. I am. ❤️

Vision: iPhone 6, Olloclip

Tools: Mextures (formula SRPVZKE)

An Alabama Snow and a Memory

There is nothing like the joy of a child, or your love for that child and that joy.

It’s snowing here tonight – very lightly, compared to our snow in December, but snow nonetheless. I have a memory that always returns to me when it snows here in Alabama. It is a memory of a father watching his only child play outside in an Alabama blizzard at something like 9PM, darkness never bothering the child and snow never failing to fascinate and excite.

I remember this man watching this child and seeing a sparkle in his eyes, despite his misery at being outdoors in the cold, dark night, wind howling and snow blowing from what seemed like all directions.

I can see him suffering at the hands of neuropathy and overworked muscles and joints, every step a sharp pain and every breath a hope for the snow to stop and the pipes not to freeze. But I can also see him glorifying the excitement and the newness of the snow in the child’s eyes and spirit, and struggling to roll the three parts of the snowman just in case it melted the next day.

Turns out, that snow lasted for almost a week, there was no power until days after the snow had melted, and the man saved the child from frostbite by giving the child his own full faced toboggan halfway through the snowman building process.

This man was willing to suffer for his child. He was willing to forgo the knowledge that his body would hate him the next day, that he wouldn’t be able to go to work (even though there was a blizzard his factory didn’t care – he was a supervisor and was expected to be there, no matter what).

He didn’t care that he was hurting or that he would pay a price for the temps in the teens and the random but grand night adventure. He played. He laughed. He threw the child in the air and caught the child. He didn’t let her fall. He never let her fall.

This man was my father, and this child was me. And I will NEVER forget that night or that blizzard, not as long as I live. I will never forget the milk and the goat cheese and the freshly churned butter and the wax paper wrapped venison and squirrel that he’d taken for us and cleaned and processed himself, literally buried in a drift of snow, or the cooler on the deck full of all the condiments and other refrigerated foods.

I will never forget his smile. His laughter. His attempts to run and to make six foot four inch snow angel and perfect lines of size sixteen footprints right alongside my own. I will never forget the light in his eyes, even in the dark, even in pain. I will never forget how warm I was when he would hug me up in his own coat or the comfort in the voice I have almost forgotten saying, “how do you like the snow? Are you having a wonderful time? Do you see and feel the magic?”

I am thirty nine now, and have an eight year old child of my own, and suddenly tonight I realize the sacrifice that was a part of what was one of the best memories I carry in my soul. I know now what he gave to me – not just suffering the cold that southerners “can’t bear,” or staying up late, or giving up his recliner and his comfort. He gave me his time. He gave me his patience. He gave me his love. He gave me his heart.

When you have a child, and you love that child, that’s what you do. It’s not even a choice. It’s just what happens. You don’t think about your own comfort, even if you repetitively say, “I don’t know how long I can stand this cold!” You just…do. Because the child brings out the magic and the joy that’s been buried in your soul by an exceptionally long overworked-with-nothing-to-show-for-it run.

You realize you have everything right there in your arms, and no amount of pain (physical or emotional) or cold or worry about the future is going to stand in your way of that moment. That now. That memory.

That’s what I experienced tonight. Tonight I became my father. And now I sit in bed and weep tears of both longing and joy. Because I was raised, protected, loved and spoiled by a loving man. A faithful man. A steadfast and gracious man. A good man, despite his flaws.

Watching my boy, and playing with him tonight in the cold and the wind and the little bit of snow that presented itself, I realized that I carry that within me and I am capable of giving it to my baby. Although eight years old, and someday 39, like me, my baby he will always be.

I love you, Daddy. And I am so grateful for the 36 years I had with you. Thank you for the life you gave me, and the heart you taught me to have. And thank you for the snowman.

A New Year’s Note

A New Year’s Note to my Precious Friends

As the sun sets on one year and rises on yet another, there is so much I hope and wish for you…

I hope the coming year finds you well, filled with hope that never ends, and surrounded by love.

I hope that you continue to grow, continue to forgive, continue to learn, and continue to live.

I hope that you laugh, sing, dance, and dream, no matter your age or circumstance.

I hope that you will always see the beauty and the splendor, the magic and the miracles that exist in the world around you, every day.

I hope that you will believe in yourself, trust in your soul, follow your heart, and always do all things with love, finding it all returning to you with grand abundance as you share it with the world.

I wish you grace when you find yourself tired and beaten down, freedom from all the things that may burden you, and healing if you should find yourself sick and unwell in any way.

More than anything, I hope that you see the beauty in yourself that the Universe has created in you, that you realize the truth of your worth and your strength, the value of your spirit and of your heart, and how precious their reflections are in the world around you.

With gratitude for all the ways you bless and enrich my life, I wish you all the blessings and all the goodness that life has to offer you in the coming year, and always.

May we all float on with peace and hope to carry us.

All my love and best wishes to ALL who read this, from my heart to yours.

C.

First VSCO Preset: Winter

Two things. Firstly, this post is a long time coming. Secondly, winter is almost over. Better late than never? Long time followers know that I hardly believe that, but have gotten very good at it. Life. What can I say? Hashtag no excuses.

SO! Hi. How ya doin’? Very good, I hope. It’s been a super long time since I’ve posted anything art or app related but I’m excited to say that I have a new Mextures formula post coming this week, and I’m also very excited to have finally jumped on board the VSCO train. Hence, this post in particular.

VSCO is one of the original filter apps (at least for iPhone, I know nothing about Android devices and can not lie). It’s been around a while – almost as long as Instagram, I believe. It’s also been insanely popular for a while. I’ve had the app since it was released but at the time I had an infant and I had ZERO time. To be honest, I never really utilized the app when I DID have time. I only started halfway using it when the Journal feature became available and even that was so clumsy to use at the time that it was originally added in that I tired of it quickly. Now, here it is a few years later, and here I finally am, actually using the app to a more full extent.

In the spirit of my “honeymoon stage” with this app I’ve decided to share some of the filters I’ve created and saved for myself with it, because FILTERS. Admittedly, even with Mextures I don’t “over edit” my images. I tend to have a light hand, if you will, when it comes to that stuff. I generally get mildly uncomfortable, especially with the grungy effects, when editing my photos. It’s not that I pride myself on my images too much – I think the majority of them could be far better than they are based on what my mind wanted them to look like compared to what they actually look like. Nonetheless I am extremely fond of a nice fade and/or a muted or even darkened tone to my images, and that’s why I’ve come to enjoy VSCO as of late. Mextures will likely always be my preferred and go to editing app – my favorite. But VSCO has a lot to offer, too, including a fresh new perspective for me of images old and new. And, it works nicely in conjunction with Mextures I think.

So, here is my first preset share from VSCO, with a sample of images that have been edited with the preset. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I hope you’re having a lovely winter.

Love to all,

C.