Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One day I'll see myself the way others least sometimes...

My moods seem to swing from one extreme to the next lately.  last week was good, this week not so good with panic attacks and sadness.  It helped having therapy today and it's wishcasting wednesday, which always reminds me of all the positive in the universe and those who channel it. 

Today, Jamie asks:

This question on this day continues to provide me with proof that there is some magical madness behind the questions asked on any given day.  It's fitting today.  I just left therapy with homework from my therapist - to recognize when a compliment is paid to me. 

It seems like a simple thing, to be able to acknowledge that I did something well or helped someone, and to accept, at face value, a compliment that is paid to me.  But it's the most gut-wrenching moment for me.  I say "thank you" because I'm always polite - one of the good things my mother drilled into me at a young age - but I never really believe it.  I'm suspicious of compliments or, at the very least, I think obviously these people don't really see how wrong they are.  And it's gotten to a point, that now, in my thirties, I barely even notice if someone has said something positive about me (and yet, the smallest negative thing will just take over my brain for days and days). 

The thing is, on some level, I know that I am deserving of compliments, but it's so hard to even fathom how to process such a thing.

I turn to the universe this week for guidance.  I wish to invite in the comprehension that someone is complimenting me and the ability to process it without automatically dismissing it.  I wish to invite in the positive for myself and then be able to pass it onto others. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

celebrate good times...

It's Wishcasting Wednesday, one of my favorite moments of the week.  It not only provides me a chance to take stock of where I am and where I want to go, but to offer up wishes for everyone else to achieve their dreams and needs. 

Today Jamie asks...

It's been a rough couple of weeks for me.  I've been reflecting a lot and pushing myself further in therapy.  Both are good things, but they tend to leave me exhausted and weary.  It's a hard road.  Necessary if I really want to achieve all that I do and to be happy, but hard nonetheless.

The past few days things have completely turned around.  I've been getting in my daily meditations and writing every day - even if it's only 150 words.  I'm trying not to focus on things that stress me out (those evil things that leave you up at night going "why me?  why always me?") and instead mentally listing things I am grateful for. 

I wish to celebrate all that I've accomplished in getting this far.  I know there are still rocky patches ahead - that is part of life's charm, after all - but celebrating these moments of triumph and not just surviving, but thriving...I hope it will make those rough patches have less hold on me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Catch 22

This week's prompts from Sleep is for The Weak were all quite interesting.  A few of them made me stop and think, but I decided to go with the first.

Catch 22: Are you feeling stuck with no discernible way out of something?

There is this girl in the dryer.  Her eyes peer out toward the world, looking around to see if anyone notices, if anyone sees her there.  Do they?  She has her hands pressed against the glass, palms splayed outward as though to try to push, but not too hard because what if it breaks?  What if she frees herself?  There really is no way she can free herself, after all.  She needs help.  She's not capable of doing it on her own, so she should just deal with being uncomfortable and suck it up.

It's the story of my life lately.  I feel stuck at my day job.  I feel stuck with my writing.  I feel stuck with my weight loss journey.  Everything that was moving along last year at this time has come to a halt, all of my own creation.  I teeter between wanting happiness and feeling like I don't deserve it.  I find ways to set myself up for failure, never celebrating the small victories, but always exaggerating the mistakes.  It's the pattern of the quilt that makes up the years of my life. 

I'm working to change that.  It's baby steps.  I'm only just realizing that I've spent my life doing it, that I've wedged myself into this corner.  I'm slowly starting to set small goals and trying to remind myself to be happy with each success because that gets me closer to what I really want with life and will make me want to keep going.

It won't be easy, but I'm sick of being stuck all the time.  I want to dance and fly and be happy.  

Unconcious Mutterings # 406

  1. Everything ::
  2.   can be yours
  3. China ::
  4.   Great Wall
  5. Essence ::
  6.   being
  7. Immediate ::
  8.   right now
  9. Obstruct ::
  10.   get in the way
  11. Force ::
  12.   why don't you make me?
  13. Constellation ::
  14. stars
  15. Intuitive ::
  16.   understanding
  17. Complain ::
  18.   annoyed
  19. Train ::
  20.   Amtrak

wherein I babble about grieving and my dad...

It's so curious: one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses. ~Colette

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately.  There are always random instances where I think of my father, though it's usually in the vaguest notion of having a dad rather than the actual man.  In the past, I longed for the idea of a father there to protect me much more than my dad, who has always been a mythical figure/ghost in my life.

There are small moments I remember.  The man was crazy obsessed with me playing sports and got himself ejected from some of my soccer games.  I would have to listen to him go on and on about why my team lost on our drives home, but then he would take me for ice cream or to Springdale Farms, just the two of us, and we would talk.  I remember him taking me to the local private high school and telling me that one day I could do whatever I wanted with my life as long as I worked hard for it and that I could go anywhere I wanted (which, of course, made me all the more bitter when my mother was quite the opposite about things).  I remember his temper and how I used to live in fear of him finding out if I was bad.  I remember little bits of good and bad, but he was just daddy.  Not a real person with flaws and passions and his own bucket of issues.

It's understandable.  I was eleven when my father died of cancer and even when someone would share a memory of him, it was their story to tell me, not my own.  I didn't know the man.  It's sad, for both us.

I used to ask my mother about him, but she got annoyed so I stopped, and  she rarely brougt him up herself except when she was drinking and then it was never *good* things.  Instead she would tell me these things that just made me wonder what the hell was wrong with the both of them and why they ever got together at all.  Sure, there were random humerous moments like when she found out that I was a democrat and she said, "You and your bleeding heart liberalism!  Your father is somewhere laughing about this!"  Mostly, it was just better to avoid the topic all together.

I only ever got glimpses of who he was through other people's eyes, like my godmother or his best friend, Norm, who used to help my mother around the house.  I only discovered that he shared my love of writing when we packed up my childhood home and I found some of his stuff.  I really miss that connection or understanding of where I come from.  I feel like there is this whole half of myself that I will never know about, a part of me that might not feel so alien because hey, maybe I'm not weird; maybe I just have my dad's snarky sense of humor and perception of life. 

It only became evident to me since starting therapy and dealing with my numerous issues, that I never grieved for the man at all.  Or for the little kid I was who grew up without him and the adult I am who is utterly clueless to most things where he is concerned.

While he was sick, I remember little glimpes of things.  I remember him and my mother having really bad fights.  I remember various trips to the hospital to see him to say "goodbye" to the point that I asked my mother, "Are we sure this time?  Because I've said 'goodbye' a bunch already and it's getting really tiring."  I remember the last Christmas he was alive and how, even as a kid, no matter how much everyone tried to make it seem somewhat normal, I just knew that everything was about to change and not in a good way.  And I remember my mother waking me up in the middle of a February night to tell me that my dad had passed away (I always think of George Carlin with this - passed away...he died...he didn't pass away or expire or whatever else) and asking my sister and I if we wanted to see him before he was taken away.  I chose not to and went back to sleep.  I feel bad about that sometimes, even though he was already gone, and that I was likely protecting myself the best way I could at eleven. 

Since my mother died of a heart attack in 2009, I've run the gamut of emotions, all within the same hour at times, and it dawned on me that while I'm grieving her - the good, the bad, and the ugly - I need to grieve for my dad too.  I have to allow myself to get angry with him because he left me with her.  I have to feel sad for myself because it wasn't fair and it's okay to think that.  I have to say it's okay to cry about it now because I was always so afraid to do it before, because I had to be brave and strong like everyone told me.  And I need to see him the way I do my mother.  I put so many of my issues and anger on her shoulders because she was always there.  It's not fair to either of them.  They both had faults, they both let me down in a lot of ways, and they both took care of me as best as they could.

It's sad, really.  My therapist calls it a breakthrough and thinks it's good, but it's hard to be in these moments.  I feel almost guilty writing this out, worried about what people might think, but I'm so sick of living that way.  I've spent my entire life worried about protecting everyone else, trying to be that good, strong girl, and I buried my own emotions.  My mom and dad let me down in the worst way in that regard - they were the parents and I was the kid - and I'm allowed to feel this way.

I just wish I had someone around, other than my therapist, to tell me that it was okay.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reviews: The Passage and Venom

Title:  The Passage by Justin Cronin

Summary:  First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

My Review:  Before I begin my review, I want to point out that the summary of the book is highly misleading in many ways.  It actually seems like a summary of the first 200 pages of an almost 800-page novel. While it definitely provides a set up of sorts, it hardly prepares the reader for anything they are about to undertake with this book.

(warning:  there are slight spoilers in the remainder of this review)

The book starts out a bit slow.  There is about one hundred pages of set up with a variety of characters, most of whom you never see again, and the writer's attempts at slowly creating the world that is about to explode in chaos. It's an interesting take on biological warfare gone awry, and once the terror is unleashed, it's one of those oh-my-god-what's-going-on-and-how-does-it-get-fixed sort of things.  The world after the carnage begins is one made up of small surviving colonies closed off from the outside world, strange cults based around the first twelve vampires, and hope in the form of one girl and a few kids (or so they seemed to me) trying to get to the bottom of things and simply survive.

The ending is creepy and the deaths can be gruesome, but it's part of what makes the book work...the actual feel that you, as the reader, gets for what's going on and the realism (in another version of the world) that in any war there are casualties and you lose people you love.   I also enjoyed the bits of journal entries intermixed with the narrative that help allow the reader draw his/her own conclusions after putting the book down.

If you don't get daunted by the length and can make it through the set up (about 100 pages), the story takes on quite an interesting life of its own. I admit that I was annoyed that I invested two hundred pages in certain characters and such only to never hear about most of them for a long time, but the payoff is definitely worth it. Still...creepy ending.  But it does stay in your brain after you've finished.

Overall:  4 stars


Title: Venom (Elemental Assassin # 3) by Jennifer Estep

Summary:  What kind of assassin works pro bono?

It's hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I'm Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland's best barbecue joint. To my friends, I'm the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab's right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I'll take my chances. Then there's Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland's finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I'm a cold-blooded killer...who is about to save her life.

My Review:  If you're a fan of urban fantasy with kick-ass female characters, I highly recommend reading this series if you haven't already.  (Not really any spoilers for this book, but mention of the first two books!)  Venom picks up in the aftermath of the first two books, with the overall mystery of Gin's past and the murder of her family becoming more clear. While I really enjoyed the first two books and love Gin Blanco and her family of misfits/unlikely heroes, this book is just so great from the first line until the last and I'm already waiting with baited breath for the next book.

I love the new male romantic lead. Owen is so much more interesting than Donovan Caine ever was and I love that Donavan's leaving also opened up the chance for Bria to enter the picture as a good detective (but one who doesn't seem to live in a black-and-white world). I really love that Owen doesn't want to change Gin or try to rationalize his own stuff through her. He just likes her as is and finds her fascinating.

The end of this book is so perfect. I love that Gin has finally accepted who she is and what needs to be done, that she is pushed into going after what she wants in order to protect those she cares about. And I love a good stick-it-to-the-villain moment. And you get that with Gin and Mab at the end.

Now that the one character I loathed has been removed from the books, I'm really enjoying where this series is going. Hopefully, Jennifer Estep continues the series in the fashion of this book as it was awesome.

Overall: 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Let enjoyment take over...

It's wishcasting wednesday!  In Jamie's own words, "Wishcasting Wednesday is a safe haven for wishes, a fertile field in which to plant wish seeds and have them witnessed and tended lovingly. It’s a place where magic begins."

I've managed to get back into a routine of journaling and blogging, but I've had such issues with writing consistently since my mother died.  It's a strange thing.  She never appreciated or thought much of my writing.  She would tell me to grow up and act like an adult, stop living in fantasy worlds.  It often led to fights and, while it bothered me that she just couldn't understand (or at least accept) that I loved writing and creating worlds and stringing sentences together that made other people react, I always wrote.  Maybe it was one of my ways of defying her, and now there is no reason for that, but sometimes it just feels so hard to undertake the actual act of writing.  I'll say I'm going to do it.  I'll talk about how I miss it, but then I just can't do it. 

I thought this feeling would pass with time.  This January it will have been two years since she died and my writing is barely there.  It's like I'm punishing myself for something that wasn't my fault.  And it's not something my mother was ever right about either.  I'm worried I'll be bombarded with those pesky feelings and emotions and grief that are still simmering and the one place I've always dealt with things was my writing.  

The thing is, it would probably help me deal with things.  It's always the way I have in the past.  And writing is a joyful experience.  Sure, there are moments when I really wish a scene would come out the way I envision it in my head or a character would stop hijacking the story, but I love it.  I think a lot of it is that I'm afraid of what might come out. 

I signed up for Mini-Nanowrimo, a take on the Nanowrimo challenge, but instead of having to write one novel of 50,000 words, I set a certain number of words to write each day on any project I choose.  I thought it might be a good way to get me back into the practice of writing each day and to push myself to break through this self-imposed block.  

My wish?  I wish to enjoy the process of writing again, to take each day in November and the writing time I set aside, and be okay with whatever comes out.

Rachel Caine & Bitten By Books

So one of my favorite authors, Rachel Caine, has a new book out, Ghost Town, and to celebrate it, Bitten By Books, one of my favorite book blog sites, is running a contest!  So go share your favorite parts of the Morganville series thus far and enter to win an IPad.  You have until November 10, 2010 to enter.

If you haven't read any of Rachel's books, I highly recommend them.  She not only writes the Morganville series, but a few other great fantasy sets as well.  I highly recommend her stuff.

Link to Bitten By Books contest:

Rachel Caine's Website: