If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~Bob Hope

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Swan Song:Final Post for Kindness in Giving

All good things must come to end, right? Don't get me wrong, I really, really, really, enjoy writing and this blog has been a nice outlet. It's not where I need to be though. It's lost focus, direction, that joie de vivre. It's much less than I ever wanted it to be but it has brought me more joy that I could have imagined when I started it. September seems to be my transition time because it occurred to me that it was ten years ago (almost to the day which is coincidental) that I closed up my Chisel Point for Deeper Penetration Blog. Lots of turning point for me have happened in September. I believe this is because my birthday is in October and I am one of those people who is prone to self-assessment, self-reflection, probably entirely too self-aware.

I have been rattling certain plans around in my head for far too long. I have been accepting what is much more than I should, like in a death to my soul kind of way. My good friend stopped by this morning and I posed a question to her. I asked, do you think it is my own obsessiveness and penchant for rumination that keeps bringing me back to the creativity thing and all that goes with it or does it all keep turning up because it is some integral part of my destiny. She answered, yes. I had told her last week of several things I wanted to do: a book, a better blog, all the creative stuff I used to do, a shop, action, adventure, swashbuckling.

There is a definite lack of swashbuckling in my life.

There is also a lack of focus. There are unmedicated manics with ADHD that have more focus than I do at the moment. The disintegration of the relationship with the artist formerly known as my husband has been a wave of chaos and survival mode. Retail life is not helping matters. My schedule has all the regularity of a long-term opioid user. Two nights ago, I hit that point where I totally felt as if my life has become unmanageable. I do not accept this as the way life has to be because how things are right now in this moment negates all the good I have done in my life thus far.

I am currently not aware of what my next move should be. I am tying off the knot that is this blog because me writing under this title, this apparent theme, is constricting and not allowing me to bloom. It's not an easy decision. It's not like I woke up this morning and decided it. I decided it weeks ago but I just haven't taken the steps to do it. It's the whole one door closes thing. I need to close this door, so that I can move on. I need to close doors with the artist formerly known as my husband. I need to close doors with my own perceptions of failure that stem from the last decade of my life. I need to close doors on all this negativity and freaking bullshit that I have allowed to diminish me.

Some doors fling shut pretty easily. Others, though, other I am going to need some help with because they a big and heavy and have been open longer than they should have. Closing all the easy doors helps me get my focus.

Be well, my friends! It's been fun.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Merely A Flesh Wound, I Am Alright

Yes, it's Monty Python reference. Possibly paraphrased or not exact, I don't really care but some people have nothing better to do than be pedantic. Merely a flesh wound, it's a humorous, easy way to defer conversation about things that have happened since October 2013.  Although, these days, I am more alright than hemorrhaging so that's something, right? I made this mix of songs that make me happy and remind me that I am better than the circumstances that rained down on me the other day. 

I am alright and getting better all the time. I still think "One Flesh Amputation" is a great name for a band but it doesn't describe the state of my heart and soul these days. I have days. I have some exceedingly awesome days. I have some excruciatingly hard days. I have some terribly icy numb days. I still deal with seething rage and abysmal brokenness. I still struggle to trust people, myself included. I still hurt but not nearly as much as I used to hurt. 

I am a mixtape maker from way back. I have made plenty of playlists during these choppy waters to divert my attention or exploit the depth of my emotions. I don't share everything I make publicly nor do I make all my creations on YouTube. It helps most days even if only because it forced my focus onto something other than the darkness. I haven't made very many self-indulgent, wallowing in darkness playlists which is a bit of a victory considering. I really enjoyed the way I worked the post and playlist thing the other day so I thought I would give it a whirl again. 

The playlist came first. Several days ago, actually. I had some downtime after a string of remarkably normal, uplifting days. I created the Burn List playlist and then this one. The Burn post and playlist were actually a bit cathartic and well-received according to the stats so it's win-win. I work through my stuff, you get entertained. You're welcome. Anyhow, when I created the flesh wound playlist, I didn't intend to wrap a post around it. The post has been born out of the past several days.
I can't seem to get my head out of certain spaces the past week or so. Or is it an undertow? At any rate, I have felt myself in ruminating on my love life for the past 25 years. (Yes, it spawned a playlist. No, you can't see it yet.) There is a growing faction of people in my life suggesting that I should start dating again. Sure, I have had one or two close people poking me that direction but I am talking people who are practically strangers. It's annoying. Partially it's my fault for giving the illusion that I haven't been entertaining the idea and yeah, I have kept a rather in-depth relationship as much off the radar as I possibly could. (I may be a jerk for that, not sure yet.) But it leads me to more confidently question why everyone seems to think that time and signing up for more torture is going to heal all wounds. 

Sigh. See. This space I am in now. I am good. Sure, every once in awhile I miss the benefits and perks of an intimate relationship but I have changed so much in the past ten years that those benefits don't tip the scale toward playing the field. It's an incredibly interesting insight I have gained having the first man I opened my heart to post-marriage be the last man I swore off prior to meeting my husband. I know it doesn't always show but I am such a better version of me these days. In some ways, I am sure it's annoying to others. But I know much more clearly who I am and what I want and what I can tolerate, and why shouldn't I? I am older and much definitely wiser. This play list, well, it's a bit of a love letter to myself, to remind me that I am every bit as fabulous as I remember myself to be.

I am alright...and getting better every day.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Burning Bridges: Letting Go Means Not Saving Them A Seat For Later

Blogger's rendition of the current state of the bridges in her life
Some mornings, some afternoons, some moments, some weeks, there is just a resounding theme. Burn, baby, burn, it's a blogging inferno. Okay, not really, but burn has been on my mind, in my vocabulary and in my idle esoteric and existential wanderings. Reading my email this morning, really seared this theme into my firing synapses.

First, I have had a burning desire to pray for and request prayer for several people that keep smoldering in my mind. It's been a covert op as I already know that a number of people in my life would be inflamed that I would be so bold as to bring people who have hurt me to the throne of grace. I think in keeping it all as embers, it manifested into the most bizarre dream last night. It is what it is I suppose but it set a tone for my day.

Reading my email, there was one from the person in my life who is equivalent to the paperboy in "Better Off Dead" and like clockwork, this person asks for their two dollars and I sigh, verbally respond and move on. I have to be an adult because it's a bridge I can't burn (or won't burn, some days it goes both ways.) It got me to reflecting on the past several days, weeks, and months. It has me wondering if society has made me overly caution about setting fire to paths that no longer serve my good, just because one day, in some page of this choose your adventure, I might need the connection.

Most people come and go gracefully in and out of life.Ebb and flow or some shit like that. I can only speak for myself when I say the problem seems very much being me not going with that flow and trying to orchestrate things under the delusion that I am some sort of skilled puppetmaster. There may be some hoarding issues in my family tree and I think emotions and memories and other weirdness are part of that oddity.

What am I trying to say? I very clearly know how I feel about people, places and things right now. I have ignored the still small voice because of history or guilt or regret or plain foolishness. Sentimentality side-swipes sanity sometimes and then it's all down hill. So many visions, so many previous blueprints, so many previous maps, I don't know why I still have them hanging around. Fear maybe, or mostly, I don't know for sure.

The Information Society song "Burning Bridges" puts it best with the lyrics:
Yesterday I said goodbye
To all my old loves and some new ones
Hanging 'round my window whispering
There are things that can't be undone
Yesterday I threw away those treasures
That I kept for so long
Treasures only weigh you down
So I'm burning all the bridges of my memory
Those treasures do weigh you down. They clog up the shelf. They take up space. The limit your ability to allow new things into your life.  That crazy dream I mentioned? The character list was me, the artist formerly known as my husband, 2 ex-boyfriends (and I use that term very loosely with one of them), 2 crushes and a dude that keeps popping up. That's five people clogging up space in my head. That's five seats I am saving, possibly shooing away the person who is actually supposed to sit next to me. I don't even realize I am doing it sometimes but thank God my sleeping brain processes things in such a way I take notice.

You can't hold onto everyone or everything forever. Life is not static. I could (and probably should) take this down a whole scriptural road but I don't want to lose anyone tonight. Some people are saving seats for ideas that no longer serve them and refuse to let new ideas sit down with them. I hate seeing people become caricatures of themselves because they keep insisting on towing a line that is wrapped to a noose around their neck. Trust me, I am by no means perfect in any regard but I am at least aware of my imperfections and open to the idea that may how I operate isn't the best course of action for me. 

I am not holding seats anymore. If you want to show up to life with me, show up. On time. Appropriately attired. Ready for the show. I have front-row, ring-side, VIP seats to a show that has every element of an edge of your seat, award-winning production. There are people lining up for seats to this show, so why am I holding seats for people who are outside talking to scalpers, looking for a better deal? Shrug. I don't have a good answer for that but I do have a new question.

Anyone got a light?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Value of Getting By With Help From Your Friends

With Help From My Friends
Again, a little something I whipped up.
What would you do if I had bad grammar?
Would you close tab and walk out on me?
Lend me your eyes and I'll write you a blog,
and I'll try to use correct hyperbole.
Oh, I get by with some help from my friends. 
The Quite Bearable Lightness of Being Sparkly seems to have stoked my smoldering embers. It's not as naughty as it sounds. (Or maybe it is, the night is young.) I wrote in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Ever since, it's been like large chunks of gray matter have thawed and revitalized. It's been me with this silly grin. I have been in keen awareness of all the bucket fillers in my life and just how connected I am these days. But mostly, it's been me thinking about my re-work of Proverbs 27:17: As glitter sharpens glitter, so a man polishes the sparkle of his friend.

I could write for days about all the lovely women and the few good men I count among my friends. (And the few good men is not a jab, it's a reflection of my change in attitude about men and women being friends, and so I do not have many close male friends anymore.) I would like to write a post about each and everyone of them and how beautiful and witty and wise and cherished they are, I really would. But they are all so humble and so busy that I wouldn't want to push them into anything. 

I have learned that adult friendships are not quite like they are portrayed in movies or media or whereever it was we all got this idea that as our responsibilities grew that we would still have these tight cliques of party girls who would lounge around drinking wine with us on any given night. I used to mistakenly leave people alone because I thought they were too busy or that we wouldn't click or whatever. Or worse, my own personal shame cloud would convince me that there is no way someone so (insert superlative here) would ever want to be friends with me. 

I have been so wrong and I have thoroughly enjoyed being proven as such. I have been grateful for grace from old friends who got thrown under the bus of my marriage being there to dust off the debris when my husband decided to throw me under the bus as well. I am grateful for all the different sizes and shapes and opinions and ideas that I have call, a click, a text, a car trip away. I have found the friends that I can text at 4 in the morning and the ones that I could if it wouldn't disturb their whole household and put their routine into a whirlwind. I have solid sisterhoods with women I may never meet through the beauty of online groups. I have it all. I truly do. I never have to each lunch by myself (but prefer to most days because it's my recharge time.) I am grateful that when everything fell apart that I didn't collapse into the vacuum of myself and my despair.I haven't been this social in so many circles since my freshman year of college. The energy, the love is more intoxicating than drinking week-old Hairy Buffalo.

I have that Lao Tzu quote in the sidebar:
Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
Without the kind words of my friends, especially when I didn't deserve them, I would not have hurdled situations. No joke, I would have given up completely a longtime ago and caved in and started dating dregs with money. Adultery created a void in me that I wasn't prepared for and left me with questions that I will never have answered. God brought alongside of me all the right women who have spoken truth and grace and love and kindness. My girlfriends loved me when I couldn't love myself and that love was infectious.

I have previously mentioned or written about or maybe I haven't about my change in attitude over the past several years. Being well-versed in snark and sarcasm and the dark humor arts, I could have so easily slid down that slope and never looked back. I had already been making positive changes before the bullet of infidelity hit my heart. It must have been what has kept the wound from being fatal. Being nicer to myself and others has expanded my consciousness in ways I could have never imagined. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong about this because I very well could be but I feel like I have become a kinder, more compassionate person over the last three years. I feel more approachable and less critical.

Kindness in giving creates love. It's what I named this blog. My intentions at the time were not at all high-minded or entirely altruistic. Yet here I am, telling you that I know that this is a truth. The time, the money, the clothes, the casseroles, the texts, the memes, the wine, the whiskey, the cake, the prayers, I can never in this lifetime repay everyone for all their kindness toward me but you best believe that I am going to give it a shot.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who polishes my spark. I love you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Quite Bearable Lightness of Being Sparkly

Just a little something I threw together for this post.
I just posted this on Facebook:
Wide awake with insomnia of contentment and too much iced tea...thinking about how much has changed since last year and getting another glass of tea and staying up to write all night. Couldn't tell you off hand the last time that happened but suffice it to say that it's been awhile.

It's true. I want to start writing a book. I still have some things to research so that I can tie all my little ideas together but I have officially put this book thing on my bucket list. I used to write a lot more than I do. Mostly for personal enjoyment but every little tiptoe into something more in-depth with it was generally met with positive feedback. I figure, if I get cracking at it now it could be released just in time for the 2017 holiday shopping season with the blockbuster movie released the next year.

I am quite content today. I wish I had really truly embraced the whole attitude is everything mantra earlier in life. I wish I had really fathomed once upon a time what it really mean to trust God and God's plan. I really wish I could bottle this and sell it. I suppose my second book could be how I got to here from where I was. I mean, to some degree, my core has always been sparkly I just could never sustain it for long because I was relying much too much on myself. Took a lot of dusting and polishing to get it where it is right now.

There were multiple moments today that showed me that I am different than I used to be and I am grateful for those moments. The one that most sticks out is the moment a co-worker walked by and exasperatedly said,"Is it time to go home yet?" I didn't step on the downward spiral and add weight to ride it down. I smiled and replied that is wasn't but it was a minute closer than it had been so that was something, right? I know it seems insignificant but once upon a time someone told me that if I was a Care Bear my name would be "Black Sunshine" because my sarcasm was hilarious and made people laugh but it wasn't necessarily motivating.

I see it too. The first time was about a month ago. I could see light in my eyes again. Other people are seeing now too. Not that I need the validation but the fact that others notice means that I am being consistent enough in the care and feeding of Jenny to produce results. I like that.

I can't sit here and say it's an easy task. Making the conscious decision to be the light, be positive, that's easy enough but once you make the statement to your soul you have to commit to the work. You have to be willing to sift through yourself, although some days it will feel more like a cut-and-burn operation. Proverbs 27:17 says in the I just adapted this to fit this blog version of the verse: As glitter sharpens glitter, so a man polishes the sparkle of his friend. (Probably upset the Baptist and the feminist with that one because I am just that awesome. But anyway...) I have been blessed to have some first-class glitter polishers and light shiners in my life. It helps. It helps a whole lot. In the process, I have found that am highly allergic to negativity and some days people's countenance, comments and crassness pierces me like nails on a chalkboard. Change begets change I guess. 

I am so much better than I was a year ago and you know what? That just makes me that much more excited for tomorrow but not to the expense of the best thing I have learned on this leg of my journey. One. Day. At. A. Time. Don't worry about tomorrow. Again, there is a learning curve there, but I am so one day at a time right now I expect Schneider to walk through my door to fix something. It doesn't mean you don't plan. It doesn't mean you don't dream. It doesn't mean you stop living. I have big plans and big dreams and I am living better than I have in years. It mean you change your focus. It means you identify what you truly want and have the boldness to walk away from things that are outside of that. 

I genuinely love my job. I genuinely enjoy the people I work with and the people I come in contact with through work. I have a nice apartment overlooking the courtyard. I can get everywhere in five or ten minutes. I have two wonderful children. I have a family that loves me and friends that do as well. I have more time for personal pursuits that I have in years. I get to wake up every morning and see what new adventure awaits me. I can choose to focus on the dark, shadowy parts of life or I can look for the beauty in every moment, the lesson in every letdown.

I think the pinball guy in "Waking Life" put it best when he said,"T
here's only one instance, and it's right now. And it's eternity." You can spend eternity in heaven or hell, purgatory or paradise. That's what free will is all about, you get to make the choices. You can choose to try and piss on my parade and beat me down with matters of consequence or you can come with me to buy and umbrella and a latte. Regardless of what you believe right in this moment in time, you still have a choice on how you are going to respond.

Contentment has nothing to do with belongings or status. It just has to do with you and your decisions. And this my friends is not a new or a New Age idea. One merely has to flip their Bible app to Philippians 4:11-13:
I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation — to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Do one thing today, my friend, that polishes your sparkliness, makes your heart happy, puts a smile on your face. Going forward, it is my prayer that we all find the joy of contentment in the rest of our lives.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

#BookReview "Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse" by Shannon Thomas

Release date August 30, 2016.
Available on Amazon:

If you have been following the blog, you are aware that I am just about two months out of my divorce being final. If you know me outside the blogosphere, you know a bit about how all that shook out from start to finish. But only if you are my kids do you know the width and height and depth and breadth and everything in between of the last ten years of life. There are knots I have yet to untie and this book has certainly been a dose of cornstarch to those knots.
I first became aware of the author, Shannon Thomas, and Southlake Christian Counseling when a friend of mine shared something from the Southlake Christian Counseling page in their feed. At the time, it was nearly two years after my husband had first said he didn't want to be married. It was two counselors and numerous doctor's appointments later. It was the cops telling me there was nothing they could do later. It was a chain of completely futile calls to the domestic violence line later. It was me on the verge of accepting that maybe I was, in fact, crazy later. I don't remember the post but it was the first time in two years something emanated from a credible source later. 

I don't remember the post. I only remember that I cried when I read it and felt this huge wave of relief. Relief that I was not losing my mind. Relief that my feelings that this situation was is abusive were not wrong. Relief that I was not alone. Relief that there was hope.When the opportunity arose to be a part of Ms. Thomas' book launch, I seized the opportunity that has been set before me. In full disclosure, I got an advanced copy and a significant portion of my swagger back.

I believe that Ms. Thomas' book will do for victims and survivors of psychological abuse what the AA Big Book does for alcoholics. This book succinctly and compassionately not only outlines the what, where, when, who, why and hows of psychological abuse, it also provides practical, meaningful guidance for recovery and maintenance. 

This book is like tightly packed dynamite. 

Or perhaps small but mighty is a better description. 

What I had expected to knock out in a weekend took me two weeks to complete. It is a concise, clearly written book that sometimes, as a survivor, requires a bit of extra processing and breathing room. I recommend this book for the general public as much as I would recommend it to someone hoping to heal from the invisible scars of psychological abuse. Ms. Thomas does an excellent job of detailing the pains and solutions to this insidious problem.  I sincerely hope that this book opens a dialogue about psychological abuse that blows away the carpets that society has been sweeping all of this under. 

The book is complete with a guided personal reflection journal intended to facilitate the healing process. I have not yet completed it because I am waiting to pick my own hard copy for continued personal reference. It is my understanding that the intention is in place to build a network as well of resources and reliable helpers for navigating the healing process as well as the possibility of a more in-depth workbook. (Understanding, wishful thinking, I don't know.) 

This book is a life raft for those of us who have been floating in the shark-infested waters of psychological abuse  but it is also an invaluable tool for professionals and laypersons who need to learn more about the the damaging effects of psychological abuse and the stages that one goes through on the road to recovery. 

I thank God that Shannon Thomas was inspired to write this book and I highly encourage you all to pick up a copy for learning and/or healing purposes.

As of 8/8/2016 this book is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Portrait of Me Drowning in My Own Thoughts

Press play. Really, it's what you should do anytime you read something I wrote that has a song attached but who am I to tell you how to live your life when I am not quite living my own. Jesus, that was a little over-dramatic. I am fine. I just worry that I don't remember what that really looks like or feels like so I question whether I really am or not.

The other night I randomly clicked around YouTube, saving songs that might make good future posts. This one started it. I don't know if you know or if you even care but YouTube will create mix suggestions based on your watch history. I enjoy it most days. Lately, there are a few that just keep turning up and it makes no sense really. This is one of them. I would understand if it were one of the songs that play over and over and over again. I would understand if I had huge Smashing Pumpkins-themed playlist. I would understand if YouTube knew that this song is someone's ringtone (and wouldn't it be creepy as hell if YouTube knew that!)

The thing about me being who I am and where I am and the realizations about my broken bits and wanting to be better... know I said I am fine and I really am, but I am not better. I am having enormous trust issues and to be fair maybe a little bit of paranoia. Working through shit makes you seem and feel legitimately crazy sometimes and maybe I am hyper-cautious, overly vigilant. I don't know. I have no good adjectives to describe how I feel my trajectory through life is going.

Spinning. Unsure. Unmotivated.

I floated about the pool this evening. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that. No raft or device or such nonsense, just me and the water. The sound of my own breathing drowning the muffled voices of the kids playing. The clouds are particularly wispy tonight. Yesterday the sky was you, and I still feel the same. Nothing left for me to do, and I still feel the same. I just kept drifting about the deep end wondering if I were really drowning would the sound of my breathing be so pronounced to me.

I don't know what to do about anything. I am so far from overwhelm lately but truth be told, it is possible to drown on teaspoon of water.