Posted in Random Writers

That Was Some Crazy Ass Thinking

Random Writers Week 5 Topic: What is one thing you felt strongly about but changed your mind?)

When I first started my blog I only knew that I wanted to use it as a way to discover my authentic self and simply to get more real with my internal thoughts and feelings. I wasn’t at all sure of where I was going to go with it and I have to tell you, I’ve really surprised myself with some of the things I’ve written. There have been times I sat down to write one thing with a clearly defined conclusion in mind and ended up somewhere completely different, a thousand miles from where I started. For this reason, I feel that I’m a long way from completing this journey but I know I’m on the exact path I was meant to take.

Herein lies my problem. When I started this blog I had in no way intended for it to be a blog about God or faith or religion. I know there were a few posts back in January and a couple sprinkled in since, but for the most part, I would intentionally leave God out of my writing if I could. I had this very strong belief that if I wrote too much about my faith, that it would turn people away. I felt that way because of some of my own ideas toward others who openly and loudly proclaimed their love for Christ.

Let me explain a little bit. There have been times in my life when I’ve been surrounded by ‘in your face’ Christians. I’ve had family members, coworkers and acquaintances who only spoke in a language where every other word was God or Jesus or Heaven or hell. I found myself in situations and conversations with these people that left me feeling angry and this would typically result in an eye roll and quick exit. I think it was these situations early on in my adult life that turned my faith inward and I became much more reserved in what I shared about my beliefs. I know that God wants us to share His word but I was too busy hiding from it to make it known it to anyone else.

There was also a big part of me that was scared to share my beliefs with others.  I always felt that I wasn’t a very educated Christian so, rather than find myself in situations where I had to back up my beliefs, I just remained quiet. Even though I grew up in church, I don’t feel like I retained much of the knowledge that was shared with me by teachers and preachers. I didn’t grow up reading and studying the bible in a way that I should have and by early adulthood, I very rarely ever stepped foot inside a church except for weddings, funerals and Easter services. I just couldn’t explain why I believed and refused to put myself in a circumstance that required it. I found if they were challenging me, they wanted definitive proof and most people just didn’t accept “because the Bible says so” as proof of God.

It’s so sad but these feelings have followed me into my Forty’s and I didn’t even realize it until recently. I never talked about how I felt and that I was intentionally excluding my faith from my blog and my journey to find my authentic self. Well, that’s not true. Back in May I wrote a post about addiction. Near the end of the post I mentioned ways someone might help another who is struggling. When Gil read this post he actually called me out on how I didn’t mention prayer. I had typed it, then deleted it. I told him I had done that and how I didn’t want my blog to become one of those ‘crazy Christian’ blogs. I explained that I was concerned about turning people off with an overtly religious sentiment. I’m sure I spewed out some other lame rationales for not including the suggestion of prayer but I can’t remember them all now.

What it boils down to is that I felt very strongly about not turning my blog into something that might turn a so-so Christian or a non-believer away.

WTH?!?

What kind of crazy-ass thinking was that? THAT is exactly who I should be sharing my faith with. Can you believe how much I allowed the devil to creep into my thoughts and hold me back from sharing a message as powerful as the love of God? So, here’s the thing. I’ve come to realize that I was writing for who I was before. Now, I’m writing for who I want to become. And that person is someone who is proud to say that I love Christ and I’m trying to live a life that would make Him proud. I’m not always successful but that’s the beauty of God’s grace. He will forgive me when I mess up.

I’m not planning to change the way I write my blog but I’m certainly not going to censor myself when I feel God speaking through me. Gone are the thoughts that I need to justify my faith in God by spitting out scripture and passages from the bible to back it up. I’m not teaching Sunday School. I’m sharing my story and my story doesn’t exist without God’s grace. I’m writing this blog for me and I cherish those of you who continue to read each post and those who pop in and out when you can. The last thing I want to do is turn someone away from me or from God because I write too much about my faith journey. But, what if the last thing I do is turn someone toward God because I shared my story?

To read about how my fellow Random Writers’ changed their minds, please check out thier blogs (Gil, Jeff, Lindsey) or read them all at the Random Writers website.

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Posted in Post A Week Challenge

It Could Have Been Me

Demons.  We all have them. Some are more vicious than others. Your demons are no more or less scary than mine, and vice versa.  Some of us face the same demon day after day while others face the infrequent demon only when it decides to rear its ugly head.  Let’s face it, demons are a part of our everyday life. Some people manage to conquer their demons through various means but others struggle in ways that we can never understand.

Take the teenage girl who was molested by a trusted family member. She may deal with this memory by simply not remembering. We can do that. We can repress a memory to the point that it never comes to the forefront of our thoughts. One day it might again, but for this girl, it’s her coping mechanism. There’s the grandfather who recognizes his Alzheimer’s is stealing his life and his memories. He copes by putting a bullet through his brain. His demon wins and his family loses but it was his way of quieting the evil voices that guide us sometimes.   Right or wrong, these ways of doing battle are just a couple of the many options in the arsenals we use to deal with our troubles.

There is another method we sometimes choose, and for me and my world, it seems to be the easiest and most common. I know I’m guilty of it and I bet you all know someone else who is as well. I’m talking about the method of numbing our pain, of chemically suppressing our emotions so that the hurting, anger and anguish are just not dominant in our lives.

In my lifetime, I’ve had some pretty big demons consume my thoughts. Most of them came for a while and through some twist of fate or by God’s grace, I’ve managed to slay them all (almost).  The wars were not won overnight but it was during the battles I fought that I faced the option of which direction my life would take.  I drank and I partied and I drank and sometimes I even took a pill if it made me feel better.  This may be a shocking confession to some of you. To others, not so much.

I need to clarify this just a little. I’m not a raging alcoholic, nor am I a needle between the toes drug addict. What I’m talking about is, those days, weeks or even months when the pain is too great to bear, I have been known to drink a bottle of wine or an enormous rum and Coke, just to help me sleep through it.  Do you know that feeling? Those times when the voices in our heads are filing us with dread and self-doubt and no activity or distraction can shut them up. Those times when it seems our only alternative is to put them out. To sedate them. Hey, if I’m asleep, I’m not crying anymore, right?  If I’m asleep, my heart doesn’t feel like it’s going to pound through my chest cavity and end up on the wall across the room. If I’m asleep, the memories that haunt me will simply fade to black.

These episodes have been very rare and I can only think of three periods in my life in which I resorted to this form of coping on a larger scale. There was one time in my early 30’s when it seemed that my life was falling apart and it was easier to spend my evenings in a drunken stupor than to deal with the realization of the mistakes I was making. The second episode came a few years later. This time I wasn’t dealing with my own demons. This time, I was struggling with the demons of others, with the helplessness that comes from watching someone you love being sucked lower and lower into the bowels of their own hell.  When there was nothing left to do but watch the destruction, I chose to cope with months and months of binge drinking parties that left me with days of missing memories. The last time I turned to synthetic mood enhancers was the fall of 2005. This time was different though. My coping for this short period involved booze and prayer. I know, that’s a pretty strange combination but it’s what got me through. Lucky for me, this one worked itself out and everyone lived happily ever after.

There have been other times but these three are the most severe and significant examples.  Some other ways that I’ve dealt with a bad day may have included the use of some prescription medication in a way other than for which it was prescribed. For the record, I have not illegally obtained any form of narcotic since my youth. Sorry, I just felt the need to put that out there. You never know who reads this blog. When I say that I’ve used pills to deal with a bad day, I mean that I may have taken a pain pill when I wasn’t in physical pain. Hey, mental pain is still pain, dammit.

I am very much aware of how dangerous my method of coping has been.  I have lived on the slippery slope and managed to hang on for dear life. In every one of these instances I ran the very real risk of allowing my coping mechanism to actually become my new demon. I don’t know why this never happened. Maybe I was scared so straight at a very young age that my internal will just stopped it from becoming more than it was. Am I stronger than others who allow the drugs and alcohol to take over? No. I am absolutely not. Is my brain wired differently? Maybe. I have no idea why these episodes never became a bigger problem. I’m thankful and I contribute it to God’s grace, but I know there is more than that at play here. God gives us free will for a reason and my free will took a different path.  That is all.

Every day I am faced with a reminder of the evil that is addiction. My life has been altered because of it.  Other people’s lives are being affected daily because of it. The thing is, at this point in time, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Addiction almost cost me something dear, but thank God it did not.  We beat it down.  I say ‘we’ because I’m not sure the addiction could have been beaten by a single person. I believe that once the addiction was identified, it took the addict, the family, the doctors, lawyers, judges, therapists, and friends to beat this demon. Would it have been defeated if one of those people had not stood up to face it head on? I’m not sure, and I’m glad I don’t have to find out. The wake of destruction left by the addiction is still evident but it doesn’t matter anymore.  I still get mad and have moments of weakness where I blame the addict and then I remember why the addict became an addict. That’s all it takes. A single moment to remember what pain was being numbed and it becomes easier to forgive.

If someone does lose their battle with the demon that is addiction, I pray they find the peace they seek. I will never judge them if they chose numbness over pain. I have no right to do that because it could easily be me. I believe that addiction is one of the ugliest monsters one can face.  Addiction is real and it’s a problem that is devastating families and relationships every second. It hurts those who are addicted and it can destroy those who love them.

If you know someone who struggles with addiction, stop for a moment and think about how they got there. Did they begin using drugs or alcohol to stop a pain that never seems to end? Do they fight a demon we cannot see? Are they fighting alone because they want to fight alone, or is it because no one offered to help? Have offers to help fight the addition been made and rejected? Have you considered that it’s not the addition they need help fighting? Maybe it’s the dark, deeply buried secret they can’t seem to forget. Maybe they just need that one person to say they care. Why don’t you ask if you can help them? Ask if you can hold their hand or make a phone call or pay for a therapy session. Help them help themselves if they want it. Some do want it. Some need to be released from the addiction but it’s an impossible task until they are released from the demon that drove them there.

Addiction can be very quiet and may sit in a dark closet where no one can see it. It’s hard to do battle with an invisible demon, so ask them to reveal it to you so you can fight together. Invite them to lay their troubles down at your feet, at God’s feet, at their teacher’s or doctor’s feet. Maybe they just need someone to help them carry their cross if the burden is too much for them.

Do you know someone who is struggling and you are afraid to talk to them? Don’t be afraid, just do it. It may be the conversation that saves their life.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Dear Self

(30 Days of Truth – Day 31: Epilogue – Write a letter to yourself)

(Note: When this project began, I knew there would be 3 days near the beginning that I would not be able to post due to the fact that I was on a cruise. When I refer to being able to write for 30 days straight and completing this project, I’m taking this into account and allowing myself this slight falsehood)

 

Dear Self,

YOU did it!!

Thirty Days of Truth is now behind you and you stuck with it, every day. You went into this project with the determination and fortitude needed to see it through and you DID! Aren’t you proud of yourself? This is a first for you, setting a goal and not once thinking of giving up. It has not been easy for you, and those close to you know that and appreciate the sacrifices you made to keep this promise to yourself. You lost a lot of sleep and cried a million tears this month but it was worth it, wasn’t it?

So, what now? Are you going to continue to write? You’ve said you have no aspirations to be a writer but you like the idea of blogging, of sharing your past, present and future with friends and strangers alike. I think you should. However, I think if you are going to truly find your authentic self, you will need to go deeper. You will need to have conversations with people in your life and tell them what you want…no…need to do and you must get their blessings. Even if you have unresolved feelings and emotions about things from your past, you can’t just go writing about these things without first talking to the people involved. Maybe in asking for their blessing, you could ask for their forgiveness, or better yet, grant them forgiveness in return.

People tell you that starting this blog and challenging your husband to write every day, when you had never written anything more than a letter, was so brave. Even if your motives were partly selfish and you wanted to get some things out, I also know the underlying reason for the challenge was so that the world could experience more of your husband’s words. You took this risk so that he might share more of his talent. And he has and it’s been so wonderful and you’ve gotten so much pleasure out of watching other people read and comment on what he’s had to say.

You want to complete a year of posting every day but you need to take baby-steps. Keep doing the 30 day challenges so that when you complete a milestone at the end of each month, your success just fuels the fire within you to keep pursuing this. You should also let go of the notion that posting pictures and videos aren’t serious posts. This is YOUR blog. You can do whatever you want with it. Besides, you need to be able to lighten up the mood. January got pretty heavy at times and I think the people you want to read and visit your site will appreciate some humor, beauty or silliness on occasion.

If Gil decides to take a break from blogging in February to finish Volume IV of the Lives project, you should fully support that. You have thoroughly enjoyed the daily moments of awareness the two of you have shared when reading each other’s post for the day but he needs this time. He wants to complete the story that is Max and Cate, and you are super excited about seeing that happen. There is no reason you can’t continue to blog every day while he completes what will become a complete novel. I know how proud of him you are and I know how much you want to see his dream become a reality. You know that once he finishes this project, he will see clearly how to forge on and make his dreams come true. Be by his side to offer encouragement and love on every step of his journey.

You have a great opportunity to use the next 28 days to find your direction. I know you want this blog to be a place for people to get to know you better and for you to get to know yourself better. I know you want it to be bigger and ultimately better. You need to realize that will not happen overnight. But I believe it will come for you. My hope for you is that people find your blog and they find inspiration in your words and your experiences. It’s ok to claim your place on the Internet, and don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do there. If you want to inspire people, inspire. Do what you want and need to do with this. It’s yours and no one else’s.

Good luck!!!

Sincerely, Self

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, About, Me, Post A Day Challenge

About (Me), Part I

(30 Days of Truth – Day 28: About, Part I – Me)

I looked at today’s topic and realized that yesterday’s blog post really covered my biggest dream in life so I’m not going to bore you with more on that subject right now. I’ve got something much more boring to talk about tonight. ME. Okay, I know I’ve pretty much talked only about me for the last 27 days but this one is going to be different. This one is going to be about me and about my blog.  And, you can totally blame Danny Brown for this.  Danny is kind of a big deal in marketing, social media, blogging, philanthropy and a host of other things I’m sure. In addition to his own blog, Danny is also a contributor for one of my favorite sites, For Bloggers, By Bloggers and it was his post today “Why Telling Us About You Helps Promote Your Blog”,  that served as a swift kick in my arse to do what should have been done 27 days ago.

In Danny’s blog today, he says that the About page is “the single most important aspect of your blog when it comes to letting your visitors know who you are, after the content itself.” I’m a very bad little blogger because my About Me page was completely an afterthought. I added it before I went live because every blogger has one and I had to have something. I used the words that Gil and I had developed a long time ago and I didn’t bother to elaborate or expand on that text. I want my readers to want to know me and if my About Me page isn’t enticing you to come back or read further, then why even include it? I want to change that starting right now. I want to enhance my About page to include more about me and about my blog (Part II Coming Soon). And I have a plan to do just that.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, here goes my attempt to describe me.

About Me

I am Lee and I am a girl. There has been some confusion before so I thought I would clear that up right off the bat. Wait…I just realized that didn’t come out right. The confusion is with my name and the fact that it’s spelled in the traditionally masculine spelling and people often think I’m a guy if they haven’t met or talked to me. Everything else about me is all girl and there is no confusing that.

I have been married to Gil Gonzalez since June 13, 2009. I am very lucky in that my sweet and caring husband also happens to be an incredibly talented writer. I live to read the words he writes.

I am step-mother to his beautiful children, Natalie, 11 ,and Daniel, 9. They live with us part time and rarely a day goes by that we don’t see them, even if they sleep most nights at their mom’s house. And yes, we all get along beautifully.

I work for one of the top global defense government contractors in the world. My title is Program Management Specialist but that was mostly made up when I needed something to put on a business card. Basically, I work in business operations in direct support of the program manager on a $1.5B  US Special Operations Command IT contract.  I’m kind of a jack of all trades when it comes to basic business processes so I pretty much fell into this role and it is The.Best.Job.Ever. It’s as if it ws created specifically for me.

I love cats, especially my cats, way more than I should. For your future reference and because I know you are dying to know <don’t roll your eyes at me LOL>, their names are Peppy, Dudley, Boo, Monkey and Vancouver.

I love being crafty but I never make the time to do it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE needlepoint but haven’t picked up a needle in forever. I like sewing, cross-stitch and embroidery but my passion is needlepoint. I miss it so much. I can do other crafty things but only if I have good, solid direction. I’m crafty but not overly creative when it comes to making things. I have also discovered that I can paint if guided by a professional. I’ve only done this successfully three times but I intend to do it much more. I really like the focus I have when painting and I want do it again very soon.

I love social media and I love the interwebz. I love how this pile of pieces and parts and this big cloud in Inter-space brings the world to me every day. I could sit at my computer 18 hours a day and not get tired of it. I love techie, geeky speak and I want to learn everything I can about everything related to this humming box on my desk.

I like to take pictures. I mostly stalk my cats and the insects around my house for that perfect shot. I don’t know the ins and outs of a camera but I get lucky sometimes. I want to take an actual photography class at some point but there are so many things ahead of that on my list of to-do’s that I’m not sure it will ever happen. In the meantime, I’ll just pretend like I know what I’m doing and only share those rare exceptional shots I’m able to capture.

My life would be complete if I could make a comfortable living providing social media solutions and planning fundraising events for charitable organizations.

Now, why don’t you join in the fun? Why don’t we all share and get to know each other better?

If you know me, leave a comment below with one a fact about me that I left out of the list above and one interesting, funny or profound tidbit about yourself.

If you don’t know me, leave a comment below and ask me any question you would like for me to answer about myself and then tell me one interesting fact about yourself.

I really hope you guys play along….this could be really fun.

And, as always, thank you for visiting me here!

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

30 Day Writing Challenge

I have a sense of those buried lives striving to come and through me to express themselves. ~ Marge Piercy

Welcome to my blog. I’m very happy that you’ve stopped by.

I realized a few months ago that I wanted and needed to be more authentic. I even listed authenticity as a core value in the Change Your Mind workshop I attended earlier this year. I’ve found that most of my authentic thoughts are like “buried lives striving to come …” and I’m not letting them out. This is my attempt to free those thoughts. This is my attempt to discover a more authentic self. To discover me.

I issued a challenge to my husband. He is the writer in this family and I can’t even begin to touch his talent. However, I just want to write. I want to allow my thoughts to freely flow and I think this challenge is going to be the perfect way for that to happen. Please take a moment to read this post by my husband Gil. It explains what we are about to do. I’m scared and completely intimidated to be going head to head with him on this project but I I’m going to give it my all and I think I’ll do alright.

Welcome 2011….BRING IT!