Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dreams & a Cricket Named Jiminy

One of my most favorite new shows on television is called Once Upon a Time....... a modern day story, or fairy tale, about a mixture of fairy tales that I grew up reading or watching in the movies. Snow White, Cinderella, Pinocchio, etc.... I find a lot of the stories and characters in this show rather neat, but what I find most interesting is that according to this tale, the modern day Jiminy Cricket, in real life, is a psychiatrist. Archie Hopper is his new name.
Jiminy is most famous for his friend made of wood with the growing nose, and that beautiful song he sings, When You Wish Upon a Star. A classic song that tells us all there is no harm in having dreams. The song goes even further to speak about not giving up on what you believe in and that you have a vast array of choices in life, no matter who you are. (including being a boy made of wood with a nose that grows every time you lie)

I believe that life is about dreams and possibilities, but it is also about being grounded and realistic.
People who reach for the stars and never quite get there and may find themselves lost at times, are often referred to as "dreamers". Is this a bad thing? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I myself am a writer that quite often lives in an imaginary dream world. (I once took one of those personality tests that I had a friend send me, it was found online, and the conclusion was, that in fact, I am a "dreamer".) But I also have many responsibilities right here in the "real" world that I take seriously, and along with those pesky bills that keep coming to my house, I always have at least one foot (or toe) grounded in reality.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming. I love star gazing and once and a while wishing on one of those stars up in the sky. I tend to daydream on occasion too, staring often into nothingness while my mind enters another place. But I try my best to keep my head about me and I know that some dreams are only meant to be dreams. I don't think I really would want them all to come true anyway. So I try my best to stay on that fine line between the dream world and the reality one. And that is why I find the choice of Jiminy's alter ego being Archie Hopper such an interesting mix. Just like the dreams of life I suppose.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I See 'Lites'

I'm not referring to the Christmas lights I recently put up around the outside of my house, the weather was just too good to pass up. Not doing it when the wind is blowing and the snow is falling and my fingers are freezing from the frigid temperatures is not going to be missed. However, the 'Lites' I am talking about does have to do with Christmas.

Christmas Lites is an anthology of short stories, all surrounding the theme of Christmas, that was put together by the Creative Reviews group. A group of people with an interest in the written word and a good heart..... or hearts. I include their hearts because all proceeds of this book are going toward the NCADV organization (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) and ebooks are being sent to troops overseas. There are many people to thank for contributing to this, but I name the above mentioned on the book cover, Amy Eye, Cambria Hebert & Jenn Pringle.

The moment I read Jenn's blog about this endeavor, I just knew I had to get involved. The thought of combining two of my greatest passions, writing and giving back, (donating/fundraising, volunteering) couldn't be passed up! It was nice to see something like this and to be able to get involved.

Regardless of selling the two books I've written, writing has always come naturally to me and is fairly easy when compared to giving back. Being compassionate and caring and helping out has also always been part of my nature, but it can bring on it's headaches. You would think that outreached hands to volunteer would always be accepted, but that is not so. And I'm not talking about simply being turned away because of an overabundance of help (though if that's the case that would be fine.... terrific in fact) or not meeting certain requirements, I'm talking about not even getting a response to your pledge. But I try not to let this get me down too much, and move on.
Then there is the dilemma of the donation, because it seems once you donate you become a target. If I was a Millionaire I'd love to donate to every worthy cause, but I'm not a Millionaire and simply can't. This year, from I'd say October 1st up to yesterday, I have been bombarded with an onslaught of mailings from some very worthy organizations. So this passion for giving back can not only bring about frustration but a certain amount of guilt.
Yes, I feel guilty for not being able to contribute what I don't have. But that's me.

So this book, 'Christmas Lites' was a perfect way to lend out some of my "Giving Spirit". I hope that anybody reading my post or hearing about this book elsewhere will buy a copy and be part of the Spirit. (I'll leave a comment about where to buy it and the price when I get that info) It is projects like this, with the people involved, that help me see what it is all about when I sometimes lose sight.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm In It

Life can be hard! Life can suck! The ugliness it can offer tends to creep up on me, more often than I'd like.  But anyone who knows me, or even anyone who has read these blog posts I've written, knows that I have made a choice. That choice has been to remain positive, and for the most part I do. I try to see things in a simplistic way. I focus on beauty and love, peace and goodwill. I have faith.
But there are times I see problems in my choice. Not because I see problems in being that way, I believe in seeing the light in everything and I know that deep down it is who I am. Call it what you will, but I really do think it is the way everyone should be. The problem is making mistakes, personal mistakes, and not being able to see through or past them. One or two isn't that bad, but eventually it starts getting foggy if you can't let go. And the silver lining that I always look for becomes a struggle to grasp onto.

I've made both financial and emotional mistakes. I won't really get into the financial ones (of course one could say that since I have a good roof over my head and haven't gotten into any serious debt, I'm fine) but I can tell you that these things can make you second guess yourself. As can the emotional ones. There are times I'm pretty sure I say the wrong thing..... or perhaps too much...... or maybe even too little. I have come to learn that sometimes, even saying nothing, can lead to problems; because someone else comes to the conclusion in their head that there is a reason I'm saying nothing....... usually one that is bad. It never seems to be "Oh, he's just happy", or "He's comfortable". Maybe sharing my personal views on this blog is a mistake. I like to think not, I like to stay positive about it, but who knows.

I'd like to say that I learn from my mistakes, but I am not entirely sure that I do. Fact is I am happy with my life; I always have been.... or at least I try to be. I love the people in my life and the things they have brought to it. I enjoy my writing and I enjoy my work. But I can't get around my mistakes, no matter how positive and happy I try to be. I don't understand. I live with confusion.
One thing I do know though, is that I'm in it; life. I'm not gone and I'm not going anywhere. (not by choice anyway) I make mistakes, I'm not sure how to fix them or keep from making them. I don't know how much I'll ever understand or how long I'll stay confused about certain things. But like I said at the beginning, I try to focus more on beauty and love, peace and goodwill. That helps balance things.
I have faith and I'm going to keep it.....mistakes and all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Matter & Mind, Two of a Kind

I'm sure you've all heard of the saying "mind over matter" when faced with an obstacle or challenge; that you can overcome almost anything if you put your mind to. It is true. I totally believe in the concept that our mind and our will is an immensely powerful tool that can be used to climb up and rise above. But lately I have wondered if others looking in from the outside really see things that we do, or are trying to do, as mind over matter. Do they not really see matter over mind?
Let me explain a little more. Mind is something very similar to conviction or faith, Matter is more like a tangible object. Matter is the easy road, (in some ways) Mind is more difficult.
It is easier to stay on common ground, go with the flow and even jump to conclusions than it is to take the high road  and be patient and think things through. And sometimes it is easier to hear than listen.

I am a hard working individual, (really) I have a strong work ethic. I am reliable and dependable. I am patient and think things through and can be creative. I get the job done and don't really say a whole lot along the way. I realize that staying quiet may at times be a hindrance, but I like, and sometimes need, to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand. I have a learning disability that can make things difficult for me. I also have responsibilities that I cannot and will not shirk.
So there are times I feel I am viewed as a hard working individual who can get the job done regardless of what I say, because my words that are heard are overshadowed by what people see. And that is when it becomes matter over mind.

My mom sustained a brain injury quite a few years ago and has since worked hard to accomplish a lot. She attends an Aphasia program and it has helped her in so many ways. I am so proud of her!  She once put together a speech (with the aid of myself and her PSW) on her life and injury. She presented this speech at an Ontario March of Dimes conference in front of a large room for of people. She was featured in both the Aphasia and OMOD newsletter. She is a very social and friendly person. It is in her nature to help people out where she can. She has a walking cain but does very well without when she is in familiar territory.
When I tell people of her disability, they express their sympathies over the situation. But when some people meet her that sympathy changes just a bit. Don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone should be getting constant sympathy and I would NEVER want a disability to overshadow the person. But when people who do not know her that well or see her that often, see her smile, hear her cheerful tone and see her walking around, they forget. They don't see the inner struggle, the work that she puts forth in doing those great things she does. It becomes matter over mind.

I know we don't really want to be in a situation like this, but let's just say if you were to view, from a distance, two little girls, crying, which one would you go to? Let me add the scenario; Girl A is 15 years old, sitting on the stoop in her backyard, alone, everyone else inside. Girl B is 7 years old and outside as well, but at a street corner in her community. Again, no one around. She is kneeling on the pavement beside her bicycle. Her knees and hands are scraped and there is a bleeding cut on her forehead. (I added a little more detail to girl B because it is more visual)
So really, who would you go to?
I'm guessing most people would go to girl B because it is obvious why she is crying. She fell off of her bike and injured herself. Going about lending a hand, fixing the problem or getting help is pretty easy to determine. Girl A could be crying because she is in her backyard alone, but that could be easily fixed by going inside, that should be obvious even to the girl. Perhaps it is a funeral and her mom just died. Maybe her parents are getting divorced. She could be upset over a teenage romantic break up, or even worse, an assault. This girl could need advice or just someone to listen to her problems..... maybe that is it, maybe she feels she needs these things and is being neglected. (Notice how girl A now has more details?)

My point is matter over mind. Girl B's problem is seen and probably won't take up much time to fix or figure out; it is a physical, tangible problem. Girl A is going to need patience, understanding, require listening and may lead to something else that can't be seen.

Whether the situation is girl A, girl B, my mom, myself, or anyone else, there should be no difference. It shouldn't be matter over mind, nor should it be mind over matter. Mind and Matter are the same thing, those important, precious details that are part of life; part of our individuality. It could be our own mind or another person's mindset, our own matter (our physical self) or any and all outside influences.  Doing the best you can for yourself and others is what's important........ there is no variance, it just is what it is.