Stepping Outside the Box

We all have our comfort zones. I confess. I can be pretty bad. If I can’t win something, if I’m not good at it, I usually won’t participate. I’m competitive and I hate to lose. This is why I don’t do tennis and rarely do bowling. But, at least I know because I tried it.

But…

Trying something new is important. It’s exciting. It can be such a rush. Energizing. Envigorating.

Which is what I did this weekend. Although I can sing and write, I’ve always thought art was outside of my wheelhouse. And then, for one of my closest friends’ birthday, she decided to book a painting party at this place called Painting With a Twist.

Because we had a bigger group we got to use our own private room AND pick our painting. They supplied us with music, a teacher, smocks, easels, paints, and paint brushes. We got to bring our own wine and munchies.

The teacher walked us through the painting process step by step. This is my base. We were supposed to make the backdrop a streaky gray. My inner rebel came out & I added a touch of magenta to give it a bit of my personality.

  

As you can tell, I started to get really into the process….

Next step was coloring in the feather. Turns out I either don’t take direction well or I need to dance to the beat of my own drummer because whenever she’d tell us what color she wanted us to use next, I went with the opposite.

But, I think my feather turned out pretty well, and I was finding the process to be interesting and a challenge. I painted, chatted, and sang along to the music they had playing.

  
This particular creative process was never one I thought I’d be any good at, but I was doing pretty well…

And then came the dreaded birds. They almost did me in… Can you see how serious I got?   

In fact, our whole group got pretty hard core… Determined not to be done in by the birds. This time, I tried it the instructor’s way. It didn’t work for me. Until she helped me touch one of my birds up and I found my own way.

  
By the time I was done it felt like I’d really accomplished something. Something I never knew I could. And it felt good! 

  

Not bad for an amateur, huh? 

What I’m saying is that this was a great reminder of why it’s so important to try something new. Something outside of your comfort zone.

When was the last time you did something you’ve never tried before? What was it? Did you have fun?

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Badasses and Bullies

Getting up at 5:30 am on a Saturday morning would be considered criminal in some circles. Ah, well, sometimes, when you’ve got something important to do, it’s a necessary evil. Cheering on your peeps counts as one of those good causes. Besides, I have to give respect to anyone who takes on this motto…even if it’s just for a day.

The Tough Mudder Motto

The Tough Mudder Motto

Yup! Once again, hubby and a few friends put their bodies on the line and participated in Tough Mudder. This time I had the opportunity to cheer him on live. It was awesome to see the indomitable human spirit in action. I watched people try obstacles, fail (or fall down), get themselves back together and try again until they overcame their challenges. There was a woman in her late 40’s to early 50’s that tried to run up the ramp they called “Everest” numerous times, only to slide back down. Did she get discouraged? Nope! Instead, she got her mean on and said, “I’m not moving on until I get over this fucking thing!” And she didn’t. On her 5th or 6th try, she finally managed to grab one of the helpers waiting at the top and get pulled over. I couldn’t help but think…”She’s kinda badass!”

Tough Mudder also raises funds for the Wounded Warrior Project; a very admirable cause. As a military brat, I find this to be such an important cause. I’m sure you can imagine how choked up I got when I saw what looked to be a college ROTC group of men and women running the course together, carrying a flag pole with the US flag and the Wounded Warrior flag. Even more awesome was how they picked whomever was best at each obstacle to take the flag through the obstacles. This was especially challenging when watching them run up Everest, but they never faltered and that flag never touched the ground. Tears filled my eyes.

So to kick off this Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful that we arrived to the event safely and that everyone got through the event unharmed.

Before and After (Note the weather change and mud)

Before and After (Note the weather change and mud)

Normally, I’d probably end this post right about now, but not today. I want to share something I heard on Sunday morning that really bothered me and would love you guys to weigh in.

I was watching the NFL Network’s pre-game show when I heard Marshall Faulk say something that really bothered me. Don’t get me wrong, Marshall is such a Cowboy hater that he often bothers me, but this was different. He was talking with the rest of the cast about Jonathan Martin. For those of you who don’t know who he is…he’s the guy from the Miami Dolphins who was being bullied. At that time, the teammate who had been harassing him was not yet known, so it was basic bully talk.

Marshall said something to the effect of having always associated bullying as a child thing. He never thought an adult could be bullied. Don’t get me wrong…I completely understand the misconception…especially amongst professional athletes. Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp pointed out that there’s usually a brotherhood and camaraderie amongst professional athletes who battle in the trenches with you. With those kinds of relationships it can be shocking that someone could betray that trust by bullying.

But you know what? As I’ve been sitting here thinking, I’ve realized… Marshall’s misconception is not that uncommon. Somehow we think adulthood comes with a magic pill that makes the problems of youth disappear. Not true. Think about it….

How many people willingly talk politics these days? Not me. Why? Because you never know when you’ll be subjected to bullying simply for not sharing the same point of view as the person with whom you’re speaking. A close friend of mine was once told “I hope you get AIDS and die” simply because he was a gay man and a republican. So that’s a bit extreme, but how many of you have seen memes that basically say you’re stupid or dumb simply because your political views don’t align with someone else’s political agenda?

What about Westboro Baptist Church? Isn’t what they do bullying? They don’t tack an age limit to their actions or behaviors.

These are just a couple of obvious examples… and I’m sure they’re not the only ones. We need to really sit up and pay attention to what’s going on around us as well as our words and actions. No one deserves to be treated like less than human simply for not sharing your beliefs or point of view.

Have you experienced bullying? Have you seen adult bullying? Were you the victim? Have you had to step in to defend someone else? What was the circumstance?

The only way to overcome this epidemic is to open the lines of communication, get talking, and let folks know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

As more of the NFL story breaks, I’ve been glad to hear guys like Ron Jaworski say that there had to be more than the general hazing that comes with rookie-hood. It was great hearing Keyshawn Johnson talking about how racial slander and slurs, regardless of what race they’re pointed at, have no place in this world. I even shocked myself by nearly giving Cris Carter (who I can’t stand) a standing ovation when he pointed out that any death threats made by an NFL player is scary and should be taken seriously….and cited the player who’s currently on trial for murder (possibly more than one).

Yes, there were one or two who said that this player should have confronted his bully head on rather than going to leadership, but overall, he’s been receiving a ton of support. I’ve got a feeling that Jaws is right and there’s a lot more to this story than we’ve found out so far.

Brave

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Image source Natalinicola.blog

What do you do
When words said
Cut you to the quick
With their forceful
Honesty?

Where do you hide
When life
Barrels through
You?
Just one more pothole
Along the way…

How do you
Cauterize
The gaping slices
Etched on your
Soul?
Oozing thick, red
Tears
With each beat
Of your battered
Heart.

Where can you run?
To lick your wounds,
Curl up,
Fetal position
To protect.

Deep breath.
Look up
Into eyes that see
Through
The outer facade
To joint and marrow.
Feed on that power,
Regain your strength.
Shoulders back,
Head high.
One more challenge.
The answer…
Is you.

Yesterday…the words people say set me off into a ranting blog. As I thought about it throughout the day I realized…our words? They can carry a lot of meaning. They can have huge impacts on people whether we know it or not. The wrong words can be debilitating…regardless of right or wrong intentions.

I thought back to the things that have hurt most in my life… The inevitable conclusion? It was never anything physical…always mental. So if words can tear down… Don’t we, as writers and bloggers, also have the responsibility to build up? To leave someone a little better off? To encourage?

You never know whose will touch a heart. Or when what you have to say may be the difference maker in a person’s life. The thing that makes everything click…and make sense again.

Really, it’s always up to you, the individual, to choose who you want to be today…victim or survivor. Positive or Negative. Lover or Hater. Encourager or Naysayer.

Today I’m making my choice. Life…it’s full of bumps and bruises. Wounds that sometimes never fully heal. But I control one thing. My outlook….the decision to get up every morning no matter how battered yesterday may have left me…and to find the beauty and purpose in my today. Some may call me a sucker. I’ve been told I’m a glutton for punishment, that people will let me down. But you know what I’ve found? More people prove me right than wrong. I can wake up with a smile on my face. I can still appreciate the little things. I can love my life. Those other people? Well…isn’t it kind of sad that they can’t find a single thing to look forward to…except spreading their misery. Is it any wonder they find themselves alone more often than not…and not by choice?

I really believe you get what you put out in the world. What do you think? When was the last time you made a difference and you weren’t even trying? You guys do that for me all the time! So, let those scars become something that gives you character and join me in embracing life. 🙂

Long Weeks, Obstacles And Overcoming

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Yay! Hubby and friends completed the course. This is them, wet and sweaty and done. The redhead in the middle is one of my best friends. She is afraid of water…won’t even get into my pool. But she overcame her fear today and jumped the fifteen foot drop into a water obstacle and swam her way out, instead of going around it. Hubby was the guy who ran ahead, scouted the obstacles, then ran back to report them to the team. He probably was best conditioned for the job. Apparently what they say about Tough Mudder being addictive is absolutely true because the gang is already talking about getting better conditioned for next year so they won’t hold hubby back, LOL!

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As for me…this is part of what I’ve been doing in El Paso. I have been entering inventory, helping set up the store and train the employees. There have been a few frustrating moments… Like when an employee unplugged the printer from the USB port on the computer, then got frustrated thinking it didn’t work…he didn’t know what he’d unplugged. Or when I told an employee we were short a Cat 5 cable to hook the video cameras up to the Internet for the owner to view the store remotely…only to find after nearly 24 man hours spent on the phone with set up and tech support that the reason we couldn’t connect was because a regular phone cable had been used and plugged in. To say my patience had been tried would be a mild understatement. And we’ve been slow because people didn’t know we were open.

The last couple of days, though, we’ve started to pick up speed. Today, Fan Connection El Paso had our first solid sales day. We even had our first crowd! Finally…Success!

So tonight, I’m relaxing at the bar at my hotel… I’m enjoying a cocktail, some good food and the double sided fireplace… And got to say thank you to Bill, a gentleman serving in the Army from my home state of Illinois. I pray for our troops daily…and thank them for doing what most of us can’t or won’t do.

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I’m feeling happy, comfortable & accomplished. Now it’s time to write… What things made your day today? Or maybe it was something this week…. Did you run into any challenges? How did you handle them? What are your big plans for the evening or weekend?

Rising Through The Ashes…

To say this week has been a challenge would be a mild understatement..and it’s just Tuesday.  Yesterday I chose to spend time with my husband and didn’t have much to say anyway.

Last week, Julie Glover wrote a blog on movies that defined our generation.  For whatever reason, Julie’s blogs always seem to get my own creative juices flowing.  I take a few days to soak up her posts, then I write.  Considering that Pump Up The Volume was my all time favorite (Yes, even over The Breakfast Club which is my 2nd fave), it really got me reminiscing…and thinking about what it was that made that movie matter so much to me.

You know, these days you hear so much about bullying and all of it’s causes.  This is nothing new.  In fact, it doesn’t just stop because you become an adult!  I don’t like it.  I don’t agree with it.  In my youth I’d gotten more than my fair share of it.  In Pump Up The Volumethe main character, Harry, played by Christian Slater says that getting through it…surviving it…that’s the point!  I think about that line a lot.  And I think he’s right.

There’s a scene where Samantha Mathis’ character (his love interest) tells him that he keeps waiting for a voice to tell him what to do or what to believe…then says…you’re the voice you’ve been waiting for!  In fact, earlier in the movie she sends his character a letter on red paper with a poem on it…She’s trying to figure out who his radio persona really is.  The only thing she knows at this point is that they go to school together and that he speaks to her on a very visceral level.

“You’re the voice
crying out in the wilderness,
you’re the voice that
makes my brain burn and make my guts go gooey.
Yeah you gut me,
my insides spill on
your alter and tell the future,
my steaming gleaming guts spill out your nature.
I know you,
not your name, but your game.
I know the true you,
come to me or I’ll come to you.”

Going through challenges in life, embracing them, allowing them to sink into your soul and strengthen you…it helps to define the person you are.  It feeds your passions.  As writers, musicians and artists…it really helps you constantly recreate yourself.  These are the gritty things that inspire you.  They’re the opposites of the good, clean positive feelings that help you to realize, remember and appreciate when the good ones come along!

There’s another not so well known movie from the recent past that starred Lindsey Haun  from True Blood & Toby Keith, that really drives that point home.  It’s called Broken Bridges. It’s where I discovered Lindsey Haun for the first time.  She has an amazing voice.  I’d love to hear more of it!  And the lyrics are just so powerful, so filled with emoition.  We artsy types really feed on emotion.  I know for me, though I can’t always write my grief while it’s happening, give me a couple days of distance and poetry or stories fly…and with a type of depth to them that speaks to real life experience.  In this movie, and the above song, Lindsey Haun’s character writes this song and sings her heart.

She found a way to turn her pain into something beautiful.  Because, like Christian Slater said…”surviving it’s the point!”  What about you?  Are there movies that have touched you deeply?  Maybe pushed you harder toward your dreams?  Maybe helped you get through tough times?  Or maybe it was music?  What inspires you?  Who inspires you?