Clearing Out the Clutter

 

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I have just returned to work after a week vacation. For my vacation, I decided to tackle the spare bedroom where I have managed to store a collection of books which could possibly rival any small town’s library.  I am absolutely in love with books on almost any subject. I have always been thirsty for knowledge about the world around me. I have always wanted to try and understand the world. I read with the goal of trying to understand rather than with an eye for judgment. The world and its diversity is fascinating and limitless. There is always something new to learn. Row upon row of books on my shelves is a testament to my attempt to learn and to understand.

Books are like old friends that manage to remind me of times in my life. My college textbooks are still on my shelves. I cannot imagine not having my old nursing school books. I never completed the program but the notes in the margins remind me of who I was back then. My collection of Jane Austen novels reminds me of the first apartment I lived in right after graduating from college; I would sit on the balcony, sip a glass of iced tea and read Austen’s precise language. I still have those books along with some receipts from stores  where I had shopped; I had left these receipts between the pages as bookmarks. Novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Doris Lessing, Joseph Conrad,Theodore Dreiser, and Kate Chopin line my shelves and remind me of my courage to go back to college to earn my Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing when I had feared my older age would have barred me from tackling my dreams of becoming a professional writer. My old college algebra book reminds me of how I had exasperated my math professor with my inability to comprehend algebraic equations. I can still see my professor’s compassionate gaze-she let me write a report on a mathematician so that I could bring my grade F to a solid D-.  My book shelves are testament to those times in my life when I had struggled to make sense of loss due to death, divorce, disappointment. Different translations of the Holy Bible have offered me comfort, as have the words of writers such as Cheryl Richardson. Richardson’s Stand up For Your Life helped me to do just that when I didn’t think I had the strength to. She gave me strategies. I couldn’t imagine not reviewing her words from time to time. The Book of Psalms is always within my reach. It gives me comfort like nothing else can. In particular, Psalm 37: Be merciful unto me, O God, for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities overpast.

Yearning to understand other peoples’ faiths led me to study the Bhagavad-Gita, the Dhammapada, and Thomas Cleary’s The Essential Koran. I closed each book with a deeper understanding of my own faith and those of others. Each gave me something to ponder. I couldn’t imagine not having these books at my fingertips. I learned something from each one.

Getting rid of too much clutter is, of course, important. Donating unused items to those who could benefit from the re-use of items is an absolutely wonderful idea. However, in my clearing out the clutter in my home I carefully identified those precious books that have enriched me. I have cleaned the shelves, dusted off the covers of these much beloved books, and lovingly placed each back to its honored place. I like to gather books around me and read back through. It is interesting how the passing of the years can change my own perspectives and make me see something new when reading something from long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Pride vs. Arrogance

The other day on my way to work I was flipping through radio stations. In so doing, a Christian radio broadcast caught my attention. The minister’s topic was about pride and how it can cause problems for a person. As he talked, the linguist in me began mulling over exactly what pride is as opposed to arrogance. I feel that there is a big difference between pride and arrogance; this difference is not explored nor is it understood as much as it should be. I continued flipping through the radio stations and cannot actually tell you how he finished up his sermon, but it got me to thinking.

Pride is the feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of a personal achievement or of an achievement of someone with whom you are closely associated.

For example, here is the main character for my novel set in the late nineteenth century:

Selma felt proud that she had had the courage to board the ship to Charleston. For two years she had struggled to save her money to pay for her passage to America. Her parents had told her that her dreams were foolish nonsense, that she should just marry Seamus and settle down. Looking out at sea, Selma re-read her cousin Elisabeth’s letter promising her a position at the dress shop. “I have actually done it. I am actually on my way.” 

The character Selma feels pride about her accomplishment. She is pursuing her dream. She is not arrogant about it.

Arrogance is an attitude of overbearing superiority; egotism.

For example, here is another character in the story who exhibits arrogance.

Mildred Turnbull’s elbow knocked against the blue cup. Tea spilled onto the lacy white table cloth. “Hessie, come clean this mess up now.”

Turning to her dinner guests, she scowled. “Stupid girl. She’s just stupid. Poor as a mite when she came knocking on my door looking for a position. Well, her slowness is about to get her kicked to the street. It’s the kind of people she comes from, you know.”

In this example, Mildred Turnbull has a sense of superiority over Hessie. Hessie is a flawed object in Mildred’s mind.  She has judged Hessie to be inferior to her because of social class. Mildred is the epitome of arrogance.

In developing characters for my novels and short stories, I have to carefully consider what personality traits I want to assign.

Depicting the difference between pride and arrogance does matter. Too many times people confuse the two.

As a child growing up, I often heard ministers talk about pride being a deadly sin. As a linguist, I really must disagree with the early translations of the word “pride.” A more concise rendering should be “arrogance.”  It is a person’s arrogance that is demeaning to society. Arrogance leads people to disrespect another person’s humanity. Arrogance is ugly in that it robs others of a sense of worthiness. An arrogant person is a cruel person. Those on the receiving end of arrogance are unfairly judged and their self-worth diminished. What happens to the arrogant person later on when they have managed to alienate others? It cannot have a positive outcome socially, mentally, or spiritually for the arrogant person.

Feeling pride in yourself and feeling pride in another person’s accomplishments is a good thing. Pride is uplifting. Pride motivates you to want to do more, to want to reach for the stars, to share your talents and to live your best life possible. A proud person often shines and can motivate others to move forward with their hopes and dreams.

As I said, I am not sure how the radio minister ended his sermon, however it is my hope that other people will seriously consider the sharp difference between pride and arrogance.

I am proud of my accomplishments. It is my hope that my words can uplift others and encourage them to think deeply about words and how words matter.

 

Inspiration to Keep Moving Forward

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One of my favorite quotes is from Pope John XXIII. He said: “Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you have tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Hopes and dreams. Unfulfilled potential. Possibilities.

Each day, I begin with reminding myself of the beauty of this life. I remind myself of my potential to share my words and my art with others and possibly to give joy to others through my words and my art. I prefer looking forward rather than looking back. In my drawing here, the person is walking forward and not looking back. (I love Van Gogh and this is my rough sketch based on his 1889 Sower (after Millet)).  In this sketch, I interpreted my own meaning to the artistic work, as well as using my own color scheme. Of course, art and its interpretation are in the eyes of the beholder. Therein lies the beauty and complexity of art. All these years later, Van Gogh’s art still brings the world joy. I couldn’t imagine that my art or my writing could ever have that sort of lasting impact. But, who knows?

Potential. Possibilities. Hopes and Dreams.

The future is so full of potential, so full of possibilities.

Never look back. Look forward with hope and your eyes firmly focused on your dreams.

Dealing With Rejection

I am a poet, novelist, short story writer, photographer, and artist. These are my passion; these are what gives my creative soul the outlet to express my deepest feelings. I have occasionally been published in a few online literary magazines, such as Southern New Hampshire University’s the penmen review.  I have self-published my poetry book Life at the End of the Rainbow which is available on Amazon/Kindle.

My poetry and short stories have also been rejected on occasion. I think it is vital to remind myself that it is not me that is being rejected, but rather the editor or publisher has a different vision of what he or she wants to publish.

I will not let someone else’s opinion diminish my creative passion. Life is too short to let others define who I am and who I know myself to be. Sure, I would like to be selected for the Poet Laureate of the Known World or the best novelist since Miguel Cervantes put pen to paper and wrote Don Quixote. I write because I love the beauty of words, of ideas, of rhythm, of juxtaposition, of ambiguity, of capturing life and its complexity in my own interpretation.

Truth is, I write as much for myself as I do for others. I am currently writing a collection of short stories and poetry. I plan to have it completed by the end of this month. I will self-publish it, as well. I am also compiling my own art book. I plan to include my photography in my art book. I realize I am not Claude Monet nor could I ever aspire to that level of greatness, but I enjoy what I do. A completed drawing with vibrant colors that I have created makes me smile; my art makes me happy. It gives me joy. A sunset I have captured with my camera gives me joy when I think that I have managed to freeze that moment in time.

Creativity gives me joy; another person’s rejection will never take my joy away.

Life is far too short. Life is fragile and precious. I am thankful for the passion that I feel and can freely express through my poetry, short stories, art and photography.

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Book Review: Charles Heath’s One Last Look

A few months ago, I bought and read Charles Heath’s novel One Last Look on Amazon/Kindle. I have enjoyed reading Charles’ blogs and have found that his novel is equally as engaging as his blog.

His novel One Last Look has a suspenseful plot, strong character development, and crisp dialogue that is effective in moving the plot forward. Protagonists, Ben and his wife Charlotte, are haunted by secret pasts neither can fully escape. The unraveling of these secrets is what Charles has masterfully revealed with perfect literary timing.

I highly recommend this novel to any reader who enjoys a crime novel that explores a deeper understanding of what it means to be haunted by past actions and repercussions of those actions. Ben and Charlotte are believable characters whom a reader will long remember.

As writers, it is so important for us all to support each other’s creative endeavors.  I am glad I read Charles’ novel and I intend to read more of his writing. I would actually like to see a sequel to One Last Look.  I am very curious as to what else Ben and Charlotte might be hiding. . . . . . .

Blogger Recognition Award

Hi Everyone,

A fellow WordPress blogger, Scott at scott speaking bipolar, has nominated me for the blogger recognition award. I am honored to be selected for this recognition. What I love most about blogging is the supportive community that we have all created through WordPress.  Initially, I started blogging so that I could have a platform to share my poetry. Through this first year as a blogger, I have become more comfortable sharing more of my life experiences, such as dealing with grief and disappointment.  This WordPress community has helped me feel supported and has let me see that I am not alone. Others have struggled and triumphed. Life is a journey that is made so much easier by having the support of others.

Other bloggers I would like to nominate for the blogger recognition award include:

Scott speaking bipolar. In his blog, he is honest and open in discussing issues related to mental illness. His blog is so very vital because it removes the stigma attached to mental illness. His Motivation Monday gives concrete strategies that a reader can utilize.

Andrelestina, Life after Death. In her blog, she shares how she has learned to deal with grief. Her words direct the reader to the absolute importance on recognizing God’s love for each of us even in those moments when we think we cannot move forward. Her blog is uplifting and emotionally honest. She has responded to me on a personal level and encouraged me when I have shared my grief.

Jason A. Muckley, Poems for Warriors. Jason’s poetry shares his own painful personal journey through divorce,  final acceptance, and total reliance on God’s love to push through this life’s struggles. His poetry is poignant, honest, and uplifting.

aloysius5, Charles Heath.  His blog, especially regarding his cat Chester, is absolutely delightful to read. He is a talented novelist who shares passages from his writings. I bought his novel “One Last Look” and it is very fast-paced and intriguing.

My advice to new bloggers who are starting out is to be honest. Write from your heart. Be yourself and find your own voice and do not be afraid to express yourself. Be kind above all else when it comes to responding to other bloggers. Life is a learning experience; we are all on a journey. We are all searching for acceptance, for answers to questions that may not ever have an acceptable answer, and for that human connection that lets us know that we are not alone in this world. I have learned so much from fellow bloggers this year. Thank you so much for your support. I hope that my words have been uplifting and encouraging as well.

 

 

Life at the End of the Rainbow

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Hi Everyone,

This is the cover of my poetry book. I published it on Amazon/Kindle last June. It has only sold about six copies. Writing is a very, very lonely endeavor. I am beginning to doubt that it is worth the effort to write at all. I wonder who I am writing for. I have written poems, short stories and two full length novels. One of the full length novels I wrote years ago got rejection letter after rejection letter. Interestingly, I seriously doubt if anyone really took the time to actually read it. The rejection letters were all form letters. I am beginning to doubt that anyone is actually out there. It is as if this modern life is a black hole in the universe; nobody is really out there. This is a desperately lonely planet. I did occasionally get a few poems published. That is something that I feel proud of. Writing has been my therapy, you could say. I have written a memoir that I doubt if I will ever have the courage to share. It is just too personal; it is just too painful. I might just keep that pain to myself and then maybe it will be as if it never existed at all.

I earned a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing a few years ago. I thought it would help me to sharpen my writing skills. I thought it would help me make contacts with other writers. Well, it didn’t. All the university did was take my money and my time. I would suggest everyone steer clear of colleges and universities. Get a library card; it is more economical.

Anyway, my poetry book is still available on Amazon/Kindle for around $2.99. That’s not terribly much. I am considering pulling it from Amazon/Kindle because it is just sitting there. I do want to thank anyone who has purchased my book.

I write because I enjoy expressing myself. I enjoy writing about the human condition-love, hate, happiness, sadness, despair, hope, etc. It has always been my intent as a writer to contribute something to the world through my insights-to give my readers something to ponder about the human condition. Thing is, I don’t have many readers at all. I don’t know how to change that, either.

Life is short. Life hurts. Life disappoints. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. That is just the truth.

Anyway, thank you all for reading my blog here in WordPress. I will probably continue writing just because it is something that I truly do love to do. I love the beauty of words. I just do. I have written since I was a little girl. I am not sure how to reach people with my words though. Like I said, it is as if this life is just a black hole into which everything sinks. Lonely planet, it truly is.

Thanks for reading.

Thinking About France

 

 

 

 

 

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France. 

The very name stirs up images of artistic, musical, and intellectual greatness. France has given us Degas, Cezanne, Monet, Rodin, Renoir, Gaugin, Manet-and that is not even the tip of the iceberg of French artists.

Dubussy, Chopin, Satie-musical genius that stirs the soul.

Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, Flaubert, Leroux, Colette, Dumas, Proust, Zola-literature that transcends time and quite simply the best ever written.

France.

Croissants, macaroons, bouillabaisse. Red wine and joy of just living!

My first encounter with the French language was as a seventh grader. I remember struggling to figure out why so many letters are not pronounced. I struggled with it and can to this day honestly say I have never truly grasped the pronunciation of it, however my love for France and its culture has never decreased. 

This horrible event at Notre Dame has made me think more about France and its beauty, elegance, and the indisputable truth that France is an absolute jewel.

Merci, France for all that you have contributed to this world.

 

 

Easter: A Season of Renewal

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Spring is my favorite season because the flowers begin to bloom and the weather warms up. It is a season of renewal. In this Easter season, my mind turns to hope for the future. To me, that is what is at the heart of Christ’s resurrection-that there is hope that at the end of the long, dark night the sun will rise and light will shine forth and defeat that darkness. Christ is that light that guides us out of the dark tunnels of our existence on this earth. There will always be darkness, but there will always be Christ’s light to guide us out of those dark shadows, out of those dark pits into which we all fall from time to time. Easter is about the light. It is about hope. It is about a promise that God has made to us. We are never alone; we are never too far from his reach.

Psalm 139: 1-12 says O, Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandeth my thoughts from afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or wither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (King James Version, Holy Bible)

In this Easter season, I think about light and hope and the future. Pope John XXIII is quoted as saying “Consult not your fears, but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you have tried and failed, but with what is still possible for you to do.”

Spring is a season of renewal. Easter is about hope. This season I think about the renewal of hopes and of dreams for my future. I do so with the assurance that Christ’s light will guide me through any darkness that I might encounter.

Have a blessed Easter.

 

Broken Clay Pots

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Psalm 103: 12-16 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieh his children, so the Lord pitieh them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (King James Version, Holy Bible)

This psalm inspired me to write a poem; it inspired me to think deeper about God’s love and compassion. This life is so fragile; each day is a special gift to be cherished. This year, I refuse to waste one second of this special gift called life. Here is my poem.

Broken Clay Pots

He remembers that we are dust,

leaving footsteps on a receding shore.

Countless days pass away to return no more.

Yet, he remembers that we flourish like a flower of the field which simply fills the world with brilliant colors, then fades with the dying of the light.

But, he remembers, he knows that we are as fragile as broken clay pots,

he knows that we drown in our own tears,

he knows that the valley of death is far too frightening for any of us to stand.

He knows the emptiness within our souls.

He reaches down and lifts us up out of the darkest of nights; he knows that we are dust.

He knows that we are dust and that we are not whole,

just like broken clay pots.

copyright 2019 Jenny W. Andrews