Friday, January 29, 2016

Dancing in the Rain

Life is not about waiting
For the storm to pass,
            It's about learning to
Dance in the Rain

            All last year was one major storm.  I look back and see the misery through a blurry lens of emotional rain.  Many days, I struggled to find joy.  Joy I found.  I "danced" as I took the puppy out for our daily walks.  My storms are not coming as often, and when they do, my dancing is becoming more graceful.

            Madelle is making strides.  They aren't the strides I hoped for ten months ago or even four months ago, but they are strides just the same.  The area she is working on is getting herself out in the world.  Now, I would like her to do that by going to school five days a week, but she has chosen a different path.  Her choice has been to take acting classes at our small theater.  For quite a while, she has expressed interest in speaking about mental illness.  On wattpad, she has written about mental illness.  This week we are moving forward.  She will go to her first support group of teens this weekend.  I have been told they advocate as a group at different functions.  I am not sure the details, but I am excited for the opportunities that may lead from the group.

            Two nights ago, she came into the living room.  The emotions flew.  She was in the middle of a panic attack about a test she needed to take at the end of the week.  Everything we said was wrong.  She was belligerent.  Finally, I said something very wrong and she had had enough.  She stomped off to her room.  I waited for about twenty minutes.  In her room, I found her sprawled on her bed with the quilt covering her entire body wrapped tight.  The panic didn't come from our attitude about the test or even her teachers.  The panic came from her desire to know the material perfect for herself, from her attitude about herself.

"I don't have an answer to your problem," I told her.  "You need to figure out how to resolve your desire to be perfect.  I will remind you and your therapist to talk about that."  I left her to think about it.  Four months ago, we couldn't have had that conversation.  She would close up to everything until the next morning.  I would be so angry and hurt at her behavior that I didn't handle it well either.  Well, about ten to fifteen minutes later, she came out of her room and was her old self.  We are making some progress.  Yay!!!

Last night, I reminded her of this to talk with her therapist.  He pulled me into the room halfway through the session.  She went on about Life Skills and math.  The work has become really hard in her perfectionist mentality.  We offered up all sorts of suggestions which she had excuses why none of them would work.  Belligerence rained down on the therapist.  She was so worked up she was hyperventilating.  It was ugly.  Eric seemed dumbfounded.  I was excited that he was seeing what we have seen for a year (well, more like 13 years, but now the really bad side of it).  He said he didn't know what to do.  He is going to work on finding a solution.  I want to start doing some research.  I am also hoping that someone at her school has run into a child with this blown out of proportion perfectionism and has some clues and/or strategies.  Here is our next big storm.

Yet, the sun still peeks through the clouds.  A year ago, I couldn't sing with radio in the car.  Madelle would throw a fit.  Lately, I have noticed that we will both be singing AND smiling.  Even at church, she wouldn't want me to sing.  My heart ached, for I love music.  Now, my heart sores as we stand together and sing.  Even cooler, neither of us needs the hymnal for the first verse and chorus.  My memory trips me up on the rest, but she keeps up without the book.  She didn't like me at all.  I frequently hear her tell me that she loves me.  Even last night as she was throwing her fits, she periodically turned to me.  "I do love you," she reassured me.

            Yes, I will see more storms with my daughter.  I am learning to dance in the storms, but more importantly, she is learning to dance near the end of the storm and to stop the rain quicker.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Holy Moments

Last October, I wrote about starting the book Rediscovering Jesus by Matthew Kelly.  I finished reading it last week.  I highly recommend the book for any level of study.  The writing and theology is simple and to the point.  The questions are personally challenging.  I also recommend the book for a study group.  The concepts promoted great conversation.

I loved Matthew's concept of holy moments.  We can have holy moments every day.  The more we practice at seeing the moments and creating the moments, the more we will have throughout the day.  Of course, the goal is to live all of life in holiness.  I know I struggle with keeping a holy moment.  I also think I miss the mark on a complete understanding of holy moments.  But, I like working at the concept.

So, what is a holy moment?  My definition of a holy moment is being present in the world God created for us, being the person God calls me to be, and to acknowledge His presence in all things both good and bad.  There are so many examples.  My daughter just walked into my room and noticed I hung this picture she drew for art class.  She was so excited.  This is a holy moment.  Earlier this morning, I shared the walking path with a group of young National Guard recruits.  I received a lot of smiles.  I was honored to encourage one of the new privates from my home parish.  Holy moments.  After the walk, I stopped for coffee that I took home for my husband and me.  More holy moments.

On the main road from my house into town stand two large trees on the side of the road.  Throughout the year, hawks and bald eagles sit in the branches.  I always look for my feathered friends.  I love birds.  Well, on my way to go walking, I saw a big old bird from a distance and became excited, a hawk.  Nope, as I drove closer I realized it was a black bird.  "Dear Lord, you really need to get rid of those black birds.  I haven't seen a beauty for a long time."  Granted, I maybe shouldn't be prejudice against black birds, but they are not my favorites.  On my way back home, I looked up.  There, instead of the black bird, a bald eagle sat watching over me.  Coincidence, I think not.  "Thank you, Lord."  That was a MAJOR holy moment.

I challenge all of my readers to look for the holy moments.  If you don't buy into the whole religion thing, that is fine.  I challenge you to see the beauty in life.  With so much negativity in the world, we all need practice at seeing the splendor our world has to offer.  Oh, and I would love for you to share you holy/positive moments.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Update: Writing, Daughter, and Faith

2016 has hit with a vengeance.  On the first of the month, I was filled with the hope of great plans being conquered in my writing life.  Instead, I have been super busy with social activities, writer's block, and the flu.  Now, that is not the way to start a promising New Year.  At this point, I wanted to have the edit done from my first reader.  Nope.  I also wanted to have read everything on the CreateSpace sight for the paper copy of my first book.  Nope.  I also thought I would be 15,000 words closer to being finished with book three.  Another nope.  My batting average sucks!

I hate to whine and be negative, so I will add what I have accomplished.  I have written 6,000 words on my novel.  I have created an account for CreateSpace.  I even started putting information into the program for my first book.  I am on chapter six of my editing project.  Also, I finally found a nice stable desk for my writing.  The other desk was about to topple over.  I even put it all together before the flu hit me this past week.  Of course, my writing room is now a disaster because I haven't had to the chance to clean it after the holidays and dumping out the old desk.  This weekend I will get it all organized and ready for Monday.  Finally, I want to work on short stories.  I have a great story in my head that I have written 500 words of so far.  All in all, I have made progress.

Madelle is plugging along with her healing.  I am always impatient.  I want things fixed now.  I want great progress.  I talked with her counselor without Madelle.  At her next session, the two of them pulled me into the end of her appointment.  We came up with some strategies.  And frankly, I am to be patient.  I hate being patient.  I am trying.

The other day I found myself in the middle of a conversation.  The topic was about God being both masculine and feminine.  The discussion turned to women in the church.  I was in a group of all men.  They talked about the need for women in the church.  This kind of irritated me.  We do a lot in the church.  We work all the ministries, minus priesthood of course.  I see all the amazing women working Cursillo.  I watch the patient loving mothers of our parish.  I follow the writing of my dear friend Maria.  Another friend just returned with her daughter after a two week mission in India helping the sick.  There are a lot of women working in their faith.  I believe these men have blinders on their eyes.  They look at the altar and only see the priest, a man.  They need to watch for the women serving communion, the women reading, and singing.  Women in my parish are moving mountains for the homeless.  I could continue to list hundreds of ways women are examples of our faith if one only opens their eyes.  We are out there.

Friday, January 1, 2016


The morning is frigid cold outside with the thermometer diving below zero.  Instead of walking early, we are delaying going out into the cold until the sun is able to warm the air a tad bit.  I am taking the opportunity to begin my first day of the New Year my favorite way.  I prayed and meditated.  Now I sit at my computer with the music playing, the candle burning, the keyboard clicking, and my mind reflecting on the past year with great anticipation for the new.

The challenges I faced last year … I never want to live through again, but as I look at the complete year, I will take a win.  My sister, husband, helpers, and I threw a beautiful 50th Anniversary party for my parents.  I finished the second book in my Tenet series that will upload to kindle by the end of March.  I redecorated my daughter's room and created the library I have always wanted.  Granted, the library isn't the one in my dreams, but we would need to move for that to come true and I don't want to move.  I finally reached one million written words since I started counting on this writing journey I am on.  And even better, I wrote over 300,000 words this past year.  I am very happy.

Of course, to truly reflect, I have to look at the failures.  I didn't grow a vegetable garden.  My photography goal fell to the side in about March or April.  I have a lot of projects that didn't get done.  On the writing side, I missed my fiction word goal by 8,579 words.  The piece I am really concerned about is that I missed my publishing goals, every single goal.  Pursuing Destiny is not in hard print.  "Crosses" and Pursuing Knowledge are not electronically published.  As I write Pursuing the Future, I will begin to work harder on this.  In fact, if I haven't made progress by the end of this month, all of February will be dedication to hard print.  I can't afford to let this slip again.

Of course, the only way to succeed is to have a plan.  I just added my publishing goals to the top of my spreadsheet.  I will work at publishing three new books and one new story.  The third book may be stretching, but if I don't try, it definitely won't happen.  As for my number of words and minutes, I am upping all of them, but not by much.  This is the year of publishing.

On the personal side, I picked a word to pray throughout the year.  Pope Francis declared this the year of Mercy.  I normally don't follow the norm, but when I was given a yearlong reflection booklet of Mercy, I thought it was a good sign to take up the concept.  To keep with the theme, I looked up saints connected with Mercy.  Sister Faustina Kowalska popped up on my google search.  I will work at reading her diary this year.  I am excited because I read the first page this morning and was awestruck.  Beautiful!

When I look into the future, I am frightened,

But why plunge into the future?

Only the present moment is precious to me,

As the future may never enter my soul at all.

It is no longer in my power,

To change, correct or add to the past;

For neither sages nor prophets could do that.

And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.

O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.

I desire to use you as best I can.

And although I am weak and small,

You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence.

And so, trusting in Your mercy,

I walk through life like a little child,

Offering You each day this heart

Burning with love for Your greater glory.

                                                            Saint Faustina