Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"...Had just settled down for a long winter's nap..."

     There is this Christmas cartoon that I try to catch every year if I can find it on called "Twas the Night Before Christmas."  It's based on the the famous poem, of course, but the story involves a clock maker, Joshua Trundle, his family, and the family of mice, who incidentally can talk, that live in his house.  One of the mice children wrote a letter to Santa Claus that said that he was a fraud, Santa gets mad, and they all have to figure out how to make Santa happy again. Long story short they write Santa a song that is supposed to play though the town square clock at midnight, but they had problems making it work, so on Christmas Eve they give up hope and just go to bed...

     ...That's what I did this Christmas.

     After my last post, I realized I had some serious going overs and getting pasts to do. I had four full days, starting on December 22nd, to really think about an immensely hard 2012 through which I had, just like Joshua Trundle...and the mice, given up hope. The cartoon actually ends with Joshua reciting the "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" while Santa arrives because one of the mouse children fixes the clock and it plays the song and Santa is happy again. My husband Eric always loves the part when it says, "...had just settled down for a long winter's nap."

     Eric just really enjoys a good nap. I started to wonder when, on the weekends, I had stopped napping...

     I used to look at weekends as a time to relax, but somewhere over the last five years, I started looking at weekends as extra time to get a long list of "To-Dos" done. I had completely over scheduled my life and by the time I realized it, I was already too deep. It's taken the better part of the last six months to try and dig out of some of the responsibilities and over committing I've done.

     I have a theory about over scheduled people. They are so because they don't want down time. They don't want down time because that's when you have time to process the things that happen in your life. The only reason you don't want to process the things that happen in your life is they are just too painful. It's more than just a theory, I guess, because truly that was me. By the time I figured out I wanted to deal with everything I'd been avoiding, I couldn't find the down time to do just that. So somewhere around May, I started shedding activities.

     The problem I then had was while I was busy processing long time pains and issues, 2012 was doing its worse. I'm not going to say I had a totally bad year, because there were some truly awesome things and I came a long way as a person, but while still figuring out what had happened in my past, present day unpleasantness just kept coming. I almost feel as if the more sound person I had become was being tested and I honestly can't say that I didn't feel like waving the white flag in surrender... I settled down for a long winter's nap. I'm not saying I spent the whole four days in bed, it was Christmas after all; there are lights to see and dinners to be had! I did, however, take as many opportunities as I needed to be alone. I took as many opportunities as I needed to think. As many as I needed to cry.

     I had a surprising burst of tears and emotion Christmas Eve. To be honest, I wanted to be done processing so badly that I kind of shut it off the night before, but I got hit unexpectedly by a situation that had been part of everything wrong over the last year, so I went off to take yet another "nap." I remember as I sat there, tears uncontrollably streaming, that I was also praying. I remember saying, "You have to show me something tonight. I need to see it." What I needed to see so badly was the hope I hadn't been feeling a whole lot of lately. I needed to see the Holy Spirit that can only be found within creation.

     Going to church on Christmas Eve has always been a part of my life since I was a small child. I always found it to be a special, full of light in the world, and peace for all people gathering. As you can guess, I wasn't really feeling it this year, but it was tradition, so I got myself ready. I used to be a door greeter before I taught classes at church, and found myself back in my "old job" this particular evening. So, I bet you're thinking, wow, here is the unhappiest person in the world on Christmas Eve, and now she's working the door? I know...yeah... I was thinking that too!

     There is something to be said for immersing yourself in humanity when you feel at your lowest. I had stripped it all away. I had allowed myself to feel the pain of the tremendous loss that has occurred in my life over the last seven months. In the end, I showered, got dressed, and limped spiritually into church searching for a Christmas miracle.  As it turned, I would also be the only person who volunteered to work the door.

     Not only did I learn how to say, "Merry Christmas" in probably an estimated seven different ways, but I received something completely priceless that night. I received "thank you" and other kindnesses from strangers. I received hugs from friends I hadn't seen in awhile as, well, I suppose we've all been stretched thin by every day life. The best thing I received though was seeing faces, sad and lacking the hope that should be shining in their eyes on a Christmas Eve night, brighten when I would ask how they were this evening or say, "Merry Christmas." It was hope. It was a small, but very significant glimmer of hope...

     ...Suddenly, I felt like I was shown what I asked for earlier that day.

     I have been so much more at peace after that night. I'm not completely done sorting everything out, but I am on the mend. One thing for sure, and maybe this is a sort of New Year's Resolution, is that every weekend, no matter what, I'm going to try to take a "nap..."

     ...a long winter's nap...oh yeah...I definitely see more of those in my future for this coming year...

'Twas the night before New Years, and all through this place
No more will be processed, no more need for space.
The problems of last year are still in my sight,
But I have new hope that will get me through nights.

I understand what's needed, I'll take more time to think.
I won't carry around hurts 'til my heart starts to sink.
So me in my snuggie, and iPad in lap,
Promise to settle down for many more "naps."

While grabbing the starfish, there will be ups and downs.
I'll share them here with you, we are all "ocean" bound!
So, here are my wishes, huge smile as I write.

Happy Fishing!!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Starfish" Episode IV - A New Hope

    I haven't written in my blog of well over a month now.  There is very good reason for that.  There really hasn't been anything to talk about.  Nothing inspirational, no significant events I've participated in, just trying to get through the day-to-day.  To be honest though, I haven't really wanted to talk much.  A few posts ago I talked about being really crabby lately, and thought that maybe I had found my way out of that....Nope....I think this overwhelming feeling of defeat and irritation has actually been going on now since before that post and that's long time to not feel...I guess...hopeful.

   It's funny, but I just noticed that "hope" is one of my blog's keywords.  When I look through my posts to see when I used it, I had only done so once in a post about recovering from my dog Dali's passing.  Since then we also lost our cat, Girlee, the company I worked for was acquired and I lost co-workers that I talked about what went on in their lives every day, and a friend I've known since junior high school also passed.  That's a lot to process in the span of six months.  I'm not surprised that's the only time the word "hope" made it into my blog labels.  With event after disheartening event, it's no wonder that my propensity for feeling that things will turn out for the best has been extinguished.  It's almost like I don't want to be happy because something is just going to come along and take the wind right out of those sails.  Have I simply, for the time being, run out of "hope"? 

    Have you ever felt like this?  I'm a person of faith.  It's Christmas.  I should feel hopeful this time of year.  Again...Nope.  Nothing there...and that's really extremely unusual for me.  This is my favorite time of year and I'm really starting to think something is very wrong with the way I'm feeling...

   ..."Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope..."

   Remember that?  I don't know if there is a person on the planet, or at least in the United States, who hasn't seen the movie Star Wars...   So, how crazy is it to have the hope that you can defeat the Death Star just by inserting it's blueprints into a small droid that could end up anywhere?  That taking down said "Star" is as simple as "bullseyeing womp rats" back on your home planet? I'm sure there were moments of doubt in the trash compactor, but they still tried... Was this the "new hope" referenced in the title of the movie?

    I absolutely hate "dog lost" posters.  I know alot about dogs, and I know they hate change and can get really, really firghtened when out of their element.  Facebook has made all of this worse of course with people actually posting photo's of their lost dogs.  I absolutely can't stand it.  It's really hard for me to look at.

     Yesterday one of the local animal shelters posted a picture of an Australian Cattle Dog that had been picked up.  They just knew this dog had to have a family.  Why?  She was 14 years old, deaf, nearly blind, and well, she wasn't skinny in the least.  They wanted a "Christmas miracle" to find this dog's family.  They wanted a "hope," so they posted her photo.

     As much as seeing the photo made me upset, first being that this poor darling, who had first been wandering the streets, but now in her very old and deteriorated state, was in a shelter, I shared it.  A few hours later, the word came in.  Because of people sharing the photo, the owners had been found and the dog, now known to all following the story as "Daisy," would soon be home.  The "Christmas miracle" indeed happened...    

    ...just a little hope that indeed sprung eternal...and I, and many others, bought into the "new hope" for a little lost Blue Heeler girl.  It just had to work out.  She just had to go home.

     I don't know what I need right now.  I don't know if it's more healing time than I've taken or I just need a good kick in the ass to realize things just aren't so bad.  Maybe it's both.  I do know that a dog named Daisy helped me experience a little hope for the time being...

     .....and it was easier than bullseyeing womp rats....

Happy Fishing!



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Home Is Where the Heart Is

     A lot has been going on since I claimed that the "starfish" has been "grabbed."  First of all, I went into two weeks of probably one of the most stressful times I've ever had at my day job.  My company has been acquired and we are in the middle of a software conversion so all of our information can be shared.  I won't bore you with the details, but anyone who has ever done that knows how the process can make you extremely irritable. With this acquisition is coming a change of position for me from Accounting to Sales essentially.  I know I had said that I hadn't been over the top happy about being an Accountant all these years, and that I decided that a day job didn't define me, but I feel pretty weird.  I mean, I've been doing it for nineteen years, I should feel a bit odd about it.  Excited, nervous, worried at the same time, but definitely weird and that's not helping the stress level.

     While this was going on in the place where, let's face it, we all spend most of our time, I became somewhat hostage to my "extracurricular" schedule. I organized a can food drive for the local serving center that was coming to an end.  Food had to be gone through and itemized and we had to somehow find time to actually get it to the serving center.  This same week church council and the Wednesday evening study I teach fell in the same week and I couldn't not attend either one of them.  We have this week off from the study because of Halloween, so we couldn't have two weeks off in a row and while I can usually I can get out of council if I need, I had signed up as minute taker for this month way back in January...


     I'm going to estimate that there was one point during the last few weeks where I don't think I saw my dog, Kobi, for three days. He was awfully clingy this past weekend because of it.  Sometimes if I'm not there, he doesn't eat.  He's kind of sensitive as dogs go.

     So, on top of work, church, dog, and I do have a husband somewhere in there, there was something else to add to the schedule.  Halloween.  More precisely a show the Saturday before Halloween in which I was singing a few songs with a local band called The Nevermind Project.  They do covers of alt-rock song's from the 90's like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Sponge, etc.  I think, Ben, the drummer, and I had talked about me performing in the show way back in August and I was so excited at the premise of being back on stage again.  I won't lie though; it was just a bad week for there to be a practice in the middle of everything else.  However, like with the rest of my schedule, I made no complaints and made it happen.  I was late, but I went...

     ...And it was the most "normal" I had felt in a long time!  When I started this blog I would say I was a proverbial "fish out of water..."  I guess make that a "starfish" out of water, but I was probably pretty lost career wise and personally as well.  The one thing I've learned over this last year and a half is the reason I didn't know which way was up about anything is because I was denying and not dealing with who I was at my very core being.  When you don't understand who you are, it'll mess you up pretty good for sure.  I'm not saying I'm going to go out, quit my day job, and tour around the country, not that that doesn't sound fabulous, but what I am saying is you still have to nurture in some way those things that are very key to who you are in some way.

     That's what I did during the Saturday night performance. What I didn't expect out of that experience are a few things far greater than just a simple indulgence of a permanent place in my soul.

     First, There was this wonderful variety of people who would also be performing in the show on Saturday. I should have mentioned previously that I wasn't the only one brought into the "Project."  I have really been preoccupied with the relational aspect of life these days and feel it's so very necessary in life to connect with those around us.  I try to actively engage in conversations with and really listen to others' perspectives on and about what they've been through in life. Make this life not all about you, you know?  So, I really liked meeting all these people, finding out what bands they have been in, and how they knew members of The Nevermind Project. I felt so at ease that all of the pressures from that week seemed to melt away momentarily.  I so enjoyed watching everyone show off their particular talent whether it be singing, drumming, or playing guitar or bass. All of us brought here to, well, put on a tremendous show for those willing to pay admission!  I was actually sad when I realized I needed to get going because I had to work in the morning.  Everyone was so great and wonderfully inviting.

     The other thing is it had been nine and a half years since I had been on a stage with a band.  During the run of the last band, I don't even know, even though I was singing, writing, and performing, that I was completely comfortable in my own skin.  I would get so nervous before shows that I could drink a six pack of beer and not feel a thing because of all of the adrenaline running through my body.  I would sometimes have panic attacks before shows.  I was really worried that would happen this time...and you know what?  Nothing happened.  No extreme nerves.  No need to pound alcohol.  That alone was remarkable.  What I realized later is, because of some of the things I have experienced while trying to "grab the starfish" it stopped being all about me.  I wasn't focused on "will everyone like me" or "will everyone think my voice sucks" or anything like that.  I got on that stage, a switch just "flipped" inside me, and I did my thing.  I didn't care what anyone thought and it was quite liberating.  I probably did a better job because of it.  I'll be honest; it felt amazing.  I'm not saying I didn't care about whether I did a good job for the band or the crowd or anything like that.  I did have a little bit of "good nerves" right before I went on, but I was no longer so self-conscious.  I don't need to be.  I never needed to be.  My true self always was and always has been good enough.

     My friend Jennifer texted me the next day and said, "you were so at home up there..."

     ...she was right. For the first time, I knew what "home" felt like.  I don't think I can stress the importance when grabbing your own starfish, of knowing, deep down, where your "home" is.  When you know that, you will always give the best performance of and in your life.

     I still have many weeks to go before the crazy schedules are over.  I just participated in a wedding, the church study picks back up again, there is another donation drive to get ready for, and the work issues are still numerous.  It doesn't seem like I've learned my lesson about saying "no," but I think this universe colliding busyness in conjunction with really feeling where I belong heart and soul is bringing some issues with my schedule to light.  It may not be until Thanksgiving that I finally slow down, but I had that one night of "home" and I know I will go there again soon... 

     .....Don't worry though, Kobi;  Momma will be physically home more often than she was that week!

Happy Fishing!


PS - For anyone curious, here I am with The Nevermind Project, featuring another guest for the evening, Cricket, on bass!  Remember it was Halloween...I lost my Hello Kitty head and paws for the second song!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No Diving in the Shallow End

     I have been very grumpy lately. I'll own that I potentially haven't been a great joy to be around. I can admit it. The funny thing about it is, at this time, I'm probably the most clear about what I want to do with my life. So, the moodiness would almost seem unwarranted. However, I am absolutely, over the top and severely restless and that's what makes me so dejected.  I feel like here I am, on my "beach", but I'm just kind of standing in the ebb and flow of the tide on the shore. Like I'm not being allowed to get in the water completely, but I'm getting that little taste of the warm, summer ocean as it flows over my feet in small intervals and its all very frustrating.

     Remember when you were a kid and all you wanted to do was dive into the shallow end of the pool...

     Well I guess you didn't really want to specifically dive into the shallow end, you just wanted to dive in anywhere.  But the sign above...and a lifeguard...and probably your Mom just wouldn't let you dive on just anywhere.  Even if you did it once, you got a good tongue lashing for it, which included why you shouldn't have done it.  All you heard was , " Blah, blah, blah...hit your head...blah, blah, blah...concussion..."  What your Mom didn't tell you was the deep end was better!  The deep end of the pool is magic when you finally realize you can swim there without drowning.  It the land of big splashes from jackknives and  cannonballs.  It's the territory of somersaults and back flips.  It's where you can gracefully show off all of your swimming skills because there is room to do so.  But, no, you were cautioned about ever diving in because you might be hurt.

     Is that why I'm sitting on the shore?  Am I still afraid of potential "sharks" ?  Do I have that parental voice in my head just saying no, but not telling me the joy of jumping in properly?...

     ...Wait...Is there a way to jump in properly?....

     I had lunch last week with a co-worker.  This guy is amazing.  He has participated in so many programs and exercises in "starfishing" that I could sit and listen to him for hours.  I think he could sense my agitation, which I had hinted at here and there during the conversation.  He looked right at me after some kind of exposition on an experience I can't honestly remember right now and said, "Whatever you want, you have to call it into your life."

   Whoa.   Is that all I need to start swimming?  I can't believe it's that easy...  After a year and almost half now of examining every part of my past, personality, and persuasions, I'm going to dive in and call it into my life...

   First and foremost I am a writer.  I've been doing some form of writing since I was 9 years old.  I could've just stopped there, but I had to identify what I wanted to do with that particular talent and what was holding me back from doing it.   I want to write books.  I want to do speaking engagements.  I want to help others find their "starfish".  I still want to write music and even know, after taking a musical inventory, what that will look like now when I do, but at the forefront is the books. Yes, I still have a day job, but have been pulling away from Accounting and realizing that what I may do temporarily for a living ultimately does not define who I am.  I've spent this whole time defining me; Accountant was a tiny part of it.  Now it's all up to how well I move past obstacles that keep me on the shore and how well I swim out into the deep water.

     A dear friend of mine posted this little nugget of wisdom on Facebook last week:  “As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.” - Bono...

     Forget being Batman...I'm going to be Bono!

     I am off on an awesome journey!  While I'll need to remember...

......this is what I must really remember above anything else...

Starfish GRABBED!

Here is always wishing you a fruitful fishing expedition!  Now go out there and find your starfish!


P.S. - Just because I grabbed the starfish doesn't mean the blog is over by any means.  There will be ups and downs along the way.  I share them here so you can take what you wish from the experience whether it's inspiration, knowledge, or even a sense of "oh my gosh, I'm not doing that!"  What ever you get from my blog, we'll go through the process together.  Remember we are individuals of the collective...that's my story...and I'm sticking to it!

Beachcombing 10/9/2012

Here are my good reads of the week!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Beachcombing 10/9/2012

Is Ambition a Sin? - Rachel Held Evans blog - I've wrestled a lot with this topic.  Read it; you'll feel better.  You can be a Christian and ambitious.

How Does American Culture Influence Christianity? - by Donald Miller - Okay now after you've read the one above, read this one, then try to fit them together.  It's an interesting exercise on how to find the same meaning but said different ways.

The Deception of Urgency - by Donald Miller - Another good one from Mr. Miller this week!  "Is being frantic really the best way to be productive?"  I used to think so...

...and this one I found very essential to grabbing the starfish....

Happy Fishing!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Beachcoming - 10/2/2012

     Here are my "good reads" of the week.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Beachcombing - 10/2/2012

Hell: Yeah, I'm Going There - or - Hell yeah, I'm going There - blog - An interesting and informative post on the Greek translation of the very few times "Hell" appears in the Bible...or does it really ever.

Why You Should Have a No Drama Policy - by Donald Miller -  Shouldn't everyone?  Maybe first before we can have no drama in our lives, we need to admit we may create some of it ourselves.  I took the pledge; will you?

(More) scattered Thoughts on My Life in the Christian Industry - Rachel Held Evans blog -  I thought this blog would be like the one I posted last week from the guy in Jars Of Clay, but it turned out to be more about trying to find rest in a demanding profession.  Since I am fond of searching for the Sabbath, I liked this one a lot.

What Sin Is. And Is Not. - Tell me why the world is weird blog -  Think you know what sin is?  Think again.....

And because I've been feeling a lot like this lately...more on that in the next blog.

Happy Fishing!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beachcombing 9/25/2012

     Here are my "good reads" for the week!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Beachcombing - 9/25/2012

Progressive Christianity Isn't Progressive Politics! - blog by Roger Wolsey - Finally!  Someone who described how I feel!  As a Libertarian in a Christian Left, Democrat, Evangelical, Republican world, a girl can get awful lonely.  I thin this best described where I am religiously and politically.

The 5 Steps to Writing a Book - blog by Donald Miller - Whether you are writing a book, otherwise creative, or even not creative at all, this blog was really funny!  I related on so many levels.  If you have ever experienced a degree of frustration with any project, this is worth the read!

Sneaking Into Worship - blog - Maybe all these contemporary worship services aren't working to bring people in as well as we think they are?  I lead a group of young adults that actually like more traditional services, and yet our contemporary service seems to be the service that is growing the most, so this was of great interest to me.  I wonder what we may be missing as a church eventually.

Fed Up with “The Church”? Try a Different One (Maybe Even in the Mainline!) - blog by Ellen Painter Dollar - So many I know are "unchurched" and what I would say is try again.  There is a church home out there.  Not any one church will be perfect, as we are not perfect human beings, but keeping that in mind, there is a place for all of us.

And in case anyone was wondering (and took the same quiz on Facebook).... 

Happy Fishing!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beachcombing - 9/18/2012

     I decided to change the name of my "good reads" blog due to some spam I was getting.  I also decided to wait half a week before posting the next one for the same reason.  So here we are!  My "good reads" for the week.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Beachcombing - 9/18/2012

An Unfinished Record; An Uncharted Path - Dan Haseltine blog (from the band Jars of Clay) - I really liked this as someone who has expressed their view on music labeled exclusively "Christian".  It's a great look at the struggles that can be created for the actual artist when music is labelled this way.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago - Marc and Angel Hack Life blog - All I can say is Amen!  this was was extremely poignant for me and current issues I'm facing.

Who Taught You To Fear - storyline blog by Donald Miller - How fear gets taught to all of us through the eyes of his dog Lucy.  As a former dog trainer, I completely get this.

And well...just because it's true...

Happy Fishing!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Deep Sea Fishing 9/6/2012

Here are my "good reads" of the week! Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Deep Sea Fishing 9/6/2012

It would have happened anyway - Tell me why the world is weird blog - Ever think that parking place you happened to snag was divine intervention?  Think again...and dont' forget to be thankful for the good things that do happen along the way!

Confessions of an accidental feminist - Rachel Held Evans blog - This was interesting to me because I tend to walk the fine line between feminist and not really being one.  Rachel draws a clear distinction I think between being assumed a feminist and actually just following Jesus' directives.

And since I think the best thing about dog training was the dogs...

Happy Fishing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A "Seinfeld" Approach to Life...

     Disguised as a spirited conversation about "salsa" and the plot of a T.V. show the characters were pitching,  Seinfeld became known as "the show about nothing."  Seinfeld was on the air for almost 9 years starting in 1989 and running until 1998.  Few situation comedies have that kind of longevity today.  I really think the reason is because most situation comedies are about something.  There is a certain situation or a certain issue a character has that the stories are centered around. This means the shows themselves already give themselves a shelf-life by providing such a narrow scope of possibilities for show ideas.  Seinfeld was just about four friends' every day lives.  For that, the show idea possibilities are endless.

     I have tried to do more of "nothing" lately.  Eric and I recently went downtown, and stopped by a club to see our friend Mike.  Mike's had a lot going on and I was very happy to just vibe and listen to everything occurring in his world.  He had to run since he was working, but, being the very cool dude and great friend he is, said, "I took up the whole time talking, I can't believe that...what's up with you all? What are you doing?" To which I replied, "Nothing..."  Mike stopped for a moment, looked thoughtful, and said, "I need to try that..."

   I was reflecting on the evening and our conversation with Mike and I started wondering what I really meant by "nothing". I mean, I was out, downtown, seeing some bands...really wasn't exactly doing "nothing", right?  I still have a day job.  I don't sit around doing "nothing" all day...

  ...But I really meant what I said to Mike and countless other people who have asked me what I've been doing.  What I think I really mean by "nothing" is "enjoying life."  I am a notorious "projectaholoic".  I'm not a a "workaholic" per se, nothing I take on seems like hard, endless, 60 hour plus per week work.  I truly enjoyed all the various things I've done throughout my life.  When I was done, I stopped.  However, the key here is there was always something I was working on or doing outside of my normal life.

     I'll be honest, for always doing something, I feel like I've missed out on a lot of actual life.  I honestly do think friends stopped inviting me out because I was so busy with the band or dog training or whatever.  Since I decided I was slowing my life down a bit, my social calendar has greatly improved.  This is a good thing.  I love people.  I love community.  I like having conversations and hearing people's perspectives and ideas.  That, to me, is what life really is about.  I've probably never been happier and I'm not on stage and I'm not teaching a dog to sit or doing anything else that is keeping me from really adding deeper meaning to my life.  I'm in real relationship with people for probably the first my life.

     Let me take a moment to say that I don't believe that there was some kind of relational element to being in a working band and dog training.  There most certainly is, but it's in a completely different way.  First of all, let me say that you have to look for the "real" moments of relationship with the whole music industry thing.  A lot people are just trying to see what they can get from you as your star rises, and you have to be careful of that.  Real relationship when you are a musician tends comes from friends you had before the whole thing started and your band mates.  Sometimes it doesn't even come from your band mates because egos start to inflate...big...but those real moments are certainly there.  It's very much like a family as I've said before.  There are sometimes those real moments with fans, but it's definitely not often enough and not always very enjoyable or uplifting.  I was in a metal band.  A lot of people who like metal are dealing with pain of some kind.  Many of those stories, when you have that moment to stop and listen, are horrifying, albeit very real.

     With dog training, well, there is the dog...and that's the most enjoyment you get honestly.  The people make it hard really hard. When I say that, I mean the owners and other trainers alike. You are only as good as your successes and when you fail, even though it may be due to lack of owner compliance, and through no fault of your own, word can get around quickly that you, for lack of a better phrase, suck.  I love dogs.  I believe I can communicate with them better than most people, but my love for such a free, and beautiful animal was greatly diminished by the people I came across.  In hindsight, I just figure I wasn't meant to be a dog trainer and this was the way to open my eyes to that. All I wanted to do was love and help dogs. Not brag about my successes or give in to a client's unreasonable demands about how they thought their pet should behave and how to get there.  I feel the whole industry should be more esoteric.  Instead I find it getting all increasingly militaristic. It's a dog, people.  I'm not saying let it misbehave, but I am saying give it room to breathe and be happy.

     In the end, I couldn't continue with these activities because they didn't make me ultimately happy.  What I find makes me happy is really getting out and experiencing life.  Not being hold up in a rehearsal space.  Not being held hostage by a client or the ridiculous idea of dominance over another species.

    So now I choose do "nothing".  Maybe that's what Mike meant when he said he needed to try that. Maybe he noticed the look of calm and peace on a previously stressed-out face.  Maybe he realized he was seeing me and Eric now even though he hadn't seen us in a year and a half.  There are benefits to freeing yourself of the extraneous stuff.  You may truly give yourself more "life"...

     ...After all, a show about nothing had nine years. For me, the "show" idea possibilities are endless...

Happy Fishing!



Deep Sea Fishing - 8/30/2012

Here are my "good reads" of the week! Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Deep Sea Fishing - 8/30/2012

 Lance Armstrong and the USADA - When A Cancer Hero Decides To Stop Fighting - blog - This is a hot topic where I live, Austin, TX and many people are "armchair quarterbacking" it as to why Lance Armstrong really gave up his fight.  Me?  I'll wait for the proverbial "smoking gun" if there is one, but I thought this blog was interesting as it's from the perspective of a cancer survivor about the possible perspective about another cancer survivor.  If you think about it, sickness or not, haven't you ever just felt so tired that you just wanted to stop fighting a ridiculous allegation, rumor, etc?  Ever felt secure enough in your self and who you are just to let that go?

We will need your help to change the world - blog - One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, releases a new book September 6th, but this new offering is so much more than that.  Want in on the revolution?  Want to "grab that starfish"?  Go over to Donald Miller's blog and see how to become involved in Storyline 2.0.

Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited:  A sermon on reading the Bible with the eyes of love - blog - I always maintained that the Sodom and Gomorrah story was about the dangers of disrespecting people and not what everyone has come to think it means. I was comforted that I wasn't alone in my assertion.  - Okay, maybe not a blog, but a pretty simple questionnaire that tells you which presidential candidate's views are closest to yours. I completely recommend this and was pretty happy with the results.  They were spot on for my beliefs; give it a try!

And you know...since the presidential election is coming up...  Anyone as tired of the rhetoric on Facebook as I am?

Happy Fishing!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Deep Sea Fishing - 8/23/2012

Here are my "good reads" of the week! Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Deep Sea Fishing - 8/23/2012

Far Too Little Sabbath in Sabbath - Huffington Port Religion blog by Mark Sandlin  - When going to church becomes a chore, there is nothing restful about it.  While I have communicated my own ideas about how to "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy," this is a great post about how to go about Church as a place our sabbath rest, why that is important, and "can the institutionalized Church shake itself free of the dogma and structures which bind it long enough to experience Sabbath in a more sabbath full way."

What’s So Threatening About a Changed-Mind? (Resisting the Term “Flip-Flopper”) - Melissa Jena blog - I always wondered why we as a people desperately want people to change and then when they do, we find something wrong with that.  Very thought provoking blog about finding the value on others' experiences and welcoming changes of thought.

What If Jesus Meant All that Stuff?  - blog by Shane Claiborne If Jesus really meant to love our neighbor and that's all that was important, a lot of people may be in trouble.  Posted by a friend of mind on Facebook, I found it very life (and starfish grabbing) affirming!

Thou Shalt Not Have a Potty Mouth; Does God hate swearing? - article by Brian Palmer - Let me first explain that I think "swear words" are completely deemed as such by man, so I found this article very interesting.  I feel that any biblical reference to being profane is more about gossiping, speaking ill of people, etc.  What does this article say?  "The Bible is hazy on vulgarity..."

...and since you all know about my life in a band...

Happy Fishing!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deep Sea Fishing - 8/16/2012

Here are my "good reads" of the week!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Deep Sea Fishing - 8/16/2012

The Theology of the Dark Knight Rises - Experimental Theology - This was really interesting to me as, well you know, I believe you should always be Batman.  Surprising was also one of the comments that said the movie was terrible because Batman relies on violence too much.  I'm not a fan of movie violence; I don't go to horror movies at all actually, so I was puzzled by that remark.  Do you think it was too violent?

Your God is Too Big - Experimental Theology - A reminder for Christians that there is a difference between a God so big that we don't see the small miracles in our everyday lives and that God is big enough to handle our problems and love us.

Six Surprising Ways Jesus Changed the World - John Ortberg, Huffington Post blog - Whether you believe he was the son of god or not, Jesus was a real person whose examples of love and kindness historically changed the world for the better.

Sexuality & Scripture  - Zone0fScilence - "An important thing to remember about the rules laid out in Leviticus is that they are part of the Old Covenant, replaced by Jesus’ New Covenant. Indeed, Jesus violates several of the rules laid down in Leviticus, and teaches his disciples that there is a new way." Amen. This blog also stresses the importance when engaging in biblical study of examining entire chapters and not just the verse.  Too many times, in my opinion, verses are taken out of context and used improperly to support bigoted beliefs.  I always knew I didn't need to actually be silent in church or "submit" to my husband...

Sexuality isn't a Choice - Zone0fScilence - This was linked inside the previous blog.  A must read for anyone still on the fence of whether our sexual orientation is a choice or not. 

What Beer Can Teach the Church - the abp blog - Okay...I'm listening... ; )  In all seriousness, good comparison between trends in the beer industry and how the church might follow those trends to minister to the communities they may be out of touch with.

And since I am convinced we all Google incessantly...

Happy Fishing!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Deep Sea Fishing - 8/09/2012

     I commented earlier in the week that, probably like many of you, I take to Google alot when searching topics.  The Internet has become a wide source of serious study and amusement for me and probably a lot of us.  I've been posting my "Good Read of the Day" when I come across a blog I like, etc, for my Facebook friends and had the idea to share with everyone weekly what I've been reading and what's influencing me while I continue to search for, and eventually grab, the starfish.  So here we go:

     Deep Sea Fishing for August 9, 2012:

      Hidden Battles - Knight of the Living Dad blog - The ending of this will get you for sure.  It's an important reminder to be kind to everyone, especially on social media.  There may be pain someone is experiencing you aren't aware of necessarily.

     Are Christians Hate Filled Hypocrites? - Experimental Theology blog  - A thoughtful essay, especially in the wake of the Chick-Fil-A controversy.  I'm a Christian, so this was interesting to me, especially as I fully understand what some people do in the name of religion to make Christianity less appealing to anyone, including myself.

     On Geese and Gander - blog -  What's good for the goose is good for the gander no matter what side of the political isle you are on.  Both sides posting offensive materials and then claiming the other side is "mean."  I'm glad someone called them out on it.

     An Honest Conversation with my Gay Friend - Conversion Diary blog - This one blew my mind!  A good conversation that didn't end with a "you have to agree with me or I'm gonna be mad."  If you want to learn to have a civil discourse, even if you have to agree to diagree, this is a pretty good example.  I will say, I don't think the topic necessarily had to come up during dinner and I don't believe in the author's religious views, but this was a great blog to read!

     And I'll also post a favorite meme/picture/saying from Facebook as well:


    ...okay...but I also really liked this!

Happy Fishing!


What was your favorite blog this week?  Tell me below in the comments!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Always be Batman...

        I wish I had seen this before I wrote the last post...

     Problem solved.  I would always choose to be Batman...wouldn't you?

     I guess more important though is the first line. "The most important thing in life is to be yourself."  It was kind of my point.  You do you for the greater good of this thing called life...

     ...That's not what a lot of you told me though...

     I had forgotten about this gem when I wrote about what was "best in life..."

      Seems simple doesn't it?  Much more simple than being Batman, actually...

      My friend Geoff actually posted the text of that picture to the comments of my post. That's when I remembered I had seen it before and regretted not adding it into the conversation.  Now, one thing I hadn't seen before is my friend Thax's comment that Chicken Pot Pie was the meaning to life, but I digress...

     Another friend of mine, Payden, said that, "YOU being happy is the only thing that matters, your thoughts, dreams and experiences are the only thing you take with you after your body is gone."  Okay then, if the actual meaning of life is just to be happy, how do we do that?  Constitution, right?  "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  What are we chasing though?  What is "happiness?"  Does it mean being content? Is it completely state of mind?  does it mean having everything you've ever wanted?  Is it perfect physical or emotional health?  Is it fulling the purpose for the gifts you've been given in this life...

     ...Quite the ponderance for a starfish grabber...and it got worse...

     I saw this posting from a friend on Facebook: "Happiness. It is not something to do. It is something you are. Pursue something else. Be happy."  

     Now I am thinking are they separate? Being happy has nothing to do with what you do? You can just be happy no matter what?

     I'll be honest, I've been really unhappy with being an accountant lately. It's not the most soul satisfying of jobs for someone who is more of a creative mindset. I don't quite know how I got here except for a long string of jobs starting from temporary data entry to ever increasing levels of accounting duties. So, suffice to say as I have embarked on my adventure in starfish grabbing, it's been on my mind. I am not the "normal" accountant. I am outgoing, communicative, apologies to any other accountants reading this, but it's not the normal profile of a number cruncher. I actually got a job once because of the person I am, but I've lost many because of it too. I'm good at what I do, but I have really felt like lately that I need to be doing something else...however, "something else" maybe doesn't pay as well. Can I still be happy then? With potentially less money?

     How do you just be happy without any other extraneous factors? I mean if it is the meaning of life and all... If I'm starting to sound like my head is swimming, it is. So, I'll do what most of you would when faced with urgent questions...I'll take to the Internet.(C'mon, admit that a day goes by that you don't "Google" something).

     What do I find? There is a freaking Happiness scale! What? Don't measure me right now; I don't want to know...but really...I do think that generally I am happy.  I get easily annoyed or bored with a specific facet of my life, but I think I'm generally happy.  Can you be annoyed and bored and still be happy? Is it all or nothing? Or is it an average of the answers in the categories on the happiness scale inventory?  Why is this all so hard?   WHY CAN'T I JUST ALWAYS BE BATMAN?

     I guess when you think about it, life would be satisfying for Batman because he was always himself. He was just a guy. No real superpowers; just a lot of fun toys. Instead of being a potentially becoming an uncaring high society kid with money, he really cared about those less fortunate. He did his all he could to instill a sense of justice in a dark world and be the best human he can possibly be.   Maybe knowing you do the best you possibly can for others and this world makes you satisfied with tour life. Maybe that thought makes you, well, happy...

     ...I may not ultimately know the secret to continuous happiness, but I do know, in this life, you should always be Batman...

Happy Fishing!

  So what do you think?  What does it mean to be happy and how do you achieve happiness?  Tell me in the comments below

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Conan, What is Best in Life...

      When I was in the heyday of my last band, we used to have this great pre-show ritual.  Someone would start us off and say, "What is best in life?"  To which we would all reply, "Crush your enemies, see them driven before, and hear the lamentations of their women!"  Before you think anything weird, this is a movie line from Conan the Barbarian (the Arnold Schwarzenegger version)

       Great way to start a gig, huh?

       While Conan seemed to have a clear vision about what was best in, or really the meaning of, life, most of us don't have it that together. I was looking for keywords to drive search engines toward this blog and figured out I wasn't the only one having trouble grabbing the starfish. There are so many of us searching for the " meaning of life" on the Internet that I thought I would take some time to reflect on that question...

     ...and I guess ultimately on what I'm doing with this blog.  Figuring out my purpose in this world is what I writing about after all, right?  I started thinking though should that purpose ultimately be the same for everyone or based on what I feel I bring to the table individually?

      During this time, I saw this saying on Facebook:   "Life is not about a destination. It's how you live along the way."  Soon after I also saw, "Some of the hardest questions have the easiest answers."  I think both of these sayings are relevant to the question at hand. I also think that most of us are starting to take our philosophical musings to Facebook...we are looking for the "likes," i.e. the people that feel the same way and may have the same questions we do.

     Maybe that "easy" answer really is that we shouldn't be searching for one answer to the great question of the meaning of life, but should be finding the meaning of our own individual lives here on this earth.  We are all so different....I mean, wouldn't the meaning of life be different for each person here?  Shouldn't it be about identifying our own unique gifts and the use of them?  I guess that's ultimately what I believe...  The destination doesn't even come for me when I finally grab that starfish.  What do I do then with the starfish?  How do I essentially "live along the way?" 

     This brings me back to my Conan story. For us, performing that little ritual was a definite bonding experience for us. It reminded us to go out there and put on the best show possible and essentially "crush our enemies."  However, we were all individuals in the collective and just what crushing our enemies  meant was of a different significance for each of us.  It wasn't about just getting to the end of the show; it was about how we performed during that 45 minutes....together...yet showcasing our own distinct talents...

     ...individuals in the collective...I knda like that.  All of us togther on a journey, but in our own way grabbing our very own bright, beautiful, and perfect starfish...

    What is "best in life" for you?  Do you believe it's a universal truth or an individual approach to life?  Tell me in the comments below...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Searching for the Sabbath

     Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to a long time friend's house for a barbecue. I like meeting new people and these kind of functions are great places to do just that. I figure "Hey, this person is my friend; they must have other cool friends...". Okay, all self-admiration aside, it is a good assumption that you'll meet people at a friend's party you'd have something in common with.

     My friend has this huge Bartlett Pear tree in his backyard. It's so big, I mistook it for an Oak. So I'm sitting under this tree, there is a nice breeze, meat is cooking, and I look at the person next to me, whom I didn't know and said, "I could do just this all day.". He laughed and said, "Yeah, it's nice.". "No, I mean I just want to do this all this time...". We then exchanged jokes about how hard it would be to pay our bills, etc, if we just sat around and had beer and barbecue under a tree all day and didn't work...

     ...but I wasn't completely kidding...

     I was going to originally title this post "BBQ and Beer," but I think what's going on here is a little more than just wanting to rock and roll all night and party everyday (okay try, to tell me you aren't know hearing the band KISS in your head...). What I think I'm in need of is some serious rest.  I have finally blown a mental and emotional "gasket" from the enormous amount of simultaneous occupations and hobbies I've been a part of with no break for any longer than the span of a 5-day vacation.  Oh, and trust me, those weren't full breaks either due to the invention of the smart phone.

     So, I get these daily devotionals from Pastor Rick Warren based on his Purpose Driven Life book.  I remembered getting one on resting a few months ago.  Pastor Warren said, "The most common cause of discouragement is physical and emotional exhaustion. Things look worse when you're tired...When you're tired, you lose your confidence. It's that simple...The remedy for physical and emotional exhaustion — and the confidence drain it can be — is rest! Psalm 127:2 says, "God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest" (TLB). Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to sleep. It's amazing how much better things look after you've had a good night's sleep.You'll never be at your best if you're not getting rest."

     Food for thought there.  It's definitely why I don't feel I'm at my best now.  I feel like there is this huge wall between me and my creativity because I'm simply tapped out. While I was thinking about what Pastor Warren had said, my mind started to wander and possible get paranoid due to the exhaustion I was feeling "Wait!" I thought, "Am I missing a Commandment here?  Being a Christian, aren't I supposed to remember the Sabbath and keep in holy because God made the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh or something like that?"


     I started reading everything I could on the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments.  There is quite a lot of differing opinions out there, and all of them claim biblical relevance.  It's hard to know what to believe.  We were actually talking about this in my Sunday School class one Sunday.  We remembered how when we were kids we typically did nothing on Sunday afternoons but nap.  We also remembered how stores weren't open.  If you needed it, you had to get it on Saturday.  Now we could only name a handful or retail establishments that participated in that practice and lamented that we could not get a chicken biscuit from Chik-Fil-A on Sundays.

     What I eventually found was that for Christians, and let me clarify this is a general consensus and not what all believe, that we worship, and potentially rest, on Sunday as that's the day Christ rose from the dead.  Now the "rest" part is where it gets tricky.  While we've tried to go for keeping the Sabbath day holy and resting on Sunday, the actual rest is the rest found in the "Lord of The Sabbath" which is Jesus Christ.  We do not have to have a specified day of rest because now our whole spiritual life rests in Jesus Christ.  There is no more Commandment Sabbath rest.  No work to be done the other six days of the week to give atonement for sin to God.  Only a Commandment to trust in Jesus.  Took me awhile to wrap my head around that quite honestly (and if you're head is reeling, too, you can read about the Sabbath here.  This was just one of the many informational Internet sites upon which I came!). 

     So, here I am trying to make sense of it all, and getting more decidedly wasted tired in the process.  Maybe I'm trying to find some sort of permission to simply do nothing.  I mean, well, as a kid I wasn't allowed to just sit around.  If  chores were done I'd better not claim any "boredom" or" my parents would step in and give me something to do. Keep going; keep doing.  If you don't, you're seen as lazy or worthless. Our society is just so busy, you know?  You snooze you lose" is a saying that comes to much to do, so many people wanting something from you...I'm not even sure where I am trying to go with all this now really...All I know is I'm overwhelmed with fatigue and I know how I got here I just in some twisted way feel I need to know it's okay sometimes to not do anything.  I need to know that I won't suffer from some kind of societal ostracising if I stop for one moment to avoid the burnout I'm either experiencing or to which I have a one-way ticket...

    ...Wait!...Matthew 11:28...".Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Got it.  I give in.  You take everything, Lord...I'm gonna sit here in my recliner and watch a marathon of "Pawn Stars...." 

     Hey, it may not be the completely ideal Sabbath rest, or maybe it is, but He knows I need it and I should listen to Him more often.  After all, I can't swim out into the ocean to grab the starfish if I'm passed out on the beach.

Happy Fishing!

- Red

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sink or Swim

     I remember that my Dad taught my brother how to swim by throwing him into the ocean. We lived on Long Island, NY and would take our boat out to Fire Island every summer. That's when my brother was thrown overboard...I did fall off of the boat once, but my Dad was more merciful towards me and got me out of the water. A few years later I was given swimming lessons in the comfort of our in ground pool.

     On the Friday before Memorial Day, I felt the familiar panic of being four years old, unable to swim, and in a very vast ocean...I had lost my beloved dog, Dali.

     I wrote about Dali, our thirteen and a half year old Australian Cattle Dog/Border Collie mix in this blog before ("I Am The Bulldog" - March 7, 2012). She's been sick with liver tumors since she was almost twelve with the official diagnosis coming about eight months ago.  To say her passing has greatly effected my husband and myself is an understatement. Dali's behavioral issuers had to be closely monitored for her and our other dog's safety. One wrong move could mean a bite delivered to any of us or potentially anyone outside of the home. People are amazed when I talk about the level of management needed that frankly most people wouldn't deal with. I don't blame them. It's been a stressful thirteen and a half years. There were times I couldn't even walk freely in my home for fear of causing a fight if some kind.

     This also meant I couldn't use the computer as often as I would have liked to write or anything.  Our home office is a small space and highly conducive to setting off Dali's aggressions. Normal dogs typically have a critical distance of four feet. They don't like to be towered over or feel crowded.  Add that to a dog that is fearful and acts out on that, then there are issues.  I remember that if Eric was gone for the evening, before I got my iPad, it meant no work of any kind could be done. Managing Dali and keeping her happy and comfortable was top priority. Even after I got the iPad, I still couldn't get very engrossed in anything I was doing because in a split second Kobi, the other dog, could do something to incur her ire and a fight was on...

     ...and all of a sudden she was gone...

     Eric and I really don't know what to do with ourselves. Every routine was based on Dali. I'm not kidding. From the time we let her out of her crate in the morning to the time we put her back in at night, everything we did revolved around her. As unhealthy as that was, Eric and I no longer have a huge semblance of our life from the week before.   It's been weird, not to mention highly unsettling.  I mean after all, as humans, we all love our ruts and routines.  Mine just happened to be a life consuming one.

     My stepmother said she knew how much I loved her.  She also said that, "She helped you to become the wonderful person you are now and helped you find your place in this world. The ones that do that are always special as they show us a side of ourselves that we sometimes don't even know existed..."

     ...And in death Dali was still showing me a whole new side to myself...

I found this picture the other day...

     The funny thing about my life so far is I was quite a good "swimmer" when faced with troubles. I have quite the get up and go attitude. However, I would say I have also not faced anything as heartbreaking as Dali's passing was. I have been dumped by boyfriends, betrayed by close friends, and abused by my Mother, but, believe it or not, found nothing as profoundly life changing as Dali no longer being a part of my daily life. I just didn't feel the same anymore. It was like because that routine was gone, part of me died, too.  For the first time in my life, I guess I was really grieving.  This was something so foreign to my life previously.

     During this period, and while I was honestly barely maintaining my head above water neither sinking nor swimming, something strange started to happen. I found I was blessed with wonderful and numerous examples of "life" around me. I saw young dogs up for adoption at a local pet store. I saw a newly adopted dog at a friend's house. I saw my own dog start coming to life in ways he hadn't been able to before. So many new beginnings. So much new life all around...

....I began to wonder if now maybe I had a new life to get on with...a new "me" maybe...

     With Dali's passing , I got to experience a huge loss. I got to experience the entire grieving process.  The last step is called "recovery" where one shows a new interest in daily activities and begins to function normally on a day to day basis. The goal of recovery is to reorganize one’s life so that the loss is one important part of life rather than the center of one’s life.  Trust me, both my husband and I went through all the shock, denial, obsessive thoughts, anger, guilt sadness and anxiety before reaching this point.  In the end though, Dali enabled me to truly acknowledge how exciting life going forward can be and actually, really, must be. You always here the phrase "life goes on". I feel I understand it and am excited about. I want to be a part of that life. That life going on.  The feeling that I could go ahead and swim...

...I think I'll "doggie-paddle" out from shore now...

Happy Fishing!


                                         R.I.P Dali Cooper - January, 1999 to May 25, 2012

                               I miss you more than you know. Thank you for all you taught me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fear is the Mindkiller - Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

      For anyone that may have thought my fear of Jaws at the bottom of the swimming pool from the first blog in the "Fear in the Mindkiller" series was over the top irrational, I came across this meme of the Paranoid Parrot ...

     Once again, I'm surprised how many others that movie effected negatively.  I mean with a movie tagline like "You'll never go back in the water again," what did everyone expect?  But I digress...before I even really started my post!

      I've been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about how this whole process of writing things down to get them out and examine them is so crucial to the whole grabbing the starfish thing. I've never been one to keep a journal for cathartic purposes, but I guess that the function of many a blog in this day and age.  I started this blog a year ago with the hopes in finding my purpose in life and hopefully helping someone along the way.  The biggest thing I've learned?  I need to get out of my own way...well...that and that other people share alot of the same fears and roadblocks to the ocean.

     I guess I also really learned how to get our of my own way which is just as important as the need to do so.  Once I stripped the first two fears away, I started finding and addressing more. I have mild OCD, which I've mentioned before, and hoarder tendencies that, thankfully, are not great enough to get me on a show on A&E.  I am also deathly afraid of not getting enough sleep or setting my house on fire.  While these would make interesting stories, It's not that I don't want to tell them out of some sort of shame.  It's just that the outcome would be the same.  I now understand better where the basis for my fears come from. I've learned to deconstruct them and take small, life changing steps, to get beyond them.  When I look back, I realize I've done a lot of talking about small steps.  It's been the easiest way to overcome overwhelmedness, develop a road back to health, come to terms with past pain or really just put any plans I have into action.

    My high school friend, Geoff, recently posted a note about fear in Facebook when talking about a situation from his life.  "The human mind is an amazing and adaptive thing, and I like to think that in my life, like with skydiving I have overcome most of my fears. I still have an healthy fear of snakes, and a few other fears like that, but for the most part, I have no overwhelming phobias. ...It took me several years to overcome my fear of leaving, something I know that I had wanted and needed to do to continue my life and make myself happy, but fear kept me in that situation much longer that I needed to be in it, fear of the unknown, fear of what I would do, fear of what she would do, fear of how she would react, fear of being alone. But finally it came to the point where I had to let go of the airplane wing, and again, after a couple months of panic, I am much happier than I had been."

     "Several years" steps...but he did it.  You just have to know it's not an overnight fix, but a lifetime lifestyle change for the better if you can just get started...

     So everyone say it with me once again...
     I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
     Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
     I will face my fear.
     I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

     "Only I will remain"...I recently remembered that when I was a little girl, one of my favorite games was to splash around in a pool and pretend I was a seal.  I want to remember what that time in my life felt like emotionally. I would just swim around with excitement and a love for whatever was next on life's journey.   After the last year, I've gotten to the beach and so time to start wading in...I can't let fear and any lack of momentum stop me...unless...

     ACK!!!!!   ...remember the Jaws2 movie tagline was, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."

     Okay...that's steps...whew...

     Happy Fishing,


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fear is the Mindkiller - Part 3 - The Giant Snowball

     I used to watch a lot of those Rankin Bass stop animation Christmas specials as a kid. Still do. You'd think by the title of the blog this week that I am afraid of the Bumble from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. I'm afraid of someone much scarier...

     ...I'm afraid of Dave Ramsey...

     I'd assume Dave Ramsey is pretty scary to most people. If you aren't familiar with him, he's a financial guru of sorts who has helped millions of people stop using credit and get out of debt. Shouldn't be scary, right? Should be inspirational borderline uplifting, yes? Not if you have fears concerning money...or lack of the availability of it.

     I mentioned in my last post (Fear is the Mindkiller - Part 2 - The Hunger Games -April 9, 2012) how I went through a period of time in college when money was scarce. Unfortunately, this part of my life would not only create an eating disorder, but would contribute ultimately to my abuse of credit.

     According to Dave Ramsey, no one needs credit. You can live without it. You save $1000, then start paying down your debts one by one. The majority of your money each month going to one of your debts until its paid off. That's the snowball I talked about earlier. When that's done you pick another debt to snowball and so on and so on until they are all gone. Now, if something happens, as it always does in life, you use that initial savings instead of using your credit. Then you replenish the savings first before going back to snowballing. There is more to it, but that's the general idea.

     Sounds easy. Dave's a smart guy. To someone who believes that, even though she has a great job and enough cash coming in to live comfortably, she may run out of cash at any moment, using cash only is a terrifying concept.

     I have not always been the picture of perfection with finances. To make things worse, there were a few years recently of every appliance in the house giving out, every animal having health problems (they are all seniors), and my car breaking down on a regular basis. Oh, did I mention the dead animals in the attic that needed extracting, too? Anyway, it just made a bad situation worse. While these events were more of an emergency nature, I was just adding on top of the debt I already had...and there I was, just paying minimum payments because I was scared I'd run out of cash for when I really needed it...

     Many of my friend's have been through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Everyone has extolled the virtues of this man and his program. I could not conceive how, with everything breaking down and getting sick, I could even attempt this whole getting out of debt thing. Not to mention, getting over the fear of thinking I'll never have enough cash on hand and may go hungry or homeless or whatever.

     I hated feeling like this. I wanted it to stop. I ordered Dave Ramsey's book from ( and yes, I used a credit card; don't judge.). I had realized I couldn't move forward with "starfishing" if I didn't do something about this part of my life.

     I read it and amazingly I got it. Okay; saved my grand. That was easy; remember, I wasn't spending any cash money... Now to never use credit cards again... if I...uh...

     I was in trouble.  I felt so nervous.  Literally sick with anxiety over the thought of making myself not drag out the plastic.

     ...Then I took the plunge...

     I remember the first cash use only purchase.  A dog.  In the vet's office.  Again.  With the thought of regret coursing through my veins, I handed them my debit card.  The card that would go straight to my bank account.  My cash.  My supposed safety.  It was so tremendously hard letting go of that money.  I had to keep talking myself into it.  "You have a savings now.  It's okay..."

     Then I made it through the next month of bills no problem.  I could pay for everything we needed.  It really was okay.  We didn't go without groceries.  There were no earth shattering events sent straight from the heavens to wipe out my cash and put us on the street.  I was going to be okay.

     The first purchase led to more cash only purchases. Vet bills, a kitchen table and chairs, getting my hair done, getting my oil changed, clothing, a new portable P.A. system for singing through, etc.  All paid for with cash.  Now don't get me wrong.  I don't have an endless supply of cash. I'm not, shall we say, "rolling in it."  I have to save up and budget for things.  The point is I'm not further in debt.  I don't keep adding to it because of my fears.  I just needed someone to show me it would be alright.

     I had a lot of purchases to make over the last week.  Specialized cat food, solution for the air conditioner drain, even a trip to the urgent care for a spider bite I got while gardening.  I did have a few panicky moments for sure because there were a lot of things I needed to purchase and I my internal dialog was seriously worried about having cash.  I would tell myself I had planned well and everything would be alright. 

     Maybe I've got this one.  Maybe I just have to keep telling myself it's okay and I'll be fine as many times as it takes.  Maybe I have to apply that to more than just my finances...

     ...Now...can someone help me do that with the whole Jaws/swimming pool thing (Fear is the Mindkiller - March 15, 2012)?

Happy Fishing!