Monday, March 31, 2014

Colors of Life


Yesterday it snowed.
I cried.
I really was convinced it was the end of the world.

Today it was 65 degrees and sunny.
I wasted no time.
I ran to Home Depot, bought paint, and a few new plants, and came home and got to work.

Tonight as I sit here next to my freshly painted, refurbished nightstand, I am so glad I did it. I've been waiting since December for the weather to be nice enough that I could take it outside and paint it. It looks so much better than it did before, and now it finally matches my bedroom set.

Maybe one of these days my bedroom (nay, my whole apartment) will finally start to pull together and look the way I want it to.

Maybe.
Someday.

I just discovered that the landlord does allow us to paint our apartments (as long as we paint them back). I can finally say goodbye to my bland, no color apartment! Color here I come! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Really Easy Wonderful Way You Could Help Me Out


I am truly blessed with many wonderful, great friends.
Thank you all for your support and kind words lately. Needless to say, losing my job unexpectedly, and losing my grandmother, all at once, has been a bit overwhelming.
But thankfully things are looking up. Several very unexpected opportunities have come my way. Some more exciting than others, and some far more realistic than others. But the fact that opportunities have come up at all truly makes me feel so grateful and blessed. Thank you to everyone who has thought to reach out to me with different opportunities.
I have been asked many times "is there anything I can do for you?" And usually the answer is simply, no, there isn't.
But today I thought of something would help me out. And it's a fairly easy thing to do, if you ever do it.
If and when you buy things on Amazon, it would help me out a lot if you used my Amazon links. I'm an Amazon Affiliate, which means I get a small commission anytime someone purchases something on Amazon using my links or codes. It doesn't charge you more to use the link. And anything you buy on that visit to Amazon using the link gets me a credit. (To the person who once bought the $800 furnace using my link, you'll never know how much I appreciated that!) I can't see who buys what. But yes, I do see what it is you buy. (And sometimes I get a really good laugh out of the combinations!)
So if you want to help me out, and you shop on Amazon, it would help provide me some much needed extra income if you clicked on one of the ads on my blog to get to Amazon, or if you CLICK HERE TO GO TO AMAZON.
See how easy that is?
You're awesome.
Thanks. 


(You can also feel free to buy my books, or use this link to buy things off eShakti too.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Will the Sun Come Out Tomorrow? I'm Seriously Starting to Wonder.



Today as the bitter cold wind was whipping my face and I dodged yet another melting snow pile, the thought occurred to me - what if this never ends?
What if this is the beginning of the end of the world, and the first sign is a winter that never ends?
(I have an active imagination sometimes, work with me here.)
I didn't go the religious "am I prepared" route, nor did my mind wander to the zombie route (and likely never will - I just don't get the zombie craze). No, I wandered to the "how long could I survive in a never-ending winter" route.
Could I survive in a world where the seasons suddenly became erratic and unpredictable? What if the sun stopped shining? (It feels like that already here.) What if I never got to wear flip-flops again?
It was a depressing thought, I tell you.The horror.
This apocalyptic never-ending winter is pretty much my worst nightmare.
I can say without hesitation, that given my current circumstances (no job, no daily responsibilities), that the only thing logically holding me back from just throwing my dog and a tent in the car and driving as far south as I can get, is the problem with my car. (My car broke down a while back, and I've been driving my parents' Suburban ever since. It gets about 10 miles to the gallon. You'd be surprised how much of a deterrent a $100 gas tank can be.) If my little, gas efficient, easy to handle car were in running condition, I'd be halfway to Key Largo by now.
I do love Key Largo. Beautiful place.
Where is the sun? Where is the warm?
Do I need to send an S.O.S. in a bottle?
What if this is the beginning of the end?!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again

Aunt Nadine and Uncle Paul with most of their nieces, great-nieces, and a few great-great nieces that were at the funeral. Not even close to half of all the girls in our family. Aunt Nadine is our remaining living great aunt (out of 9, I think). 


This may be the longest I have ever gone without blogging- 9 whole days. 
Granted, they have been 9 very long, emotional, and often overwhelming days. 
You'll forgive me, won't you? 

My grandmother's funeral was quite lovely. It was wonderful and enjoyable to spend so much close time with my immediate and extended families. All but 4 of my first cousins were able to be there. I think that's the most that have all been together at once in close to 20 years, maybe longer. 

I'm back home at my own place now. My immediate family has all dispersed back to their own homes. I honestly have no idea what comes next career or life-wise. Stay? Go? Get another office job? Write full-time? Move? Return to Roanoke? Renew my lease? Get a roommate? 

There are a dozen questions, none of which are easy to answer, and few to no answers so far. 

I'm taking things one day at a time. And when the smoke clears and things are less overwhelming (I anticipate this may happen by Monday morning, but then again, maybe not), I'll start to formulate a plan. 

I'm feeling very loved and blessed these days. As complicated and overwhelming as things should be, I've been very much at peace. I'm scared about my future, don't get me wrong. But confident and faithful that things will work out. I just have no idea what the end picture will look like when it does all get worked out. 

Bear with me as we go through another major life transformation - again.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bittersweet


My Grandparents' Wedding Picture

My heart... oh my little heart.
I don't even know where to begin.

My world has been turned upside down, shaken, stirred, and dumped on the ground for me to piece back together.

And I don't even know where to begin.

On Tuesday morning I learned my grandmother only had days to live, maybe hours. 
I got to work, feeling sad and overwhelmed, where, without any warning, clues, or inklings, I lost my job.
My grandmother passed away on Wednesday morning.

Streak back wildly four years...
To the day cold, sunny day in December in Utah. I thought my life was going well, and I was completely blindsided when I was laid off.
And my grandfather died just days later.

My grandfather was horribly sick. Cancer had robbed him of his health. His passing was a bittersweet blessing.

My grandmother was 90 years old, frail, and barely a shadow of the vibrant she used to be, robbed of her wit and personality by a stroke three years ago.

I hated my job. Let's make no mistake about that. Going to work every morning was a very painful chore. But I did it. And I was incredibly grateful for the work and paycheck. I worked hard and I tried hard to always be able to keep that paycheck coming. And there were no warnings this might happen. Not once.

I love my family. We're big. We're opinionated. We're hard workers. We prize intellect. We value beauty. We adore each other.

The days before a funeral are the worst. The tears, the sadness at the passing, the loneliness of loss.

My parents and siblings will begin to fly into town today and tomorrow. We'll say goodbye to my grandmother and lay her to rest on Saturday. As soon as we are all together, the sadness quickly turns to joy. We were blessed to have "Grammy" in our lives for so long. But we are so happy that she has escaped this mortal coil that has held her back these last few years. And once we are all together again, we can celebrate her.

But first there are these quiet and lonely days.

Compounded by my fears about the future and memories of the three years that followed this scenario last time.

What happens now? What next?

I have no idea.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Calm the Child



Last week I had the incredible opportunity to go hear the Dalai Lama speak at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. For me, this was "bucket list level" cool. I greatly admire the Dalai Lama and his teachings of peace and cooperation.
Speaking of Christians, he said, "To think that you were created by God means that you also have a spark of God within you."
This is, of course, a teaching I know and have heard many times before. We believe we are created in His image, and we are His children.
These last few weeks have been hard. There have been trials, tests, gifts, and experiences I never anticipated, nor am I at liberty to share yet. But never before have those words meant so much to me. "you also have a spark of God within you."
It is when things are at their scariest and toughest that we must turn and remember these things.
And I know I need to remember it more often.



Monday, March 03, 2014

Religion and Social Media Survey

Friends,

Did you know I am working on one of the biggest, most important, and most challenging projects I've ever set out on?
It's true. I've been thinking about it for ages now, and have been making many small wheels in motion, and have recently gone public with my huge project.
I'm writing a [non-fiction] book on how religion is shared and received via social media. This book is requiring a ton of research, documentation,and writing. It's an exciting challenge for me to write something like this without someone else holding me accountable. (I write pretty tough e-books for my employer that require research and documentation all the time. But I've got a lot of people holding me accountable for that.) This one is all on me, if I want to make it happen.
I'm sure we've all seen some really bad uses of social media to share religious (or political) views. And you may have even seen some good uses of it. But I have this theory that a lot of people think they are doing excellent missionary work, or evangelizing, when really they are just preaching to the choir, whilst alienating their target audience.
I'm not setting out on this project just to point out all the annoying and bad uses of social media (think Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest primarily), but also to help educate and improve the use of social media. If you really want to evangelize and get your message to the right audience, there are certain things you need to be doing. And I want to write that book that helps teach those important things.
But I also think there is a lot to be said for just analyzing and understand why people do what they do on social networks. I think there will probably be some really fascinating statistics out there on this subject.
But here's the problem- there aren't any really fascinating, professional studies done yet. I've found some very biased and sponsored studies that don't prove anything. But no one has done the research I need (yet).
So I'm doing it myself.
I've started my own semi-professional survey on how people are, or in many cases are not, using social media to share their beliefs, and how other people perceive and receive those efforts.
I invite you to take my survey on social media and religion - even if you've never tweeted, Facebooked, or pinned in your life. All users and non-users are relevant here.
I won't be closing the survey until I've received over 1,000 responses. (And I've only barely broken 100 so far.)
Please feel free to share the survey everywhere and anywhere, if you feel so inclined. The more diverse the responses, the better.
Click here to take the survey - https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ReligionSocialMedia

I really do appreciate any and all responses to the survey. It is completely anonymous, although there are some important demographic questions in it.

If you still need some convincing think of this way- if you have ever unfollowed or unfriended someone online because they post too many annoying things about their religious view (or political - much of this will apply both ways) online, this new book and project could help eliminate that. But first I need more data and insights into how and why people say and share what they do online.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ReligionSocialMedia

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