What is Your Great Work?

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Recently I was reading a book about glamour magic. I read a lot of books about paganism and mystical spiritual paths, because even though I consider myself an agnostic, I also believe there are many, many things we don’t understand and I enjoy delving into the mysteries and deeper meanings found in spirituality and mythology.

Overall, the book was a bit of a letdown, it seemed fairly shallow in some ways, but I guess I should have guessed that since glamour magic itself is generally about surface level changes. However, there was one meditative exercise in the book that I did find meaningful. This part of the book emphasized the importance of figuring out what your great work will be.

As the book went on to explain, in order to get anywhere in life, you have to know what you are aiming for. You have to know what is most important to you in terms of achievement and meaning. You have to figure out where your energy, passion, and hard work should be directed. So, I meditated on this subject for a while and here are the three things I came up with that I currently would consider my own “great work” in this life:

  1. My writing/blog. Guess what? You guys are all a BIG part of my great work! I write because my soul cries out to share my experiences, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Having people who actually want to read about those things is truly a magical gift in itself!
  2. My art. I often feel insecure in my artistic abilities. I feel like there are so many artists out there that are far more talented and definitely better trained than myself, but I LOVE art and sometimes I genuinely love the stuff I make. My art may not be top of the line, but I do think many of my creations are unique artworks that only I could make.
  3. Advocating for others like me. This kind of ties into #1 and #2, since I often use my art and my writing to advocate for others who have autism, mental illness, or chronic pain/illness. People like me are often marginalized, ignored, looked down upon, and mistreated. I want to help stop that. I want to help the world to become a kinder, more empathetic place for those who struggle.

Now that I have shared my own great works in life, why don’t you spend a little time figuring out your own? You can pick just one, or you can have several like I did. Think deeply about it and question your purpose in life. If you would like to share what you come up with in the comments on this post, I would love to hear it!

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Gratitude and Positivity Only!

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Aren’t these “namaste/praying” skeleton and black cat figurines I found at Michael’s cute? They had an entire line of both skeletons and black cats doing various yoga poses and I had to pick up a couple of them. I picked these two because I love how this pose represents gratitude and a peaceful heart. Some people might think the skeleton one is kind of creepy (which makes sense considering these were part of a Halloween display), but I think there is something beautiful about the simplicity of a human skeleton doing yoga.

I used these figures on my altar the other night while I was doing a gratitude ritual. I decided to do an impromptu meditation/prayer session, focusing ONLY on feeling and expressing gratitude and thankfulness for anything I could think of which makes my life (or the world in general) better. I specifically chose to NOT ask for anything, request divine help, or focus on any problems or pains I am currently wrestling with. ONLY GRATITUDE. ONLY POSITIVITY.

So, how did it go? Well, it definitely improved my frame of mind and sense of well-being that night. No, it didn’t cure the deep depression I have been fighting with, and it didn’t open the floodgates to riches or worldly success (at least not yet!), but it did make me feel good at the time, and it is something I would recommend to anyone (including myself) who tends to become weighed down with negativity and pessimism.

I am an Emotional Writer

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I am an emotional writer. I write from whatever my current point of view and mood dictates. Often my writing may be entirely contradictory or may not even represent my general consensus on a given subject, but is instead a snapshot of a moment in time.

Reading through my journal entries and blog posts may appear to be a debate between various personalities – and in a sense, perhaps it is. No, I do not suffer from some sort of multiple personality disorder, but I use writing to discover and decipher my own jumbled thoughts and feelings. When I start writing, I often don’t know exactly where it is going to go, what the end result will be, or what I will learn along the way, but that is part of the magic of the creative process.

Please keep in mind when reading this blog, that what is being presented is often unfiltered, barely edited, stream-of-consciousness prose that represents only a momentary glimpse of my overall experience of life. If you dislike what I write today, stick around, because you just might love what I write tomorrow!

Things I Would REALLY Like to Say to My Past Abusers

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  • I don’t owe you anything!
  • I’m nothing like you.
  • You don’t own me and you never did.
  • You deserve what you got.
  • Sometimes I feel nothing for you.
  • You are at fault for so much.
  • You have no one to blame but yourself.
  • You are lucky to have anyone who still cares.
  • I’m a saint for forgiving you.
  • Without me, you’d have nothing!
  • I hate you sometimes.
  • You’ll never break me.
  • I’ll never crack.
  • I am a much better person than you’ll ever be.
  • I’m smarter than you.
  • You fuel my creativity with anger, disgust, frustration, and grief.
  • I’ve made something good out of your mess.
  • I am superior – by actions and attitude.
  • Your religion doesn’t hide the truth.
  • I found love and success in spite of you.
  • I’m the person you always wanted to be, but couldn’t.
  • Toys have always been better company than you.
  • You helped me find and lose faith in God.
  • I will heal.
  • I’m STRONGER than you.

*By the way, BetterHelp has a great article on emotional abuse, I would recommend it!

“The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” Book Review

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I wanted to write a short review of a book I picked up at the library recently. I found it in the children’s section, but I truly believe it is an inspirational read that anyone of any age could appreciate. It is called “The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” and it is written by Kwame Alexander, who happens to be a Newbery Medal-Winning author.

The book is a fairly quick read, with much of the book being simple “rules” for success and inspirational quotes from various athletes. There are a few written chapters interspersed throughout that tell personal inspirational stories about athletes that obviously inspired the author. The one that I found most interesting was the chapter about Wilma Rudolph, the incredible Olympic track champion. I had no idea that Wilma had suffered chronic illnesses throughout her childhood, including polio! A woman that went on to win three gold medals for running in a single Olympics was once a child that had only one working leg and had to wear a metal leg brace for many years!

Stories like these mean a great deal to me as someone who struggles every day with chronic pain and other health issues. It makes me feel like I can still make a difference and chase my dreams, even if there are significant obstacles in my way. Another story in the book that made an impression on me was the one about Venus and Serena Williams and how their father would actually pay other children to yell out rude and demeaning comments to his daughters while they practiced tennis as kids. He knew they would face racism and other forms of hatred and wanted to toughen them up. I’m not sure this is actually a good parenting tip lol, but I guess it seemed to work in the long run for the girls.

There was one quote in the book (by the famous motivational speaker Willie Jolley) I took a real liking to:

“A setback is a setup for a comeback.”

Imagine having that attitude about every challenge we face!

Lyrics of My Life, “Keep the Faith” by Michael Jackson

This may be my favorite song of all time, even though it is a little known song by the King of Pop. It is a song that I have always found incredibly inspirational and supportive when I felt like everything was going wrong and the world was conspiring against me. I have listened to this song on repeat during many drives to scary things like job interviews, or when I had to give an author talk in front of an entire elementary school years ago. Without the song, I’m not sure I could have drummed up enough courage and willpower to do things that cause me such enormous anxiety.

I think what I like best about this song is that it has kind of a kick-butt attitude, even though it sounds a lot like an African American gospel song at points. It definitely isn’t a wishy-washy song, with lyrics like:

“Better stand up and act like you want to do right
Don’t play the fool for the rest of your life
Work on it brother and you’ll make it someday
Go for what you want
And don’t forget the faith

Look at yourself
And what you’re doing right now
Stand back a minute
Just to check yourself out
Straighten out your life
And how you’re living each day
Get yourself together
Because you got to keep the faith…”

“I told my brother how to do the thing right
Lift up your head
And show the world you got pride
Go for what you want
Don’t let them get in your way

You can be a winner
If you keep the faith
Straighten out yourself
And get your mind on track
Dust off your butt
And get your self-respect back
You know me long enough
To know that I don’t play
Take it like you want it
But you got to keep the faith…”

…And that is only a small portion of the lyrics (it is a long song lol)

Lyrics of My Life, “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

The last couple days I’ve been in the mood to listen to the Hannah Montana movie soundtrack. If you’ve never heard the soundtrack, it is classic Disney with insanely catchy silly and uplifting songs sung by Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Billy Ray Cyrus, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, and others. It definitely has more than a little bit of a country twang to it.

One of my favorite songs on the soundtrack is definitely “The Climb”, which is the song that is probably most well-known from the album since it did receive some mainstream radio air time. The lyrics to this song really speak to me as someone who struggles every single day with countless mental and physical issues. I often feel like life is always an uphill battle for me. I’m often tempted to just give up, but luckily I always manage to find at least a little bit more of a fighter deep inside of me.

I must say Miley does a fantastic job of vocally emoting the feelings being sung about in the song. If you are unfamiliar with the lyrics of the song, I would like to encourage you to listen to it below and really let the lyrics sink in:

Hallucinations in Childhood

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is hallucinations. As an adult, I haven’t really had a history of hallucinations. The closest things I can think of are a few times I have been awoken from my sleep by my husband or my mother’s voice loudly calling my name, only to find they are either not even at home or they swear they didn’t call for me. It is easy to assume this might be just weird remnants of a dream though, so I don’t consider it definitely a hallucination. There have also been a few times I hear a weird, high-pitched whining noise that no one else seems to hear. This could just be my autistic sensitivity though, picking up on something others don’t. It isn’t tinnitus, I have that as well, so I know the difference.

However, as a child I do have at least one vivid memory of a hallucination, maybe two. The first happened when I was around 5 or so, and it happened in the middle of a church service at my grandfather’s house (he was a pastor that ran his own church). In the middle of the service, this huge bird suddenly appeared next to my grandfather as he talked. It was a beautiful, rainbow colored bird, and I could physically see it, so it wasn’t like an imaginary friend (which I also had). I was excited by its appearance and made a bit of a fuss trying to tell my mom about it, but it became clear soon that she couldn’t see it and apparently no one else did either. I got in trouble for yelling out, so ended up sitting there staring at this huge bird and wondering what the heck was going on and why no one else could see it. To this day, I have no idea what happened that day or why. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life at the time, to see if I was under acute stress at the time, but I really don’t know.

The other possible hallucination happened when I was 12. It was soon after my father died and I was having the worst panic attack of my life up until that point. I was sitting on the bed, trying to breathe, feeling terrified and alone, when suddenly a bright figure appeared at the end of the bed. At first I was terrified, but the being told me not to be afraid and I immediately felt a calm I had never felt before in my life. The panic attack was gone and the bright figure somehow communicated to me that I was safe and protected before leaving. I assumed at the time it was my guardian angel, but now that I am no longer religious and not sure what I believe in, I wonder if it could have possibly been a hallucination brought on by grief and terror. I honestly don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a guardian angel, but if I do, why didn’t they protect me or show up during even more dangerous moments of my life, moments when my life was actually in danger?

These two experiences as a child makes me wonder if they were hallucinations, and if they were, is it normal for children to have hallucinations and then grow out of them? Or is this just a warning that if I am pushed too far emotionally or mentally, that something may break inside me and I could lose touch with reality? Could I someday have another hallucination out of nowhere? That is a scary thought. Has anyone else out there also had experiences like this as a kid and apparently grown out of them?

*Art by Maranda Russell