Arts

Journaling A Past Time, A Legacy, A way to stay Sane!

journalsJournals, blank books, are one of my favorite things to get as a gift, to buy at the store, and to give to a fellow journal writer.

They have so many different journals to choose from now.  There are leather bound journals, silk bound journals, painted journals, journals with flowers, dragons, landscapes, designs, and just about anything you can think of.

There are big journals, small journals. pocket sized journals, journals with lines and without.  There are journals with questions to help you think of what to write, to write down your memories, or dreams.  I love journals.

This year has been really hard.  I have felt quiet lost at times, missing my parents so much it hurt.  I fell into a deep depression for a time.  It took awhile and a lot of effort to get back up out of the darkness that was threatening to swallow me up.  My journals helped to save me.  I could write whatever I wanted and not worry I would offend or upset anyone.

For the first year after my parents died I kept a journal where I wrote letters to my mom everyday, sometimes several times a day.  I had been so close to her, I was used to talking to her everyday, and it was a way for me to keep talking to her, to gradually accept that she was gone, but would never be forgotten.

I shared many things in my journal written to her.  I told her a lot of the things I wish I had had the time to tell her when she was here.  I apologized for some stupid mistakes.  I shared some new experiences with her.  Then as the year drew to a close and my journal was almost full, I realized it was time to let go.  I was okay with that.  My journal had allowed me to hold her close for awhile longer as I grieved.

There’s not a day when I don’t still miss my parents and wish I could talk to them, but I’m better prepared to face a future now, and I know that they are somehow watching over me.

If you’ve never tried writing in a journal then I encourage you to give it a try.  Keep it safe, keep it private.  Unless, you are journaling with a friend or spouse where you each take a turn writing a page. Free your mind – learn to journal, try it, you might like it.

Cherry Coley (c)

Side note*  there is an App for smartphones called “Momento”  it is a daily journal.  You can even set a reminder and it will ask you – “how was your day?”  It’s a great way to start keeping track of your memories and the moments in your life.

The Biggest Mistake

l_5877c808254742e986ad6762af59ea91I look back on my life and realize I’ve made some major mistakes along the way.  We try to avoid mistakes when we can.  No one likes making mistakes, whether they are big or small one’s mistakes have consequences and no one likes the fall out.

The way we respond to our mistakes says a lot about our character and how we approach our lives.  Successful people learn that making mistakes is not a bad thing.  Mistakes can teach us what to do and what not to do.

Mistakes are choices we’ve made that haven’t worked out the way we thought they would.  However, the benefit of making mistakes is knowing we are taking an active part in life, we are trying, we are making choices and even though some may wind up being mistakes, if we learn from them then there is still a benefit.

Benjamin Franklin said, “The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all – doing nothing.”

I thought about that statement today, the biggest mistake being to do nothing.  How true a statement is that? There have been times in my life when I was afraid to move forward, to take a chance for fear of making a mistake.  There have been opportunities that I missed because I took too long to think things through and choose to move forward. 

To live, to really live, is to make the choice to participate, to meet new people, try new things, experience life.  To experience life means to make mistakes.  It’s okay, there may be consequences, but you can learn from the experience.  Just don’t make the biggest mistake by choosing to do nothing, the consequences for that one is called “regret” and regret is a hard thing to live with.

Cherry Coley (c)

Facing Fears

Dark forest

Dark forest

I faced another fear today.  You see, I used to have a major fear of getting up in front of people.  When I was growing up I was forced to sing solo many times in church.  I hated that.  I have the kind of singing voice that goes well with a duet or choir, but solo’s are not my thing.

I was also in drama growing up which didn’t go that well either.  I had some mishaps on stage and most of the time I couldn’t make myself speak loud enough to be heard.  Yet, after I had my kids something changed.  Suddenly I was “mom” and mom’s can’t cower in corners from monsters under the bed, or spiders on the wall, they have to face fears and protect their children.

When my kids were still little I did a Christmas play, I only had a small speaking part, and just as I was about to get that familiar stage fright, I remembered that I had to speak to classrooms of kids regularly, referee, and protect my kids from bullies so why should I be afraid of saying a few words in front of people?

Still, today was a big step for me.  I have felt like I should tell my story to others.  After all when you’ve been through so much in life, you should share your experiences, maybe it will help someone else.  I have gained some confidence in sharing things on blogs and social media, but that’s not the same as truly putting yourself in front of other people.

Today I shared part of my life’s journey in church.  I feel like I did ramble a bit, but over all it went pretty well.  When I stepped up I felt the old familiar fear, and all week I almost talked myself out of it, but there was a part of me that refused. I need to face my fears, they are self-made obstacles that have held me back for far too long.

A funny happens when you face fears, they dissipate just like that, they are gone.  I was nervous going up to the podium, then suddenly I wasn’t afraid anymore.  One fear down, many more to go.  One big step forward to what might be a very interesting future.

Take time this year to look at the things that have held you back in your life.  Are they real fears or are they self-made obstacles?  Take a chance and find out, false fears can’t hold their ground when you stand up to them.  Realize that the only limits you have are the one’s you’re placing on yourself.  Choose to make this year count!

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Fa La La La La…La La..La Laaaa

Cherry's Camera Dec 2010 026Today I am thankful for music.  Music is a feast for the senses, especially with modern technology.  It’s quite a treat to be able to turn on your favorite tunes at will, sing along if you want and feel the rhythm of the music. 

Music is a language all by its self.  Often when I am feeling blue I will turn on some music to either cheer me up from my blue mood, or some soft music to go with the mood.    Music can be used to wake us up and get us moving, to entertain us while stuck in traffic, to keep us company while on a road trip, to remind us of events and people in our lives.

We have music to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and music for parties, and to celebrate just being able to get up and dance.  We have soothing music to sleep by, and lullaby’s to sing to our children.  We have love songs to say the things we feel when we can’t find the words, and sad songs for the same reason.

 Music helps us to express ourselves when we don’t really know what to say.  There have been times when I felt sad about circumstances in my life and listened to music because the words to the songs were describing exactly how I felt at the moment. 

 I can remember when I was very young, my dad singing me the anthems for the Navy, Air force, Army and Marines when I wasn’t feeling well and he was trying to cheer me up.  He had a song book with the music to many songs from the old South and war times.  He would go through the book picking out songs here and there and singing them to me while I lay beside him listening.

 I remember the soft melodies of Christmas like “Silent Night”, “Holy Night” and “What Child is This”, being played in the house at Christmas time while mom made peanut brittle and chocolate fudge.

 I remember hearing the chimes from the church bells ringing early on Sunday mornings.  One of the most haunting sounds came from an Irishman that lived several blocks over in our neighborhood, he would play 2-3 songs on the bagpipes every now and then at sunset.  My dad said his son died in the war and the man would play when he was missing him.

 I am thankful for the variety of music that is available and the ease we have to find it now.  I am thankful for the magnificent songwriters out there that put the music together, and then share their creation for others to enjoy.  I am thankful for Steve Jobs who created the ability to “put a thousand songs in your pocket.”

 I am not sure what a world without music would be like, but I don’t want to find out.  Music is such an important part of life that the impact of losing it would be devastating.

 Cherry Coley ©

 

Morning Sunrise!

photo by Casey Keal

photo by Casey Keal

I can’t think of a more beautiful reminder of a new day, new hope and new beginning than the sunrise each morning.  If you haven’t witnessed the sun coming up recently, then take the time to do so, you won’t regret it. 

There is just something magically reassuring to see the darkness gradually give way to the approaching light.  Then all of a sudden the sun will break over the horizon and light up the sky with rays of color that spread until the darkness has to flee before it.

 I am so thankful for sunrises, though the night might seem long, cold and bleak, the sun brings warmth and clarity.  Things that were hidden in the dark are made known in the light.  So it is that when life seems dark and hopeless we can remember that the sun will soon shine again if we just hold on, just wait a little longer, we will be rewarded with a brighter day.

Cherry Coley (c)

Use The Talents You Were Given!

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck

 

When I read the quote by Erma Bombeck I thought, “Wow, that would be amazing to be able to say that you used all the talent you were given.”   As of right this moment I cannot say that is true for me.  I have not lived long enough yet and not in a way that uses all the talent I have been given.

 On that note if I were to direct my life to be able to utilize all my talents then I have some major changes that need to take place.  I will definitely need more time to write, to draw and paint, to play music, to dance, to do needlework, cook and that’s just a start.  There are a lot of talents I don’t possess, and just as many I haven’t tried yet.

 There are many talents that I have put on the shelf through the years, knowing that I would not have time to devote to developing them or to enjoy them as I took care of children then later parents.  It is amazing what you forget while you are busy watching the little one’s take their first steps and grow to make their way in the world. 

 Then one day you find you have teenagers instead of small children and more time available than you had before.  You find yourself doing some soul searching, even going back to those shelves in the back of your mind to see what talents can be dusted off and used again.

 I haven’t utilized many of my talents for years.  I dare say that even before my children came along, I didn’t use some of them on a regular basis.  Yet, talents are given to us for a reason and some, if not used over time, can be lost.

Perhaps it is time to go back and dust off some old interests, memories, and talents to see where they fit in this journey going forward.  Life should be enjoyed and shared with others often.  What fun to go back and remember who we were, then discover who we can become as we continue to grow and develop the talents we were given. 

 Cherry Coley ©

 

Feeling a bit Dark

Every now and then I feel a little “dark.”  I can’t claim it’s something caused by grief as it’s something that I have felt now and then all of my life.  In these moods I tend to turn up Evanescense and light candles.  She just seems to speak to my soul in those moments. 

When I was very young and my mom worked at the church daycare, during nap time I would sneak into the dark sanctuary inside the church.  I both loved and feared the dark church.  The church was alive, you could feel the spirit in the building.  Oh, I know there are people who will think I’m full of it, but go into an active church sometime, alone, in the dark, sit down and listen, stay awhile and then tell me you don’t feel anything. 

The feeling in the sanctuary wasn’t always the same.  Sometimes it was a very comforting feeling, sometimes it was a vibrant and joyous feeling, sometimes it was an almost forbidding feeling that scared me.  At times you could hear echoes of conversations or music playing. 

I’ve always loved old buildings, cathedrals, castles, court houses, and old houses.  There is just something about them that speaks of history and echoes of the past.  I love running my hands along the old stones or wood, wondering about the hands that worked on creating the building.  Who were the people?  Were they forced to work on the building, or did they lovingly put together each brick?  You can tell the care that went in to some buildings, especially the cathedrals with their intricately carved beams. 

It looks like it’s time for a trip to Old City Park or maybe some old churches.  Time to touch history.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

 

 

Designs and Being Creative

I love watching shows like House Crashers, Room Crashers, Yard Crashers, on and on, all kinds of shows about designing, both using new and fancy items to decorate, and using everyday things creatively. 

I used to like the show, House Swap or Room Swap, but they got to where they were a bit ridiculous (for my tastes) when they started gluing grass and cd’s to the wall.  Really?  Grass?  My luck a ton of bugs would move in and eat the entire wall before I could figure out what to do about it, not to mention my allergies would pretty much kick me out of that room.

I saw a show last night that used a stack of logs, bundled together, cut even, and fixed with a glass top to make a large and unique coffee table.  It was an interesting and rustic looking coffee table and I liked it, but was distracted at how much it had to weigh.  While I love the look, I wouldn’t want a table I could never move. 

I have wound up with a lot of mismatched furniture from my parents house that needs help.  I have become somewhat stuck trying to decide whether to fix it, paint it, stain it, keep it, or sell the furniture.  The truth is I just don’t know yet.  I think I might wind up doing a little of each, but right now it just bring back memories.

These last few weeks proved to be really trying because mom’s birthday was in April, mine plus Mother’s Day is in May which seemed to create an emotional roller coaster that I really didn’t expect for some reason.  I wound up having to just clear the house of the unpacked boxes and extra furniture by putting it all in the garage. 

This isn’t an answer and I will work on pulling some of it out to go through each day, but I couldn’t stand having it all over the house anymore, it’s easier to have it all in one location and to shut the door and walk away when it starts getting me down at times.

As for me, feeling rather dark and gloomy for weeks seems to have brought out a need to be artistic.  Interesting since usually I tend to write more when I get down and this time the words seem to want to hide from me and the need to photograph, paint and draw has grown stronger. 

So, I’ve decided to pull out the art supplies and draw up some room designs, jot down some ideas, and also begin a daily doodle just to see where the creativity leads.  Why not?  You never know what will happen until you open the creative doors.

 I will follow the lead and see where it winds up.  Life is a journey that continually changes and leads down different paths and this is no different. 

Cherry Coley ©

A Bit of Magic – Just For Fun

I remember as a kid lying up on the roof of the house, or the hood of the car, or even in the yard under a tree and staring up at the clouds making the shapes of them take the form of bunnies, cars, and whatever else we could find if we looked hard enough.

There’s a bit of magic in noticing how the light plays on the clouds, creating images.  So many times we’ve seen angels hovering, and fairies hiding in the clouds as well as other images that make us stop and smile.

This morning, I took a picture, then stared at it and had to smile at the huge dragon that was staring back at me from the clouds.  It made me thankful again for imagination and the wonder of moving clouds.  What a magical way to start the day.  Can you see the dragon?  In the year of the dragon that’s a sign of good luck.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Comfort Zones and Anxiety Attacks

I have had so many major life changes these last few years if I were to list them I would need an Excel spreadsheet.  In fact, I did list them out for a counselor about two years ago and she just read it then looked at me and asked if I thought I needed medication.  Ha!  No.

 Change has been such a part of my life for so many years; I have truly come to think of myself like a surfer on life’s ocean.  It’s a visual I have come to hold on too when things get rough or I get in over my head.  Like a surfer, I have learned to float, to ride the waves, watch for the storms, get knocked off my board and go under swallowing water, climb back up, and now and then I get to ride the tide in and walk on the beach. 

 This year I decided to take more chances on ME.  For too many years I have been a caregiver, a people pleaser, a taxi, giving to the point of exhaustion, then giving more without taking enough time to develop my interests, follow my dreams, or having enough courage to try just for me.

 Taking more chances on me sounds great, but it’s hard work.  Even while unpacking and sorting through remnants of my parents’ lives, I have been pushing my limits in different ways, continually doing things that are outside of my comfort zone.  Oddly enough, this has sometimes caused a chain reaction of weird fears and anxiety over strange things. 

 I will be having a good day with everything going along fine and some odd senseless fear will crop up and I wonder “what the heck?” and “where’d that come from?”  The other day a friend of mine asked me to get on Skype.  I hadn’t been on Skype before and out of the blue this stupid fear of the unknown hit me, so I pushed it aside and took the plunge trying out something new.  I am still here. 

I have had a lot of creeping fear and anxiety following me around like shadows lurking, but I have been teaching myself not to give in, not to dwell on it, just see the fears for what they are – more obstacles trying to keep me from moving forward.  I put them in their place and find ways to work past them. 

 The hardest part of facing fear is the actual facing part.  Once you stare fear in the face and denounce it, it tends to shy away or disappear.  I pick up my copy of “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” by Susan Jeffers Phd. and remind myself now and then that life is about making choices and taking chances and our greatest underlying fear is that we won’t be able to handle things.  I love her perspective on how to balance the different areas in life and how to face fears.

Then there are my journals.  I don’t know what I would do without the journals, or how I made it without them before.  My journals are a place where I brain dump everything that is bothering me, jot down potential solutions, work out ideas, and keep track of my progress in different areas.  Journals are a valuable resource.

Comfort zones are nice, but I am in the process of changing, adapting and moving forward in a new direction.  I will take the fear and do my best to identify it, then channel it and use it to learn from and grow.  Life is a journey and I’m thankful I am still here to experience it.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

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