I used to want a diary so bad when I was growing up, the kind with a little lock and a key. My mom finally bought me one, but it proved to be a mistake. She would sneak in and read it when she felt like it and then would start asking me questions about the stuff I had written. It really bothered me as well as hurt me. A journal or diary is a personal thing, a place to put down things that you want to remember. I stopped keeping a diary and destroyed the one I had.
Over the years I have on occasion, usually at challenging times in my life, kept journals. Then about two and a half years ago I began journaling daily. These journals are not diary’s though occasionally they may seem that way, they are instead a written down thought process. I write down problems, events, dreams, wishes, drawings of things that pop into my head, and other stuff that I am working on in my personal growth areas.
I have come to respect and love journaling as it gives me an outlet, a place to brain dump and work through things before going out and trying to present whatever it is to the world. There is another notebook I keep for “page writing.” We writers and artists can get blocked at times. Creativity just seems to go out the window and when you sit down to write, the blank page just stares back at you almost menacingly.
In order to combat creativity block the easiest thing to do is get up, first thing in the morning and handwrite 3-5 notebook sized pages. You just write anything and everything that pops into your head no matter what it is, just dump it out on the page. Don’t worry about grammar, or complete sentences, and especially if someone should ever read it. It’s also important that you never go back and read it either. Those pages are simply to clear the cobwebs out of your head and free you to be creative again and they really work. Sometimes you have to do this daily, sometimes it only takes one or two days for the creative thoughts to start flowing again, but either way, it’s a great exercise and will unblock the blocked every single time. The best thing to do with the pages when you’re done is destroy them. When you write anything and everything in your head often what comes out is griping, complaining, worrying, about other people you love and are close too. You don’t want to leave something like that where it would ever be found, so best to destroy it. Plus, you don’t need to reread it at any time, because it’s a method of bleeding the poison that was blocking you out of your system. So just get rid of it and get busy doing your creative thing again. You will be so glad you did!
Cherry Coley ©
Okay, I will admit that the other day I posted a blog and then read it later in the day and realized that I really had not edited it very well. It bothered me so bad that I couldn’t rest well until I went back and edited and changed a few things to make it read better.
Does that make me a perfectionist? I seriously doubt it could especially since I am nowhere near being perfect at grammar. In fact, I write much like I speak most of the time. It just bothered me, so I went back and fixed it. Now I feel better and can focus on other things, like taking a nap.
Cherry Coley (c)
People handle grief in all kinds of different ways. Not only that, but there are cycles to it and a process of healing that you go through that is intense and just plain hurts.
When you lose someone you were close too, a hole is ripped in your heart. There’s a vacancy that just can’t be filled. When you lose more than one person in a short time, the world becomes a very dark place very quickly. You will, without any choice in the matter, experience all the gifts grief brings with it including: regrets, second guessing, confusion, forgetfulness, feeling lost, anger, and that urge to call that person that just won’t go away. There hasn’t been a day since mom and dad have been gone that I haven’t wanted to pick up the phone and call them to check on them or share some news with them.
I went through the wondering what would have happened if….stage. That one was probably the hardest for me. The “what if’s” and “why” questions tormented me for days, especially at night. Even two days ago I remembered something else that I used to do for mom, that I know she had forgotten to keep doing. Would it have made a difference? There’s no real useful purpose in even letting the mind wander along those lines. What’s done is done and God doesn’t make mistakes, it was their time to go and that’s that.
I have over the years walked dark paths with my friends as they lost loved one’s, friends, parents, family members, but going through it yourself is quite different. I had been trying to function as normal after my dad passed away in September. I still went through the pains of grief, but kept going and forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other and made a point of calling mom several times a day to check on her and hear her voice.
When mom passed away in December, all the order, organized thoughts, daily routines and even habits that were a normal part of my life went right out of the door. I felt so completely thrown off kilter that there are some days, while I know I got things done, I don’t really remember doing them or even the days. There were plenty of times when I felt a giant darkness invade my soul, knock me to the floor – sometimes literally – and threaten to drag me down into a depression that I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull out of.
Since my life has read much like a horror novel for many years along the way, darkness and I are old friends. I embraced feeling everything, even the vast empty dark, but didn’t allow myself to set up residence there. I knew then as I know now that brighter days will come again. Even now the pain is nowhere near as intense as it once was. I still miss both of them and there are days when I still cry all of a sudden because of some memory or thought that hits me out of the blue. I allow myself to cry, because I am human. I am thankful for several very close friends who took the time to come over and just be there. I can’t claim that I was entertaining or good company at all, but they just came and didn’t necessarily talk a lot, sometimes we didn’t talk at all, but they were just there. Thank you!!
I recently saw this in an email a co-worker sent me:
A four-year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. After awhile he hugged the man and went back home to his mom. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,
“Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
When I read that, I thought, EXACTLY!! Sometimes, we don’t need platitudes, no one really knows what to say anyway and we all know that. You don’t really want to hear someone tell you “they are in a better place,” mainly because the place you wish they were, is here with you, no matter how selfish that may be. Sometimes, we just need someone to be there and help us cry. Never under-estimate the good you do when you take the time to “just be there.”
Cherry Coley ©
I grew up in a part of Dallas, Texas called Urbandale. The elementary school we went to, was called Urban Park Elementary and was at one time a military school for boys. There is still a historical marker at the school, though the original building has somewhat been swallowed up by portable buildings and a huge add on building to accommodate current students.
Urbandale was every bit a small town when I was younger. We had a small grocery store, a little downtown area with a Motts 5 and 10 store, Rexall Pharmacy, a Dairy Queen and a gas station. I can remember many days of walking to the Pharmacy, Motts, then Dairy Queen with mom and my brother. In fact, Dairy Queen was one of the places my dad liked to go out to eat. He enjoyed the steak finger basket and a chocolate dipped icecream cone on many occasions. I still love Dairy Queen and that their menue hasn’t changed that much. You can still order those things on their menu even now. Our other favorite place was Rexall’s Pharmacy. I still remember the taste of the ice cream floats from Rexall’s soda fountain bar area. The way it was set up always reminded me of a scene out of Happy Days.
In the late 1970’s Urbandale grew a bit and put in a hand wash / car wash and a Hunt’s Hamburgers too! It was the beginning of a turning point for the neighborhood, the competition for Dairy Queen, but we didn’t really know that then.
In the middle of the neighborhood where we lived there was a wonderful little candy shop set up in a house. It was so much fun to walk there. They had a big window in the front of the house so you could see in to the counters filled with candy and cookies, the parking lot was in the front yard. It was there that I bought my first big round sucker and had my first taste of rock candy. They had all kinds of stick candy and liquorice, as well as taffy. I still love the sickly sweet smell of candy shops, though most cannot compare with the smells in that are embedded in my memories of the first one I ever went in too.
There is a park in the area called Parkdale Park, it looks much different now, but then it had a small playground, a dirt walking trail, fields to play in, a baseball diamond, a small concrete swimming pool, and a natural pond that would fill up more in the spring time and support a healthy helping of frogs and minnows, as well as a few picnic areas. The whole area was kept very clean because people cared back then and took care of parks. There was a man who became known as the Guardian. I never knew his name that I can remember, but he was always at the park and people would let their kids go there because he was there all day and if something happened he would take care of it.
Between that tiny pool, where your feet would feel raw after you got out of it because it was such rough concrete, and the YMCA I learned to swim at a young age. The pool at that park was really too small to teach more than a handful of kids at a time to swim in. Mostly they just had free swim days. The whole pool was about four feet deep.
I often played with other kids in the pond, catching tadpoles to take home to my (not so thrilled) mom. She would set up a little habitat in a glass pie pan using pond water, a few rocks and maybe a small stick or two to make it look interesting. It’s wasn’t but a couple of weeks after watching the tadpoles grow arms and legs and then (oops) start hopping all over our den, that mom decided we should have used an aquarium instead. Boy did she get mad at me when she found baby frogs hopping on her kitchen floor!
My generation wasn’t so glued to television and video games, we spent a lot of time in community type of gatherings and outside playing. There was a big hoopla when it came time for Vacation Bible School. It was a huge event at our church with a feast (potluck) included. Our church had different days throughout the year that were basically just a reason for a church wide potluck lunch because they really loved to eat. They had “Old Fashioned Day” where the women dressed up to look like characters from Little House on the Prairie and the men all wore overalls and straw hats, they did 50’s days so they could bring out the poodle skirts and leather jackets, and then there were the different holidays along the way as well. They used to joke about one of the best reasons to come to church was for the food, they were right about that.
As for me, I spent a lot of time climbing that old pecan tree and sitting among the branches, or playing cowboys and Indians with my brother on our bikes in the backyard.
I miss the innocent days and can’t help but be thankful I grew up in a time where it was still okay to accept a banana fudge popsicle from the ice-cream man, rides from the milkman, or listen to jokes from the mailman. It saddens me that my children will never miss those innocent days, because they never really got to experience them, by the time they came along the neighborhood had changed, people had changed, times had changed. Ah….progress, and more people, we grow in some ways, and lose ground in others, it is just the way of things I suppose.
It just makes me more determined to take advantage of the time our family does have together, even if we have to be more careful in order to be safe now.
Cherry Coley ©
I’ve often thought how much fun it would be if life were like a cartoon. Just think of it! You could flush yourself down the toilet or jump off a bridge and be flattened when things got too dramatic, then stick your thumb in your mouth and re-inflate.
You could do all manner of evil to the annoying people in your life much like on some of the classic cartoon and there would be no real harm done.
By finding a pencil lying around, you could give yourself super powers, complete with a cape and matching outfit, not to mention making yourself look any way you wanted. If you wanted to lose weight you could simply draw yourself thinner, or younger, or older, as it suited you. It would be great wouldn’t it? Yes, for a while it would be a lot of fun.
Then what? Do cartoons really feel anything? “Of course not,” you say, “they are just actors behind drawings!”
True, but even if cartoons were real would they really FEEL anything? How could they? If they did they wouldn’t be jumping off that bridge or going down the toilet, and most likely they wouldn’t be throwing anvils, or spears and rocks. No, if they could actually feel then they would become limited like we are because no one wants to feel real pain.
Cartoons are simply a simulation of life and imagination, stretched and given no real limits to give the illusion of complete freedom to do whatever we want without consequences. While animation creates great wonders, visual effects, and terrific entertainment, it is a good thing that life doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t take a lot to see that humanity, left to its own vices would be utter chaos without any consequences or limits.
As for me, I might jump out of an airplane, but not without a parachute. I might swim in the ocean, but not without the proper equipment and a boat nearby. I might pull some pranks on some people, but nothing that would harm another. I love the fact that we are put here on this planet to enjoy it, have fun, laugh at each other along the way, and feel all the wonderful emotions that only come with truly living. Our struggles make us stronger, our sadness shows us empathy and sympathy, our setbacks and failures keep us humble, and our ability to forgive makes us human. Life is a spectacular gift!! So don’t waste too much of it sitting around watching animation, I love it too, but there are so many other things to experience, so let’s get going!
Cherry Coley ©
To be honest, Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. Charlie Brown and I share a lot of the same experiences, although, I think he beat me in not getting a single one. I was always a little mad at Snoopy for not giving him a Valentine; after all he DID feed the dog.
The more I talk to other people the more I’ve realized that this holiday doesn’t hold fond memories for many of us. Some of the places I’ve worked made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, going so far as trading the little Valentine’s and pinning them up on your cubicle walls. It was (like in elementary school) a popularity contest. Those who didn’t receive a lot of Valentine’s felt left out or disappointed.
So this year, toss out the old thoughts about the holiday. This year take Valentine’s Day back and remember what it SHOULD be. Take this and make it not just one day, but the first day of the year to celebrate the love of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are, or who you’re with, take the time to celebrate those you love and care about in your world. That’s what it should be about. No more grieving over lost love, or longing for someone, just realize that you are here, you are still alive, you still matter and you can still make a difference. Do something fun and silly! The girls and I celebrate by getting valentine pj’s (goofy one’s) every year. Another idea is to take this time to pamper yourself.
So on Valentine’s Day get up and put a smile on your face, remember that this day is a great day to do something nice for someone else. Start a tradition of caring and sharing. If you do have that special someone in your life, you should show them each and every day what they mean to you, not just one day. A good attitude and kind behavior is contagious. What a great way to remember the day and you don’t even have to buy candy!
Cherry Coley (c)
I think it is funny how many people want to demand that people from other countries and nationalities “learn the English language.” Oh some are quick to judge and haughtily say that if “they” are going to live and work here then “they” should speak our language. May I stop right there a moment and ask, just what IS our language?
Our language is, in many ways, not really close to the formal English language from the U.K. If you don’t agree then I challenge you to work with some of these good people or even go and visit them and you will find that though you may be speaking the same words, those words may not mean the same thing you think they do in the U.K. So what is it we are demanding immigrants learn? We are telling them they must learn a Hodge podge mixture of words that can change and adjust at will each and every day as needed and as the current fads demand. The language we use in America is a mixture of all different languages around the world. We have words that are made up daily from throwing other words together and that doesn’t include the newest versions that include text-speak where words are shortened or abbreviated. It’s a massive undertaking for any poor soul to try to learn the American-English language even if you are talking about the basics. Think about how many words we have that sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things.
For instance here are a few words that all sound the same but are used in different ways:
Stationary, stationery….Whether, weather….There, their, they’re…Bite, bight, byte…Seen, scene…Sense, since, cents, scents….Hear, here….Through, threw, thru…Dear, deer…Night, Nite, knight
This is just a small sampling, but you get the idea. Our ever changing language is a living thing that evolves, digresses, expands and creates every day! So before you step back up on that ever so judgmental platform and demand that everyone learn the language if they’re going to live here, take a moment and think about how difficult it must be for someone learning our American version of English as a second language. In fact, if you can’t speak a second language yourself, do you really have any right to judge anyone? Take some time to pick a language, any one that you like, and learn it, master it until you can speak it fluently and write it, then once you have experienced this challenge first hand for yourself, you may judge, or you may do something more useful which would be to tutor and help those who are struggling.
Oh, just so that everyone understands, text-speak is not a real language, at least not yet. Anyone who writes abbreviated words and a few letters texting then gets on the band wagon demanding everyone else write and speak correct English should take a lesson and walk the talk. I hate it when people text me things like: “wru u h?” or “whut tme?” or “C u n a min” or “u lttn dog o?” or “idk” on and on.
Seriously, it doesn’t take as much effort to type it out as it does to reprogram your brain to understand the shortened version of things. Our language is a beautiful, living thing and can be used in so many different ways to enhance our lives, encourage the people around us, show loving emotions or on the flip side, to criticize, show anger, or berate. It really bothers me that the screenwriters and writers of our time use some words so often. Yet we don’t really protest, so they just take the liberty of putting things out there that they deem to be worthy of our intelligence. There are so many wonderful adjectives and adverbs available to lend flowing descriptions, offer intense explanations and emotions, but we are stuck listening to a few explicit curse words over and over because of their lack of imagination and the thought that people “like things they are comfortable with and that are accepted.”
So many times I enjoy documentaries for this reason, I get useful information that I chose to sit and watch and I don’t have to listen to poorly written, unimaginative dialogue. I don’t feel like I just wasted two hours of my life, and that to me is a better choice. Not to say that I am not a lover of film, fantasy and action, I am. I really love watching a good movie, with a good plot, well written and even the occasional exclamation is great! I just think there should be much more of it available on a consistent basis.
Cherry Coley ©
Have you ever had to ride out a storm, you know the real one’s? Have you ever found yourself huddled down and somewhat fearful in the wake of an impending hurricane, flood or tornado? I have ridden out several Texas twisters and even had them touch down just a block or so from where we were twice. It can be a nerve wrecking experience, very frightening at times since we really don’t know what will happen next, but hope that we are safe where we are.
Life has many storms that we must pass through, some are physical storms while others are emotional earthquakes and hurricanes designed to bring even the strongest person to their knees. Yet just like the physical storms that rock our world in any number of ways, there are also silent one’s. What about the silent snow storm that comes in the night and dumps an enormous amount of snow? You might not hear it, but you can still feel the approach. If you don’t take some precautions then you could be caught unprepared and in some cases the cost could be a terrible thing.
I remember so many times the lightning and thunder storms outside. Thunder so loud it vibrated the walls and windows, and rain so hard you wondered if the roof would hold up to it all. Invariably the lights would go out and then the storm its self becomes the sole focus. My parents always kept hurricane candles ready for those storms. We were never completely in the dark, because when we knew it was coming, out would come the flashlights and candles ready should we need them. It’s a practice I still follow. I love fragrant smells and even have some of the appliances that heat scented wax, but I really have a great love for candles, not just for the scent, but the light and warmth they offer as well. I remember being scared, huddled in the dark with the storm raging outside, but the simple act of turning on the light made a huge difference.
It doesn’t really matter how dark it is, or how much the storm howls, the act of lighting that candle made it all seem better. Why? Because suddenly the storm wasn’t the sole focus anymore, now we could focus on the light, watch the candles, be entertained by the flickering flame and the shadows cast on the wall. Suddenly the darkness was broken and we could see again.
I can’t think of a better symbol of hope than a candle, darkness cannot stand against even the smallest flame. It’s a simple reminder that even the smallest light makes a difference.
There are many storms on the journey that is this life and no one really wants to go through a storm alone. Remember that though we cannot always see and feel the storms around us, everyone is going through something and what may seem like a small or insignificant act of kindness that you didn’t think twice about doing, may be just the “candle” that the other person needs to ride out the storm.
Cherry Keal (c)
When I was a child, I was allergic to dairy and chocolate. Or at least that’s what the doctor said. I couldn’t drink milk, but half and half didn’t bother me in small amounts. I wasn’t allowed to have chocolate as it was believed that this contributed to me having asthma attacks. So until I was a teenager, chocolate is not something I really got to eat. My candies consisted of rock candy, peppermints, taffy now and then, and at Christmas my mom would make divinity. I still love divinity.
At the age of three years old and just after I had endured the chicken pox, I was signed up for allergy shots. I still remember this vividly. I can describe the doctor’s office, the way it was set up, the murals on the walls and the fact that during the “scratch test” they had my mom go sit in the waiting room while they tortured me. Ha. I remember too jumping down off the bed, running up the hallway, ducking under trays, hopping over the scales, dodging the nurse, only to get to the door and not be able to reach the handle and pull it down to unlatch it. I screamed and banged on the door as loud as I could, but they must’ve had some major sound proofing in there because my mom did not rescue me. I was picked up and taken back to my room where I was put under house arrest and forced to endure the rest of the tests, and then take a breathing treatment for good measure.
It was determined I needed at least two allergy shots per week, plus breathing treatments and my mom (brave soul) agreed that she would be the one administering them at home. This was not an easy task as for at least two years I fought like the devil was trying to kill me each and every time my parents tried to give me a shot. Twice a week my brother would chase me and get me cornered, my dad would grab me and hold me down and mom would stab me in the arm with the needle. I look back on this now and realize how incredibly hard that must’ve been for them.
Somewhere along the way I decided that I could handle anything if I could see it coming. I sat down and told my dad this and he listened carefully to a five-year old reason out why this would work. He respected me and much to the surprise of everyone else in the house, just called me when it was time to give the shot. I came and sat down on his lap, because I was too short for mom to give it comfortably with me just on the chair. Mom looked at him and then at me, there were questions in her eyes, but she didn’t voice them. She rubbed my arm with the alcohol swab then said, “You might want to look away.”
I said, “No, Mommy, I can handle it if I can see it coming.”
I could tell she was nervous and my dad was sitting quietly, he whispered in my ear, “You can do it, Cherry, just don’t fight it because if you do, you could get hurt.”
I watched her give me the shot and it stung, but it didn’t hurt. I didn’t cry, I didn’t flinch, it was over and done with and it wasn’t bad at all. I hugged my mom, kissed my dad and went off to play.
How many times in life have I learned this same lesson? That running, fighting and struggling against something doesn’t solve anything, in fact it just makes things harder for everyone involved, can cause me to get hurt along the way, not to mention the whole process is not as beneficial because I’m so stressed and tensed up that nothing is learned or absorbed the way it should be.
I was five years old then, but I have held true to the thought that I can handle anything if I can see it coming. Now life doesn’t always play fair, after all there might be some hints along the way, but you can’t see everything coming ahead of time. So, then it also becomes an exercise in faith and trust in yourself that you can and will handle everything that is tossed your way. You get to decide how and if you will live a life of reacting to things, or if you will learn to go with the flow, adjust and keep on moving.
Many times I’ve let fear of something hold me back. In the end, in every single instance, it has become clear that fear is a warning, but you don’t have to let it control your life or your dreams. In fact, as in the case of taking the shots, fear, once faced, dissipates and simply falls away of its own accord.
So then flash-forward to the current time and the question I have now for myself, and for you, is this:
IF you are serious about your dreams and you REALLY want the things you say you want, THEN are you doing everything possible to make them happen? If not, why not? What is holding you back? Is it an underlying fear of the unknown? That’s a perfectly human response, yet it is also one that will decide the outcome of your life. So, then join me in asking yourself, “What is my life worth to me?”
Then take a moment and think about where you’ve been, and all the things you’ve been through already. You handled each and everything that was tossed your way on this journey. Sometimes you handled things better than others, but life is learning process every step of the way. What’s important is to keep moving forward. Just remember, “You can do it, just don’t fight it or you could get hurt.”
Step back and take a look at the choices that are available to you right at this moment. There are always choices and those choices lead to more choices. There are no bad choices, only different one’s that lead in different directions and as long as you keep this in mind, then should you wind up making a choice that you don’t like, you can always change the direction by making a better one.
By the way, after I stopped fighting the shots, I began to respond much better to the treatments. Within about six months I went from two shots a week to one, and with another year to twice a month, then once a month, then wound up not needing the shots anymore. The last major asthma attack I had was at the age of 14. Along the way I also learned to listen intently to my body and realize when I am getting too tired, when my lungs feel stressed and when I need to back off before I start getting sick. I’ve learned to eat healthier, exercise more, keep weight down and take time to relax and rejuvenate. I am very thankful to still be here and still have more choices and new opportunities each and every day.
Cherry Coley ©