Anything is Possible!

With Hope, Faith, and Perseverance


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Keeping Our Dreams Alive

(From my September Newsletter)

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Did you ever think something was dead, but it surprised you?

Around this time last year, I pulled up a small dogwood tree growing right next to our church foundation. There was no room for it to grow there. It was not easy, but I got most of the root. I planted the dogwood behind the church and gave it some water. The leaves withered and eventually dropped off. But it was close to leaf dropping time anyway, so I hoped it would come back in the spring. Through the whole season of spring I looked for new growth and saw nothing but a bare stem. I figured it was dead. I should have put some fertilizer on it. Then, in August, I just happened to notice two tiny leaves. Then four. The dogwood was still alive! Its leaves are growing as I write this. I don’t know if it will survive the winter, but there’s always hope.

There was a time when I wondered if romance was dead for me. But I never completely gave up hope. I had no idea that my first love would find me 39 years later, and that the love we had felt for each other as teenagers was still alive, dormant, waiting patiently for the perfect time.

(Sounds like a good story, right? You can order it here.)

 

Did you ever have a dream that you thought was dead? Maybe you’ve thought it was too late. Maybe you’ve felt like giving up, thinking: what’s the use? I’ll never be good enough. I think we’ve all been there.

In high school, I was pretty good at art, and I loved to write. But I didn’t value these talents. I  valued science. I wanted to save the planet. So, I declared biology as my major.  But higher math and chemistry got harder in college. I could have gotten a tutor, but I wasn’t supposed to need a tutor.

Discovering psychology was the best thing that could have happened. As much as I wanted to help others, there were things I needed to learn to help myself. After college, I spent over 30 years as a substance abuse counselor. I learned a lot during those years and was blessed with the privilege of being able to help others. And every now and then, I would dabble in saving animals, caring for the planet, being an artist, and writing. But it was just dabbling. There were long stretches when I did not create art and my only writing consisted of clinical notes at my job. When my marriage ended, I painted like crazy for a while and wrote in journals as part of my therapy. But I didn’t think I’d ever be an artist or writer full time. I had to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. Retirement seemed like a faraway land I would never reach.

But sometimes, I would dabble in my old dreams.

Then in 2011, my first love found me again. People got goosebumps when we told our story, so I started writing that story. I had a lot to learn about creative writing, about details, conveying feelings, and describing scenes. There were times when I wondered if I had what it took to write and publish a real book.

But you’ll never know if you’re capable of something
until you’ve given it a go. ~ Kristina Adams

For much of my life, I’ve had a habit of thinking my work wasn’t good enough, because it wasn’t perfect. But I’m changing that habit.

This article by Kristina Adams explains how striving for perfection can damage our confidence and motivation (not to mention our health). It’s helped me be reasonably proud of my book. It’s a good book. But what I’m most proud of is that Trust the Timing is a book of overcoming challenges and never giving up hope, a book that can help people.

Now, I have reached that once distant land they call “retirement.” Except that I’m not really retired. I’m writing and painting! I dabble in saving the planet, or at least a tree here and there.

What about your dreams? Did you ever think that you weren’t good enough to follow your heart’s desire? I am telling you now that you are good enough. There’s some part of your dream that still lives, a part you can nurture into new growth. Your dream might change, and that’s okay. Maybe you’re already living your dream, or maybe you’re just thinking about it. Dabbling. Either way, don’t give up.

May your sweet dreams become reality.


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How To Learn a New Skill

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How long does it take to write a book? Apparently, it takes a long time, for me anyway. I’ve always been a slow reader, so I guess it makes sense I’d be a slow writer. But good things take time, right? I thought I knew how to write, and I did well on  college papers and in journalism. Creative writing is a whole different animal – with wings, and squawks, and smells, and feathers, so it must be a bird of a different color.

But how does one become a writer, or anything else?

PRACTICE.

Writing is a skill like any other. Some people may be naturally better at it than others, but with practice, we can improve at anything. I’m terrible and learning to tie knots and things mechanical, but that just means I need more practice at those things than the average person – if that’s how I want to spend my time.

I spent a lot of time as a substance abuse/mental health counselor, at least 30 years as you may know. Asking how something happened, like a relapse for example, was important. What was the chain of events, or thoughts, that led to the relapse? Many of my clients desperately wanted to stay clean, but didn’t know how. You can tell someone to stop doing drugs, or stop eating potato chips, or stop smoking, in all kinds of ways. But some people really need skills. Skills like self-soothing (without illegal drugs) and assertiveness, self-care, meditation and relaxation, going into a new support group, applying for a job, helping family members or friends understand why they don’t want to be part of the drama anymore, and accepting when they still don’t understand – just to name a few.

How long does it take to learn new skills?

It depends on how often we practice.

Changing thoughts is a skill. I can still get caught up in ruminating about things I should have done better, or worrying about how someone is going to react to my boundaries. It takes a conscious effort sometimes to pull my mind back to the present moment. Asking myself, “Why do I keep doing that?” doesn’t help as much as, “How can I stop doing that?”  Or better yet, How can I catch myself sooner and re-direct my thoughts?

Sometimes I use sticky notes to remind myself to be in the present, or think positive. Sometimes I ask God to help me stop thinking about something that isn’t doing me any good to think about. One of my favorite things to ask God is, “How do you want me to handle this?” Sometimes I get an answer, like, “love her,” like when my daughter was 13 and melting down. Or sometimes the answer is, “wait.” Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I know God is going to help me work it out somehow.

SOCS

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is the word, “how,” brought to us by Linda G. Hill at https://lindaghill.com/2017/02/24/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-2517/ who instructed us to “Start your post with the word “How.” Bonus points if you end with it too. Enjoy!

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!