The Dreaded Job Hunt

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Anyone else looking for a job? Well I am, and I’m having about as much luck as Wiley Coyote chasing the Road Runner. Seriously, how much rejection can one person take? I have a notebook filled with jobs I’ve applied for and they all have lines going through them indicating that those companies are going with someone whose qualifications better suit their needs.

I’m just sitting at home thinking, “Your loss Bro, I’m so awesome, you don’t even know what you’re missing.” Except that’s not really what I’m thinking, it’s more like, “I’m such a loser, nobody wants to hire me.” Anyways, I won’t complain about my situation, we all have situations, and I’m actually quite blessed to have such an awesome support system. I understand that’s not everyone’s reality, so I wanted to give a few words of encouragement to all my job seeking friends.

First of all, I understand this is a highly stressful time for most of us, I know it is for me, and I think we should start by recognizing we are stressed out. This may seem obvious with all the hair loss, sleeplessness, frequent illnesses, and so forth. But here’s the thing. If we can keep the stress from overpowering us, I think we can use it as a motivator.  Listen to what health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal says on Ted Talk about making stress your friend. It’s really good and worth the time.Click here to listen.

Here’s something else I would encourage you to do. Do something you don’t normally have time to do. And do it guilt free. I have been spending a good amount of time writing. It feels kind of selfish and indulgent, sitting in my room making up stories, wasting all this time… But what else am I supposed to do? I’m looking for the jobs, working miscellaneous jobs here and there, and in the meantime, I’m doing something I love and wish I could make a living out of. Go fishing, introspect a little, draw a picture, and ask questions.

Pursue your passions.

This time will be up before you know it (fingers crossed) and it will be back to the 9-5 grind, or whatever grind you end up working. All I’m saying is, instead of being negative and viewing this as a completely wasted time, look at it as a blessing and opportunity.

The last thing I want to say is this: You are an asset. You have potential and worth and you have something to offer. Remember that as you sit there feeling sorry for yourself and believing you’re a loser. Remember that when you’re applying for a job. Be confident and sure of your worth. That goes a long way in convincing the potential employer they want you.

Happy Monday everybody! And may the odds be ever in your favor. (Sorry, I had to say it.)

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Andy Griffith Was The Man: A Study In Human Decency

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The Andy Griffith show is on Netflix. This is exciting! Maybe it’s been there all along and I just realized it.Though I didn’t watch it as a child (I grew up on Family Matters, Full house, Step by Step, and Home Improvement), I did watch it later on once my parents were given the first two volumes on DVD. It was cute and funny, and, like many shows back then, had a nice moral lesson tied in. And, come on, who doesn’t love Opie? So as my daughter sat there watching this show for the first time the other night, she fell in love with it. And as I sat there watching it with her, something hit me.

Andy Griffith was the man.

Andy represents something that has been lost in our culture of the fast paced, look out for number one, get ahead at any cost mentality. Don’t get me wrong, forward movement is necessary, freezing time is impossible (who’d want to anyway?), small towns aren’t meant for everybody, and hard work is goooood. This isn’t about going back to Mayberry. BUT! Andy is a study in patience, kindness, selflessness, and knowing which shelf his priorities belong on; and I don’t care who you are or where you live, there is no way that learning to imitate those characteristics would be a detriment to you.

As parents today, we’re impatient and unwilling to deal with our children. Instead of getting down on their level to talk with them and attempt to understand where their head and hearts are when they are getting into trouble, we yell, send them away, or stick electronics in front of them so they will just. shut. up. I realize this is not true for every single parent and individual, but with the explosion of technology in just the last decade even, I have observed this more often. So I make my generalized statement. Accept or deny that you are among the generalized peoples here, and for peter’s sake, don’t get offended (because if you do I’ll just assume you’re one of them, and I’ll judge you!). Kidding. I say all this, admitting guilt. It is so easy to put a show on, a video game, or hand them an iPad. That’s the world we live in. Even so, I don’t believe Andy Griffith would have exchanged the task of loving discipline and guidance for peace and quiet, by offering technology to Opie instead.

As ambitious individuals striving to “make our mark” on the world, our goals have become completely selfish. Sure we know how to be team-workers, but that is too often for the sole purpose of playing the game right in order to get ahead. Co-workers are frienemies who work by the motto “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”Building relationships with co-workers is necessary for the times when knowing people in the right places comes in handy. How much do we actually care about our peers and co-workers? The idea of inviting them and their families into our homes for dinner and conversation, for the sake of getting to know them, is foreign.

As people who have rights to free speech and opinion, we have used that as a right to be downright nasty. Name calling and defaming others is not specific to children in need of training, but it is the way we display ourselves, as adults, to the constantly watching world. Is this really what we want to pass down to the next generation? Seriously? We could use a lesson in human decency by observing the way Andy interacts with individuals. Take Barney Fife, for example. Barney wasn’t the most fragrant flower in the garden, he was kind of bad at being a deputy, and he was quite ridiculous (in a completely awesome kind of way!). Even considering all that, Andy was kind and respectful in his dealings with Barney, those characteristics an underlying thread throughout all of their interactions. Even in pointing out the error to Barney’s ways, Andy was gentle (even when he was laughing at Barney, it was not unkind).

Look, I’m not against technology, ambition, or taking a break from my kid when necessary (trust me I know we gotta step away sometimes), all I’m saying is that we could all take a page out of the Andy Griffith handbook. And if you haven’t checked it out on Netflix, you should! Your whole family can watch it.

Rascal Flatts got it right in their song, Mayberry. I’ve provided it for you below! You’re welcome! Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filtering Your Words- One Of Parenting’s Greatest Challenges: A Poem

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I’m not going to lie. There have been times when I would like nothing more than to stick my tongue out at my daughter and say, “I know you are, but what am I?” For the most part, I can accurately report, I do not stoop to such levels…for the most part – certainly never when she is in hearing or seeing distance.

There are the times, however, when I catch myself going in circles with an eight year old before I stop and remind myself that I am the adult in this relationship. I’m pretty sure every parent feels that way at times, at least my friends have admitted to this – though I’m not beyond considering I simply have friends who are as immature as I am.

BUT! For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume everyone knows what I’m talking about. Kids have a way of bringing you to your knees, enraging you just before melting you, and, like a Jedi Master, drawing you deep into conversations you never intended to have, before you finally snap out of it and think, “wait a minute, why am I even discussing this? I said ‘no’ five minutes ago.”

One frustrating parenting challenge is the challenge to filter the words that cross the threshold of your lips. This can be one of the hardest obstacles, a dilemma that, on more than one occasion, has kept me up at night. That is what this poem explores.

 

What To Say?

I look down at you, and see this person to mold

And I’m struck by the weight of the treasure I hold;

a soul…

A life entrusted to me

to love, cherish, comfort, and lead

The weight,

it’s insurmountably great

But this burden I would not trade for another,

this load, this strain, this worry of a mother

Looking at you, love shines back at me

uninhibited, undeserved, unguarded… free

Unfortunately it’s not always to be

 you soon will learn the truth about me

I’m human

 I’m flawed

 I’m no hero to you

But I stand by this promise, to always speak truth

“Mommy, how come Daddy doesn’t live here, too?”

Oh, that

I’ve promised not to lie, but you’re three, not thirty

So how do I say it, all the nitty, gritty, dirty

details of our failed attempts at “together”

 of how we couldn’t make it months, much less forever…

That’s right, I don’t

 because you are only three

and it’s not your job to be:

a middle man, informant, spy or weapon

and I will not place minefields at your feet to step in…

So regardless of the things I believe about him,

 I will not defame, berate, or cast purposeful shame upon him.

“Sometimes, baby, mommies and daddies don’t live together.”

And the truth about that is…

I never considered it would negatively affect you,

or that you’d miss a life that you never even knew

But you do

And that’s heartbreaking, confusing,  feels impossible to navigate,

And as often as I fail to show it, I do see the weight

of the baggage you carry that him and I placed there

and I’m sorry you have that burden to bare

So sorry.

And beyond the obstacles for families in our position

come the obstacles common to children with your condition

Overabundance of attitude

 

For me this is annoying and quite hard to combat

especially now that you’re eight, you’re smart, and you are all that.

So when I say,

“Clean your room, feed the dog, do your homework, don’t smack”

You look at me, and You. Talk. Back.

 

“You never feed the dog, your room’s not so clean either,

You were in school forever ago, you don’t know what it’s like to be there

You’re lucky you’re not me!”

Lucky you say? With your chin sticking out and your fist in your hip

Honey, you’ll be lucky if I don’t lose my— temper

I take a deep breath, count to three, then…

“Girl, close your mouth, look at me, and listen.

I’m glad you know how to speak your mind, but mind how you speak it

use your mind and let it act as a spigot

to stop the flow of uncontrolled words

pouring fourth from your mouth like a flock of birds

escaping a cage, and once they’re out that is it

and no amount of backpedaling can change it

So when you speak to me, you do it with respect

and know that from me you can expect

to be spoken to as an individual with opinions

ones I’ll consider with honest intentions

and not just pretending to care under false pretensions.”

“Mama, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Of course you don’t, baby.”

There’s so much you don’t understand. Like bills and fees, unexpected needs,

like the need for a new car, since ours barley clings

to life support

but I can’t let her go yet, she still has to transport

me to the job that, well, I haven’t yet found…

So I sit hour after hour scrolling down the screen

submitting resume after resume, yet never being seen

by the person with the power to make this hope to which I cling

a reality

And even if I show up, like they recommend

I’m allowed to speak with no one but that helpful admin

who points to a computer with a pasted on smile,

says, “You can submit your application online so we’ll have it on file.”

I need a job!

“Mom, you should be a doctor.”

Yes, I should be, with my behavioral science degree

I sigh as I drag my feet

to your room, and place a kiss on your cheek

And you’re lying there with a smile,

eyes understanding without really understanding why I’m standing

hunched over, worn down, with, at best, a weary smile

Your hand pats your pillow, “Mama, lay your head here for a while?”

So I do.

And I’m showered with butterfly-soft kisses from a tiny pair lips

While one hand pats my hair and the other one slips

into my hand to weave your fingers with mine

and the pats on my head start to beat in time

with my heart and my soul, to rejuvenate, renew

and it comes down to this, I’ll take it all for you…

the exhaustion, the pain, the stabbing in my brain

the unending questions and those moments I’m insane

all if it, over and over again

“I love you, baby.”

“I love you more.”

And I can see in your eyes that you believe it is true,

“Baby girl, if you only knew…”

Capitalism And The Brutal Claws Of Progress: It’s Happening Whether We Like It Or Not

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For nearly thirty years, my parents and all of the other home owners on our street had something that none of the other homeowners in our neighborhood did; a massive backyard. Okay, so the backyard wasn’t actually bigger than those belonging to all the other neighbors, but our backyard backed up to an incredible field.
For the residents along our street, there was this peaceful illusion – at least from the back porch – of living a little ways out of the suburbs.

Cows ambled along the fence line each night, the coyotes’ howl could be heard just beyond the bushes, snakes and other meadow creatures traveled unseen, lending it an air of adventure and danger.

This field -known as The Back Field – was a field of dreams, in a sense.

When we were young, this field – while still referred to as the Tall Weeds before they mowed it the first time – was a magical land of imagination. It was camping grounds to the troops before they forged ahead to the battle of San Jacinto; a place where cowboys and Indians fought; land on which a prairie prospered; the secret home to a small community of gypsy travelers; an abandoned field where bodies were buried then found…

Later, it was a sprawling battleground for paintball wars – where I had the giddy pleasure, while perched in an ash tree, of watching my big brother shoot my little brother in the butt with a paintball. This was of course years after my older brother shot a BB into the foot of his friend, resulting in surgery for the friend. Good times.

Once I became a teenager, I looked out the back window and imagined myself in a land far away. Away from the mundane and unimportant lives of all of us in this town. I looked at my field and dreamed of going places that mattered.

When I grew a little older, I sat on the sun porch my father built along the way, watching the sun rise on new days, and I learned how to be grateful for the blessings God had given my family. If for no other reason, I was grateful that in an increasingly fast growing city – long since flooded by urban sprawl spilling down from one of the nation’s largest cities – I still looked out my back window into a field untouched by capitalism. I prayed the man who owned this field loved it as much as I did.

Eventually, I had a child and the field became something for her as well. We had birthday parties, explored the forest of trees that had grown, learned about nature and life, and she had a place to go and dream.

Then one morning, after 26 years of memories and adventure, we woke up to tractors plucking the trees from the ground as effortlessly as the hair falls from a body saturated with chemotherapy.

For the first time in my life, I had to struggle against the urge to protest; climb-a-tree-refuse-to-move-get-arrested kind of protest.

And my daughter.

With alarm and the bitter taste of injustice twisting her features, she fisted her hands and shook them at the tractors while demanding, “No! Stop what you’re doing!” The man on the tractor, wanting to charm the little girl looking through the sun porch windows, lifted his claw and waved at us. It was a friendly gesture, no doubt, but he had no idea that as he plucked each tree from the ground, he was ripping away our safe spot, our get-away spot, our adventure spot. He was tearing apart our field of dreams.

Over the next three years we watched as the rumble of tractors became our alarm clocks, the sound of hammers on nails replaced the bird’s songs, and our view steadily turned from a wander-land to a dirty, packed down foundation for houses jammed together like a can of sardines; the neighbors would be able to reach out their windows and shake hands.

We placated ourselves with the hopeful assumption that there would be a nice fifteen-foot green-space, where at least we could throw the ball for the dog and enjoy the tire swing in the tree beyond the fence.Then last week arrived, and with it, the final eradication of our field by the faceless builder who sent tractors to scrape the last bit of grass away like one might scrape gum from the bottom of his shoe. Dirt right up to the fence. No easement.

My daughter spent time planning a sabotage mission, writing it out on paper, and presenting it to me with outlined details, bullet points included. When I assured her our efforts to take some of their dirt in order to leave them uneven building grounds would be pointless, she had a counter attack planned. The follow up plan was illegal, which she – to my relief and pride – said she could not, then, follow through with.

“Why can’t we do something?” She asked. “Why can’t we just talk to the men out there?”

“Those men have no more control than we do, but a whole lot of incentive. That is their job.”

“I’ll just ask them nicely to stop, they will see I’m a little girl, and feel bad for me.”

“They’d feel worse for their own little girl when she didn’t have food on the table.”

How could I help my daughter to understand, when I felt just as helpless as she did?

Space and land are coveted, profitable, and becoming more rare. What we know of land and ownership today will be different tomorrow and in the tomorrows to come. Like all generations, time touches everything, changes everything. That’s why older people so often reminisce about the days of old. So for as long as the tractors of time and disease stay out of the fields of our mind, we will hold our memories close, and cherish them.

As I considered these things, the beauty in the time and circumstance struck deep. As a recent college graduate, soon to be moving on anyways, I realized that The Back Field was my first dreamland, the first place that inspired imagination and curiosity, but it could not remain my only field of dreams.

Life moved forward. Progress. We look to our yesterdays for motivation and understanding, but we live in the todays, looking forward and preparing for our tomorrows.

“Things change,” I told my daughter, “that’s the way of life. Some things we just have to accept. We will move forward with time as we must, embracing the present and making new memories.”

I offered a solution (and a new dream) to my daughter who likes to solve problems:

“We will just have to move to the high mountains of Colorado and buy a large field. There, no matter how much the world closes in around it, no matter how much we are offered to sale it, we will own the power to say, no thanks, We’ll keep our field of dreams.”

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Writing, a Pointless Pursuit?

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Sometimes, when I decline invitations to hang out and be social (which isn’t something I do often), in order to sit at home and write, I receive an eye roll, or, if having a phone conversation, feel the eye roll flowing through the line. My guess is the other person is thinking, “Seriously? You’re going to be one of those?”

Those being the people who dream of writing and becoming famous one day, of changing the world with their completely original, groundbreaking thoughts on life. Those people that decline social interaction at times, in order to hang out with the voices in their head; people who can come across as superior and self important. Or maybe just weird. Those people who chase dreams that, for about 99% percent of the world, just. won’t. come. true.

Sound familiar?

To everyone else, pursuing a career in writing, especially in a way that puts bread on your table every night, is a pointless pursuit. The odds are against you always.

So is it pointless? And at what point should a writer give up?

Here are my thoughts on the matter.

Yes, it can be a pointless pursuit, but whether it is pointless for you or not, depends on where your heart is.

Where are your desires and intentions when you sit at your computer, or with a notepad and pencil, to write?

I first fell in love with writing when my cousin told me I should write a journal. She said it was awesome to write things and look back years later to see how all of it played out and worked together to form who you are. (Those weren’t exactly her words, but that was what she meant, I’m sure.) So I did.

After that, writing became something I did often- journaling and poetry mostly.

Now, I have a hard time understanding myself and deciphering emotions until I’ve written them down. When they are on paper, no longer raving in my chest and head, I suddenly have perspective.

I also write because I love creating worlds and characters, and learning from them.

Writing is not pointless for me.

But let’s talk about you for a second. Have you ever wondered if the hours at your computer, toiling endlessly, are in vain? To better judge if writing is a pointless pursuit in your life, ask yourself these questions.

Three questions to ask before becoming a writer:

  • Why do I write? (And be honest. Are you thinking about the acclamation you’ll get upon publishing, or the fat check you’ll receive?)
  • Am I moved by other people’s writing? (In other words, are you a zealous reader?)
  • Would I write if I could peer into the future and see that I’ll never get published? (If that’s enough to make you quit, then go ahead and give it up. Your chances of hitting it big are as good as mine. Walking that road is lonely and harrowing anyway, at least that’s what I’ve been told by someone who has published without gaining fame and fortune. And for most of us, if we do actually get published, it will be under those same circumstances.

 

SO! If writing is something you love down to your soul, then it is no more pointless to you than chasing a squirrel is to a dog. Who cares if you never catch the squirrel, when chasing it brings such joy?

Some encouragement: Never stop writing, never stop studying and honing your craft, and never stop writing!

 

 

Hell or High Water: Movie review

 

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(Image Source)

If you haven’t seen Hell or High Water, it’s something to consider for this weekend. Not only was the acting stellar across the board, but the story is one that so many can connect with; not because we’re all bank robbers, but because most of us can relate to financial debt, owing the bank money, and the feeling of drowning in it. Who hasn’t considered pulling a bank job or two?

In all seriousness though, the film does a great job of addressing the precariousness of living in the murky waters between moral and immoral. Thrilling, funny, smart and relevant. And, the acting must be mentioned once again. If you were not a Chris Pine fan before, you will be after watching this film; phenomenal. Ben Foster convinces the audience he was made to play this role; he is comical, frightening, and heartbreaking. Jeff Bridges; enough said.

If you’re considering this film, you probably know it has an R rating for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexuality.So a warning to those who want to be warned about these kinds of things: The violence is what you might expect from a bank robbery film, the strong language is in the sixties range with a handful of the words of a religious nature, and the sexuality is in the form of a sex scene, that, while not in clear focus and not very long, it’s enough to get the full idea, and an eye full.

So, discretion advised, and if you choose to go, let me know your thoughts!

Happy and safe weekend to all!

The Things They Carried: Book review

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Thrift shopping is an underrated hobby, an activity I have participated in, but certainly not made a regular outing.

Until now.

After visiting my cousin, and hitting up thrift and antique shops all over her side of Georgia, I’ve decided Thrift shopping is my new hobby; especially when it comes to books. I found 9 books for $5.

It’s important to tell you, in my mind there is a list of all the books I must acquire. One of the books made the list after reading excerpts from it during a writing class in college. It’s impact was so great that I wrote a rhetorical analysis on it. And promptly added it on my list.

Flash forward a few months to the Georgia thrift shop. I stood there, meticulously reading over every spine on the shelf so I didn’t pass by any gems, and it happened, my finger slid across the title that not only lived on my list, but had climbed to the top spot. Everything faded to gray-scale except those bright orange words that read The Things They Carried. 

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Any individual alive surely understands the power of words. I doubt there is a person who has never been punched in the gut with words so ugly, so true, so lovely, or so devastating that their breath evaporates.

Words strung together become sentences that reveal knowledge and truth and ideas and lies and heartaches and…beauty. Definitely beauty.

When used correctly, words have the ability to be one of the most evocative tools known to man. We communicate, educate, share, care, love, hate, berate, equate nothing with something, and make a little thing everything.

Tim O’Brien understands the power words wield, and uses his understanding to beautifully illustrate the truths he faced while in Vietnam.

Do you love learning about wars and history? This book is for you.

Do you prefer non-fiction to fiction? This book is for you. (Yes, I know this is a fictional story), (Yes, I still think this book is for you).

Do you love the art of writing? This book is for you.

What O’Brien gives us with The Things They Carried, is a soul squeezing glimpse into Vietnam, an experience that engages all our senses and plunges us into the caverns of hell right along side the boys and men who fought. You will find yourself wondering what is real and what is fiction, then decide it doesn’t really matter because all of it speaks truth about something.

Everyone should read this book.