Homecoming: Coming Home to a New City

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Most high schools and universities celebrate Homecoming during October, while wearing formal attire at some places (and my dream recreations of it). I’ve never attended a homecoming event as an alumni, but I’ve never been far from my old schools in Missouri either. This year I’ve moved far away and miss the cities of my youth. My high school friends have even invited me to join them for our group’s latest game night get together. Unfortunately I won’t attend this round, but I know I’ll make my way back there soon. For now I’m building a new home.

Feeling like I’ve got a foundation for my new home has taken a while. I temporarily live with my dad after having an apartment to myself for six years, and I live 13 hours away by car from my closest friends (with the exception of my close cousin who has continuously welcomed me here). Mostly, I’ve learned I have to get out there myself to get plugged into places and communities where I can find activities and friends. Unfortunately it takes a while at a time when I could really use a friend, but the efforts start to pay off.

After visiting several churches, I’ve found one I’ve enjoyed enough to give a long term  try. I have found one more that I want to visit as well, and I sense that I’m close to deciding my new church home. That makes me feel like I can find a niche to use my gifts. That may mean trying a group or two again, yet I’m closer already. A lot of the churches here have good ESL programs since Houston has such a diverse population when it comes to first languages. Most places have devotions or handouts as well that give me potential venues for writing.

To make myself reach out a little more and have a bit of a long term goal and involvement, I’ve started a book club. So far it’s a small group since I don’t know many people, but they’re a part of my new home. I can share my love for books outside the shelves within my own walls. I’m getting out there, I’m getting involved, I’m building a home.

Then I can go back to my other for a homecoming event and have a new experience for coming home.

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As of today, it’s been 90 years since Winnie the Pooh first hit the shelves. It’s already been 18 years since I saw the bear that inspired it all in New York City and 8 since I walked Pooh Sticks Bridge in England. I can’t determine how many years those stories have inspired me to write. Most of my first stories revolved around Pooh Bear, including one where he met the orca Willy. The stories and drawings still make me smile and still remind me of my writing passion.

I haven’t written as much as I’d like lately (aside from my nearly daily journaling), and I want to push back my reservations. Yet a lot of stories and ideas continue to stir in my mind. Some have made it to written form in notes, yet I continue to fear rejection of them. I need to remember the personalities and stories I see in the bears and people in my own life have value and can inspire someone else the way Pooh and A.A. Milne have inspired me. Milne looked at a stuffed animal and saw a personality and a story. While that may sound silly, he created a beloved character that has stood the test of time. Other people may not understand the process, but they just may enjoy the final product. Here’s to pushing forward to a final product!

 

…NaNoWriMo starts in just over two weeks and provides some encouragement to write regularly. And a lot. I’d like to push myself harder toward cranking out a whole story this time even if just to practice and let some ideas flow.

False Identity

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Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), I have learned the importance of not identifying myself with an emotion. Just because I am sad doesn’t mean I’m a sad person. It may sound strange, but I can take on extra weight by taking on these emotions and their associations. Tonight I have realized the same concept applies to not identifying with sin in my life.

It becomes easy to turn my sin into a noun that describes myself. I’ve told a lie in the past; liar must suit me as a title. The same can go for numerous other negative descriptions. Yet only the enemy wants me to believe that; taking on the lie leads me to avoid God. It makes me carry the weight of the sin and take on the burden of negative titles. God doesn’t want that for me, and it is not how He sees me. If I confess to Him rather than avoid Him and insist upon carrying my own burden, He will take it all away. As He reminds me in Isaiah 1:18, He will wash my sins white as snow. That means they’re gone. He won’t remind me of them, and I have nothing left to remind me of them either.

Now I will sin again of  course, just like I will inevitably feel sad or angry again. I just need to remember that I am a blessed child that is always accepted and always has her Father to whom she can turn. His son has already died to take the burden of my sins, so I do not need to carry them. My identity does not come from my sin or emotion but from my relationship with God. That will never change.

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“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

Garden Gnome

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Glimpsing your flowers

I need not guess

to discern sunshine

the reason to your air

 

strolling your garden

I need not dig

to measure the depths

the root of your despair

 

dancing in rainfall

I need no gauge

to know it’s fertile

this soil we may share

 

growing together

we need not feast

to fulfill our souls

this one endless prayer

Provision in Transition

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I recently moved south. My dad and I packed up his truck and a trailer and hauled all my precious belongings on the twelve hour drive to my new location. One of the biggest struggles involved getting my head around the fact that I would have to do it all again once or twice more within a year or so; I never liked change, especially big ones. Yet there I was facing multiple changes in jobs and homes.

This transition period included radical changes in my living arrangements. I now live with my dad, with whom I haven’t lived full time in nearly twenty years, and I have 75 percent of my belongings still in the garage. Separating from my book and movie collections, among other staples of my routine, proved difficult. The first week when I stayed at his old house had me living from my suitcase and unpacking my anxiety over the upheaval. Then I moved to the townhouse and got my clothes in the closet how I would at home. My sense of stability improved immediately.

At least a couple times a week, I found myself thinking about an item not in the current arrangement. I racked my brain about which box held the coveted item and even occasionally asked my friend who helped me pack about them. Each time I was able to remind myself that my belongings rested safe in the garage and I would have them out in due time when I got a place of my own again. I had what I needed at the moment.

That truth kept me grounded. I missed having my books and movies surrounding me, and I longed to have my place set up exactly as I wanted; yet I had what I needed. God provided me a spacious home, a comfortable bed (in a cool bedroom) and plenty of healthy food. Earlier today I finally noticed the move had made me realize and accept these truths. I caught myself contemplating the security of my phone (with stuff I still need to back up) and my preferred Ink Joy pens. Yet I stopped any anxious thoughts about them and rested in the assurance that God provided what I needed in the moment and that He would also provide provision for my belongings and my future home and routine. I learned it would continue to be a day to day provision and a day to day trust.

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The Little Paris Bookshop and The Big Structure Workshop

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Yesterday I finished reading Nina George’s novel The Little Paris Bookshop, and for the first time I gave fewer than three stars to a book on Goodreads. While the story had some insight into loss and the healing power of books, it had no strength. This came from a lack of structure. I pointed to Jean finding Manon, additionally letting go of his lost love in the process, as the overarching story goal. Yet even he didn’t seem to pursue that objective very strongly. He went on a mostly aimless adventure and made friends along the way. The added characters provided some color, but the lack of transition from scene to scene did not. Those poor people had no foundation upon which to stand.

This reminded me of how I ought to adjust the pursuit of some of my goals. Not having set times and strategies for tasks like job hunting and novel writing made it take even longer to get started, let alone see my desired progress. If I tightened my strategies with definitive times rather than as soon as I can, I could see better results. My high aims for my routine, my writing, my career and my life can stand better on a solid structure. It also would make it easier for others to grasp beneficial ideas and insight from my structure and what’s built into it.

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#Write_On: Letter 3

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Egg Press and Hello!Lucky promote National Letterwriting Month through their Write_On Challenge. They even sent me a card kit to get me started on more letters and included a zine for inspiration. The zine has 30 ideas for letters, and I’d like to give those prompts a whirl here.

The third letter is to thank “someone whose good work may go unnoticed.” I’d like to thank the friendly and efficient workers at Mid-Continent Public Library.

Dear Mid-Continent Public Library Staff,

I’ve recently been into three of your branches for various events and personal ventures and have been graced by your presence accompanied by the shelves of books and movies every time. In particular, I’d like to thank the woman who guided me to Anthony Clark’s storytelling class last weekend when I got a little lost. You saw me and kindly offered help; then you went even further to walk me to the room and talk with me along the way to make me feel welcome. That eased my nerves and got me even more excited about accepting a course offered by your library. I’d also like to thank the woman who gave me my mug for completing the Winter Reading Challenge. It felt good to accomplish (and exceed) a goal and then to get a reward for it. I love that you guys are doing that for adults as well as for children.

Thank you all for your work and for giving the library an even warmer vibe with your presence. You make the library a place I always want to visit again to introduce me to new insights through the books and classes and people.

Love  Always,

Kayla

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#Write_On Challenge: Letter 2

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Egg Press and Hello!Lucky promote National Letterwriting Month through their Write_On Challenge. They even sent me a card kit to get me started on more letters and included a zine for inspiration. The zine has 30 ideas for letters, and I’d like to give those prompts a whirl here.

Letter 2 is a letter to my future self:

Dear Kayla,

I hope this note finds you doing well. I want to remind you of the good in your life thus far and encourage you to keep focused on that good. The continued shift in focus helps you grow and fulfill your dreams and purpose.

By now I’m sure you’ve found your name in print another time or two, maybe even finished one of those books. If not, keep working on them. Dedicate a regular time each day or week to write. Those projects are worthwhile. I know how happy you felt as you began that young adult novel and spent Sunday afternoons at the library with Sheila. That, your children’s novel about Kensia and your hero idea all have potential. That depth you put in the pages through genuinely sharing your imagination and experience create hope and inspiration.

Keep up your work and don’t let those doubts in your head have any validation. They only come from voices who spoke curses or lies over you. Your words have a purpose, and they will find their way out.

I hope the rest of your life is going well also. You have so much going for you. Whatever you chose to pursue for school and career in terms of counseling and teaching, I hope you find fulfillment in your job and that it has the right balance of writing and engagement with people and ideas. Best of luck in all your endeavors. I love you more than you know.

Love Always,

Kayla

#Write_on: Letter 1

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Egg Press and Hello!Lucky promote National Letterwriting Month through their Write_On Challenge. They even sent me a card kit to get me started on more letters and included a zine for inspiration. The zine has 30 ideas for letters, and I’d like to give those prompts a whirl here.

The first letter is a thank you note to someone you see every day. As there aren’t many people I see every day, the people who first come to mind are my co-workers at Target. This one goes out to my teammate Chris.

Dear Chris,

I want to write a quick thank you to you to let you know that I enjoy our discussions. Talking about Supergirl and Limitless in passing after new episodes gives me a sense of something regular in my life. First I have the show, then I have an excited friend to greet me with exuberance about the latest episode; that gives me a chance to take my thoughts a little further as I share them with someone who respects them and adds to the discussion. I don’t know nearly as much about the comic world as you, but it’s fun to learn more through our dialogue.

Most importantly, I want to thank you for listening to my recent story idea. Not only did you let me voice it, but you answered my background questions and made it sound like my idea has potential and the depth to which I aim. I trust your knowledge in the subject matter and appreciate your respect to my contribution.

Thank you for being you. I enjoy your comic book and sci-fi geekiness and how you let it shine. Thank you for sharing the excitement and inspiration of Supergirl with me.

Salutations,

Kayla

 

Meetings Follow-Up

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This week has started well, especially as I mentioned the importance of meetings in my last post. I made it to church yesterday morning and my support group this evening. As I’ve ventured out from my dip in isolation, I’ve found several supportive peers and friends eager to see me and encourage me. Tonight especially, I was repeatedly reminded that I need not travel this healing road alone and that sharing my struggle (as well as my victory) frees me and opens the lane for others coming down the same road; the content of the lesson on principle 8 associated with the twelfth step in the 12 Steps, which focuses on sharing God’s word and work by example, and a personalized word of encouragement from a woman who shares a similar experience as me have made me realize a truth that’s been on my heart: I need to continue forgiving and sharing my hurts, habits and hang-ups. I NEED to take this action.

Fortunately this action can make use of my spiritual gifts of writing, encouragement and teaching…and that’s just from sharing it via writing. Here’s to sharing my recovery journey, me seeing my healing and others seeing God’s light shining in and through it.

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