Black & White

There is a challenge going around on Facebook. Seven Photos for seven days. Each day you post a black and white picture from your daily life, with no explanation. No kids, no pets.

Today I was nominated to participate. Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t just do it myself… I wanted to do it, I “liked” every post that I saw (that was participating) in hopes that someone would nominate me. I think it’s kinda funny that it happened today because the writing prompt for today was identity.

I’ve struggled for a long time with the concept of identity and actually, with the concept of black and white thinking (all or nothing- either/or vs both/and) so to get both of those things on the same day… I knew I had to post.

For a few years, “photographer” was a big part of my identity. Not nearly as long as “writer” but I almost took more pride/joy in the role of photographer. As a writer, fear got in my way so much… I was afraid to write. I was afraid to submit anything anywhere. Once I finally did, when I wound up with a rejection, it was paralyzing. The worst time being, I’d quit writing for almost a year. I was miserable. With photography though, it was instant gratification. Pictures were digital, parents were happy, I felt accomplished. Plus, I met some really cool people.

And then it happened. Whatever “it” was or is. The problems with my back. And my legs. The fibromyalgia, the chronic fatigue. I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t think I could go back to it either. Not as a job, anyway. But it was nice to go out and do something fun, snap a photo and be able to post it.

Thank God I’m back to my writing!

The “feature photograph” is the one I took and posted on Facebook. What do you think?

 

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Natalie’s On My Mind

I don’t know if she’s here because I’ve been thinking about her so much or I’ve been thinking so much about her that she’s here… It doesn’t matter I guess.

It probably has a lot to do with the writing I’ve been doing. The sister piece last week and dealing with her loss for another project due Friday…

I had a dream about her last night. I don’t think it was a visit. It didn’t feel like one. I saw her, I hugged her, I yelled at her for making us all worry ourselves sick. Turns out she’d been lost in an oil field for 14 months (???) I cried so hard with relief and then, Justin (my brother) went missing. Once I noticed Justin was gone, Natalie was gone again too.

When I woke up, I had that moment or two of not knowing what was going on and that fleeting feeling that she was still here. I actually told my brain to keep it down because if I was allowed to fully think out that thought, I’d know it wasn’t true and I couldn’t pretend. Ugh.

Last night we didn’t go anywhere to see fireworks. Tayla didn’t care that much and I’m not dealing with traffic and mosquitos for myself. Don was actually home, I don’t remember the last year the three of us were together. We were watching Spongebob when the noise got SO LOUD. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw flashes of light. I went out onto the deck and we basically had a front row seat. There was a line of trees but there was a dip in the middle, right where the fireworks were! They were beautiful. I even saw a few red hearts! I’ve never seen those before… and there were four. Not all at the same time but still…

Today we continued to pack. We did the front hall closet today which was filled with jackets and vests of Nat’s. Tayla and I tried them on and boxed them up. I can’t bear to part with them yet. Not even the ones that don’t fit either of us or neither of us would wear. There was a wave of sadness.

Onto my desk… I have a corkboard attached to my desk and a lot of pictures hanging up. I started to unpin them and put them in a photo album. Flipping through the pictures, there were more of Nat and me as little girls than I remembered… Another wave.

A song on the radio. An old card she’d sent. Memories. Wave after wave. I couldn’t get away from it. Even when we went to Don’s mom’s house. “Johnny Dangerously” was on TV. She loved that movie and we would quote it a lot.

God, I miss her so much.

I’m supposed to write about persisting and overcoming and I feel like a hypocrite whenever I start to write. I don’t feel like I’m overcoming this grief. I wonder every day if this will be the day and get swept up in the waves and carried away… I am persisting, I guess. I don’t feel very triumphant but I probably never will. Not when it comes to this grief. I’ll never overcome it or get over it… I’ll just have to continue living with it. Hopefully. it will lessen. I’m sure it won’t ever go away and I don’t really want it to.

“Grief can only live where love lived first”.

Struggling & Surviving

I know it’s been awhile. While I don’t like that it’s been so long, I am doing my best. I’m not going to make promises to do better because… I don’t want to set myself up for failure. If I can do better, I will.

I don’t even remember where I left off…

We did find a place to live, it’s in Burnsville. I’m so happy to be going back to that city. Even though I don’t care much for the name… BURNS-VILLE? Who came up with that? How? WHY? Ok, I couldn’t take it anymore. I did some research and if you can believe Wikipedia, “The name Burnsville is attributed to an early Irish settler and land owner, William Byrne. His surname was recorded as “Burns” and was never corrected”. Hmm. The city council must’ve been Irish too…

Anyway, we’re moving into a townhouse. It’s close to just about everywhere we go. I’m really excited. I think moving day will be July 28th. Now, if I could find the energy to start packing up boxes…

Work has been slow (and partially nonexistent when my car was out of commission). So, at the request of a friend, I applied for another job (to do in addition to, not instead of). Not many hours, which is ok with me. I’m still doing physical therapy for my back and am not 100% yet. It is a PCA job and while it’s nothing I’ve done before, the fact that my friend thought I would be good at it, really means a lot to me and makes me want to do my best.

Still, making ends meet is difficult. I know it is for most people. So what else can I do?

I can write.

I subscribe to a lot of writing newsletters, calls for submissions, writing groups etc. And I’ve found many writing projects, all of which pay. There is at least one a month, to keep me busy until November.

In May, I answered a call for submissions from “Chicken Soup” for the _________’s Soul about stepping outside your comfort zone. Trying something new. So I wrote a piece called “Mic Drop”. They say the selection process is a very long one, so not sure if/when I’ll hear back on that. I was just happy to have written and submitted something.

For June, I submitted and essay and a poem to a woman who is putting together a book called “Celebrating Sisters”. If you follow me on FB, I’m sure you saw the call. I wanted to do it. I wanted it to be an uplifting story. I wanted to let people know that even though Natalie is gone from this earth, she is not gone from my life. In some ways, I feel our relationship has gotten deeper. Stronger maybe. I believe she is ALWAYS with me. That’s really what I need. Someone who is totally focused, 100% on ME. 😛

I shed a lot of tears. I listened to her music as I wrote. I went through pictures. I cursed her. I told her I loved her and still love her… it was exhausting.

For July, I’m attempting to write for “Nevertheless We Persisted” about a turning point in our life.

2016 was such a terrible year for me… and there were many gifts that came along with the grief. I’m going to write about that. It’s due July 7th, so wish me luck!

August is about Risk. September is about Setting Boundaries. October about Mother’s of Angels and November on Redemption.

So that’s what’s been going on over on this end…

What have y’all been up to?

(No) Doubt… Anymore!

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

I’m trying on the power of positivity!

This morning I was notified that it is my one year anniversary of this blog! I knew it was coming up, but not this fast… I was kind of…astounded. A whole year? Granted, this year has both flown by and drug on and on and on.

I’m posting under today’s word of the day, doubt because honestly? I doubted I’d stay with it this long. I’ve started several blogs, four, I think. I never posted more than once or twice before I either deleted my account or just abandoned it all together.

When I started WerdyNerdyNDirty, I had a vision of a simple extension of my somewhat offbeat, quirky personality and life. It was a good two months. Full of drive and deadlines (I’d given myself but still…) I found that instead of dreading my blog, I was more creative, less inhibited and basically “got over” my need for every word to be perfect. I used to be so caught up, thinking it had to come out organically inspirational or funny. There wasn’t room for editing. “Go big or go home” right? Not that there is anything wrong with going home, I was just tired of it. Tired of my rigid expectations…

It was mainly thanks to my writing teacher, Roxanne Sadovsky and our Friday morning groups that helped me to get over myself. Learn it’s ok to be raw, or even just be.

I couldn’t very well call myself a writer if I wasn’t writing. And I longed to write. I missed it. I’ve had a lot of fun writing for you and I know that I’ll be able to get better, the more I do it and it’ll be fun to look back in a few years to see how I’ve developed as a writer. I’m sure there’ll be quite a difference.

I been writing for this blog for a month and a half when I lost Noah. Blogging help me through it. As painful as it was to share and process, I’m sure it was an integral part of my process. A month and a half after that, we lost my sister Natalie.

Typing that last sentence still brings the sting of the tears. It’s so fitting that she LOVED the movie Alice in Wonderland (she even got married on the date printed on the Mad Hatters hat, 10/6!) because I feel like I’ve been free falling down the rabbit hole since May 19th. Prior to her death, the most devastating loss had been my grandma on Christmas Eve, 2009. Oh my God, I didn’t think I’d ever get over that. It took me years before I stopped having that dream where she was just on vacation. It was all a mistake. She was going to be so upset when she came home to find it had been sold while she was away…

I don’t really want to compare the two losses, there’s not really even a way. I never expected to lose my sister. My little sister. The light and the joy of so many people’s lives. Even knowing she’d relapsed, being the one telling her she was going to die if she didn’t cut it out… there was no way to prepare. A lot of days, it still feels like a brand new shock. Realizing it’s coming up on a year, it feels like a brand new level of Hell. Time is passing, life is going on, for others but somehow…I’m stuck. It’s still so fresh. People tell me “it gets better”, some tell me “it never gets easier” or “you’ll find a new normal”… I sure as shit hope “this” isn’t the new normal.

At least I think people have stopped telling me, for the most part, that “she’s in any pain. She’s in a better place” etc because hopefully they realized by telling me this, it made me think “I don’t want to be in pain. I want to be in a better place. I want to join her.” And then a timely quote literally fell into my lap. I dropped my phone and when I picked it up, it said “suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just gives it to someone else”. I don’t wish this kind of pain on anyone. So I write. And I cry. And I listen to her music. I try to take one day at a time, careful not to sleep through too many in a row and miss out on all the beauty that still surrounds us.

Wow, as we say in our family “that took a turn”. Meant to write about self-doubt and creativity… I guess this all applies. It’s given me purpose and direction. I hear that it helps other people too which is just icing on the cake. I hear Cheryl Strayed talk about how her mother’s death, as horrible as it was to lose her, made her a better person. As much as I don’t want to be a better person because of Natalie’s death, it would be much worse to stay the same.

I want to be an advocate and help others, I’m not sure I can do that just yet or what it will look like when I do get involved but I’ll keep y’all in the loop, no doubt about it.

Good Mourning

Grief is complex and often times confusing. Today is the six month anniversary of my sister Natalie’s death from addiction. Six months. Six? As in 6, 6? Like 1,2,3,4,5,6? My how the time flies when your stuck in an endless loop of sadness… In a therapy group meeting, I mentioned that today would be a difficult day for me, given the occasion. Around the room I heard gasps and whispers, I saw eyes widen and heads shake. Someone made a statement akin to what I just expressed and… I, I was offended.

“What do you mean, 6 months already?”

Just what I said, how can you not know what I mean? How can you question the validity of my statement? Haven’t you felt her absence every second of every day? I feel like I have.

But what’s the point?

Here’s what I’ve learned in therapy:

Emotions. E-Motion. Emotions are guides to helping us understand what we need. The things we need to do. It puts the “motion” in emotion.

Fear is about keeping us safe. You’re afraid to walk down a dark alley in a bad part of town? Good! Don’t do it, you might get hurt.

Anger gives us the energy to make a change, to set limits and boundaries around situations or people that might be unhealthy.

Grief/Sadness? It allows us to be comforted. To bring us into relationship, at a point in time when we really need it.

I need it. I’m in a place where I’ve never before felt such intense levels of all three of those emotions, for this long of a time period.

I feel so lonely, even though I know I have lot’s of people to lean on for support… I just don’t have the energy to even reach out.

Nat’s death, especially with the holidays around the corner, is getting worse. It’s getting harder with the six month mark because I think, for me, the permanency is setting in. The holiday music is killing me. She loved Christmas and every time I got to see her, it felt like Christmas to me. I heard Mariah Carey sing “All I Want for Christmas” the other day. I’ve disliked that song since 2009, when grandma died…and not so much as dislike the song, just teary, every time I hear it, I cry myself into a little puddle.

Today we are going to a candlelight service at the Washburn – McReavy. It’s not just for our family but all of the families they’ve served this year… it just happens to fall on the exact 6 month marker. I kinda feel like I have to go.

“Why do you have to go? Can’t you just light a candle at home?”

I could, but I guess I kinda feel like how many more functions will there be where Natalie is apart of the event… I have to go. I have to celebrate her with others. I have to remind myself that death is a part of life and it’s not permanent… the separation, I mean.

I recently read a quote by Chuck Palahniuk that made me hold my breath in pause, in awe for a moment before resuming my breathing… Here it is:

chuck-palahniuk-quote

Interesting food for thought morsel, isn’t it?

What are your thoughts on grief or emotions in general? I’d love to hear about it or fell free to share a story in memory of a loved one in the comments section below!

90% Is Showing Up

I was talking about me, not you. You can stick around if you want to but don’t expect anything brilliant… Seriously, you won’t miss anything if you don’t ready through this post and I’ll probably never even know you didn’t get through my entire near-incoherent ramblings… but if I do… Kidding. It’s late and I’m tired. And, I want to practice what I preach. Not that I go around preaching all the time to everyone anyway… Yep, this is how it’s going to be. See? Ya didn’t miss a thing.

Why am I writing when I think I have nothing to say? Because I am a writer. “A writer writes- Always”. Success and it’s weight/measure of worth is often a matter of opinion and an abstract concept. Tayla wants to be a writer but she is scared she won’t do it right, so she does nothing. It took me a good 20 years to realize there is no right or wrong way… I guess, if you want to get all technical, I suppose there is a wrong way but the wrong-est way to write, is not at all. Sure you’ll write badly. I just did. (Wrongest?) We can’t all write all right all the time (did I lose any of you there?) I tell her it takes practice. It’s a discipline (it’s a pain in the ass). Steven King talks about showing up. Even if you just sit at your desk. You’re only allowed to write or be still. Guess who learned she gets restless, real fast? It’s rare that I’ll write because I’m bored but it has happened. Twice.

I decided I wanted to blog on Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s getting close to Thursday, but I can still sneak this in under the wire.

With Noah on the way, our family was talking about when/if/where we should move. What are we looking for? I thought we needed another bedroom but that’s not it. Then I thought “maybe we don’t need another bedroom, just the space arranged differently”, but it wasn’t more space. I really want a second bathroom but I am willing to compromise on a single. What I will not compromise on is: hardwood floors. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? It does to me and I’m the one thinking it. I’m trying to rationalize it, understand it but- it. will. not. budge.

When we started our discussion, Don & I weren’t even light years near each other. He wants to stay in the suburbs, I want to move back to Minneapolis. He doesn’t care if we have a deck, patio or lawn- I NEED at least one of those. I’d like a yard (and maybe a dog!).He says we can afford this price bracket, I thought something a little different. Eventually, I started to cry. Not to win an argument but (and hopefully a lot of this is the hormones talking) because I felt trapped. We’re never going to move, we’re stuck here forever. I understood why he wanted to stay in the area, school, work, to piss me off… but I knew he didn’t understand why I wanted to leave.

Living in Minneapolis was one of the best experiences of my life. It was while living in Mpls. that I met Don and we moved into our first place together. It’s where we lived when our daughter was born. I remember spending hours in the bedroom window, listening to the street traffic, the drunks speaking several volumes above what they needed to be heard, all that music… I watched the lights. They skyline. That one building, I still don’t know which one it is but the top of it was rainbow colored and changed as if the wind were moving the lights along.

It’s the epitome of hip. (Shit. Did I just use the word hip in a non-medical way? Fuck.)

It’s great for people watching, story writing and cultivating an appreciation for what’s around you… I mean, that’s what it was for me. I felt alive! Vibrant! Empowered. I want Tayla to have that same experience. She’s all about it, btw.

And what does any of this have to do with the price of tea in China? Every place I lived in Minneapolis, had hardwood floors. Just by seeing hardwood floors or a couple of archways  brings me right back. I feel younger. Healthier. More creative. If I could find that in the suburbs, I could stay. I need that though. That connection is like my umbilical cord. One toward what I considered my best self. After realizing how much time I currently spend at home and knowing I’ll soon be here/there even more? I’d better LOVE it!

Hey, I did it! I did write a post today. Nice. If you’ve read this far, thanks! If I could ask a favor? Does anyone know what the other 10% of success is? And who has my cupcake?

 

Hello & Welcome!

Have a seat… or take a stand… your choice, I’m not here to tell you what to do… I’m here to tell you what I did! Or said! Or thought. Or wished. Or… you get the idea…

Here on this blog I’m going by SpiredOne. Or if you read it another way, SpireDone because WordPress won’t allow spaces or capitalization or symbols… free speech/expression my ass. It brings the phrase “WWJD” to mind and I’ll tell you, Jesus would allow all of those things…He’s totally cool like that.

I digress. I chose the name because I like the word spire~ not just for its meaning (1.The highest point or summit of something 2.End, extreme, limit) but because you can attach so many different prefixes to the word and have a myriad of meanings:

(A)spire

(Con)spire

(In)spire

(Per)spire

See what I mean? This is just the tip of the iceberg with how technical I can get with words. Not just in a blog post but everyday conversation!

Again, I digress. And apologize.

So what IS this blog about? I don’t know yet, but I invite you to come along with me as I discover what’s important to me and hopefully you will find what’s important to you too.

A few fun facts about me (I don’t know what qualifies them as fun per se but “fun fact” is a very common term and I’m in a hurry right now but I promise* not to be so lazy in the future)!

*Promise means I’ll try*

Ok, facts!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit whacky and sometimes go all over the place to make a point, or, a joke. I have performed on stage in a few of the comedy clubs around town and even landed myself amongst the short list of semi-finalists in Acme Comedy Club’s “Twin Cities Funniest Person” contest last year. (2015)

I am a creative nonfiction writer who mainly focuses on personal essay/memoir writing. I have been published in two anthologies, a print publication and a couple of places online as well.

I keep secrets at my desk… not like a secret-secret but a … you know… a thingy of Secret deodorant to remind myself that writing is hard work. (What are those things called?! A tube? A roll? Those aren’t right… a container?)

I get easily sidetracked, but I can focus like a mo-fo when it comes to replaying mistakes or possible mistakes I’ve made during the day, the hour, my entire life…

I swear. A. Fucking. Lot. I’m holding it all in (mostly) for you guys, for now.

If you are easily offended, this is NOT the place for you.

How’d I do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Feel free to tell me what you liked or didn’t like & PLEASE for the love of Christ, tell me what that damn deodorant thingy is called!

 

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Yes, I am already bringing Jesus into this.