Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Family Conversation

If you have ever wondered how I ended up being the slightly insane, excessively weird person I am, well speculate no more. As a treat, today the velvet rope is down. I am letting you see behind the heavy drapes concealing the inner-workings of my DNA.

The following are screen shots of a group text conversation my mother sent to me and sister this morning. In the text--and in real life for that matter--Ronnie Stewart is my mom. My sister's comments are labeled, well, "sis," and my remarks are the blue ones.

I think after reading this you will have a better understanding of the madness that courses through my veins.

  Explains a lot, doesn't it? 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I'm Positive, This Is Hard Work

Being positive sucks. It is so much easier to spend your days complaining or wallowing around
in your own crabbiness or causing others misery. I get it. I am the first to admit I have a natural tendency to head to my bed, turn off all the lights, and eat my way through a pizza while thinking of worse case scenarios of any troublesome situation I face in life. I have to make a daily conscious effort to remain positive and optimistic in my thoughts. 

Not to get all new-agey on your ass, but I believe the thoughts and actions you send out into the world are mirrored and sent back to you as circumstances in your life. If you send out thoughts of being happy, you will begin to be happy. If you send out thoughts of having enough money, you will begin to have enough money. Be careful, though, because you have to be very specific, and you have to be willing to do the work in your actions and your daily life. 

Yes, I am a positive-thinking reader and fan of books like The Secret. I believe in cosmic relationships, relationships with the Cosmic, and even that certain sound waves can affect your mood and thinking. I try to meditate. Most importantly, I try to do good things—help people who need it, be a friend, volunteer for a cause, and other pleasant things. But the core of my living a positive life is found deep down inside me in a place only I can access. It is a place I have to nurture and tend to regularly.

If I don’t, just like the potted plants sitting on my porch in the August heat and humidity, it will begin to droop
and wilt away, slowly dying and leave me feeling uneasy and full of gloom and doom. When this does happen, when I fall off the Positive Wagon, I can immediately tell a difference in not only my thinking but also the way I feel physically. My snarkiness fades, my energy level drops, and anxiety rises. I feel like a cartoon character who has a little black rain cloud following him wherever he goes. 

A good example of this occurred just a couple of weeks ago. At the end of July, I attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, a week-long writing event held at the Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky. This workshop is one of the South’s most prominent gatherings of writers, drawing participants from all over the country. The setting is very similar to summer camp with the exception being the average age of the campers is probably somewhere in the mid-40s. 

Some aspects of human nature never really change, though, regardless of the age of the group. When you have a hundred people gathered together in communal living, you are going to have groups that naturally form among certain attendees. Also, this workshop is in its 36th year, so you have people who are regular attendees who look forward to spending the week with old friends each year. All completely understandable. 

Then there is me. 

This was only my second year attending, and in my crazy obsession to fit in and be friends with every one, I wanted to be a part of every group. I wanted immediate, deep friendships, complete with inside jokes, nicknames, and “remember when” stories. Of course, I already knew many of the attendees who were there and was busy creating those exact types of friendships. But instead of focusing on that, I chose to worry
about whether or not this person or that person liked me, about whether or not I would be invited to a party or a get-together, about whether or not I had made a good impression on some random stranger I had just met. Suddenly, I let my 42-year old self become an insecure high-school freshman all over again.
Thankfully, I realized this before the week at Hindman was over. I gave myself a swift kick to the rear, knocking my head loose from its stuck position there, and started counting my blessings for the week: I was getting to know my current friends there on a deeper level, I had made several new friends with whom I really connected and hoped would continue getting to know better, and had received many compliments and encouragement on my writing from both faculty and attendees. 

As soon as I realized this and began to view the positive, my entire outlook changed. I was energized and inspired. I was happy meeting and talking to whoever I could that week, and I came home with a bag full of ideas for new writing and several new friends.

For me, being positive is work. It is a conscious decision that I have to commit to daily. The alternative is unacceptable to me. The results are so worth whatever self-butt-kicking is needed in order to be happy.

I guess what I am saying is that it takes a lot of work to be as fabulous as me.