Review

Unforgivable

Unforgivable

 

Is there really anything that is unforgiveable? Something so bad that we just can’t accept or pardon?  For me – YES.  There are definitely things, acts, decisions, and actions in this world that I will never be able to forgive, not even for myself if I did them.  Before you start throwing your judgment darts at me – let me remind you that I’m not God.  I am a human being, filled with both the capability and capacity to do good AND evil, to love and hate, to judge and forgive.

However what does it really mean to forgive? What makes the things we do either good or evil? How are our actions and thoughts placed upon the morality scale?  Who made the scale? Is the scale the same for everybody else?

This is the cause of many wars, mankind’s idea of what is right, wrong, moral, and divine.  It’s a battle of ego – who’s right and wrong, whose god is the real god, whose god is the false god, and of what is truth and what is defined as opinion.  For me, and I can only speak for me, we don’t really need those ‘written’ laws, decrees, commandments to know the difference between right and wrong.  We know it the moment we think or commit an act if it’s wrong or evil, and that’s when we start looking for excuses and loopholes to try and feel better about our decisions. Getting caught or being sorry has nothing to do with forgiveness.

I have done evil. I have done thing in my life that when I did them, I knew it was wrong, not because someone told me, or a religion commanded and declared it so, but from this gut feeling, this sinking knowledge deep inside that let me know it was wrong.  I have acted in anger, jealousy, hurt, selfishness and pride – and cast my judgement on others for doing the same. There may have been reasons, but there is never any excuse.

Am I unforgivable?  I can’t speak for others or for God, only for myself. It has taken me years to forgive myself for some of the things I’ve said or done, there are some other things I’m still working on making right. Not by saying, “I’m sorry.” No, by studying my true intentions, my true motives, my true desires and trying to understand and learn, to see the consequences of my choices, and how those choices affected others and the world around me. Did I learn something from them? I can’t even begin forming the idea of forgiveness until I understand and face the dirty, ugly truth of my actions.

Forgiveness isn’t a word, it’s a state of being. I can’t just give it to myself, I must step into the truth of it, and I can’t do that unless I first face my offenses, face my actions, face my consequences in TRUTH. Then … when I look upon myself, my true self, I have another choice …to love myself anyway – as the dirty, sinful, hateful, pathetic and weak being that I am – love myself anyway.  I am NOT talking about making an excuse – but really seeing the truth of me. THEN – and only then will forgiveness become available. Some of us have done so much for so long our souls no longer cry out and we no longer feel any shame or pain.  In essence we have lost our souls and are dead inside. Forgiveness is for the soul, so it’s not going to be available for the soulless.

I’m sure we’ve all done things that we are not proud, that we are ashamed, that haunt our souls – for those of us who still have them. I’m sure we’ve all lost our minds sometime in moments of weakness, moments of pain, and moments of fear, leading us to do unspeakable things. Ignoring our truth doesn’t make them go away. Denying truth doesn’t make things in a state of have never happened.

Seek forgiveness and free your soul. All – not some of us, but ALL have fallen short of the glory of God.  The difference is who stays there and who rises. Don’t lose your soul. Don’t ignore your truth. Seek and find your forgiveness. Only YOU can do it.  Let stop worrying about what others have done – and look to ourselves.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Musing, Philosophy, Poetry, Quotes, Relationships, Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Joy of Writing

The Joy of Writing

I’ve read many of stories or books that start the title “The Joy of Writing,” but never really consigned myself to the concept.  Writing was anything but a joy. It was exciting, thrilling, frustrating, stressful, mind-blowing, and confusing and every other emotion on the spectrum from one extreme to the other. But, joy?

Do we categorize breathing as a joy? Or how about urination or yawning, or sleeping?  Well, I can see where sleeping might sometimes be a joy.  But how can we categorize natural occurrences, something that so much a part of you and instinctual be considered a joy?    Writing is part of who I am. Constructing a story is a part of my every day, every moment existence. I see the world as one long epic tale, and each major event it’s chapters, and each segment a paragraph, a sentence, or a word. Those moments are what makes up life and as a writer I am a recorder, a scribe, and an observer of life.

I don’t just write for fun, or therapy, or clarity, or need. I write because it’s who I am.  It’s like being a mother. While there are all the books out there in the world that tell us how to be a mother, I found out that being a mother is a natural thing, a instinctual thing.  My choice comes into play by deciding what type of mother to be – nurturing or neglectful, etc.  I am a writer and the only choice I have within this vocation is what kind of writer to be – and if you’ve followed me for any length of time you will find that I am a multiple-faceted writer – a writing diamond. I’ve dabbled in journaling, blogging, novels, novellas, epics,  punditry, op-eds, technical, business professional, auto-biographical, legal, free verse, poetry, screenplays, reviews, editorials, memes, short stories, flash fiction,  and songwriting lyrics. If I think about it, I’m sure I could add a few more in there – but I think you get the picture. Writing is just something I do. It’s natural.

Yet, writing isn’t without its own rules, standards and styles.  So, I have to learn them. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are just basic skills needed to be a writer, because after that comes tense, perspective, pacing, style, structure, threads, inciting scenes, prologues, forwards, and on and on and on.  These are skills developed over time and experience.

So, how is writing a joy?  I suppose the joy of writing is the ability to do it, and love doing it in the first place. I do love writing. It’s a part of me that comes alive and thrives within me. I am a collector of stories, a re-teller of tales, a silver-tongue, a scribe, a keeper of legends. How can one not find joy in that? When we leave this world, all we leave behind is our story.  Who will read it or hear it unless it has been written? I don’t need a Sorcerer’s Stone to make me immortal – I just need to write. While my body will leave this place one day and turn to dust, my stories will remain until it is no longer retold or pages are lost.

That’s one thing that makes me sad – the forgotten of those that were here before.  I sometimes walk graveyards and whisper to the headstones, “Hey, I see your name. You existed. You once were here and you once lived.” I know it’s probably crazy, but I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t others to be forgotten. I don’t our history to be forgotten. I am an orphan and often feel forgotten in the world, so I write. Oh, the joy of writing.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

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Find Something Worth Dying For …

 

Irish Gladiator

A friend of mine has an Irish Gladiator banner hanging on his wall that says, “Find something worth dying for, and live for it.” I call this saying a Scottism. For several weeks now that phrase has been rolling around in the back of my mind, trying to find a tendril of understanding to latch onto, because in its simplicity it’s very profound.

Just the first part alone – the very first part – to “find.”  To find indicates an effort, a movement, the making of a decision that’s followed by action.  FIND – seek, explore, hunt, track down, identify, discover, uncover, etc. It doesn’t say wait for something … but FIND.  Get off your ass and hunt it down!

That’s where we fail as a society right out of the gate.  We’ve become a culture that doesn’t hunt, that doesn’t seek, and sure as hell doesn’t find. We want everything given to us without any effort of our own, and then lie to ourselves and tell ourselves we ‘deserve’ it.  I once heard another statement that said, “Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve and Mercy is Him holding back what we do deserve.” What the hell do any of us really deserve?  We often get what we seek to find. If we seek shit, we find shit. We seek destruction, we find destruction.  If we seek shallow plastic, we find shallow plastic – and then bitch about only having shallow plastic.  Oh, what a world in which we live. But, thank God not everyone is that way – just the majority of common people. I thank God that “I’m uncommon amongst uncommon people.” LOL (Shout out to David Goggins for that motto – it’s ingrained into my soul now.)

Back to the Scottism I’ve been working on – Find something worth dying for…” If you really think about that – what on this earth is worth dying for? For me, EVERY bit of it is intangible. I would never die for stuff, titles, money, opportunities, or luxury. Yet, I watch people daily sell their souls and step over humanity to obtain these things that will one day burn to ash. No, all the things I would die for are intangible – Love being the greatest of these. Freedom – and man it has a high cost.  Faith – I would die for faith – believing in something bigger than myself, and in someone I love. Family – I would die to protect my family. Hope – I would die to keep hope, because I know that without hope I would already be dead.  Purpose – I would die trying to live with a purpose. But, not much else.

I think before we put our lives on the line for the things we deem worthy to die for, we should really consider the true cost. It shouldn’t be a whim, but a truth we diligently had to search for, dig for, and then find.  But, once we got it – once we’ve given it the respect of discovering the truth of it – then and only then does the second part of that statement come to live – and hit home.  THEN … LIVE for it.

Dying for something is actually the easy part. True strength is coming from being able to LIVE for the things we would die for. God, if we would really take the time and think about all the stupid shit we waste our time chasing and started loving and appreciating the things in this world that were truly important – truly worth dying for – our lives would have so much more meaning and value. We chase after pretty faces, cold hearts, baseless and useless shit – and then bitch about it – because the truly valuable things are not easy, often not pretty, and on the surface doesn’t look spectacular. But, how blessed are we when we do get ahold of it? When we truly open our hearts and let the real shit in – the real pain – the real love – the real purpose?  Wow, just wow. Thank you, Scott for that inspiration. I don’t know where you got it – and it really doesn’t matter – because it’s latched onto my soul now.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Destiny, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, Musing, Musing., poem, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beautiful Complexity

Hello words.  It’s been a while.  I’ve missed you. It’s good to be back.  There’s so many things I could say with my mouth, but there’s so much more that I am able to say with my fingertips, which are extension of my thoughts… thoughts that are only buried deep in my heart and mind.  My mouth can’t often express them, and most of the time comes out wrong when I try.  But, my fingers… ah, my fingers weave magic.  They’re like a silver-tongue, able to coax words out of their darkness to dance upon the page in beautiful black font. My mouth often fails me, but not my words.

 

When I speak, my feelings, emotions, prejudices, and expressions get in the way of what I truly want to say. My vocal self is a mess.  Humanity is complex.  I wonder if the rest of life on this planet, or even in this universe, is as complex as the human mind.  There are so many parts – some strong, some fragile, some hidden, some obvious.  Our epidermis is only our shell.  How deep do our minds really go? What of the spirit? What of the heart? Simple; yet complex.

 

I’m forty-six years old, my temporary life on this planet is already half over and I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of understanding what living means.  I’ve been living, but my appreciation for it has been clouded.  My heart sinks at the thought of how much of my short life I’ve wasted. Yet, I can say I don’t have much regret.  I have many failures and lots of mistakes, but very little regret. 

 

Existential questions plague me.  Not because I’ve got to know answers. Don’t get me wrong, I have a curious mind and searching for answers will always be one of my greatest quests. However, it’s not in answers I seek most, but in purpose.  I hope my fingers can weave the question clearly for you, pull out the bits and pieces among the multitude to make my meaning clear.

 

I’ve been feeling really stressed and frustrated lately.  Not because I’ve quickly, almost overnight, have gone from a nearly lonely existence of spending ninety-five percent of my time in solitude to a full house where I have NO time alone.  I ate alone, always slept alone, and most often had my own thoughts to keep me company.  I tried dating, but found no connection with the strangers staring across the table at me, often spending my time defending myself from being pawed or molested.  My roommate/best friend and I had become distant and I found myself avoiding contact as often as possible in an effort to keep peace and preserve a sisterhood that I had dreamed about my whole life. I was taking adventures on my own, exploring the coastline for lighthouses, learning history, working out, doing anything and everything to keep my mind occupied, but I was empty; void of purpose. 

In my loneliness there was also a LOT of confusion; still today.  I am in love with a man with relationship issues and who has hurt my heart deeply. I’ve tried to pull away from him, walk away on many opportunities, but I could never just let him go, not completely.  My pride, my mind, and my will was able to put up walls, even able to convince myself I was over  him and ready to move forward, but my heart never listened.  I couldn’t stop loving him. I still can’t stop loving him. I know 

 

I will always love him. It’s a strange relationship we have. I’ve never known such depth of a connection in two souls, but on the surface, there are so many conflicts, so many differences.  We are so different from each other, have different views on so many different levels, different values, different personalities, different life patterns; we are an Oscar and Felix.  Yet, like that odd couple, we are connected in a very deep way.  Our love is a deep love and lives in such a depth, it’s almost an unspoken.  I don’t doubt his love, real love, spiritual love, deep love, but everything else (wants, desires, expectations, etc., they swim in doubts.  I never know from one minute to the next where we stand, what we are, what we’ve been, or even what the future holds for us. I can’t label our relationship.  Yet it’s enough to know that it occupies my life, it owns my heart, and I can’t give that life or heart to another. It belongs to him and him alone.  So, I’m stuck… in a confusing, beautiful, messy, uncharacteristic chaos.  Sometimes I wonder what kind of crazy test God is putting me through.  It feels unfair, unwinnable, yet beautiful and complex.  Just because I can’t identify a thing doesn’t mean that thing is any less valuable or meaningful than what I can identify. 

 

 I desperately love two teenagers that are just as precious to me as my own children.  I fell madly in love with them from the moment I met them. Actually, I think I started loving them before I met them by listening to their father speak about them.  He spoke of a lot of things, but when the topic turned to his boys, it wasn’t just his lips that moved.  His eyes lit up, his face changed, his posture changed, and the tone of his voice changed.  Love exuded from him.  His sons are his life, his pride and joy, his opus.  I could only imagine the depth of love this man possessed because of the way he spoke about his sons.  Surely if he possessed such love for them, he could provide love like that for me too.  I couldn’t wait to meet them.  When I did, I also saw the love they had for their father too.  Oh, don’t think they’re a perfect family, no family is perfect and without issues. There are issues, there are needs, and wants, and complications just like every other family, and some of theirs are big issues too.  But the love they have for one another… that’s real; that’s deep, and I connected to that love; I craved it. It felt like a centerpiece to a puzzle snapped in place, like I had been the missing link and they had been the missing pieces around me.  I fell deeply in love with all three of them, the father and sons. I loved so hard it scared me. Again, there are no perfect stories, no perfect plans, only perfected chaos.  As with everything else in life, there were issues, there are still issues, and those issues force me often to have to love them from a distance.  I was constantly reminded they were not mine; he was not mine.  I had three beautiful souls tethered to my heart, with no way to hold them or keep them. In fact, I was often pushed away.  It was tortuous to my soul.  I wanted desperately to just walk away from them so the pain in my heart would allow me to simply breathe, but I could never manage to let them go, none of them – father or sons. 

 

My own children didn’t seem to need or want me.  They never called or visited, not on holidays, birthdays or any time.  I would send them ‘good morning’ prayers/wishes, but never got a response.  My youngest would sometimes text me, to hit me up for money. My son would messenger me sometimes to see if I had watched something or heard about a new game. My oldest just never messaged at all.  I was estranged from all my family, all of them.  My parents were dead, and even when they were alive I had a failed relationship with them. My brothers didn’t even seem to remember I existed unless they were stealing from me. I had moved away from all my friends in Georgia, and they seemed to have forgotten about me. Needless to say I felt a huge failure as a parent.  I had failed as a wife. I had failed as a daughter. I had failed as a sister. I seemed to be failing as a friend. I failed as a girlfriend, and I felt as if I had failed these two boys and I had failed God and my faith.  Of all my successes in education, business, career, civic duties, physical achievements, beating cancer, getting published, receiving promotions, having a stellar resume, etc.; I seemed perfect on paper, but I felt like a failure as a human being.

 

I was lost.  I was a piece of dust blowing in the wind, searching for purpose.  I was lonely.  I would put a smile on my face every day, tell myself how much I loved myself, take selfies so I could convince myself that I was happy, but inside I was lost.  I controlled nothing.  Sometimes I would close my eyes hoping I wouldn’t open them again.  I felt rejected, unloved, unwanted, and unneeded. I desperately looked for purpose, tried to keep myself busy with adventure, and constantly sought direction.  I couldn’t understand why I was so unlovable when my heart ached because I loved so many, so deeply.  What was so wrong with me that no one wanted to love me back? That has been the question that has plagued me my whole life, starting as a child wondering how my parents could hurt me like they did, and my brothers, and God must have hated me too – he took away the only man that had ever showed he loved me on a battlefield in Somalia, to my husband who couldn’t even tell me he loved me  for the twenty years we were married, to my children running away from me or forgetting I even existed, now to man who my soul loves telling me loves me but has relationship issues,  to two teenagers boys who are mine in my heart but I have no right in their lives.

 

See, complicated mess. Simple; yet complex.  Well, that was a couple months ago.  Almost overnight I went from that lonely existence to never having five seconds to myself because that man and his sons have moved in with me (we’re together, but not together) and our relationship is still unidentifiable. I can’t even describe it.  I have my family with me, yes they are my family, and my heart couldn’t be happier.  I have them, but I don’t. They’re mine, but they’re not. They’re with me, but not with me. My youngest daughter has also come home, and she’s pregnant with my first grandbaby.  She’s here, but she’s not.  My roommate is unpredictable now, with health issues and mental issues.  She’s also here, but she’s not.  I can’t even begin to express the stresses of having 6.5 people and three dogs living in a two-bedroom apartment create.  Everyone is stressed. Everyone is doing their best to work together and keep the peace.  It’s chaos, but a beautiful chaos.

 

I’m watching that man sleep right now. He’s the most beautiful thing in the world to me, not because he’s a handsome man, and that he is, but because I see his soul – his heart, his spirit.  He’s a mess, and somedays I want to strangle him because he’s often an arrogant asshole, but he’s one of the most helpful, giving, smart, and compassionate person I’ve ever met.  So, this brings me back to my original query – that existential question – what is the meaning to all this chaos?  My frustration isn’t from the cooking, cleaning, no privacy, no time for myself, being busy working and taking care of my family, including the dogs.  No, I LOVE taking care of my family. Taking care of them gives me purpose. Taking care of them is a way to express my love and appreciation for them.  My frustration comes in not knowing what tomorrow holds. They could all leave tomorrow and I would be alone again.  I have no control over them. I can’t make them stay. I can’t make them love me or appreciate me, or even want me. My frustration comes from fear – a history of those I love leaving me.  I love my family. I love this man. I love his sons – my sons. I love my daughter. I already love my grandbaby. I love my best friend. I even love the damned dogs.  I don’t want to lose them. But, I have no power or right to keep them. I can only love them as much as I can while I have them, and continue to love them even if they leave me.

 

Love – this is the essential key to purpose and our short existence on this planet. While my life has been riddled with one chaotic event after the next, love is the one thing I never regret.  Even if I fail, even if love is never returned to me, I will never regret loving.  It’s really the only thing in the world that truly matters.  While I may not be able to identify my relationships right now, and I can’t’ put any of them in any known or familiar box (girlfriend, friend, step-mom, Gigi (that’s the name I hope my grandbaby calls me), bestie, roommate, lover, etc., there is love in and around all of it.  I love Jon. I love Anthony. I love Nathan. I love Kelly. I love Little K. I love Jenna. I love Nova. I love Bella. I love Gizmo. I love Johnathan. I love Meagan. 

 

God is love.  Where there is love, God is there also.

 

Till next time,

 

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, blogging, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Muses, music, Philosophy, poem, Poetry, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Stars

Counting Stars

By One Republic

I’ll get into the lyrics of this song in a minute.  I haven’t heard it in a couple years, but listening to it on my way home from work today brought me right back to a place in time when I was fighting for my life.  I can almost remember the very moment this song came alive to me.  I had heard it several times on the radio, and while I thought it had a catchy tune, it didn’t really mean anything. Yet, one afternoon I found myself sitting by the lake at my apartment on Alvin Street, watching the sun glisten on the water’s surface, ducks flying overhead, a cool breeze in the air, when a soft thought popped into my mind, whispering to me that nobody cared, that all the sacrifices I’d made in my life were for nothing, that all the love I gave was never returned, that I didn’t matter.  I’d just been invited to be part of an anthology with some of the writers I admired, had no one with which to celebrate my achievement. I thought I could easily slip into that cold, frigid lake and no one would even notice this selfish, rebellious, unlovable woman was gone.  I felt the pressure and judgment of the world on my shoulders.  All the voices of the people who told me I was making a mistake by getting a divorce, that I was disobeying and disappointing my god, that I was being rebellious and selfish because I wanted to be in love, that what I wanted was stupid, a fairy tale. I had the world.  I had a good career. I had a good marriage. I had a good family. I had a good inheritance. I had a good reputation. I had a picture-picture resume life.  My writing career was taking off, and I was beloved and respected by my community; a pillar they called me, a monument of strength of character.  I had everything a good Christian woman desired in her life. Someone told me once that I was selfish for not being content with the life I had, that my desire to want more, was an insult to the god I claimed I loved.  How could God love me for being so selfish? To want more was to distrust God.

I didn’t want riches. I didn’t want fame. I had opportunity to have both and walked away. I just wanted to be loved, to be wanted, to be desired… to be heard, to matter, to make a difference in this cold world, for humanity to love each other, not hate each other proving who was right. I wanted fathers not to hurt their little girls, and mothers not to be ashamed and hide behind pills, and brothers that didn’t steal and lie to each other, or sisters who supported each other and not be in competition, and kids who didn’t take the strength of their parents as a sign of not caring, and parents who remembered their kids were not their property but individual human beings with their own thoughts, ideas, plans and dreams. I felt at odds with the universe.

I closed my eyes, felt the warm sun on my face, slipped my feet out of my shoes and edged by toes toward the cold water of the lake’s edge when this song suddenly came on my iPod and filled my ears, and the tears spilled down my face.  This was a song from me, to me, in that moment.  My inner-self called out to my spiritual-self, and the words never meant something more beautiful than what they did that cold, cold autumn afternoon.

 

Lately I been, I been losing sleep

Dreaming about the things that we could be

But baby I been, I been prayin’ hard

Said no more counting dollars

We’ll be counting stars

Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

 

Counting stars… wow! One of my favorite quotes in the world, something that gave me strength through the years was from A Knights Tale when a declaration was made to change a person’s stars, to change the destiny the world had given them, to be more than what society deemed as acceptable. Before that movie even came out, my best friend in the world – who became the love of my life, made a promise that we would rise above our stations in life and change our stars.   I fought my whole life to be more than what I was born into, more than what society dictated, and I worked hard my whole life to rise above my beginning, my inheritance, and my lot in life.  No one was going to tell me my limits.  I pushed them, and I soared well above them. When my drug-dealing father was arrested, I was deemed a miscreant, told by a bigshot D.A. at the age of sixteen I was going to grow up and be nothing more than one of my father’s whore drug runners, a high-school dropout, and in prison before twenty.   I changed my stars and proved them wrong, living a clean life, a vanilla life free of drugs, gangs, cartels, and miscreants.   When I lost a college scholarship because I became a teen mother, and chose to keep and raise my baby, I changed my stars by paying my own way through college, and working three jobs at the same time supporting myself. When the love of my life died in combat and left me alone in this world, I still remember the promises we made to change our stars. I never forgot. I will never forget.  I’m not counting one star… I’m counting on changing many, many, many, many, many more stars. I have, and I will change even more. I’m still counting them, baby.

 

I see this life

Like a swinging vine

Swing my heart across the line

In my faces flashing signs

Seek it out and ye shall find

 

Life isn’t about what comes at you or is presented to you.  You have to chase it down.  You have to go after what you want. You have to take a chance.  Yes, you can fall. Hell, you will probably fall a lot more than you’ll ever fly. Yes, you can grab hold of a weak vine and it causes you to crash to the ground, but that doesn’t mean you stop swinging.  It means you get back up and grab the next one and see where it takes you.

 

The old, but I’m not that old

Young, but I’m not that bold

And I don’t think the world is sold

I’m just doing what we’re told

 

Excuses.  The world if full of them, but we have to be willing to argue back with it, set our own limits, tell ourselves what we are going to do and how we’re going to do it.  We can’t be afraid.  We can’t think inside the box.  Don’t allow ourselves to be put in a box… too old, too young, too weak, too strong, too fat, too skinny, too uneducated, too educated, too smart, too dumb, too experienced, too inexperienced.  Tell the world to go fuck itself, and stop doing what it tells you.

 

I, feel something so right

Doing the wrong thing

I, feel something so wrong

But doing the right thing

I could lie, could lie, could lie

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

 

You can’t change or count your stars if you’re too busy living under everyone else’s judgements, ideas, and limits.  You determine what’s right and what’s wrong for YOU and tell everyone else to go fuck themselves.  Am I disappointing my god?  That’s between me and my god and nobody else’s business.  Live your own dream.  Find someone that supports that dream, and made damned sure that if you’re supporting someone else’s dream, that it’s their dream and not yours for them. You’ve got no right to dream for someone else.

 

I feel the love

And I feel it burn

Down this river every turn

Hope is a four letter word

Make that money

Watch it burn

 

Looking for the world’s definition of love or success, it’ll never work, it’ll never satisfy, and it’ll always burn.  It’s fire, it’s poison, it’s shallow, and it stings.  Too many people fall in love with the idea, the dream, the image of what they believe is love, instead of falling in love with the real person right in front of them. When they get disappointment because the person doesn’t live up to the perfect image that was created in their minds, they blame the person instead of themselves for building impossible standards anyone could ever hope to reach. It’s not fair.  We have to come to a maturity in our lives so that when we look at someone we are not naïve to their flaws, but embrace them, and love them just as they are in spite of them, not only loving the truth of who they are, but for the potential of who they’re capable of being because they too hold the power to change their own stars. The first step to changing stars is seeing the truth, exactly as it is in all its ugliness. But when we can’t even see the truth of the stars in front of us, how can we expect to change anything?  We change nothing and then we live our lives chasing THINGS… things that will burn or turn to rust, things we cannot control, cannot contain, things that slip right through our fingers and burn in front of us. We exchange our stars for temporary things, for temporary love, for temporary people… ideals instead of reality, fantasies instead of truths, we lose out on real love for infatuation and lust.

 

I could lie, could lie, could lie

Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly

Take that money and watch it burn

Sink in the river the lessons I learned

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Songwriters: RYAN TEDDER

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

Can’t you feel it?  This song reminded me of the promise I made as a hopeful fourteen-year old girl, sitting with her back against her locker next to this dorky, long-legged awkward boy named James, dreaming with our young, naïve hearts of how we were going to change our stars. I felt that promise that day by the cold lake through this song, and it stirred something deep within me, and it’s stirring something else within me today.  I heard that familiar whisper during my flu delirium, reminding me that my love hasn’t found me, that though I’m loved, I’m never chosen, I’m never fought for, and that if I want anything in this world I’m going to have to fight for it on my own or provide it for myself. I understand now, I need a star counter, because I’m a star counter.  I could never be content with someone that can’t even recognize their own stars, much less who isn’t constantly counting new ones.  I won’t ever be silent. I won’t ever be content. I am bigger than this life, much more than the boxes offer.  I am at odds with the universe, because I too am expanding, seeking, and counting stars… and it’s time I got back to it.

I too am a star.  My own sun, shining brightly, soaring in this universe, But I’m not one to be caught so easily. If you can’t even see me, the real me, then maybe I’m just a little too bright or a little too hot for you, or you just don’t belong in my universe.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, music, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Review, song, Song Review, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

 

I’ve started a new chapter. I’m facing a new mountain. I’m not just talking in my novel, but in my life.  How many chapters does that make it now?  How many mountains are behind me? Let’s just say on Sunday I’m turning (45) forty-five.  Wow.  I don’t feel forty-five, and yet I feel like I’ve already lived a hundred lives.  How many times have I started over? How many mountaintops have I crested? I can break my life into several different segments, each filled with adventure and tragedy, love and hate, hurt and healing.  Some of it terrible, but some of it great.  I feel I’m both blessed and cursed.  Where am I now?  What new valley do I enjoy now?  What new mountain do I face to climb?

I look around me and I don’t recognize much of me.  I’m living in someone else’s apartment, surrounded by someone else’s things, in someone else’s town.  At moments, this reality is overwhelming and I cry for my space, I cry for my familiar things stuffed away in some storage unit.  I often feel my life is stuffed away, melting in the heat, locked away, confined, and forgotten. I had begun discovering myself, gathering things around me that were mine.   It’s always “soon” I’ll have my space.  “Soon” I’ll get my things back.  “Soon” I can get back to my life.  Yet, soon keeps getting pushed back one extended lease at a time.  It was just supposed to be for a few months.  In a couple weeks it’ll be a year.  In my experience… soon often never comes. I feel helpless, trapped and wonder how I got here, why I’m here, and how long will I have to stay?

Other times, I’m grateful for where I am, because I’m not alone and I know my best friend and roommate loves me and all the mess that I am.  The confined space is suffocating me, but her presence, her love, and her acceptance helps me when I fall into that panic mode.  I love having her around, I just wish we had a bigger apartment.  Being confined into small places stirs up childhood and other nightmares. Sometimes I can’t breathe and become filled with anxiety.  She also works from home, which means during her work hours (which are late afternoons) our small space becomes even smaller because I have to be quiet and stay in my room. It’s not so bad when I can go outside, go explore my new city, go enjoy the beauty of nature.  But it’s July in Florida and hotter than hell, and being outside during the daytime hours literally makes me sick.  I mean, puking-my-guts-out-and-getting-overheated-or-burned-to-a-crisp sick. My confinement becomes even smaller, and I feel like I’m locked away in a jail cell.  Sometimes I can literally hear the slam of a thick, metal door, and the sound of sliding steel as the lock catches.  Even the door to my bedroom gets stuck sometimes and is hard to open, which causes my feeling of confinement and panic to rise. I know it isn’t real, just a ghost image my mind uses to torture me, but I hear and feel it. 

I miss my things. I miss my space. I miss my kids. I miss the mountains. I miss the woods. I miss a lot of things.  But, I don’t miss the isolation, the feeling of being lost and forgotten and unnecessary. After 20 years of marriage, 18 years of church service.  After two decades of hard work to climb the corporate ladder.  After 25 years of motherhood.  I felt like none of it mattered, all the sacrifice I made was for nothing.  No one cared.  I had nothing to offer anymore, so I wasn’t necessary and became forgotten, tossed aside. I just wanted to be loved, but it seems I could never do enough to earn that from anyone. I walked away, and no one stopped me from leaving.  Then my body turned on me too.  I hit bottom a couple years ago, as low as one could go.  I faced death, and he almost won, but he didn’t.  I’ve been fighting to pick myself up from those deep trenches, ever since.  I can’t express or explain or even describe what it’s like to prepare to die.  I didn’t prepare, I imploded. But this blog post isn’t about staying in that dark place.  On the contrary, I’ve posted all the darkness above to lead to this point so that you can see the light.  There is light, there is hope, and there is freedom.  Yes, I’m still in a small confined place, and some days it’s very over-whelming.  BUT, I’m also in a good place because the doors are not locked.  I am not alone.  I will have my space, but this time it won’t be a place of darkness, of sadness, or of loneliness.  I just have to hold on for a little while longer, and “soon” will happen before I know it.  Yes, I’ll still have days of panic.  Yes, I’ll still have days of extreme anxiety.  But, I don’t have to face those days alone.  I still miss my kids, but they’re grown and living their lives without me and finding their way in this world.  My ex-husband has now remarried.  My ex-church has accepted the new couple and replaced me very easily.  My ex-in-laws now have a daughter-in-law in whom they can be proud.  Those chapters in my life are now closed.

So, yes, I’m starting a new chapter.  As with every new chapter, it takes a little while before you get to the inciting scene, the moment when everything changes.  The beginning of a climb is often slow and the size of the mountain seems overwhelming and a huge obstacle.  It won’t be until I reach near the summit before I will feel victorious, but I have my eyes locked onto my goal, onto my target, and though it will be a difficult climb and push me to the edges of my strength and will, I will succeed.  Do you know how I know?  Because this isn’t the first mountain I’ve climbed, nor is it the biggest or toughest mountain I’ve faced.  The biggest difference …I’m not climbing on my own.  I have two wonderful people in my life right now that have their own climb to make and we’re climbing together.  This time, I’m there to lend a hand when they need it, and to grab a hand when I need one.  I don’t know what struggles tomorrow holds, and I’m sure there will be many, all I know is that I don’t have to face them alone. 

Till next time,

~Mountain Climber

Categories: Blog Hop, Faith, Flash Fiction, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, Muses, Philosophy, Poetry, relationship, Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sleight by Sloane Kady

Sleight Sloane Kady

I promised this review a few weeks ago, but life got in the way and I’m late.  I apologize to author Sloane Kady for my lateness. I made a promise, so here I am.  Please visit Ms. Kady’s website here.

It’s actually hard for me to review this novel.  The first paragraph grabbed hold of me and I actually got a little scared to read any further.

“I’m the daughter of two defective people.  They came off the factory line dented and chipped.  If you could pick them up and look underneath them, you’d see that they’re just hollow molds, meant to look like real parents, even sounding like them sometimes, but you know you can’t keep them because those chips left sharp edges that will make you bleed, and they’re not real, anyway.  No one wants a cheap knockoff.”

It was too real for me.  Too familiar.  Too raw.  Not from anything that’s happened recently, but with things I’ve put behind me many years ago.  I could feel the pain this author poured into this work, because I recognize it.  I haven’t read anything else by Kady, nor have I met her personally, but I do interact with her at times on Facebook because many of her posts speak to my soul.  Her writing does the same.  I’ve grown a great fondness for Ms. Kady.

Sleight is raw and not for the tender-hearted, yet tender-hearted is exactly what Bryce is beneath the tough, cold exterior.  She’s full of pain, full of loss, full of confusion and all of it together has her stuck… stuck in the pain of a past she can’t forget, stuck in the confusion of a present she doesn’t know how to handle, and stuck in the fear of not knowing which future to choose.  The anger she’s held onto for so long because of the things she once knew, is tossed into chaos as she struggles to re-identify herself as her father struggles to hold onto to his own identity among the identity-stealing grasp of Alzheimer’s.

“The woman looking back at me in my oval bathroom mirror is a stranger to me.  I can see in her eyes that she doesn’t know me, either.  I watch her, trying to familiarize myself with her shocking appearance.  Inside, I’m still casual girl, with my torn skinny jeans and black turtleneck sweater.  The woman in the mirror would pass me on the street and at best glare at me from the corner of her eye in contempt of having to share the sidewalk with me.”

When do we form that inner soul? Mine is still a scared little girl acting tough in a violent world. Even now, she is the voice that moves me forward, reminds me of what I’ve already overcome, and compels me forward.  It’s paragraphs like this that resonate with me, and why this author has a fan for life.

What I saw in this novel is the beauty and ugliness, but most of all the reality, of love.  The chaos of pain.  The consequence of pride. The scars of hate, prejudice, and ignorance. Oh, if we could only get out of our own way sometimes.

As an editor, I found the writing fluid, like it was poured directly from the heart.  The pacing was consistent, slow in the moments of reflection, and then fast in the heat of emotion.  The language was raw and real, which gave an authenticity to the character’s voice.

I don’t recommend this book for those easily offended or those blind in their preconceived boxes.  It’s a must-read for those with minds wide open, who’ve experienced some shit in their lives, or those who aren’t afraid to face some raw truth and emotion.

Good job, Ms. Kady.  I look forward to reading more of your work.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Published Author, Georgia Author of the Year Nominee, Editor at North Star Literary Agency

 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Book Release, Book Review, Faith, family, friends, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, Relationships, respect, Review, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

No Punchline – Jeff Suwak

I don’t often recommend stories, but I became a huge fan of this author last year when he started sharing his short stories for me to critic. Sometimes you just come across a writer that does more than tantilize your mind, but moves your soul.  Suwak does that for me in a similar way that Patrick Rothfuss, Mark Lawrence, J.K. Rowling and Anthony Ryan move me, or touch my soul the way Jack Kerouac does.

No Punchline: Or, the Night Chale Thayer Blew His Head Off at the Punch Drunk Comedy Club   is one of those such stories and I can recommend it more.

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any period of time,  you know how I look at the world, you know I see things with a deeper perspective, often touching on the emotional nerve that is connected to the heart of a story.  This story will deliver.  

Categories: Blog Hop, Blog Post, Book Release, Book Review, Review, Short Story, Writing | Leave a comment

Fantasy by MS MR in SongPlaces.com

 

MS-MR-Fantasy-Xaphoon-Jones-Late-Nite-Mix

 

Check out my latest article in Songlplaces.com featuring the song “Fantasy” by MS MR.

 

Here’s a snippet:

 

“Every time I hear the soft, sultry tunes of “Fantasy,” clearly recognizable as the Brooklyn/London duo MS MR (pronounced Miz Mister – made up of Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenaw), I’m instantly propelled into the most beautiful memory I’ve ever had. It was the first time I ever visited the beautiful mountains of the Olympic National Park in the Pacific Northwest.”

 

http://www.songplaces.com/Fantasy/Vassar_College_Poughkeepsie_New_York

 

 

Visit SongPlaces to read the rest of the article.

Categories: Blog Post, Quotes, Review, SongPlaces, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter to an Asshole by Jeff Suwak

Letter to an Asshole

Every once in a while a story comes along that really gets me excited, makes me want to jump up and shout into the air, ‘damn straight’.  Well, this article is one of those that had me nodding through the whole thing. Author Jeff Suwak writes an illuminating essay that focuses on ‘lower class’ writers such as Charles Bukowski, Upton Sinclaire and Jack Kerouac as compared to those recommended by the literary elite among the upper class snobs such as Shakespere, Byron and Chaucer.  When I read something, I look for something I can relate to, something that gives me hope to pull me out of the mess I’ve created, not read a bunch of pretty words that don’t mean shit in the real world.  This article speaks to me the way Suwak says that Bukowski speaks to him.

Check it out, folks.

Letter to an Asshole by Jeff Suwak

http://praguerevue.com/ViewArticle?articleId=3427

“An asshole once told me that Shakespeare wrote predominantly about royals and the like because common people lacked the insight and intellectual subtlety needed to illuminate the human condition. His assessment was not restrained solely to the unwashed masses of Elizabethan England, but was instead used to bolster his point that the works of people like Charles Bukowski were flawed by nature and devoid of any literary or social merit.

His bone of contention was that writers like Bukowski glorified the ignorance of the lower classes, and that they could offer no worthwhile existential perspective. I found the whole conversation to be an absurd crock of horseshit, but the asshole also happened to be my English professor, so I kept my mouth shut and walked away. Just give me my A, Professor Asshole, so that I can get the hell out of here and get into grad school.”

To read more, please visit the Prague Revue at http://praguerevue.com/ViewArticle?articleId=3427

If you like the article – please hit the ‘like’ button and share it with all your friends.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Musing, Review, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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