Posts Tagged With: Love

What is a Picture of Beauty?

What is a Picture of Beauty

I post a lot of pictures of me on my Facebook, most of them of me smiling or just enjoying life.  I’ve been told that I’m narcissistic, that I’m just obsessed with myself.  For those who think or comment in that manner shows me they know nothing about me. If you scroll through my blog or my Facebook, you’ll not find a picture more than five or six years old.  I personally only have less than a dozen.  Why? I never took pictures of myself because I didn’t feel I mattered.  Others didn’t take and post pictures of me either; they still don’t, because I don’t matter to them, not even my friends today. If I’m on their pages, it’s because I’ve tagged myself in a picture that I took, not one that they took of me.

I started taking ‘selfies’ when I read an meme that stated, “If you want to see what or who someone values or fears losing, look at who and what they take pictures of.” That hit me right in the heart and deep in my soul.  It was like God whispered in my ear to pay attention.  It had me scrolling through my pictures of beautiful outdoor scenery and activities, my pets, my family, my food, art, simple things I found beautiful, and it was clear to see all the things I loved, because they were right there in front of me in brilliant color, picture, after picture, after picture.  But it didn’t take long before I noticed what was missing in all those pictures – me.  Well, I made a quick excuse, “I’m taking the pictures, so it only makes sense I’m behind the camera, not in front of it.  So, I went to my family and friend’s pages, scrolled through their pictures, and again I could clearly see all the things they loved and valued, but not one picture of me. Not one.  It broke my heart. It still hurts. This was about five years ago.

Before I go any further, the biggest culprit was me.  My family just followed the example I set for them. Because I have problem letting people touch me, my children never hug me, and they tell me it feels awkward when they do.  Who the hell feels awkward hugging their mother and telling her that you love her?  I’ve hugged and kissed my children since the day they were born, and told them I loved them as often as I could. I still do every chance I get.  But, they forget I even exist.  So, how does that happen?

I stopped waiting for someone else to love and value me and started to love and value myself.  I see women posting pictures every day, mostly of themselves in sexually suggestive positions, and it makes me sad.  It’s literally about 95% of the pictures I see. That’s their idea of beauty.  They are complimented my men and women alike and told how beautiful they are, so why should they believe any different?  Why should they act any different? That’s narcissism, posing to get attention, even if the attention is low, perverted, and disgraceful.  These women don’t understand that they’re not displaying their beauty, but their ignorance, allowing themselves to be demeaned as a woman, and viewed only as an object of perversion.  The admiration they receive now will fade once they get a little older; their bodies no longer have the same sexual draw, and then what? What will they have to offer their admirers since their admirers are only interested in their flesh.  But, a woman who smiles, laughs, is pictured living life, appreciating life, loving herself and the world around her are truly visions of beauty.  A woman caught in a moment of compassion, in a nurturing embrace, being a helpmate and friend, those are images of beauty.  Beauty is not her cup size, not in the shape of her boobs, lips, legs or ass, or in suggestive positions so perverted assholes can fantasize fucking her.  She then becomes only an object of their perversion and no longer a woman of beauty. Believe me; while the men appreciate the pictures, they have no respect for her as a woman.

When I meet a man and start talking to him, if he asks me about my body, or asks me to send him pictures of myself in a bikini etc., then I instantly lose interest in them because it tells me they are not interested in my true beauty.  There are enough women with low self-esteem out there eager to please their narcissistic need for approval by ignorant assholes, but I’m not one of them.  Don’t get me wrong – when I’m in a relationship with ‘MY’ man, I love to be sexual, playful, flirty, etc., because I can share that part of myself with that man because he already recognized my true beauty.  But if I’m not in a relationship, don’t ask me for pictures of my body you fucking assholes! No, definitely ask me, so that way I know who you truly are and can write you off as anyone valuable in my life.

I post pictures of me smiling quite often because I love and value myself.  Those smiles are for me, to remind me that I matter.  This world can’t do that for me. Someone else can’t do that for me. I have to do it for myself.  I post pictures of the people and things that I love and value.  Someday someone else will post a picture of me, and it will truly be a picture of beauty.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, Philosophy, Quotes, relationship, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Hear Me?

I’m discovering that people really don’t listen anymore. They don’t really hear what you’re saying, only what they think you’re saying, or even what they want you to say, but they’re not listening.  We’ve become such a selfish society, including myself, where everything we want and do is to satisfy ourselves and our desires.  That’s all good and well, but I’ve learned something over the years – true happiness isn’t wrapped up in what we can do and achieve for ourselves.  It’s often found in what we can do and give to another. Can you hear me?

I’ve achieved a lot of great things in this life.  I’ve accomplished many great things, but my most proud achievements aren’t in the awards, the degrees, the possessions, or in anything or anyone I possess.  My greatest achievements have been those moments of love and inspiration that I’ve been able to pour into someone else.   It’s in love – love given, love received.  It’s in real love; not sex, not affection, not adoration, and not praise, but love.  Can you hear me?

God said that there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends.  That love is patient, kind, etc.  I look around at this crazy, selfish world and I weep because of what has become of love.  I am often naïve to the desires of this world, and I’ll get into some examples of that in a moment, but I’m not stupid.  It’s not that I’m simple; it’s that I put so much of my heart in the hope of what I want to see and receive from the world – that I take chance, after chance, after chance… and keep meeting and experiencing the ugly side of love, the empty selfish side of desire, and the disappointing side of hope.  Can you hear me?

I’ve been honest with everyone I’ve spoken or meet.  I’ve recently had two encounters that frustrate me to no end.  I’m single and I’m lonely.  I have all this love inside and no one to share it. I have friends who love me, but I am missing that one friend that I can share everything inside me.  I had that once, and it was beautiful, and I was so happy despite any trouble we had to face.  With him, I could face anything.  I wanted to give him the world, but he didn’t want the same. He wasn’t in the same place as me. Love frightened him, so he ran, and left this gaping hole inside.  He was my bright spot, my warm sun in a cold, dim world.  He seared me, burned me, and left a everlasting scar, but he also showed me that the kind of love I’ve been hoping for my whole life is still out there, that it does still exist.  I thought it died with James on that Somalian battlefield, but it didn’t.  I again thought it died in a Puerto Rican smile, but I hold onto the hope that it’s out there, somewhere for me.

But, hanging onto this hope in this buffet world of instant gratification and self-indulgence is very hard.  I’m a single mermaid in a sea of sharks.  I’m trying to be open to meet someone, to make myself available to find another sun, another bright spot, a best friend, a soul mate.  I don’t need to be saved, I’m not desperate, and I don’t suffer from low self-esteem where I need the attention from predators in order to feel beautiful, sexy, or accomplished.  But, I am lonely and I’m a natural flirt.  That seems to send the wrong signal to these sharks.

I met a man online recently and was very open and honest about what I hoped to find. He agreed and told me he was looking for the same thing.  So, I gave him my number, believing that I might have found someone who could swim in deep waters.  But, it wasn’t long before the messages turned to sexual innuendo and offers to cuddle.  I cried, probably for an hour, angry at myself for being so stupid and naïve to believe he meant what he said.  When I didn’t respond to his advances, he got defensive and basically told me that if I’m not opened to cuddling that I should enjoy being single.  I LOVE cuddling, with MY man, not a man that hops from woman to woman, to woman, to woman.  Yet, this sentiment seems to be the status quo.  Can you hear me?

I want all those wild, crazy, sexy, kinky, funny, adventurous experiences with a man – one man, My man. It seems men are too afraid these days to put their hearts out there on the line for a woman.  I understand, I see the types of women out there.  But, that’s not me. I want to share my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole being with someone who wants to share the same with me. If it makes me an odd duck.. quack! quack!  And If I end up being a lonely spinster… I’ll get a fucking cat.  Can you hear me?

I’m a mermaid and I swim in deep waters, down where there is no light to sparkle off your hooks. I have to be met where I’m at if a man wants to capture my heart.  If he can hook my heart, my body will follow. My heart is the center of my being; it’s what holds my Siren’s song.  Wound me by trying to grab me or my fins, and you’ll only get a Banshee’s wail, and I’ll disappear into the depths you can’t swim. Can you hear me?

Till next time,

T.L. Gray

Categories: Author Appearance, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Relationships | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Beautiful Soul… Shallow World

Beautiful Soul Shallow World

I’m not stupid. I know we live in a shallow, vain, subjective world.  We exist in a society that judges us based on our outer appearance, because most often that’s all we can see.  Image is everything.  We are presented an image by everyone we meet, and we present an image to everyone that crosses our path. I have a mask I wear depending on the situation and circumstances.  When I go to apply for a job, I want to present myself as qualified, acceptable, and capable of fulfilling the requirements of that position, so I dress the part and put on the appropriate mask.  When I am running a 5k, I don’t show up in heels and sporting a tiara, although that might be a hilarious run. While I maintain the true essence of my personality at work or play, I choose the image I want to portray.  I post pictures of what is important to me. I don’t post pictures of what I don’t think portrays the right image.  But we are so much more than the masks we wear or the images we choose to display. Yet, how often do we hurt each other because our small minds can’t move beyond the shallow, the vain, the image, or the mask?

Having two handicapped parents taught me at a very early age to see beyond the outward appearance, deeper than the disease, the defects, the imperfections to realize there’s a soul behind the eyes.  My father wasn’t just a blind man.  He was a human being; often times, a terrible, hateful, angry and evil human being, but human nonetheless.  My mother behind her MS was also a human being.  She was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s wife, someone’s mother, not just a woman whose body didn’t work anymore.  I can remember as a child holding my father’s glass eye in my hand and resenting it, because that seemed to be all the world could see, how they defined him, how they felt sorry for him and placated to his dysfunction, and he preyed on it, used it to cover his sins, to hide the black soul he carried. I hated the world because they couldn’t see him; all they saw was a blind man. I saw a devil. I saw the anger, the hate, the pervert, the conman, the hustler. The world pitied him, made excuses for him, but I saw his soul.  Behind my mother I saw a broken spirit, a dull soul that was gray it allowed her to turn a blind eye, sewed her mouth shut, and too weak to protect her children.  I learned to see souls very early in life.

Now, as a single woman in a vain world, every day I see the masks, wear the masks, and recognize the masks for what they are.  I am inundated with comments on my appearance, and they’re nice to receive. Who doesn’t want to be told they’re pretty, or their eyes are pretty, or their smile is pretty? It’s better than being told you’re hideous or dull.  But, can’t they see ME?  Do they know how strong I am, what I’ve accomplished in my life? How my soul that had been so damaged and abused has survived, thrived, and overcome in spite of the circumstances, the tragedies, and the hate?  Can’t they see the abundance of love, compassion, and hope that radiates from this broken vessel?

I try so hard to see behind people’s masks when I meet them, get to know the human soul inside them, and decide if I want them in my life. There are MANY, many people I meet that I immediately close out and throw up a wall, defending myself, and keeping them out of my life, out of my company, out of my circle because I see glimpse the devil behind their masks. I don’t listen to what people say. I watch what people do, see how they treat others, take a glance at the trail behind them to see if their path is filled with destruction or love, and listen to my gut. The worst ones often have the sweetest words, prettiest faces, most beautiful bodies, and crocodile tears. They are often damsels in distress or victims of circumstances, but in reality they’re a black plague, the ones causing the strife and drama everywhere they go.  I don’t have time for all that.  But, I can also see sometimes an imperfect mask, a dysfunctional life, a broken appearance, but inside…. I have glimpse some souls so beautiful, so radiant, so amazing that I sometimes can’t hold back the emotion that wells inside me.  They’re often broken, a mess, judged by the world around them – but I see them, I see beyond who they even think they are and see them for who they have the potential to become, what they’re capable to achieve – not because of their looks, their education, their money, their status, their means… but because I know what kind of fight a survivor has, what kind of imagination stirs within a dreamer, what kind of drive resides inside an innovator, a strategist, a clever mind.  I know the power of compassion.  I know the strength of love.

Fuck their world and their vanity. Fuck the shallow people who can love someone because of their imperfections.  I LOVE perfect imperfections. I LOVE scars and the stories behind them.  I LOVE watching people pick themselves up from the mistakes they’ve made.  I LOVE seeing souls radiate – they’re beautiful.

I woke up this morning feeling beautiful and sexy.  I may not have my 20-year old body anymore (it’s now full of scars, marks, imperfections, jiggly thighs, and trace evidence of a life lived, mistakes made, and miracles), but the beautiful soul pulsating just beneath my skin is absolutely radiant. If anyone can’t see that when they look at me, they’re a blind idiot and don’t deserve to be in the same universe.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dreams, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, relationship, respect, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Budgeting… Heart, Mind and Soul

Budgeting

We’ve talked about the importance of budgeting our time, our goals, and our resources.  Now, I need to get to the core of our being, because no matter what we decide to do on the outside, we have to have balance in our core.  I’m talking about budgeting our hearts, minds and souls.

What exactly is a budget?  A budget is as system itemizing something we have, want, or need, and breaking it down into increments of debits and credits, incoming and outgoing, supply and demand, etc.  It’s assessing what we have and developing a system to gain what we need.  If we don’t make an honest assessment, we can make erroneous decisions that will cause us to over-budget or under-budget and fail. To reach success, we have to clearly see the path to that success, and then be faithful and committed to the budget we set to reach that desired success.  We could get lucky, but luck always runs out. We’ve got to take control of our life, our choices, and our successes and failures.

Other resources we often overlook when we make a budget for our lives are those intangible resources, but happen to be the most essential in our success or failures of all other budgets.  Just as important as budgeting our money, we have to budget our heart, our mind and our souls.  We can over-extend ourselves, or under-utilize our potential by ignoring these resources.  These are essentially that define who we are – the core of being a human. These are the elements that directly lead to our successes and failures, our happiness or depression, or our love or indifference.

Heart – We have to budget our hearts.  We have to set a limit on the things, people, and focus we allow to affect our hearts.  We can set our affection on the wrong things or people that will hurt us, destroy us, and even break us.  We can also put too much focus on our heart, letting it lead us blindly, become obsessive over something or someone, and it will unbalance us.  Balance is key.  YES, love!!!! Oh, Mylanta, allow ourselves at times to get lost in our emotions. Enjoy the euphoria or pain of it, but we must keep it in balance.  We can’t get blind and stupid by love to the point we lose sight of everything else, especially what we want and need, and who we are. That’s unhealthy and it becomes detrimental to any dreams we’ve planned or hoped to succeed. We also can’t chase our dreams without love, without using our hearts. If we close our hearts because we’ve been hurt, or we have failed before, or we are too afraid, then we’ve already failed. It means nothing.  We can gain the world, but what good is it if we are indifferent?  Indifference means not caring at all or feeling nothing – which is worse than hate. Hate is at least passionate.  Indifference is void of passion.  Indifference is cowardice.   Without heart, we will give up, because it is our love for ourselves, for the dreams we have, for our family and the people we care about, that pushes us, inspires us, and gives everything we do meaning. Even God says that there are three essential things in this life – Faith, Hope and Love, and of those three, Love is the greatest. We can’t choose to love everyone and everything, nor can we choose to love nothing or no one. Protect our love.  Protect what and who we set our affections toward.

Mind – we have to budget our minds.  If we set our minds to too many things, and not balance it out, we will spend too much of one of our most valuable assets in the wrong area, on the wrong thing, or the wrong person, and not give the attention and focus we need to our goals, dreams, and aspirations.  We have to protect our minds, protect what we focus on, what we allow to distract us.  We can ‘check-out’ sometimes because life is hard.  Many times, instead of focusing on what I needed, I allowed myself to be distracted by the wrong things or person to avoid thinking about the hard things.  I’d “check-out”.  I’ve also allowed myself to focus too much, to the point of obsession, and neglected to focus on other areas of my life. Neither was healthy or productive.  There has to be a balance. We have to budget our minds and limit the things we focus on, allow distracting us, or taking up our time.  Write out a list of what we want and need, and then protect our minds and do what we need to keep and maintain a balance to our focus.

Soul – this one is the part of us that we often neglect most.  It’s that inner-being, and many of us can’t even recognize it. We try to numb it, ignore it, or control it.  We can’t.  This is core of who we are, and I believe this is the being that continues beyond our existence, beyond this physical plane, beyond this life. We have to budget for and with our souls. We have to make time for this part of us. What good is it to gain the world, but lose our souls?  To allow life, people, circumstances, guilt, pain, and all other bullshit to come in destroy our souls?  We can lie to the world. We can lie to ourselves, but our souls know who we are, what we really want, what we really need.  We have to protect our souls – cut the vampires out of our lives, allow love into our lives, let love fill us, and then through our souls, let that love back out into the world around us. There are soulless people in this world. There is darkness and evil. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it.  This world is so full of hateful, mean-spirited, selfish, awful people, but we don’t have to be one of them. It’s so important to protect and nourish our souls.

These are the keys to success – in EVERY area of life. We only get one. We only live ONCE.  We only have a tiny portion of this existence to make a difference, to be counted, to have purpose.  WE control what those are by how we budget our lives by the choices me make. Make good ones. Choose love.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, Philosophy, Relationships, respect, Spiritual | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Remember

i-remember

As the moon travels through phases and the planets rotate through the universe, so too do all things in life continually change, time when things grow closer together, and then move farther apart.  Yet all are still part of the same universe.  Sometimes two objects that had been inseparable in a gravitational pull get jarred by an alien object and the two celestial bodies fall out of rotation and separate. I will remember.

I will remember falling in love on that picnic blanket and the way your arms felt wrapped about me.

I will remember the way your muscles moved as you rowed the kayak down the crystal-clear river.

I will remember your happy-food dance.

I will remember you riding a bike way too small just to spend time with me.

I will remember the long talks, the moonlit walks, and the smell of cigar and Yeager.

I will remember hands coming off the steering wheel on the ride home from the airport.

I will remember watching the clock, waiting anxiously for the breaks and lunches just to hear, “Hey, babe, what’s up?”

I will remember the song recommendations and the stories of what those lyrics meant to you.

I will remember your reaction when you took me to hunt for Pikachu.

I will remember the way you’d hold my face with your strong hands and stare me in the eyes, placing your forehead to mine.

I will remember jumping the curb.

I will remember you stealing that shaker.

I will remember how dogs love you.

I will remember the good mornings and good nights.

I will remember the sea turtles.

I will remember Ormand Beach, Rainbow, Wakieva, and Gennie Springs.

I will remember your beard, camouflaged shorts, superman shirts, and flip-flops.

I will remember your ‘dirty’ picture – all covered in paint.

I will remember your redneck imitations.

I will remember your horrible driving.

I will remember binge-watching Netflix, Walking Dead, Stranger Things, and Futurama.

I will remember your voice, your touch, your smell, and how I felt in your arms. 

I will remember what it was like opening my heart and letting you in.

I will remember the Fourth of July, my Birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

I will remember all the pictures.

I will remember Amicalola Falls and Sweetwater Creek with you and the boys.

I will remember the fishin’ hole in Sebastian, the Inlet, and the beach.

I will remember how you stood by me for my first tattoo.

I will remember Orlando and our foodie tour, and how you carried a casted woman upon your back.

As I move farther away through the universe and feel your pull less and less, there are also some things I will choose to forget, like how it seemed in one day my whole world shifted and my sun just left.  My universe shook and you pushed me away, stopped answering my texts and ignoring my calls, and then disappeared behind your fortified walls. Did you even love me at all?  You promised that you’d never hurt me, yet you crushed my soul, ripped out my heart, and left me alone. But I will survive. I will go on. 

The moon is still changing and the stars realign.  I keep praying for heaven to send me a sign.  But of the love and the good memories and good times, those I will remember, for all of time.  I loved you then, I love you still, I will love you forever, no matter what universe we’re in.  Though the distance grows father and farther apart, you’ve aligned yourself with a different circle, and a different heart.  You’ve chosen to run with a different kind of crew, confirming how much we are through.  I will well, I wish peace, I wish you healing, I give you release.  I will remember.

 

~T.L. Gray

 

 

 

 

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With My Whole Heart… Now

With My Whole Heart Now

I sometimes wonder how I make it through the day.  I don’t wonder as I’m going through the day, but in those quiet moments of reflection usually at the end of one or in the early mornings of a new one.  I try not to look too far ahead, because while some of those thoughts bring me great anticipation and excitement, others bring me moments of panic, worry and overwhelming anxiety.  I’ve been through too much to not fear the struggles that may lay ahead, because of the struggles I’ve already waded through, but I’ve also experienced some great adventures and anticipate with wonder.  The joy, the peace, or the real struggle is to try to stay as much in the present moment as possible.  This moment is more manageable. It is this moment where your decisions matter most. It’s in these moments that keep you on track of your goals and aspirations, or provide the detours that sends you on a different path.  At least that’s what I tell myself.

What’s in my present moment? What’s going on in my life and what can I do about it?

I’m currently working on a health & fitness program that includes a great workout regimen, a light diet plan, and building a lifestyle of active adventure.  So far, so good.  It’s a decision I have to make on a daily and weekly basis.  I can’t think or plan too far ahead, nor can I dwell on the past successes or mistakes.  I know what works for me, for my body, and for my mind.  My past success and failures help me make my current choices and also leads as a guide in my near-future decisions.  I give it my whole heart… now.

I’m currently in a romantic relationship that constantly makes me smile, makes me excited to get up in the morning, makes me feel at peace for my present, makes me feel loved, wanted and desired as I love, want and desire my man.  I don’t dwell on the relationships of the past. While those relationships sometimes pop up to remind me of both good and bad times, I don’t allow the memories to stay very long.  I also don’t try to plan and anticipate too far in the future.  Anticipation is the root to most of our disappointment. I’ve learned I can guarantee nothing. How can I make a promise that I have no power to actually fulfill? It doesn’t mean I don’t have a desire to see a life full of great moments, great love, and even greater adventure, because I do.  It’s one of my biggest hopes. However, I don’t PLAN it. I just appreciate what I have in this current block of time.  I reflect on how I feel and how the relationship affects me now.  I give it my whole heart… now.

I’m currently surrounded by a few great friends, and have recently made a few new friends.  I’m seeing the beauty of the human heart through some of the people that has come into my life the last few years.  For so long I saw the ugliness, judgement, and depravity of humanity, and many times my heart hurt and my mind fought to have hope.  There are beautiful, selfless, caring people in the world. I’ve had the pleasure to meet a few of them.  While I miss some of the friendships in the past, I’m learning to appreciate the friends in my present and open my heart to new friends.  I give it my whole heart… now.

 I’m writing again.  I have so many manuscripts I could work on, but I’m taking it one day at a time.  If I think of all that needs to be done, all that I’ve left behind, all that I’ve let slip away, or all that I want to do, then I will get too overwhelmed and run back into hiding. I don’t have the luxury to write full-time at this time in my life, and have to make time in my daily schedule for what I could do now.  It has to be a priority.  I have a wonderful job that I really enjoy that allows me to take care of my basic necessities, supports my independence.  It’s a job that ends at a certain time of day so that I am free to pursue those other goals in my life in the other 16 hours. I give it my whole heart… now.

So between my goals of health, fitness and living an adventurous lifestyle, enjoying a beautiful romance, surrounded by awesome friends, working at a good job, and fulfilling a great dream, my day is pretty full.  I don’t have the energy or the time to waste dwelling on a past I can’t change or worrying about a future I can’t control.  Today… I’m happy, I’m living in the moment, I’m in love, I am loved, and I’m excited. I give it my whole heart… now.

Till next time,

Princess of the Present

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Dream, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, Romantic, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Livin’ Out Loud – Active Living

 

Well, I’m back again to talk a little bit more about Livin’ Out Loud.  This isn’t an idea of something I want to do, but something I’ve been doing since my divorce a few years ago.  This was something my soul cried out needing for a very long time.  I tried to get what I needed from everyone around me, my ex-husband, my kids, my church, my job, but I couldn’t find what I was seeking in them or through them.  What I needed, what my soul needed, what my heart needed was already inside me, but I realized I was too afraid to listen to her, or to even give her a glancing thought.  She was too painful to even acknowledge. 

Memorial day is coming up tomorrow.  I’ve been having a little bit of a hard time this weekend and found myself trying to reach out to others in order to soothe that pain. I thought after 23 years I’d finally be able to breathe during this time without that pain, but the pain is still there, yet it’s not all for James, the hero that gave his life in Somalia.  It’s for the hero that was left here at home, the fighter inside me, the survivor with her many scars.   I loved James, still love him, will always love him, but he’s not really the one I’m grieving.  I miss him, will always miss him, will always wonder of the life we might’ve had together, but I think what still hurts most is the life that I hid inside me for so long.  People grieve in different ways. I shut down. I hid inside myself, got lost for a couple decades, and while I was living, going through the motions, I wasn’t alive.  I cared deeply for everyone else around me, but not myself.  When I learned the scripture to “deny yourself and pick up your cross…”, well… I did just that.  I denied myself until I could deny myself no longer.

So, here I am after I completely disrupted my life, turned it upside down, made some bold moves, and faced my biggest fear – that lost, hurt, angry little girl inside who has carried my pain for too long.  I was so afraid of her, but now I look upon her and instead of seeing a depraved, dirty, lonely, scared shell… I see a beautiful, radiant angel, whose light is so bright my heart simply can’t even begin to express how much I love her. Without hesitation, she forgave me for being a coward for so long, and since I faced her I have been living out loud.  Yes, I’ve had some huge obstacles in my way, a few heart breaks, a few failures, one giant battle with death, but I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.  That woman inside (she’s no longer a frail girl) is strong enough, tough enough, and brave enough to handle this world.  As long as I cling to her, I know we will survive.  That’s what we are, we are survivors.

Part of this living out loud is active living, which by definition means to actively be engaged in your life, in every area of your life – emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It doesn’t mean you’re doing fantastic feats every day, it just simply means that every day you’re living in the moment, living in the day, and living to the best of your ability as you face your daily challenges.  Life is full of challenges.  It is full of temptations.  It is full of excuses.  We can find one for everything. We can make one for every fear we have.  But that isn’t fair to ourselves.  Living out loud and loving yourself means that you face your challenges.  You might not win them every day, but winning isn’t the marker of success or failure.  It’s the effort, the intent, the devotion, and dedication applied to facing those challenges that make us a success or failure, that determines if we truly are living out loud.

I’ve been working on trying to repair the damage I’ve done to my body during my years of depression and regression.  It’s hard. I wasn’t born with the genes that make it easy. Every day is a choice, a battle, and it requires a strong will, a determined mind, and a heart dedicated to seeing myself succeed.  I am tempted. I am afraid sometimes. I am weak at other times.  But, the more I love myself, the more determined I become.  The more success I taste, the more I want to taste.  The more dedicated I become, the more dedication I desire.  I’m not ruled by my desires anymore. I rule my desires.

Yes, it’s hard to get up at 5am every morning and get started.  It’s hard to say no to the foods that make my mouth water. It’s hard to not just cling to someone else’s strength so I don’t have to use my own. I know I’m never going to look like a supermodel, or one of those beautiful, slim, toned women on the front of fitness or fashion magazines, and I don’t try to look like them.  I don’t want to be them. I want to be a version of me that is healthy, that is active, that is strong, that is vibrant and who can do the things my heart wants to do and not be denied because I don’t have the physical or mental strength to accomplish them. I hate being denied.  So, yes… many mornings I want to cry and my mind makes a thousand excuses to roll over and go back to sleep, but that beautiful angel inside me, my own personal cheerleader, she nudges me and whispers to my soul, “I love you and you deserve to live out loud. Do it for us.”  That’s all it takes and I jump up, get dressed in my workout clothes, and take off. It’s what helps me deny that doughnut, or not gorge on that pot of beans, or feed my insecurities with foods that harm me.  I was slowly killing myself for years, and became a master of excuses to continue doing it. I was wrong.

Bottom line.  The secret to living out loud and actively living is loving yourself.  I love me. I don’t need anyone else to love me.  But when someone does choose to love me they receive one of the greatest gifts, a precious treasure, even if they don’t realize it.  They receive a pure love, a dedicated love, a devoted love, a determined love, a faithful love, a grateful love, a love that doesn’t take from them, but pours into them.  We are a lost and lonely world. I see it, I feel it, I recognize it in the many faces I see every day.  The majority seek to feel the emptiness inside through various outside sources – money, accomplishment, sex, drugs, food, shopping, music, extreme activities, pills, addictions, obsessions, competition, acceptance, religion, political causes, martyrdom, violence, … we’re all trying to save or destroy the world.  The only person we need to save is ourselves.  The person we often destroy is also ourselves. If we embrace who we truly are, loving the world becomes easy and living becomes an everyday part of life. Going to the laundry mat becomes an adventure, because all life is an adventure.

So, get up.  Get going. Set those goals. Put down the fucking doughnuts. Meet those challenges face to face. Start breathing. Start living. But don’t do it for any other reason than for yourself.  Don’t do it to fall in love with someone else. Fall in love with yourself and others will fall in love with you too.  Don’t do it to look good for someone else’s approval. Do it so that you feel beautiful and sexy for yourself, and then others will see you as beautiful and sexy.  Don’t do it to fit in and be like everyone else in order to feel accepted.  Embrace who you truly are, love all your nerdy, quirky, odd, crazy, and wild parts and let the rest of the world see you for who you truly are, not who you pretend. If they don’t see you or can’t see you, fuck ‘em. You don’t need them. Don’t be afraid to face the world alone, because if you can’t face the world alone, you’ll crumble under pressure trying to face it for someone else.  That’s not fair to you or to them. Don’t be afraid to walk alone, be afraid to not walk at all.  Walk. Go. Run. If anyone truly loves you for you, and can see you’re actively living out loud, they will want to walk with you.  But if they’re cowards and haven’t found their own strength, you can’t carry them. Keep walking. 

In a moment of despair, when I felt like the world’s worst failure, God whispered to my heart, “It’s not your job to save the world, it’s mine. Let go and let me love you. I made you to fly, so fly, Baby Girl, fly. Live, My Love, live, and live out loud. I gave you a voice so sing, sing of love, sing of life, sing of all I’ve poured into you and all that you are.”  That, my friends, is what I say to you all. 

Till next time,

~Song of T

Categories: Blog Post, Dream, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, respect, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Weaver of Words

Weaver of Words

Sometimes it seems my life is stuck in a rut and refuses to move either to the left or right, keeping me circling the same tree over and over and over again. Other times it moves so fast I think if I blink I’m going to miss the thousands of things flying by in a rapid pace. That seems to be the way it’s been these last few weeks.  So many new things have happened I can barely recognize my life or what it had been just a couple months ago.

With all the thousands of ideas moving in, out and around me, I’m taking a quick step back to see if I notice a pattern. I usually can’t see the image when I’m up close or right in the middle of a thought.  Some pictures need a wider view.  So, what are these patterns I’ve been noticing?  What are the words, thoughts, and meditations that’s been coursing through my mind of late?  What do they mean? What are they trying to tell me? Where do they lead? Most importantly, which ones do I listen to and which do I ignore? Whew, I’m getting a bit overwhelmed just thinking about them.

I’ve been on a journey lately, one of the mind, most importantly, one of the soul.  My imagination has been soaring to distant worlds, floating on different planes, seeking wisdom and enlightenment in understanding.  Here are some of the quotes that have motivated me lately. Here are few words of wonder.

~

“Sometimes you have to stop being scared and just go for it.  Either it will work out, or it won’t. That’s life.”

“Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.”

“Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”

“The Buddhists say if you meet someone and your heart pounds, your hands shake, and your knees go weak, that’s not the one.  When you meet your soul mate, you’ll feel calm. No anxiety. No agitation.”

“Find someone you can be completely free with; sexually, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and cosmically, and go freaking WILD.”

“Find a heart that will love you at your worst and arms that will hold you at your weakest.”

“You cannot force someone to comprehend a message that they are not ready to receive.  Still, you must never underestimate the power of planting a seed.”

“I’m very picky with whom I give my energy to. I prefer to reserve my time, intensity and spirit exclusively to those who reflect sincerity.”

“We’re so busy studying and seeking to find our life’s mission, let us not forget to look around and simply ask, “How can I help?”

“I admire people who choose to shine even after all the storms they’ve been through.”

“I love you neither with my heart nor my mind. My heart might stop, and my mind can forget.  I love you with my soul because my soul never stops or forgets.”

“A person’s actions will tell you everything you need to know.”

“You deserve the love you keep trying to give everyone else.”

“I don’t want a perfect life; I want a happy life.”

“Whatever you do, never run back to what broke you.”

“On this road called life, you have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you got and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget. Learn from mistakes, but never forget. People change. Things go wrong. But just remember, the ride goes on.”

“When you connect with people who are good for you, you feel it.  This is a big deal. Don’t forget to acknowledge how great it is to be around someone who lights you up. Tell them, even if you feel a little weird. Your people love your weirdness.”

“When you kiss someone and you stop kissing them for second and smile, and then kiss again… I can’t think of something more beautiful than that.”

“Let your weird light shine bright so the other weirdos know where to find you.”

“I think it’s important to realize you can miss something and not want it back.”

“You don’t know this new me; I put back my pieces differently.”

~

I think you’re starting to get the picture.  Well, I hope I’m able to get the picture, because those are some amazing clues.  I’m still digesting, still trying to wrap my mind around what it all means, what it’s trying to tell me, what I need to hear.  I may not know the whole extent of it at this moment, but I already know it’s all good.

I’ve smiled more in the last few weeks than I have in a very long time.  Sometimes I get a little sad when I think back to other times I used to smile so much it made my cheeks hurt.  Those times, those memories, those associated with those memories will always be precious to me.  But, this is a new day, a new time, and a new season to smile. I’ve cried enough.  Joy comes with the morning, and baby… the sun is rising.

“I’ve got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine.”

I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know what’s in store for me. Maybe it’s a great adventure. Maybe it’s a great love affair. Maybe it’s a new page to a new story.  Whatever it is, however weird it is, I’m ready and I want it.

Till next time,

~Weaver of Words of Wonder

 

 

 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Flash Fiction, Life, love, Muses, Philosophy, poem, relationship, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Dead Things Are

Where the Dead Things Are

*New original short story Where the Dead Things Are© by T.L. Gray  – Part One

My Mama once told me, “If a man only wants to see you when the sun goes down, he’s a vampire. Baby, run away. He’ll bite you, leave you all mesmerized until he drains you of everything that makes you alive, and then he’ll toss you into his collection of other dead things.” She told me that once while braiding my hair. I remember looking into a dirty, smoke-stained mirror, watching vacant eyes stare off at nothing with a cigarette hanging out the side of pale thin lips. I can still see those small jagged lines along the edges displaying leftover bits of dark red lip stick. She looked younger when she smiled, but she hardly ever smiled.

Of course, my wild imaginative mind took the story literally to heart and in my youthful naivety found myself fascinated with the supernatural; vampires especially. Then after Mama died a few years later, I became obsessed with stories about death. However, I look back on that moment and realize she wasn’t talking about vampires at all, not really. I never thought Mama had much sense, but as I’ve met my own sort of vampire and found myself struggling to climb out of this cavernous pit of death, I now realize she was much deeper than I ever gave her credit.

Looking down at the shimmering Vodka, I see my dark red lipstick mark along the glass lip and can’t stop Mama’s words from echoing in the deep part of my mind. How did I get here? When did I lose myself and turn into Mama? Where had my soul gone? Will I find it among all the dead things?

I can tell you the exact moment, the particular hour, the definitive minute everything changed. It all started with the sound of tires slowly crunching over gravel as he pulled into my driveway. My heart started beating so fast I thought it would literally jump out my chest. It sounded too loud and I wondered if he’d be able to hear it. I quickly checked my underarms for moisture, because I was nervous as a chicken in a fox hole. My body may have been hot, but thank goodness I was dry and smelled like fresh flowers. My cinnamon breath caught as I gasped, almost letting out a small squeal as I heard the car door open and then close again. I never heard the engine at all. It’s like he floated in on a dream.

With shaky legs, I walked out the French doors that led to my patio-porch, and then to the privacy gate. He’d parked his car just on the other side. I could see the light green hue of his exterior between the fence slats before I caught a glimpse of him. It was only a slither of a glance of one of his long, bronze skinny legs sticking out a pair of basketball shorts, but I was transfixed. I tried to calm my breath as I opened the gate, but there was no controlling it. I’d lost it completely. It evaporated from my lungs altogether when my gaze locked onto those dark, brown, mesmerizing eyes and that soft crooked smile. The setting sun behind me cast a golden spotlight on his beautiful caramel skin, highlighting his chiseled face, full lips, and aura of authority. He looked like a god bathed in glory and I felt myself wanting to fall to my knees in worship. I mean I literally felt like falling when my knees suddenly buckled beneath me. I had to grab the wooden gate to keep the ground from jumping up and slapping me in the face.

Sometimes I wonder if he knew the effect he had on me. I doubted it, but I often wondered, still do. He always had a way of bringing the hidden things out of me, and reflecting my own image back at me when I tried so hard to focus on his. He didn’t have one. He was a mystery, yet something I understood without words, without explanation, and I loved him deeply. I still do. But he left me where the dead things are, tossed me to the side once he’d drained me of all the vibrant life I had once held. But I’m not without hope, not without magic. That’s what’s brought me to this bar in the middle of nowhere. I’m trying to escape, trying to save the last bit of my soul, trying to put some distance between me and him so that I may one day find the strength to resist him, breaking the power he has over me, and crawl out of this place of dead things. He doesn’t want me, but doesn’t want to let me go either.

I threw back the shot of vodka, feeling the burn all the way down my throat and settle into the emptiness of my stomach. Alcohol on an empty stomach always hurt, but it also helped the numbness rush in faster. I glanced down at my watch and realized the sun had surely already set outside. I needed to be on my way. He’d be able to find me. If he ever found me, I know I’d never have the strength to resist him. I pulled the small wad of twenty dollar bills I’d kept in my front jeans pocket. Slapped one down on the bar and then threw back the last of three shots I’d ordered. I wiped my soft lips with the back of my shaking hand and walked out of that dead place filled with other dead people, into a city where all the dead things are. Yet, I’m a survivor, and though too faint to hear, my heart still beats.

 

 

 

 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Life, love, Short Story, T.L. Gray, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Hope and Love

Faith, Hope and Love

 

Faith, hope and Love

Life has a funny way of sometimes jumping forward, pulling you back, or getting stuck in the present that you can’t move in either direction.  That complexity is what makes it life.  If everything worked the way we thought it should, or our thoughts always went in a forward momentum, or our hearts always moved in a particular direction, we wouldn’t be the complicated human beings we’ve turned out to be.  We’d be happy plastic people.  Isn’t that the way the song goes? We’d be strong in faith, solid in hope, and brimming with love, right?

Anyway, we are complicated, complexed, and often confused.  We are taught morals and values that create walls and boxes, and when life doesn’t go according to plan, we often crumble inside those boxes, doubting ourselves and becoming weak in faith, void of hope, and empty in love.

I was thinking about God and family this morning.  Well, how religion often portrays God, really.  I thought about the scripture in Philippians 4, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication make your requests known to God… “, and I remembered being told more times than I can count not to worry about things, that God is watching out for me, He’s got me in his protection, and He’d make a way for me, to protect me; that my worry was detrimental and contrary to my faith.  I’ve always wondered at those who would quote this scripture to me, if they’d ever suffered any real loss, any real tragedy, any real heartbreak, any real disappointment, any real set back or failure, because I had.  For many years I felt weak in my faith because I still worried about the things that threatened my welfare, my children, my family, or the life I was trying to provide for them.  Yet when I expressed those worries or fears, told with a smile NOT to worry, to have faith, to trust God would see me through it. Yeah, like all the things I already went through, that’s what I feared.  Many of those things I worried about happened no matter my faith.  Instead of feeling the strength I had often felt growing up in a severely abusive childhood, I felt like a failure, weak, and a disappointment to a god that was supposed to love and protect me.  But it’s easy to talk warfare when you’ve never been in true battle. It’s easy to talk of a father’s love if you’ve never known a father’s love.  But, what of us orphans who never knew love, never had a father to protect us, but a father from whom we needed protection? What of a soldier on the battlefield of life, one that’s seen the brutality of war, the ugliness of mankind? How can we ask them not to be afraid?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the past, not really the experiences I’ve had, but the woman I used to be.  I was strong, but so lost.  I was damaged, yet impenetrable.  But what’s changing for me now is love.  I’ve known love, but I didn’t quite know how to accept it.  I’ve loved deeply, but I didn’t know how to express it.  I’d like to say it’s because of the love that’s growing for my Dominican Marine that’s creating/inspiring this new outlook, and perhaps that’s part of it, but it’s more of the love I’m receiving from him, from my best friends Jenna and Kenny, from my kids, but mostly it’s from the love I’m receiving for and from myself.

I heard my ex-husband is getting remarried.  I’m happy for him, because I’ve only ever wanted him to find and feel love.  Everyone knew we married for convenience, to fulfill responsibility, and I could never be the woman he wanted, the woman he loved, and he often made sure I was reminded I was not wanted, or desired, or acceptable.  I am not without blame, because I always knew I was never in love with him either, though I respected and was faithful to him, I couldn’t give him the love he needed. What hurt most in our divorce wasn’t our separation, because now we both had an opportunity to find the love we desired, but the loss and separation of family.  His family was my family for two decades, and really the only real family I ever knew.  His parents were the only parents I ever really had and I loved them dearly. Still do. I miss them. Now they’ll have a new daughter and I hope it’s one they can be proud to love.  The bond I have with my natural brothers isn’t one of love, but one of survivorship, and while that bond brings us together and keeps us connected on some level, it’s also the foundation of the huge wall that keeps us separated, well… that and the lying, stealing, cheating, drugs, etc. My kids love me, but they don’t need me, and they’re getting on with their lives knowing they don’t have to worry about me. I loved them more than myself and only hope they understood and felt that love from me. I often fear I damaged them because of my own lack of being able to show what was inside beneath my thick armor.

I am a vagabond, a woman without a home, without a people, without a family, yet I am a very blessed woman because I am rich in love, in friendships, and in faith.  While I worry about the cares of this world, I am not afraid. Not because I cling to a scripture, to a promise, or to a faith in a god to protect me, or a man to save me.  I cling to a knowledge that shit happens, but I’m strong and I’ll overcome it, and I’m not alone, because LOVE is with me.  God is love.  God is with me. I love me. I love my kids. I love my friends. I love my Dominican. That love … that love is my strength.  That love helps me heal from a past, gives me hope for my future, and surrounds me as I walk through my present… in all its complexity and simplicity.  Faith is good. Hope is beautiful.  But, love is the greatest of all these things.

Till next time,

~ Love’s Lover

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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