Tuesday, December 31, 2013

O' Time



By T.L. Gray


The last grain of sand has fallen through the hourglass, marking another passage of time - another year, another month, another week, another day, another hour, another minute, and another second has passed.

O’ Time, it has been the worst turn.

You’ve pulled me and stretched me to my farthest point, pushed me beyond my boundaries, plucked me out of my desolation and tested my limits. 

But you did not leave me to die.

You’ve wrapped me and folded me with the purest of love, opened my eyes to a beautiful world, allowed me to experience the touch of desire and strengthened my faith.

The first grain of sand will fall through the hourglass, beginning another passage of time - a new year, a new month, a new week, a new day, a new hour, a new minute and a new second to pass.

O’ Time, let this be the best turn.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter to an Asshole by Jeff Suwak


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

"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

Love For Sale



Lately, I’ve watched this world continue to spin with and without my consent to do so, and left me often feeling insignificant, powerless, yet a part of it all just the same.  What does it mean?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve watched consumerism lead the hordes into merriment and indulgences, as people attempted to buy each other’s affections. I remember my own marches, my own quests into that vain ritual. I understood it and didn’t view it as an evil thing.  I wasn’t jealous or angry at its practice going on around me, because if I had the means I would have more than likely been a happy participant of the madness.  But situations in life have forced me to the side lines and put me in a position to see a different aspect of things.

Over the years, I’ve worked so damned hard to fit in, but continued to find I’m a squared peg trying to fit in a round hole.  But, aren’t we all?  My whole life, everything I thought I believed, everything I worked hard to gain, everything I held dear, trusted or expected has been shaken.  I’ve been tested and found wanting.

On Christmas day, I watched the movie the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and oh how it stirred those smoldering embers within me. I watched my journey on the screen in front of me – as I watched Walter transform from the state of existing to really living. 

The most poignant scene for me was the one with the helicopter.  As it was about to take off, Walter found himself too afraid to move; indecisive.  For me, his fear wasn’t about the pilot being drunk or the approaching storm, but of letting go of all the things that made him safe, all the responsibility that weighed him down and put him onto the spinning wheel, going and going and going but never getting anywhere.  He gave up who he was to be what was needed, and in the process lost his identity, his dreams.  Here he was at 43 in a strange place, staring danger in the face, yet too afraid until the woman of his dreams, his imagination, showed up in his imagination and started playing him a tune on the guitar– encouraging him to take the jump, to leap into his life despite the danger - to live or die trying.

I almost couldn’t hold back the tears, because this is where I’m at in my life.  The leap for me wasn’t leaving my marriage, moving into a strange place and finding myself alone.  It was discovering that it was okay to be that way, to not be needed, to not have to put my life on hold anymore to take care of someone else.  I’ve always took care of others - my handicapped parents, my brothers, my children, my husband, my church, my job, my community – but I failed to take care of me. 

I learned that all that care I gave to others never guaranteed love and care in return for me. Looking around me and seeing the absence proves to me that you can give, and give, and give… and not receive.  Much like how we rush out to buy those gifts to make those important to us happy, to show them how much we love them, but in reality we’re trying to ‘buy’ their love and appreciation for us, in exchange for them to love us in return.  We don’t think we attach those sentiments to our gifts, but we do, and we feel it when it’s not returned to us.  Love for sale.

This year, for the first time, because I expected nothing in either what I gave or received, I became truly appreciative of not only what I received, but for what I gave, because I gave with no expectations. How do I know this? Because I was very surprised when I received the love and appreciation I’ve fought so hard to get all these years, in return.  These are the hardest gift for me to receive from anyone – love and appreciation. 

I didn’t give fancy gifts, I had none to give. I didn’t receive any fancy gifts, but what little I got came from the heart and was given FOR me, not to me.  They were simple things I enjoyed and brought me pleasure and laughter.  And those gifts, though invisible to the eye, came wrapped with love and appreciation.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Five Best Fantasy Authors You Should Read and Why


By T.L. Gray
As an author I’ve had the honor and privilege of not only getting my hands on a some of the best literature this world has to offer, but I’ve been very blessed to get to know many of the authors behind those great works of art.

Writers are a strange and peculiar brand of people.  They see the world with wide, yet narrowed eyes.  What I mean by that is that they can see beyond boundaries, borders and boxes to view bigger pictures and brighter scenes.  That broad vision comes with an acute precision, able to pinpoint what others can easily pass over or pretend doesn’t exist.  We see the beauty and the ugliness, the gift of hope and the curse of doubt.

There are a few people and books that haven’t simply touched my imagination, but reached deep into my soul and stirred my very being.  I’ve laughed and wept with their stories.  Some have fueled my desire to write, others intimidated me and pushed me to reevaluate everything.  Some have made me so jealous of their gift, I literally weep with appreciation just to be able to call them my friend.  Some have become my true friends, inspiring and pushing me in personal ways.

There are many, yet simple but complex, reasons for these five particular novels/authors.  I hope you will give them a chance and allow them to touch you as they've touched me. They’re in no particular order:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I’ve never had a book move me through every emotion more than this one. I’ve cried, laughed, been excited, angry and outraged while reading this fabulous tale.  Rothfuss is one of the few authors who intimidates me as a writer.  I know when I meet a good, talented writer, but Rothfuss' skill makes me feel inadequate.  Then he goes and reproduces that same feeling of awe in the sequel - The Wise Man’s Fear. I don’t particularly like feeling inadequate, and everything in me wants to fight against it, but I admire his skill, imagination and genius so much - I’m truly in awe. I’m truly a fan – not just a colleague.

That leads me right into The Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.  Actually, you should start with book one, The Prince of Thorns and read through The King of Thorns to finish with The Emperor of Thorns.  What impressed me most from this writer wasn't necessarily the plot, but the wisdom, personal reflections, platitudes and proverbs he planted in these books.  I’d sincerely consider this a philosophical series more than an epic fantasy.  Some readers only read for adventure the plot offers, but to me, I find myself meditating on certain phrases, often forgetting the plot for a time as I grasp for deeper meanings and pearls of wisdom.  Lawrence blows me away as much as Kerouac or Bukowski do.

My third selection is from writer Jeff Suwak, author of the novella Beyond the Tempest Gate.  While Tempest Gate is a beautiful heroic tale that stretches the imagination and fuels the warrior spirit within me, it is an unpublished short story called “Rusted, Busted, Beautiful Things” that moves me most.  There was sadness, need, a crying out from a thirsty soul in that piece that has stayed with me for many, many nights.  I’ve cried often because this story came to me at a time when I felt my lowest, when I felt Rusted, Busted, but also Beautiful, deserving to not be forgotten and discarded as many of those pieces and buildings listed in that story.  I’m getting emotional thinking about it.  His words touch my soul.  There have been many other short stories I’ve read from this particular author that also moved me: one about a man on the edge of a crisis of doubt taking a walk in the middle of the night and finding a friendly cup of coffee, polite conversation, and the meaning to life, another about boy coming of age and stepping into his destiny under the mysterious music of a guitarista, Exceptional talent.  He’s destined to be one of the greats.

My fourth selection is The Riyria Series by Michael J. Sullivan.  To know a man is to know his heart, and I absolutely fell in love with Sullivan’s characters Hadrian and Royce.  Their chemistry, their connection, their stark sense of humor pours off the page.  I love these two characters.  I’d want to know them in real life, and I’m sure they come from various parts of Sullivan’s own personality.  He’s one of the nicest and helpful people I’ve met in this business.  But, these two protagonists stole my heart and I find myself often thinking about them and wanting to know more, revisit their adventures, and read them all over again. Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron,

My last selection was really hard to narrow, to define, to highlight, because there are so many great authors out there right now, so many whose works I’ve fell in love with, whose craft and artistry I admire.  But I have to stick with the ones that totally move me in a very deep, almost spiritual, way.  So, rising to the top amongst a sea of favorites is Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. Valen al Sorna snatched my attention, stole my heart, and didn’t let go until I turned the last page, and then left me wanting more. Even now I feel a bit overwhelmed.

Well, folks… those are my top five.  They may change in the coming years or months, but for 2013 those would be my favorite picks.  My advice would be to read these books and form your own opinion. Some of you will agree and some will not, but that’s not really my problem.

Thank you for reading.
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Rumble of Thunder


The rumble of thunder and the tapping of raindrops atop a tin roof stir my imagination, and make me smile.  My sweet, you know the music I love best. Sing to me.  Stir my passions.  Take me away to where only the imagination can travel. Let us dance together heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit. 

The rumble of thunder and the tapping of keys atop my keyboard stir my imagination, and make me smile.  My sweet, you know the words I need to hear. Write for me.  Stir my passions. Let your prose be birthed from my heart, travel through my veins, and flow from the tips of my fingers. Let us write together heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit. 


We dance, we write, we laugh, we cry, we kiss, we sigh, we live, we die, together, you and I. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Friday, December 20, 2013

No More Waiting


I feel like I’ve spent most of my life waiting on something to break through, someone else to make a move, somewhere else to be the home I’ve searched for my whole life; waiting to be loved, to be accepted, hell… just to be remembered. Well …no more waiting.

I made a resolution with the New Year to put my grief behind me, put away those broken dreams, let go of the pain of loss and rejection.  I can’t fly with these things tethered to my ankles keeping me grounded.  Waiting has benefited everyone else but me.  Waiting allows my soul to be stripped away piece by piece. 

I’ve been paralyzed to move forward; because moving risks losing what I’m afraid to lose. I realize, I have nothing left to lose, except me. Moving forward may break my heart, but it saves my soul.

In retrospect, I was waiting for me all along, I was too focused on others to see that.  I’m a broken soul, shattered into many pieces, and all this waiting was me trying to fill those cracks with something else, someone else, and somewhere else… when really the only thing that could fill them was me.  I just didn’t believe I was enough. 

I still have cracks, and some days I can feel the emptiness and sharp edges, and remember those unfulfilled dreams, but I’m not waiting anymore.  I’m enough.  Love me, hate me, want me, or walk away – no more waiting. When  you’ve got nothing to lose,  you’re not afraid to move.

Some of you won’t like the new me, because you’ve fed for so long on pieces of me to fill your own holes.  Some of you have been water to my thirsty soul, and I know with all my heart you are with me – and we’re moving, not waiting.  We will fly together – and if not, I will fly alone, but fly nonetheless.  I cry this morning, not in grief, but freedom. I feel the wind on my face, flowing beneath my wings, and the shackles falling from my ankles.  To those I leave behind… I’m so sorry, but I can’t carry you and I can’t allow you to keep me grounded.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 Resolutions

I've made my list.  Have you?

Well, folks.  Christmas is just around the corner and then following that will be New Year’s Eve and the making, followed probably by a lot of breaking, of new resolutions.  Have you given yours any thought?  I have, but not just in the last few days or the last few weeks.  I’ve been thinking about mine all year. 

Last year, I made some very drastic resolutions and I’m very proud to say I fulfilled them all.  I didn’t make too big a list, but I did list things that I didn’t know I could achieve, were bigger than I ever thought possible, yet I dared to dream and reach for them. 

This isn’t a fairy tale and everything didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, while other things proved to be better than I ever expected.  I got a small glimpse of what I left behind today, and it’s not an easy thing.  It tore my heart to pieces and I had a brief moment of panic and self-doubt.  But, then I reminded myself why I made the changes I did.  To step backwards would be to erase all my hard work, my shed tears, my panic attacks, and choose to return to a life that didn’t make me happy, giving up the possibility I deserve and find that great love and happiness. 

Do I have a guarantee all my dreams will come true?  No!  That’s not why I make the resolutions.  I make them because I believe there’s a possibility they can come true, but with the full and complete understanding that it will probably be a tough fight, filled with lots of pain, lots of self-doubt, lots of fear, and lots of determination.  Nothing ever seems to come easy for me.  I know I’m going to want to quit, give up, and bury my head in the sand at least once a day, every day. But I’ll continue to push forward, one step at a time, one day at a time, so when I look back next year, it will be filled with even more accomplishments and fulfilled resolutions. 

Life isn’t only living in those special and definable moments, such as the ones we make and fulfill in our resolutions.  Life is LIVED in the process, in the journey, in the fight, in the day to day, moment to moment, second to second.  My biggest resolution is to LIVE fully in every way, in every day, and appreciate my life and those who love me.

I’ve hit some low moments this year, some even to the point I thought I wanted to die and had no strength to even make it to the next minute.  I’ve also experienced some great moments of beauty, love, and excitement – experiencing many beautiful things for the first time.  2013 was the most painful year of my life, but it was also the most alive I’ve ever been.

In 2014, these are my resolutions:
1.   No more grieving. 
2.   Run a 5k (no walking)
3.   Go on a real date
4.   Take a mini-vacation to one of my dream spots (on another list)
5.   Finish one of my novels (completed and edited)
6.   Sign and promote at least (5) five new authors with North Star
7.   Save at least ¼ of the money I need to move to the PNW
8.   Climb the steps at Amicolola Falls (I have to get there first)
9.   Hike at least 50 miles of the Appalachian Trial (not at the same time.)
           10.        Go White Water Rafting

What are your resolutions?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

28th Annual Big Climb - Seattle 2014


As we all consider the gifts this holiday season that we are  to give to our friends and family, let's not forget to give the gift of hope to those who are sick.

My friend and fellow author, Jeff Suwak, on Sunday, March 23, 2014 will participate in the 28th Annual Big Climb to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It's 69 flights of stairs, 1311 steps, and a gain of 788 feet of vertical elevation.

The money raised goes to fight leukemia and lymphoma. I would greatly appreciate any donations. More importantly, those suffering from leukemia and lymphoma will appreciate your donations.

Just click on the link below if you're interested. Thank you!  Apart from your giving, spreading the word is the next best thing you can do.  Please share this on your wall and have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 16, 2013

You Must Do


You Must Do
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this … I can take the next thing that comes along.”  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

These words have become living words to me.  I not only understand their meaning and definition, but I comprehend them with an intimacy that only my heart can express without words.  I have known them over and over, yet as soon as I have reached the pinnacle, I start to forget them… until I learn them again.

As Ms. Roosevelt states in the beginning … this is a learning process.  I ‘gain’ strength, courage and confidence with every experience.  The fear never ceases, nor does it ever decline in intensity.  In fact, I often think it increases, but I must face it anyway.  What choice do I have?  I’m not arrogant enough to deny I’m afraid.  Denial isn’t courage.  Courage isn’t being unafraid.  Courage is being deathly afraid yet choosing to face it anyway.

In most moments of fear I want to give up, throw my hands into the air and scream at the top of my lungs that I can’t take it, I’m too weak, and want to just die.  But, I don’t… because I love me and deserve to live.  But love for me is not from where I draw most of my strength as I face my fears.  Love from my friends is what gives me that strength.

There are some precious people in my life who are so dear to me, my heart literally aches when I think about how much I love and appreciate them.  It is their love for me, their words of encouragement, and their belief in me that has given me the strength to walk into the lion’s den and face my greatest fears.  Their love and encouragement gives me hope and reassures me that I don’t walk alone.  It is their love for me that helps me do the things I cannot do.  I love them more than words could ever express.  I hope they never give up on me.  I must do, and I will.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Will Remember the Kisses


I could have written this poem myself. 
It's a reoccurring dream I have.  
I know that it is real. 
I know that it happened. 
But it lives now only in memory.  
Always bringing a smile to my face.

I try not to think about this dream.
Though it reminds me of a happier time, a beautiful moment;
It also reminds me that the moment has passed.  
I'm in a different time, 
a different place, 
under different circumstances. 

I will always love and cherish this dream. 
I will remember the kisses.

I will always fear it.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Touch


I have a great imagination and can picture many things.  I’m not an introvert, but I live the life of a writer which finds me reclusive in many ways much of the time.  That’s really hard sometimes for an extrovert like me, who loves interaction.  But, I now wonder if I’m as extroverted as I think, or if perhaps I’m mistaking an intimate need for a personality trait. 

It’s become obvious to me these past few years, really more so this year, of an act so simple, yet so complex, that has affected me in such a deep way in my life, and it’s turned it upside down.  That act is - touch.    

For years I had fantasies, some of which I was taught to be ashamed, that involved touching.  I have a certain dream of touch for so long I can’t remember when it first began.  It’s nothing dirty, but every time I have this dream, I wake up and can’t stop the tears.  I never really understood what it was about this dream that affected me so much, until recently.  In my dream – I see a pair of hands, strong male hands that reach out for me.  The backs of these hands lightly brushes across my cheek, touches the tendrils my hair, and then runs down the sides of my face, over my shoulders, and down my arms, to interlock with my own small hands.  When I see our fingers together, I can’t stop the tears. 

I always thought that dream was about finding love, and in a way I’m right.  But I’m discovering there was so much more to it because it involved something completely missing in my life. I didn’t realize it was missing until recently, and that is touch.

Touch has been the foundation of my nightmares.  Most of the touch I’ve experienced in my life has been the wrong kind, inappropriate.  I grew up with the absence of hugs and the violence of abuse.  I hated for people to touch me. 

I remember when I first started going to church with my husband and everyone always reached out and hugged me, how it bothered me and I felt my personal space invaded. I hated hugs, and living in the South where everyone hugged drove me crazy.  

My husband rarely touched me.  I don’t know if that was his doing or mine.  Did I set a precedent at the beginning of our relationship that ultimately led to its end?  Or was it something he did and I easily accepted until not being touched was no longer bearable?

When my children were younger, I purposefully covered them in hugs and kisses and told them I loved them all the time, not wanting them feel or experience that lack as I had.  But as they grew older, perhaps being more perceptive to how being touched made me feel, their hugs and kisses stopped, and even more so the ‘I love you’s’. Why?  My children don’t even understand why they do this.  They’ve made comments about how they don’t like to be touched, they don’t like to hug, and they feel uncomfortable saying ‘I love you’… not just to me, but to anyone.  Children are often a mirror of their parents.  Is this my doing?  Even now I tell them ‘I love them’ often, yet they still act uncomfortable and rarely say those words to me.  I know they do, but sometimes I need to hear it. 

I walked away from a twenty year marriage because of a lack of touch.  I wish I could say it was for much bigger reasons, but that’s really as simple as it gets.  I just want to be touched, to be loved. It really hurts that I walked away and there was no hand to reach out and stop me, to pull me back, or arms to wrap around me, to know I was worth fighting for.  …Maybe someday.

I do know the beauty of touch.  I’ve experienced what it feels like to be wanted, to be cherished, to be desired, to be held …even if but for a brief moment.  I may never experience that moment again, and perhaps that’s my greatest fear.  Will it be enough?  It may have to be.

To those in your life whom you love, please, with all heart-felt sincerity, don’t withhold your affections.  Hold them, touch them, and tell them you love them.  

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, December 09, 2013

Connection


I think the thing that makes us most human among a planet of sentient beings is not in what we can do or not do better than the other, or even the uniqueness in our DNA.  Those are important and great to use in classification, but more important in separation and identity.  But what I feel truly makes us human - is our capacity to connect to one another and the universe around us.

I’ve seen people connect with each other, with animals, with a place, with a moment in time, and it change them forever.  I’ve experienced each of these things in my own life.  Not all these connections are good.  Not all are bad.  But each one helps define us, shape us, and guide us into the tiny spark of life we live. 

Compared to the vastness of the universe, we are but a speck.  Compared to infinity of time, we live but a tick on a grand clock.  It’s no surprise that sometimes we can feel lost, unimportant, and insignificant, yet when we truly connect with something or someone, those feelings change. 

Love is the greatest of them all.  It causes the greatest change, the strongest impact, and the deepest connection. Even among the worst of pain or the deepest of sorrow, it has the ability to heal, to nurture, to restore, to effect and affect – to connect.

The greatest thing I’ve desired in my life is to be loved.  It is also the hardest connection to obtain.  For those few whom I’ve had the privilege to connect, I thank you.  Thank you for being a part of me, of my life, and making my existence significant.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Perfect Dream




Have you ever dreamed the perfect dream to only have it turn into a nightmare?  I don’t mean a wet dream, though those can be quite nice, I’m talking about a dream so perfect – a perfect day, a perfect love, with perfect weather, in a perfect location, experiencing perfect emotions, perfect peace; happiness; just sincere happiness; nothing extravagant, simply small, but so full of love?

I had one of those dreams last night.  I was walking down a trail, someone was holding my hand, that’s all I remember is the hands; our fingers entwined.  I heard laughter. I couldn’t tell if it was mine or his.  We were just walking.  The sun shone down on us, the wind was cool and soft.  Everything was green, there was so much green.  But, it wasn’t the scenery that made it a perfect dream.  I don’t even know if it was the company, but it was the feeling. 

I didn’t feel scared. I didn’t feel alone.  I didn’t feel rejected.  I felt complete.  I felt content. I felt happy.  I felt at ease.  I trusted who I walked beside.  I was happy with who I was.  I felt loved - completely loved. I just knew – I KNEW that I’d never be alone, that I was whole, and that no matter what happened in the world, I was going to be okay.

Then I woke.

I tried so hard to go back to sleep. For that dream, I’d choose never to wake. What hurts most is knowing it is all just a dream. I’m left wondering why I can’t have that in my life right now.  It seems I live from one trial to the next.  While I have moments between, during, before, and after each trial, each testing,  it doesn’t seem like my life ever clicks to where I have a moment’s rest. 

I’m so tired.  I’m tired of crying. I’m tired of struggling. I’m tired fighting. I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of starting over. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of being rejected. I’m tired of feeling helpless. I’m tired of surviving. I’m tired of having to climb out, climb up and climb over.  Can’t I stand on top for a moment? I’m sure it’s just my imagination that there are people out there in this world with an easy, happy life – devoid of disaster, tragedy and chaos.  I’m sure I torture myself with wanting something that doesn’t exist.

When we fight for something, we fight for a specific outcome.  I’m pretty strong most days, keeping purpose in front of me, encouraging myself forward, pushing myself with the strength to put one foot in front of the other.  But, there are some days when I’m not strong at all and I lose sight of that hope,  and I don’t remember what I’m fighting for.

But what choice do I have?  I’m still here. I’m still breathing.  My heart still beats. It doesn’t just stop, no matter how much I want it to just stop.  I can try to numb it with alcohol, but that won’t do anything to change the situation –except only to make it worse.  I can try to mask it in a vain relationship, but like the alcohol, it’ll only lead to something worse.  I’ve tried to exercise it away, meditate through it, and vanquish it with prayer – but it’s still there. I still wake up every morning.  My prayers go unanswered. My thoughts torture me. My body constantly aches from the extreme physical measures I put it through.

I’m split in two.  There are two parts of my soul, separated, that keep me from being whole.  I feel one part shutting down more and more every day.  There’s the emotional me – and the practical me.  My practical side is a work-a-holic who thrives in work. I’m most accepted when I work.  I’m valued most for what I can do for others, not simply for who I am. That’s great for business – and business is getting better, but the emotional side of me suffers.

I don’t know how to let that part of me be free.  I’ve kept her hid for so long trying to protect her, that putting her back in her box is easy… way too easy. Every day it gets harder to try and balance the two, to make room for her, to believe she’s important.  She feels too much.  She wants too much.  She’s a na├»ve child who doesn’t understand and believes in stupid shit like love – believing it’s the answer to everything. 
She believes in God, miracles, positive thinking, success and romance.  She’s got a big imagination, but her dreams torture the practical side of me, overwhelming me with faith and killing me with hope.  She’s the dreamer and I’m the one left to clean up the mess her dreams leave behind.

It was her dream I had this morning.  I want her to have it so bad, but I can’t give it to her. I can’t make it happen.  I can wipe her tears away when she wakes.


My dream, the practical side of me, is that tomorrow I’ll be strong again and forget this moment of weakness. It serves no purpose.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Reflections



What kind of image do we reflect?  What kind of shadow do we cast?  Most often we don’t see this image, being the original source – the body of flesh.  It’s also something others only notice when they’re not looking directly at us. 

While taking a walk yesterday I caught sight of my shadow.  As I moved, it danced in abstract to the sunlight.  While the beams bathed me with its warmth, and served as a spotlight on the open road, my shadow played all around me.  It stretched, shrank, widened, disappeared, reappeared, became long, short, dark and then faded, while the corporeal me in the light stayed the same. I laughed at the thought that it seemed my shadow got to have all the fun. 

I work really hard to make by body healthy, strong and beautiful, yet my shadow cares nothing for health, strength or appearances.  It’s different with every flicker of light, yet always the same – a shadow.  It’s not bound by the rules of gravity, reality, atoms and flesh, but by the laws of light and darkness.  Where my body has an advantage over my shadow is that it still exists in the darkness whereas the shadow only exists in the light.

I work just as hard to make my soul friendly, loving and helpful, yet not everyone views me as either. Each individual I interact with in life has a different experience, come from a different experience, and together we create a different experience together …some positive …some negative.

This whole concept got me thinking – what reflection do I truly project?  Do I control what’s projected or is what I project the true image of me, even one I can’t hide or manipulate?  I can disguise my physical features to some extent with make-up, clothes, a smile to hide the pain, but can I manipulate my reflection?  I know we try – we all try to portray the image we want people to see, but is that what they really see – or do they see what they want?  Perhaps we are not as we think we are, nor as others think we are – so, how can we tell what’s real or not?

Water and mirrored-glass reflect the truth.  But, I’m neither. Perhaps… just maybe …what I think I see is a shadow that likes to dance.


Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, December 02, 2013

Happy Monday



"There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die." ~Charles Bukowski —The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship, 1998


I love Monday's. 

I know a lot of people don't like the second day of the week because they have to trudge off to some job they hate, begin another useless cycle of the rat maze they've built for themselves.  I know it well. I've done it.  But, it wasn't for possessions or prestige, but for provision.  It was my responsibility to provide for my family.  But to endure the monotony I became like a zombie, going through the motions without any heart, crying on the inside for some spark of life. The more I reached for that spark, the more the other rats in the maze scoffed at me, spouting their tales of responsibility, uniformity and practicality. That’s not how I was created.

Now I'm alone and can make more daring decisions, do without most of worldly possessions and just concentrate on meeting basic needs, living a life every day seeking purpose and passion. The key is ‘living’.

I don't want regrets. 

If my time should come tomorrow, I want those I've left behind to know I lived every day to the fullest chasing what truly makes me happy. THAT is the inheritance I want to leave my children.  Chasing, dreaming, hoping, seeking, exploring, experimenting, loving, losing, listening, watching, holding, letting go, touching, … living.

Have a happy Monday.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankfulness



Thankfulness
My blog posts come from a Facebook post I made this morning.

Day 27 of Thanksgiving: I'm thankful I'm at a place where I can give thanks.  I've been so hurt to where I could only see the hurt.  I've been so lonely to where I could only see the loneliness. I've been so unloved to where I could only see the lack of love.  It isn't until I reached a place where I had to look up that I became thankful - no matter how close to the bottom I was.

Only the ground has limitations.  The sky is limitless.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dog Days Are Over


I love how when I hear a familiar song and it instantly transports me back to a particular place and time.  There’s just nothing like teleported by a memory, a feeling, especially if it is a beautiful one. 

Sometimes something happens in our lives and it so much bigger than we are that we can’t recognize it for what it is until a long time has passed.  Then we can look back and see all those little things that made such a huge difference. 

This past year has been so full of so many big emotions that I still haven’t sorted them out.  Yesterday afternoon I stumbled upon a playlist and it literally stopped me in my tracks and there was NOTHING that could stop the tears from spilling out.  Not sad tears, but happy tears, because I finally recognized what’s been banging on my heart for many, many months now.  I was just too scared to let it in. Love.

I can’t explain even still what it truly entails, because it’s so much bigger than me.  But, it’s also something I realize I’ve never let in before – ever.  I thought I had, I thought I knew what it was, I thought I understood what it contained, but I was wrong.  How can you know something, feel something you’ve never had, never experienced?  I’ve experienced various degrees, but not unconditional love – a love for me just as I am, with nothing to offer, nothing to change, no strings attached.

This year I have cried more than I have in my whole life combined.  I have grieved for the life I’ve lost.  I have grieved for the dream that has failed.  I have grieved for the lost little girl inside. But, I’ve also cried for the new life that has risen, the new dream that is just beginning, and the beautiful woman I have become. 
The song sent me earlier this year, in love, has proved to be prophetic. Because ‘the dog days are truly over’.  Thank you, my friend. I love you, too.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray




"Dog Days Are Over" – Florence and the Machine

Happiness hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with her drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming
So you better run

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
'Cause here they come

And I never wanted anything from you
Except everything you had and what was left after that too, oh
Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back
Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
'Cause here they come

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
'Cause here they come

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming
So you better run


Monday, November 25, 2013

Slow Moving Train


Have you ever been on a slow moving train?  I have at Six Flags, Stone Mountain and Walt Disney World.  Those were recreational trains, and that’s about as slow moving as trains go.

The young, adventurous side of me would like the train in my life to zip along like an Amtrak, getting me from Point A to Point B as quick and as smooth as possible.  I wouldn’t mind the scenery outside my window to be in streaks of brown, greens and grays, just so long as I get to where I’m going in one piece. 

The last train I rode derailed, jumped track and tossed me around something fierce, but I survived.  I’m bruised, beaten and whole lot of scared, but I seem to back on another track.  Hopefully, this one is going in the right direction.

I didn’t get on that track by myself, and I’m so scared of another derailment, each inch it moves has my heart pounding and me holding my breath while I’ve got a death grip on my hand rests.  I have some of the best friends in the whole world.

I know everybody always says that, and for many years I thought I had good friends, but what I had were fair-weathered sympathizers.  I also thought I was a good friend, but have come to realize that I don’t think I was ever a friend at all.  One of the biggest things I’ve learned this past year – is what the face, hands and heart of a true friend truly looks like. 

I’ve seen in the compassion, concern and courage, I’ve heard it in the voice of hard true and felt it in the nonjudgmental acceptance of true friends. I love you guys, I appreciate every kind word or act of kindness and love you’ve shown me.  I’m so blessed and overwhelmed.  I only hope that I can be one microscopic ounce the friend to each of you as you have been to me.

I am now on a slow moving train, moving at a pace that is really trying my patience, but it’s forcing me to look around me, take notice of what’s important in life, see who’s standing beside me, take stock in the direction I’m going, and moving at a pace I can build some confidence and momentum.

I’ve been so scared. I’ve been so lost. I’ve been so angry and hurt, and you’ve all been there for me in one way or another.  I love you all very much.

I love you Meagan, Johnathan and Kelly.  No matter what.  I love you Jeff, Jenna, Sara, Jaz, Christian, Justin, Lorien, Dawn, Denise, Maggie, Frank, Mary, Laura, and Ruthy.   Thank you to all the kind words from my friends on my blogs, Facebook, Goodreads and Scribophile.    I have survived and I’m going to make it just fine, but I couldn’t have done it without you guys. 

All aboard!

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Saturday, November 23, 2013

We've All Moved On


Today, the home I worked hard to build stands empty.  Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. 

The rooms I painted, the halls I decorated, the shrubs I planted, and the place I have called home for over two decades sits bare and abandoned.

Where is my home?  Where do I belong?

Everyone has moved on.  There's no going back.  A new family will soon fill those rooms, new memories will be made, a new life will be built, in both that house and in the hearts of my family.

Where is my home?  Where do I belong?  

I'm the one that left, and then they soon followed suit.  It was because of me that house stands empty, that family is now scattered, we've all moved on.

For what?  I just wanted to be loved, wanted, and desired. I still want.

Where is my home?  Where do I belong?

It was the only home I've ever had. I was lost and alone before, lost and alone while there, and I'm still lost and alone.

Where is my home?  Where do I belong?


I can't seem to find it. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Celebrate Your Differences


We delude ourselves into thinking that the perfect person for us would be someone just like us, who shares our same passions, ideas, desires, philosophies and faith.  While I do think it's important that there should be some agreement in the fundamentals, so two people can work together as partners, I also believe it's just as important to have some diversity.

My best friend shares so many of my passions.  We both love to write, are deep-thinkers, and have an insatiable passion.  We both are opinionated, stubborn and outspoken.  We both are Leos, perfectionists, and protectors.  There are so many things we share that make my soul burn with excitement.  They make me laugh.  They make me cry.  They move me with the way they see the world.  I really feel we connected on such a deep level and in a way that is eternal.  Yet, on many things we don't see eye to eye.  What's so funny is not that we disagree, because often we're not on opposite sides of the issue, but that we experience the results through different filters.  Some things affect them differently than they affect me.   

I love that my friend is different than me, because they force me to examine, test and release my expectations.  They cause me to question and stretch my thoughts, philosophies and ideas often beyond their borders.  They inspire me to think beyond myself.  I don't always agree with them, but I am so thankful that I'm free to enjoy them, for who they are, not who I want them to be.  I love them as they are, screwed-up philosophy (ha, ha) and all.  I hope they can see how beautiful they are to me for the simple act of sharing their true selves with me.

I'm not sure if they see me the same, but I hope they do.  I know they spend a lot of time shaking their head at me, but I take that as a good thing.  I love them dearly, and I hope they know that.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lost Words

Sometimes I sit and ponder about all the great stories that have been told in the past now lost and forgotten.  Just the mere thought of it makes my stomach tighten and my heart ache, much in the same way I feel when I pass by an old, dilapidated graveyard.  I know, I'm one of those strange people who do strange things, but it's who I am.

Have you ever visited an old graveyard?  I sometimes walk around and stop at a headstone I can barely make the letters and dates.  I then speak the name etched into the headstone out loud, so that the person who once lived, even for just a tiny moment, their name lives once more and is released into the universe.  It makes me sad because I'll think about whose bones may lie beneath and the surface and it brings my own mortality into focus. 

When I die, which is a natural certainty, how long will I be remembered?  If I'm lucky, perhaps a generation; If I'm really lucky and had been well loved, then perhaps two. At the rate I'm going, I'm banking on a week, if that.   But most people, their lives are but for a flash in this world, and unless they've made some huge impact WHEN they lived, they will soon be forgotten, in the same way those old books and manuscripts turn into dust and fade from our existence.  As for infants who lived and died quickly and suddenly, their impact even less. 

So, there's a part of me that wants to leave something behind. I have five publications in print and hope, as well as others I write, will leave an impact when I'm gone ...at least for a little while.  Of course, that's hoping for the best, because those works are often forgotten and I'm still very much alive. 

Just thought I'd leave you something to think about.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray


Picture: http://vimark.deviantart.com/

Monday, November 18, 2013

Be Yourself


Many times in my life, well really almost all of it if I really think about it, I always put someone else's ideas or wants before my own.  Perhaps it's just part of my DNA, though none of my other family members ever did this.  I have been taking care of someone else literally my whole life.  From the time I was able to climb on top of counters and change diapers, I took care of my brothers, to taking care of my own children (as a child myself at 17), taking care of a husband, taking care of a career, and taking care of my duties and responsibilities at church and in my community.  In all that time, I rarely took care of me.  I spent literally my whole life being what other people expected, demanded, or wanted from me.

Last year, about this exact time, I made a huge, life-altering decision - I was going to be myself and start to take care of me.  The only problem with my plan - I didn't really know who I was.  My children were now grown, I walked away from a 20-year marriage, I left my church and let go of all my friends.  I even stopped writing for a while.  I needed to meet me and I had no idea what I looked like.

I've since met me, and I like me very much.  I'm outgoing, love the outdoors, love to run and exercise, love to read, write and help others, love to dream, love to travel, love the Pacific Northwest, love to explore, love to meet new people, love 5k's, love hiking, love kayaking, love canoeing, love being alone, love being in a crowd of friends, love wine, love sushi, love hats and love being beautiful, sexy and flirtatious.   I love being me and can never settle again to be a copy or imitation of what someone else wants me to be. 
I’m the original T.L. Gray.
Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Superman (It's Not Easy) Article


Okay guys, if you know me, you know my insatiable love of all things Superman.  So, check out my new article at SongPlaces.com featuring the song "Superman (It ain't Easy) by Five for Fighting and the mysterious location of Smallville.


Check it out and enjoy the article.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Here’s a snippet:

I wish that I could cry, fall upon my knees.  Find a way to lie about a home I'll never see.  It may sound absurd, but don't be naive, even heroes have a right to bleed.  I may be disturbed, but won't you concede, even heroes have the right to dream.  It's not easy to be me.

There were a lot of attributes about Superman that were very popular, but the ones that this song - and fans like myself - seem to value most was the ability to "never tell a lie". It wasn't that he could fly, leap tall buildings in a single bound, or run faster than a locomotive, but his honesty, his heart, and his passion that made him a true hero.  I relate to how he felt as an orphan, having that strong desire to find an identity, to belong somewhere  to someone.  No matter how magnificent Superman's abilities, his greatest attributes were his love and use of his powers to save an often ungrateful and selfish world.