Friday, June 28, 2013

Complete Honesty

Path to Ruby Beach - Olympic National Park - 05/31/2013
This famous Buddha quote has me a little conflicted.  I’ve always believed this sentiment, just under a different context.  “And the Truth shall set you free.” I took the meaning to say bondage of mind, heart and soul comes from the lack of being completely honest, and if we brave to be vulnerable, face the Truth, we will be free of all those things that bring us down and bind us.

I grew up among lies, manipulation, deception and abandonment.  The truth became something precious to me; a treasured jewel.  It’s actually something I cannot tolerate the lack of in those I allow in my life.

The first person I had to learn to be truthful with was me.  I’ve spent the last twenty-five years healing, facing the truth and trying to discover who I am.  It’s only been recently I’ve taken a huge leap of faith, lowered my defense mechanisms, and exposed my heart through complete honesty.  It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and proving to be quite painful. 

The reason it’s called facing fears, is because the possibility of pain increases with every morsel of truth released.  We live in such a judgmental world, most often our greatest critic being ourselves. Our expectations are often unmet, in ourselves and in each other, and so our first reactions are to pull back and hide behind the lie, “I’m fine.”  It’s easier. It’s safer.  But, it’s wrong.

My first reaction to pain is to run.  My first reaction to confrontation is to fight.  My first reaction to fear is to throw up walls and harden my heart.  I’m trying to fight against my first responses.  I’m trying to remain open and completely honest even as my heart breaks, seized with panic attacks, and bombarded with overwhelming feelings of abandonment and disappointment.

Maybe Buddha knew what he was talking about.  Maybe the Truth really does set you free.  But, they should have a disclaimer, saying it’ll more than likely be the most painful and hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in your life.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mission to Move

Walker Viewpoint - Olympic National Park 06/01/2013

There is nothing scarier than uprooting my life and moving, especially if I’m planning to move to the other side of the country, away from my support system of friends, family and familiarity.  There’s also nothing more exciting.

That’s exactly what I’m planning to do and I can’t help but wake up every morning with an exciting new beat in my heart, a new dream in my spirit, and a new song in my soul.  I also get flooded with new fears … of the unknown, the unexpected and the unfulfilled.  I don’t want to fail.  But fear of failure has never stopped me before, and it won’t stop me now.  

I recently fell in love.  I’m not talking about a gentle infatuation, but a deep-seeded true love.  I wish I could say this was with a man, but in this instance it’s with a place …the beautiful state of Washington.  Most places are referred to in the feminine, but for me… Washington is the new man in my life.  I fell in love with his beauty, his mountains, his oceans, his woods, his cities and his people.  

For the first time in a long time, I took a breath… a vital gasp of air needed to bring me back to life. I opened my eyes and saw real beauty… true, honest beauty. I have now become lost in his charms.

So, I am now on a mission to move. Every thought, action, penny, and effort is being put into planning, dreaming and making arrangements to go and be with my new love, to allow him to wrap his beautiful arms around me and pull me into his embrace.  My deepest hope is that Washington will love me back.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Where Are You Going?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Climbing the Stairs of Success

Success is a difficult climb.  Someone who’s never had to work for it before, having things handed to them with little to no effort, cannot appreciate or understand the journey the way the rest of us, those who have to fight for every little step, can.   

I’ve succeeded at many things. I’ve failed at even more.  Today, I find myself on another stairway facing a multitude of steps before me, but I start the climb …one step at a time.

I’m out of shape, out of breath, and it seems out of patience, but I’m full of determination.  As I start my climb, I feel the strain on my legs, back and butt muscles. With proper conditioning, a steady pace, and plenty of water, I’ll find my stride and take those steps one at a time.

I smile, because I have a slight advantage to the other climbers along these jagged steps… I’ve run this race a few times before.  I know the costs, but I also have tasted the victory at the top and remember it’s sweetness.  I also know …it’s not how I start, but how I finish. 

Are you on your own set of stairs?  If so, pace yourself.  I wish you a wonderful journey.  Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the top, but every once in a while, glance around and see how far you’ve come.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Friday, June 21, 2013

Perfect Conditions for Procrastinators

I’m not often a procrastinator. I’m a go-getter, mover, shaker, but I’ve never been a candlestick maker.  I get things done.  I’ve been charging through life, well, pretty much my whole life.  I’m a decision maker.  Once I’ve made a decision, I’m almost impossible to stop.  Why am I that way?  Maybe because I’ve always had to fight for everything in my life, nothing was just handed to me, and often, even what I had was taken from me.  Most people call this drive.  I call it determination – settling the mind to a specific task or course of action, and follow through.

However, this year, I’ve found myself participating in a lot of procrastination.  Not because I was incapable, but numb.  I don’t apologize for it.  I understand the need for the season.  What I’ll never understand, is those who choose to stay in it for long periods of time. 

Week after week, I watch the same group of writers talk, play, argue, and proceed to give everyone else in the world their advice and opinion on every subject, YET do no writing.  OR, they start writing, but when the first tug of difficulty appears, instead of pushing through it, they go back to all those other devices that enable their procrastination.  I know, I did it, too.  This really breaks my heart.  There’s so much talent and potential wasted in the land of procrastination.

When I’ve tried to inspire some of these procrastinators to get to work, I’m met with excuse after excuse, as if they’re waiting on the perfect opportunity to fall in their lap that will magically give them the energy and drive to do what they need to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I love magic, I just don’t believe in it.

There will NEVER be a perfect time.  The moment you’re waiting for, the one that will inspire you and give you what you need to write, will be the moment you CHOOSE to act.  I can almost guarantee it won’t be ideal, convenient, or opportunistic, but requiring determination, dedication and drive.  It will hurt, stretch you, test you and often push you to your limit, but it is only one moment, and it too shall pass.

I’ve heard writers tell me they only write when their muse hits them with overwhelming strength.  These are also the same writers still working on the same story year after year.  Set aside all those things that distract you and pull you away from doing what you know must be done.  Push through the walls that pop up in front of you.  Dig in.  I’m not telling you something I don’t know anything about.  I have to do the same thing EVERY DAY.  I had to do it this morning.  I have to do it now just to finish this blog post.

Silence the phone.  Close down your internet browser.  Don’t read the forums.  Close your email (don’t just minimize), cut off the television or music, lock your door and sit down and make one small goal to accomplish.  THEN, make yourself push through that one goal.  Stop waiting for the perfect moment, because it’s already here. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dreaming Too Big?

Today is nothing like yesterday, and I’m grateful.  They may contain a mixture of pleasant and rough memories, but its all part of my journey already travelled. Today, my only concern is to survive and strive forward toward my dreams. Tomorrow, I hold vast hope and potential for greatness. 

I look around me and see a world seemingly asleep.  I know - I was one of them for a season.  I’m awake now and grabbing hold of those dreams of mine left un-apprehended in the universe. 

I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with people of varying degrees in their pursuit of dreams, in which my observations have helped me solidify and understand my own pursuits.  Talking with a man yesterday, whose dreams for his life were so simple, so small, I realized I’m not a small dreamer, but a big dreamer.  I always have been.

As a child, I was often called a snob by my family, because I looked beyond our circumstances and dreamed of a different, and in my opinion, better life.  No matter if we went through a hard time, living in a three-room shack without indoor plumbing, or easier times in a giant suburban home keeping up with the Joneses.  I always felt like a fraud, going through the motions of someone else’s life.  I didn’t fit in.  I still don’t fit in with my family.  So, it wasn’t just a phase.  I’ve always dreamed big, and to me, they seemed to settle for whatever life handed them, or looked for the quickest way to cheat the system.  As adults, most members of my family is still that way.  I can’t understand that particular kind of mindset.  It’s quite sad to me.

As an adult, raising my own family, I’ve striven for success in many different venues and have obtained it often.  I’ve also failed and understand the cost, both financially and emotionally, failure takes on a person and a family.  But, no matter how much I’ve failed, I never stop trying; never stop reaching for that next dream. 

Don’t think I don’t live in the moment, because I do.  In a single moment… that’s where fear, doubt, anxiety, hope, confidence and faith live.  I’ve been taught all those things can’t inhabit a person at the same time. I say, yes they can, because I feel them all at the time.  Right now - I have so much hope for my future, so much faith I’m going to succeed, and so much optimism I’ll find a way to make my dreams come true.  No one can convince me otherwise.  But also, right now - I have so much fear of failure, so much anxiety of the pain such failure would cost, so much skepticism to know it’s not going to be an easy journey, but one requiring  sacrifice and pain.  

So, I don’t care if the world thinks I dream too big.  Often I’ve been told to be realistic, practical in my pursuits, because big dreams require big sacrifices.  I can’t. Simple as that - I just can’t. No matter the cost, no matter the ridicule, no matter the ostracism, no matter the rejection (and I know a LOT of rejection), I can’t stop dreaming the dreams I have for myself.  If I don’t pursue them, I know I’d die inside.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

True Friends

Have you ever wondered if the people in our lives appeared because we chose them or they chose us, or were our connections beyond us both?

I’ve had a rough year so far.  Change is always difficult, but not necessarily bad.  The biggest change has been the people in my life, especially those who have come into it recently.  There are a few who have really impacted me to a great degree.

My girlfriends:  A girl cannot have too many girlfriends, but she certainly can have the wrong ones.  For many years I had people tell me, almost on a daily or weekly basis they loved me, cared for me, and for my best interests.  Yet, I discovered most of it was merely lip service.  When I made a decisive change in my life, though they spoke concern with their lips, I never saw them.  I was ultimately left to myself, and so I dealt with my pain, uncertainty, and fear… alone.  In my season of doubt I never reached out to them, but with all their declared love, they never reached out to me.

Since then, without looking, searching, or expecting friends, I’ve somehow managed to surround myself with some of the most loving, supportive, and beautiful women I’ve ever met in my life.  I never really got along well with women, but now I don’t how I’d ever get along without them.  There’s a certain support only a woman can get from a girlfriend; an understanding that only women who’ve been through similar situations can lend to one another.

I love my girlfriends.  I love hanging out with them, listening to them, laughing with them, crying with them, but most of all… just having the freedom to be me; all of me.  These new friends love me just as I am and don’t expect me to be perfect.  On the contrary …they expect me to mess up, be wrong, to not understand, and yet they still love me.  If they haven’t heard from me in a few days, they’re at my door.  They push me, encourage me, make fun of me, but they don’t judge me or cast unreasonable expectations onto my shoulders. 

Then there are a few special friends, people who’ve come into my life who push me, challenge me, yet fulfill parts of me that have been long neglected and most often forgotten, even my me.  They don’t talk of stirring my soul, they actually do it.  They don’t talk of inspiration, being with them I’ve become inspired.  They don’t talk of having dreams; they stir my dreams within me, as I hope I stir within them.  They give to me, as I give to them.  I love them dearly.

There are a lot of rules in this world, a lot of demands on what are right and wrong, acceptable, unacceptable, moral or immoral … but I’m learning the true meaning of what it is to love one another.  I’ve busted down the walls of my boxes, and in doing so, sometimes feel lost… but gloriously alive.  I’m being reborn into someone I didn’t expect, but I like her.

Did I choose these friends, or have they chosen me?  I don’t know.  What I do know …I love them dearly and can’t imagine life without them.  These are true friends.  Life is scary.  Living is scary. But having a great support system, a few good friends, makes it a little less scary and a lot less lonely.  My greatest hope is that you, reader, have or find the same for your own life.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Having Courage

Facing fears is something I know a little something about.  I’ve been doing this my whole life. We all have in some way. Sometimes it seems this is all I do, because I’m afraid of a lot of things.  But, I refuse to allow my fear to paralyze me. 

In the midst of all these changes, I face a lot of uncertainty.  Everything that used to bring a little security, a little ‘normality’, is gone and I realize nothing is secure and no one, or no family, is normal.  My life …is what I make it. I’m so tired of trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations, because I can’t.  I fail every day.  I disappoint someone in some way.  The simple truth is …the only person I need to please - is me. 

I used to believe I had to strive to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect Christian, the perfect boss, the perfect employee, the perfect neighbor, the perfect friend, the perfect writer, etc. I failed.  I’m not perfect in any of these areas.  In fact, I’ve botched them all, miserably. 

I still find myself striving for perfection, and this effort is where most my fears originate.  But, today …today I strive to be happy being me.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know if I’ll complete all my tasks, fulfill all expectations, or find a little security, but I face my fears regardless.  I have no other option, because the only other thing to do is give into those fears, and that I can’t do.

 What about you?  Have you found the courage to face the things that scare you most? I hope so.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, June 17, 2013

Goals - Getting Back on Track

Life gets really hectic sometimes, and in the chaos, knocks us off our goals.  At least it does for those of us who are goals oriented.  That would include me.  I like have a vision in front of me, a destination, a finish line.  It helps keep me on track.  For the past six months, I’ve been somewhat lost, aimlessly wandering and the cost is beginning to climb, mostly when it comes to the things I want to achieve in this life. 

A dear writer friend of mine has reminded me the importance of setting goals, sharpening focus and taking back control of my life.  That’s essentially what it boils down to; having goals gives you control of the circumstances in your life, instead of letting the circumstances control you.  I drifted too long in an endless sea without a rudder.  Now that I’ve got one, it’s time I made my way back to land. 

For those of you have stuck around for these past six months, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You’re going to see a huge difference in the coming posts and all I can say at this point is that it excites me.  I hope I can inspire you to set your own goals.  Let’s take this journey together. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray