The Words

The words that we hear

Influence the people we become.

There is no way around that as a child….

But then there is the process of becoming an adult,

And the moments of awakening you may be fortunate enough to reach.

You are influenced by the words you choose to let in, you influence the world with the words you send forth and share, and you may negate the power of any words aimed at you or nurture them in your heart and soul. Don’t grow and nurture the vitriolic words that bring you down.

Nurture in your heart the words that help you grow as a person, just like a flower grows toward the sunlight.

This thought comes to me on this Holy Week as we head toward Easter weekend, and I feel I’ve been neglecting my faith.

Perhaps a change is coming, or maybe this is just a phase. Hopefully, we are near the end of COVID’s rule over our lives, and I can get back to fellowship with my church friends instead of watching church or talking to heads on a screen when I actually choose to participate in Book Club. The fellowship sometimes feels two- dimensional in this era, but of course, that’s just me being like a stubborn child when my routine is upset and the things that I like change. So, I’ll ask forgiveness for that, but I will not judge myself for the way that I am.

The stories of the love of Jesus fed my childhood imagination. The judgment of my childhood church stifled my growth. Nonetheless, I am past that paradox and I hold the stories of Jesus dear.

On this Easter weekend, I feel it is helpful to think of what Jesus would do. He would live my troubled son no matter what. He’d work to get along with those who seem difficult to take. I don’t always feel up to it, but it’s worth a try.

I started today listening to a positive affirmations recording. It was an awesome start to my day. I don’t feel very churchy lately, but I am seeing the benefits of putting the right words in our mind. So I’m going to try to frame my life with words of gratitude.

That’s where I am this Easter, 2021.

Of Faith and the Eternal Struggle

There’s no shame in the struggle. It means you haven’t given up. Please visit my post at:

<a href=”https://medium.com/@pamschloessercanepa/of-faith-and-the-eternal-struggle-f626c18f0a93″>https://medium.com/@pamschloessercanepa/of-faith-and-the-eternal-struggle-f626c18f0a93</a>

My Year of Saying “Yes.”

sunrise-sky-blue-sunlight-67832.jpeg  Photo (c) Pixels.

2014 bled into 2015, and the effects of saying yes were amazing on my mind.

I’d say it started mid-2014.  My son graduated from high school and went to live up North with his dad for a while, and I found myself suddenly with more time for…myself.  Summer time was great.  I caught up with old friends and started helping out at a food bank.  It was something I was always curious about.  Several people from my church also volunteered there, so I got to know them a little better.  There was a nagging worry about my son, but guess what, it was always there since he became a teen.  I kept busy.

Eventually, he came back, as things didn’t work out there.  I figured he learned some necessary lessons being away.  Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know if they sank in.  He enrolled in college and had a few more troubles, then withdrew from his classes.  He really went through a rough time, and so did it.  It was hard to accept that his journey into adulthood would be nothing like mine.  There was a sense of loss.  He was not the person he used to be and would not talk to me about things that were going on.  We sought help, but I did not seek help for myself.  Perhaps I should have.  I dealt with it, somehow.

In November, my mom and I spoke seriously about getting a dog.  She and I live with my son in the same house.  He voiced no opinion on the matter.  She went looking one day and told me about the sweetest dog she’d found.  My son was there and did not voice disapproval; he didn’t voice excitement either, but that is nothing new.  It seemed apparent the dog would be my mom’s and my dog.  Two days later I went in and met the dog.  I’d thought about doing this for a few years and always stopped myself because of the new responsibility, the cost, the adjustment, etc.  Well, I decided to accept this as a happy adjustment.  There were so many adjustments that year anyway.  I put down the deposit and went back to get him when his stray hold was over at the shelter.  Let me tell you, a new canine family member is an excellent way to stave off depression.

Around the time, I was asked to serve on the Session at my church.  It is somewhat of a governing board.  Now, I’d grown closer to spiritually, but mostly in the sense of begging God for help, begging for acceptance to enter my soul, begging things would not get any worse than they were.  I’d discussed things with my pastor now and then, and when someone nominated me for this, I discussed my fears with him and what were the positives.  Obviously, when you’re asked to do this, you have to know you are going to be in a place of servitude and can’t just think “What’s in it for me.” However, I didn’t want it to distance me from my son even more, as I was his transportation and he was involved in a few programs to help him get a job and help him sort his life out.  Still, I said yes after deliberation and talks with my pastor.  It was the third time I’d been asked to do this and this time I finally said yes.  I would start my term in January, 2015.  Let me tell you, it was a challenge but rewarding as well.  I am looking back and reflecting on it, because my three year term recently came to an end.  It got me involved in some voluntary activities that I would not have done otherwise, all very rewarding.

During the three years, my son lived in a world separate from me, in our own home, in his mind.  I still made efforts to keep him on the right path.  He was in a state of recovery and did not ask much of me, yet he needed my support.  He would at times accompany me to church events.  I learned a lot while serving on the session, and I felt closer to God.  I frequently was in a state of reflection, and I started writing more.  Poetry had been a sometime hobby for a few years, but I started writing stories.  It was a great escape.

In mid-2015, I bought a little notebook to write down all the zany ideas that popped in my head and disappeared when I later had time to write.  I binge-watched Mad Men that summer, and the character, Don Draper’s transformation and soul-searching inspired me.  I wrote a few stories online that I shared with no one other than the writing platform where they were housed. In early 2016, I started blogging here at WordPress.  It opened a new world to me, and I would respond to photo prompts and communicate with other bloggers who are also writers.  I still benefit from the WordPress community.  I submitted some stories at Wattpad, and while I think their audience wants something different from my brand of stories, I grew some confidence, and I decided to extend one of the stories into a book and self-publish.  Since I had joined an online Writer’s Group, I had learned a little about the process. I am still learning more today.  I really got into a mindset back then of telling myself, “Yes, I can,” and “If not now, when?”  I had put off writing for several years because of hurting in my hands, being busy at work, fogginess in my brain (which was probably a sort of depression).  Writing helped sharpen my brain.  It acted on that problem, and it happened in spite of the first two afore-mentioned problems.  Sing it, “We Shall Overcome.”  That is the story I want to live.

L is for Light. #AtoZChallenge

Photo taken with my Smartphone.wp-1480187397080.jpg

John 1:5:  I think this Scripture is quite appropriate for Good Friday.  L is not only for light, it is for Lent.  In my faith tradition, Lent is a dark, somber corridor which leads us to the light.  The story of Good Friday is one of the hardest for me to relive in my mind, and the hardest to share.  It tells of mankind hitting rock bottom.  It is an ugly story of an innocent, loving man being betrayed, whipped, beaten, and crucified.  Such is the darkness.  Yet, the light will come, because this loving man (also part of God, the tricky part to explain) forgives us.  What an ultimate example of unconditional love!

Scripture:  John 1:5  New International Version

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Whatever faith you practice, may you feel the presence of the light today.

 

**The AtoZ Challenge theme for my blog is “Who I am.” Yes, it’s wide open.  In April, I will blog from A to Z to include little tidbits about me, poems I’ll share, and stories. Each day I will write something based on the next letter in the alphabet.  It’s been fun so far, yet it has really given me a chance to pause for reflection as well.

Want to know more about the A-Z blog challenge?  Visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

G is for Gethsemane. #AtoZChallenge

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*Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

From Matthew 26:36-37, ESV:  “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘“Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.

In the Christian faith, we are nearing the end of Lent, which means the story of Gethsemane is near, a telling of the hours leading up to Jesus death as he prayed and prepared himself.  It is a dark, somber story, which tells of: the evil that men do, the weakness of someone who is supposed to be a friend, violence, betrayal, suffering, death, all of which happened to Jesus.  Sadly, all of these stem from the human condition.

Yet, something else is at the heart of the human condition and this story of Jesus and Gethsemane:  the desire of mankind to strive towards spiritual nurturing and enlightenment, to find our way to the light.  To believe, when times are darkest, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a benevolent power that will calm us and give us what we need to sustain such dark and painful times.

Jesus’ disciples were hitting rock bottom.  Betraying their Lord and leader is certainly at rock bottom, and I just imagine how that felt when he actually died.  But the whole Easter story does carry a light of hope, a promise of spiritual gifts, forgiveness, and resurrection.  I used to want to avoid the story of Lent.  I studied it in depth throughout my whole childhood in Sunday school and parochial school.  But the truth is, you have to go through Lent before you get to the joy of Easter.  Otherwise, you really don’t know just what it’s all about.  It’s sort of like childbirth.  The pain is 100% worth it.

We are bottom feeder humans.  Many of us would deny our Lord or our faith when it is more convenient.  But even we can ask and hope for forgiveness.  This is the story of the contrast of dark and light and of rebirth.  Many might say it simply represents Spring.  But it is the epitome of faith, belief in things not seen, and things that we once believed impossible.

**The AtoZ Challenge theme for my blog is “Who I am.” Yes, it’s wide open.  In April, I will blog from A to Z to include little tidbits about me, poems I’ll share, and stories. Each day I will write something based on the next letter in the alphabet.  It’s been fun so far, yet it has really given me a chance to pause for reflection as well.

Want to know more about the A-Z blog challenge?  Visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

A Prayer for Lent. #poetry

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by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

(c) 2017

Lord,

I have been broken.

My thoughts are, at times, dark.

Although I bear a fracture line,

you’ve pieced me together, whole.

I can be petty, petulant, self-centered, and obsessed,

but you tell me I’m still good enough.

A selfless, loving being as you,

tells me I am good enough.

You reach out for me to follow,

and you tell me I belong.

You say “Stand up, and shine your light,”

and I can no longer hide.

So I ask of you, “Please lead the way,”

as I stumble along your path,

feeling awkward, yet warmed by your light.

Please guide me, as I know I’m sure to fall.

 

Source: A Prayer for Lent 

(At my Niume site)

Inspiration, When it Comes Knocking… #amwriting

Featured on http://www.kathycecala.com/

narrative-794978_1280Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

If you’re one of those who sometimes wonders why you ever published, or you feel you are in an endless loop of writing, then trying to get your writing noticed, then writing more, rest assured, you’re not alone.  I feel that at times.  But two years ago, the writing bug hit me, maybe because of hard times at home and the desire to escape;  I decided I was going to write, finish what I started, and stop being afraid to show people what I wrote.  After all, I am a grown up.  I’m also not getting any younger. To this day, I don’t regret that decision. 🙂 I took to hanging out in writers’ forums on Facebook, took a James Patterson online class, and entered some contests on Wattpad.  Now, my college degree was English Literature and I wrote about many authors, but   something had to get me up to bat as a writer of my own material. This post is in honor of the many things that make me write and keep me writing.

My favorite writers.  A favored quote by Stephen King: “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”  He is one daring author.   Nor does he feel like he has to put on some fake persona for the fact that he is an author.  I like that.  He keeps on writing.   If he can, so can I, and he seems to think the same thing.

Joyce Carol Oates:  She angered me so in her book “Wonderland,” but it spurred me to write a whole book full of poetry that brought out many issues from my past.  It is not published.  Her main character was utterly detestable, and perhaps a little of a sociopath, but his treatment of women disturbed me so much that I could no longer empathize with his horrible past once I got past 3/4 of the book.  I’ll look back on my poetry and see when I’m ready to share it.  I am not knocking Oates for “wonderland,”, this simply shows how good she was at hitting a raw nerve.  Her book, “Freaky Green Eyes,” totally championed women’s rights by showing just how wrong a patriarchal relationship could go.  “Wonderland” disturbed me.  What does that mean?  I’ll never forget it.

James Patterson:  Some people have argued that he’s not really that good at the art of writing.  I THINK THEY READ THE WRONG BOOKS.  He’s no Shakespeare, but if he’s no good, then, why can’t I put his books down?  He’s a master of suspense who can write in the perspective of male, female, protagonist, or villain and is convincing in each one.

Writers inspire new writers to write.   By just writing and daring to get it “out there” you could provide inspiration to a new writer!  One of the few times I allowed myself to be moved to tears as a teacher was in response to a student’s poem about her dear, departed father.  I told her my tears were a real compliment, and she smiled.  If you are a writer, you should inspire others to write.  Writing is forever evolving, this is why we always need new literature and, or course, new writers.

Dreams.  Of Reptiles and Dragons…

fairy-tale-1653150_1280 Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The most recent dream I’ve had is supposedly foreboding, according to dream interpretation books.  I say they’re just narrow-minded.  Hard times are coming?  I’ve already had them.  Reptilian eggs hatching to tadpoles, growing into snakes that morph into raptors or dragons?  No problem.  Here is an idea of what I’ll make of that, and yes, it reflects my reality of having a family member who suffered a mental breakdown in the last two years.

 

Little girl:  Hey, you’re that boy who sees dragons all the time, aren’t you?

Boy nods his head and looks at her warily.

Girl:  Well, some people see angels.  Grandma says you can’t see them, but Momma says my baby brother sees angels, that’s why he smiles all the time.  Did you see angels when you were a baby?

Boy: Nope.  Mom says I’ve been seeing dragons since I was a little one. ( Looks back down at his toy truck.)

Girl:  Do you see one right now?

Boy:  Yep.  He’s right next to you.

Girl:  Do they help you?  Do they keep you company?

Boy:  Yeah.

Girl:  Well, maybe you just have angels that look like dragons, then.

Boy:  (Smiles.)

Girl:  Can I play with your truck, too?  Tell your dragon I’m a good person, okay?

Boy:  (Shrugs).  Yeah, okay.

© copyright 2016

Now, if only every oddball was accepted so easily, and differences could be normalized.  I’m not sure where the dragon theme is leading, but it seems to be here to stay until I figure that out.

Reality.  Events happen.  Sometimes life sucks.  See my last section on my inspiration for writing about dragons.  My writing motto over the last 1-2 years has been, “I Fiction because Reality Sucks.” (Bites, etc.).  But doesn’t a troubled or confusing reality fuel one’s fiction?  Yes, I say it does. It certainly has fueled my poetry which is a source for expressing my emotions.  Anxiety over what may happen to a loved one has wrecked me time and again.  I wrote about it in this poem, written after a sleepless night:

https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/anxiety-the-phantom-poetry/

Yes, things are better now in my family, and should stay that way, as long as terrible drivers don’t come near me ever again.  It may seem irrelevant, but that has been my main source of anxiety lately.  Deep breaths.

I’ve also used my past experience in a troubled marriage, dissolved eighteen years ago, to develop the perfect man in my novel, Made for Me.  (Well, almost perfect) 🙂  My second, Seeing Through Sampson’s Eyes, focused on a side character from the first, who turned out to be a kick-ass chick at just twenty years old.  If interested, you can find out more about my self-published novellas by clicking on the About section of my WordPress site.

Faith and Beliefs.

I am fortunate enough to be in a church where I feel I am good enough.  I feel totally accepted, and there are many opportunities to serve the Lord whether in brief skits, Advent devotions, or the traditional ushering, liturgist, elder duties.  I have posted my entry for the Advent devotional here on my blog as well.  https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/christmas-memories-no-im-no-angel-but-sometimes-my-prayers-are-answered-advent-faith-christmas-memories/

I also devoted several posts to the application of Bible verses to my life during Lent this past year.  If that is your thing, please take a look!

https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/a-new-morning/

Faith has been an important part of my life, so it is right that I should write about it.

Morning and Evening Walks with the Dog.

This is one time when I cannot multi-task.  I have to see where I’m going!  I can observe thins around me, such as the arc of the sun ascending or a full moon at night.  I love watching my dog’s antics when he sees a squirrel.  I got many ideas for a time travel novel as I walked him around and glanced at the night sky.  For the last two years, he has been such a blessing in many ways.  I should mention yoga.  It clears my mind and then marvelous thoughts enter.  In other words, my mind doesn’t stay clear.  And that’s okay.  I’m different.  Yes, I’ve written on this topic also in posts titled “My Exercise Evolution, Yoga Stream of Consciousness.”

wp-1480187201702.jpg“Halt!  Who Goes There?”

Popular Culture.  Songs, books, movies.  Let’s talk movies, shall we?
Among the most inspiring:  The Martian.  (I read it and saw the movie).  Interstellar.  Another Earth (you likely haven’t seen that one, but you should.  Go rent it).  Fight Club.  Being Flynn.  Some of the more obscure movies are simply obscure because they don’t appeal to the mainstream.  That is why you should see them!  It is also why they make my brain want to explode with ideas.  Songs?  There are many, but I’ll only mention one.  “Wow,” by Beck.  He is groundbreaking in many of his songs, but this one takes me to so many places, probably because it sounds like a blend of so many different music genres.  I recommend it if you are open-minded in music choices.

In a nutshell, I keep writing because there is so much out there; there are so many ideas just waiting to be caught!  Do you see them in the air?  Do you hear them in between your friends’ conversations?  There are so many ways to go with writing and sometimes, I want to do it all!  Maybe, I’ll find one area that is really my niche, or maybe not, because I am such a moody little filly that I must write to stay sane and because anything I write expresses my mood at that time. Perhaps one day, I’ll figure it out!

 

Christmas Memories: No, I’m no Angel, but Sometimes My Prayers are Answered. #advent #faith #christmas memories

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This time of year brings back all kinds of memories. I volunteered to take a Bible verse and write a devotion to go in my church Advent devotional.  The memories were easy; the challenge was training my thoughts around a scripture as well.  Here’s the result.

Christmas Memories

Scripture- Psalm 16:11 “You show me the past of life.  In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” 

Advent season is a time for many memories.  Opening the door to the past, I think of my first Christmas memory.  Mom gave me a new red, velvety dress and pressed my hair in curls.  I was seven and we lived in Virginia.  Well, she dressed me up all pretty but it seems I caused her some embarrassment, plugging my ears and yawning a lot during the musical service.  Maybe I just wanted to be in the nursery with my little brother.   Despite my lack of decorum, we went home and Mom, Dad, and my little brother spent time listening to the record player together as I fell asleep watching the candles flicker, waiting for morning.  As close as I am to Mom, it’s odd that this is my first Christmas memory!  Yet what matters is that we enjoyed our time together as a family, my immature behavior was forgiven, and the occasion was still joyful.

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Then there is the memory of two years later being allowed to go into the ICU on Christmas Eve to see my dad through the glass.  *He’d had surgery on his esophagus and was in critical condition, but ultimately, lived.  It was a rough Christmas, but friends and neighbors all over shared their Christmas joy and cheer with us for the weeks he was hospitalized.  I was overwhelmed; we’d only known many of them for just one year.  Years later, as an adult, Dad said he saw me look through that window, and it felt as if he was visited by an angel giving him assurance.  Being told this made me feel really special.  I didn’t realize I could be so important to him.

While I recall many who have given over the years to share their joy and Christmas spirit with my family and with me, it is as deeply rewarding to do this for others.  I had a few opportunities to do so when I worked in retail.  I missed church service working late one Christmas Eve, and was anxious to get home to give three-year-old Austen his new tricycle.  Yet, I found joy in making one customer so happy when I found her a sought after TV in the stockroom, that she hugged me, saying, “God bless you.”   This was two minutes before closing time.  I talk about how retail zapped my Christmas spirit year after year, but this woman’s happiness and relief truly warmed me spiritually, and my son was still happy when I got home!

 

Prayer:  Lord, when I look back, please help me to see the good in all that I have endured, the lessons learned, the moments when I was someone else’s light in the dark whether I knew it or not, the many times that I was shown how much I was loved.  Help me to share that love and joy with others, for there is no greater pleasure.  Please help me to see that the goodness you have bestowed on me all my life will continue, for with faith in you, dear Lord, comes the knowledge and assurance that I will always be loved.

*Addendum:  If you were wondering, my father’s esophageal issue was due to a history of binge drinking and alcoholism.  He sought sobriety and finally, it stuck, after he stayed in a 30-day rehab when I was 20.  Almost thirty years later, he is still firm in his recovery.

tunnel-1484554_1280Light at the end of the tunnel.  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.

 

A New Morning

As I sit here sipping coffee, to go along with my Advil-to-chase-away-my-wrist-pain, I am grateful.  Here is a new morning, and my little dog Bixby is as spunky as ever, chewing on his miniature toy by my side.  A part of me wants to feel old, but a much needed good night’s sleep has renewed me.  I have come to a good place in my life, started saying yes to things I formerly wouldn’t, the dog being one of them.  These things have brought such rewards and my life is full, not empty, and not lacking,  but full of goodness.  So I’ll take a moment and be grateful.  I realize there must be a Bible verse that communicates all of the hope and gratitude I am feeling.  Thanks to the internet, (which makes so many dubious things available, so why not just the right Bible verse), here it is:

Lamentations, 3:22-23, KJV:  22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed , because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 
     It being Lent, I wanted to do something selfless.  The fact that I have not given up much because I am so sporadic in my asceticism, (meaning I have practiced it as a response to anxiety or extreme emotion, never on purpose, so choosing to do so is hard for me lately), leads me to try other ways of being selfless.  I just in the last six months have started feeling healthy again after an extremely emotional year in my family.  As a result, I’ve decided to give things away for Lent, donate things more,  and to actually study the Bible more.  So, I looked in my long untouched Bible to verify the verse the internet brought me at my request before I shared it.  It’s officially verified.
     Now, don’t get me wrong.  The Bible has been unused for a while, yet I am a woman of faith who attends church and likes to stay involved in many of the good things happening there. I have read probably 80-85% of the whole Bible in my lifetime, due to a religious upbringing that included four years in a religious private school.  Having said that, what people use the Bible for at times frightens me.  The many possible interpretations unnerve me.  People who interpret the Bible and have no give or compromise on what they think it means are scary.   The fact that the Bible contradicts itself in many places is quite confusing.  How many different men were involved in its production?  What can a person in search of spirituality do with all this?  I don’t know,but I do think attending church and listening to the sermons of a person well-educated in the Bible is helpful.  Bible discussion is helpful, though I would probably run the other way when someone takes the Bible literally and argues until they’re red in the face because, for example, I don’t think women have to be subservient to men.    What my love for the Bible comes down to is the story of the New Testament.  The story of Jesus is touching, redeeming.  Someone once said to me, but it’s only a story.  “Is it, really?”  I asked.
     “Well, no one can prove it,”  he replied.
     “That’s a definition of faith, isn’t it?”    Even something unproven is still possible.  Believing in the possible makes my world grow.  That makes sense in this expanding universe.  Studies show that faith, which is akin to positive thinking, is healthy for the soul and the psyche.  I may slip at times, but I am finding my way to appreciate each morning of a new day, and the possibilities it brings.
     His mercies are “new every morning.”  When I believe that, I can feel the sun’s rays on my face at daybreak; it is a glorious feeling, of a power far beyond mine.  I am glad there is a power beyond mine, because sometimes I am week, and I like knowing there’s someone  I can rely on and ask for help. This gives me comfort, just like the sunrise that comes and gives us the promise of a new day.

 

Sunrise, my son, and the birds he loved to chase.  Circa 2008.Sunrise524403_3714407267762_133138129_n