Posted in Journal

Memories and Traditions

Memories of my very early Christmases are good ones. I am from a large family with fourteen aunts or uncles who married. Then the wives and husbands were part of the family. Twelve of those had children of their own. Thirteen of those did not move from our hometown. The ones who had moved came home came home for Christmas. Think about the complexity of that.

Christmas on my mother’s side was paramont even though that was the side with the most sibling rivalry and disagreements. As a young child I had no idea of the back stories. I do remember arguments, but they did not involve the children. We were caught up in the traditions. My aunt and uncle from Florida brought fireworks, oranges, and grapefuit. When are we going to do fireworks? How many times did the grown-ups hear that question? I loved the sparklers much more than the firecrackers. We opened gifts on Christmas Eve with a set time to “have the tree” which meant open gifts. All gifts were exchanged and Santa came on Christmas Eve. The reason given for that never made sense to me, even as a child. My grandfather was afraid one of his children would die in the night and not get their gifts. Think about that. Everyone gave everyone a gift, or that is how I remember it. We did not draw names or sit in a circle for dirty Santa. Are those expressions only American and southern? If you do not know what they mean, ask in a comment. I do not remember those gifts, but I do remember the anticipation.

Every one showing up at my grandparents house for Christmas dinner was mandantory. There was an oak pedestal table with many extensions for the grown-ups and card tables for the children. My daugher now has that oak petalsal and, yes, it carries memories. You did not move to the grown-up table until you married. My grandmother was a saint. She must have been tired cooking for twenty-six people, if I am counting right, and smoothing all the ruggled feathers. When did she have time to bake the coconut cakes and pecan pies? I am sure the adults’ memories of those christmases are not the same as the children’s. My older brother’s and sister’s memories are not the same as mine.

Christmas is held in the hands of grandmothers. At least, it was in mine. The passing of a grandmother changes everything. Christmas caDo not worry about presents; be present.n never be the same again no matter how much you want it to be. The harder you try, the emptier it feels. My mother wanted Christmas to be like it was when her children were grandchildren. It did not work for her or her children, but it did for her grandchildren. I envy families with smooth transitons from one generation to the next.

This year hang on to the traditons that bring comfort and let go of the ones that hurt or are stressssful. Next year when we can return to Christmas together, do the same. No matter how you wish for a different Christmas, all you have is this Christmas. Love your family and friends more than any tradition your family has or is trying to hold on to. When your family can be together, do not worry about meals; treasure breaking bread together. Do not worry about presents; be present.

Merry Christmas to all and a happy new year.

Share your thoughts on Christmas. Someone else’s blog is a good place to process.

Posted in Backyard Birds

December 16th Birds

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in today’s world I do not think so. Photos are so easily altered. Seeing is no longer believing. I promise these bird photos that I took sitting in an armchair in the room off my deck have not been altered in any way (Florence, Alabama). I feed birds regularly. One cardinal named Buddy waits on the rail in the mornings. He hears me when I get up and I hear hiim. He still keeps about three feet between us, but the others fly to the tree until I am back in the house. I have feeders in the yard, but the rail ones are more active. Forgive the mess. I am not as good at keeping their feeding area clean as I should be. I call taking photos of birds one of my Zen things. I think of nothing else. I did not know how beautiful birds are until I started photographing them. The feathers, oh, the feathers. See for yourself. Did you realize how amazing bird feathers are?

Posted in Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

A Christmas Song and More for You

Noel No You — (River and Stones Music, ASCAP and cowriters’ publishing) – I need to check writers in addtion to Sandy Carroll, Mitch Mann, Jim Gaines, and Stephanie C Brown)

Since I am in song mode, I will share three more. To listen to even more, go to Stephanie C Brown Songs (on the menu)

If Salvation Had a Color – ( Stephanie C Brown, Mark Narmore, Lillian Glanton – River and Stones, ASCAP and cowriters’ publishers)
Little Diamonds – (Stephanie C Brown, Sandy Carroll, Mark Narmore – River and Stones Music, ASCAP and cowrtiers’ – publishers)
We Will Dance (Stephanie C Brown, Mark Narmore, Sandy Carroll – River and Stones Music ASCAP and cowriters’ publishers) – I need to check for another cowriter)

I write a lot with six different cowriters in different combinations. I wrote ten songs in November. Someone has admin for River and Stones Music, so there is a record of cowriters. I could check but did not this morning.

I hope you enjoy listening. I am not always so melancholy. Just listen to Lumber of the Beast if you do not believe me!

Lumber of the Beast – Stephanie C Brown, Mark Narmore, Mitch Mann

Please leave a comment or email to let me know! If you liked one more than the rest, let me know that, too.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

To Christmas or Not to Christmas

Christmas 2020. Different than any we have had. How many families won’t be together?

My house has been the family Christmas house since Mother passed. I am decorating this year not sure if anyone will be inside my house. The past few years I have had help putting the tree up and decorating it. Someone else put up outside lights This year I am doing it all, not as organized and detailed as usual.

I am so aware this year that Christmas is not about decorating or baking. It is about family and friends.

PS: Tonight I have been unpacking boxes of decorations. I will be putting more ornaments than I planned. Christmas may not be about decorating and baking, but would it be Christmas without them?

PS – again!Well, I guess if I am going to put most of my ornaments on, I will put another string or two of lights first.

Ps- yet again! Every tree needs 200 more lights, right?

Posted in Journal

Watching a Guru Grow

Gurus are people to be watched in more ways than ones. We are not talking about the ones who convince you to give away all your earthly possessions, join a commune, and drink the kool-aide.We are talking about the ones with books, web pages, blogs, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, conferences, and other avenues to reach the masses. I follow several online. I have paid money for their classes, conferences, and webinars. I do not regret even one of them. Though I would not admit to following a guru, I have certainly been led.

I am watching (and following) one guru that I admire more than when I first connected with him. He has written best sellers, been a speaker at many conferences, has online courses with hundreds in some classes, has successful webinars, and more. He has a passion for sharing the methods that have worked for him. His authenticity is what has made him so well-known and influential. Thanks to his webinars and courses, I started this blog and my memoir. Without him, the blog would not be as good or have the potential to do online what I do and have done for others in true life. I have adapted some of what I have learned even though his methods are tried and true. What I am learning is focused on how to make money to pay for making art.

I think I started following him and taking his courses early in his transformation (that may be an exaggerated word). I sensed a slight uneasiness in a webinar and a shift in his newsletters. I wondered what he was going though. Then he began to write more authentically about his personal journey instead of his past or present success. He revamped his blog, or is in the process. He is developing new groups and courses. He recently wrote about what I would call a spiritual, not as in religion, retreat he more than attended; he was with his tribe learning from and supporting each other. That is a beautiful thing.

I look forward to new courses and webinars. I see no need to discontinue any of the old. They are valid. I expect and hope he will continue to share the money making part because I sure need that. Creative people tend to give everything away.

My hats off to you, Jeff Goins. I am still following you. Thank you for sharing not only what you have done and are doing but also your personal journey. Gurus who are fellow travelers are the best.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it

Energy Flow

Ever wonder how it would feel to be in someone else’s skin, to feel what they feel? I wish I could be in what I call a “normal” person’s skin. If you have read previous posts, you know I struggle with bipolar disorder and at times feel anything but normal even though I know there is no normal. Identifying what is a symptom of bipolar disorder and what is simiply human nature is hard. When I am struggling, the distinction does not matter to me. I write about bipolar disorder during the worst of times or when I am coming out of a hard time. I write because I know that others who have bopolar disorder will to some extent recognize themselves. Always I hope that my story will help in some way. Perhaps someone will decide to get professional help. Perhaps someone will not give up.

I have been struggling with shutdown for weeks. The one thing I am able to do even in difficult times is write songs with my cowriters. This time I kept up with Wednesday and Saturday blog posts. Other than that I have been what I call operating on top of and maintaining. I am not sure others see the difference. I suspect they do. If you have been reading this blog, you know the story – up to yesterday.

Yesterday I cleaned house. This morning I woke up wanting to write before I did anything else. Those two things do not sound all that dramatic, but in context they are. I wish I knew why my energy shifted so I would know what to do next time to get myself up and going. I am not saying anything as dramatic as I got up feeling like a light had been switched on. I will say I felt different, lighter. Perhaps this morning’s energy was because I finally managed to get my house in order and at least surface clean. To me the two are related with both a result of shifting energy.

I have no way of knowing how long this good energy will last. I do know I will enjoy it while I have it. I am writing this as Wednesday’s scheduled post and posting it early. In the morning, I have a Zoom songwriting session. After that I look forward to working on my book. Before I go to bed tomorrow night, I expect to do some basic clutter control. I will be doing more than just operating on top of. I will be comfortable in my own skin.

I expect I will have a good day. I will let you know how it goes.