Posted in Journal

Optimistic about 2021?

I believe positive thoughts bring about positive results, but I admit to struggling with optimistic. How about you? Are you celebrating the new year with your usually gusto? I stayed up until midnight; I cooked black-eyed peas; I did not have that confident looking foward to the new year feeling. I did not plan writing sessions and gatherings for later when I have been vacinated. What if that does not happen? What if there is another pandemic? I told you, I am struggling with optimisim.

Morning is the best writing time for me. During my strict issolation, because I live alone, I am struggling with any kind of a routine. Watching TV to the early morning hours has numbed me some what to the crisis of 2020. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully’s drama and trauma made mine seem small. Maybe 2020 was an X-file? Immersing myself in Doctor Who’s multi-universe world took me out of mine. Maybe 2021 wilI be a new world? I made a New Year’s Resolution to be in bed by 11:00 and up by 8:00. Day two into 2021 and have not kept it yet. As motivation I am reminding myself that I need the routine going before I actually need it. I will be going places and people will be in my house, right? My house needs to be somewhat clean and uncluttered for in person cowriting sessions, Soup and Song gatherings, and just-because-we-can parties, right? I will have a schedule to balance, right? A reason to go to bed early and get up early?

I have downloaded multiple diaries, journals, and planners. I will let you know which ones help me keep track of my busy days and plan the next ones.. I hung the calendar my daughter gave me. After all, a productive person needs those, right? For now I am keeping a sembalance of productivity by scheduling two or three songwriting sessions a week. I thank cowriters for the therapy. At times, we feel like we are writing in a vacuum with no live demos and little live sharing of the songs. Soon we will all be in the studio together demoing our songs. My cowriters will be sharing the songs on a stage – live and not as in live online. I will go our to listen to live music. I will visit friends. I will travel a bit. I have to believe so. I am trying to get past questioning those.

Bring it on!

I renewed my resolution to continue write meaningful blog entries on Wednesdays and Saturdays and to go deeper into the mechanics of getting more followers and building a bigger email list. I renewed the resolution to write more words on the book every morning. These two will not be harder even though I will have less time to do so. We all know that is an illusion, right? I will have the same amount of time in each day. The dfference will be I will not be fighting enertia. The more geared up I am, the more I can get down which makes it seem like I have less time to do anyone thing. Hopefully, I will stay slowed down – somewhat.

Maybe 2021 will not only be a new year but also a new world for me. I do not want my 2019 or early 2020 world back. I want to bring the good from those into 2021. I want my 2021 world to be better. How can it not be with all I have learned.

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 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, Journal

I Thought I could Not – Then I Did

Is there something you want done but are sure you can not do? You might be surprised if you decided to do it yourself. I have been many times. When I was forty, I was sure I could not buy a Christmas tree, unload it, saw off the bottom, bring it into the house, and get it into a stand relatively straight. Tonight at seventy-five, I did all the above. I am not advocating you become self-reliant – just do not be quick to think you can not do what you want. Perhaps you can not, but perhaps you can.

It is no wonder I did not realize all the things I can do. I have a sister three years older than I and a brother a year and a half older. Of course, they could do more things than I could because they were older, but I did not consider that when I was growing up. I just thought I could not do anything. My mother was impatient and often told me to just get out of the way and she would do it. Then at eighteen I married a man who did everything.

In the twenty-five years I have been alone, I have done many things I thought I could not. Some were out of stubborness. My ex-husband is a pipefitter. When I needed a new faucet I was determined to do it myself without his help. I accomplished it with the help of a very kind plumber who answered his phone late in the evening and talked me though it. Some were because I did not have the money to hire it done. My brother believed in my abilities before I did. Often when I had no money to hire help, he convinced me I could do it myself. He has talked me through many DYI projects.The more I did, the more confidence I gained.

I no longer think of myself as someone who always needs help. Before I say I can not do something, I think it through. I do not just assume I can not. Now because I am older and not as broke, I usually call someone, even for some projects I know I can do. I have learned to ask myself even if I could, why would I. The things I did tonight I did because I am self-isolated so did not want anyone else in my house. I feel good knowing instead of agonizing over how I would get a tree up, I just did it.

If this inspires you, use some common sense. Do not try to do things physically harder than you can handle. The importatnt thing is do not let voices from the past or present limit you.

Disclaimer: I do not always use common sense. Do not try this at home.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

If Struggle I Must

Struggle I will. Being dramatic helps me during hard bipolar times like now. So if struggle I must, struggle I will. I laugh and say I am the poster child for  bipolar disorder. Twenty-five years after being diagnosed, I faithfully take meds, sleep, and eat. I am healthy; I am happy; I have a good life. I am  too old to be a poster child but old enough to be a voice. Each person’s journey is different. One thing we all share is we struggle. Others either think we could help ourselves if we tried, or that they can help us. Both have a bit of truth. 

I share my journey because bipolar disorder is still an awkward discussion. Some people are not informed at all; some are misinformed. That is not the main reason I share. I share not as a poster child but as an example of one who has bipolar disorder and a good life. I want people to know that is possible. I share for the ones who are affected. That includes the ones who have bipolar disorder and the ones who love them. I share my struggle so bipolar disorder will not be minimized.

Last month I was on a natural high of beginning this blog and beginning a book. I was getting up early and going to bed early. I had energy. I felt good.I Zoomed two or three times a week with my cowriters. My input was creative. I thought all the songs were wonderful.

This month, not so much. I will share a journal entry. My handwriting is better on good days

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I do not want to go to bed at night. I do not want to to get up in the morning. I know I can breath, but it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. I work my strategies. I make myself get up. I make sure I take my meds, that I eat, that I sleep enough. I go outside some every day. I journal. I work in the yard. I am still Zooming. In fact, when I am with people, I seem fine. Some days my best strategy is to be still. I consider that I am maintaining. I am not too low or too high. I am operating on top of. I will keep eating, sleeping, taking meds and working every strategy I can. The overwhelming clutter in my house as I sit still is another part of the struggle as is feeling incredibly sad like I am hurting for the whole world. I told you – thinking dramatically is part of it, too. This is not too extreme. Mostly I am frustrated. Coming back to low energy after a long period of positive, productive energy is discouraging. I know a slump is not failure, but it feels like it is.

One morning I will wake up feeling like a burden has been lifted. I will be okay. did not know that years ago. If you have bipolar disorder and do not have that assurance, get professional help. Even if you do have that assurance, get professional help. Your friends can not help you. You can not help yourself by yourself. If someone you love has bipolar disorder, do not tell them they could do better if they tried. Do not think you can be their savior. Help them get professional help. See them as a person not as a bipolar person. Forgive them for the mistakes they have made. If they are bipolar, I can almost promise you they have done things that hurt them and/or others. Love them. My family and friends love and accept me. They are my safety net. We all need one.

If you read this and worry about me, don’t. Trust me like I trust myself. If you do not know me, think of my other posts. If you know me, look at my life.

Please, educate yourself. Go to http://Bipolar disorder – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Posted in Journal, Photos

Digging for Spring Beauty

This is how my flower beds begin and how they are reclaimed. I dig on my hands and knees. I do this for several reasons. I can not afford to hire it done. Even if I could afford it, finding someone who will do what I do is hard. This is definitely not work for a landscaper. The main reason I do my own digging is I love it. Beginning with nothing but weeds or heavy unwanted grass and ending with patches of bright flowers is reward enough. I have claimed and then reclaimed enough small spots to know how much impact they can have.

This spot has been difficult because monkey grass was taking over. Nurseries sell it. Many love it. I come close to hating it. It will crowd out everything else. This area had dahlias and gladiolus in the past. I have dug sacks and boxes of monkey grass from this and one other small area.

People pay good money for monkey grass aka as Liriope. The article below heralds it as a great ground cover and border plant. I would pay someone to dig up every clump in my yard – or my neighbors’. Look at those roots!

All the digging will be worth it in the spring and summer when the dahlias, glads, and maybe even hollyhocks are blooming.

Let others sing its praises, and they do. Perhaps it works well in landscaped yards that are well maintained. It has overtaken flower beds and even portions of my yard. If you want any, let me know for I will be perpetually digging. The good news is my daughter wants some to replace the area she got rid of on my advice. She misses it. Her yard was one of my first Master Gardener projects. It was a total fail.

Looking for a low growing, drought tolerant turf replacement? Try growing monkey grass. What is monkey grass? Rather confusingly, monkey grass is actually the common name for two different species. Yes, things could get a little muddled here, so keep reading to learn about the different types of monkey grass and how to use monkey grass in the landscape. What is Monkey Grass? Monkey grass is a groundcover that looks very similar to turf grass. It is the common name for liriope (Liriope muscari), but it is also referred to as border grass. In addition, monkey grass is oftentimes used as the common name for a similar plant, dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus). Are Liriope and monkey grass the same? In so far as ‘monkey grass’ is often the terminology used for liriope, then yes, which is confusing since mondo grass is also called ‘monkey grass’ and yet liriope and mondo grass are not the same at all. In fact, they aren’t even grasses. Both are members of the Lily family.

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Is Monkey Grass: Caring For Money Grass In Lawns And Gardens

Posted in Cowriters, Featured Songs, Journal, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Stephanie C Brown Songs

I updated my song page – I took down songs that were there and added different ones.

Through all my ups and downs, changes and standstills, one thing I do remains constant. I write songs with my cowriters. We Zoom write anywhere from once to three times a week. Before Covid19, we wrote at my house two to four times a week. I have lost count of how many songs I have written since 1975. I started in Muscle Shoals, moved to Nashville, and then returned home. I had some success as a songwriter in Nashville including cowriting “Burning Bridges” which is on Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind album. The songs I love best are not necessary the most commercial ones. In fact, they seldom are. I jokingly say that a song is probably commercial because I do not particularly like it.

I cowrite with several cowriters regularly – Mark Narmore, CoCo O’Conner, Sandy Carroll, Will McFarlane, Mitch Mann, Cindy Richardson Walker, Grant Walden, Alecia Elliott Fisher, andTaylor Grace Longcrier. I am the pimp. I keep everyone booked in one combination. I get available dates from everyone to see who can write on the same days. Then I let everyone know who is writing with whom when. Sometimes I write with only one other person, but if more than one other is available, I might write with two or three others. I have written with as many as four! During Covid19, not only do I write simply because that is what I do but also because Zoom sessions with my cowriters are social interaction, too. We know each other so well, our sessions are personal. All of our songs are not all from my or my cowriters’ experiences, but they all were the song in the room.

Please, listen to some of the songs, and let me know if you have favorites. John Prine once told me I was the most important person sitting in a song circle because I was the audience. As a creative person, I need an audience. I may fear it, but I need it.

Listen to the last one for something totally different and probably unexpected. All of these songs are available with clearance.