Empathy and a Girl Named América


I picked up my son from school last month and a boy crossed the street in front of us.  My son told me the boy’s name and said that he was crazy—that he was in trouble at school a lot.  My first instinct was to tell my son that he shouldn’t judge this boy because we had no idea what was going on in his life.  I told him that kids with serious troubles usually have bad things going on at home; their parents could beat them, use drugs or be drunk all the time.  I told him that this kid may be on his own at home, barely finding something to eat or hiding from an abusive parent.  Homework and other responsibilities get pushed aside when trying to survive.  I told him to stop and think about that every time he crosses paths with a troubled child and maybe give them a kind word if the chance presents itself.  Empathy–that is what these kids need.

I recently watched a movie, 3 Américas, about a teenage girl named América who was abused for years.  By the age of 16, she demonstrated typical behaviors of abused children:  angry outbursts, depression, shoplifting, smoking, and a general disinterest in anything.  América had these big, beautiful eyes which sadly mirrored every moment of torment in her short life; this torment a cinder block in her already heavy backpack.

I read that some viewers didn’t like her and thought her to be just another teenager with a bad attitude.  I didn’t get this impression at all because I recognized the signs in her obstinate behavior.  Many years of reading and just living in this world have taught me that bad behavior is rarely just that—there is almost always some messy deep-seated cause for it. Continue reading

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I just realized my goals are passive, negative goals.


The other day I visited Artboy68’s blog where he has a goal of drawing 100 portraits in 20 weeks—what an admirable goal.  I started to think about other goals I’ve heard about:  WordPress’ Post a Day, reading a list of classics by the end of the year, working out 4 days a week.  I admire people who set such goals and work hard to reach them.

These are what some call active or positive goals.  I spent the last few days thinking about this and realize that when I set goals, they are passive or negative goals:  starting today I will not drink coffee, I will not eat as many carbs, and I will not read fiction or watch movies while taking classes. Continue reading

Artboy68’s 100 Portraits in 20 Weeks — I’m number 67


I heard about “Artboy68” blog 100 Portraits in 20 Weeks from a wonderful blog Draw and Shoot by Canadian artist and photographer Karen McRae.  She was portrait number 39.

Yesterday I received an email from Scott telling me I was portrait 67.  He sketched my blog profile picture and posted it on his site with some really nice comments.  Thank you, Artboy.

A worthy and noble cause it is:  searching for enlightenment.  Liza’s posts are a collection of musings and experiences based on her inspirations, including, “books, music, lyrics, poetry, fiction, well-written dramas, plus interaction with others and a lot of deep thinking.”  While drawing her portrait, I couldn’t help but get the sense that this is the face of a genuine, open and honest person.  Check out her blog and see for yourself! https://searchingforenlightenment.com/

This is portrait 67 of 100.  I might just catch up this week.

Go here to see my other portraits, or learn more about this project.
To enter to win the 100th portrait (acrylic painting) even if I’ve drawn you before, go here

Thanks for visiting!
artboy68

I Slept with 14 Books and Read None

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It’s only happened to me once and I remember the experience so clearly after all these years.  In my mind, I can see myself sitting in my comfortable chair hunched over a book, so consumed with it that I cannot stop. I read for three days, with a few hours of sleep in between; finally I finished the massive book.  I remember just sitting and letting the feelings swirl around me.  I can’t even tell you what it was, but in that instant I felt changed.

The book was “I Know This Much Is True,” by Wally Lamb.  Honestly, it was the strangest book.  There were flashbacks to Italy which were sometimes boring and confusing.  Whatever it was—Wally weaved this tale so beautifully, it moved me.  Just so you don’t think I’m crazy, the same thing happened to my sister.  She loaned me the book, saying I could read it first because she was busy and it was a huge book. When I gave it back to her, I just said, “You have to read this.”  She stayed up all night too and came out the other side—changed in some inexplicable way.

I’ve thought about reading it again, but I don’t want to erase that experience by reading the book with new eyes.

Today I picked up a book that has been sitting next to my bed for about two years.  It was stacked with all the others that my heart longs to read, but my head wonders if I ever will.  I collect books that catch my interest and add them to my collection, knowing when the time is right, I will read them.  I had this one book on my shelf for five years, only to discover that it was not what I thought—it was wonderful and made me so happy.  Maybe I wasn’t ready for it.  I don’t even know if I believe in things like that. Continue reading

Who would I be if I had never known you?


I was driving slowing down our dirt road, giving the song time to finish before I reached home.  I looked across the farm land and saw our neighbor’s house.  I had an instant thought—I would be a different person had I not known those people, my dear neighbors.

They showed me a world I never knew.

From near birth, they were a part of my life.  I witnessed life being lived by good, honest people with incredible work ethic, both at my house and at their house.  Together they raised me to live a life absent of envy; an incredible thing, really, the roots of which I cannot explain.  I learned that people are just people.  Every family has problems and troubled times—there is no need to hide in shame when you can seek solace in the arms of family and good friends. Continue reading

Steve Jobs has died and surprisingly, I cried.


RIP Steve Jobs. I remember the excitement in the 80s–technologies were going to change our lives. We knew that but really didn’t have to vision to see how it could be. These are quotes for a Commencement speech Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. Click here to read it in it’s entirety.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked; there is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,” Steve Jobs told Stanford University graduates during a commencement speech in 2005.

“You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Continue reading

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi


“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. When you read it, it seems big–the change, the world.  You think of people helping the starving in Africa, Mitch Albom building a school for orphans in quake-devasted Haiti.  If you are like me, the closest you will ever get to this is by donating to the Red Cross.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I found a way to make this small, but with huge impact.  I didn’t really think too much about it or plan it–it just happened.  I refuse to raise my son to participate in this racist, xenophobic world.  He is 13 years old and as you know, it is not an easy task.  Since he was very young, when he would hear something or an issue would come up, we would stop and I would take him to a quiet place and explain how a prejudice was wrong.  As he has gotten older it has been more difficult with TV, movies, Middle School, but I still take him in my room for the talk.

He watched “Bad Boys II” at his Daddy’s house and came home with a new word–the N word.  I was so upset I cried trying to explain to him that people have died over that word.  He was confused because Continue reading

We Now Interrupt Your Inspiring Thoughts with Breaking News!


Hurry!  Write it down before it’s gone.  I am learning this the hard way when it comes to writing for this blog.  One day last week my mind was a flowing river of inspiration, thoughts, and ideas; so much so that incoming news and emails would send me off into other directions.  I had multiple pages open in two browsers, notes and links waiting in Notepad.

Since I started this blog, I have wanted to write a post on the many venues that a person can find inspiration.  While I was writing about some current event for my other blog, This Caught My Attention, I received an email notification that an old friend of mine commented on a post from this blog. Continue reading

Life’s Journey

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“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” – Barbara Hall

 

Captcha Mimics Life


I once saw a t-shirt in a catalog that had “I never metaphor I didn’t like.” printed on it.  I got a big smile on my face–that was me.  Metaphors are constantly flying around in my brain, waiting to find their way into a story, poem or blog post.  The ironic part is that when I was in 7th grade English, I was baffled by metaphor and simile.  I remember the day clearly. That puzzlement continued until I was in my early thirties, on the verge of a nervous breakdown–metaphor became very clear to me.

Anytime I share a blog post, I have to read the Captcha and enter what I see in the box.  The other day I found myself leaning from side to side, moving forward at an angle, trying to figure out this one particular Captcha.  Okay, that one looks an “o” but it could be an “a” with a serif font.  Leaning forward to examine it closer doesn’t make it any clearer; neither does going at it from the side.  The next one looked like a somewhat flighty “L” but it was just a lazy “J.”

I like it when they make the second “word” a real word, easily readable.  After the  uncertainty and confusion of the first word, it’s a relief to see that sometimes a word is what it says it is.

Writing about my miscarriage helped me let go


I just finished a blog post about this poem, which I wrote a few years ago.  Even though writing the poem released a lot of emotions, writing about it again felt too personal to post.  I guess I’ll just post the poem and keep the rest tucked away in my journal.

Continue reading