A Tribute to Stephen Black of Fractured Faith Blog

Tonight I visit Stephen Black’s blog, Fractured Faith. As I wrote in my review of his bookThe Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square, I’ve known Mr. Black for a long time. We’re like those college students whose friends were friends, and found ourselves drawn to the same awkward punch bowl at those friends’ parties.

Stephen’s blog deals mostly with life issues and his observations and encouragements in dealing with them. He also promotes his book, has hosted some writing prompts, written rap-reminiscent poetry, and occasionally talks about marathons and running.

In tribute to an old friend, I give you my attempt to mimic a typical Stephen Black blog post:

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Has Life Ever Surprised You?

This morning en route to another working day, I was surprised to see into the back garden of a house I passed. I could see into their garden because the fence and tool shed were smashed in, done for. Debris from fence and shed, scattered tools, and the churned earth bore testament to what caused the damage, but whatever vehicle had done it was long gone.

I imagined the owners of the house coming out to the same scene as me. What if they only discovered their back part in pieces that morning? Would they feel the shock and surprise I did? How would they react to this unwelcome discovery?

Sometimes in my life I’ve felt like those owners, an unwitting party to unexpected disaster. I’ve written about some. My father’s death, for example. Failing to make the time I wished for on a run. Rejection e-mails or no response to my book queries.

At those times I did not react as would be best. I stood in shock at the damage. I turned to bad habits. I turned away from my wonderful, supportive family and toward shallow friends and the world’s attention. I gave up, and even granted power to the demons of OCD to tell me how wrong I was to try. I stood in the car tyre ruts in my back garden and despaired of any positive outcome.

But the old me is someone I don’t have to be anymore. I am not he. I can look over the scattered debris of my life and choose to act, instead. I don’t need to cry over broken wood and tools when I know I can pick up the pieces and move on.

Maybe cleanup will take time. I might need assistance from loved ones. I may need to seek professional help to repair the damage, to build a new fence and shed. It might take time or a few pints of honeycomb ice cream, but I won’t be alone to solve it.

We are masters of our lives, even when we do not feel like it. We may not be able to control whether something drives through our lives and leaves us in shock, but we can control our reactions. We can control what we do next. I know we can.

Have you ever had an unexpected event take you by surprise?

What did you do to recover and rebuild your life?

——

If you enjoyed my wee tribute, head over to Stephen’s blog and drop him a ‘Follow.’ The poor guy’s only got about 11,000 followers.

 

Photo Credit: Image by Thomas Schink from Pixabay
©2019 Chelsea Owens

A Tribute to Frank Prem

Today I highlight the work of poet Frank Prem. I’ve enjoyed Frank’s poetry since my first days of blogging and have been inspired to write responses twice.

He possesses the unique gift of speaking in the voice of the objects he writes about; in movement and poignancy.

The following is my paltry attempt at mimicry, so you might all experience his style:

rain (in season)

I am a piece
of gray
a mist
a cloud

evaporate

I am a drip
a tear
from North Wind’s eye

don’t go
he cries

don’t
go

I am
the autumn rain

deluged

oh please
don’t go

©2019 Chelsea Owens

“Your blog is like lounging around the house and watching TV, maybe picking up some sticks in the yard. It’s you, and you have a casual vibe going on. A book is like going out for a big evening. You want your hair, nails, and makeup right. Maybe you spring for a new dress, which is like your cover art.

“You may not like the work that goes into it, but you’re going to like the reception when you finally get to the party.”

-C.S. Boyack, “So it begins

Just Another Day in the Life?

I’ve been swamped lately. More than usual, I’m afraid.

I …may have taken a bit (a lot) onto my plate -a plate that was a bit (a lot) full to begin with. I believe I did so because I was bored, and/or may have finally had a good night’s sleep.

Besides this lovely blog that I love writing upon and the lovely people whose blog posts I actually do read, I’ve also been attending school. Of sorts. It’s called Pathways, and is like preschool for adults. This quarter (?) is on math (or, maths, for Brits) and has a teensy bit (a lot) of busy work each week.

Add a few life events like almost-everyone’s birthdays, a birthday party, and a baptism this Saturday.

Then sprinkle in a paid job I was doing but (perhaps fortunately) am not any longer.

Plus the children’s school is winding down.

Plus the ever-present duties of house and home (and now yard).

Plus caring for an at-home dice business that I don’t think I’ve ever talked about.

And, just for kicks, throw in a planned visit from our relative who has 8 children….

Yeah.

I’m not actually the Supermom sort. I’m not the Superanything sort; really, I’d settle on an edible chocolate ribbon for Best Example of a Flawed Human Being.

But I’m toast. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Even a bit ill.

I can’t help but look around at other people and wonder how they do it, especially those who work as full time teachers at my kids’ school and have children of their own. I asked one of their Vice Principals that question in jest. She laughed and said her kids tease her for running their house like her classroom.

-But that may be the answer I seek.

So, for reals, how do you run your household? Do you schedule the hours? Minutes? Especially when you have a job and/or children, was it all set up? Outlined? Assigned?

I really do want to know.

andrew-neel-117763-unsplash

—————-

I sort of wrote things this week, and here they are:
Wednesday, May 8: Questioned the legitimacy of personality tests and their appeal in “Are We Our Personality Types?

Thursday, May 9: “The Cure for Depression: Never Give Up, Never Surrender,” the final suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, May 10: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Michael Fishman!

And posted “Should You Have Kids If You Have a Mental Illness?” over at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health Blog (now say it ten times fast).

Saturday, May 11: Announced the 25th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is an elegy to your most commonly misplaced household item. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, May 12: “Gramma Dear,” a poem about my grandmother, in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, May 13: An inspirational quote by Mel Robbins.

Tuesday, May 14: Nothing.

Wednesday, May 15: Halfwayish through the month!

I also posted a bit at my motherhood site. I’m pretty sure I need to stop trying to keep that one afloat and have downgraded to a free plan again.
Anyway; I wrote “Take Time for You. Ish” and “Happy Mother’s Day?

 

Photo Credit:
Andrew Neel

The Cure for Depression: Connect with a Human

Looking at tips for curing Depression? If not, stick around anyway and you might make a friend.

Which leads us into the first tip: Connect with a human.

I don’t know about the rest of the crowd, but the last thing I want to do when I’m down in my cozy depression pit is seek out other people. They are often the reason I crawled into my closet in the first place. They should seek me out, preferably with a bribe.

Unfortunately, people are rather self-centered. Usually, a person is most concerned with his own thoughts and feelings because that is who he is literally inside of. So, your (and my) dummy friends and family need at least a little tiny clue that we could use a helping hand. And a bribe.

Another failing of mine is a tendency to look at the great big huge picture of a problem and find (somehow) that I cannot even take one step toward progress. This is even worse when I am inside my depressive mind, trapped in a swirling vortex of apathy and negative self-talk.

What do we do? I will beat this tip over your head about 14 times: Start with small.

I happen to know that you can still get cell phone reception inside your mind/mud pit/closet/bathroom. So, the way to start small is by:

  1. Texting a friend
  2. Reading and commenting on safe and open blog posts. Most of us are nice, and know what you go through.
  3. Talking to your friend, partner, spouse, or roommate from behind the door.

I am also a big fan of pets as comforters. Go ahead and hide from the world for some recharge time, but bring your cat or dog or chinchilla with you. You can pet them all Dr. Evil style, tell them everything that sucks about humans, then connect with a person.

As amazing as animal companions are, however, you will gain the most benefit from other humans.

Yes, I know that is a scary idea. I spent nearly an entire counseling session arguing with my paid friend about NOT TRUSTING ANYONE because people hurt you. However, I also know that I need a few good people.

Connections with peers was found to be the #1 determinant of happiness by some dude at Pennsylvania University, even more so than sugary dessert consumption. Knowing that, give it a chance. Start small, and you’ll eventually have some peeps you can send anything from concerns to dirty jokes to.

It’s worth it. You’re worth it. I know.

 

Photo Credit:
Sandrachile .
Namcha ph

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

Sunshine Blogger Award Thingie, Again

I’m not a fan of the award thingies, mostly due to the whole chain-mail idea of them; however, I am a fan of sharing people’s sites and connecting and learning more about everyone.

So when Len over at Len’s Daily Diary mentioned my site, of course I answered …a few days a week later. He is just the sort of upright, intelligent, honest, kind, humble, and great writer you’ll want to follow, anyway. So check out his stuff.

Here are the questions he posed to me, with my answers:

1.What is your fondest memory of childhood?

As an adult, I feel my childhood images have blended into a kaleidoscope soup of random feelings and sunshine moments. Trying to pull one, fondest shard is a daunting task. I do know that I’d pick from amongst my family vacation moments.

My parents took me and my brother and sister on a vacation every year. The funny thing is that I know we were absolute jerks pretty typical children, yet I only retain the happiness I felt in new adventures and experiences shared with the people I love.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/view-of-empty-road-1537979/

If you think this looks idyllic, add at least three underage voices SCREAMING death cries to a background of loose objects being smashed against car and human body parts.

2. If you could write your obituary, what would it say?

How morbid am I that I’ve thought about this more than once and am under the age of 50? (In my defense, I seriously considered it after helping my aunt edit the one for my grandmother.)

I’m not going to write it out here, but let’s just say that it will contain a hidden message or two and at least a passing reference to HG2G -all written in verse.

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3. Do you prefer turbulent waters or the stillness of the desert?

I definitely prefer the desert over deep water. -Don’t get me wrong; I love turbulent things. I just have a sort of terrible thalassaphobia.

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4. What is your favorite flavor of ice-cream?

I have more of a favorite brand or type than flavor, because I’ve gotten to the point where I’m picky about the depth of creamy taste and luscious thickness of quality ingredients.

So, a darned good chocolate variety works for me.

birthday-break-breakfast-461430

5. Who do you most admire from history?

Distant history? Pretty much anyone who survived all the diseases and tooth decays and no hygiene; and still lived, reproduced (gah! tooth decay!), and made himself better in the world.

I admire those who had great difficulty; they are real people to me.

 

Thanks, Len! If the rest of you are still with me, here’s my nominees/people you should go check out:

Bladud Fleas: An extremely excellent writer, superbly talented artist, and …well, I don’t really know much else about him. Go visit, though.

Wilton Sugiyama of Wiltoons: He’s a dude I met through my motherhood site who draws cartoons about life.

Thru Violet’s Lentz: An excellent writer of many genres.

Ruth Scribbles: Another excellent writer who mostly dabbles in poetry.

Bereaved: My short name for A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his Partner and becoming a single parent. Long name; hilarious and touching posts.

All y’all can answer these questions if you feel like it:

  1. How much chocolate is too much?
  2. Who would really win: Batman or Superman?
  3. Why is it always the last place you look?
  4. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen European swallow?
  5. Where would you go to find The Meaning of Life?

 

Photo Credits
Pexels.com
Sandy Millar
Greg Rakozy
Pexels.com

The Sunshine Blogger Award Thingie

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Anisha over at Charlie and the Cerebration Factory nominated me (with 10 others) for The Sunshine Blogger Award. If I understand correctly, this makes me unique just like everybody else.

The rules* are stuck down at the end of this post. If you make it there, you can read them all. First, though, I need to answer eleven questions.

  1. Name one thing unique to your country that you’re proud of and why.
    So… I’m American. There are a heck of a lot of people here, and a wide variety of them at that. I am proud of how clean and functional most things are here. Most things.
  2. Would you rather read a Sci-fi or a medieval fantasy?
    The choice of what to read depends on the day, but I enjoy both science fiction and medieval fantasy. I do not enjoy purely romance stories.
  3. What’s the best quote you’ve come up with so far?
    For today: “(O)ur friends and family don’t have to be idiots.” From Depression for Dummies.
  4. Do you have any life mottos that you abide by? If yes, what are they?
    I do not really have a life motto. I do enjoy a good, inspirational quote occasionally and like to post the ones I’m fond of.
  5. If you could bring back one dead person to life, who would it be?
    If I could animate a dead person without negative repercussions, I’d pick Jesus. No, seriously. We need healing.
  6. Name a famous person you’d like to go on a date with.
    IF a famous person would agree to go on a date with me and be cordial about the whole thing, I’d pick Emma Thompson. I’m married so I can’t pick a dude, after all.
    Sybill Trelawney looking mystically mad from the Prisoner of Azkaban
  7. If you could be omnipotent for a day, what would you do? (And no, you can’t wish to be omnipotent forever, all you Chandlers)
    With all power, I would first play with the dynamics of time so that I might accomplish much more than everyone else in the cosmos. I’d create some light and dark, separate waters, create animals, build people that look like me, then take a long sleep.
  8. List some things you want to do before you die.
    Before I leave this world, I’d like to publish a book and get rich and famous. Really, though, my goal of never having to do housework again might be more attainable.
  9. Would you rather be able to read minds or to control time? Why?
    Given the choice between mind-reading and time-control I’d pick playing with time ANY DAY. Do you know the sick things people are thinking about? Just talk to my boys and they’ll tell you.
  10. Does blogging ever feel like a burden to you?
    When it’s about time for a serial story to be due and I haven’t read my reader’s feed for three days and the dishes and laundry still need to be done EVERYTHING feels like a burden.
  11. What’s your favourite kind of weather?
    love LOVE LOVE the ominous, wild, windy period just before a storm. It’s almost as fantastic as standing in the storm as it rages around me.
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I hope you had fun reading my responses, or at least exercised your skimming muscles. In terms of who to torture nominate next, I’ll give you my list of cool blogs to follow:

  1. Cricketmuse: a highly intelligent writer who will get published before I do and will then send me a signed copy out of pity. (Please?)
  2. Sunshine and Robins: a sweet, talented writer who tells about daily struggles and then shares tasty recipes I can’t eat because she lives on the other side of the world.
  3. Fractured Faith Blog: Stephen (and his family, occasionally) share thoughts on writing, life-ing, running, and faithing in a personal and relatable way.
  4. Beauty Beyond Bones: Caralyn hardly needs the attention, but I like to read her posts because she is also an excellent writer who has spot-on opinions about life and recovery.
  5. Little Fears: The Pun King. He’d argue he was working on his punmanship. He also draws little pictures, narrates them, and is extremely good at the whole networking/blogging thing.
  6. Heylookawriterfellow: Mike doesn’t need the attention either, but he’s a funny guy and you’ll like his posts. Just try him.
  7. Myths of the Mirror: Diana is a (darn good!) published author whom I don’t know very well but whom I respect. She always responds to comments and is always the nicest person for it.
  8. Lunch Break Fiction: It is what it is, and they are interesting stories.
  9. Trefology: Short, odd, and possibly to a point.
  10. Read After Burnout: Yet another great writer. You watch: he’ll be published before me, too. Yes you will, Mike.
    You may want to fix your header, though. I can’t read a thing.
  11. Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50: LA has astute and engaging observations of her daily life in New York City. I enjoy reading her perspective.

If you felt left out not being named, don’t. I already named a few last award thingie, plus I need to save some in case it happens again.

If those who were named feel like it, here are my questions:

  1. Why did the chicken cross the road?
  2. What’s black and white and red all over?
  3. Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. What would you say is your greatest weakness, and how have you learned to overcome it?
  6. Why is 6 afraid of 7?
  7. Why am I here?
  8. Why is the sky blue?
  9. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  10. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?
  11. What is the meaning of life?

I may have plagiarized a bit, but you get the idea.

 

*The rules

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo in your post and/or on your blog.

The Worth of a Paycheck

glenn-carstens-peters-203007-unsplash

Last year I was asked if I wanted a job writing content for a “crafting” website. It was really a black hole into ads, affiliates, and pop-ups. And. I. made. it. You know, with SEO terms and such.

They were darned good, too.

I’d say it paid the bills, but it didn’t pay much of anything once one accounted for stress, time away from my other duties, and the housekeeper I enlisted to supposedly help with the second problem in this series of issues.

After the company in charge kept increasing demands far too many times, we mutually split ways. I was so relieved.

Lately, however, I’ve come to miss having money. As such, my tired mom brain theorized, Surely, there are other jobs out there like that one. In fact, people kept telling me I was way underpaid. I’ll bet I can get a better writing job for more money!

Oh ye that scoff, you are, perhaps, correct to do so.

have found some better-paying listings. Problem is, those ones want full time -often in an office. I like not putting pants on when I write.

Others, well… WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!

This is the exact job listing I found for a deluded company online that uses Unsplash images for their company webpage. Yep. FREE images for their official webpage:

We are looking for content writers that can write 600-750 word articles that are applicable to a wide range of categories (technology, business, health, family, etc..) Our writers work when and where they want. This is a very flexible position that allows writers to write as many articles as they want. Writers need to be able to write at least 15 articles (600-750 words) per week in order to be accepted for this position.Writers will receive a keyword used for SEO purposes as well as category and it will be the role of the writer to create a well written article that matches the category and naturally uses the keyword throughout the article. As mentioned before, there is a lot of flexibility with this position and all that is required is good quality work.

Writers will be compensated $10 for every article written with bonuses available for reaching specified milestones.

Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of grammar and spelling
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Fluent in the English language
  • Copywriting
  • Ability to navigate Google Sheets and Google Docs
  • Honesty and self-discipline

They also want you to sign over the deed to your car and house, donate plasma in the guise of a “company party,” and sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the Welcome to the Family packet.

I may have made up that last paragraph.

For the record, I was paid twice this shystery company’s proposed amount, for five articles of 500 words, that could be typed and submitted whilst in my pajamas. I did not have to be fluent and excellent and grammatical, though I naturally am. I was simply told to write “with voice.”

Unfortunately, the job market underpayment plot thickens…

My searching brought me to a few online freelance writing sites like Indeed and Freelancer. On there, one hiring entity offered $1 per 500 words! The joy! And the (mostly Indian, by their profiles) writers were lining up like thirsty desert nomads.

If you are a writer, don’t agree to jobs like this. My four-year-old deserves more than $10 for 600-750 words and at least 15 articles per week. Everyone deserves more than $1 for the same. And so do you.

 

Glenn Carstens-Peters

One Year!

We’d like to interrupt your regularly-scheduled programming for this small announcement: Today is my one year anniversary of blogging!!!!!

For 365 days I met my goal of writing a post EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I consider this my true blogiversary, since this site was my first dive into the wonderful world of bloggerhood. At first, I thought I’d post on here and no one would see. Over time I’d work up to writing so frequently and so well that talent agents would contact me and I’d be the undiscovered superstar that childhood bullies and bad-grade English teachers would regret ever doubting.

Instead, I’ve connected with a much better thing: other people who also share a love for writing, a tendency toward mental illness, or simply a quirky perspective I understand. The potential for stardom may still be out there, but have to find it. I have to do a lot more work than show up at my computer an hour before midnight, blearily trying to think of a rhyme for Engrish.

If you’re still with me, I also need to announce another announcement. I will no longer write every day. Frankly, the stress has been high with things like, say, four active children and housekeeping and a side job and breathing in and out. Yes, I will regularly post; no, it shan’t be daily.

Thank you so much to The Academy and such, but most so to my family for surviving and supporting and to ALL OF YOU reading my words right now, before now, and in the future.

Mental-ity

I don’t read re-posts. We-e-e-e-ell once in a blue moon I will.

Accordingly, I don’t like to stick them into my own blog (the one you’re currently reading). I often read great things I’d like everyone else to see as well, but feel like I’m stealing someone else’s brilliance and pasting it over my lack of writing anything for that day.

‘Tis true, however, that I’m sometimes at a loss for time because of my dear, sweet, distracting children. Summertime’s here, which means they’re wild and free and completely under my tutelage.

I can be creative, though. I can! I’ve written some wonderful things. Some of those are contributing posts over at The Bipolar Writer.

If you haven’t been over there, go right ahead and check it out. If you’re lazy like me and don’t want to bother, I’m doing you a solid and pasting an article right here that I wrote back in April. It’s titled What’s So Normal About Labels?

 

I was conversing with my dear, oblivious husband the other night. I’d had an epiphany about my negative perspective of everything. Beginning to expound, I said something about depressive people thinking one thing, then moved on to try to finish with what other people thought.

The hubby helpfully suggested, “So, you mean what normal people think?”

Normal. People. They’re not normal. They just like to be called “normal.” Pshaw, I say.

Given that there are probably just as many wizards -er, mental illness sufferers out there as “normal” homo sapiens, things really seem to indicate that they should have the nickname, and we should be called normal.

What can we name them, then? How about “Aberrants?” “Defects?” “Outsiders?” or “Vulcans?” -You know, because they clearly aren’t feeling human emotions, so they’re overly serious aliens.

All right, all right. I’m sure we can come up with a more flattering name. In our spare time. Perhaps we can brainstorm during that extremely small window of time when we’re awake, and the sun and distractions are not.

Got anything yet? Yeah, not a good time for me, either.

Since coming over here to James Edgar Skye’s enlightening blog, I’ve felt a lovely camaraderie. It’s like the dark little corner of the party actually had people hiding there that I just couldn’t see before.

“Oh, hi!” I whisper to a fellow curled-up body. “Depress here often?” We cry a bit together, agree that cynicism is the best outlook, and part ways when one of us pretends to need a drink.

Since this discovery, I’ve been wondering how many people out there fit into one category or the other. Confirmation bias keeps telling me that most people struggle with mental illness. As I said, doesn’t that mean weshould be normal?

Checking out a more reputable site than my own mind, I learned that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences mental illness in a given year. That’s freaking high. Despite all these people hanging out in closets or staring morosely into the bottom of glasses, that still means that MOST PEOPLE (4 of the 5) are not.

Dangit.

I guess we actually are the ones out of our Vulcan mind. But that doesn’t mean that I want to be grouped in the dark corner, apart from those who think they don’t have problems.

If they’re “normal,” that makes us “abnormal.” And we ARE NOT abnormal. We are fighters. Deep feelers and thinkers. We are authentic, strong, emotional, real -and tired of being labeled as defective.

Eureka! The real problem here is that we need a label besides all the others slapped on by those 4 out of 5 liars.

I vote for Human.

So, you Vulcans: listen up. We’re not broken. We’re not useless, imperfect, or crazy. We are Human.

Now, fellow Humans: get out of that corner, and let’s show them what we’ve got.

Go ahead; I’m just going to grab some punch.