Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Joys of Being Young

 Growing up, my mom loved the fact I was small for my age and appeared younger than my years. She used to get me in for the lesser price. If not, I remember crouching down below the ticket booth so the ticket person couldn't see me and Mom would not have to pay for me. I don't remember how well that really worked, but she was happy. As I look back on it, it was dishonest and we likely could have afforded the cost of three girls and one adult. 
  As I grew up, no one questioned my age until I was much older and in college. Those who knew me knew I was near their age. Once I started looking for work, I was faced with the question of, "You aren't who you say are. How old are you, really?"
  Those around me treated me like I was kid pretending to be an adult. "Why don't you be happy with the age you are? You'll get old sooner enough and you will wish you were young again."
  Or, there was, "Isn't nice to look twenty years younger than you are?"
  No, I don't think so.
 My teenage son and I attend the movies together on the weekends. I noticed over the last year or so, some of the cashiers behind the concession stand offer us one large drink and two straws. One young man even winked at me while he smiled slyly at me. I gave him a strange look, wanting to say, "You know, I'm old enough to be your mother. Would you smile and wink at you mother like that?"
  I refused the one large drink, saying, "Two drinks." They were rather confused untilI started carrying my Aarp card a few months ago. Once I even said, "I need to ask my son what he wants" and the cashier said, "Your son?" I affirmed that.
  This past weekend my son and I were at a local craft fair selling my books and some other items we put together. Towards the end of the day, two different women came up within ten minutes of each other. The first gave me a condescending smile wanted to know how long I've been writing and I told her. She chose her words carefully and asked about my education. I went into more detail than I normally would. She smiled dismissively and then said, "You know, there's nothing wrong with going back to college as an adult learner." And she left.
  The second lady wanted to know about my last name. I told her it was Dutch. She then remarked, "You're awfully short for being Dutch. Most of the Dutch people I know are real tall."  I said my husband was Dutch and he is tall. My son came into the room. Her eyes twinkled as she watched him walk up to the table, "Is that your husband?"
  I smiled, "That is my son. He's only 18." I looked her in the eyes, head cocked to make a point, "I'm a lot older than he is." She face fell and she left with no more words.
  So many individuals are want to look young. Forever young, the song says. Why can't we aspire to look our ages? And why do we feel that one's young appearance is equal to not being knowledgeable?
 I tend to get defensive when others write me off as too young to know what I'm talking about or being experienced in a certain field. I am what I am and I do believe I am good at it. Look beyond one's appearance and judge others on their level of work.  Or learn to accept someone without labels. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Insecurity Creates Writer's Blocks Part 1

I attended my normal write-in that my writing coach holds on a weekly basis. A new writer attended. I was glad to see her since I have met her before in other writer's groups. She mentioned a group online called the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This perked up my ears. Soon others were sharing their experiences with how their urge to write fantasy was dismissed by the universities and how their writing in general, was belittled and they were urged to pursue other careers. I wanted to share my experiences but realized if I did, I would be one-upping since my experiences were more profound (in my eyes and deep feelings). I decided to wait.
  I checked out the Insecure Writer's Support Group and noticed they had a blog tour, but I hesitated to sign up for  it because I still feel deeply I am not good enough.
  This morning, the seeds of this article began to take place so here I am writing it to bring to the forefront my deep struggles with being consistent with my writing.
 From an early age, I wanted to be a writer. My mom and dad admitted I had talent, but urged me not to make it my career goal since it didn't make a lot of money. My Mom's number one issue was it would cause me to go crazy because of most great authors become crazy or end up taking their lives. At age 13, this caused me to become fearful of pursuing the one passion I had and the inner drive I felt. I wanted to speak out and but was terrified of standing up and did not have anyone to talk to regarding the battle deep within myself. My high school guidance counselors encouraged me to pursue easy courses and steered me away from anything that would require effort. I allowed this, but the battle deep within remained. Indecision followed me even though I knew I needed to write. It was like someone refusing oxygen who has been told the oxygen they need to live could poison them (which could be lying) because the other person is afraid of them dying, yet by cutting off their oxygen, they will surely die.
 In 1990, after receiving a both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Science in social services and working in with the Department of Children and Families services, (1985- 1990) I went back to college at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. I choose, at my dad's urging, to study accounting and business, but my brain couldn't grasp the fundamentals of accounting principles. After meeting a graduate student in the Masters of Fine Arts with an emphasis in poetry I realized my true love really was creative writing. I started taking graduate and undergraduate writing workshop classes. My love of fantasy was born. I wrote one story based on a dream that had a friendly dragon in it that was misunderstood and the villagers wanted to capture it. The dragon lived in a castle with his family and befriended a boy who was also misunderstood. The town was called Rumination and involved indecision and longing to decide what is most important in choosing a direction in life. I turned it in. On the day my story was to be workshopped, the adjunct professor announced we wouldn't workshop because dragons were not real and the story itself was fantasy. It had no redeeming elements of literary work within it. The students in class sighed with disappointment. As they passed their copies to me, I heard it was excellent and they were looking forward to discussing it. I was crushed because I wanted to hear what they had to say. I knew I had to become a writer but was not sure how to pursue it. When I  would confront my professor at it, she got this painful look on her face as if she was afraid of telling me the truth. Instead, she said, "Everyone has potential." This delighted me, but underneath, what there was the lingering, "Except you."
  Fantasy is considered a genre form written for the general public while literary fiction is written for intellectuals as they study one important emotion or theme. Sometimes it is to understand how divorce after a child dies effects a couple and those around them or to understand what is going through the mind of someone who isolates herself. Though, often the deeper issues, such as rape and intense hatred toward men who only want a woman for her body, but not a  solid relationship with her are not welcomed. I know this because I also wrote a story like that for this same professor, and again, would not workshop it because the anger and abuse of the men in the story was too intense. It made her uncomfortable. She wanted balance or something like that. Again, some of the students gave me favorable comments and suggestions for improvements. One, in particular, loved one of the redeeming characters in that story and asked if she could use him. I let her, but inside, I felt crushed. I felt helpless and wondered if I could ever make my dream come true of being a published writer.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Journaling With Soul

 Two weeks ago, I talked about wanting to teach individuals to journal to solve help them grow both emotionally and spiritually. Journaling is not just about writing about the events of your day or your interactions with others, but it also about desiring to see how we interact with others. When a situation arises that upsets us, it is easy to fall into blaming the other person while refusing to see how we could have reacted differently. I am not saying a situation is always "my fault," but it is a two-way street. I find journaling is a way for me to be objective.
We are supposed to write what we fear. Often we are afraid to explore our dark side. To take an honest look at our fears, trace them back to an origin and find a way to reduce them down to nothing. Through introducing Soul into your journaling process, one can begin to do this. Yet I admit, there is still the fear element of not wanting to take an honest look at that darkest side of ourselves. To truly begin a journal for personal and spiritual growth, we must be willing to face those dark areas and lay them. We don't  have to show anyone what we write. It is for us to share with ourselves and learn from.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Journal to the Soul

 I have kept a journal most of my life. All my life I have looked for meaning and sought a reason for my life to never go the way I wanted it to. My journal developed from being a place to record my thoughts, teen angst because I couldn't meet my heartthrob, Mark Hudson,  to wishing I was dead.
 I named my first journal Jamie (because I loved the British nickname for James). I didn't name them after that. After I began a quest to be Christian, I started addressing my entries to Jesus. For some reason, it helped me to feel better. As I wrote and asked questions, I discovered I could inwardly hear responses and answers.
 About six years ago, I read something or it came to me to start talking to my Soul. So I began addressing my journal entries to Soul and Spirit (my word for my Higher Power).  I began to feel some  of my blocks releasing and I began to move forward.
  I wish to teach other people about journaling to Soul. Or just talking with their Soul. The only problem is, I doubt others would be drawn to it because they would see it a means to spiritual growth. I could modify the class it, saying the individuals could address their Spiritual power they feel comfortable with.
 I see so much growth in keeping a journal. Not everyone is willing to share what they write or even learning how to keep one.
My chief fear at this time is stepping out of my own comfort zone. I still harbor the belief others do not accept me as I am.

I welcome comments, suggestions, and your insights.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Haunting of Powell Hall by Merri Prudich Halma

     Old Powell Hall was eerie. Erin couldn’t help but notice the green paint on the entryway walls appeared to be oozing out from her. She looked at it from the outside, as she waited for Mark to unlocked the door, a strange feeling engulfed her. She wondered what kind of adventure lay behind the door. Mark turned and flashed a smile to her as he opened the door and bid her venture in.
    Mark’s mind was full, thinking of the papers he wanted to find in his office as well as what he wanted to tell and do with Erin before he left Montgomery University for summer break. His beat semi-fast. His mind quickly switched topics as he began thinking of the ghost which lived in Powell Hall.

     It was a cool evening in late June. Mark went to see Erin early in the afternoon after receiving a letter from her. He wanted to answer her questions in person. She told him she had to go to work, but wanted him to pick her up when she got off so they could spend some time together. He reluctantly agreed, but now, he was happy she suggested it. He enjoyed her company. When he picked her up, he suggested going to Powell so he could find some papers he wanted to take home with him. Erin readily agreed because she wanted to be with him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How to Meet God Face to Face

  As a child growing up, I always felt lost and alone. I felt very aware of my backside as if I was walking both forward and behind me. Perhaps, it was more like I was following myself. After I got older, I learned that feeling was called self-conscious.
Fear of saying something wrong or hurting others kept me from speaking my mind. Mostly, I wanted to disappear and felt no one would ever miss me. I had to keep reminding myself I was a nobody. I just someone who made a lot of mistakes, couldn’t talk fluently and was a real oddball. Each time I reached for the sky, aspiring to be noticed, I was shot down. Just knowing that I had to remind myself I don’t deserve what I really wanted to be. I wanted to be a star, and win awards and be told what I wonderful person and writer I was.
  The thought I was the only one on earth who feel so isolated and alone overwhelmed me at times. Since I had few friends, growing up, I didn’t have a way to express these feelings nor know any different. I didn’t dare tell my family since I knew they would try to talk me out of it or get mad at me for feeling that way. My Mom always said not to allow myself to feel what I felt. Feelings weren’t important, but without them, I knew I wouldn’t be human. Somehow, knowing I wasn’t supposed to feel bad made those bad feelings stronger.
    Many times throughout my life, I searched for the meaning of life. I sought the god that my Catholicism said cared so much for me. As a teen, I surmised that this Supreme Being couldn’t possibly love me. If he did, then why would he put in a life that was lonely and no one could relate to me?
 After I crossed the bridge from Christianity to metaphysical, I saw that all paths do lead to one Supreme Being. Still, I felt so alone and couldn’t find that one group that I could relate to that also related to me. I still felt like this Spirit had turned its back on me.
  One night, as I tried to sleep, sending out a prayer to this being, saying, as usual, I sought his or her face. I wanted desperately to know why I was created the way I was. I longed to know what I had to do to succeed in life. To find my one career and passion and have others agree that this is where I belonged. Writing.
  My whole being called me to write.
   As I prayed, through my closed eyes, I felt myself lift up into a void. A bunch of clouds formed in front of me. Slowly, the clouds formed a nose, eyes, mouth and a hand extended, picking me and pulled me closer to it.
  “Greetings, Merri. I’ve heard your prayers. Your life isn’t easy, but I am with you always. Guiding you and directing you. You will make it.”
  The Being said more, but I don’t remember all we talked about.

  I have tried to put that anguish I have felt in my characters to some extent. Most of my characters also search for the face of the Creator of all Worlds. In my series, Indigo Travelers, most of them will have their face-to-face meeting with the Creator of all Worlds that has been named Albagoth. whom is gender neutral.

Yet as I reread my second book, I see I have not done a very good job of it. I am faced with a lot of revising and actually trying to get into the skin of my three main teen characters.
  Writing is like acting. Only, it is the writer who steps into each character of the book and has to make each real to the reader. It takes stepping out of oneself and stepping into a whole new body, soul and being.
  I still strive to be noticed. I strive to have someone who has made it successfully in the publishing field to notice me and assist me to make a profound impact on the larger world. Still, when I try, there are others who come to me to remind me I won’t ever be noticed or make that impact. I sense what they are really saying is that I’m not a good enough writer and they are so much better than me.

It takes effort and the desire to stick to the marketing, studying it all inside and out. It takes not allowing myself to get overwhelmed with all I have to do to revise my second book and also getting the third book finished.
  I still feel so alone at times. Yet all writers feel that way unless they are blessed with being able to make close friends who relate to them and accept them. It has to be a mutual acceptance at that.
  Do you ever feel alone like this? How do you resolve that aloneness?