Tuesday, December 31, 2013

When The Good Die Young - Cliches and Real Loss, How to Cope With The Bullshit...

The phrase, "Only The Good Die Young", is bullshit.

The Good. The Young. Only the good...only the young...

DIE?

Really?

Who came up with that phrase, anyway?

It's weird, the things we come up with to say with the intent to comfort others in the midst of loss, grief, and unexpected tragedy.

Only the good die young...
That's right up there with 'at least-they're-in-heaven-now- type phrases that people use and say to those who cannot be comforted by mere words...
especially, words bound up in such ignorance and cliche-bullshit-isms.

Those who frequent this blog (because, I assume my writing attracts such imaginary crowds),
know that I lost my grandfather this year.
Lost him...
like he went off wandering in a department store or something- -

You get what "lost" means...

passed on...
departed...
fell asleep...
moved on...
went to heaven...

and...
The Good Die Young...

Why do we all try to put death so gently?
Why do we sugar-coat it?
Why do we downright LIE about it?

Is our effort to misname the darkness and injustice of death,
merely part of our blatant inacceptance of what really is?

I say, yes...

For, only the good die young....
is BULLSHIT.

The good die all the time and age is no factor for their parting from this world we must live in without them.

"remember the good times"

Yeah... I will... thanks a lot.
I can't get them out of my head and
you should shut up.

People try to comfort us.
We try to comfort them...

Why can't we all come to terms with the fact that there isn't any comfort for the grieving?

Because...

We must feel useful.
Our need to feel like we're helpers is selfish,
in times of loss and grief.

There isn't anything 'right' to say.

My husband tells me stories about his late-mother, who passed away before I ever had the pleasure of meeting her...

Sandy Hodge was a minister.
She wasn't a minister, like you think or associate with the title, I assure you...

I like her words of comfort best of all...
I am told she once said this to those who'd lost a loved and dear one:
 
"WELL, .... SHIT!"

What better way to convey love, sympathy, compassion, empathy, emotion, shared grief...
than that?

Don't tell me that the good die young.
Don't talk about God, because- to me, He took what I love...
Just feel my pain...
Share my sorrow...

Say...
Well, SHIT.

and share in laughter that follows....

That's how to properly cope with the BULLSHIT, my friends.
Stop the cliches.
Stop the comforting attempts.

Be the shoulder to cry on,
the anger to share,
the agony to cry about,
and the arm to pick me up again...

Then,
only then...

have you truly comforted me.

Pain is hard to share.
It's not fun.
It's not easy.

But...
it's what we all need.

The good don't die young.
Sometimes, they do.
Don't tell me they do.
I don't want your rehearsed cliches...

I want you to feel my loss...
with me...

Only then, can you help me through it. 


Secret Search

Who and what is secretsearch.com ?


A Novel Idea - Gera

The icy clanking sound of the gate's frosted latch, clasping over the silvery metal had startled her. She'd been surprised at the volume of echoes that had followed such a routine task of letting the dogs outside that morning.

More than the anxiousness she'd felt when the gate slammed shut, was the sudden alarm she felt when the sharp waves of winter winds stung her weary eyes.

What was happening?

As she stumbled back from the frozen gated field, which now protected her only companions, Gera found that she was dizzy and lightheaded.

"It's okay...just get inside."

A blurry figure stood above her now, and she tried to remember how she'd ended up on the hard ground that lay cold beneath her.

"Who are-
...I don't understand-
Why am I...?"

The stammering series of questions that Gera longed for the unknown figure hovering over her to answer had seemed involuntary... as though her mind had given up on filtering anything she might think to keep it from pouring non-sensically from her chapped lips.

Shaking now, cold and frightened, Gera couldn't move.
The dark figure still hovered above her.
How and what was and had happened to her?

She recalled the clanking of the gate.
She remembered the terror she'd felt upon the stark, crashing sound it had made.
Her tremors became uncontrollable.

But, the dark figure spoke again...

"You are dreaming again."

The brittle grass beneath her began to melt.
The figure did not.

"Wake up, Gera.
Go inside.
Everything is alright."

Waking up in the same place where your dreams have ended is a terrifying experience. Separating reality from the dreams that often prophesy reality is a whole different problem. For Gera, these worlds collide in a spell-binding page-turner that Regina Hodge has yet to write. :)

Interesting?
Maybe.
I have lots of ideas.
Now, I've just got to pick one of them and stick with it until a novel is finished.
Children's books were harder.
But, this idea just happened.
Advice is needed if anybody wonders what happens to Gera. (gee-ra.)
Because I like Shera, from He-man.
My lead character rhymes.
Whatever...

It's a start.
Let's see where today leads me...












Writers Can't Help But Write

I told my former boss that I'd been planning to write a children's book. A somewhat awkward silence followed this disclosure and alerted me to the strangeness that the listeners of my news must experience.

Normally, they repeat what I say first...

"Write a book?"

It's always in question-like form, as though they must've mis-heard me.

"Yeah."

So goes the same conversation I've stopped having with anyone else, lately.

One of my favorite books advises against telling others that you're planning to become a writer, publish a book, write about anything, really...

I should've taken Carolyn See's advice.

Too late...

You'd think you'd get more support than discouragement when you tell people you want to write a book.

You'd be wrong in that assumption.

Why is that?

Because... telling people of your intentions isn't the same as silently going about them until you can prove you completed the goal you set privately for yourself.

All this has been a learning experience for me.

As soon as I told a few close people that I was writing a children's book,
the worst case of writer's block stopped the slight progress I'd been making on a quirky little story I'd been certain kids would enjoy.

It's like part of the magic got lost or something...
I shoud've kept all this to myself.

A writer should not talk about writing.
A writer should write.

"Writer's can't help themselves", said my former employer over the phone that day I told him my secret plans.

"What?"

"I mean, writers can't help but write. It's like they do it because they have to do it. They have a need and they write."

I could relate to his explanation immediately.

What I had trouble doing was responding with anything even remotely intelligent...

I'm better at writing than at talking.
I'm proficient in both forms of communication.
The conversation that followed my mentor's disguised encouragement did not evidence my abilities in either of the former social styles of relating to people.

"I've kept journals since I was 5."

You'd think I could've come up with something better and more convincing to say to someone whose respect I've always sought to attain.

I didn't.

The point of all this is...

If you're going to write something...
WRITE IT.

I'll take my own advice, starting now...

Stay tuned...
and listen to everything Carolyn See says in her books for writers and dreamers.
Or face the same block I'm dealing with and post blogs about it so everyone knows you're completely contradicting your point.

:) 

The Girl In The Yellow Hat

Since I quit my job, I've had trouble adjusting to a new schedule that only I am in charge of delegating to myself. It's weird. I had this idea that everything would make more sense in my life after I cut the overwhelming responsibilities of work out of my daily routine. Part of that assumption has proven true, but the transition between working full time and not working at all has been one I've had trouble making gracefully.

The lady at the gas station down the road didn't recognize me the other day when I stopped in for a pack of smokes. (A habit I am to re-quit tomorrow, by the way)...

"Oh, hey there!"
The same check out lady I see every day is always alarmingly cheerful at, what I've determined to be, too early an hour for polite conversations.
"Oh, hi..."
I greeted her as I sleepily made my own coffee in the gas station that does not provide such a common and expected service for its customers.
"Didn't recognize you for a second, there...without your hat."

What the hell does one say to such a strange observation?
I managed an, "Er..., yep...I do usually wear my hats in the winter."

"You just look different is all."

Why didn't she just shut up?
Why comment at all on my appearance as I make my own coffee in the gas station that no employees drink the sacred beverage that begins a normal human's day?

Anyway...
It occurred to me then that I'd let myself go a bit since the whole job-quitting, moving/life-transition I chose to make...

I have become The Girl In The Yellow Hat, here in Smyrna, Tennessee.
The only thing that outnumbers the amount of churches here are the liquor and beer quick-stop-shops, conveniently located within walking distance from those churches.

This place is different. My yellow hat shields me from the changes I still find strange and alarming in my new little town.

The one day I did not wear my protective yellow-hat-shield, some outsider/local had to comment on it. I've worn it every day since that occasion.

I'm wearing it now.
Why?

Because that's the weird stuff I'm doing, lately.

In this new life, I'm doing lots of laundry and chores that I let surmount to an impossible degree over the years when I permitted my job to take over my life.

Therefore, showers and yellow hats are sometimes forgotten. - and damn the people who feel the need to comment on such things that make me feel safer here. :)

Anyway...

People have freely given their opinions on what I should be doing with my life, lately.
I don't often agree with their advice, as it defeats the entire motive behind my choice of unemployment.

"I'm going to write a book."
"Yeah, right."

"I'm going to finish my degree."
"You'll need a Master's in that field to go anywhere."

"I'm going to re-open my shop online."
"That's probably not a great idea right now."

"I'll start my own business."
"Seems really risky."

"I'll apply for another job, then."
"You probably won't need one right now."

FINE.

"I'll wear my yellow hat."
"That hat looks good on you."

And so, these are the events of my life right now.

There's a lot to be determined but one thing's for sure...

I'm gonna keep wearing this hat until I figure everything else out.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Photos of Nature - NIKON 3200 - 2013 Photography Blog by Regina Hodge

Winter photos & Nature Photography found here.

Since I've been M.I.A. for a while, I've got LOTS of new pictures to post here.

Hope you enjoy... 

Finally, we have moved into a new home.

Crazy events have happened since my last posts but I'll focus on the good things here... After all, nobody likes a Debbie Downer. :)

These are the happy little things going on in my life right now.

 Stay tuned and scroll on for the following photo updates:

 Our new fenced-in backyard is a favorite factor of this new rental home. Plenty of space and privacy out there and our dogs LOVE it. 

This gigantic tree grows on the back of our property and I'm always drawn to this place for some photo-practice sessions. 

Nature photography is my specialty, I guess- 

I enjoy taking these types of pictures more than any other...

This December has been a gray one. (Gray or grey?- side-note questions...) 

Anyway, cloudy skies helped out with the contrast of this photo. Tree silhouettes that look a bit ominous are common this December. 

It's cold. I bundle up before I head out for my photo adventures... 

Any tips on warm gloves that aren't too bulky (pref. for photographers) are welcome... My fingers go numb quickly but there are shots to be made so one must endure the brutal winter winds! :)

Ice. 
Clearly.
 This is ice. 
It is pretty. 

It is also cold and quite unwelcome on anything else but leaves... for me, anyway. 

The roads get slick lately here in 'The Boro'. 
Just a step away from the Smyrna city limits, you'll spot a crazy looking camera-girl, dressed most often as an Eskimo. 

Bring your camera and join my icy adventures this winter! :)

Trying to take a decent shot of water droplets is my mission. Typically, I screw them up. I am a clumsy photographer, you see... I often trip over things that make branches shake and droplets disappear before I can catch them on-camera. This one somehow managed to hang on for a droplet-photo mission accomplishment.
Getting the focal point right is difficult for shots like this one. I adjust settings frequently. As a newbie-Nikon-er, I am still learning how to use the DSLR. I find that if one is not willing to read the instruction manual, one must take several shots with varying settings, random adjustments, and shutter speeds... Eventually, probability works in your favor. With as many shots as I take, one is sure to work out. Plus, I'm one of those trial-by-error kinda people... Hands-on learning is my style. It may not be the prettiest, but I do think I'm getting better. Still have quite a long way to go! I'm enjoying the journey, though.

WHAT THE HECK IS THIS STUFF? 

I have yet to have an answer! Josh spotted these weird-looking plant/thing/fungi/possibly-carrots(?) growing everywhere in our backyard. I think they are gross. I don't know WHAT THEY ARE!! It's been driving me crazy. Someone, explain these finger-like uglies to me, please. I stomped them and it made them even uglier. Are they flowers? Are they mushrooms? Are they baby alien larva? I need answers, friends. Please. Help explain these creatures so that when people come over, I will sound more intelligent when they ask what the heck are those-type questions.

Sorry...I'm supposed to be talking about photography. You see why I got distracted, though, right? As far as this shot goes, I'm not sure I have any tips. I think these 'whatever-they-are's' would look bad from any perspective. This was the most flattering angle I could find. Focal point centered from a looking-down perspective... Yeah, that's all I've got for this one until somebody tells me more. HELP. :)

 If you want to know more about plants, this isn't the blog for you. Sorry. I just take the pictures. 

Pretty plants are just that, to me... pretty plants. 

Really, unless I decide to eat one of them- I don't feel compelled to learn facts apart from aesthetic beauty. 

For fellow Newbie-Nikon-ers, I took this shot with the Nikon D3200, 18-55mm lens. I always use that lens. Until I master it, I will not remove it. I'd love to have more options in the future, though. (Hint, hint... holiday wish list items to make me TOTALLY FREAK OUT.) 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this shot. 
Yes, I realize that it's not in-focus. 
Sillyheads. :) 
I didn't want it to be. 

I love when my idea for a particular shot actually works out. It doesn't happen yet as often as I'd like, but for this photo... Well, it turned out just as I had planned (cue evil-mad-scientist/photographer-laugh here- 'mwahahahahaha!') 

I wanted a dream-like look and it was foggy outside. The odds were in my favor, you could say. :) 

Mysterious, creepy, peaceful, dreamy... Mission accomplished! :) I hope so, anyway. I'm happy with it but am certain that there's room for criticism. Just go easy on me, okay. I'm new at this. :)

Water Droplets, be damned. 
(Pardon my language, mother.) My choice of words is intended here to add emphasis and humor, rather than to offend. I finally got a decent shot of a water droplet. I taunt the defeated droplet, as if to dare more of them to challenge me. (Mom, sorry again, okay? I know you don't like 'bad language'. I realize I used it anyway. Let's just move along here... :))

Water Droplets vs. Amateur Photographer, Round 2.
Winner?
Two-time champion, Regina.
And...the...crowd...goes...WILD! :)

SHOOTING WITH WINDOWS, REFLECTIONS, & WATER...

I have discovered that, apart from nature photos, I like taking shots involving reflections, water, and windows. There's so much to choose from when all of these aspects combine! This lamp post is a recent photo subject for my object-practice. Trying to focus on the light bulb inside the glass gets tricky when I take shots after the rain or in early morning hours, when the glass is foggy. I change up my focal points to see what works in these next shots. Just having fun!
Slant-shot sunrise through outdoor lamp post. I wanted to catch the sun when it rose just high enough for me to line up an angle that would make it look like the bulb was lit. It was very cold that morning. I saved that mission for another day. #glovelessphotographer

Maybe if I cleaned the glass, I'd like these photos better. The water droplets... I'm all about beating the challenges they present, lately. :) Got 'em again.

Baby, it's COLD outside!

Frosted windows are prettiest when one views them from indoors...
Here's the morning window view from my living room.
Droplets win this time. Blocking my view, they still gave me a decent photo op this winter. :) 

Bundle up and stay tuned for more photo and art posts coming soon! :) Follow me @lifelooklens on Instagram and Twitter, too! :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tomorrow

Tomorrow will be great
Yes! And, -

Tomorrow will be grand

Tomorrow will fulfill all things
Exactly as I've planned

Tomorrow holds such promise, see?
Tomorrow keeps my hope-

Tomorrow I will live,
What I have planned,
without revoke-

No taking backs of
should haves,
would haves,
want haves,
might could be's, -

My tomorrow holds the promise
Of more 'morrows

Just like these...

-Regina Hodge.





LifeLookLens: Step 2 - Quit Job. Check. Now What?

LifeLookLens: Step 2 - Quit Job. Check. Now What?: It's been a tough year for me. On November 20th, 2013, I did something necessary for the maintaining of what small bit of sanity I have ...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Moon Glass Window Writings

I've not yet adapted to a normal human's schedule. I wake up when the moon is still out- usually around 4AM. I am not sure yet if that hour is one I should change, as far as my daily routine events go. I enjoy having some quiet time to myself in the mornings. I grab my Nikon or iPhone and step outside to let our dogs out before the sun rises over our new fenced-in backyard. Our new house is perfect for us. The dogs have adjusted well, although Lucy has become a little 'mama's girl' ever since we moved in. Our old house was all she knew and she still follows me around the new house with the need to be in whatever room I'm occupying. Lucy is normally my husband's baby. I like that she's come to her senses lately. Anyway, when the dogs do their morning doo- - he he, (I giggle.), I sometimes snap a few pictures. It's dark and there isn't much to see but on this particular morning, the moonlight through the glass door glistened to catch my camera's attention. Making the moon a letter as I wrote on the chilly glass, I smiled at the result of this effort. Moon Glass Window Writings photo by me- I hope it makes you smile, too.

:)

Step 2 - Quit Job. Check. Now What?

It's been a tough year for me. On November 20th, 2013, I did something necessary for the maintaining of what small bit of sanity I have left. I pondered over the events of that day for months, prior to my final day of employment at the job that taught me more than I could ever write in this post.

I quit my job.

Over the past two years, I've gained more experiences than many people accumulate over the course of a lifetime.

I'm grateful for those life lessons, but the stresses and worries involved in the social work field of child placement, foster care, and adoption, became more than I could balance with all the other responsibilities in my life right now.

I made the decision to go back to school this year.

I took a full load of classes online, with two courses jam-packed into my first 7-weeks of back-to-college-ness.

My boss told me that my decision, though ambitious, may result in feeling overwhelmed.
I didn't heed his warning.
As my Mamaw says, I always seem to have this need to 'prove something', even though I don't have to...

What it is that I'm always trying to prove, I don't know.
I just dive head-first into projects, tasks, jobs, life... full-speed ahead.
I give all of my effort to whatever I'm involved in-
be it work,
ambitions,
or...
crazy goals that wind up being what everyone warned me they'd be-

impossible, too much to handle, overwhelming, etc.

Well, I suppose everybody was right.
Not completely correct, though, in their predictions...

I made A's in those fast-track classes, while working a full-time schedule at my job.
Then, I went to a part-time, 30-hour work week.
There is no such thing as part time in social work-
not when one is so caught up in the work, relationships, and causes
for which they first signed up for a job that 'gives back'.

I gave back.
I gave all I had.
I gave too much.
I didn't give enough.
I couldn't give anymore.

When I decided to give my notice, I couldnt' help but feel a sense of relief.
Most people panic at the thought of not having a job.
Normally, I'd be one of the more sensible types who worry about such matters-
Jobs are neccessary for one's survival, after all.

Unless-
The job takes over your life.
Unless-
You begin dreading your work.
Unless-
You lie awake at night wondering about whether or not your grades will suffer
since you haven't had more than 4 hours of sleep in the past 2 days.

If you aren't taking care of yourself,
You can't take care of anybody else.

I tried to balance all responsibilities of work, school, marriage, travel, family, friends, assignments, deadlines, home visits, appointments, etc.

One of these was bound to suffer if any of the others were successful.
I told myself that wasn't true-
After all, I'm Regina.
I can do anything.
I'm Super Woman.

Super Woman did well for the first few weeks of juggling the circus she'd signed herself up for...
She woke up at 3-4am every morning, did assignments, sent emails, made calls, planned, scheduled, confirmed, submitted, re-scheduled, re-sent, organized, and all other tasks now required for her role as multi-tasking genius...

Then, Super Woman became exhausted.
She got sick.
She never felt well.
She wasn't happy anymore.

When she made A's on projects and exams, she could not enjoy her success-
Her time spent preparing and studying for school meant that her work responsibilities had piled up.
Those responsibilities loomed over her, and she knew she must press on...

Making the trek to the office at 8AM to begin one's day-
a simple and regular event that is damn near impossible when one has already completed a full day's
work before the rest of the world decides to get started.

Ridiculous amounts of coffee were consumed.
If anyone has ever overdosed on caffeine, I may have a gene that prevents such tragedy-
My body and mind built up a tolerance for caffeine that would terrify healthcare and cardiac professionals worldwide.

Nonetheless,
our coffee-powered Super Woman flew from destination to destination, without fail.

I stopped putting forth 100% at my job.
For that, I felt guilty.

I reasoned that my contributions and efforts of the past two years' employment made up for my slackened dedication to my overwhelming responsibilities.

Still,
I am a perfectionist.

Though a trait that I'm not particularly proud of, perfectionism has promoted success in just about anything I set my mind to do.

When and if,
I can't give all I've got to something- ANYTHING...
I throw in the towel.

Some of my co-workers said I was abandoning them.
They're right.
I am.

I actually cried when I gave my notice.
I hate crying in front of people.

A tired Regina had been up all night, worrying about whether or not tomorrow should be the day she let go of the job she'd worked so hard to accomplish for years.

Saying goodbye has never been easy for me.
Even when I gave my notice, the reality of how final my decision was didn't really hit me.

I was, however, suprised by how right it felt to quit.
I instantly felt calmer than I have in months.
I felt reassured, confident, and had no doubts that I'd made the right choice.

My husband says that this year has been hard for me. He says it's all hitting me at once.
He's right.

It is.
Life this year got hectic, hard, tragic, overwhelming, challenging, sad, frightening...
but it is going to be okay.

Everyone says that- -
things will get better.

Or,
it'll all work out.

Super Woman believes those things, too...
just give her some time to process all the things she's kept to herself for 2 years, will ya?
Give her some time to feel sad, angry, frustrated, appalled, and helpless...
However she feels is okay.
Don't worry so much about her.
She's got a lot going on right now.

 No one but me knows about the things I've seen and done in the past two years-
as far as professional confidentiality plays a role in those stories...

You'd need time to think about all of those events, too-
Especially when you never got a chance to process them before the next thing sprang up.

I'm working on figuring out what I want now.
I am making a plan on where to go from here.
The changes in my life are more than they've ever been...
They are positive changes, though, and I'm sorting through them.

I found a to-do list yesterday that I'd made months ago.
In the process of moving, I have found the most random things!

The list read:

GOAL: Get a degree
Step 1: $3,000
Step 2: Quit Job
Step 3: Study like crazy

Somehow, finding this list comforted me.
When I felt lost and didn't know where to go-
I found this list to reassure me that I'm already on the right track.

So what that I may or may not have skipped Step 1.
Step 3 has been completed.

Step 2 - Quit Job.

CHECK.

Maybe if I repeat Step 3, it'll all work out.

Pretty sure that Step 3 is the key I need to open the door I've been ready and capable of opening for far too long.

Until next time, my friends...

Stay tuned. :)




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Art Print Illustration

Illustration by Regina Hodge. Copyright 2013.

Twinkle Twinkle
Little Star
How I Wonder What You Are
Up Above The World So High
Like A Diamond
In The Sky

Twinkle Twinkle
Little Star
How I Wonder What You Are

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Lives On Dunailie Drive - Leaving The House That Was Our Home


 The early days of Dunailie... 
when Halle fit in a suitcase and we lived 
in the downstairs portion of the house...

 Feels so long ago, sometimes. 

Today is bittersweet as we reflect on all the memories 
we made in the house that became our home. 

We leave Dunailie Drive today but 
these memories travel with us 
as we move on
to the next chapter of our lives...


When I moved in with Josh, our parents had some concerns 
about our not-married-yet relationship status. 
They still supported us-
even when we added a new puppy to our not-yet-married family. 

We got married. 
Halle arrived first, though. 
A tiny puppy sits here, years ago, on Dunailie Drive...
My, how far we have come since the day this photo was taken!


My best and most favorite memories happened here in this house. This is one of them...


From this little Craigslist puppy, who chewed EVERYTHING...

To THIS still-not-fully-grown dog 
that we finally trained to respect our things. :)
Famous Dave's 












Josh and I will move to a new house. 
More memories will be made there. 
Those made here, on Dunailie Drive, 
are packed in my heart 
to take with me 
to every house
that our love 
makes HOME. 



Friday, November 8, 2013

Crisis Management & Road Rage

Everyone thinks they are an excellent driver. Everyone has that in common with Rain Man.
Everyone can't be an excellent driver.
Everyone can't be as good an actor as Hoffman, either.

Tonight, I drove out for a quick errand to grab some Diet Coke.

I waited in line, paid for the 2-liter of deliciousness, and exited the gas station.

It should've been a routine trip.

It would have been...
Except for the fact that
people are CRAZY.

Tennessee drivers probably aren't worse than other drivers, as a general rule.
However, they are a little overzealous with the horn-honking.
This isn't New York, after all.

As I've said in my recent posts, I've been stressed lately.

Maybe that contributed to the events that occurred while I went on my little Diet Coke venture tonight.

My stress- and the inevitable fact that people in Nashville suck at driving...
(This generalization, of course, does not apply to me.)
:)

I walk out of the gas station with my double-bagged Diet...
I'm thinking about how glad I am that the line wasn't long this time.
La deee dee dooooo, dip-e-dee-da... happy thoughts dancing in little Regina's head as she strolls to her parked car outside the station.

Then, while backing out... I hear a car horn.
Pretty typical, living in the city... except-
the sound of this horn is too close to be ignored.

AND... the duration of the horn's blaring alarm signaled that I, Regina Hodge, had prompted its triggering.

Surely not.

I whip around to see who the hell thinks that this type of horn-honking behavior is acceptable in Tennessee and especially- at a GAS STATION.

Oh...

It's a Jeep.

It's parked at the gas pump-
about 30 yards APART FROM THE BACK OF MY CAR.

Must've been someone else, thinks I...

Sure was a close-sounding honk, though.
That's weird.

Plenty of room to finish backing out. Wonder who the jerk is who sounded that horn? Wonder who made that Jeep's driver so mad... ' Least it's not me...

I cautiously, slowly continue to back up my car.

THE BLARING HORN RINGS THROUGH THE CHILLY AIR AGAIN...
THIS TIME IT'S 20 YARDS AWAY FROM MY CAR.

That's it.
I've HAD IT.
This is ridiculous.
Who in their right mind honks when somebody is backing out at a completely un-close distance from even coming remotely near to putting other drivers in danger, anyway...

Yeah, I said something like that.
NOT.

I'll admit it. I'll confess.
I called the person who was parked at the pump an asshole.
I'm not proud of it.
I'm not surprised I said it, though, and-
if reliving the same scenario again,
I'd call them the same asshole.

Anyway...

After the first long horn honk, I made sure that there was no justified reason why I would've been the target of such aggression. After the second long honk that seriously caused my ears some discomfort,

I did something I've NEVER done before.

I got out of the car to directly address the other driver.

(My mom WILL NOT LIKE READING ABOUT THIS.)

I didn't just jump out of the car to start a fight, though.
I honestly felt confused about why this unknown driver had been honking so needlessly and persistently at me- Especially when we were both parked and I was going under 1 mph. to back up my vehicle.

Out of the car now.
Who IS this PERSON?

I don't know who I expected to be behind the wheel of that Jeep.
I guess I thought the driver would look more like a jerk than a
normal, middle-class and middle-aged woman.

I still don't know why this surprised me. She looked so...NORMAL.

"I see you, Ma'am."

That's what I said first to the honker.
She'd already rolled the window down.

"Well, I didn't know you saw me!"

"I figured since you honked so much."

"You didn't have to get out of the car!"

"I got out to see what was going on, Ma'am. You scared me, honestly. I didn't know what was wrong because you kept honking like that."

The woman presents a confident and justified disposition that designates me an evil adversary.
I see it in her mean little beady eyes.

She's MAD AT ME.
This is crazy.

Whatever this woman experienced today must have been rough.
That's my work-self analyzing, there.

My personal self says she's still an asshole.

But, I know better.

Anyway, the woman SCREAMS at me so loudly that people hear from inside the gas station and come out to see if I'd hit the lady, I guess.

I didn't.
I did something better.
I made her feel stupid and ashamed of her actions.

Why is that better?

First- she isn't physically hurt. I haven't hit someone in quite a long time.
Second- She knows she was wrong, even though she'll never admit it.
Third- I had to rely on my ability to diffuse a situation that could've gotten really inconvenient and/or ugly.
Fourth- I have crisis management skills. I used them. They worked.

I stand there, being screamed at my a person whose vision probably hasn't been checked...ever.
A small crowd begins to gather right outside the station doors.
I must not call this lady any bad names.
She is wrong.
She will not apologize.
I must not take this personally.

Accepting a person's behavior- no matter how unreasonable or insulting it is-
IS THE FIRST STEP to stabilizing a crisis situation.

Over the past two years, I have endured insults that were not justified.
I hated it.
It helped me tonight.

Because of my experiences in working with people in crisis situations, this little gas station disagreement brought out the social worker in me.

Because I've seen SO MUCH WORSE and EXPERIENCED FAR MORE ANGERING ACTIONS than a middle-aged woman who honks too much.

While she yells at me, I analyze her body language.
It's aggressive. Her abrupt motions and hand gestures are confrontational.
Her words translate in English as being kind...
In tone and body language- they give conflicting meaning.

I've sized her up.
I know exactly what to do.
Watch the eyes.
I watch them.

Narrowed, brows furrowed, hands clenched upon the steering wheel, voice shaking.
This is what I see.
This is what I know...

1. Lady feels threatened by my getting out of my car after her repeated honking.
2. Lady misdirects anger, unrelated to present situations and likely due to more personal life matters than my actions.
3. Lady doesn't like being center of attention.
4. Lady becomes more aggressive when she becomes center of attention.
5. Lady feels need to save face in the presence of others.
6. Lady must be shown respect if situation is to be mitigated.

My brain thinks in this way now.
Social work promotes an entirely different way of thinking and working with people.
I didn't realize all I'd learned until these types of weird or challenging situations arise in my personal life.

I focus on my body language.
I relax my shoulders.
I slowly open my body up, by positioning my arms in an extended way that reaches out to the woman who is still screaming at me...
I watch her eyes become less narrowed when I do this.
I do it more.
Palms up and hands extended.
Explain reason for getting out of car to woman.
Must use respectful addressing terms such as Ma'am.
Use excessively, if needed.
Woman's shoulders and hands relax within her vehicle.

Ma'am... this really doesn't need to go any further than this.
I got out of the car to let you know I saw you.
It scared me because you were honking a lot
so I wanted to check on you
and make sure everything is okay.
I hope that you have a good evening, Ma'am.

Her response?

"Thanks. I hope you do, too."

Crisis managed.
Asshole vs. Badass
at Mapco
where Road Rage happens when PARKED.

Good thing I was a social worker. :)



















Packing for The Move - Moving Makes A Mess!

My house is...

Well,

CRAZY RIGHT NOW.

We're still packing.

We get the keys today.

Turns out that to organize your move, you have to make a mess first.

Here's our move in-progress...

Don't judge me, okay?






So much sorting, boxing, trashing, saving, doing...
It's gonna take more than a day for this one. 
Maybe a lifetime. :/

Here goes! :) 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

LifeLookLens: Let's Play The Glad Game

LifeLookLens: Let's Play The Glad Game: Let's NOT play the glad game, Pollyanna. I've been in a state of grumpy, exhausted confusion for the past few days. Moving and pa...

Let's Play The Glad Game

Let's NOT play the glad game, Pollyanna.

I've been in a state of grumpy, exhausted confusion for the past few days.
Moving and packing, taping and boxing, paying and signing....the list of tasks grows when I add the fact that I have exams due this weekend and haven't studied yet.

Also, there's the strangeness related to my job.
Past job... er-
part time job?
That's not it.
Temp job?
As-needed job?
Job?
Do I have one?
I did.
I don't.
I do...sort-of?
Oh, well... No time to think of that right now. Must box all the things. Must move to the place of the house on the yard that is fenced where the dogs don't know they will go there until I take them.

That little paragraph above is a prime example of the way my brain has been functioning lately. Fragments, run-ons, questions being asked by myself-
to myself.

Some people would call that crazy.
What-evs.
Are kids still saying what-ev?
I'm out of touch.
I'm old.
I should know these things.
Why don't I know the lingo anymore?
Wonder if they still say 'cool'.
If not, I'm still cool, right?
Yeah... I'm totally cool.
Totally.
Bet they've never seen Clueless.
Not that it's the greatest movie but it is kind-of a must-see...
or was-
back in my day...
Oh, no.
I AM getting old.

This Blog post is about Pollyanna.
Betcha didn't see that coming, did'ja?
Oh, yeah- there's a spoiler-clue in the title.
Ooops.
Well, I can always be glad that some people didn't catch the spoiler.

I can be glad that my feet are warm and snug in brightly-colored socks that a happy kindergartener would admire.
I can be glad that there are kindergarteners.
I can be glad...

Pollyanna has been an obnoxious role model of mine that I don't openly talk about, even to my closest friends. My husband only vaguely gets the references since my brief and muffled, nerdish explanations of this epic hero are mostly kept to myself...

You know how there are those movies that you LOVE, despite the opinion you KNOW other adults- and (even you!) realize are fairly stupid and poorly written?

Yeah, well-
Pollyanna's not like that, okay?

She's the shit.
The happy shit.

I hear kids DO still say that, by the way. Bet it's because they get to curse and look 'COOL'.
Kids from the nineties INVENTED 'cool'.
We never used bad words, either.
We were THAT cool-
and grew up to be sarcastic bloggers who focus indirectly and inadequately on several unrelated topics all at the same time.

Oh, what would Pollyanna say about that?
She'd be glad that 90's kids are blogging, I bet.
She'd be glad that kids now are still saying, 'That's the shit.'
Pollyanna would NEVER say the word, 'shit'.
Still, she'd find something GLAD about it.
She found something glad about everything.
I just can't quite think of what she'd find to be glad about this particular scenario...
Actually, when I really imagine what Pollyanna would say-
in reference to words like shit, and the common casual way we use those words-
It makes me laugh.
:)

In my head, here's Pollyanna...having a conversation with a character I'll call, Regina, for example.
(Hypothetical names, of course, mind you.)
R= Regina (hypothetically)
P= Pollyanna

R: "Today is awful."
P: "Ohhhhh, nooooo! You see, today is a LOVELY day!"
R: "No, it's not. Everything that's happened today- and yesterday- has sucked, Pollyanna."
P: "Sucked?"
R: "Oh.... yeah... Sorry... I forget you're still learning- It means that nothing good has happened today     or yesterday, Pollyanna."
P: "Oh, I'm sure there must be something!"
R: "Nope. Past two days have really been bad."
P: "Nothing is ever ALL bad, Regina. Do you know what I do to feel better?"
R: "Yes. I've seen your movie."
P: "Then, you know how to play the GLAD GAME!"
R: "Really gets on people's nerves, you know."
P: "Not on everyone's nerves. I bet there's someone who feels happier when they play the glad game!"
R: "Not me."
P: "Try it."
R: "No, Pollyanna. You live in a bubble. Things aren't as great as you make them out to be and you're believing a bunch of nonsense. The world has gotten a whole lot uglier since you did that movie, you know?"
P: "Well, then... We can be glad that I made that movie, now, can't we!...How do you mean, ugly?"
R: "Kids say the word, shit."
P: "Oh, dear. Oh, no, dear me!"
R: "Yep. They mean it to be a good thing, though."
P: "How...peculiar... You mean, they say that awful word to mean something that is good?? You're right, Regina, things surely have changed since I taught the world the glad game in my movie."
R: "Yeah, well... bet you can't say something GLAD about THAT, now, can you?
P: "Errrrr...."
R: "Go on..."
P: "I've GOT IT!"
R: "No way."
P: "Children are using words in new ways to mean entirely different things than the previous generations had ever thought to use them! Why..., children today have turned something that has always been thought of as ugly... to represent something...
SOMETHING GLAD!

R: You win, Pollyanna.

YOU....WIN.

:) :) :) Sometimes, you've gotta play the GLAD GAME. You've gotta re-invent your own Pollyanna.
THAT, my friends, WILL MAKE YOU GLAD. :)







Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When One Door Closes...

When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens...

When one door closes, look for an open window.

Whatever the phrase, we've all heard it.

Today, I closed some doors.

I have yet to see the second part that is supposed to happen in the cliche.

But it's only been about an hour since I closed the door.

Give it time...

I'm certain that door needed to be closed.

Still, I miss it a little.

I had a lot of memories about that door.

I knew that closing it would be hard. The door is heavy.

It was heavier than I'd anticipated.

I still closed it.

It wasn't easy.

I shed some tears.

My stomach knotted itself up as I took the first push that would end the chapter I've worked hard to create. It couldn't keep going on, though, as it was... So, I must turn the page, close the door, seek the next chapter, find the next door... all of those things people say about moving on.

Easy to say, harder to do.

And yet, I felt relieved. Saddened, most certainly, but the feeling of relief reassured me that I must press harder on that door to seal it shut.

I have the key, should I ever need to go back through that entranceway.

But the other keys I hold in my hand may open many more doors.
And so, its time to try them out.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

13 minutes til Midnight - Get To Sleep Fast Advice & Writer's Block Ramblings



I hate the first part of starting a blog post-

Coming up with the title.

I usually skip that part until I start typing a story, figure out the concept, then go back to add the title for my post.

Tonight is different.

It's 13 minutes before midnight.

I'm still awake.

So many thoughts are going through my head that I cant just close my eyes and forget them. My eyelids feel heavy. It's been a crazy couple of weeks.

You probably don't wanna hear about that, though.

You're here for some inspiration.

Or....,
more than likely,
you stumbled upon this blog and are debating whether or not to just X-out and move on with your web-surfages.

I guess I'm feeling a bit more negative than usual.
When I write,
it doesn't matter.

If one person reads my blog- reads any posts I've written over the past couple of years-
my public and online journal will be worth the efforts I put in to create it.

Writer's block is in full-effect right now.

I have nothing really that's interesting to say.

Who blogs about that, anyway?

Yours, truly.

That's who.

Usually, I just start typing. I never begin my blogs or writings with plans or intent.

Usually, it all works out. The topic I want to write about reveals itself.

Why isn't that happening right now?

Why does this post suck?

I guess it's simple, really.

At 13 minutes til midnight,

one should not blog.

One should not attempt to write.

No pencil should dare be put to parchment, for nothing worthy will be scribbled at this particular time.

And so...

This is my worst post ever.

I embrace it.

What else can I do?

Sometimes, even when I can't sleep-

I shouldn't try to blog.

Especially at 13 til midnight.

The writer's block curse begins at that time and I have yet to decipher the time at which it shall end.

Until next time...

Here's Regina. Just wasting your time with ramblings of exhaustion, worries, and dreads about the tomorrow.

At 12:01, tomorrow began.

14 minutes for this post.

I am too anxious.

I'm so tired.

I have exams this weekend.

I'm moving this weekend.

Tomorrow's meeting will determine my future.

I've decided my future.

Doing the things that the future I want mandates has not-
and, WILL NOT-
be easy.

So wanders my restless mind...
at 12:03AM.

I am ready for today before today is ready for me.
Maybe that's my problem.
Maybe that's my solution.

No more attempts for sense-making, friends. Time for sleep.

Here's what always helps me drift off to dreamland... Hope it helps you, too. :)

 Goodnight, sleepy bears. Better blogs will follow. I promise. Sweet dreams. :)

When You Just Need To Vent

Sometimes, you just need to vent about all the things going on that are bothering you.

I've learned that there's a healthy way to vent and an unhealthy way to display all that anger that's built up inside you.

Just because I've learned the best ways to vent doesn't mean I always follow the rules that are implied.

I felt angry today.

I thought and said some things I probably shouldn't have said and/or thought.

I felt a little better immediately after my temper tantrum, but I found this relief to be temporary and fleeting.

What's the worst thing when you're venting to someone about what's bothering you?
The listener says something that doesn't go along with your outrageously grumpy little explosion,
THAT'S WHAT.

You're all whiney and complain-ey and all you want is for somebody to validate your feelings. You don't want to hear any opinions during tantrum time- Especially if the listener's argument is compelling to prove you're being dramatic or ridiculous.

Those listeners need to shut up.
They need to let you have your say!
They need to agree and confirm everything that comes out of your rage-fueled little pipe-hole.

At least, that's how I felt this morning. It's how I always feel when I'm angry.
I've never handled myself as gracefully as I'd like when I get mad.

It takes quite a LOT to prompt my feelings of anger.

However, once I reach that lava-hot point-
Nobody should have to listen to the stuff I say.
Even though I justify all of it at the angry time when crazy meanness flies from my mouth.

Luckily, I've gotten better about expressing feelings (even, anger) in more beneficial ways than I evidenced today in my behavior.

There's been a long-standing debate about whether venting is a healthy practice or whether it just fuels anger to propel and accelerate its flames of madness.

Like everything else, venting is healthy in moderation.

So, throw your little tantrum.
Let the listener correct you and pull you back to the reality of earth that your madness-filled self just left like a rocket to space...
Get mad at the listener.
Don't hurt listener for being right.
Accept that the listener is right and that you're angry.
Never hurt the listener. Although they are annoying, you need them.

Take a breather. Turn on some music. Chill the heck out for just a few minutes...
Then, start planning...
Target what makes you angry, miserable, sad, scared, furious, frightened, belittled, exploited, used, etc., etc., bad feeling, bad feeling....

Then, start writing down what positive things you're doing to do to change the sources of what is the root of those angry, 'bad' feelings.

When that list is done, ignore obstacles to check those tasks off one by one.
Don't let anybody stop you and don't let the anger control you.
After all, nobody MAKES you FEEL angry.

YOU CHOOSE TO FEEL ANGRY, just like you choose to vent.

So choose something that's actually going to help you out, why don't you?

At least, this is the advice I give for you now. In the events that follow my checklist's completion, I may gain a whole new outlook about all this.

Maybe I'll regret it.
Maybe I won't.

All I know is that I HAVE TO DO MY CHECKLIST.
I've got a plan to fix the things in my life that burden me and along the way, I hope to improve myself-
with every check-
with every task-
with every improvement-
with every step, advancement, hello, goodbye, move, relationship, job, LIFE...

Because that's the healthy way to VENT.

Who knows what will result from the healthy venting process...
Time will tell. Stay tuned, my friends.
Life just got a whole lot more interesting. :)




Photography Angles & Perspectives For Better Phototography


 Good Photography is all about angles.

The perspective of the shot, rather than the object being photographed, is what's most important. Here's a few shots I took to demonstrate slight but significant differences that should be applied for better photos and unique photography. 

In this this-one-or-that-one how-to-blog, two photos can be compared according to the angle and perspectives from which I snapped the shot. You'll see why angles matter and how you can apply just a few tips to take better pictures at your next photoshoot! 

PHOTO EXAMPLE A: THIS OR THAT?


Most people will say that the second photo is more clearly depicted. The photo you prefer says a lot about what you value in photography, really. For those who prefer the first photo, it's likely because the angle from which the photo was taken creates more curve to the formation of the scene than does the second photo. A more dream-like setting is created from photo 1 than the sharp, straight lines featured from the angle in photo 2. Which photo makes you feel as though you're there? Which one makes you want to walk up those steps? That's your angle preference for photographs, you know. Everyone's is different. That's why, as photographers know, the same scene can be construed in all sorts of ways to appeal to a client. By applying more point-of-view angles to your photo shoots, you're more likely to capture the same scene in different ways that result in completely different feelings. Pretty simple, but very important if you want to capture unique shots that others think they've already taken. As for my preference in this example- I like photo 1 best. It's more interesting to me than the second photo. More inviting and mysterious. Clarity is overrated sometimes because dream-like haze is what makes photo 1 my favorite here. :) 


PHOTO EXAMPLE B: THIS OR THAT?


Same dandelion, different photos. Which do you like best? Your answer reveals your preference for focal points in photography- as well as your preference for portrait-style or landscape-style shots. In the first photo above, the focal point is centered at the middle of the flower so that sharpness is created around this focus to add clarity to the ends of the seeds. In the second photo below...


...focal point is centered at the edges of the flower, especially on the right side of the bloom. This angle creates more of a background fade than the first. Choosing different target spots on your photo subject creates variation that is sure to appeal to just about everyone. Some will prefer 1 photo over another, for reasons they aren't sure about. Once you show two photos like this to a client, ask which they like best. Then, apply their focal and angle preferences to your photo shoot- regardless of which picture you know has more photographic quality and value. :) 

THE BLACK AND WHITE FANATICS:
There are lots of people who will prefer a photo for the simple fact that it's black-and-white. Monochrome junkies, I call them. Knowing that to some clients, angles and focus don't matter as much as their love for black and white photos is critical to remember as a photographer- also, it's easier to do. Just a simple tip to edit and shoot more B&W- you never know when you'll have a client who hasn't realized that's all they really want from their photo session. :) 
PHOTO EXAMPLE A: THIS OR THAT?  

Which is better? 

Which do you like most? 

Your preference tells the following about YOU:
- appreciation for texture vs. preference for depth
- focal point preferences between objects that are up-close and those that are out-of-reach.
- The things you want to be noticed in the shots I take for you. 


PHOTO EXAMPLE C: THIS OR THAT? 


 Another example of how angles make all the difference!
 For me, Photo 1 is better. 
Which is your preference here? 

Asking clients to choose between photos is a great idea for photographers to practice during pre-consultations so that the focal points, values, forms, and artistic favorings of the client can be applied by the photographer to capture pictures the client will love. The photographer's preference isn't nearly as important at photo shoots. That's why taking what feels like the same picture over and over is important. Slight differences tell you so much more about what your client wants. Try it. You'll be surprised! 

PHOTO EXAMPLE D: THIS OR THAT? 


You know the drill now, right. You pick the one you like. I tell you what I like. Then, I say your preferences say things about you I'll use to take more photos you like. Yep, you're a lil' smartypants. :) If you take anything from all this- I hope it's to hold two photos up at your next consultation. Ask your client to pick. Then, watch your customer satisfaction shoot through the roof when you apply these simple concepts to your photo shoots! 

Thanks for reading and keep shooting! :) 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Letting Go.

Sometimes, you reach a point in your life that prompts you to question how you ever let so many things  weigh you down.

Whether it's your work, hobbies, relationships, marriage, friendships, obligations-
whatever...

You let whatever it is burden you.
You held on hoping it would get better.
You tried your best.
You really did.

Still, you have this day when everything in your life seems less stressful-
It seems to make more sense than usual.
Perhaps you've slept well and are thinking more clearly that day-
Or, maybe you just decided to come to terms with the facts you'd chosen to ignore for way too long.

Again,
whatever...

Letting Go.
Two words.
so much more, though.

Something has to give. You realize it, but this time-
you don't feel so stressed out about it.
You accept this willingly...
almost-
relieved.

That's when it's time.
You close your eyes and you hope you're next moves achieve all the wonderful goals you set for yourself so long ago...

Somehow, you know you're headed in the right direction for all of that to finally come true.

Letting go isn't easy.
But there's something about it that makes you feel lighter, and more capable of achieving more than you ever imagined.

You feel hopeful again.
You know you can do it.
This time-
You BELIEVE YOU CAN.