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...



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

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....

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?


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...

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...

only then...

have you truly comforted me.

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

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. :)

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.

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.


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.


"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...

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?

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.

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. :)


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."


"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! :)

 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.


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.
Two-time champion, Regina.
And...the...crowd...goes...WILD! :)


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 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 ...