The Voices In My Head…

I have voices that carry on a continuous conversation in my head….. you do too, right?  Right?

I’m not schizophrenic,  at least that is what the voices in my head tell me!

My grandmother used to tell me I had a vivid imagination, I guess I do.

I’m sure to some degree we all have voices that speak to us in our minds at certain times of life.  Some call it our conscience, others believe it is the Holy Spirit guiding us, I believe both to be true.

Those aren’t the voices I am referring to.  The voices that speak to me, and I love, are the creative stories that write themselves in my mind.

One of my jobs allows me to travel a lot, it is during those days, when I am alone, surrounded by masses of humanity that these voices go into overdrive.

I write stories about the total strangers I see, that includes their background, what they are doing, what they are talking about and where they are in their life.  I am not judging them, I am simply using the character they present in front of me to write a fictional story that relates to them.

An elderly couple traveling to the beach can become long-lost lovers who finally have reconnected after the loss of their original spouses.

A young person carrying their guitar with them could be heading to Los Angeles to meet with a record executive who will change their life with a signature on a recording deal contract.

When I see a group of school students, I pick out the kid who will escape from the group and explore a city like New York, or Paris or Calgary alone and the adventures he will have before being found and returned to the furious chaperones who were supposed to be keeping up with him.

Is that wrong, or just a creative outlet, or my schizophrenic voices overtaking my brain?

A couple of years ago, my family and I spent a week together on the beach.  One day while sitting in the sun, I started to share some of the “stories” of the people around us.

My family thought I had three heads, but I think they also enjoyed my imaginative stories.

For those of you who know me, let me explain, I don’t do this about you!  Ironically, I only create these characters and narratives about total strangers.

Yesterday, while shopping for hydrangea, I saw a group of people who obviously didn’t “fit” together.

By the time I had passed them, I had identified the hitch-hiker they had picked up on their way shopping, who turned out to be a world-class botanist and was helping the young family create their dream landscape.

Because of his efforts, the family, who was struggling financially, would have the most beautiful yard in town.

Their landscape would be featured in magazines and on websites and the family would take full credit for their masterpiece.

One day the plant-stranger would see them again, after they had received wide acclaim and fortune.  He came back to confront them.

Fearing the loss of their newfound fame, the dad took a shovel to the man’s head and killed him.

Drama, twists and turns, trials and espionage ensued with the “Plant Murder” coming to a fitting end with the hitch-hiker finally getting his recognition, although posthumously.

Yep, I’ve got voices in my head that extol me with stories of adventure, passion and commonality.  I hope these stories never go away, they help keep my wacky brain entertained.

An active imagination is a wonderful thing, so if you run across me one day and I appear to be in a world far, far way, don’t worry, I probably am!

Cricks and Cracks and Aches and Pains

Mama and Daddy used to complain about their aches and pains.  When I would ask why something hurt they would say, “I don’t know, it just hurts.”

Daddy would sometimes laugh and say “you will find out, it just comes with age.”

As usual my daddy was right.

Every morning when I roll over in bed and put my feet on the floor a new “ailment” seems to hit.  Cricks and cracks and aches and pains.

All winter my left knee bothered me, it would swell and throb, nothing major just an annoying pain.

This past week my right knee decided to get in on the fun and has been a constant nuisance.  It catches, it hurts, it makes me limp….. OK, I get it, I am old!

Sometimes I will get an ache in my shoulder or for no known reason a rib may hurt, it’s always something.  Nothing major, just a crick or a crack or an ache or a pain.

As I quickly race towards my date with morphine and a pain pump, I have decided what is wrong with me and quite frankly, these cricks and cracks and aches and pains are more of a blessing than a curse.

I have decided that the pains of being 50-something are much more about the joys of a fulfilled life than they are about a body that is catching up to too much weight and stress on joints.

The pain in my left knee that caused me to gimp around for large parts of the winter, I have decided that was caused by carefree days of summers past.

When I was a teenager, I spent most everyday on Lake Rabun, being pulled by my friend’s boat as we waterskied from one end to the other.

This nag in my knee has to be a way of reminding me of those carefree days being pulled and spraying and falling and jumping behind a boat being cheered on by friends and creating memories of sun-kissed skin on a scenic lake filled with glimpses in time.

If my left knee is about summers on the lake, it is only fitting that the pain in my right is a result of winters at Sky Valley, racing down hills of snow on skis that would give me a sense of freedom unlike anything else I had ever imagined.

Why would my neck hurt from time to time?  Of course that was caused by the endless hours of laughter spent with friends in Lake Park, Florida.

Those countless days with friends like Jorge and Leigh and Alyson, Donna, Dick, Joy and Sam, so many of us together, just spending time enjoying life,  throwing our heads back in laughter and celebration of lifelong friendships.

What’s a little neck pain, when it was caused by the joy of a chosen family that enriched my life in ways I can’t even imagine.

Could my backache be from the day Sam and Chelsea, Zack and I jumped from a plane fulfilling an item we all shared on our Bucket List?

If so, bring that pain on, it was worth the amazing feeling of floating through the air suspended in time as a parachute guided me towards land.

Those wrist aches….. dancing until dawn in Atlanta with friends who were learning about themselves the same way I was at the time.

My thigh, yes my thighs hurt sometimes too.  Oh, but the joy of holding countless babies on my lap and cherishing those newborn dreams.

Life gives us cricks and cracks and aches and pains, but it also gives us joy and laughter and love and friends.

I think it’s all worth it and next time my eyelash hurts or my grip fails, I’ll just look back at the blessings I received along the way that caused those cricks and cracks and aches and pains to bring me such joy.

It’s Time for a Good Old-Fashioned Ship Burning

This morning when I woke it was raining.  I made my way into the living room and sunk into my Lazy-Boy, wrapped in an afghan, watching the morning news, the last thing I wanted to do was get up and go to Church.

As I sat there, I debated with myself.  I could watch Church online, I could watch Church on TV, since the weather was bad no one would be at Church and I wouldn’t be missed.

Since the weather was bad, I needed to get up and go so that the Pastor and choir wouldn’t be in an empty church.

I debated and eventually got up and took a shower and left for Church.

Because of my morning debate, I arrived about 5 minutes late.  The sanctuary wasn’t as packed as normal, but a nice crowd had shown up.  I made my way into a row and joined with the others singing Praise and Worship music.

Over the past few weeks, we have been hearing a sermon series entitled “Obsessed.”  Pastor Adam has challenged us to live a life obsessed with the same things God is obsessed over.

I have enjoyed the series and as the finale, today’s message “Burn the Ship,” tied it all up in a neat bow.

Have you ever gone to Church and started listening to a sermon and thought “is he just preaching to me?”  Yeah, that happened to today.

As I explained in a recent blog post, I am at a Crossroads; my primary job is less than rewarding, the business I bought as an investment has become my joy and my passion is to write.

The sermon, based on scripture 1 Kings 19:21

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

The basis of the sermon today is, when you are ready to begin anew, you must step out in faith with Plan A.  Plan B is just an excuse and shouldn’t be a fall back plan.

Back in the day, when explorers conquered new lands, they “burned their ships,” to symbolize their commitment to the ideals they were bringing forth.  This symbolism showing that they were “all in.”

When the time has come to make the journey that you feel the Lord is leading you towards, make that change with an EXPLANATION POINT…. not a period!

By burning the ship, you have eliminated the secondary option and prove you are “all in” with the new direction of your life.  Whew, that’s a lot to comprehend for someone who is at a Crossroads.

Ironically, I had a conversation with my Pastor on Friday, I told him about my Crossroads and where I felt I was being led.  As usual he listened and provided wise counsel.  Then today, he seemed to hit the nail on the head with points that gave direction to my heart.

I have made two big moves in my life.  Neither time did I know if it would work out, but I made those moves with faith that the Lord would show me the way.

When I moved to Florida in 1996, I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a job and had nothing but a movement in my heart telling me to go and faith that it would work out.

The move to Florida was the most courageous thing I have ever done, it worked out just fine.

I was enriched by people who will continue to impact my life until my last breath.  I developed my professional career with hard work, talent and determination and was rewarded with opportunities that I never saw coming.  And during my time in Florida I was given the opportunity by the residents of a small town to lead the direction of that town into the future as an elected official.

Most importantly, during those Florida years, my faith grew and became my guiding light through life.

The second big move was my decision to leave Florida and move back to God’s Country.   I had been being pulled back to the mountains of my youth by my heart for several years.

My fear in returning was that I wouldn’t fit in.  The friends I had known so many years ago wouldn’t accept me back and that I had been away from family for so long that a deeper connection wasn’t possible.

Those fears were quickly melted away by welcoming friends and family.  It hasn’t been perfect, sometimes it has been quite difficult, but like the move to Florida, the overwhelming results have been better than expected.

Now I am at a new crossroads and I am working hard to let my heart lead the course.

One of the points of Pastor Adam’s sermon today was that was we grow older and more comfortable we “stop living out our imagination and start living our memory.”

Who says that a certain age or level of comfort should lead our lives?  Why not keep living our imagination, an imagination that may turn away from what is comfortable and towards what is possible!

As I continue to evaluate the crossroads that sit before me, I will take these examples into account.  The faith I have employed when making major decisions hasn’t let me down in the past and I suspect it won’t in the future.

The kind words and prayers offered to me by many of you is appreciated as I evaluate my future.  While some may see this as a scary time, I am surprisingly calm and excited about the path ahead, I am at a crossroads, but the path ahead grows clearer by the day.

Imagination is a wonderful thing and sometimes when you put faith behind your imagination it may just come true!  I’m a firm believer that you are never too old to dream, sometimes you just have to burn some ships to get there.

One last thing about the rain that almost kept me home today…… it stopped while I was in the shower.  It’s interesting how the devil gives up when he loses.

I remain at a crossroads, but the direction signs are getting clearer,  When I step out in the direction it will bring me to the next stage of my life, I will do so in faith, excitement and an imagination knowing those “plan B” ships are better off burned.

That’s What Neighbors Do…

This afternoon, sometime after 3, we heard a horrible noise in the store.  Our door had been open all afternoon as the springtime breeze was creating a wonderful cross draft through the store.

Chelsea went to the door and I followed, when she announced there was a wreck.

As we walked out the door, she went into a full sprint across the parking lot and to the accident victims.

Without going into a lot of detail, the accident involved an SUV and a motorcycle.

We were the 3rd and 4th people on the scene.  Meredith who works with us was on the phone to 911.

Within seconds numerous people were stopping to see if there was anything they could do to help.

Some people prayed, others stood in disbelief and others tried to comfort the victims.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a couple of minutes, police and paramedics were on the scene.

And then paramedics who weren’t even on duty started showing up to help.

What touched me most was the response of the professionals who were there to take care of the victims, the passersby who stopped to help, and the general public who showed concern.

I was in a serious accident once in south Florida and witnessed the same neighborly support when it happened to me.

Sometimes the worst brings out our best.  With all the craziness in our world, it’s nice to know, when we need each other we are there.

I share this with prayers for those who were injured, but also with gratitude for those who came to them as neighbors.

Welcome 2017 Playlist….. What A Wonderful World performed by Louis Armstrong

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!  It really is a wonderful world!