Hope

Today, I was honestly going to talk about abandonment. My fear of it, how I respond to it, how I deal with it in my everyday life, etc. However, that’s not going to be today’s memoir subject. This morning, I woke up and said no. I will say I’m stuck in an emotional rut right now, but I’m tired of the negativity. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. Tired of taking everything personally. Because, guess what? It’s not all about me. It’s not all about one person. And I’m glad. I don’t want that pressure. I’m not sure of anyone who would.

I feel like if you survey 100 people, most will give you different ways for how they define “hope.” I’m not going to pull the dictionary out for this one. (Yes, I use physical dictionaries instead of Google. Thesauruses, too. I’d rather personally smack someone upside the head with knowledge if it came down to it. Burglars, beware!) Instead, I want to talk about how I define hope. Also, I’m just lazy. I’m not even going to lie.

When I hear the word, I firstly think of one of my best friends who goes by the same name. I’ve always been a person of few enemies and even fewer friends. However, my pretty much sister-from-another-mister and I have been friends for several years. Sometimes, I honestly wonder how we’ve made it this far. It’s no secret I’m an emotional person. I’ve put her through things she nowhere near deserved, so we’ve had our ups and downs like any relationship. But, we’ve made it work, and that’s how I know she’s a real friend.

What do I think of secondly? Well, when I try to think of how I would define hope, my brain flat lines for a few moments. Then it’s all over the place. So I never get a clear answer. People like to say things like, “Oh, I hope the weather stays nice,” or “Man, I really hope my team wins this year.” The only sport I repeatedly watch is NASCAR, so I’ve been known to say, “I hope my favorite driver wins at the end of a good race.” I’ll delve into NASCAR some other time.

All that is fine and dandy. I’m not saying it isn’t. I feel like there’s something more to those four letters than just wishful thinking. I’m a Christian; I was raised Southern Baptist. (Shocking since I tend to write dark and supernatural stuff, eh?) So hope can be capitalized when using it as one of God’s many, many epithets. Even still, I think the meaning of hope can dive deeper because I don’t believe it only pertains to religion. Although one could argue hope can be aligned with faith. Or dreams, for that matter.

My hopes and dreams? Of course, I hope to become a published author. I’ve been diligently working on my first novel. I hope people will read it, and it will touch them in some way. I hope they’ll connect to my characters. I hope readers will walk away with a new perspective on life. I have the typical aspirations of every author. Becoming published is my goal in life.

Yet, there’s still an itch that needs to be scratched. And it’s rather personal. I’m constantly hoping I will change. I mean, down on my knees, begging and hoping I will change. Not in a physical sense. Nor the idea I need to change to fit the world’s mold sense. An emotional sense. Most of the time, the only way I make through each day is hoping I’ll eventually be better. I don’t handle stress well. I tend to lash out at those I care about most. I have no self-confidence. I question my own judgement. I’m always lost in the vast oceans of my inner demons and turmoils. Wrestling with myself day in and day out. As a result, I’m perpetually exhausted. Both mentally and physically.

Hope keeps me alive. I know I’ll be better one day. I have to be better some day. I could go on a whole “religious rant,” but I’m not going to. Here’s why. I’m learning that I am not in control. No matter what religion you are, whether you’re religious or not, one thing stays the same. Life was not created to be controlled. Our best attempts fail. Such is the way of humanity and its hubris.

Long story short, my hope is my reason for life. My passions, my dreams are all funneled through this tiny little of strand of hope I desperately hold on to. That is how I would define the word. Outside of my friend, of course. The will of life is what hope means to me. The motivation to move on, push forward. And, yes, there are actual steps I can take to better myself. I’ve been taking them, slowly but surely. To me, though, it all means nothing if I don’t have hope.

 

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Where I Consider Home

The past couple weeks, I’ve been looking through old photos. And you know what old photos do. They bring up memories, both good and bad. Thankfully, my past photos haveĀ  reminded me of a lot of good. Reminded me of the place I still call home. I’ve also been messaging (off and on) a lifelong friend, and that’s also had me thinking.

I’ve moved around a bit. It was kind of a byproduct of my dad’s job. Every eight years, it seemed like. Until I got married three years ago, and I moved in with my husband. We’ve moved three times in those few years. Hopefully, we’ll be set for awhile. Moving is tedious and stressful.

The first eight years of my life, I lived in a little bitty town. In fact, if you Google it, it’s registered as a village. Yep. I was raised, until I was eight years old, in a village. It tickles the fantasy side of me. According to the 2016 census, the town had a population of 285 residents. Just to put it in perspective. Sometimes, I wonder if they’re numbering people or if they’re also adding farm animals with their head count.

So you could say I’m a Midwestern, corn fed kid. But that’s not the whole story. After I was eight, we moved to the suburbs. Unfortunately, I’ve been a suburbanite ever since. But to a country kid, the suburbs were city. I’ve since learned that city is much more massive than I so naively imagined. Still, I went from a place that had roughly 300 people, let’s say, to a place that had almost 22,000 residents. Quite a big jump.

Yes. I hated it. With every single fiber in my being. I grew accustomed eventually. Made a few fleeting friends. After I was sixteen, we moved again. To a city with nearly 70,000 people. Which wasn’t too big of a shock to my system. Yet, there was something that has always nagged the back of my mind.

Where did I call home? Did it matter if I had a home or not? What do I say when people ask me where I’m from? Do people even need to know where I’m from? (I’m a paranoid person.) Where was home?

After some soul-searching, I kept coming back to the little town. The “village.” That was where I wanted to call home. Then I came to the second part of my inquiry. Why was it the place I wanted to call home? Well, my favorite memories are from there. That was my childhood. What I consider the happiest part of my life. (Outside of my marriage, of course. I’m sure the husband will read this. Love you, hun.) I still have dreams about being there. I still cry when I remember how painful it was to leave. The other places? Not so much.

There’s something else. The Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. My family has vacationed there for years. I remember going there for the first time. It absolutely took my breath away. It was so green, so much of a fantasy setting. All I required was a wizard to lead me on an epic journey. I felt different there. Felt…free, so-to-speak. I could hike trails, climb along stream beds, see waterfalls. It was everything I needed to fuel my fictional mind. Everything I needed to clear my mind from stress and the mundane of everyday life.

While I do love the beach and ocean, I like to say my heart belongs to those mountains. I try to go there every year. Or, at least, every other year. It fills me with so much vigor, so much life. Reminds me of the times when I was a kid in the little town and allowed my imagination to soar. I’ve been to many places. I don’t know what it is about the Smokies, but that’s where I want to return. I feel like a piece of me has been left there since the first time I went. There’s a piece of my heart in my hometown, and you can bet your behind, there’s a piece of my heart running through the trees on the Smokey Mountains.

I plan to settle down there sometime. Maybe it’ll be when my husband retires. Maybe it’ll be if I can make money off my books. I don’t know. But I do know I will get there. One way or another, I will have my house in the middle of some of the most beautiful scenery. I will find the piece of my heart and run in the forests with it. I will find my wizard and finally go on that epic journey through the woodlands. Along with the characters I’ve created, the creatures I’ve designed, the dragons I’ve made to ride on the backs of. It’s where I can let my mind be unleashed.

It’s the same sensation I had playing in the woods around my lifelong friend’s house. We could be anything we wanted, whether it be cowboys and space rangers, secret agents, horses, or anything else our limitless, child minds could conjure. It was our sense of freedom. Our sense of belonging. The mountains feel the same way to me. They always have and always will. I can be that little kid again. I can be anything I imagine myself to be. I can be free.

Where do I call home? Well, it’s a two-fold answer. My hometown, I consider to be my past home. The Smokey Mountains, I consider to be my future home. They’re almost the same to me in importance. Both places hold pieces to my heart. And that’s okay. Because I know where I came from, and I know where I will end up.

And it’s always home.

Optimus Punk

Optimus Punk

Everyone meet Optimus Punk, my 2012 first semester college final. I’m a huge Transformers fan, even before Michael Bay’s adaptations, and college was where I learned about the wonderful world of steampunk. So I meshed the two to create this piece. He’s the biggest art project I’ve ever undertaken. Not to mention one of only three pieces of my own art framed and hanging in my office. I normally hate my art when I’m finished with it, but this is one of the few I’m proud of.

The inspiration for this drawing came from one of the movie posters for the 2007 Transformers movie. And a ton of Google images regarding steampunk machinery. Optimus Prime and Transformers belong to Hasbro. Mediums used were graphite (lots and lots of graphite) and charcoal.