Christmas Blessings

Christmas is coming and I’m filled with good cheer

Thinking of all of the blessings I’ve had this year

Life hasn’t always been easy

Things haven’t been in my control

But when I truly reflect

I realize what my blessings are

My family and friends

My life and opportunities

Things have never been this way before

Christmas blessings like presents fade

But relationships have no end

Will life always be like this

No one can tell

But blessings will always be there

Fighting for you till the end

Never letting you go

And keeping you from

Losing all control

Yes, these blessings

Are incredible

Can’t thank my Lord enough

For the blessings he has bestowed upon me

I pray every night

And hope

That against all odds

Everyone will have a shot

At having Christmas blessings of their own

Anxiety Perils

Anxiety has always been my plight

Fears for the future

Fears for the present

When will things change?

Work fills my heart

With dangerous anxiety

Will things get better?

Chest tight

Breathing hurts

The curse of anxiety

Maybe it’s all my fault

Maybe it’s not

I don’t know what to think

Anxiety is full of peril

Can lead you down dark paths

Still it clings to me

I wonder when it will stop

I just need a sign

That things will improve

And let this anxiety

Drift away

Let this anxiety be part of the past

And not define my present

Anxiety can be dangerous

And so is mine

So let us hope

That anxiety will not steal me away

For the Love of the Cozy Mystery

 

Ever since I started playing “Criminal Case” on my iPad, I have been intrigued by solving mysteries. Many top mystery books though involve a lot of gore and violence which doesn’t really appeal to me. My mom was the one to suggest reading what is referred to as “cozy mysteries” to me. Cozy mysteries are mystery novels that are not as intense in tone as regular mystery novels and have very little violence and gory scenes.

I started reading cozy mysteries last month and ever since I have been hooked on them. Some authors I would recommend for starting out are Lois Lavrisa, Joanne Fluke, and Gina LaManna. These are all authors whose books I have read and really enjoyed. The characters are very relatable and they are fast-paced books with unique settings and often a lighthearted tone to them.

What has allowed me to open up to cozy mysteries is the fact that lately I have been in a bit of a reading rut. It has been difficult to find books that I can really get swept away in and until last month I wasn’t reading books as frequently as I used to. Now that I have a new found love for cozy mysteries I am reading more and enjoy discussing these books with my mom.

Why would I recommend cozy mysteries over more mainstream mystery novels? There is simply too much drama in the world today and a cozy mystery allows you to get away from all the tension and intensity and soak up a book that doesn’t have too much of that. Now don’t get me wrong—mainstream mysteries are still good books but I just can’t seem to attach myself to them as easily as I do to cozy mysteries.

The next time you visit your local bookstore or library I would suggest venturing over to the mystery section and consider checking out a cozy mystery. I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

The Discovery

In early 2010 my mom was doing some research online and found out about a learning disability called nonverbal learning disability. Many of the traits that individuals with this disability had were similar to those that I possessed. For example, those with NLD are often very black and white and literal in thinking which is definitely me and have poor spatial sense which is me to a tee. They can be prone to anxiety and depression due to difficulties with the subtle nuances of social communication such as nonverbal communication, body language, and social cues.

Her doctor recommended that I consult a neuropsychologist so off we went to seek answers. My entire medical history was laid out before this doctor and an appointment was made for a neuropsychological evaluation. At about the time of my evaluation I had just turned twenty which was a sad but also exciting milestone. Anyway, the evaluation was an all-day session from 10-4, and my evaluator was surprised at my verbal abilities (another classic sign of NLD—our verbal intelligence is often much stronger than our spatial intelligence.) It would be another week or so before we went back to the neuropsychologist’s office where I was formally diagnosed with NLD. It felt great to have a name for at least part of the disabilities that I had.

Now that I knew I had NLD, I started joining groups dedicated to helping individuals with NLD on Facebook as well as some email lists. I wanted to learn as much as I could about NLD and the more I found out the more I realized just how much in common I had with other individuals with this learning disability. It was the first time I was able to talk to other people who had struggled with same of the issues I’d had throughout my life. I had always felt different from others my age and now I was beginning to think that my social issues stemmed from my NLD.

My NLD has impacted my life in a variety of ways. It has affected my social skills and my ability to get around independently due to my very poor spatial abilities. I have been fortunate to have a great support system in my family and they have helped me to improve both socially and spatially. I used to get lost on the campus of the community college I attended all the time but when I transferred to a nearby university I was able to figure out the campus in a week due to the cognitive therapy I had that summer.

Can I say that life has always been easy with NLD? No, I can’t honestly say that. I can admit though that it does not define who I am as a person. I have transcended my disability and become an advocate for others with NLD through my Facebook page and have managed to maintain a part-time job at a major local department store for almost eight years. That truly is something to celebrate and I couldn’t have gotten this far without the support and guidance of my family.

A Frustrating Process: The College Graduate’s Job Search

I graduated four years ago from a well-known local university and have yet to obtain a full-time position utilizing my degree. I have 1.5 years of office experience from working as the assistant to the president of a nonprofit organization but this experience has not helped me to acquire another position doing similar work. It is truly one of the most frustrating and difficult ordeals to go through and I hate that so many jobs that seem perfect require more experience than I have.
I know that I am not the only college graduate I know who struggles with finding a job. I am fortunate enough to have a retail job that I love and will have worked there eight years this coming July. I am just so sick of living paycheck to paycheck and wish that things could change for me. I keep searching regularly but so far nothing has really come out of this job search process.
What makes my job search process unique is the fact that I have a disability which impacts my ability to go places independently. I am unable to drive because of the physical aspects of my disability so distance plays a factor in the job search. I not only have to consider the required experience of a particular job but also the distance from home.
I know that I can always do freelance work but I truly desire an office position where I can meet new people and develop strong and lasting professional relationships. The right job must be out there for me and I pray that a good opportunity arises for me in the near future. I apologize for the rant but this is something that has become a real source of anxiety for me and has led me to question whether I will ever get a full-time job.
What I have decided to do though to improve my chances of getting a full-time position is to start taking courses related to what I learned in college to brush up on my skills and knowledge of communications media. I believe that this will enable me to remain up to date on the rapidly evolving world of media and since I have always loved learning I think this will be perfect for me. I am starting this return to starting courses by working on a specialization in social media marketing taught by professors from Northwestern University. Since social media is one of the most prominent types of media out there right now I feel that this will really help me to learn more about this popular media outlet.
I hope that in writing about my frustrations in finding a full-time job others can relate to me and possibly share their own experiences about the job-hunt process. You can definitely become a more well-rounded person by taking classes related to what you wish to do in the future and remain grounded in the world that you were immersed in during your college years. Please don’t consider giving up your job search because eventually the right opportunity will arise for you.

How to Deal with Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a problem that has plagued writers for years. I am almost positive that even the most successful and prolific authors have had bouts of writer’s block over the years. The issue though is how to handle this when it arises. I’m still figuring out my strategies of coping with this but here are a few tips when you’re lost for words:
• Put the difficult piece you’re writing aside for a bit and focus on something else. You may come up with ideas for the harder piece when you’re writing or doing something else.
• Do some writing exercises or writing prompts. These may trigger a burst of creativity and lead to some unexpected writing from you.
• Write when you’re most alert and awake. This will allow you to have more creative energy and be able to really focus on the project at hand.
You have to realize that every writer at some point will struggle with a piece that they’re trying to put on paper. Words don’t always come easily and when they finally do come the words may not be the ones you envisioned in your head. Sometimes the words you do end up writing though may be even better than you imagined they could be.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to your writing. No one will think any less of you because you can’t expect to churn out words all the time. I know I certainly don’t. When the time is right the words will come to you and you could end up writing something quite beautiful and powerful.
Believe in yourself and your ability as a writer and come to terms with the fact that writing is a craft. It takes practice and creative and mental energy to compose great works. Try not to become overwhelmed when confronted with a writing project as this will only hinder your productivity and ability to write.
Other writers have provided advice over the years for coping with obstacles writers face including writer’s block and here are some of their strategies for confronting this issue:
• Maya Angelou wrote: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks “the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.” And it might just be the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”
• Neil Gaiman agreed with some of the strategies I wrote earlier and added: “Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see something you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time.”
• Anne Lamott, author of writing books such as Bird by Bird, stated: “I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of something written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing—just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day.”
• The legendary Mark Twain had good advice for struggling writers when he said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
• Orson Scott Card had some great advice for those coping with writer’s block and stated: “Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me. Then I can go on. Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it”, because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work—for you or for the reader.”
These writers are some of the successful writers around and their advice is incredibly helpful for those who wish to pursue writing as a profession. Writing is a communal exercise and with the insights these authors have provided, you may find the will to keep on writing and get your creative juices flowing. You may not become the next Hemingway or Twain but you may surprise yourself with what you’re able to produce when you’re in the right frame of mind.
I hope that the advice I’ve provided has enabled you to continue working on the more difficult writing tasks in your life and allow you to forge ahead. You will be grateful that you did because the world needs to read your work and wants to learn from your life experiences. Whether you are writing for fun or for profit you will want to be able to keep on writing the best things possible for your audience. Writing can truly be one of the most cathartic activities around which it has been for me and I definitely struggle with it but I believe that eventually I will power through and write something poignant and meaningful.
Writer’s block will never completely go away but it will improve the more you write. You will be able to dream up new ways to express yourself creatively and be eager and enthusiastic about the writing you’re about to do. Most of all you will be creating a sense of pride at what you are able to accomplish with your writing. It can be one of the most rewarding things that you can ever plan to do in your lifetime. Never give up and remain determined to write things that will mean something in the long run.

A Wish for a Simpler World

I was born in 1990 and had an idyllic childhood where I played outside, went on family adventures, and enjoyed a life often without the use of technology. It was a simpler time where I didn’t spend most of my time using technology and didn’t feel like I was always connected to some device. The next generation will spend most of their time feeling like they’re connected to something with the abundance of new devices out there today.
This isn’t all about technology though. We are also faced with the onslaught of new tragedies that seem to occur on a regular basis now. From this week’s shooting in the Chicago area to the shooting in Texas of a sheriff’s deputy, it seems like the world has continued to evolve into a much more complicated world. What has contributed to such drastic changes in the world? Why is the world such a scary place now?
I think what’s made the world scarier is the fact that we simply can’t manage to get wrong with one another. Some people just can’t use basic courtesy with one another which is something I see frequently at my retail job in a major department store. Countries seem to have vendettas against each other and it seems like wishing for world peace is a fruitless endeavor. Nothing short of a miracle can make the world into a better place for today’s children to grow up in.
I know this sounds very cynical but it’s just that I feel such uncertainty about the state of the world today. I wish the world could be the same simple place it was when I was growing up. We can’t even travel anywhere without doing careful research on the places to avoid when visiting a particular destination. In airports you can’t go anywhere without going through security and having your bags thoroughly checked. It’s been that way in the United States since September 11th and I think it’s going to continue to be this way in the long run.
I have a two year old second cousin and I worry about the world she’s being exposed to. It seems tragedy can spark in the most unlikely of places and that life is just so different than it used to be. My one wish is that one day we can come to some sort of peace with each other. We were always taught in school to treat others with the same respect that they treat us and I just don’t see that as often as I’d like to.
Is a simpler world possible? I think that it could be if we learn to be present with one another and not stay glued to our devices; we would be better off. We could figure out solutions to today’s problems by being engaged and motivated to enact change. We are a generation that can make the world a better place for everyone to live in no matter what their race, class, sexual orientation, or physical condition is. We will be a generation that changes the world and makes things so much better than they are right now.
Already I’ve seen some young game-changers who have done some great things like advocating for a world without gun violence and pushing for gender equality which is still not completely a reality today. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done so that future generations will not be left to survive in a world full of chaos and complex conflicts. Is there a possibility that we can be the generation that makes the necessary changes the world needs? I believe we can be because many of us are well-educated and knowledgeable about the affairs of the world.
Just give my generation the right opportunities and we’ll prove to you that we can be the peacemakers and innovators that are essential right now. We have ideas and thoughts that may surprise you. We are not just people glued to devices that seem to only be interested in celebrity and what’s going on in the world of social media. We are people who genuinely care about the world and want today’s children to grow up in the same simple world that we did.
There have been some interesting initiatives to push youth into becoming more socially engaged and I think that anything that can increase awareness of what needs to be done on a community level is truly a great thing. We can then transcend our community awareness into a greater sense of global awareness. Perhaps we may even consider travelling to areas plagued by conflict and try to change things for the people who live in such regions.
What I think needs to be done first is some introspection and reflection on what matters most to us. We need to find our passions in life and figure out what we want to do with the talents that we have been blessed with. For example I am a writer who can write pieces that can strike people with the words that I use and others are artists, philosophers, and scientists. We can make the world into a place that we all want to live in and we need that sense of empowerment to shape our world into an ideal place to grow up in.
My urgent plea is for us to wake up and realize that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. I never thought that I’d be in the place I am today as I have disabilities that have hindered me in some respects. I have managed to do some great things though and I think that everyone is capable of achieving greatness. We just need to think about what we want to accomplish and soon enough our ideas will come into fruition. Don’t just sit on your good ideas—go out there and turn your ideas into reality. You and many other people will be better off for it.

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