Hope Spiral

Hope SpiralI woke up thinking, “I have high hopes for the day.” Of course I do. I have hope, so to say I have no hope is untrue. And since hope is clearly here, it would be silly to think that I have little hope. I admit that hope can certainly come in large and small amounts, but it also seems to feed on itself. A little goes a long way. And because, once you let it in, it quickly spreads in multiple directions at once, it is accurate to say I have hopes, plural, rather than one simple hope.

Hope itself carries its own dividing line. You’re on one side of the line or the other; you have it or you don’t. And once you have it, even a little of it, you move further and further away from that dividing line, into that ever brightening sunflower field of hope.

I remember once in high school a teacher asked us what got us out of bed every morning. Some answered the alarm clock, others said their parents, still others said the smell of breakfast. I answered, “Opportunity.” And I now know that the two, opportunity and hope, are never far from one another.

It seems to me that if you dare to hope, why not dare to aim high? You’re already being daring. And what’s life, without all that wondrous daring?

And even though we can’t control any of the outcomes in this daring life, we can control how we approach them. The approach is all up to us, which means that a life in hope is never wasted.

And thus, “I have high hopes for the day.”

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

Within

WithinWe must remember that there is a flicker inside all of us. A flicker of light, hope, inspiration, all wrapped into one. It’s buried deep within and with a little fanning, begins to warm and spread and emerge through our fingers and toes and faces and especially from our hearts.

This is how we generate joy. This is how we know what joy is.

JB

The Spell is Broken

The Spell is BrokenWhen I grew up, most of the kid movies included a magic spell put on the hero and the audience waited in anticipation for the spell to be broken so the hero could live the life meant for him. He (or she) would wake up just in the nick of time, and fight the source of the spell, win, and reclaim what was rightfully his.

I loved these movies. I think I became more anxious than most for the hero to wake up and take back his life, his dreams, and his plans.

I grew up, (mostly), and as an adult I’m amazed at the sheer number of people who aren’t living their dreams. For one reason or another, and sometimes they’re very good and unexpected reasons, we don’t live the lives we were meant to have. As a writer, I hear the conversations around me, and they usually include a lot of repetition in speech, from blaming others or a situation to taking on all of the responsibility for things out of one’s control. Either way, this kind of thinking is getting in the way.

In the movies, the way to break the spell always came from the source, i.e., the sorcerer, bad guy, or otherwise foul-motived villain. In life, luckily, we don’t have to wait for a third party to break the spell for us. Awesome as it sounds, and I do mean awesome in its impressive and daunting sense, it’s all up to us. We can break these spells of self-doubt over launching into something risky, find the little light within that whispers, “You can,” and believe it, because the voice within is different for everyone, distinctive for what we’re each meant to do, and only heard by the intended recipient. Our dreams are all different. Remember yours. Break the spell. Take back your life.books post

For a great story about finding and reclaiming your dreams in the midst of a chaotic life, pick up a copy of Upside Down Kingdom. It’s historical fiction, and a work of hope.

We the People, on September 11

We the People, Sept 11In 1787, the Constitution was written. We became “We the People.”

And We the People have been fighting wars all ever since. School kids in America learn about possibly 10% of these wars, but U.S. history is comprised of dozens and dozens of wars, campaigns, and rebellions. When one ends, another begins.

We the People fight for land, liberty, equality, and fight against injustice of any kind.

We the People win, We the People lose, We the People withdraw. We the People typically live in relative peace, thanks to our own who fight these wars far from U.S. soil.

We the People attack. And We the People have been attacked.

We the People have always seen ourselves as different, perhaps touched, in a way, able to think for ourselves and willing to act on our own or another’s behalf. Right or wrong, it’s become the American Way. It makes us unpopular. But We the People don’t give up.

We’re a country, after all, that began with a rebellion.

In 1776, the 13 American colonies broke away from the British Empire, the colonists declared their independence, and sought the chance to rule themselves, the ability to make their own decisions, and the opportunity to build and thrive without the heavy burden of taxation without representation.

They wanted a say in their own lives, and they rebelled to get it. And whether you can trace your ancestry back to those founding fathers or you just arrived in America yesterday, you need to know about this spirit of rebellion and the fire that courses through our veins to lift up this land of the free and home of the brave.

Despite the atrocity and the infamy of today, September 11 also stands for hope, solidarity, and rebirth, because that’s what America is and always has been. Today we mourn our fallen, and we remember the outright courage of our own rebellious heroes who rushed into burning buildings and who downed their hijacked plane, these heroes who, to quote Lincoln, gave their lives that that nation might live.

It’s a powerful gift, this life. A gift we dare not forget.

~Jody Brown was working in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001. Her personal story of that day can be found in her debut novel, Upside Down Kingdom.

Marking the Miles, July

JulyAnother month of 2014 has passed, and with it, 31 more entries for this daily blogging experiment that I’ve started referring to as “Project365.”

You were here with me when I set foot back in my home state of Pennsylvania this month, as I learned great lessons from my 3-year-old nephew, as I set up my office, and you’re here in this ongoing attempt to organize myself in my new surroundings as I write, write, write. I’m glad we did this together. Thank you for being here!

Here are the behind-the-scenes that I see in the writing:

I see somebody suddenly back in the place of her childhood, experiencing–not so much nostalgia, as–a reawakening of dreams. I see me encouraging myself to explore imagination, to write about it, and not to lose sight of hope. Unbeknownst to you, some major grant funding fell through for me late this month, vaulting me into a series of choices, changes, and the need to dig deep. I may even launch a Kickstarter, as this month’s blog work has strengthened the resolve in me to write, not just one of my current Writing Projects, but all of them. Phew! Now that the elephant’s in the room, look again at my July writings—do you see the nuances? I see them in Spotting Potter, Metalhead, Pointing the Way, Containment, Old School Gaming, and Synapses.

My favorite writings this month were Into the Fray, Acts of Giants, Down to One, Zombie Sonnet #1, Travel Song, and yesterday’s A Waitress’ Guide to Happy.

A note on Zombie Sonnet #1: Originally written in April this year, it took sitting down this month and dismantling the piece–ripping out a few choice lines–in order to rewrite and truly complete it. All of that because, though finished, I wasn’t proud of it. That’s a writing red flag. It’s good to remember that a lot of writing is the phoenix rising from the ashes. To get there, you have to be willing to face the flame.

Tomorrow, August begins. Let’s see what this month brings, shall we? I’ll see you here.

~
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.

First World Problems

cloud and rayLast fall, someone close to me was very, very sick. On the day we finally started getting some answers and the doctors thought they could pinpoint the problem and even solve it, I was finally able to see the forest for the trees again. After all the agonizing, the worry, the prayers, suddenly, there was the ray of sunlight from the dark cloud overhead. One small ray that opened up all possibility.

Everything I’d been unable to do for a while: rest properly, eat a decent meal, think about something silly, returned–slowly at first, and then gradually more and more.

Around this time, I tentatively walked into one of my favorite restaurants to get some food to go, and I sat at the bar to wait while I measured my relief by my returning appetite.

A friend who works there came up and asked me how things were going—she hadn’t seen me in a while. Even with my appetite and growing relief, I couldn’t talk about everything that had happened yet. I just couldn’t. And I wanted to be sensitive to others around me and stick to a positive conversation, something light. So I chatted about my cat and dog, and the way they were shedding all over the house, even though it was the beginning of winter and they’d certainly need their fur… It made my friend laugh, and that felt good.

One fella at the bar was paying out and getting up to leave—I recognized him as a server at another area restaurant. As he passed by, he muttered, “First world problems,” to me.

I can’t tell you how deflating this was, except to point out that it’s taken me all this time to write about it, and that of the great and wonderful things that have happened in life over these past 6 months, that moment, that comment and the awful way I felt when he said it, is still something that I remember.

That moment, though, had something to teach me. Rather than dwell on the wound every time I remember it, and oh, I want to, I remind myself to drop it and instead realize that everyone is dealing with something. Whether they want to talk about it, whether they show it or not, everybody’s got something on their plate that’s tough to handle.

And while some say respect is earned, I say respect is one of the few things in life that we can offer freely. It’s not easy—it takes practice and patience, and the belief that people are more than just the silly things we say. That takes discipline on our part—but we’re better people for it.

Begin a practice of listening to everything that’s not being said around you, and offer respect to that silence as if your very character depends on it. You know I’m going to say it: Because it does.

~
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.

The Order of Things

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A little thought exercise for your Sunday:

Suffering produces endurance
Endurance produces character
Character produces hope
and Hope does not disappoint

Hmmm, Hope does not disappoint? Really? Then why would we ever lose hope?
What about when we get our hopes dashed? Crushed?
Why would we need the word hopeless?
What about when hopes are fallen?
When hope is false? Is it deceitful? (I always want to spell deceitful with a p, like receipt. Too bad there’s not a receiptful.)

Or—
Does hope keep us going?
Is hope a good breakfast? (Francis Bacon)
Do we cling to it?
Is hope that thing covered in feathers? (Emily Dickinson)
Is it tenacious?
Is it written on the brow of every man? (Victor Hugo)
Does hope spring eternal?

Let’s start again, and this time, you can’t just jump to the last line. You need all four lines:

Suffering produces endurance
Endurance produces character
Character produces hope
And that’s the Hope that does not disappoint

I get it now.

~
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.