The Sensitive Storm

Beneath the surface, a storm brews.

Since My Last Post (in pictures)


Things have been looking up. I’ve been looking up, too. For answers.


I spent some time hanging out with Toto. Toto spent some time hanging out on me.


I was “hired” and “fired” from the school board. Again. There went that dream.


I met Katie! She is a missionary in Spain. Funny. Ron went to Spain a few days after I met Katie. He was gone a few weeks. His family lives there.


That was really far. No me gusta.


I drew this. I gave it to my grandma for her birthday. I’m not sure about all the colors but other people seem to like it.


I caught this fish. And no, I’m not pregnant. That’s the wind in my shirt. Geesh.


A lovely lady named Margaret made us dinner. It was delicious. Also, I discovered this seasoning.


You need it in your life.


I saw Jenn. I love this lady!


I drew this. It’s not like anything I’ve ever done. This isn’t the finished photo. Lemme look for that…


So odd. Reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright. Except, not.


I found this feather at the beach. it’s 14″ long.


That same night ^ would’ve been my dad’s birthday. So, we lit this lantern and watched it disappear.


I think it was headed North.


I discovered the first tomato on the plant I have grown from a seed. It’s in a bucket. So far it’s the only one.


I took some close ups of a passion flower plant. With my iPhone. Thanks to this:


I caught this 20″ flounder! I used my Abu Garcia pole and a live shrimp. It measured 20″! I haven’t fished in a really long time but recently I found myself more attracted to the idea of it. I figure since I’m a pesky pescatarian I may as well not be one of those people that pretend death doesn’t exist, for the sake of food.


I dog sat for Toto. The Toto loves me.


I had some quality Facetime with my favorite cousin, Jay.


Marcia bought a bottle of the BEST WINE EVER for Girl’s Night! And I drank a glass. And it was good.


Katie gave me that cool coaster. It’s from Morocco.

girls night

“The Girls”. (fun night!!)


This was another great night. Had dinner with my BFF who came to see me. She’s moving to California mid-October. ūüė¶


We ate at the raw food restaurant in St. Augustine.


I made this stew with garbanzo beans, tomatoes and kale. (and other things but mostly those 3 things)


I started drawing this.


And I saw the sunset at this beach. Beautiful. Big reason I love this state.

Oh! I updated my iPhone to iOS 7. Does anyone have an iPhone? How do you feel about the upgrade? I like it. I love that the lock screen changes color with whatever wallpaper image I use. I also like that I can get rid of a text with a finger swipe. Before the update my alerts would come up toward the top of the screen and hang out for longer than I wanted it to. Do know, however, if you have an older Mac you will have to upgrade to OS X Snow Leopard. I had to buy that bad boy for $20.00 but the shipping was free and it arrived in just a few days.

I think that’s all I’ve got for now. There are other blogs in the work so stay tuned.

~ C



I was supposed to move to Ohio, but now I’m not.

After seeking work for 6 months and finding nothing, I decided to look in other states. I wasn’t actually seeking work in Ohio but I ended up finding something on Craig’s List (in Ohio) that looked pretty awesome. I’d be living in an “intentional community” in Ohio with a few other people. I’d be volunteering my time in the surrounding neighborhood. The volunteer work was at a food kitchen/farmers market. I’d also be working in the garden and doing community outreach related to food and wellness as this was the main goal of the organization. The house was in a nice middle class neighborhood near Cincinnati. A five bedroom, two story home. I wouldn’t have to pay for rent or food and I’d get a stipend that covered my bills and left me with some extra. The commitment was 10 months.

No. It isn’t a cult.

As a matter of fact, this is an Episcopalian non-profit “praxis” community. You don’t have to be of the same faith to be a part of the program. What you DO have to be is seeking to discover your meaning and purpose in life. You DO have to be 25-35 (I’m a little older but they liked me and said it was okay). You DO have to have a passion for and commitment to helping others within your community and you DO have to be seeking something.

Why I thought Ohio would be good for me:

1. I would be able to pay my monthly bills

2. I’d be in a community of people who had the same outlook/beliefs as me

3. Meaningful work that would probably lead to full time employment

4. I liked the spiritual aspect of the community and I looked forward to learning more about my walk with God and what that even means. Having time and space to sort out my thoughts was very appealing.

5. It would be an adventure that I could document and always remember. Maybe it would’ve changed my life…

I was 85% sure I was going until I received an email from a local principal asking if I wanted to teach English.


I was supposed to go to Ohio. I didn’t respond to the email because I was processing. (you know us introverts can take forever processing one single thought) (my INFPness doesn’t help either) I should also mention that in June I was interviewed at the same school and was hired. I signed an “intent to hire” contingent on a background check and other teachery things. I was at home visiting my dog and my mother when I received this email from the school board:


Well then. That’s lovely. So much for hope. The next day is when I found out my father died.

While I was busy ignoring his email, the principal called me (I found out the other one transfered to a different school). I answered and he asked if I was still open to taking a position there. He assured me what happened before would not happen again. I was worried. I didn’t trust them after what had already happened but he was nice and it felt right.

So, I went down that day to speak with him. It sounded good. Better than the first position I was offered which was teaching English AND Reading. This time I’d only be teaching freshman English. I thought about it for an hour or so and I called him back and accepted the position.

The very next day I was standing in my classroom by 7:15 a.m. wondering what to do next. I was there for about 10 hours that day. On my way home I stopped at Ross so I could buy an inexpensive pair of flats when I received this email:


So, that’s fun. Now I’m a little freaked out and I don’t know if I even want to try to work for them. There’s more to it than just my taking the GK (General Knowledge). I’ve already taken the CLAST test which could substitute for the GK but of COURSE there happens to be NO record of it at the Dept. of Education (although I had to take and pass the CLAST before graduating with my two year degree but never mind that).

The fun part of all this is…I’ve taught before. For two years. Where was all this chaos then?


So, here I am in Jacksonville and now I have a new list of reasons why I’m glad I am staying in Jacksonville:

1. I have good friends here

2. I’m in the midst of the beginnings of a new relationship and I’d like to see where it goes

3. I’ve become much closer to a wonderful couple I’m going to call my spiritual parents. I’ll have to write an entirely separate blog to explain how they have helped me transform my life. (that’s been an ongoing process and I’ll explain more later)

4. My dog is in Florida. (I miss her. *sigh*)

5.¬†It doesn’t snow here

This story ends well because I’ve finally discovered that faith exists and I too, can have some.


To be continued…


3 Ways to Learn About A Person

People will always tell you what’s important to them. You just have to know how to listen. They may not say it with words, but they will say it.

The first thing you can try to do is notice what do they always talk about.

Do they complain a lot or talk about others in a mean, spiteful way?

Do they talk about God?

Do they talk about going out? Drinking? Drugs?

Do they talk a lot about sex? Or maybe even their ex?

There are reasons people talk about what they do. It’s on their mind. You can really tell where someone’s heart lies by just listening closely to what they say.

The second thing you can do is notice what they surround themselves with, including the type of friends they have.

What does it look like inside their home? What do they have hanging on their walls? Do they have ANYthing hanging on their walls? Is their space crowded and messy? Is it colorful? What colors? Are there pictures of family members and friends hanging on the walls? Is the space organized? Is the space empty?

What are their friends like? What do their friends value? Does it align with what you value?

Third thing is, actions speak louder than words.

You can tell much about a person based on their actions.

Example. Some people say “I never have time for anything”. Well, take notice as to what they DO have time for. Because that’s what is important to them. Do they make time for you or do they make excuses?

The small details it could bring you quick insight into who a person is. Also, don’t think that if you point these things out to people they will automatically agree with your analysis. Most people will come up with a reason behind what they have in their possession or the things they talk about. We do these things unconsciously and sometimes people never realize their subconscious motives.

Look beyond the veil.


Test my theory out by looking around in your own environment and being honest with yourself. What do you surround yourself with?

What do you always talk about?

What do you truly value?

What would people say about you?



I’m Not Who I Was

*this is a long one, folks*

I’m not who I was 6 months ago. I’m better.

Things in my life are changing and have been changing. Of course change is the only thing we can rely on in this world but sometimes we don’t see the change until it catches up with us. I didn’t know it at the time but my life started taking a completely different turn when my step-father was diagnosed with cancer on Valentines Day, 2010. I was angry for an entire year until we heard the “it’s in remission”. I sort of went back to breathing after that but if you know me or have read any part of my blog you already know that things haven’t gone the way I expected them to for several years now.

I learned something about grief in the meantime:  People hurt other people when they are grieving.

When we are hurt we lash out. We hurt people that love us and we hurt our friends. We say hateful things. When we create new relationships it’s more out of desperation or fear or neediness than out of anything else.

You know what? Let me stop right there and get real for a second. I’m going to change the “we” to “I”. Here goes…

What I noticed about myself over the past two years is I’ve reached out to people just to feel connected. I didn’t think about them and I couldn’t have before now. It was extremely difficult for me to deal with the loss of the man who raised me while feeling (mostly) alone in a city with a few acquaintances and no family. I was so confused, lost and hurt. I was in pain. I’d never experienced such grief. I didn’t even know I was grieving! Three months after my father died I went to a therapist to try and figure out what I was still so upset. ¬†Sure I’ve lost friends and family along the way but this one blew all of them out of the water – as far as emotional impact.

I didn’t know what I was doing but at the very minimum I was “surviving”. I hear that a lot, don’t you? Ask people how they are and they say “I’m surviving”. Really? Damn. To me that’s a scream for help. When I’ve said “I’m surviving” over the past year what I really meant was…I’m trying to find reasons to stay alive. I was walking around in a state of unrest. I had nothing to rely on but myself and my faith that my friends would help me get through it. I was living in a void. I was looking outside myself for answers. Also, I wasn’t looking to God.

About “Surviving”…

I think we are all just “surviving” in a way. We are so burdened by fiances and making ends meet that we don’t think of anything else. There isn’t much room for self-actualization, mindfulness or God (or others) when we are worried about where our food will come from or if we will have a place to live. I’ve been clinging to those fears for a couple years now and only now am I able to see where it got me.

Here’s the other thing…

My life doesn’t fit into a nicely packaged 9 – 5. It never has and I’ve accepted it never will. I have a rich background of experience but if you were to view my resume you’d see I am never anywhere very long. My aunt says I was born in the wrong era. My friends call me “crazy” or “hippy” or some like to think I’m scattered and confused. My nickname at the last job I had was “gyps”…I was told that meant “gypsy” and “hippy” rolled into one. When I talk to my grandma she says things like “what kind of crazy thing are you doing now”, with a chuckle in her voice. She told me once that she’d always wanted to be a gypsy. If you knew my grandmother this might blow your mind a little bit. It does mine. But I see that she loves my free spirit and enjoys hearing my stories. I drove to Washington DC and then to New York once. Alone. I called my grandma from Time Square and I could just hear the glee in her voice when I told her where I was.


My sister once said to me that she used to envy the freedom I have to come and go as I please but in the same breath she said maybe she’s glad she isn’t like me. My mom says she prays for me. My aunt thinks I’m crazy. (She worked at the police department for 25 years then retired, just like my father who worked at the fire department for 28 years then retired). Of course THEY think I’m crazy.


Not fitting into a box hasn’t been easy.

Being single at my age hasn’t been easy.

Having dreams that don’t include a typical work schedule hasn’t been easy.

Not having a child at my age hasn’t been easy.

And I mean “hasn’t been easy” because I haven’t ever fit into the mold you created for me. The one you continue to create for yourself by doing the things you are doing. Grasping.

And, since when has following your heart been easy? Are you following your heart? I’m trying. I’ve been trying all this time but life got in the way. And now that I’ve removed the noise I can finally hear what it’s saying.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I should’ve been a missionary. Before I left the church I grew up in (around age 24) I was interviewing for an open spot in Bangladesh. We were going to build fisheries that would give the community jobs and food. I was going to be an assistant to the director. But, I didn’t go because all at once I became overwhelmed with life’s challenges and choices so I stayed here. Not to mention every person I spoke to said I shouldn’t go.

After many years of seeking out which faith felt right to me I finally settled on a personal, spiritual path with God. It didn’t really revolve around a certain church or fellowship. I suppose if I had to say I feel my faith is somewhere close to the Unity church and Buddhism. Upon graduating from college I decided my “mission” work could come in the form of the Peace Corp. My dad said “no, get a job”. So, I got a job. And I was miserable. And I’ve been mostly miserable every since.

The moral of the story is, make your own decisions and THEN tell people what you’re doing. Speak to one or two friends or family members that will give you honest, unbiased feedback and go from there. But for everyone’s sake…STOP listening to everyone else! People have their own paths to walk and they will IMPOSE THEIRS ON YOU. So, unless you want to start over again when you’re 50 you should consider the dreams you had when you were young. What’s in your heart?

Also, be honest with yourself.

For a long time I’ve been angry with myself for not living up to the standard I hold for myself. I was on the phone with one of my best friends the other day and I told her I don’t feel successful. She shocked me when she told me that I’m probably the only successful person she knows. She said – you are genuinely honest with yourself and others and she said I’m not afraid to take chances. You are the most “actualized” person I know, she said.

Is that my definition of success? What’s your definition of success? So many people that have 9 – 5 jobs they do because “it pays the bills” are unhappy. In turn they make everyone around them miserable. This does not make for a happy community.

And now, here’s something to think about.


And now that chart in Arabic.


Where are you on the list? Preferably the one in English please. I’ll be honest. For the past 6 months I’ve been worried about security. I’ve worried about food and my basic homeostasis (it doesn’t take much to knock a HSP off kilter). A few months ago I was even reading about how to survive while being homeless. I was considering living out of my car.

Here’s something else to think about. Who do you know that’s happy? WHY are they happy? I asked myself this question and I see it as either two things. One, they have meaningful work that they enjoy or two, they have children or a family that brings them complete happiness. Isn’t it silly that the people writing books and making the most money are the ones that are doing what they love and making a living (more than just a salary, but they are rich) by telling everyone else all they need to do is what they love?

Isn’t that ludicrous?

(I can’t believe I spelled ludicrous correctly on the first try (and second))

Okay but we are the ones buying books of people doing what they love and the only thing they are doing is telling us to do the same thing they are doing. We buy the books but they’ve been on the journeys. Why don’t WE go on the journeys? Why are we making decisions to be miserable? Why aren’t WE writing the books and sharing our experiences of growth and God and love and happiness with each other?

Listen. I’m pretty darn poor. When I was asking myself what I feel success is I had many thoughts swimming around in my head but mostly I realized that I could be more successful if I wanted to work harder. But guess what I realized?

I don’t want to work any harder. Well, I do want to work harder but not at what you think.

What I want to work harder at is capturing the essence of bliss and feeling it in my life. Applying that contentedness to my own energy and, in turn, sharing it with others so they too can be at peace.

Do you hear what I’m saying here? I’m saying I’m okay where I am and you should try to be. I will not subject myself to the torture that comes along with constantly trying to be more “successful”, which to most people only means making more money and getting a boat. Or whatever people want to acquire. Not that a boat wouldn’t be cool I’m just saying I am tired of being mad at myself. I’ve seen miserable wealthy people and I’ve seen miserable poor people. I’m tired of holding onto a standard of success that says I am only successful if I achieve a certain status. Well what about retirement? Well, what about it? Listen people. I’m a little bit worried about tomorrow but here’s the truth. Our lives don’t last. We all die and we don’t know when that will be. If I’m still working when I’m 65, that’s okay by me. It will keep me moving and increase my quality of life. I won’t feel like I’m unsuccessful because I’ll know I made the choice to be content where I am.

The personal success I’ve achieved comes from the inner work I’ve done and continue to do on a deeper soul level. Our society has failed its people when our self-esteem and well-being is tied to anything relating to money. Owning a home or a vehicle are examples but I see them as getting in the way of the real stuff. Acquiring “things” are just that. Things. I see people all around me who abuse their loved ones for the sake of things.Hugs

Life As Art

I thought I’d share some images from my iPhone that documents what has happened so far since I lost my biological father on July 4th. Yes, things have been unsettling and sad but as I mentioned in a previous post I’ve found ways to emote and I’ve seen some happy things along the way. Shared tender moments that solidify meaning and purpose. These are normal day to day things that reassure me that I’ll be okay.

July 5th, I was invited to Stephanie’s house for dinner but I didn’t really want to go (only because I felt blank) but I went. I’m glad I did. Steph’s parents recently returned from Italy and we had a beautiful dinner that was inspired by their trip. And of course, cake…and wine. Below is a photo of the only thing I could really muster up for a birthday gift the day after I found out my father died.


Funny how I subconsciously conjured up “well, anyone that’s alive” on my message to her.


Before I left for North Carolina I met with my good friend Abhishek. He suggested, well, demanded rather, I come over and join him for dinner and a photo walk. We did both. At the end of the evening he took this photo of me.


The day after that I was still awaiting word from my NC family regarding details of funeral arrangements. So, I drove to my favorite beach, took photos and meditated.


And so the next day began my journey. From home to Winston Salem.


I have to mention that without my amazing friend and companion, Ron, I wouldn’t have been able to make this journey so simply and without complication. He gave me a shoulder to cry on and someone to rely on.

I loved the notepads I found on the nightstands and for some reason I held onto this rock the entire trip.

Rock Rock

My sister, Courtney, gave me the rose after the service. After I got back to Jacksonville I walked out onto the pier under the full moon and peeled each petal off, offering them to the ocean. The Atlantic Ocean. It’s the one my father drown in.


The evening after the funeral I was drained and needed some fresh air. Ron and I found a Thai restaurant downtown Winston-Salem. It was the first time I’d ever eaten at a Thai place and it was wonderful. Forgive the blurry photo.


We stopped in Savannah on the way back and ate near the river.


This is a photo of my collection of clippings from my trip. The rose from my sister is included.


Since we got back from the trip I’ve found a lot of quiet things to do. Drawing being one of them. I also realized how easy it is to see God in just one single feather.


I drew this and text it to a friend.


I drew this one day while I was angry.



And I drew this for my sister, Courtney. Her birthday is at the end of this month.


Notice I changed the shape of it’s head.


I like how it turned out. When I started, I thought I’d give it a Mardi Gras theme. That didn’t work out but I’m pleased that the background somehow looks like a forest of trees.


The last thing I did was trace these two puzzle pieces on my art pad while trying to escape the group while attending a small gathering at my friend Jordan’s house. *waves to Jordan* ¬†She invited Ron and I over this part Sunday while her husband entertained some of his friends that belong to the Wounded Warrior Project. If you don’t know what that is you should Google it. It has to do with combat wounded veterans and her husband is one. Anyway, the puzzle pieces are from her 3 year olds Disney puzzle.

After I drew mine I wanted someone else to draw in the other one so I convinced Ron to join me in my seclusion. I put the final touches on it.


A little closer.


As I was finishing the above puzzle pieces Madison came over and wanted to help. So, I drew two more puzzle pieces and let her draw one and I drew the other. Here’s how that one turned out.


And those are some memories that are contained in my iPhone.

Things I’ve Learned In The Past Two Weeks

1. My mother is passive aggressive.


#1 is probably the ABSOLUTE most annoying one ever ever EVER. Here’s a real life example:

Me: Mom, I’m going to a friend’s tonight for dinner.

Me: (next night) Hey, I’m off to my friends house for dinner.

Mom: What? Where are you going?

Me: My friends house for dinner. I told you yesterday.

Mom: (shocked, sad, hurt look on her face, turning her head away and speaking softly) Oh. Okay. Have fun.

And no, she didn’t forget. She does it all the time. Like the time she made a big pot of “vegetarian soup” (because I’m a vegetarian) and when I go to get some soup I find there is hamburger in it. “You can pick it out” she says. Because there is hamburger in vegetarian soup…and of COURSE there was an audience at the house at the time and I look like the bad guy because I didn’t want to eat the soup my dear mother slaved over and made just for me.

Or maybe the most recent when I was visiting home 3 weeks ago and on the first night I started boiling some water for rice. I was reading at the dinner table waiting for it to cook and my mother was on the phone chatting away. I hear “Carm, what are you burning” but, before I can say anything she gets out of her chair (loudly) and says on the phone “hold on, my daughter is burning something on the stove”, walks in and turns on the vent above the stove. She says in the phone “welcome home, Carmen” and goes back into the living room.

I’d like to reiterate. It was rice I was making. Rice. And it wasn’t burning. Actually, it hadn’t even started boiling yet.

I am so completely bothersome aren’t I?

A few minutes later she gets off the phone and walks onto the back porch to switch the laundry. When she comes back in she walks over to me, gives me a hug and says “I’m so glad you’re here”.

In case you’re thinking maybe she felt bad because of what she said. She didn’t. This stuff has happened all of my life. It’s called a double – bind. You should Google it.

2. I am depressed.

You know what I discovered though? It doesn’t matter. Cries for help fall upon deaf ears. People just don’t want to be bothered.

Also, I didn’t really know how much noise I had created for myself until I wanted to get rid of it.

So, I’ve disconnected from the big world. I’ve focused on getting rid of noise. That mainly involves the things I’ve created around myself that keep me distracted and busy. I like to go into my grief and poke around to see what’s there. I’ve learned it’s best that way, at least for me. I’ve removed people. (some people already removed themselves) I’ve removed loud sounds and aggressive music with useless lyrics. I don’t even have much desire to see movies in theaters because I think there’s something more interesting I could be doing.

I’ve been contemplating, thinking, drawing, reading, looking for sharks teeth at the beach, taking photos, and searching for jobs. I have a phone interview this evening with someone in a different state. Things are much quieter now. I can hear myself think and I don’t get tired from socializing because I just don’t do it. When Lowell died it felt like I had on blinders or those things they put on horses so they can’t see who is beside them. I was focused on work and that was about it. My down time was filled up with Desperate Housewives and well, I don’t remember. I’m forcing myself to be a little more productive in my quiet time and grief rather than drown myself in noise and emptiness just to keep myself distracted. It’s not easy to be alone with just the thoughts in my head. Dangerous territory for some but I think if I can keep positive at least half the time I’ll be able to grow exponentially from this hellish experience of loss.


3. Dreams of my step-father, Lowell, are back again after the death of my biological father, Randy. The first night I was told Randy drown in the ocean I dreamt he told me he hasn’t left yet because he wanted to check on someone. Actually, it was more like a whisper than a dream.

It’s a confusing thing to have 3 “dad’s”, like me. My mother married my bio dad, Randy, after she became pregnant at age 18. The daughter of a preacher’s kid, she was embarrassed to be a single parent so she moved to North Carolina until one year later she left my dad and moved back in with her parents. She would later tell me that Randy “just wasn’t ready to be a father”. I will really never know because I can’t ask him what it was like for him. I do know that about 12 years ago when I started seeing my dad again my grandfather told me to apologize to Randy for him. He went on to tell me that my father would come by the house to see me and they wouldn’t let him in. My grandmother never had anything nice to say about him.

When my mother married for a second time it was to Milton. He is my half-sister’s father. I grew up calling him “daddy” since he was around from ages 2-6. He’s still alive but we don’t talk much. While growing up I used to go visit him along with my sister, every other weekend. One time my sister said “I don’t even know why you go, he’s not your dad” so I stopped going. Eventually my sister stopped going as well. I really don’t get along with my sister…but that’s for another time.

Finally we come to the father of whom most of my blog is written. The one who died of cancer on April Fools Day in 2010. Lowell. He’s been my parental figure since I was around 7. ¬†I grew up with him taking us on big camping trips. Him teaching me how to grow things and take pictures. We hiked together and rode our bicycles some pretty good distances. He was a firefighter. He had such a great sense of humor that sometimes he’d call me and say “hello, daughter figure” and I’d respond (in robot voice) “hello, father figure” and then we’d laugh.

Anyway. Glad I could clear that all up for you.

My point is, it’s confusing to talk about the death of my father when I just had a death of a father. It’s also awkward to explain. And I’m nervous about the dreams because they remind me of when Lowell first died and I had the same dream 7 times in a row. He was cremated but I kept dreaming he wanted to be buried. In my last dream we learned the cancer had come back. I think I have the power to keep the nightmare from starting all over again just by being aware of it. My dreams of him have finally gotten to a peaceful place. It’s taken 2 1/2 years for that to happen. I refuse to do it all over again.


4. People are really clueless

And when I can, I try to remember what Jesus said. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:24

Sharks Tooth

The Funeral

The young man in the glasses is my brother, David. He’s helping carry our father to his final resting place.

Loss in Motion

Loss in Motion