Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Archive for the ‘a peek inside my head’ Category

What does this say about God?

In a peek inside my head on September 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

Questions and insights into the human condition have always been of interest to me. Some people believe we are inherently good. Others believe we are inherently evil. But if we are inherently good, why is there so much evil in the world? And on the flip-side, if we are inherently evil, why is there so much good in the world? (Yes, there is a lot of good going on in the world. And you really, truly don’t have to look too far to find it. But to focus on the good things in our world is really quite counter-cultural and would likely put scores of journalists and news anchors out of a job; ’cause let’s face it, the scandal involving so-and-so is going to get the air time over a segment on a youth group raising funds to feed homeless people downtown. Not to mention, People, US, and TMZ would be a complete bore and seriously be lacking in word count, wouldn’t they?)

I digress.

In light of some recent public and media attention surrounding two specific events in the U.S. that demonstrate some very un-Christian behavior from a couple of professed Christians, I found it timely to be asked this question yesterday. Perhaps it’s a question on many people’s minds.

“If man is made in the image of God, what does this tell us about God?”

I would have loved to answer that question from a positive slant. But it was asked from the negative. And really, either way you look at it, this question can’t be answered and presented in a nice neat little box. It’s a messy question. And it’s one that comes from a very specific perspective.

By no means am I suggesting the following answer I gave is a definitive, “right” or only answer. Like many things in life, the true and complete nature of humanity’s relationship to God and vice versa isn’t something that can be figured out in a few minutes. Not in a day. Not even in a lifetime. But that shouldn’t stop us from grappling with the questions we have. So here’s a partial perspective on the topic from my general point of view:

Have you ever heard about the original masterpieces they’ve discovered that have been painted over by some other artist, covering up the work of the master artist? I think it’s kind of like that. The original masterpiece God created has been painted over by our own choice of designs.

We have no one to thank but ourselves (as a species) for the things that are wrong with humanity, for who has been given the power to make choices? Yet we tend to project our bad choices back to God and blame him for everything that’s wrong in the world. We even blame him for giving us free will and the ability to make our own choices, as is reflected in the question above. But usually only when those choices make humanity look bad, ie: slavery, injustice, abuse of power/authority, hate crimes, disrespect of the environment, the list goes on …

However, God’s original design/image/brushstrokes are still there, underneath millenia of humans painting over his design with their own. But, small glimpses of the original design sometimes do resurface when people act on behalf of the world and humanity out of pure unselfish motives.

There are other positive things about humanity, too, that truly do reflect God’s image. However, sadly, we seem to like to take credit for those things ourselves.

The upside in this broken world: we do have the ability to make choices that can let the original design resurface. And in so doing, we can make our world a better place.

Have you ever asked yourself the above question? How would you answer it? Please leave a comment if you feel comfortable doing so. I’d like to hear what you think.

Take Four

In a peek inside my head on August 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm

I’ve been trying to write a blog post today. All day. This is my fourth attempt.

My first attempt was about how I’m tired of my own excuses for not buckling down and writing. How for the last several months I’ve been telling myself that I’m suffering from a mondo case of writer’s block and I’ve been excusing myself for it by blaming it on our move, the renos, my job hunt… the list goes on. But after reading Becky Levine’s post on “Comparisons” and Rachelle Gardner’s post on “A Target on Your Back” this week I’ve come to a completely different conclusion: I don’t have writer’s block at all. I’m just plain afraid. Afraid of not measuring up. Afraid of not being able to finish what I’ve started. Afraid of having confidence in my work. Afraid of being in the same situation in a year’s time. Afraid of that big ‘ole target on my back. Fear is crippling. And I’m sick of it. And I didn’t want to give it any more air time by blogging about it. Delete.

My second attempt at this post was to reach beyond how I’m really feeling and write something funny, lighthearted. You know, get some nice comments, imagine that the sun’s shining a little brighter. Maybe link to a comic from my awesome torkidlit writer friend, Debbie Ohi and put a smile on everyone’s face. But so not the headspace I’m in. I couldn’t think of one funny, lighthearted thing to say. Delete.

My third attempt was to immerse this post in deep and philosophical thoughts, to ruminate on the juxtapositions of life by filling this page with inspirational quotes. You know, quotes like

Every artist was first an amateur.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be. Horace Bushnell

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.   Leon J. Suenes

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.    Epictetus

The future depends on what we do in the present. Mahatma Ghandi

You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Ugh. Too idealistic; without context. Gag. Dele–

Wait a minute… Context? I’ve got context.

My fourth, and final, attempt is this: read fears in attempt #1, read quotes in attempt #3, then click here.

Yep. It could be worse. I could be an earthworm.

Words of Freedom

In a peek inside my head, fair trade, Kolkata on July 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Those of you who know me know that I’ve got a restless desire to be involved with helping provide sustainability for women who’ve been caught in sex trafficking. Specifically in Kolkata, India. You may also know that I’ve been in contact with Monique Shaw who lives with her family in Kolkata and has an outreach to the women who live in the brothels.

To others of you, this might be your first peek at a whole different side of me. So let me just go ahead and introduce you to what REALLY makes me tick.

I first contacted Monique a couple of years ago. (quick aside: HOW I found her is a story in itself – many months of research and sending out emails. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime. Quite a miracle, really, considering where she and I live and considering I’d never met her before. Ask me about it sometime. I love to share that story.) The bullet points of the proposal I presented to Monique in my first email to her were basically this: I want to assist in the rescue and support of women and children who’ve been trafficked and help provide them with a means for sustainability. Would buying handmade items from the survivors and re-selling them to the North American market be a way I could support what you’re doing in Kolkata? 

Monique responded with a resounding YES! In fact, she’d just been trying to come up with a creative way to help provide funds for the education and freedom of the women she’s gotten to know over the years since she arrived.

What a lovely coincidence? Maybe. But I think it’s more than just a coincidence when pieces snap into place so perfectly like this. Especially when the pieces are literally oceans apart. I believe there’s a bigger heart than ours that beats for the justice and freedom of humanity.

Since our first email conversation Monique and I have been working towards a partnership. Things are not easy for her. The process is a slow and difficult one as she works towards removing the willing women and girls from the brothels and covering them with safety. She is educating them and teaching them lifeskills so they will be able to become independent and take care of themselves and not feel like life at the brothel is the only option for them. And she is also teaching them to make jewelry.

So this is where I come in. Once they have a supply of finished products, I will sell them here, 100% of the purchase price going directly back to Kolkata. Monique currently has between 4-6 women she is training so hopefully I will be able to order some of their items soon. In the meantime I’ve gotten the ball rolling by opening an Etsy shop with some of my own designs. Each piece of the Words of Freedom jewelry is inspired by the earthy, Elemental theme in my MG fantasy, SMUDGE’S MARK, and displays a word of freedom: love, hope, dream, create, joy. Twenty-five percent of the purchase price of each item will go to Monique to help support the education of the women she already has in her care.

Ultimately, I’d like to one day join Monique in Kolkata and live among these beautiful people for a few weeks and talk to them, get the know them, and learn from them. I wish I could be on the ground with her and share life with these women like she does. One day. But in the meantime, I’m going to do what I can from here.

To Blog or Not to Blog…

In a peek inside my head on July 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm

… or tweet, or facebook, or be involved in any form of social media for that matter.

Now, before you read on, let me tell you that this post isn’t about trying to help the unconvinced understand the awesomeness of social media. Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re already convinced that it’s an amazing tool, for many reasons.  The following is a bit of a rant on how I think social media is being misused. I’m not usually one to air a rant, but this one’s been simmering for a while and I want to hear your opinion on it. If you’re not in the mood for a rant, you can move on. I won’t be offended. I’m rarely in the mood to read other people’s rants.

If you’ve decided to stay, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion. I’ll allow it as long as it’s been posted with the respect of others in mind and doesn’t contain anything offensive. (Of course “offensive” is a very subjective word these days. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.)

So, if you’ve ever been plugged into any social media outlet you know there are lots of people who have lots to say. And really, I don’t think anyone can be the judge of what’s “good enough” or “important enough” to blog or tweet or facebook about. Everyone has the right to express themselves in which ever way they choose. That’s what we’re all about, here, in North America, right? Freedom of Expression. I don’t have a problem with that. And that’s not the point of my rant.

This is: I have a problem with people using social media only as a way to promote themselves. When blog posts and tweets and facebook updates are closed to discussion and/or comments and the sole purpose of them joining a social media site is self-advancement. When only the comments that further promote the individual are allowed through the filter or are worthy of a response. Hey, don’t get me wrong. As an author I know that self-promotion is a necessary evil. I also know that there are certainly comments that are left on blogs and elsewhere that are inappropriate and should not be allowed through the filter. And I do understand that some people are completely bombarded with comments and replies and can’t possibly address each one.  I get that.

But what if inappropriate comments or comment-overload isn’t the case and you, the commenter/responder just want to be part of the conversation the writer started with their post/tweet. After all, they do want a conversation, don’t they? Why else would they post something on a public profile?

Certainly not just to tell the world how wonderful they are.

Imagine this: You’re at a party and so-and-so’s got the floor. They’re telling the people in the room about an experience they had. Clearly they are happy about it, and so they should be.

Someone says, “Wow! I knew you could do it! You’re amazing!”

“Why thank you,” they reply.

Someone else says, “You’re brilliant!”

“Could you repeat that?” they say. “I don’t think the person in the far corner heard you.”

They then hook up a microphone and pass it around the circle. The accolades continue.

Then it’s your turn. You take the mic and say, “Wow! That’s fantastic! Sounds like we’re on a similar path. I’d love to chat with you about—”

They snatch the mic from you and pass it to the next person.

“Fabulous!’ they gush.

Next.

Sound ridiculous? Well, yeah! In a room full of people it sure would be. So my question is: Why do people do this online? Is it because, although amazing friendships and connections can be formed in the online community, there is a lessened sense of accountability and genuine respect for people when you’re not actually face-to-face? When the sum of a person is reduced to words on a screen does that make them less of a person? Less worthy of at least the acknowlegment that they’ve entered the room and want to join the conversation?

Or would the people who behave this way online really treat face-to-face encounters the same way? I’d really like to think not.

Some of you might be thinking, “Claudia, just put on your big-girl panties and deal with it. That’s just the way it is.” And maybe it is. But I’m guessing social media is called social media for a reason. So why get involved if you don’t want to be social?

Any feedback?

Wall or Canvas?

In a peek inside my head, It's all perspective on June 12, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I hate staring at walls. Do you know what I mean? Those walls that seem to pop up and plunk themselves right in front of you, implying there’s no chance of you ever walking around, climbing over, or digging under them. Those walls that have no footholds, cracks, or loose bricks in them; not allowing you the slightest peek or even hint of what lies on the other side. You know those walls? Has one ever plunked its heavy, imposing, perfectly opaque bulk in front of you?

There’s been one in front of me for quite some time. And I’m tired of staring at its soul-sucking nothingness.

Time to get the paints out and make it a canvas.

Lesson from a Lamp

In a peek inside my head on May 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

We had a yard sale yesterday and as usual there are a few bigger type items that didn’t sell. Tomorrow is “throw anything out” day so we left those items on our curb, hoping someone would come and take them before tomorrow. A few of the things have disappeared. We’ve still got a red chair, a futon mattress, and a paper Ikea lamp sitting there. The item that’s gotten the most attention so far is the lamp. People slow down when they drive by, checking it out, but most don’t stop. Except for one lady. She jumped out of the passenger door almost before the driver stopped. She grabbed the lamp while the driver did a u-ie and was half-way across the street before she stopped in her tracks and promptly returned the lamp to the curb. Why so much interest but no takers? It works. There are even two bulbs in it.

Well, for one, the paper’s torn in a few places. And for two, there are a couple of stains on it as well. And people don’t see those things until they’re right up close. But from a distance the lamp looks great.

And really, it’s still a perfectly fine lamp underneath all the… ugly stuff. 

That got me to thinking: when do I do that? I mean, how many times do I rush towards something (or someone, for that matter) because from a distance it looks so appealing, so great? Most times it isn’t until that thing is in my hands and I’m half-way across the street that I realize it isn’t what I’d thought it would be. If it has to do with a “something” then it’s easy enough to pitch it back to the curb, right?

But what if it’s a “someone”? What do I do with that? Do I keep that person in my life even though they didn’t turn out to be what I thought they’d be? They looked good from a distance but they’ve turned out to be so obnoxious. Or embarrasing. Or self-centred. Or draining. Or… whatever. They’re just not what I thought they’d be.

Very coincidentally, the dogs have just gone crazy barking… So I just looked out the window. A girl just picked up my lamp – and put it in her car! She took it: rips and stains and all.

She must have seen that it was still a perfectly good lamp underneath all the ugly stuff.

Dreams

In a peek inside my head on April 21, 2010 at 9:44 am

Today’s post isn’t about reading. It isn’t about writing. It’s about ruminating. Ruminating over the past 18 years.

My oldest son is now officially an adult. He turned 18 yesterday. I can’t believe it. I still remember lying in the hospital bed when my dad came into the room carrying a tiny pair of blue rubber boots and a mini fishing rod. “We’re going to be fishing buddies,” he said.

Well, they were fishing buddies at least for a few years, until Matthew became a vegetarian ’cause he loves animals too much to eat them. (That’s what he told me when he was 12, when he decided to become a herbivore)

And now my animal-loving, non-fishing, plant-eating, 18-year-old adult son is old enough to sign himself out of school whenever he wants to. (That’s what he told me last night, when the realization struck him. My 13-year-old daughter piped up then and said, “Yeah, and you can discipline yourself, too, for missing all those classes.”)

So today is my day for ruminating. My first child has hit a major milestone in his life. The last 18 years have been packed full of SO much it’s worth it to reflect on all of it. But what’s more important to me is to dream about the future: Just like I did when my now-semi-bearded son was born. But to be honest, not a whole lot of what I’d dreamed about back then has actually come true. 

But that’s the beauty of life, if we can learn to appreciate it: Not all our dreams come true. Not everything is in our control. And sometimes that’s a good thing. I didn’t say it’s an easy thing. I mean, I’m just like the next person; if I believe in something I’ll work my can off to see it happen and I’ll be devasted if it doesn’t. But, for example, if my dreams for Matthew, 18 years ago, all came true, I wouldn’t have the exact son I have today. And I’d be missing out big time. Sure there are things I still wish he’d do, or become, but there is so much I love about that kid that I could never have dreamed up myself. Because even though dreams are amazing things, they are incomplete because they are limited to our own understanding. And anyone who is aware knows there is so much that lies outside of our own understanding.

But I keep on dreaming, even though my dreams may be limited. Even though my dreams may not come true exactly like I want them to. Even though my dreams may not come true AT ALL. I keep on dreaming. Why? Because even the most limited and incomplete dreams have hope for the future.

A Brilliantly, Awesomely, Horrific Idea

In a peek inside my head, Smudge's Mark on April 15, 2010 at 5:35 pm

How fun! Today is Operation Book Drop Off Day (a.k.a. #operationtbd on Twitter) which means that if you want to play, you’re to take a book to a public place and … drop it off. Yep. Just like that.

Needless to say, I just had to get in on the action! So, I signed a copy of SMUDGE’S MARK and wrote a note inside telling the finder that “Surprise! Finder’s Keepers!” Then I went to my neighborhood train station and strategically placed the book in a spot I knew it wouldn’t be overlooked: right on the steps that lead to and from the tracks! At least one person in the crowd that would soon be teeming out of the rush hour train would be curious enough to pick it up on their way up the stairs! Brilliant!

Brilliant idea!

I left the train station with a big smile on my face. I mean, who doesn’t love doing random things like this? And who wouldn’t love to find a free book, right? It was just so much fun, being all clandestine-like, dropping off a secret present for a secret person. Awesome!

About half-way home, I was struck with a horrible thought. What if … what if someone goes DOWN the stairs. And what if that someone doesn’t see the book and trips on it and falls all the way down the steps and breaks a leg! Both legs! And splits their head open on the concrete! And maybe sprains their wrist(s) as they’re trying to break their fall! And spills their hot coffee all over them and (gasp!) crushes their brand new iPad that they drove all night to wait in line for! 

Crap! I signed the book! I wrote a “Surprise!” note in it! I’ll be sued! Horror!

I’ve got to move that book!

I did a u-turn as quickly as I could (and those aren’t always legal here, in Canada) and raced back to the train station (which isn’t legal anywhere, I don’t think) I parked, jumped out of the car, and speed-walked in the direction of the stairwell. I didn’t run because I didn’t want to look, um, obvious in case that poor person was already lying on the concrete, crying out in pain and at the loss of their iPad, with a crowd of people around them.

Well, you’ll be happy to know that there was no one lying on the concrete, crying out in pain. (Or at the loss of their iPad) In fact, the stairwell was still empty. I scooped up my book and put it in a much safer place.

A much safer place

Now I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

Once you see what it’s like inside my head, you’ll want out immediately

In a peek inside my head, the place I find myself on August 31, 2009 at 6:11 pm

A friend messaged me with an early HappyBirthday. And, you know, I’d totally forgotten that my birthday is coming up! Lately, the passage of years has been measured by Smudge events, not birthdays.

So, in a few days I’ll be over 40. (Thanks for reminding me, Colin!) When I was in my 20’s I thought that by the time I was old (ie: in my 40’s! Ha!) I’d be settled and content and have worked all the kinks out of my life. I thought I’d be “all set”. But, at this “old” stage of my life, I find myself – among a few other life “stuffs” – in a very strange place. An UNsettled place. A place I hadn’t anticipated.

This is what one corner of that UNsettled place looks like: I have a book published and on the verge of being press released to various media outlets. I’m up to my eyeballs in the follow-up book and am afraid to blink in case the plot points I’m struggling with get caught in my lashes. I’m returning to my teaching job next week (You know, the job that pays. Sort of sometimes.) and am wondering how I’m ever going to finish this second book by the end of the year when the first one took me six years.

I’ve had people tell me they (or someone they know) would kill to be in my shoes. But for some reason, the place I find myself in is a place where I’m totally overwhelmed and anxious about all of it. So many unknowns. So many unanswered (or unanswerable?) questions. So, I’m asking myself this question:

Is this what I want to do the rest of my life?

And I answer that question with another question:

What kind of a question is that? It took you 40 years to get here, why on earth would you want to quit now?

And then I answer:

I didn’t say I wanted to quit. I just asked if this is what I want to do the rest of my life: Dividing the hours of my days between my passion (writing) and a paycheck. It’s like working two full-time jobs, you know. And there’s LIFE to be lived besides all that, too. I have a family. Do I really have what it takes to keep this up?

I answer with another question:

Do you have what it takes to NOT keep it up?

What kind of a stupid question is that?

Are you calling me stupid?

No. Well, maybe.

Okay, smartass. Think about this: What are your options?

I have options?

You always have options.

Like what?

Option one: quit your paycheck and devote your time to your passion.

That’s not an option! I can’t live without a paycheck!

Option two: quit your passion and devote your time to your paycheck.

That’s not an option either! I couldn’t live without my passion! See, I knew there were no options! You are stupid!

Option three: quit worrying about whether or not this is what you want to do the rest of your life when clearly you won’t give up either one. Simply put: You don’t have what it takes to NOT keep it up. So…. earn your paycheck so you can live and work on your passion so you can have a sense of fulfillment in that life. Problem solved.

Uh. Right. I knew that.

*Note: this is what happens when you’ve grown up as an only child and had no siblings or grandparents to talk to about stuff.