Internal Communication

loveWhen we think of communication, we think of speaking to others, but one of the most important kinds of communication is the kind we have with ourselves. I’m talking about that inner voice that is often negative and tells us things like “you’re a bad writer” or “it’s all your fault that…” Fill in the blank with any bad thing that has ever happened, and there’s that inner voice. Experts agree that we tend to remember negative things more than the positive ones, so it’s really no surprise that our inner voices become riddled with negative messages.

Our inner voices often lie to use, though. They really can’t be trusted, and there is the problem. When those messages interfere with everyday life, and when those messages become damaging, that’s when we have to tell them to stop. That’s when we have to work to change the negative messages. 

To replace the negative voice in my head, I wrote a list of positive messages that I repeat to myself every day. For some reason, I don’t have them memorized yet…maybe because I don’t quite believe them 100%, but they’re on my phone, taped to my wall, and laminated in my purse…little messages that I fight to keep in my head:

You are strong.

You are loved and lovable.

You are a valuable woman and human being.

You are enough.

These messages help govern how I speak and act towards myself and to others. It’s a cliché, (but clichés become clichés because they’re often true): You must first love yourself before you can love others. This one is no different. It’s true…and somehow, I managed to learn it, lose it, relearn it, and then lose it again only to find it once again.

This time feels more final, though. I think I finally believe it. I finally believe that I am worth improvement…that I am worth my own time. I finally believe it enough that I take the time to exercise and I take the time to repeat my mantras to myself. And on those days when I forget, I feel it…I feel the anxiety creep up. I feel it in the barking voice that speaks to my friends, and then I am reminded…I forgot to say my mantras. I forgot that I don’t have to fight for meaning or self-worth or to prove my self-worth to others. I am enough, and that inner voice who says otherwise can just shut up.

Every day I am provided a choice: be happy or don’t be happy. Some days I let the choice be made for me, and I let frustrations take over, and I allow them to make me unhappy. Then, I am reminded of the simple things in life: the well-written phrase, the eager student, the sun shining off the ice crystals in the snow, or my puppy’s accepting brown eyes. These help me find my happiness and to let the anger and frustrations go.

I have to focus on what makes me happy; this focus changes my inner voice. It no longer tells me I’m nothing. It tells me I am worth love and worth having a happy life. It tells me to hang on. It tells me that things will be better, and that things are not all bad. It took work to get here, and believe me, I’m not done yet, but I’m better.

~ K

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Confessions of a Fraud

Giant FDear reader:

I am a failure…a fraud. I claim to be a writer, but I did not finish my sabbatical project. I did write…not every day, but I wrote. Does that make it a success?

I tell my students that all they need to do is try. “Write something,” I say. Even if it’s awful, you can fix it later. I give them chance after chance to get it right. Some students take all of those chances, and they eventually get it right…or at least close enough. Some students stop trying, and that’s OK, too. They’ll find a time, hopefully, to try again.

Yet, I’m not as kind to myself. I only give myself one chance to get it right. I didn’t finish my 250-page memoir, and I’ve been beating myself up over it for nearly a year. So, it’s now time to come clean.

WritesomethingI didn’t finish my 250-page memoir, but I did start it.

I didn’t finish my 250-page memoir, but I did revitalize a 20-year-old novel I had been ignoring despite its loud voice in my head. I must finish it whether it’s publishable or not.

I didn’t finish my 250-page memoir, but I created a few teaching exercises used by hundreds, maybe even thousands, of students nationwide.

I didn’t finish my 250-page memoir, but I hiked miles and miles and took hundreds of photographs.

I didn’t finish my 250-page memoir, but I took a course on computer coding and remembered how hard it is to be a student.

I didn’t finish my 250-page memoir, but I learned that sometimes what you intend to write just doesn’t come out the way you want, but what does come out is what’s intended. So, I ask you: did I really fail?

I try to be open to lessons, but this particular failure has been hard to face. I’ve been waiting to be punished…to be confronted for this failure, but I’m afraid it isn’t this failure that will ultimately be my demise. Instead, it will be my failure to face failure that might just be my undoing.

Wish me luck, dear reader.

~ K

Silence

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Dear Readers:

It may seem that we’re silent because we have nothing to say,  but in reality, there’s so much to say that a blog post seems insufficient.

Please stay tuned while we settle into a new semester and figure out how to pour these vast thoughts into this small medium.

Thanks for reading!

~Keri

Confessions of a Screen Addict

Tongue River

Tongue River

I have this bad habit of leaving my smartphone on top of a pile of laundry. I did this the other day, and, well, you guessed it…it slid off, screen first, on to the hard tile floor. I said a silent prayer as I picked it up and turned it over…please don’t be cracked; please don’t be cracked.

The screen looked intact. I sighed in relief and then clicked on the button to turn it on. Nothing happened. I tried other buttons, and still, nothing happened. At the right angle, I saw a slight crack in the LCD screen. The glass was fine, but the LCD screen would not display any content. This would be an expensive repair.

That was a week ago, and while waiting for the parts to arrive, I’m forced to go sans phone. I hadn’t realized how much I used my phone, and being without it has me thinking about screen addiction and the outdoors.

When spending time camping or fishing, I don’t seem to miss my cell phone much unless I want to take pictures. And that’s Bassfishing22015all I use it for. I don’t even listen to music or books. I prefer to hear the wind in the trees, the birds singing, or the water lapping at the shore. When walking around town, I will listen to a book or music. This helps block out the street noises. Either way, when I’m outdoors, I don’t want to be bothered by technology.

The only time that this isn’t true is when I’m trying to organize a camping location with my husband or friends.

During the summer months, I have the flexibility of camping early in the week, unlike my family and friends who have to work 9-5 jobs 12 months out of the year. I’ll head up to the mountains a day or two early to beat the crowds and to scope out a secluded spot where my friends can meet me when they can leave work. This is a great plan until I’m in the mountains and suddenly find that I have no way of letting my camping partners know where to find me.

It seems that no matter what kind of plans we make ahead of time, there is always some confusion about where to find each other, and we’ll spend hours wandering roads and camping sites looking for each other, especially since we tend to avoid designated campgrounds.

Earlier this summer, I realized that not everyone understands that cell service is nearly impossible in the mountains. At a workshop within the Wyoming Writer’s Conference, I submitted a section of my novel about a woman stranded in the mountains. Several attendees (non-Wyomingites) asked, “Where is her cell phone? Why can’t she just call for help? Or even use a GPS to find out her location?” It seems that they had never been in the Wyoming mountains where there is no cell service or satellite access for GPS. I realized then that 1) I would have to explain this in my novel or show that her electronic devices were stolen; 2) there are few wild places left in this world where technology cannot interfere, and 3) I’m glad to be in Wyoming where I can access these wild places.

Moonrise2015I can say with certainty that I miss my phone. I miss checking Facebook when I wake up and reading my magazine apps before going to bed. But I am somewhat grateful for this forced break from that tiny screen. Although I don’t think I’m exactly addicted, it does provide the opportunity to set up more non-screen time and to spend it outdoors: just don’t expect any pictures.

~ Keri