Category Archives: Writing

Easy Button…


I find myself writing a crochet pattern again (spawned by a request).

It’s been over a decade since I completed and published my last pattern.

Writing a pattern to international crochet standards is one of the most challenging–yet rewarding–exercises I’ve ever learned in crochet. But even the photos, illustrations, and formatting of the document layout took many hours and a lot of work. Don’t get me started on pattern testing, modeling, and photoshoots.

Designing is a lot easier than figuring out how to put an understandable (and pretty) explanation on paper that describes how I make things without thinking and “how you can too!”

And maybe I’m a little picky about the appearances of what I stamp my name on.

So I haven’t been looking forward to this request, for which chicken scratch isn’t going to do. Even though, at the moment, all I need are clear, basic beginning instructions that I can disseminate quickly and digitally.

As if that isn’t marvelously critical to the success of everything when working with newbies.

And then I remembered–I have tools today that weren’t available to me a decade ago. Even my Adobe and Word products are better tools today.

And it occurred to me–I’ve been writing and marketing on social media all this time. I’ve been designing graphics, e-courses, and web pages for clients–all this time. And I’ve been writing scripts and building templates. All. This. Time.

I wished for an easy button, but honestly–she’s right here. It’s me.

I’m the magic I seek.

And even better–I have a Canva Pro account today. Which is slick as heck and fun to use.

I’ll flesh out a right nice template that I can slip my instructions into in no time.

One of my favorite quotes: “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”

Thanks, younger me.


September 19, 2022
7:49pm

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

crochete meme

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Patterns, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, Random Thoughts, Writing

Words for my 17-year-old self…


Sweet girl, seize a little more confidence.

You are more capable than you think.

And the county reporter’s job isn’t that bad.

Keep the music degree.

But for the love of Grandpa, take some business and finance classes and join the debate team.

Take an acting class.

Enter more speech competitions.

I promise, if you don’t, you’ll wish you had.

Keep composing.

Stop hesitating on those ideas of yours.

The window won’t be open long.

Get to know your professors.

They would like you to talk to them more, I promise.

Ask Grandpa to talk about the wars.

Stay in touch with JC.

Don’t stop writing letters.

Love yourself enough to have boundaries.

You have a right to safety.

When you head to California next year, take advantage of every opportunity, including sound advice.

Go to Magic Mountain with your friends.

Go on the ski trip.

I know you don’t have the money.

Find a way. It will be worth it.

That campus will close, and you won’t have the time left that you thought.

Also, don’t talk to strangers in CA.

And don’t walk alone.

You have no idea the danger there.

Thankfully a few of your friends do, and they will watch out for you.

Speaking of, you will make many new friends–don’t be afraid of them.

When Elaine asks you to call, don’t forget.

Don’t.

When you head to Texas the year after that, take advantage of every opportunity.

Adopt others into your family.

Take breaks just for yourself.

Accept those free horseback riding lessons!

Sleep more.

It’s not laziness, I promise.

Grades aren’t everything.

You are going to break your immune system, so stop it now.

And stop sacrificing sleep because a friend needs to talk.

They can talk to you in the morning. I promise–you won’t miss anything.

Friendship should never bring you to the brink of death.

Don’t get the tonsillectomy, but do see the surgeon in New Orleans.

Remember the people who show up.

Open yourself to new career ideas and swap to a better major.

Watch out for the math classes, though.

That plan of yours to take all your high school math when you were 14, so your grades stayed high?

Yeah, it doesn’t work out so well when you wait a few years before taking college algebra II.

Your authenticity is a strength, not a weakness.

And your loyalty is a breath of fresh air.

Stop beating yourself up for being honest; it’s what your friends count on.

And don’t be timid about keeping up with your relationships.

You may feel awkward and afraid, but so is everyone else your age.

And most of your friends in college have no idea that you’re terrified.

They don’t see you the way you do.

One day those relationships will save your life.

And one day, many will pass away.

Your choice to call and write everyone you can is the right one, even if you don’t get to everyone.

So don’t give up.

Dare to define yourself.

Dare to create something worthy.

Trust your gut.

When it tells you to run, don’t hesitate.

It’s the right choice–never to violate your conscience.

Stop doubting what you know to be true.

It’s OK not to know where the next step is sometimes.

Love hard.

That and compassion will get you everywhere you need to be.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s God’s will that you be barren.

And don’t you ever feel ashamed for challenging the system.

ANY system.

When your body changes, love it.

She’s so much stronger and heartier than you realize.

Everything you need truly is inside you.

And the right people will accept all of you.

Keep your mind and body plastic.

Keep researching.

Keep writing in your journal.

Take a risk making new friends.

And label those photos.

Above all else–

Love and believe in yourself.

I do.


September 3, 2022
8:13am

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Risk, Dare, Believe in Yourself

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Conscious Rebellion…


I’m not a joiner by nature. Never have been.

And as a result, there are times I’m cross-wise with the world.

It’s just that I resist, more than anything

being boxed,

and labeled,

and tied up with a pretty bow

to be cataloged on a shelf.

I want to remain free to evolve.

I reject the world’s arbitrary expectations and control.

I question all the shoulds.

I question why you want to redefine me without my permission.

The more you try to convince me, the more I’m not.
The more I see your blindness.

Why do you think these limiting things?
Why do you define life this way, much less MY reality this way?

It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in rules.

The polite world needs an honor code.

I’m a lover of systems. I see the world in patterns.

I notice when seemingly unrelated things are connected.

Which, of course, is part of why I design.

I Am a Creator.

I recognize that when we use design thinking and build conscious systems, which require cooperation, we improve quality of life; we solve world problems.

Systems are just programs that we use to empower ourselves.
They work alongside us as we continue to innovate.
Once built–click.
C:\Users\Julia>start program.exe

Now I don’t have to use up brain power and resources for that.

The program is now built.
It runs.
It maximizes what I can accomplish.

I enjoy using, analyzing, and building systems–as long as they serve as the good tools they were meant to be.

Systems help us understand our universe and free up our horizons for greater things. Tools, however, should never shackle the soul.

As a spiritually evolving people–Collectively, we are Stronger.

But, if we’re not careful, we can get into a rut.

We can stagnate, become toxic, and oppress.

Our systems of expectation become our God.

And we become finite echoes of what could have been.

We can forget the individual, our unlimited capacity, and lose our humanity.

And in the pursuit of “peace” and flow, we can forget conscious compassion and individual responsibility.

We can stop seeing the human, the soul.

Make everyone a label.

Become victim to the system.

There are times we just have to get out of the box and rebel against the status quo.

Dare to be and think differently.

Allow ourselves to become uncomfortable and take the inconvenient path–because it is the right one. Or at least, a better one.

I become weary and jaded the more people push me to live or be something that I just am not.

Try to convince me to care about things that, on the eternal level, just do not matter.

In the process of John’s dying, never was the superfluous more clear.

Things that don’t make sense. Things that make me ask why, why, why.
Things that make me feel like finding another planet to live.
Things I DON’T want to give energy to.

The more people tie me up with those pretty labels.

Am I what you expected?

If I label you, you’ll stay in your lane–right?

And as a Creative, I reject all notion of living a life of sameness without purpose.

It’s hard being here, in this reality.

Beauty and wonder are matched by pain and difficulty.

Risk is everywhere, and nothing (and no one) is guaranteed.

Not even the next breath.

If I have to be here, I will have my Creativity and Purpose and Face the unknown head-on.

I will partner with my Creator and consciously Craft my Direction.

I choose to bear witness to and celebrate the paths that cross mine without the world’s arbitrary rules of definement.

Where there is no room to breathe, I will hold space for oxygen to unfold.

Among the things that I appreciate that John gave me while he was alive was the grace to be me and the space to evolve.

There was always room to move and oxygen to breathe in the air around John.

We shared the same Chaotic Good heart, the same first-born sense of protection and responsibility, and the same desires for the freedom to Create, Transmute and Become in this life.

Never violate your conscience.

The strong should protect the weak.

The able should teach and elevate others.

Always do the right thing.

Embrace the suck.

Help others find their way through, and you will too.

We never forced expectations on each other, John and I.

It wasn’t our thing.

We didn’t adhere to the marketing concepts of what our life together should look like.

We had no insecurities about each other. We didn’t starve each other’s needs for career, friends, life experiences, or dreams.

And I think one of the defining features of our friendship, as well as our love, was that we allowed each other space, always.

We were never glued to the hip. We didn’t have to be.

We were two whole people who decided to become lifetime battle buddies.

We had no desire to stifle each other, and we were never threatened by the need to be alone or have our own things.

Maybe because we were both firstborn, I don’t know. But it worked for us.

In doing this for each other, we evolved in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be available. And we helped each other pursue our individual goals and dreams.

We didn’t have to have a life partner. We didn’t have to be together.
We just wanted to be. We liked being in each other’s space.
And we freely chose to be tethered and back each other up in this life.

It was a much deeper, more respectful way of being. I was never afraid to be myself. I knew I was loved for me. The young woman I was. The mother I became. The soul I was growing to be.

We always held space to rediscover each other as we grew further into adulthood together.

And there was born great love. We became more than our parts–together.

I think back to John’s grandmother’s words, “You don’t marry a body; you marry a mind.”

Though I think for me, it’s that I married a soul.

How can you possibly contain a soul?

Especially a force of nature like John.

You can’t. And you don’t want to.

What a crime to try. What a blessing to share.

John loved me fiercely and never wanted to change me or bottle me up. So as I.

I never understand people who want to remanufacture their partners.
Go remake yourself.

I don’t want to lock down the world and reality. Even while there is chaos, I know that possibility reigns and that order will come. Out of Chaos, magic is born, and Creativity holds all the cards. Holds all the art supplies too.

If we are to be free of the chains of the past–we have to explore and innovate new systems. We can’t stick with the same old habits and perspectives and expect different outcomes.

They’re only tools. And they lose purpose and wear out.

We have to allow each other the space and grace to evolve.

And dare to craft new systems as needed.

Craft new lives. Embrace new purposes.
Change our labels, or reject them altogether.

It’s mucky work, being human.

This Life was meant to be rich with experiences and opportunities to grow.
But it was not meant to be a museum and always pretty.

It wasn’t meant to be without Risk.

You have to take chances to have and love more than you thought possible.
And be willing to see the world and Life differently.

You have to be willing to get hurt along the journey, knowing that even failure enriches our growth.

The Path of the Conscious Rebel is not easy.
Yet it’s ripe with possibility and rich with uncommon love.
A journey of creative textures and colors.

After all, who are humanity’s heroes?
If not those who Dared a Life that was Different?

While I may look at life, love, and the world differently, I am not that unique.

I am not the only widow in the world. Not the only mother whose child is fighting cancer. Not the only woman carving out a career in a male-dominated world. Not the only friend trying to sift through the digital age to reconnect with someone real.

And not the only wounded soul trying to free herself from the black hole behind her and find the next step on the path.

But these are the things I sometimes think about.
On a pensive Sunday morning over coffee.


August 21, 2022
2:21pm

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

People in boxes

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Stop Waiting for Something to Happen…


Stop waiting. Stop wishing.

Stop holding out for the perfect thing–or someone.

And allow yourself to taste Life.

I promise you, stagnation isn’t a Life well Lived.

Or Loved.

And never mistake stagnation for Peace.

Allow yourself to be uncomfortable.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

At least sometimes.

Risk is everywhere.

And in every one.

Yet so are the greatest of treasures.

As I’ve shared before, one of two things will happen.

Either you’ll take the next breath.

Or you won’t.

Risk is in the very air we breathe.

All creation comes with inherent risk.

So there’s no sense in being frozen while time flows into oblivion.

You might as well breathe deep and smell the rain.

Or the coffee. Or the Italian Tex-Mex restaurant around the corner.

Rest in the Now.

Breathe in deeply and savor what the Universe delights in bringing to your doorstep.

She is so excited for you–if only you could See.

You made it here against all odds.

Maybe take note of that. Like Hey.

Soak up the Miracle of those things showing up in your life now.

Celebrate that with Trust.

You might as well dig your toes deep into Mother Earth and let her hold you.

You might as well look beyond the surface of things and see what a Creative Life, consciously Lived, looks like.

Or, for that matter, a Creative Love.

Have you truly looked at the hearts around you?

Have you dared to bear Witness and see their Souls?

And dared to let them Remember yours?

Have you truly accepted and given friendship–unconditionally?

You may get hurt.

I can’t promise you won’t.

But I can promise that if you genuinely Love and Live…

The means to come back to Life after a crash are also there.

Risk is about Receiving as much as anything.

Stop waiting to Live.

And Love.

And Breathe.

And Receive.

Stop waiting for permission to Exist.

Stop hesitating just when things get good.

Stop judging the Universe when it toddles over and places its gifts in your lap.

Dare to live unconditionally.

Dare to love and give unconditionally.

Dare to receive and feel unconditionally.

Dare to face fear and ego.

Dare to value what others can not see.

Dare to share life, give life, and taste life with others.

Dare to Adventure.

And dare to dig deep and Believe.

Believe that you are powerfully Favored.

Believe that you have all the art supplies you need.

Believe that you deserve to be a Creator.

Before it’s too late.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
— Jack Kornfield, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.


August 11, 2022
11:11pm

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

A frozen rose will surely die

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Elusive


I want to write.

I’ve craved it for weeks.
An omen welling up. A portent.
Murmurs of words and feelings threaten to howl.

But there is no moon.
And my lungs are bruised.

A song of wisps.

Reaching through the fog.
To take initiative. Evanescent trust.
To seek connection, audience, witness.
To offer comfort.

Ten minutes. That will do.
Duty served. Pledges complete.
She’s ok.

She’s the strongest person I know.

Bloody thorns–to reach out first again and again.
Holding back the event horizon.
I will only be first so many times
before I relax and give in to the waves,
watching you peacefully
from the drifting deep,
at one with the seaweeds.

I will watch and listen from the other room,
remembering our once mingled laughter.
I’ll read your books and treasure your sorrows;
provide sanctuary when you pass through.

I’ll watch you walk away and never return.

The silent cornerstone balanced on a pedestal–
until the earth shakes again. Silly humans.
That’s not how any of this works.

It is challenging to reach out and preserve,
much less nurture a one-sided companionship.

But this is my blog–a reflection.
And I guess that means my struggle
on this one-way street
is with me.


June 23, 2022
12:21am

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Elusive

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Filed under Poetry, Random Thoughts, Widowhood, Writing

It’s Not Enough…


It’s not enough to just be a writer.

We must be partners and creators.

Comprehend more than reducing life to nouns and verbs.

We must be ambassadors between worlds
that otherwise would not share a glance.

Bearing witness to the untold story–we celebrate the unfamous.

We must not be quiet.

Otherwise, certain stories will never be told, and many of us will disappear.

—-
Pondering pitches….
November 4, 2021
6:41pm
Copyright © 2021, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.
We must be more than just writers

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Copyright and Fair Use…


I run into creative licensing discussions when writing ads for clients–frequently.

Many myths abound over an image’s fair use, what’s considered public domain or free, whether you can be sued if you’re not profiting, etc.

The following resource was developed for educators, but it is one of the most comprehensive and easy-to-understand explanations of creative copyright that I’ve found.

https://www.theedublogger.com/copyright-fair-use-and-creative-commons/

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Sanctuary…


It’s raining, but my backyard is filled with birds and squirrels—even the rosy red minnows in my ponds love the rain.

Yesterday I saw the cutest baby squirrel inch its way down to the pond’s edge to drink and then munch on one of my water lilies that were blooming right at the edge.

I had no idea that squirrels could eat lilies—nor could I have imagined the sweetness of a baby squirrel face gingerly buried into a snowy water lily! Wish I could have whipped out my camera in time to show you, but it did not last even a moment.

Cardinals and sparrows bring their babies to the feeders. Dove, robins,
blue jays, titmice, chickadees, wrens, mockingbirds—they’re all regulars.

It calls back memories of Grandma Dot, who always
had a metal drum filled with bird seed sitting on her back porch,
some recycled Parkay and Coolwhip tubs to scoop with,
and a rainbow of birds lined along her fence.
Like pigeons on a telephone wire, they would sit
and wait for her every morning to open the door.

Cardinals were her favorite, and I always think of her
when I see our cardinal families come to visit.

Occasionally I see a hummingbird or hawk here
(there’s a cast of Cooper hawks in our neighborhood).

One of the last times I saw a hawk in our backyard,
it flew off with a baby snake! It was right after John died.

I looked up from my computer to see the hawk sitting on my back fence,
seemingly staring right through me before he dove for the snake.

Recently I’ve also seen meadowlark, kingbird, and goldfinch!
Not many yellow birds visit, so it’s always lovely to see them.

If the local monk parakeets ever find my backyard,
it’ll make my whole year.

My yard is a bit wild and definitely not manicured,
and I surely don’t know how to garden,
but it holds songs and peace for me.
It’s my blessing place.

#LoveMyBackyard


April 30th, 2021
2:24pm

Copyright © 2021, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Water Lily Pond

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Words…


That moment…
Revealing the Voice
to someone’s story in their heart;
the meaning behind their work;
the vision they aspire to;
the soul that has been there
…all along.
Words to the songs
no one has sung. Yet.
Wings of the butterfly
not formed, yet.
Born, steps forth
the creator anew.
Welcome to the world,
little song.


4-27-2021
Copyright © 2021 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Remember When…


I have a love-hate relationship with each digital app that shows me memories.

I mean, it’s not bad. It really isn’t.

In some ways, it helps me to reconnect pieces of my life, so there’s more in my line of sight than just this crisis or that.

But there’s no denying that being faced with a sudden memory can have an emotional impact at an inconvenient time.

John’s smiling face in a hospital room.

My kids when they were little.

Conversations with friends who have passed away.

Memories from a time that was less “responsible.”

Memories around old goals. Dreams unspoken.

Memories from before deployments.

From before Cancer.

From before Death.

From before.

Before…

These inconvenient memories pop up while I must be serious
and keep my game face on.

Making up for my shitty memory.

Oh yeah. That’s right. I was going to…

Waves crashing…

Is that even bad?

Probably not.

We’ve tried to create a world where public perception and professionalism always mean never showing what’s really happening under the surface.

Never let them see the mud–unless artfully displayed.

Always have a show closet near the door.

A YouTube corner.

Selective reality.

But is that healthy?

Is it natural?

Is it destructive denial in the long term?

Life is full of challenges, some bigger than others.

And that’s how we grow as humans.

Life has always been in the overcoming.

In the transmutation.

It has always been about becoming bigger than our initial perspectives.

Digging through challenges and beliefs–layered deeper than we thought possible.

Reframing our viewpoints.

Dawning new understanding.

Digging into why we’re really here.

What meaningful thing can I learn in this experience that can serve others?

Surviving is surviving.

But to THRIVE, we must grow.

We must transmute.

But that requires acknowledging reality as it is.

In order to transmute it into something better.

Anyway…

Facebook showed me memories today, including a memory of profound words spoken by my son a year ago.

Somehow I needed to hear them again today.

And while I’m inconveniently emotional, I think I’m also grateful…


April 8, 2021
9:22pm

Copyright © 2021, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Memories

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Gig Hunting On Social Media…


Shenanigans with Algorithms

Taken from actual job suggestions I’ve received on social media in the last month….

Digital Woman AI Algorithm: Hey Julia, I have job suggestions for you!

Me: Great! Show me what you’ve got!

AI: “Technical Writer!”

Me: Totally makes sense. I am a writer after all. Let me look at what industry that’s in.

AI: I have others, do you want to see them?

Me: Sure, what’d you find?

AI: “YouTube Media Manager.”

Me: Eh, close-ish. I don’t really specialize in the videography side of the social media pool.

AI: How about “Temperature Taker” or “COVID-19 Test Administrator?”

Me: Nooo. I mean, we have a cancer patient at home and really wouldn’t want to risk that. And I don’t have any formal medical certification either. But I guess there’s a wide-spread need for people to do that job right now. I understand why you might ask. Thanks anyway, AI.

AI: There’s “Office Clerk” and “Personal Assistant.”

Me: Eh, not quite the field I’m aiming for, AI. I hope you didn’t ask because I’m a woman.

AI: I know! “Medical Device Quality Engineer” or “Pharmacist!” Or there’s “Veterinary Technician!”

Me: Uh, nooo. I do write for the healthcare industry, so I can see why your wires are crossed there, AI.

AI: “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist!”

Me: Um… nooo?

AI: There’s “Nursery Worker” and “Toddler Teacher.”

Me: Look AI, I know I’m a seasoned Mom, but I’m not looking for that kind of work. I’m a writer. Remember?

AI: How about “Full fabrication and installation of quartz and natural stone countertops?”

Me: Excuse me?

AI: Or “Shuttle Driver” or “Car Wash Attendant?”

Me: What? No!

AI: “Farm Hand.”

Me: Now you’re just making stuff up!!

AI: FINE! Be a “Sheriff Department Jailer” then!

Me: 😑

Copyright © 2021 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. Julia has more than 25 years of experience as a freelance writer, content creator, and editor.

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What Hope…?


A couple of days ago, a brain cancer charity let me know that I am one of the top 10 influencers on Twitter for brain cancer. The data measurement is done through a service that serves the healthcare industry only.

I haven’t known how to feel about it. I mainly share studies and medical articles aimed at treatment for Glioblastoma. As is logical.

I used to be one of the top 20 influencers in crochet, but… that’s another story.

As I read the note, I was teary-eyed. My son was in the room when I read the note, and he queried the look on my face.

I don’t know how to feel, and I’m kinda sad, I said. I can barely do what I do. I don’t have any resources, and I can’t create a charity or foundation yet. Brain cancer patients suffer so much for lack of research funding.

And here, I make the rank of top influencer on Twitter.

What hope is there for a cure if *I* make the top 10? Because I have not yet been able to do much. I don’t have time to network or chat. I cannot unleash my full dedication to move mountains, create a foundation and find a way to help. All I can do is share links to studies. I don’t even have the bandwidth to write much about it.

And my son said, “Excuse me? What do you mean, what hope? With everything you’ve been through, even while working as hard as you do, you still manage to help. Something good is born. The willpower to make a difference with literally nothing but your determination to do so. You demonstrate the difference that a single person can make, even with nothing. To be an influence for good in the world. And if that isn’t hope, I don’t know what is.”

A second revelation dawned as I felt the truth in his words.

Even one imperfect voice can matter.

I love that kid of mine. And sometimes, he has me in awe.


April 8, 2020
7:10am

Copyright © 2020, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Hope

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Filed under Community, Friends and Family, Glioblastoma, Grief, Random Thoughts, Writing

Self-Employment Reflections of a Writer and Social Media Strategist…


Business ownership for me is a journey of evolution.

A form of spiritual awakening. A human revealing.

It is a Life tool that helps to push me to a higher ideal in reaching my greatest potential.

As I wade myself through Life,
navigating the hurdles and checkpoints,
I find value in what this path teaches me
and the invaluable self-discovery it leads me to.

Up there with parenthood, I believe business ownership to be one of the most compelling and empowering human experiences we can choose to take on.

An experience that will – without a doubt – force us to grow.
Force us to get to know ourselves.

Today, I’m working on my messenger response cheat sheets.

I want to have great responses for common questions ready to go. So I can respond quickly and fluidly over the holidays, during travel, the baking and Christmas cards and care packages I want to do, etc.. Maintaining my excellence service without a hitch.

I bust my butt to create them now so I can rely on them later.

Truth is, as a writer I craft and use cheat sheets and templates all the time. I’m also always looking for better, more effective words. Keeping a journal of vocabulary ideas.

Over the years I’ve found that cheat sheets, forms, journals, systems, and templates help a lot to streamline the work I do for my clients.

It helps me maintain consistent, accurate communication, even during less ideal times.

Times when my brain is tired. When my family is sick. When I have a migraine. When my left arm/hand goes numb from an old injury. When I’m working from the hospital waiting room.

I share this because I know that we all struggle with less than ideal circumstances in our self-employment.

It’s part of the game.

And sometimes it’s less than ideal circumstances that push us into this road of self-employment.

Adversity happens.

It’s absolutely inevitable in the human experience.

The question is – how prepared are you for that eventuality?

If your business is not big enough to hire out for help, then routines, systems, templates, and workflows are imperative to your survival. The “hacks” that will save your ass when the chips are down.

But more than that – it’s how you nurture your business to a place of thriving, not just surviving.

Systems and “self-programs” are the way we work more efficiently, replicate consistent results, save valuable time and resources.

If you’re self-employed, more than likely you came to this place of self-employment as a means of creating flexibility in your life.

It doesn’t necessarily result in less work in your life, but it can result in more freedom.

By rearranging your schedule on your own terms.

By rearranging your work in a way that’s best for you.

By accommodating:
additional goals,
a desire to volunteer in some meaningful way,
an illness,
that book you’re going to write,
a disability,
divorce,
caregiving,
introversion,
death of a loved one,
parenthood,
ageism,
anxiety and depression,
a special needs child,
overwhelming family circumstances.

As creators, we have everything we need to create a pathway to thriving success.

The perfect Brady Bunch story does not show up for us on a silver platter.
It never will.

But as leaders and creators of our own destiny, we don’t need it to.

We just need to put the work in,
to nurture
this path
that we say we want to take.

Like a soul-mate,
we must meet our business halfway,
making the commitment
to our flowering relationship
and the fruit it will bear
loving it as we love ourselves.

For our business, after all, is Us.

What systems are you putting into place to nurture the vehicle to the future you have claimed?


12-8-2019
Copyright © 2019 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.
Reflections of a Self-Employed Writer and Social Media Strategist...

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Voice Of Hope…


It was 20 years ago that I nearly lost my unborn son.

It was in the middle of the night.  Four and a half months into my second pregnancy, I woke up in a pool of blood.  And it became quickly obvious that I was miscarrying.  A call to my doctor confirmed my fears.  It was about 3am, so I was told I might as well rest a couple hours before coming in, and that I had a long day ahead of me.

Amidst the various bits of information over the phone, my husband and I were made aware that at this stage of pregnancy, there’s not much that can be done to save an unborn child.  That the main concern at this point was my own life and the rate of my bleeding.  I was told that I needed to go to the emergency room if my bleeding increased to filling a menstrual pad every two hours.  There was blood all over my bed, and I had no idea exactly how much I’d lost.  But an hour and a half later, my fresh pad was full.  I had no fear for my own life.  I didn’t feel weakened by the blood loss yet, but I knew I was going to lose my baby.  That I would experience what my own mother and grandmother had gone through before me.

I’m no stranger to trauma, so I did what came naturally to me.  I braced for the blow that I knew would come.  No fear about it really, just systematically getting ready to get through one more traumatic event that would shape my life as I knew it.

There was no doubt what was happening and there was no reason in my mind to see things any differently.  I was going to lose a baby.  Women have born this pain for ages.  I was not unique in this and there was no reason or time to whine.  It was just time to face it and get through.  I could fall apart later.

I had accepted that I was indeed losing a child.  And for many really good reasons.  My mother and grandmother and sister all had before me.  And I was readying myself for it.  But I had much more reason than most to so simply accept this fate.

Once upon a time, I couldn’t have children.  It was absolutely impossible.  I was baren. Until I had a full open surgery for endometriosis.  In fact, it wasn’t until after the surgery that I even found out.  Up until that point, I’d already had to embrace the understanding that women with endometriosis as bad as mine simply have a lot of trouble bringing pregnancies to term.  But I was only 23, with the scar tissue damage of someone more than twice my age.  It had begun to affect my other organs.  I was getting sicker and sicker and something had to be done.  Surgery was part of the answer.

However, it wasn’t until they went in that my surgeon discovered that my tubes were completely closed.  That meant something quite profound: it was impossible at that point for me to ever conceive.

And so he fixed me.

After the surgery, my surgeon told me that without having me open on the table, there was no way with just a scope they could have seen that my tubes were closed.

I would have tried my entire life to have kids, never knowing why I couldn’t.

That said, the surgery wasn’t 100% successful.  I still had problems with endometriosis.  But, I lived a much more normal life than before.

So as you can see, I wasn’t surprised to be losing a child.

And as I felt life flow from me, I lay there in the dark preparing myself for the emotional pain ahead, getting my head and heart ready – knowing that after so much already, I was strong enough to endure even this.

And then one of the most powerful things happened and broke me down. 

It still makes me bawl to remember it to this day.  In fact, my face is a soaking wet mess now as I type.

The experience was that powerful. 

Nothing fancy. It was simply this…
I heard a voice.  Clear as day.
And it said,
“Mommy, don’t give up on me.”

That’s all the voice said.

And it was then that I knew that my son was alive.

I don’t care what you think.  I really don’t.  Whether you believe my story, or think I’m lying or you think my mind created the experience because I couldn’t accept my reality or whatever.

Because I know better.  I know exactly where my head was.  And I didn’t even try to hope.

I spent that first day going through all the things they do in a situation like mine.  Doctors everywhere consoling me about what I was about to go through.

My bleeding slowed and days would pass.  My doctors would continue to check the heartbeat and have me come in to see them every day.  They would send me for ultrasounds to evaluate the new hole in my uterus that caused the whole situation.  Doctors continued to tell me that I needed to face the reality that I would lose my child.  That I was too calm and not processing the situation as I should.  This child was not destined to live. That I needed to get a grip and prepare myself for this impending loss.

But I wasn’t phased.  I knew.

It would be 9 weeks before we knew for certain that our son was going to make it. Nine weeks of doctors telling us that we should not hope too much because the odds were so far against us.  Until finally, they said one day, well… maybe he’ll be OK after all.

I continued to bleed throughout the rest of my pregnancy, though just a trickle.  And a month early gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

So there you are, little one.  Thank you for making mommy believe in you. 

For years it seemed we had an unexplainable connection.  Every time I woke up, he was soon awake.  Not crying, not upset or fussy, just awake and ready to be with mommy.  It was so prevalent that sometimes I’d wake up and lie there quietly and think to him, no-no-no honey please do not wake up.  Stay asleep.  But he usually woke up anyway.  Other times I’d wake up, and sneak a peek at him while he slept, only to find him awake and looking at me.  And I’d think to myself, You little stinker! Are you deliberately waking me up?  Or are you just being there for mommy?  It wasn’t every night, but this unexplainable connection continued well into his school years.

He is 20 now. And 19 months ago we found out he had a very rare form of kidney cancer unheard of in anyone under the age of 20, just 5 months after the death of his father.

I faced the mortality of losing my baby that night, more than 20 years ago. And an unexplainable voice gave me hope. Gave me faith.

I think about that miraculous experience from so long ago and wonder if I might hear it again.

Will a voice in the dark give me hope? Comfort my soul?

And then, my son comes home from his late-night college class.

And while I am working away on yet another project,

he hugs me and whispers,

“I love you, Mom.”


11-5-2019
Copyright © 2019 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

Motherhood

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Education From “The Funny Papers…”


When I was a kid, my grandfather had an expression he frequently used to refer to people with no sense in their heads. People who “get their education from the funny papers.”

I used to think it was such an odd expression. An odd phrase. I loved reading the “funny papers.” I think it even helped improve my reading skills.

“Blondie” was one of my favorites. Along with “Beetle Bailey” and others. I recently mentioned to my son when he made himself a giant sandwich that he’d created a nice looking Dagwood Sandwich. He froze and stared at me, then asked me what on earth was a Dagwood sandwich. It never occurred to me that he might not know.

I spent the day today working and then attended a local veteran’s festival event that supports vets and their families. Met some good people and organizations, which I’ll share about later.

However, it was emotional for me. I stood there, surrounded by soldiers and vets, in uniform and out. And I burst into tears. Ugh. I tried to keep it together, but really couldn’t quite. Still, it was a good event and I had some pleasant conversation by the time I left and everyone was taking down.

The afternoon of overwhelming emotion left me stripped though. And instead of getting right back to work, which I needed to do, I wanted nothing more than to run away, find a movie theater or binge watch Doctor Who or Good Omens on auto-replay. And I can’t.

So, I did the next best thing. My son and I sat down to eat dinner in front of cartoons tonight. And when my daughter came home from her classes, she joined in with us too.

We started with Phineas and Ferb and ended with Ducktales. Cartoons we used to watch together with John at one time or another.

And it was interesting how helpful it was. I mean, I almost never watch TV on my own. I watched TV with John. And since his death, I don’t watch much of it at all. (In fact, John bought “me” our first TV when we were dating. “Look honey, I have a surprise for you,” as I recall it went.) So it’s been weeks since I sat down to watch anything. And here it was just cartoons that I turned to for relief. Even the ridiculous commercials for kids between cartoon breaks were oddly comforting.

What really struck me though, especially as an entrepreneur, was the Ducktales episode. At the beginning of the episode, Louie approaches Scrooge for money to fund a new hair-brained business venture. And Scrooge tells him that if he wants to be in business, he needs to find a problem that needs solving and then provide a solution. That this was his key to success.

And I was struck by how awesome it was that this cartoon was teaching principles of business to kids. And how Scrooge, who had plenty of money to hand out (and was even at one point willing to give Louie a small loan, but not a huge one), offered advice instead. He encouraged Louie to be enterprising.

It was refreshing, as I try to grow my social media and writing business, now that I’m supporting my family all on my own. Refreshing to hear a solid business principle come out of a cartoon character’s mouth.

Huh, an education from today’s modern “funny papers.”

I wonder how many kids who watched this cartoon when it first aired way back when are now business owners today.

In the next scenes, Louie brainstorms with his siblings to find problems to solve and needs to fill.

He asks them – what does everyone need? And his sister pipes up and says “Crochet hand grenade holders!”

And with that, I just want to make one.

It cinched the deal because I was already thinking earlier this week that I need a Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch. And that the Maker in me very much wants to make one for prominent display inside my family TARDIS.

And she’s right. I’m going to need a holder for it.

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‘Tis A Silly Place


TARDIS - Halloween 2019 - Aberrant Crochet setup

“It’s like you’re a Doctor Who evangelist.”

That paused me.

I measured my gaze.

“What do you mean?” I asked, looking over.

“Every group of kids who come to the door! You’re like, ‘Do you like my TARDIS? Do you know what a TARDIS is? It’s from Doctor Who! You should look that up on YouTube.”

My daughter’s wry smirk looks just like her father’s.

I smile.

She’s not wrong.

Halloween is a geek’s and cosplayer’s dream holiday.

Only for me, I haven’t been costuming up that much the last few years.

This year, I grabbed my handknit Doctor Who scarf, a brown “Indiana Jones” hat and one of my wool coats and called it good.

But what I really look forward to each year is dressing up my yard.

Right square in front of our door is a lifesize TARDIS that’s my pride and joy.

You have to walk through the TARDIS to enter my home. Literally.

I bought it in a charity auction 4 years ago, the October before John was diagnosed with brain cancer.

October is our birthday month and I knew this TARDIS was perfectly my birthday gift. I also found a killer deal on a BlendTec the same month, so I was doubly happy.

Little did I know how important that BlendTec would be for John in the coming months.

The TARDIS matched our house under the overhang, beautifully. And the kids and I crafted a garden of hand mines that year to go with it.

It was glorious.

And only the knowing had any idea what they were looking at.

We were only lacking in Weeping Angels at the time. A fact I rectified last year. There are now at least 13 in my yard, hidden everywhere.

I’m sure some delivery people believe we must be very Catholic. Or simply very into angels.

What they don’t know just might steal their future though!

And then there’s our annual spider infestation.

I was so pleased when I first heard that the newly introduced season of the 13th Doctor had an episode with mutant spiders in it. Though in truth, I was disappointed with how they concluded the episode. I’m a fan of spiders and that ending was frankly illogically cruel.

But from a yard decor point of view, my spider invasion combined with the TARDIS and Weeping Angels makes my yard a pretty authentic fan fiction of its own.

Finally, after all these years they wrote an episode just for me.

We’ve lost 3 trees since John died, but we still managed to put up a good infestation of spiders this year. I couldn’t find all my crochet spider webs that I’ve made over the years. Not sure where they got put, but the giant one went up and giant momma spider, the 10-foot spider we have, was hung on the web with care.

And the effect paid off as always, demonstrated by the audible gasps when people rounded our 200-300-year-old live oaks to step onto our front walk.

You have to have big old trees to display a 10-foot spider in the air.

“There are some fun decorations in the neighborhood,” one kid told me. “But nothing compares to this! Your house is the coolest. I was here last year!”

You can believe that boosted my ego.

Though in truth, the TARDIS and angels stay up year-round.

I only take down the spiders outside. And mostly inside.

But the eclectic inside of our family TARDIS is a story for another time.

“This house has chocolate! Omg, we can have more than one piece??? You are the nicest!”

I love the smiles on the kids’ faces. Even the dubiously older ones.

Here, take another KitKat.

John always believed in handing out only the good stuff for Halloween.

None of that generic crap. The kids get plenty of that from everyone else.

Chocolate. Every year we give out chocolate.

I heard of a family that gave out king-size Snickers bars to kids one year.

I think that’s cool, but I’ve never gone that big. I stick with fistfuls of smaller bits.

I used to have a bucket of shiny pennies that every child under the age of 6 could stick their hand in and grab a handful to take home.

I liked the idea of fostering a healthy experience with a money blessing.

To give little kids that magical feeling of receiving generosity, without measure, only that they must reach out, seize it and receive it.

Besides, there’s something so pretty about shiny copper.

I need to get back to doing that again. Giving change to little kids is not very expensive at all. Especially when you consider the cost of candy.

Halloween is an odd holiday for sure.

And while it does occur during The Day Of The Dead celebrations that we have here in Texas (which culminate on November 2nd), I’m not really speaking to that part today. Though there’s certainly an influence and a magic in that part, which I do obviously appreciate.

It’s something else about Halloween. I share my perspective as someone raised without the holiday, who later came into the participation of it, thoughtfully, as a mother.

No one thinks about it being a holiday of generosity.

Its American celebration may have started out with the goal of curtailing mischief, but today, it’s evolved into an opportunity to exercise our imagination, to dress up and play as adults, to face our fears, and to bless strangers.

How interesting is that.

STRANGERS.

Of all things.

Without guilt.

Without shoulds.

Without major expectations.

Without commandment.

I mean it’s simple. It’s candy.

And fun.

And we tell each other how cool our costumes are and find out our favorite superheroes, movies, legends, and puns.

Don’t forget the puns.

No family fights over obligations.

No tantrums for not getting the latest iPhone.

And it’s OK to buy yourself something, just because you thought it would be fun.

Or thought it would make someone laugh.

Not because it was practical or necessary or expected.

It’s an interesting holiday, with something to teach.

If we let it.

Hope yours was great.

Giant spider - Halloween 2019 - Aberrant Crochet

 

 

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Compliment…


My son asked me to please be there for a friend of his tonight.

Of course, I agreed.

Afterward, I thanked him for asking and trusting me to help his friends.

And he paid me the highest unexpected compliment I could ask for.

“You’re literally the wisest person on the planet I know Mom, how could I not?”

[tears]

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Ember…


The mountains are so pretty at sunset.

I gaze into the light.

Blinded above.

Blinded below.

Beautiful trees in my peripheral.

A warm wind swirls across my cheek and I disconnect from my body for a while.

I focus on the gift of sight.

Please God. I wanted him to see Montana.

It feels just like him. Rocky and beautiful.

Air flows around me, separating the barbs of my feathers.

I feel each loosen as I close my eyes.

Arms surround me from behind,

as a head of soft dark hair leans into my shoulder.

I loosen my soul to blend with his.

An eternal moment, destined to pass.

My skin crackles.

The fire burns so hot now.

I don’t want to go.

I don’t want you to go.

I don’t want to be reborn without you.

Please, hold my hand. Don’t leave me.

Knowing is a consuming crown.

Ashes smoke the air.

Desperately. Don’t. Want. This.

My fearless Force of Nature.

You kissed my tears and told me once that you would find me.

That nothing would stop you.

The Raptor I set free, returned but for a while.

Life without your comfort is unconscionable.

I try to calm the smolder.

Afraid to breathe on the embers of my own heart and soul.

Hold the space a little longer please.

“I’m burning up a sun, just to say goodbye.”

— July 31st, 2017 —
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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In Our Court…


There is much goodness in the world,
and I’ve been bathed in it this weekend.
Something I’ve needed.

Life may be brutal and cruel sometimes; it can be hard,
but we dictate the lens through which we choose to see.

We decide where we put our energies,
the relationships we build,
the people we elevate,
the problems we choose to solve,
the ears we choose to lend,
the people we choose to bless,
the actions we choose to take,
the thoughts we allow to become things,
the creations we culminate.

We choose to act or to not.
To nurture or to neglect.

Everything is in our court to do something with.

The positive that we seed into the world.
Or the not.

Even the things we cannot control – we have the freedom,
the choice, and the responsibility of how to handle them.

A free and creative life is not an easy one
but never was such promised.

We were given a variety of tools
and ways to create our reality.
And then given the free will
to go forth and create.

I don’t know what I’m doing
any more than the next person,
but I’m still learning and trying.

I have an ideal I hold in my heart,
and a Creator whom I believe teaches
and guides me.

I still believe that Light
overcomes the Darkness
and that There Is Only Love.

And I appreciate everyone around me
who helps reflect these gifts to me
and fills my cup.

Thank you, friends. ❤ ❤


October 5th, 2019
6:43pm

Copyright © 2019, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Perspective

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All I Know…


In the grand scheme of things, what will matter in 20,000 years?

All I know is that we must spend our energy wisely to get the most out of this experience we call Life. And in doing that simple thing, on a personal level, we can actually effect positive change on a universal scale.

Things go awry when we get outside ourselves. And we miss things. Important things.

I am the center of my own universe.

Nothing is more powerful than I and God in my world.

If I am not attending to my center, then I am not in balance. And if I am getting caught up in the drama of others and things outside, no matter how “justified” the cause may or may not seem, then I am not where I need to be. If I cannot act cleanly, then there is muck to clear away and work through.

I learned a long time ago – I can make a great difference in this world with just about everything and anything I put my hand to.

Without doubt.

But if that thing takes my peace and balance away, and I cannot keep upright, then it is not where I’m supposed to be, or what I’m supposed to do.


2-1-2017
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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