Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Starving Artist - The Life of a Creative Soul

I am really struggling with the fact that I am a creative soul. A creative soul who is getting so fed up with the day to day frustrations of not having enough to get by. Why couldn't God have given me the soul of an accountant or engineer? Something that could actually support me financially?

I am 48 years old. Single. Broke. It never seems to get any better. Quit your job to follow your dream? That's what I did. And I love my new job. I really do. But it isn't enough to pay the bills. Not even close. Should I have stayed in a job that drained me mentally and physically and still didn't pay enough? Should I have pursued a career in a field just because it pays well? My parents would probably say yes.

In the regular classroom I felt like a failure every day despite giving it everything I had. The stress level finally got to be more than I could bear. Those kids needed someone new who could give them what they needed. In the end, I was worn slick. Should I have stayed just because I had a regular income and benefits? Hell no!

So I took a leap of faith. Seven months later, I am sitting here stressing about money all the time and feeling zero creativity. I spend my free time looking for part time jobs where I don't have to be on my feet. You get to a point where you are at the end of your rope. Where do you turn? God? I've done that. Still sitting here. Struggling. It makes me wonder...what did I do wrong? Is this payback for something? Am I just an idiot? My parents would probably say yes.

I have a college degree. I am smart. I am a problem solver. I am creative. Surely there is something that I could do that would actually support me financially. But what? People love my paintings and the things I create, but they don't buy them. I apply for jobs and never hear back. I am a giver. I donate - things, art, clothes, money. I am kind. I am helpful. What am I doing wrong? There has to be an answer. But when you hit closed door after closed door you begin to wonder, "Is this it? Is this what my life is always going to be like?"

I don't know what the answer is. I want to give up, just curl up into a ball and disappear. But I won't. I never give up. I keep believing, day after day, that there really is something to taking a leap of faith. There has to be. There are too many others who took that leap and ended up flying. Maybe I'm still growing my wings. I hope they grow fast. The ground is approaching fast.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Train of Thought Leads to Olives



Yesterday I was sitting on my front porch watching Fred, the squirrel, nibbling on a nut. I name all squirrels Fred. Don't ask me why because I don't know. While sitting there, I had the following train of thought. "Oh how cute he is nibbling on his nut. (I had just thrown out some crackers) I wonder if squirrels would eat crackers. Crackers probably aren't very good for squirrels. At least not the kind of crackers I had in my pantry. Maybe some of the healthy crackers. Ooh, I love good crackers with cheese. (Then I remembered something I had seen online about canned cheese). Canned cheese. Gross. No wonder the rest of the world thinks Americans are idiots. Who would come up with canned cheese but Americans? But surely other countries have really crappy food items that aren't healthy? SURELY there isn't a country who has nothing but healthy food available. They have to have some canned/jarred items. Like olives, but those are healthy. Olives. OLIVES! I had a dream about olives last night!"

So basically, seeing Fred the squirrel nibbling on a nut sent me into a train of thought that lead me to olives which reminded me that I had had a dream the night before about olives. How bizarre! I have never dreamed of olives before. Walking into class naked...numerous times. Falling...my whole life. Someone trying to kill me....more times than I like to remember. But olives? Never have I dreamed of olives.

I jumped up, ran into the house and opened up the computer. I Googled dreams about olives. And what I found was very interesting. Dreamhawk.com had the following to say:


Because of the mention in the Bible of olive branch and the fruit of the olive, it has the associations of peace and immortality. Certainly with healing. So olives in a dream may represent the resolution of conflict in life.

The olive also is a symbol of wisdom, and in classical mythology and Renaissance art it was associated with the goddess Minerva.

The tree is an ancient symbol of the holy land, peace, love, and the path of healing and regeneration.

Wearing an olive crown can represent resolution to a conflict, and victory over what you face.. A burden will be lifted off you and you will come out victorious.

Because the oil can be pressed from the olive it has the meaning of healing or ease coming from pressure or trial. You might connect this with like or dislike because of your relationship with olives; or memories or associations with times and places you ate olives.


Dreamforth.com said:

To dream of olives indicates fulfillment. It also signifies loyal friends and immortality.

An olive branch represents harmony, unity and optimism. You may likewise come to a solution to your disagreements and be relieved of troubles.

The color olive green indicates pure knowledge and Zen. It will be necessary to achieve unity in your environment.

Dreamstop.com said:

The olive is a symbol of peace and immortality. Whether you dream about an olive tree, and olive leaf or branch or the actual fruit itself, the same meaning is conferred to your dream. This is a sign that you are about to enter into a long-lasting relationship or career that will mutually benefit all the parties involved. You should look forward to starting new partnerships in the near future because all of them will benefit you in some way and bring stability and respect to your name. The olive can also be a very spiritual symbol for some religions.

In my dream, I was happily rolling in the olives. I could see the olive tree nearby. There was an abundance of olives. After reading the dream interpretations, which I am certain are highly scientific, I choose to believe that all my struggles are about to come to an end. After years of frustration and heartache, things are about to get better. 

In the end, it really is about perseverance, pushing on with faith no matter the circumstances, knowing that each day you are being the best that you can be and doing everything you can to make the world just a little bit better. Faith will be tested. Troubles will come. Heartache is certain. But from each of these we learn..about others and about ourselves. With that wisdom comes a responsibility...to pass it on. Use your life to teach others, to give others hope. In a world so lost, we all need a little hope that in the end, we can all be rolling in olives.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Writing

                                           

The fear of writing has paralyzed me. In my heart, in my mind, I know this is what I am supposed to do. Countless books have already been started, just sitting inside my computer, waiting for me to come back. Many more are just ideas scribbled into various journals or jotted down on a notepad.

I have looked forward to this day all week. I knew I had the entire day with nothing more to do than write. Instead, I slept in, watched a movie (or three), paid bills, colored my hair (so much better now), checked e-mail and Facebook and Pinterest, picked up a tire, made hot apple cider, and washed dishes. It is now early evening and rather than sitting down to work on one of my books, I am writing on my blog. At least it is writing.

What is it that has me so fearful? Failure? Success? Truth? As Ernest Hemingway wrote, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Maybe that is what I am afraid of. Even though I am very open in my writing here, what I want to write will be so personal. The reader will see who I really am. I will see who I really am. Maybe that is what scares me so much. Maybe I will find out I am not as strong as I appear. Maybe I will find out I am not the good person I think I am. Maybe I will see more clearly how all the mistakes I made have led me to where I am now. Maybe...just maybe, that is a good thing.

I love journeys and exploring the unknown. Exploring my own life certainly shouldn't be a trip into the unknown. It's MY life. I was there. Will I have the courage to be completely honest about it all? Will I be able to show the side of me I never wanted anyone to see? Will I be able to face myself and all the mistakes I have made? Maybe that is what scares me. Everyone makes mistakes, that is a given. Hopefully we learn from them. Have I learned from mine? What more do I need to learn?

It has to be done. The writing. I love art, but to me, it is just for fun. I enjoy it, but it is not the creative outlet in which I express myself. This is.

I used to question my desire to write. I would read about other writers who always knew they wanted to be a writer. They would talk about writing from an early age. I didn't do that. Or did I? I later realized that I was always creating stories in my head. Very detailed, drawn out stories that I would think about for days and nights on end. Lying in my bed at night I would pick up from where I left off. I don't know why I didn't write them down. Maybe fear of having someone read them.

This is what I am supposed to do. I know it. I feel it. Now I just have to do it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wild Woman

Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. 
Maybe they need to run free, until they find 
someone just as wild to run with.
- Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City


Every time I read this quote, it stirs something inside of me. If I had to choose one quote that represents me, this would be it.

When people see me, I don't think "Wild Woman" comes to mind. I don't have an exotic look or a smokin' hot body. My one tattoo of a Zia sun symbol is discreetly placed on my left wrist, covered by silver and turquoise bracelets most of the time. My boring blonde hair is usually pulled up into a ponytail and my ears are pierced - one hole in each ear. Saturday nights are usually spent at home, with a glass of wine and a good book. 

On the surface, I am a boring, middle-aged woman from Oklahoma. But on the inside something burns...hot, passionate, and fierce. 

Always the good girl, I did what I was told, never caused any problems. I showed up on time, did the right thing, gave it my all in whatever I did. But underneath was a restlessness, an ever-increasing feeling of being trapped, an inability to breathe. For years, I thought something was wrong with me. Everyone around me seemed to be perfectly content - marrying, having children, working. Why couldn't I be like that? Why couldn't I find a nice man to marry and live the nice suburban life? There would be family dinners, game watching parties, spending your life at your children's sporting events. All my friends who had that seemed perfectly content living that life. 

Truth be told, I had part of that for a while. I got married, but not to a nice man. We had the kids, the house, the Golden Retriever. The fights, the stress, the money problems. Had I chosen my spouse better, maybe we could have made it work and maybe I would have enjoyed that life. But I don't think so. 

I was NOT a good soccer/hockey/baseball mom. I hated sitting at practices. While other parents were watching their little angels practice away, I was reading a book or grading papers, watching the clock. I had things to do and I did not want to be sitting there. During games, I watched my kids but if they weren't playing, my attention was elsewhere. More often that not, it was turned to the parents who were almost maniacal in their attention to the game. I usually felt as if I was the outsider. My passion was not about the sport. I didn't want to spend time fundraising or traveling to games. I wanted to just spend quality time with my kids. Even though I knew there was some value to their participation in sports, I felt as if they would learn more by being out in nature exploring. That wasn't an option. My voice in my marriage didn't count.

When we would have people over, I dreaded it. Although I enjoyed preparing all the food and making the house look beautiful, I didn't really want to have to talk to anyone. All they talked about were their kids' sports activities or about college sports or professional sports. Or they would gossip. I wanted to have meaningful conversations with people, about things that mattered. I suppose this is what mattered to them, but I had nothing to offer. So I would sit and smile and nod my head. 

When I finally had the courage to get a divorce, for the first time in many years I began to feel free. Even  with two small kids at home, I was able to breathe, redirect myself somewhat. When they were with their dad, I began exploring. First it was just in the central part of Oklahoma, but it gradually radiated out.

I met a man who helped me on my journey. He was a firefighter who lived out in the country. We took long drives and explored the countryside. He told me about caving and introduced me to a new world underground. After a while, that relationship began to fizzle and he found someone new. But he had introduced to me to a friend of his that certainly had that explorer gene. Keith.

Immediately, I felt a connection with him. It was almost primal. Over the next few months as my relationship with the first man faded away, I found myself wanting to continue exploring through caving. Keith was the man to call. So I did. It all started out innocently, but soon turned into something I had never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I felt I had found exactly what I had been searching for - someone just as wild as me.

It was an inner wildness that connected us. A wildness that was rooted at the same time. Our first year together was unbelievable. But each year after that things began to unravel for various reasons. We would break up, then get back together. I really believed that we were meant for each other and that it would all work out eventually. But after six years together and then another five after that staying in contact, I finally realized it was done.

Now, at 48, I am slower than I used to be, things are beginning to ache, clothes don' t fit the way they used to. But inside..."she" is still there...that wild woman. I will continue to run free, and alone, until I find "someone just as wild to run with".




Monday, October 6, 2014

Art or Writing? That is the Question.

    

Am I an artist or am I a writer? This question has been kicking around in my head for years now. I have clearly devoted more time to my art, but I get a greater sense of satisfaction from my writing. It comes from a much deeper level and I feel it touches more people. My writing encourages vulnerability and honesty. The art is just fun and relaxing.

Although I don't write on my blog as frequently as I would like, I am forever writing in my head. Besides the never-ending book ideas that invade my thoughts, I am always wanting to write my thoughts down, get the voices out of my head so I can make sense of them. There are stories I want to tell. Often I see a photograph that captures my imagination. Something behind the eyes of the Japanese woman who looks so sad. An abandoned home on a desolate dirt road. The gnarled hands of a grandmother.

I have started three or four books but rarely work on them for any length of time. Is it fear? Laziness? Doubt? Maybe it is a combination of all three.

My motto for this year is "DARE". I have made two life-changing, momentous decisions this year and I have two and a half months left in 2014. I think it is time for one more big decision. Art or writing.

I'll let you know what I decide.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Not All Who Wander Are Lost


"Not All Who Wander are Lost"
Mixed Media by Kelli Thomas

"Not all who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien wrote those words in The Fellowship of the Ring. I have never read the book but those six words have made a profound impact on my life.

As a child, I moved a lot. Before I even started elementary school I had lived in four or five different towns. The moves continued throughout my life. My elementary years were spent in a small town in southwestern Oklahoma. My middle school years were in a small town in northwestern Oklahoma. High school was in a small town in central Oklahoma. After graduating from high school, I never spent more than a few years in any one place. Now, I am almost 48 years old and have moved more than 40 times in my life. The funny thing is, all I ever longed for was a home...a real home. A place to set down roots, create memories. Or so I thought. 

Last night it occurred to me that maybe the reason I have moved so often is that deep down, a home isn't what I really want. Maybe this restlessness inside of me isn't about finding home, it's about the deep need to wander, explore, discover, and create.

My whole life I have been different from those around me. I frustrate the hell out of my family because I could never seem to settle in to my life. Nothing seemed to work out no matter how hard I tried. I would call my family in tears, confused as to why everything was such a mess, begging for answers to what I was doing wrong. Why did everything always work out this way? What was wrong with me?

I know nothing is wrong with me, I just don't follow the same path as everyone else. But I tried...for years I tried. It never felt right. There was this underlying anxiousness and feeling that "nope, this isn't it either." My friends and family would just roll their eyes and shake their heads. I couldn't help it. I was still searching for the right fit. But nothing ever did fit. I was always looking for something else. Not necessarily something better, just something else. 

For years I thought I wanted to be married, have a beautiful home, and create lasting memories with my children and husband. I would cook scrumptious meals and plant a garden. We would have family vacations and spend the holidays together. I was married. For about ten years. Then I had another relationship that last about six years. Other than that, I have been on my own. For the longest time I thought I wanted the whole marriage thing again. It got lonely at night. I wanted an adult to talk to, share things with. Now I'm not so sure. 

I realized last night that what I really want is freedom. Freedom to travel, create, write, and to just simply breathe and take in the beauty of our world. I don't want to be tied down to a home where I have to mow the lawn and fix the faucet. I want to be able to just pick up and go and not have to worry about who is going to water the flowers or mow the lawn. I want to be able to grab my camera and my paints and brushes and capture moments that inspire me. I want to finally write all the books that are in my head. I want to wander.

There is a quiet that I crave. The loud silence of nature is what feeds my soul. It is when I am wandering that I am at peace. 

I am finally at a place in my life where I can finally allow my wandering spirit to be freed. My family will still think I am crazy, but that's fine. I will finally be happy, truly happy.




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Buried Alive

                               buried
                                     Image found at: http://listverse.com/2010/02/02/10-horrifying-premature-burials


There is a trend on Facebook now - taking quizzes. You can find out your Spirit Animal, what flower you are, or what urban legend you are. I often take these in the wee hours of the morning as I drink my coffee and try to become somewhat coherent.

This morning I took the "Which Urban Legend Are You" quiz. There are about six questions, highly scientific I am sure. Each question has nine possible answers. The results of my quiz this morning came back with "Buried Alive". How fitting.

Day after day, it feels as if I have been buried alive. Thrown into a grave with shovels full of dirt being tossed at me all day. The weight and pressure crushing not only my body but my soul. I frantically try digging myself out, but there are too many shovels at the top of the grave covering me up. I can't breathe, I can't see. I am exhausted, just reaching for air, light.

Life is a precious gift. I don't believe we were put on this earth to struggle and feel defeated on a daily basis. After 17 years, I think it is time to jump out of the grave, brush off the dirt, and find a new direction for my life - one in which shovels and dirt are used to build, not bury. It is time for a life filled with meaning and purpose. I am going to walk away - feel the warm sun on my face, filly my lungs with fresh air, and just breathe...fully, for the first time in a very long time.
                                   walking-away
                                              Image by Katarina Silva





Friday, April 4, 2014

Letter to Cox Communications

Dear Cox Communications,

I have been a loyal customer since 1994. Twenty years. In the seven moves that I have made during those years, I chose your service each time. My bill in that time has quadrupled and the service I receive has gone down proportionally.

Since moving into my new home in late August 2013, I have had to contact your customer support numerous times for a variety of issues. My cable tv frequently pixelates rending the picture and sound worthless. I try to watch movies On Demand only to have them freeze in the middle and then I can no longer watch them. Or, I try to pause them only to find they won't pause and then when I stop them and try to come back, Cox Communications is experiencing technical difficulty once again. It is a miracle that I have internet at the moment to compose this letter on my blog. The internet is sketchy and often painfully slow.

I don't watch much television, but once in a while, I take some time for myself to relax and watch a movie. Last night was one of those times. I had been wanting to see "Saving Mr. Banks". I decided to take that time to have a quiet evening watching a movie. About 45 minutes into the movie, I tried to pause it to take a bathroom break. It wouldn't pause. I tried everything I could think of. Nothing worked. I decided to just stop the movie and try to start it again. Guess what? You were experiencing technical difficulties yet again.

As I usually do, I picked up the phone and dialed 600-8282. I have the number memorized. After sitting on the phone waiting for a Customer Service Representative to pick up (all Customer Service Representatives were busy assisting other callers - I'll bet they were!), I finally gave up after 19 minutes. I waited for a little bit and tried again. I sat on hold for another 6 minutes. Nothing. I hung up.

This morning, I tried to get onto my Cox webmail to send you a letter. That was a fail! Although I could miraculously access my e-mail, I could not contact you.

I am a teacher and there is absolutely not enough time during your regular work hours to sit on the phone waiting for someone to assist me. I always have to call after work at which time your regular supervisors have already gone home.

Your technicians have been to my home probably five times since late August. I have only lived here for about seven months. Each time, I am told that the problem is fixed. Well, it is not. I pay around $190.00 a month for my high-speed internet and cable service. The phone service that is included with that is not used by me which is probably a good thing because the odds are that it wouldn't work properly either.

In this time, I believe I have received two twenty dollar credits. I make approximately $29.00 an hour. My time is valuable and is better spent doing things besides sitting on the phone waiting for a Customer Service Representative to help me or having to schedule a two hour window in my busy schedule to wait for one of your technicians to arrive to "fix" the issues with my service.

From this day forward, I will document every second spent of my life dealing with Cox Communications issues. I will charge you $29.00 an hour for every hour I am either on the phone with you, not having service with you, or waiting for a technician to arrive. I will deduct that amount from my monthly bill. Based on my history with your service, I anticipate my bill will be cut dramatically.

You have one pissed off customer here. This letter is on my blog and it is headed to Facebook and any other social media I can find. I will be speaking to everyone I know about the sub-par service I receive and the sad monetary compensation you offer.

Should I actually be able to get onto your Customer Service website, you will find this letter there.

Sincerely,

Kelli Thomas

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Letter to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin

March 28, 2014

Dear Governor Fallin,

As a professional educator for over 17 years now, I have poured my heart and soul into educating the children of our future. Each educator I know does the same. We value the importance of a solid foundation in academics and hope to prepare our students to be successful, productive members of society.
However, when our government, our legislators, and our citizens do not place the same value on the education of our youth, it becomes a spiraling struggle. This struggle is one in which many educators are working very hard to not lose. Your policies regarding the state of education in Oklahoma must be supportive of our educators and of our students. We are coming together to voice our opinions and let you know what needs to be done. We have a voice!
We are the ones who produce the workers of tomorrow. We are the ones who produce the visionaries of tomorrow - the ones who will bring new business and opportunity to our state. Without the proper funding and support we cannot be expected to prepare our students for the dynamic world in which they will eventually call their own.
There is a mighty force of teachers ready for change. It is in your best interest and in the best interest of all Oklahomans to listen carefully. We are the ones in the classroom daily. We see the struggles of the children. We know what needs to be done. We are the voices you should listen to. Our combined years of experience are a valuable resource for you to use. It is my sincere hope that you not only listen, but carefully ponder the information we present to you.

Sincerely,


Kelli Thomas
Second Grade Teacher
Orvis Risner Elementary
Edmond, Oklahoma

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Restless Spirit



Restless Spirit

What is this restlessness in me? I feel so unsettled as if I am not where I am supposed to be…

When this feeling hits me, as it frequently does, one thing invades my every thought…move to New Mexico.

Move? Again? Really?

After my last move, which was somewhere around my fortieth move in my life of forty-seven years, I swore I would never move again. When I posted a comment on Facebook about never moving again, a friend asked, “Not even to New Mexico?” I laughed about it and replied, “Ask me in three months!” I had hoped that moving back to Edmond after six months in northwestern Oklahoma would leave me feeling settled and happy. It didn’t.

I frequently post on Facebook that the mountains are calling me. I imagine that some people just roll their eyes and keep on scrolling. But the mountains do call to me. Not just any mountains. Taos Mountain. I see photos of the mountain and I feel the way Georgia O’Keeffe did about Pedernal. It is mine. It is home.
I have tried to understand this pull. I have tried to rationalize it away. I have tried to find every reason why moving to Taos is not a good idea. Yet, when this restlessness consumes me, the only thing that calms me is thinking of being in the high country desert, with a view of Taos Mountain standing like a holy guardian protecting those it has chosen.

There are other mountains that some would find more beautiful than the Sangre de Cristos, but none awaken such a passion in me. There are other areas of New Mexico that inspire me and excite me. But none call to me like Taos Mountain.

My dad likes to joke about my first ski trip to Taos when I was thirteen. He tells people that I told him I was going to find the “love of my life” there. What he doesn’t understand is that I did find the love of my life. But it wasn’t a boy, it was a mountain. That was my first trip there and I fell madly, deeply, passionately in love.
I often wonder if moving there would be a mistake. Would the magic disappear? Would I find myself restless even there? Or would I finally be at peace, feel at home?

I have traveled all of New Mexico except the northwest part. As I travel, I highlight my route on a New Mexico atlas. Each area has its own beauty, its own treasures, its own precious memories. As I travel, I wonder what it might be like to live in that particular part of the Land of Enchantment. I ask the locals lots of questions. But nothing feels like home to me. No place but Taos. It’s that feeling you get when you lie belly to belly with your soul mate. Home.

Two years ago on a solo trip to Taos, I got my one and only tattoo. It is the Zia sun symbol. It is on my left wrist and it means the world to me. It is a constant reminder of body, mind, spirit, and devotion to people. Somehow I feel that those four things might come into balance if I lived in Taos. I can’t seem to get anything right living here. My body is out of shape, my mind is a jumble, my spirit feels defeated, and I have no energy left for devotion to people. It seems as if I can’t get the peace of mind I find in New Mexico.

Most people would point out that when I am there, I am on vacation, so it is natural to have more peace of mind while there. But it is more than that. It is in the air, the light, the energy. There is something about Taos that cannot be explained if you don’t experience it for yourself. You either get it or you don’t. You either love it or you don’t. It accepts you or it doesn’t. For whatever reason, it has a hold on me, one that has yet to let go.


My daughter will graduate from high school this year. My son turns 21 and is already out on his own. Maybe the time to take the leap is coming soon. I have Facebook friends who live in Taos, but no one I actually know well. I would be moving there alone, leaving my friends and family behind. The thought should probably scare me, but it doesn’t. I have always been independent. I have always taken care of myself. And, I have always marched to the beat of a different drummer. Taos may be just what I have been looking for all these years. Maybe in Taos, my restless spirit will finally be at peace. It will finally be home.

What happens when you take a break from Facebook?

Eleven days I ago I deactivated my Facebook account. The negative posts, political bashing, and idiotic memes were beginning to have an adve...