Fear(less) (poem)

Don’t ever tell me, “You can’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “You won’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “You shouldn’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “Don’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “You might look stupid”

Don’t ever tell me, “You dream too much”

Don’t ever tell me, “You might fail”

Don’t ever tell me, “That’s good for someone else, but . . . ”

Don’t ever tell me, “Just try to fit in”

Don’t ever tell me, “Don’t stand out”

Don’t ever tell me, “You’re not good enough”

Don’t ever mould me with your doubts

Don’t hold me back from your own fears

Don’t try to protect me from what scares you

Don’t try to shelter or silence my spirit

Don’t make me be afraid to live, like you

Don’t stop me from making big mistakes

Don’t stop me from finding me

Don’t laugh if I don’t look just like you

Let me explore, and live, and breathe

Let me find out who I am

Let me see the world through my eyes

Let me love, and laugh, and rage

Let me live fearlessly in this life

Heather L. Flood

03.29.18

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Endings and Beginnings

October 21, 2017 . . . that was the last time I posted anything of substance.  I posted a random poem in January, but other than that, nothing since last October.  Maybe I’ve had nothing to say.  Maybe I’ve had too much to say.  Maybe I didn’t know how to say whatever it was that wanted to come out.  Who knows?  So let’s see what comes out of these fingers today . . .

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See that board above the keyboard?  Yes, I’m back at the radio station.  The same radio station that my last post wax poetic on having left.  I tried a life beyond radio for two weeks.  I couldn’t do it.  I spent two weeks working for a company that was screening potential customers during health care open enrollment.  People are crazy and mean sometimes.  I will never be mean to a customer service representative ever again.  In the end though, talking to people was too much for me and I went back to the safety of sitting in a room by myself and talking to a microphone.

Right now my heart is sad.  I am the kind of person that when I make a friend then I am in with my whole heart.  I have people in my life who are acquaintances.  We may laugh and joke and maybe even share a touching story with each other.  But the people with whom I develop a true friendship . . . I am all in.  My heart is on my sleeve with those people.  So when one of those people leaves my life then my heart breaks.  That is what I am dealing with right now.

I understand that not all people are meant to be in your life forever.  People come into your life for a season.  Maybe their season is meant to change your life, or maybe their season is so that you can change theirs.  But their departure at the end of their season still hurts.  I get invested in people.  I give them a part of myself, a part that I can’t ever get back.  Often times I am left asking myself why they left or examining my part of the friendship to see if I did something wrong.  Ultimately, though, I feel emptier.  There is a space in my heart that was once occupied by that person, and often times that space will never be filled back up again.

Life for me beyond those people could go one of two ways.  I could turn angry and bitter.  I could live a jaded life where I stop letting people into my heart and resign myself to loneliness as a form of protection.  Or I could live as I do now.  I choose to try to understand that those people did what they thought was best for them and their future.  I choose to hope that I had a positive impact on their life, and I choose to be thankful that they shared a small part of their life with me.

You see, bitterness and anger don’t fill the heart.  As a matter of fact, those things only harden the heart.  Being jaded is not a badge of honor.  It is a sign of weakness.  A person who lives a jaded life full of anger and bitterness is too scared and weak to take another chance on something or someone after they have been hurt.  A jaded person lives in fear of getting hurt again, so they wrap themselves in armor to keep everything out.  But armor doesn’t just keep out some people or experiences.  Armor keeps out ALL people and experiences.  A jaded person misses opportunities for joy and happiness, because armor is not a filter that keeps out the bad and lets in the good.  Armor is a wall that nothing can get through.  Nothing!

I know I sound like I am lecturing on how to be a healthy person.  Maybe I am lecturing.  Maybe there is a person reading this right now that needs to hear what I am saying.  Or maybe I need to hear what I am saying.  Maybe I need the reminder, because if you are honest with yourself then you will be able to admit that sometimes a person can forget what they know.

I can’t control what others do.  I can only control how I react to what they do.  My life is a little dimmer without the light that former friends once added to my life.  But maybe my life only has room for so many people.  Maybe people are removed from my life to make room for new people.  That doesn’t mean I will forget those people who helped create my past.  It just means that their chapter in the book of my life said its final words, and it’s time to start a new chapter.  Memories can take me back to those people as new words are written with a new cast of characters.

The loss of a friend takes a little bit of my heart, but I have a big heart with a lot of love to give and a lot of smiles to share.  I look forward to the next person that will come into my life that I will get to call “friend.”

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Until next time . . .

I know only that I do not know what lies ahead

“Girls you’ve gotta know when it’s time to turn the page.”
Tori Amos, Tori Amos: From the Choirgirl Hotel

This is going to sound so weird, but I killed a big part of myself.  Not literally, obviously, but it’s true.

Two weeks ago I walked into work and turned in my resignation.  As of 5 p.m. Friday I officially became a former disc jockey.  My transmitter went dark.  I hung up the headphones.  My broadcast day came to an end.  My station went off the air.  I retired from the broadcasting field.

From the time I was 14 years old I wanted to be in radio.  Music has always been such a huge part of my life that a career in broadcasting just seemed a natural fit.  I wanted to talk over songs, give away prizes, take requests, meet celebrities, and have people love me.  I needed that love and adoration.  I needed to be needed.  So when I was 23 years old, in March of 2000, I enrolled in Broadcast Center in St. Louis.  They had a very focused program that led to actual jobs in radio.  I loved it!  I loved doing my airshifts at school.  I loved learning how to produce commercials.  I took great satisfaction in cutting and splicing audio tape, and I totally rocked it!  I was eager to get out into the world and begin my takeover of the airwaves.  I was hired for my first job before I even finished the program.

In January, 2001, I moved to Paducah, Kentucky, where I took my first job with Withers Broadcasting.  I worked for a cluster of 3 stations:  WZZL-FM, WREZ-FM, and WMOK-AM, which were all housed in Metropolis, Illinois.  The radio station was tiny and far from high-tech.  I was broadcasting to cows and corn.  The pay was terrible, and I had no benefits, but I loved it.  I was doing what I had dreamed of for 10 years.  I was literally living my dream.

A few weeks after I started working for those stations we moved into our new-to-us building.  It was bigger and prettier than the building we moved out of.  But things were a little backwards in that building.  This was most evident in the fact that the hallways were carpeted (in horrible blue carpet), but the studios all had ceramic tile floors.  **Note to readers:  when soundproofing a room, don’t put ceramic tile on the floor.**

I was with that company for 3-weeks-shy-of 11-years.  In that time I learned how to do everything except sales.  I was on-air, commercial production, music scheduler, program director, traffic manager.  I was a well-rounded and valuable employee.  BUT my pay still sucked and I still had no benefits.  By the time I left the company I was married and had a 6-year-old son.

Somewhere around 2004 I discovered a frog on the radio . . . Froggy 103.7.  It was a country station out of Murray, Kentucky.  I fell in love with it immediately.  All the jocks had adorable amphibious names.  They wished listeners a hoppy birthday, and they went out on frog gigs.  There mascot was a giant anthropomorphic frog named, fittingly, Mr. Froggy.  I was hooked.  A coworker told me that if I were ever to go to work for that station then my name needed to be Heather McRibbits, which was a play on my maiden name.  I had a new goal in my career.

December 27, 2011, I walked into the offices of Forever Communications in Murray, Kentucky, for my first day of work at Froggy 103.7.  I was on the midday shift where I spent 6 years as Heather McRibbits.  I was still living the dream.

But eventually all dreams come to an end.  A person must wake up and move on with life.  It’s funny but even when I was going to school at Broadcast Center I couldn’t see myself still in radio at 40 or 50.  I think maybe deep inside I knew I would not spend my entire working life in radio.  After all, nobody wants to hear their grandma trying to into the latest Top 20 song from some skanky pop star.

I have no regrets about leaving the only career I wanted and the only real career I’ve known.  I knew it was time to move on the same way that you know when it’s time to buy more toilet paper.  In my 17 years in radio I have met many amazing people that made great impacts on my life.  I made, and lost, lots of friends.  That’s the thing about radio . . . everybody is always looking for the next best gig, and a market like Paducah is always a market that is a stopping point on the way to somewhere else.  Some friends were in my life for less than a year.  Some friends were in my life for several years, but ultimately everyone moved on.

When I look back on who I was when I first moved to Paducah I see a 24-year-old woman who was still just a scared little kid.  I moved to a new city and state where I knew absolutely nobody.  I may as well have moved to a foreign country.  I am not the same woman now that I was then.  I don’t need the same things now that I needed from my career then.  I don’t have the same priorities, and I am a little more wise, and a little more jaded than I was then.  The insecure and naive little girl that moved to Paducah in 2001 got lost somewhere along the way, but she had been replaced by a woman that is strong, independent, and secure in who she is and what she wants.  I have made mistakes in those years, but I have learned even more.  When I first moved to Paducah my career was my life.  It was all I could see and everything revolved around that.  Now my career is something that takes up 40 hours of my week, and is pretty low on the priority list.  My career is a necessary evil.  But that rearranged priority list had allowed room for new priorities.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
Corrie ten Boom

I am back in school.  I am active in my church, and I eager to see where the future will lead.  I don’t know where my life will go from here.  I have hopes for the future, but I am open to wherever God chooses to lead me from here.  Am I scared by so many unknowns in my life?  Nope, because God has seen fit to put me exactly where he wants me in this exact moment, and I have complete faith that He will continue to put me where he wants me in my future.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but that is not a scary thought for me.  I am not frightened of all of the change going on in my life.  I am excited about it.  Change used to instill a butt-puckering sense of fear and anxiety for me, but now change means possibility.  It means something new, clean, and exciting.  Change means something fresh and unknown.  Change means a chance at discovery and exploration.  Change means the future.

I spent too long fearing change, and thus staying somewhere where I knew I was safe but unhappy.  Today I don’t know where I will be tomorrow, but I am happy and I am hopeful.

“Do not let the memories of your past limit the potential of your future. There are no limits to what you can achieve on your journey through life, except in your mind.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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Until next time . . .

What is your hope?

A T-Rex with ambition

Until next time . . .

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 14 – Your Life In 7 Years

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When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?  Did you want to be a doctor, teacher, police officer, firefighter, or in the military?

What about when you were a teenager?  What grand career did you imagine for yourself?  Were you picturing your life would be like?  Married?  Children?  Lots of friends?

Now, as an adult, how does your life measure up to what you imagined it would be?  Are you dissatisfied with the differences between what you imagined and what is reality?  Are you happy that things didn’t pan out the way you imagined they would?

Life never really seems to work out the way we plan.  I once heard someone say, “If you want to make God laugh then tell Him your plans.”

I stopped imagining my future a long time ago.  But the topic of today’s writing challenge wants me to try to look ahead.  I don’t know what will happen, but I know what I would like to see in my life.

Day 14 – Your life in 7 years

I don’t know where my life will be in 7 years.  I know only that, if I am still alive, I will be 45 years old.  I will have just celebrated 18 years of marriage to my husband, and I will be the mother of a 16-year-old boy.  If I’m not still alive here on Earth then I will have gone on to eternal life with Jesus Christ in Heaven.

7 years from now I hope I am not still being Heather McRibbits on-air my radio station.  I hope by then that I will have found a better way to use my career to serve God.  I hope that my son will have given himself to Christ.  I hope that he will be growing into a strong and independent young man, and reaching for dreams of his own.  I hope that in 7 years I will have written something that hit someone to their core and changed their life.  I hope to not have a large circle of friends, but to still have that small core of friends I can always lean on and laugh with.  I hope that in 7 years I am where God wants me, and that I am living out His plan for my life.

I can’t say “this is what I will be doing with my life, and this is where I will be living, and this is what I will not be doing.”  Nobody knows what tomorrow holds.  Right now I have a life of stability, happiness, a good marriage, a healthy son, and a job that pays the bills.  Tomorrow that could all change.  I can say with certainty only that I know I will not be going out to eat lunch today.  Beyond that, nothing can be predicted.  Only God knows what he has planned for our lives.  All I can do is follow where he leads me, and in 7 years I hope that is what I am doing.

Until next time . . .

Dancing with the devil

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I’ve heard that we need to stay away from toxic people, otherwise they will bring us down to where they are rather than us lifting them up to where we are.  But how does someone who tries to see the best in everyone do that without feeling like she’s given up on people?  How can she stay away from the toxic people when she feels like she may be missing an opportunity to rescue them from themselves?
The empathetic heart wasn’t given to her for no reason.
The parade of damaged and lost people wasn’t brought through her life for no reason.
Take her blinders off and she’ll still see the good in a person as they are stabbing her in the back.

1,158-square-feet of the American dream

I’m sitting my studio right now feeling a bit (a lot) nervous and was thinking about how quickly plans can change.

1.  I’m not leaving my job at Froggy.

2.  My husband and I are meeting with our real estate agent to put a bid in on the house I feel in love with a few weeks ago.

A month ago I was ready to empty my desk and tell this radio station to burn to the ground, and I had no plans of even looking for a house.

I am terrified about this entire home-buying adventure.  What if the (just installed last year) roof caves in the day after we sign all the papers?  What if the water heater goes out next week?  What if the (just installed last year) a/c blows up?  What if I burn the kitchen down?  What if one of the trees falls into the living room?  What if I am getting my husband and I in over our financial head?

But what if nothing happens?  What if we move in and arrange the furniture, hang pictures, get Nathan’s promised kitty (that he already has a name picked out for), and truly make our house into a home the way we’ve never really been able to do with our apartment?

For all the times I try to see the positive side of things I am still a “what-if” girl.  Constantly questioning “what if” has kept me from doing so much in my life.  I spent 11 years at my last radio station because I was so busy saying “what if no other radio station wants me,” that I was too afraid to even try to do better.

I’m tired of “what if.”  I’m tired of living in an apartment, and sharing my (very thin) living room walls with other people.  I’m tired of having to base my decorating decisions on the rules of the apartment complex.  I’m tired of having to ask permission to plant flowers.  I’m tired of having to tell my son that he can’t have a pet (that he’s wanted for years) because of the “no pets allowed in the complex” rule.  I want my own space.  I want my little 1,158-square-foot piece of the American dream.

From the minute I first saw the house I immediately started mentally arranging my furniture. in it’s rooms.  At the same time I have been trying so hard to not get my hopes up.  I keep telling myself that I won’t be disappointed if something happens and we can’t get this house.  I keep reminding myself that if we can’t get this house then it just wasn’t the right time, and we will try again in the future.  But my hopes are up.  Mentally arranging the furniture is a pretty good sign as to high the hopes are raised.  I want this house so badly that I can feel the new carpet under my feet.  I can feel the weight of the front door key in my hand.  I can feel the breeze coming through the large windows.  I can hear crickets as I sit on the front porch on summer evenings.  To say that my hopes are up is an understatement.

Right now having a house of our own doesn’t seem real, even as last week we went through the whole pre-approval process, and have plans to meet with our real estate agent this evening to make a bid on the house.  It feels a bit surreal, like at any moment I’m going to wake up, look at my husband, and say, “man, I just had the strangest dream.”  It will not seem real to me until the moment we have the keys in hand, and even then it may still take a while for reality to set in.

I’m trying to ignore the natural inclination of my brain to steer me away from this with “what if’s.”  I’m excited and terrified and hopeful and nervous all at the same time.

Until next time . . .

A New Day (poem)

Today is a new day
to dance in the rain
Today is a new day
to let go of yesterday’s pain
Today is a new day
to hug and kiss and smile
Today is a new day
to go the extra mile
Today is a new day
to pick up what you put down
Today is a new day
to turn everything around
Today is a new day
to make a fresh start
Today is a new day
to mend a broken heart
Today is a new day
to let the past remain the past
Today is yesterday’s new tomorrow
and today is fleeting fast
But before today becomes yesterday
Don’t let a moment pass you by
Tomorrow will soon become today
And today will quickly fly
Today is a new day
to finally slow down
Today is a new day
to make your life your own
By:  Carrie Leigh
03.03.15

Separate (poem)

What are you doing in this great big world
As I close my eyes tonight
What are you seeing, thinking, dreaming
Are you alright
It’s been so long since I’ve heard your voice
Since I’ve seen your face
We’re once again strangers
Occupying the same time in space
I hope, with you, all is well
I hope you are reaching for your dreams
I hope the stars are in your hands
I hope you never think of me
So another day ends with you on my mind
Proving once again
That the best thing to ever happen to us
Was the day it came to an end

By:  Carrie Leigh
02.06.15