Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Rebel Hallelujah

My friend, Ivy Bliss, mentioned Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah on Facebook this morning. Somehow, from that, I proceeded to listen to four or five different versions of this soulful, evocative song. The melody haunts, lifts, lowers and crawls, then rises up again in hallelujah.

I kept coming back to Leonard Cohen's version. It is his song, after all. He wrote it. Everyone else's? Great covers. Jeff's. Kd Lang's. Rufus Wainwright's.

But, the angels in the background (both human and organ-ic) and Leonard's breathy voice stumbling out monotone, clipped words of agony and ecstasy do something to me that the other versions don't quite achieve: it wrings tears from the cockles of my heart. Hallelujah.

My prayer today is that you find the blessing in every moment. Better yet, the Hallelujah.

Happy Thanksgiving ~ Olivia J. Herrell

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratuitous Zen

I am grateful that I can choose to be grateful. There was a time in my life when thankfulness was a occurrence. You know.

"Why, thank you for that. How sweet."

Or just, "Thank you."

Today, I know that one can live that way, in a whole 'attitude of gratitude'. I choose that. I want to live like that all the time, not just some time. To stay so steeped in appreciation for the awe and the beauty that is my life, every single moment that I draw a breath, oh, to live like that.

I know where my zen is.

When my awareness rests in gratitude of, and for, the moment. That is my zen. Anywhere. Doing anything. Or doing nothing at all. Zen is my grateful awareness. It is me living in gratitude, for what is, just because.

What's your zen?

~ Olivia J. Herrell

What? You over here looking for another sneak peak? Wanna see some Emily zen? Okay. But just a little.
"The next morning dawned on one of those rare crystalline days usually reserved for the middle of January. Catalina Island loomed in the distance, but looked close enough to touch. Emily folded her hands to her chest in the opening pose of a sun salutation. Reaching for the sky she looked up at the point where her fingertips brushed together, then exhaled as she bent at the waist, arms out to her sides. At the bottom of the graceful dive she inhaled and arched her back, looking up."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Better All The Time

Yesterday marked the beginning of pulling back out of the wild gray yonder, and today I woke up feeling fantastic. I attribute it to Serotone, a natural supplement by Apex Energetics, one of my favorite suppliers. Which confirms my suspicion: low serotonin levels are causing the oversleeping, overeating and overemoting. Classic depression symptoms. Gone.

I missed my post, but I'm happy to report that I did write another chapter (700ish pages) yesterday and it was good enough to pass muster by my new reader, JP.

BIG rebel yell: YEEHAAAAA!

Which is rebel for I am seriously grateful because:
  1. I feel great and have a much-diminished appetite (including no desire at all for sweets!);
  2. Not only am I writing again, it's good! (God, that sounds self-serving. But I really like it!)
  3. When I asked JP if he wanted to read it (yeah, all of it, which amounts at the moment to about 8000 words including the synopsis), he without hesitation said YES and immediately sat down and did just that. Yeehaaw, I hit the jackpot, didn't I! Anybody jealous?
  4. JP likes it. And my writing. He read a bit of Churches, Chickens and ChiChi's (my currently sidelined, half-completed first novel) and laughed out loud. Yes! He did! My heart pitter-pattered.
  5. Once again, blogging has helped me get back on track with writing. Seems that falling off the Blogger wagon (for me) is equivalent to writer's block.
So, yeah. Big gratitude. Big rebel yell.

Wanna peek? Okay. A tiny excerpt from yesterday's chapter. Meet Emily, our heroine, through the eyes of James Kersey, the attorney who tracked her down. She was taken thirty years ago by her mother, and until now knew nothing of her real identity or that she had a father who never gave up searching for her.

Breezing in to his suite, Jim deposited the briefcase on his secretary’s desk and grabbed the file she was holding in the air for him.

“Thanks, Rachelle. Is she in there?” he asked, then hesitated at the look on her carved ebony face.


“Oh nothing,” she replied, in a voice that meant anything but. “Emily’s getting restless. You’d better go on in.”

Shaking his head at what was obviously some joke he wasn’t in on, Jim pushed through the door of his inner sanctum. No Emily.

Crossing to his desk, he dropped her file then strode to the conference room. She wasn’t there either. In two strides he was outside the bathroom door knocking.

“Emily? You in there?” he asked, careful to keep the urgency out of his voice.

The toilet flushed and the door opened on a petite woman with glowing red hair shot through with gold. He stared, having never seen hair that color. He wasn’t sure if it was the halo of light behind her, but for a moment she looked like a cherubim or a mermaid, or some other exotic creature. Then her bottom lip poked out in a full-on pout and her eyes shot fire. He’d never seen green eyes do that, either

There you have it. I'll share more tidbits as time goes on, if you'd like. What say you?

~ Olivia J. Herrell

A little Beatles to celebrate the Friday before Thanksgiving. Happy Friday!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ode to an Orange Tree

In the midst of the
Hurry, hurry
Jumble of thoughts
That drive me through
The vortex of time,
Careening full throttle,
I get moments,
Snatches of
Precarious calm.

Sucked back in
I carom on.
Where is my peace?
Even sitting still
I can't seem to find it.
Oh mighty tree,
Your orange boughs
Arrest my flight.
I gaze.
And stay.
A while. ~ Olivia J. Herrell, October 10, 2011

It's back. That awful depression is back. No wonder I can't gratitude myself out of this slump. Any other time, it would work. But not against the deep, black hole of depression.

I was so happy to get off the Prozac. Never mind it saved my butt for six months by smoothing everything out. That tiny, twenty milligram capsule made me feel normal again.

But I hate taking man-made medicine. So at the first opportunity (which happened to coincide with the expiration of the prescription) I stopped. For a couple of months I was fine. Great. I was newly in love, my new business was growing and all was right with the world.

Then my sex drive tanked. It didn't just dip, it disappeared. I couldn't find my calm, my center, my peace. I was picking up a celestial hum that garbled my senses and interfered with my thoughts.
I felt like Frodo, unable to escape the Fiery Eye. No matter where I turned it was there, gazing at me with malevolent intent.

Then came the restless, irritable and discontent. By yesterday, I couldn't stand being in my own skin. All I could do was hold on with white knuckles.

Suspecting that my old nemesis was back, I got myself to an AA meeting where I talked to a dear friend who has much experience with depression. She made me promise to call for a doctor's appointment today.

I did. But only after sleeping twelve hours and having to drag myself out of bed. After a couple of hours surfing the web, calling doctors and clinics (the last hour of which I was in tears) I ended up on the phone with the Georgia Crisis Center. They got me in to the Pathways Clinic on Monday, rather than the end of December. Hell, I could be dead by then.

So. Today I am grateful for friends who love me, a fiance who supports me no matter what, state mental health programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, my faithful laptop and kind, compassionate people on the other end of the phone who move mountains to get care for those in need.

Still hanging in there, Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grin and Bear It

I thought, after blogging yesterday and making an attempt to be grateful, that I would feel better. At least a little bit.

Not so. Guess I'll just have to keep it up. Which was the plan anyway.

Today I am grateful for Moe's Southwest Grill. Fresh ingredients, college kids behind the counter and in the booths, my kind of music overhead. Thanks, Moe's.

I am also thankful for Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Ten years ago, I bought the book and began her program. I didn't finish it, but I did churn out copious pages of a memoir-ish novel that I then lost to a failed hard drive. I had not 'backed up', nor had I saved my file, other than on the computer itself. I am grateful that I learned that lesson.

I'm also grateful that a savvy techy dude managed to save some of the manuscript, though it was garbled and very incomplete. The salvaged hard copy has a spot in my file cabinet in case I ever have the heart to reconstruct it.

Back to Julia and The Artist's Way. Last night I stumbled across the book in my collection and snatched it out of the case.

"Ah," I thought. "Maybe Julia can save me. And, if not, at least I'll get some writing done."

So, last night I began the twelve-week program. For those not familiar, this involves daily morning pages, stream of consciousness, sans censorship.

Lastly, today I am thankful that, in spite of the fact that I feel like a raw, throbby, exposed nerve, this is temporary and will pass.

In the meantime, I'm hanging in there. I promise.

Happy Tuesday, Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. For my writer friends, Julia originally self-published. This is from Wikipedia:

"The book was originally titled, Healing the Artist Within, and was turned down by the William Morris literary agency, before being self-published. After the book began to sell widely, the title was then changed, when the book was published by Jeremy Tarcher (now The Penguin Group) in 1992. The book went on to reach the Top 10 best seller list and onto the list of the Top 100 Best Self-Help Books of All Time. The book was eventually put into the "Self-Publishing Hall of Fame" after selling millions of copies worldwide.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Taking Time to Be Grateful

It is November. And Gratitude month. So why am I not feeling grateful?

Is it that I am dwelling on the whys and wherefores of daily life, the potholes and aggravations that are inevitable along any road, no matter the traveler?

Yeah. It is.

So. In this moment, I resolve to remember the good, to take time each day to see what is right in my world. I will make gratitude lists, count the bumps on my steering wheel while driving and enumerate all the big and little things, the wonders of my life, the joys, the successes, the loves.

I will see through the eyes of my heart, rather than constantly scanning the horizon with my critical mind.

I will look for the blessings, for the miracles. And remember that life is about perspective, after all.

I will remember that we get what we ask for, and that what we focus on grows bigger. I want more ease and comfort in my life, so I will focus on that which brings it, rather than whether my bills are paid.

I will tear my eyes away from the terrifying abyss of life and look within, where the God of my understanding resides.

I will be grateful by practicing an attitude of gratitude, and create good by dwelling on the good already present.

So. For the rest of November, while my writerly friends are pounding away at NaNoWriMo, I will show up here, on Blogger, to share my thankfulness.

And maybe, just maybe, you'll catch the bouquet of gratitude, too.

Happy we're all in this together, Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Melancholy Baby

"It is said that Julius Caesar was able to dictate different letters to several secretaries at the same time without losing the line of thought for each dictation." ~ a tidbit from The Choleric personality,

I recently discovered that I am a Melancholic. Or of melancholic temperament. Yet, somewhere along the line I adopted a Sanguine-esque personality (extroverted) in response to the painful shyness of my melancholic youth.

I will spare you the details, but each time my counselor/therapist referred to me or my reactions or behaviors as melancholic, I ignored him.  I simply could not relate. Melancholy? Me? Nah.

Months later, I finally googled melancholic personality. And damn. I am that. I was flabbergasted. No Way!

But way. I knew it even as I read the words. Not a hundred percent, mind you. But close enough. Turns out being a melancholic ain't so bad. Especially since I'm over the shy part. Of course, I'm still getting used to the idea that in certain aspects I'm not who I thought I was.

But what felt, in the beginning, like my 'dark side', feels quite comfortable to me now. I'm growing accustomed to it. And Ms. Sanguine? She's earned an indefinite vacation traveling the world.

Are you a bit curious as to which of the four temperaments you (or one of the characters in your novel) might be? Check out

~ Olivia J. Herrell

And for all of you melancholy babies out there (and especially my sweet JP), here's Connie Francis, circa 1958, singing Melancholy Baby.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Beatles Style

Just checking in from the Florida panhandle on this sunny, brisk, November 2nd day to say:
Happy Birthday, JP.

May this
be but the first
of many
we celebrate
one another,

Happy Birthday, Love!
For you, on your special day, your very own Beatles' birthday song:

Lots of birthday love, Olivia J. Herrell
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