Nature Walk

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The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. ~ Proverbs 9:10

It is a beautiful Saturday morning. I find myself in the throws of nature. All signed up to join the Jr. High kids for camping, I grab my courage (what little there is) and join the group for a nature walk. These youngsters are leaping to and fro without any effort or hesitation. I, on the other hand, want to park underneath the closest tree and read a book. But still, I press on.

We reach our destination, and a hundred feet below sits a beautiful creek filled with fresh water. Large boulders and loose dirt blaze the trail to the oasis. From underneath a shaded tree, I watch as every child and adult heads down the dusty trail. I participate with eyes only, and decide to stay where it is shady and safe. Watching from a bird’s eye view, I felt at peace with things. I was not wired to trample around in mud and sand. Some may call that fear, but I liken it to being true to who God made me.

Taking a step toward God’s voice takes a lot more courage than I can ever muster up. I am not much of a thrill seeker myself. Often times I will retreat to the safest and most comfortable spot. I am sort of an inside girl, I guess you could say, when it comes to–well, a lot of things.

Hearing God’s voice and responding will often times mean recognizing who God made in you. There is freedom in the embrace of your uniqueness. We long to fit in, and will often times try and alter our own personality to fit the mold. Which mold? If I remember correctly, God created each of us uniquely.

The chinks in our armor can often times go unseen. Being down on yourself for not being just like everybody else is a slippery slope. Don’t go there. God made you the way you are on purpose, for a purpose.

If jumping into fresh water with reckless abandonment is your thing, then go for it! But if you’d rather park it underneath the cool shade of a tree, then have a seat my friend.

The view is pretty nice from up there.

Organization, And The Power Of The To-Do List

Organization is something some people have mastered, and some people, well don’t. I’m an in-betweener. Once Mr. B. starts calling, texting, or my favorite, e-mailing me with a laundry list of things to do, I quickly revert to my Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead line. “I’m right on top of that, honey!” Only to realize a week later, that e-mail he sent still sits in my inbox unopened and unfulfilled. Eek! (Eagerly holds hands out for Wife Of The Year trophy!)

I believe I might be a little ADD, or ADHD, or OCD, or all the ends in D words that mean you have a hard time concentrating on one task at a time, or you just get fixated on one freaking thing, and you can’t move on. (Raises hand.) Guilty.  It’s a flipping miracle I’ve completed one manuscript much less seven now, (really ten if you count the ones the public will probably never see), but who’s counting, right?

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh! Organization. Yes, and the power of the To-Do list. Untitled design-11If you’re like me, busy with children, and a husband, and a big hairy dog, and editors e-mailing you telling you to get your butt in gear, then you might need the power and the help of a To-Do list. Even if you’re not like me, start writing a To-Do list. Every night before you go to bed, jot down all the stuff you know you need to get done the next day. List them in order from top priority to not so top priority, and then let it go. Breathe, and focus on reading a good book before you go to sleep because you don’t have to remember everything anymore.

If you want to put it in your phone, that’s great. But, know, there is something therapeutic about taking pen/pencil to paper and writing down your To-Do’s, then when one is accomplished, taking that same writing utensil and marking it out. I mean really get in there and scribble it out real good. Take that you stupid three weeks of ironing!  But, keep in mind, you actually have to do the task before you can scribble it out. I know, bummer of all bummers, right?

You can do it. I believe in you!

Cemeteries

I always loved watching people’s reactions when I told them I lived on Cemetery Road. Especially when I had to give directions to my house, which ended with “turn right at the giant crucifix”. Most people were shocked and more than a little creeped out. And most of the time, they’d tell me so. Like suddenly I was creepy because of my street’s name.

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Turn Right Here!

So, I’d just add fuel to the fire by telling them my house was next door to the cemetery. Literally. The only things separating my home from the graveyard were a narrow, dirt road and a row of bushes. They just thought they were creeped out before. Ha!

But the question I never could answer was, “What’s it like living next door to a cemetery?” I’d shrug my shoulders and mumble something like, “I dunno. It’s fine, I guess.”

I moved out of that house in 1998, when I was twenty-two years old. Now I’m forty, and I’ve had time to reflect on how having dead people for neighbors affected my life.

For one thing, when I was very young, I thought my parents owned the cemetery. I can’t remember when I finally understood that it wasn’t ours, but it always felt like part of my home. We moved into that house when I was two years old, so I learned about death at an early age. I’d see the processionals and the fresh graves. Sometimes, I’d even find one that was dug, but the funeral hadn’t made it there yet. My friend Chris jumped down inside one once. And honestly? They aren’t six feet deep.

I used to enjoy walking through the cemetery in the afternoon. It was quiet. Calm. I always felt an essence of peaceful serenity when I was there. I would read the gravestones and wonder what the deceased were like in life. Were they nice people? Were they adventurous? Timid? I’d make up stories in my mind about the people whose remains lay just a few feet beneath me.

horizontal graveNighttime was a different story, though. Especially when I was a teenager. Living on the Gulf Coast, it was more than little humid. An eerie fog liked to collect on the ground, and the headlights reflected off the gravestones as I drove past. It was freaky to say the least. Sometimes I’d park my car 4 feet from the front door and dart inside as quickly as I could. I don’t know why a place that was so peaceful during daylight scared me so much at night.

I suppose you could say I was fascinated with death—but not in a morbid way. I found the different beliefs associated with death interesting. From the Egyptian mummies, to Christian burials to cremation. Why did people make such a big deal out of what to do with the body? The person wasn’t there anymore. Only the shell that housed their spirit remained. I decided early on that funerals aren’t really for the deceased. They’re for the survivors. For the family and friends. Funerals are simply a way for people to grieve.

To this day, I’m still drawn to cemeteries. There’s just something about them that makes me feel comfortable and connected to the world. Maybe the spirits of the deceased are still hanging around. Maybe they enjoy my company. Who knows?

What I do know is that my fascination with death and cemeteries is what fuels my drive for writing about the paranormal.

Carrie Pulkinen has always been fascinated with the paranormal. Of course, when you grow up next door to a cemetery, the dead (and the undead) are hard to ignore. Pair that with her passion for writing, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an exciting storyteller. Carrie spent the first part of her professional life as a high school journalism and yearbook teacher. In her free time, Carrie likes to read, take pictures, and play with her kids. Her novel Reawakened will be released later this year.

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