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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

Author

vickipugliese

Make America Kind Again

We’re expert judges. Shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, American Idol, The Voice have given us years of experience and a feeling that we’re entitled to notice the mistakes of others. We have no problem, even though we are not in the industries discussing how a contestant is a little “pitchy”.  It’s easy to walk right on passed the line and declare a song or a dance a disaster, as if we could easily do better. Over a decade of judges like Simon Cowell and their harsh comments have desensitized us and sometimes find their way into our own words or at least our thoughts. We easily compare two dancers, singers and even songwriters now, forgetting that each person has their own gifts and strengths.

I can’t throw the first stone. As I have learned what the judges are looking for I now spot those tiny imperfections and jump to give my opinion to those watching with me. Not that I could ever dance or sing at those levels. I dismiss their hard work and dedication and the situation these reality shows have put them in as if it’s an easy undertaking.

Social media is not much different. We judge politicians, and even the general public without knowing these people at all. Sure some of us are very informed, but all of our life experiences and those things we hold dear color our perception of them. Words are taken out of context and compared with something someone else says. And for some unknown reason we have decided it’s fine for us to judge even common people we’ve never met. We make meme’s of silly pictures, ridiculing them. I can count myself among those who quickly share. I do enjoy a good chuckle. 

When social media first took off we were more careful, cautious with our words. We didn’t get into lengthy discussions with others of issues, some of which, don’t really mean that much to us. We simply get caught up in the conversation. Bullying on the internet is a well reported phenomenon and perhaps many of us have found ourselves on one side or the other of biting comments. We know better. We don’t treat each other this way in person. We’re much more apt to hold our tongue when we disagree face to face. Or maybe that’s just me. Little by little we slide. Little by little we change the line of what’s acceptable – so that we no longer expect people to be good citizens, kind and polite. We shrug off bad days and laugh when we feel like “what a B*!ch I was”. Little by little, that becomes the norm. Our language slightly looser than it was a decade ago. We’re actually impressed when someone is a decent human being. Suddenly they’re considered a hero. Someone who kindly brings a meal to the homeless, or helps a child with their bike chain. These are no longer common place and so, now, we consider them special for being so kind.

It didn’t happen all at once. The slip was slow and constant. I have seen the change in myself. In my expectations, my language and my actions. It’s easy to shrug them off instead of being saddened by the change, or embarrassed. It’s not really embarrassing anymore, if everyone around you is the same, is it? Or is that just me.

For me it’s time to turn around. Start the walk back up that slope. Be intentional about acts of kindness. Put others before myself – at least as often as I put myself first. It’s time to take my standards and place them somewhere above my expectations, not below. I’m only one. I can’t change anyone else’s mind. I can’t drag people up the hill with me. But I can openly admit I’m turning around, so at very least there are others out there who might question me if they find me heading back down. Accountability. I need that and if you find yourself on the other end of my unkindness – feel free to point that out. Because I want those standards of years gone by, and if my actions or my words might inspire you to join me – even better.

Today perhaps America or even the world is the tiniest bit kinder because I made that choice.

 

Written By

Vicki L. Pugliese

God did

Just because they danced in darkness, doesn’t mean God didn’t feel their joy.

Just because they sang softly, doesn’t mean God didn’t hear their worship.

Just because they loved unnoticed, doesn’t mean God didn’t know.

Just because they laughed alone, doesn’t mean God didn’t share their joy.

Just because their heart broke in silence, doesn’t mean God didn’t feel their pain.

Just because they held their tears back, doesn’t mean God didn’t know their sorrow.

Just because they felt lost in loneliness, doesn’t mean God ever left their side.

Just because grief broke them, doesn’t mean God didn’t pick up the pieces.

Just because no one heard them scream, doesn’t mean God didn’t.

Because God did.

By Vicki L Pugliese

Sequel to Shades of Blues Available Now

The Light and Dark of It; A Journey Back

The Sequel to Shades of Blues; Into a Fractured Mind

Available Now on Amazon.com and Kindle.

How do you convince others you’re mentally stable, when you can’t trust your own mind?

Eloise and Grant desperately want their fairytale life back. When Eloise returns home from North Warren they are filled with hope – and a little anxious. Treatments, meant to cure, have damaged her mind, and her mental stability is constantly in question.

If she’s not careful she may find herself back in the hell of North Warren. Except now there is no dying child, no sympathetic story and no one at North Warren who cares enough to save her.

 

THE LIGHT AND DARK OF IT; A Journey Back delves deep into the challenges faced once someone is released from institutional care. Set in the 1950’s, THE LIGHT AND DARK OF IT; A Journey Back is the thought-provoking, heartbreaking and heartwarming conclusion of SHADES OF BLUES; Into A Fractured Mind that will leave you cheering Eloise on as you fall in love with the small town of Titusville, Pennsylvania.

 

Don’t have your Shades of Blues copy yet? Order Now.

 

Shades of Blues; Into a Fractured Mind Book Release

When tragedy happens unexpectedly, it changes everything.

 

Shades of Blues Paperback on Amazon

 

Shades of Blues; Into a Fractured Mind by Vicki Pugliese is available NOW on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle eBook Formats.  Available soon on Kobo.

Set in rural Titusville, PA – SHADES OF BLUES; Into a Fractured Mind is a powerful and compelling tragic story filled with grace and redemption. Feel free to share! Be the first to own your copy.

You Never Had a Choice

I didn’t realize my worth,
That I’m precious as any gem.
So I didn’t expect to be valued,
And I wasn’t offended by him.

Instead I believed – deep inside,
What he said could not be lies.
I just wanted to find love,
So I took everything in stride.

And when he left, I thought to myself
Surely this is what I deserved,
It must have been all my fault.
I just didn’t know my worth.

So I believed the final lie,
And now I hated me.

 

But there was you and suddenly,
I couldn’t just walk away.
I wanted to forget it all
But you tied my past to today.

And I believed all of the lies,
No soul, and there’s no pain.
This is my life and my choice.
Putting me first in vain.

I couldn’t see that I was tied,
To how I valued you,
The way that I see all life,
So my past is my future too.

And because I hated me,
I had to hate you too.

 

I knew they were lies,
Deep inside somewhere.
The biggest of them was,
That I wouldn’t care.

My life would move on,
I could put you behind,
A much brighter future,
I was so sure I’d find.

But stripping you of your value,
Now I would never find mine,
I never fixed the problem,
It was all just a matter of time.

And because I hated you,
Now forever I’ll hate me.

 

I stole your voice,
I dismissed your worth.
I made a choice,
I denied your birth.

My smile is just a mask,
And the world may never see
The biggest lie I hide,
Is just how much I hate me.

I wish I’d know my value,
That someone would see me.
And love me just the way I am,
Instead of how I should be.

You never had a choice,
Dear God, please forgive me.

By Vicki L. Pugliese

I made the other choice, for which I’ll always be grateful, but I believe perhaps I understand. I hope you find your value, and you find it in our Lord. If this is not your story, and you can’t identify; I hope you will be gentle to those who cry inside.

I’ll Stand Beside You

Bullies come in all sizes. I grew up in a great small town, but it had a clique system and bullies. Those who were different or had lower self-esteem seemed to end up more frequent targets, in my opinion. I grew up when diversity wasn’t something that was relished or embraced. I had friends that were wounded, deeply, by unkind actions and words – wounds that have lasted into their adulthood. Bullying is not new.

I can place myself on the list of those who have experienced bullying; an unkind nickname, comments meant to injure, I’ve been picked last for dodge ball, and physical threats. I experienced the same, not only as a child, but in most places that I have worked, from the criminal to a minor slight. I am no stranger to bullying.

Standing up to bullies is not an uncommon stance. I have been a proponent myself. Although, when I was bullied, that was not how I responded. Instead I shutdown and withdrew. This is the behavior that you would think is the most damaging to someone’s soul, but it is not. The most damaging behavior, in my opinion, is when you find yourself on the other side. When you know how it feels to be bullied but for whatever reason, you find that you yourself are the one being dismissive or unkind to someone who just wants a friend or to be understood.

As a kid, one of my dear friends was frequently bullied by one of the kids who was more popular, more self-assured and more aggressive. What this bully didn’t have was more friends. When our little group decided that our friend had had enough and we were going to stand up to this bully together, we crossed that line. We became the aggressors and we confronted this bully publicly and in force. She had no option but to back down. All she could do was retreat. As a kid, we reveled in our victory. We congratulated each other in our success. We believed in our loyalty. But were we right?

It’s such a gray area, isn’t it? We all hate bullies. We love movies where the underdog standups up to his bully. We love the scene that I lived as a kid in support of my friend. But is that right? How did the bully feel – whether she deserved it or not? Didn’t we commit the same offense as her?

I hate new places of employment. I hate feeling like I don’t belong until I create friendships – that waiting to be picked for a team feeling. Those first weeks where I’m unsure and self-conscious, especially if I’m also struggling to feel competent, they are difficult for me. I’m often not fond of people who make transitions like that difficult.

Nonetheless, I can’t say I have never made someone else’s transition difficult. I have made snap judgements about new coworkers, and not treated them warmly, while they were struggling to fit in. I have withheld my friendship, for sometimes valid reasons. Still, I have committed the offense I so dislike. Where do I draw the line? I can’t throw the first stone.

Recently an old friend told me of the bullying that he experienced as a kid. We were decent enough friends as kids, yet I had no idea he was ever bullied. When he first told me, I was angry at my little town for being so unkind. He deserved better. He deserved to know that he is valuable the way he is, and that people loved and accepted him. He deserved friends who stood up for him as well, and to feel that he didn’t have to fight his battle alone. I wish he had believed in our little group enough that things could have been different for him. I’m not sure they would have – it was a different time.

I hate bullying but I am concerned about how easy it is to become the bully in return. How easy it is to hold someone else to a standard I don’t hold myself to. I want my own way, as much as the next guy, but I need to find ways that use compromise and consideration of others while protecting my boundaries. I need to respect the differences of others better. We all need someone in our corner, that group that says, “I’ll stand beside you.” I need to be in more people’s group.

Determining where the boundary is between self-care and our own bullying in return, may be the most difficult line to find, and one I find most damaging to my soul.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

#writerslife

IMG_4216.JPGYou write a book and you sit back and think, “I did it!” You go through the process of abusing friends and family asking them to read your new baby. You are so proud! Meanwhile you go back and proof read it again, even though you have already proof read it several times, and again you find more mistakes or places it feels “choppy” – the kiss of death for a book. Some of your friends and family plow through your little mess, or more likely, your huge mess because you haven’t learned to be succinct in your writing yet. You find an editor and now… now you are serious.
The first time you open your darling with show track changes on your heart stops for just a second. Then you remind yourself, you want your book to be the best it can be. You weed through the edits, accepting most of them but you put your foot down over a few lines. Obviously your editor is a little inexperienced because that line is AWESOME! You leave it. The editing process takes longer than writing your book did.
You realize your baby is too long, and you have since done a little research. You know you need to get that word count down by 20,000 words. Your research says you should get it down by 60,000 words but you know your book is special, so you modify that research to meet your unique situation. You send your new shorter book back to your editor and the new editing process takes longer than the first because your editor has a real job, or has taken on more editing jobs and it’s no longer your turn. You are the epitome of patience. Finally, your new work of art returns.
You have done more research while you were waiting and realize you should have beta readers and critique partners, which sounds a lot like a beta reader to you. You have now spent so much time and effort on this book that self-publishing seems beneath you. Your friends and family have been very positive, or at least what you heard was positive. Therefore, an agent will surely pick up your work immediately.
You dream of your baby being on a shelf in Barnes and Nobles, front and center, since you’re a local author.
You purchase Writer’s Digest 20xx and begin to skim through it and notice that they strongly encourage you to get a Twitter account, so of course you do. You follow the agent that is specified as a great place to start in the book and the next thing you know you are following dozens of agents, publishers, other authors, editors and random people trying to sell you things to help you in your writing career or agent search.
You figure out you need to write a Query and a Synopsis, and you give it the old college try. You abuse your editor and ask for a couple of free pages of editing. If she’s nice or new, she will. You research the agents you want to query first while you wait. Two pages take two weeks but when they come back, you are excited because now the real fun begins.
You send out twenty queries to the agents you believe are the best match, though you aren’t sure if your genre designation is correct or your age category for that matter. A couple of weeks go by and your get some very polite no thank yous. You start suspecting your genre because it couldn’t be your query or first pages.
Meanwhile you find a beta reader or four and a couple of them actually finish your book, but a couple do not. You start to worry about your first pages, and possibly pacing. The feedback is all very positive still.
You’re getting good at Twitter and have a few people you like to banter with. You win a query review in a Twitter contest and then a second person offers to review your query. Their advice conflicts.
Time passes and you start your sequel. You get a little more input and start suspecting your first pages and your pacing. You hire someone new to do a manuscript review and she confirms your suspicions.
You do your first major manuscript rewrite. You are out of money now. You abuse more friends and family and delve into the coworker pool of beta readers. You are no longer sure you are qualified to write anything. You still haven’t finished your sequel but you start another idea for a book and you say you #amwriting on Twitter, so you still believe it’s true.
All of your original 20 queries are either a no by default for no answer or a very polite no, now. You are afraid to send out new queries until you feel better about the quality of your book. Your family refuses to read the latest revisions.
You join an author’s Facebook group and they ask you to read an excerpt from your work in progress. This is your manuscript but you have down-graded it as insecurities take hold. You get some great ideas from the group and you rework the section they reviewed, wishing they had reviewed the entire work in progress.
#PitchWars2017 begins and you enter to try to win a “Mentor”. You read the Mentor’s wish lists and none of them match perfectly, so you pick those that you think are your kind of people. You ignore the one or two things they are NOT looking for that match your book, hoping the parts that match override those details. You are really wondering about your genre now.
You start thinking you should have self-published or you should take up painting.
So You Think You Can Dance starts up for the summer and you put off doing anything while you watch the show. You may get back to your book or you may take the summer off, you haven’t decided yet. The Walking Dead is coming too…

#writerslife

By Vicki L. Pugliese

If I had only known…

I wish I would have known while my dad was alive. I only traveled home about yearly, or bi-yearly. I only called about monthly, sometimes longer. Every time I would go to his house, he would invite me into the living room and ask me to catch him up on what was going on. My parents made me nervous. I felt like I never shut up around them. I felt like no one could get a word in edgewise. I was instantly tossed back in time, just a kid struggling for attention. I wasn’t a neglected child but there were six of us, and I was not the golden child – ever.

Still, every time I called, every time I visited, dad would focus on me, and ask about the details of my life.  How was my job, my kids, and my husband? What did we do for fun? He would get me started and a year’s, or a month’s worth of data would vomit out of my brain. I even asked my husband to give me a subtle nudge if I was talking too much. I don’t talk that much at home.  Oh, I’m not completely silent, but I don’t go on and on – most of the time. When I was around my parents, I couldn’t seem to stop myself.

I worried that they thought less of me because I couldn’t shut up. I tried to ask about their lives too, but they always turned the focus back on me. I never seemed to know much about their lives. I worried it was my fault. I wish I would have known. I would have called more.

My kids are grown now, with lives of their own. Still connected to mine, but separate. It’s wonderful when we get together and just talk about what’s going on in their lives. I want to know about their jobs, their friends, their kids, and spouses. I want to know about their dreams, even if they never come true. I want to know about their struggles and heartaches. Everyone has them. I don’t think less of them for having them too. I cherish the fun we have in group texts, and out for pizza, or playing cards. I cherish family gatherings. Mostly I love hearing about their lives, even the mundane things, because I’m not there, and it makes me feel connected. I wish I would have known.

You grow apart too easily. Life slips by too fast. There are too many chores, and not enough free time. There are too many good choices, and too much life to live. I want to hear about it all. They could talk a mile a minute – I wouldn’t care. They could tell me the same story two and three times over; I like hearing their voice. I like being with them.

To those of you out there who still have your parents, call them, write them, text them, keep in touch. Never feel like you talk too much. Stay connected. I say this knowing I need to call my mom, and my step mom. I need to catch up. I say this, missing being able to call my dad. I wish I had known. We weren’t super close but we weren’t estranged either. I was blessed. I am blessed with family connections that will always be there, even after a month or two, or a year. We get together and pick right up where we left off. Catch me up. Tell me your stories. I want to hear.

You could never talk too much. I wish I would have known.

Tell Me Your Story

I want to hear your stories.
I want to hear about that time.
Tell the one that made you laugh,
The one with your partner in crime.

Tell me how you took the train,
Across these great big states.
Tell the one about Uncle Horace,
And the cows getting through the gates.

I want to hear about it all,
To live a thousand lives.
To meet one hundred characters,
Get on memory lane and drive.

I want to hear your stories,
I’m waiting patiently.
You pick the topic, I’m all ears.
Oh won’t you please tell me…

By Vicki L. Pugliese

CEO of OurHome.Inc

Young man do you have big dreams of being the next Steve Jobs, Mark Zukerberg or Bill Gates?  Do you dream of being CEO or captain of industry or even a local manager at your own firm?  Leadership skills are often thought to be natural traits, one God wrote in the very fabric of the design of natural leaders.  Perhaps those potential leaders  naturally utilized  those God given talents.  Possibly those natural leaders took advantage of a training ground provided by God and learned to hone their leadership skills like any other skill you might learn instead.  Possibly you have been provided this same training ground on which you can learn leadership skills but you have not taken advantage of this supportive atmosphere.  Perhaps God actually expects you to step up and lead this little band of people that look just like you.  He expects nothing less than your best everyday.  Generations of people count on your abilities and performance actually!

Now if He gave you this training opportunity, He gave you a “second in command” who gives you a lot of input.  Are you wisely taking this input into consideration and utilizing the gift that is your second in command to the best of your ability, or are you shutting down this gift?  You took vows, you know her well.  Are you ensuring that your second in command is fully fed spiritually, nurtured and loved by you so that she is capable of passing on those qualities to the rest of your company, your children?  Are you praying daily for your second in command so that she is built up to fight any battle that comes her way?  You know there will be germs, hormones, trials and everyday things.  She needs all that support to keep her safe and spiritually filled.  She needs that support to be ready to help you lead that family of yours.

Many young men come home and have a need to talk about their day.  They need to unpack the events.  They go to work all day.   Jobs can be frustrating.  They just want to come home, have a moment or two to themselves and eat dinner.  They like to unpack their day and then after dinner just go and play a game on their cell phone or computer and let their attention disappear into the game.  They like to unwind that way.

They fail to see that their second in command who has been stuck at home alone with their children with little or no adult interaction also needs to unpack her day.  She spent her day prepping the meal, doing laundry, picking up after the kids for the hundredth time, assisting with homework, breaking up fights and helping with melt downs.  She also had a need to unload her day.  That young man may fail to see she needs to be filled up emotionally and spiritually.  He may miss signs that she is starting to run on empty and is in desperate need of prayer and his spiritual leadership.

God gave him this wonderful practice company, practice ground if you will, for him to learn excellent people skills, and leadership skills, all in an environment where everyone wants him to succeed! The problem is that the company of home wants him to succeed at leadership and not in any way shape or form at selfishness, that’s where it gets a little stickier.

God gave man a company of tiny people to manage.  Man just has to look up from his phone.  He has to remember that God gave him that responsibility but that he also chose them and to that end he should begin on his knees. He should remember that his wife and children have that same need for validation, connection, intimacy and love that he does.  Their needs being met are his responsibility even if he needs to delegate some of it. He, as their tiny tribal leader needs to monitor that this is completed, especially for his wife.

His family is a true practice ground.  He loves them perhaps more than he loves himself. They will be his legacy and a testimony to the skills he acquired.  They will also be more patient than any corporation ever would as he learns and fine tunes his skills.

It’s up to him to view it as a leadership opportunity and directive from God. A chance to prove to God he is grateful for the blessings that God gave him when God gave him his beautiful family.

Will he start each day on his knees?  Will you?  Will he put his phone down or put away other distractions ?  Will you?  Turn your TVs off and plug back into your family!  Make sure your second in command’s needs are met.  Make sure her spiritual cup is filled because those children feel like a spiritual battle some days!  Make sure she is fully ready to support you in your leadership mission and goals.  Use the gift of a second in command wisely! Listen to her, God may be speaking through her.  The best leaders work as a team.

Put your pride away, it has sharp edges and you’ll poke someone’s eye out.  Use every resource you have and train every day!    Use this great opportunity given to you by the great provider!  Learn to be the best leader you can be.  Soon someone outside the home will notice your skills, how could they not?!  There are so few truly good leaders out there.

Be a great leader.  The one God designed you to be.  Then go do something really awesome!

 

by Vicki L. Pugliese

 

media by Elizabeth Balch
http://www.elizabethbalch.com

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