Mystery Blogger Award

untitled

I’m excited to announce that The Ink Owl has been nominated twice for another award! Thank you to Avid Observer and Earth to Ash for nominating my blog!

And thanks to Okoto Enigma for creating such a wonderful award. This award is spread around to raise awareness of those bloggers that are out there in the blogging-verse operating in secret, waiting to be discovered.

Award Rules:

  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award (Okoto Enigma) and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Nominate roughly 10 – 20 people for this award.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
  • Ask your nominees five questions.
  • Share a link to your best/favorite post that you’ve written

Three Things About Me:

  1. I was raised in a library. Each week my father and I would take our stacks of books and books on tape (back when it was all on tape) and we’d replace those stacks with even more stacks. We would do this for years and years. I ended up working in four separate libraries around my home town for a handful of years. Now I take my kids each week.
  2. I fell in love with my wife through written words. We wrote to each other for two years while I was away. It was the day after I wrote to her and told her I wasn’t interested in pursuing a serious relationship. In a flash I realized I would probably never get a letter from her again. I made one of the most terrible mistakes of my life and immediately I sat down and wrote her an apology. She still married me.
  3. When I die I want to be buried in a small city cemetery just outside of my family cabin in nowhere Idaho. I would love for someone to plant a Lindon tree over my grave. The cemetery overlooks a huge stretch of farm and cattle ranch property. It looks like Tuscany in the summer, and every time I leave I feel my blood and bones ache to stay there forever.

Five Questions Avid Observer asked about me:

Q: Which famous personality would you like to meet from the past?

  • I would love to meet H.G. Wells, I can never get enough of his writing. I use to read his books late into the night while my imagination went crazy.

Q: Tell one thing that can make your day.

  • Seeing someone pass along kindness to others. A good deed performed is a wealth of inspiration.

Q: A lesson you learned that you can never forget?

  • When I was a kid my father told me to shovel the front walk and driveway after a huge snowstorm. I didn’t want to do it,  so I cut every corner possible. When I was ‘done’ I stepped up to the front door to wait my father’s gratitude. He looked at the porch and walk way, then the driveway. He didn’t smile, just looked at me and said, “Michael, don’t do things half-assed. Do it again.” I’ve never forgotten those words.

Q: One human trait that you hate?

  • Our ability to always think ill of another person’s actions. You never know what is motivating someone to do something. If you’re always going to think negatively about the world, invariably you’ll find the negative. Only because that’s what you’re looking for.

Q: A quote or a motto that you truly follow in your life?

  • “Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”           -Terry Pratchett                         For some reason this quote has stuck with me for some years. I have the imagination of a ten year old and the maturity to match. When it comes to being an adult I find that I need my imagination to help me through life’s challenges. Not to ignore reality, but to handle it and continue being me no matter what.

Five Questions Earth to Ash asked about me:

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration to write/blog?

  • Nature and the everyday interactions I have with my family, friends, co-workers, strangers, and patients.

Q: What time of day do you prefer to write?Why?

  • I love writing at night. For some reason my mind comes to life with hundreds of characters and their stories that need to be told. The words just come and I can’t stop myself from writing.

Q:What are you reading?

  • I just finished “Carrie”, by Stephen King and am currently attempting to read “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson. And currently while I drive around I listen to books on CD. I just finished “The Creeping Shadow” by Jonathon Shroud and am currently listening to “Matimeo” by Brian Jacques.

Q: Favorite writer or blogger?

  • Terry Pratchett, hands down. This man is incredible. Go look up his books if you have no idea who he is, his writing will change your life. He has a way of making you fall in love with the worlds and characters he thinks up, not because they are out there and funny, but because you can related to each and every one in so many ways. I often find myself laughing aloud as I read his stories.

Q:Worst bout of writers block?

  • In the midst of graduate school. I gave up my family, reading, and writing. I spent my time writing essays and intervention plans. I couldn’t do anything. So when I sat down to write all I could do was put my head on my laptop and sleep.

My Nominees:

Tish MacWebber

MyStoriesWithMusic

dtills 

Amanda McCoy

Inside The Ivy Cottage on Bertie

Litter Fears

Cristian Mihai

Gemma Troy

Cheryl Wright

Mohamad Al Karbi

Five Questions for my Nominees:

  1. Where (physical locations) do you write?
  2. Why did you start writing?
  3. What is your favorite part about your life?
  4. What has been the most challenging part with writing?
  5. What gives you inspiration to write?

One of my favorite blog posts:

It’s really hard to choose just one, but I’d have to say Into the Yew Wood has to be my favorite. Possibly because I scared myself silly while writing it.

White Jasper

 

White hearts held in cold hands,

Press hard against the smoothness.

What have I done to call thee?

Upon your frosted skin I kissed you,

Where autumn meets it’s end.

There our love grew, lived, and died.

White bones now smile.

Don’t Tell Mom

 

 

Please don’t, I’ve been out too late.

You’re wrong, I can and will eat that cake.

You said you were sorry, and wouldn’t do it again.


You lied to me, lied to her, we both lied right then.

What do we do, they’re stuck in pretty tight.

I know, I know, I won’t, yes cross my heart.


It’s not my fault I stayed out all night.

Maybe when she kicks the bucket she’ll find out about . . . Everything.

But for now, don’t tell mom.

A Cast Spell

img_1414

Crush the rock and wet the stone.

Fill the bowl with crimson.

Light the twigs and breath the smoke,

The day is fast now ending.

Place the skull and draw the lines,

Bring forth the words serrated.

A Time To Fail

As the month of May is about promoting discussion on Mental Health I’ve been itching to write my own thoughts on recent experiences with my own mental health.


To give you a bit of background my undergraduate degree was in human development across the life span, as well as dabbling in communications and family violence/dynamics. I’ve also studied anatomy/physiology/neuroanatomy, psychology, interpersonal communication, anthropology, and paleontology (I also have my own collection of plastic dinosaurs). I’ve worked with individuals who are recovering from substance abuse, homelessness, addiction, oncology, and incarceration. I’ve interacted with individuals who have autism, mental disorders, physical disorders, sensory disorders, and developmental delay. In my personal life, I grew up with a grandmother who suffered from schizophrenia.  Having eight years of formal education as well as five years of practical experience in the field, I consider myself a complete novice in a lot of things and am in no way an actual expert in any one thing.

That being said I have a story to tell, and a viewpoint that I am somewhat terrified to share.

Rewind seven years ago. I was loosing some of my freshman shine in my second semester of college. Having been recently married and pretending to be a responsible adult I found myself in a Psychology 1010 class. On that day my professor stood up in front of the class and said, “Each and every one of you will fail in their life at one point or another.”

The lecture hall filled with uneasy laughter as our professor paused for a minute.

“No, ” he said, his smile having fled the scene, “this isn’t a joke. You all will fail.”

I remember thinking, ‘Well that’s kind of bleak, don’t you think? Where is he going with this?”

He continued, “Failure is a natural part of life. Each one of us has experienced it, and will continue to experience it at some point in our life.”

The hall grew quiet as all of our attention zeroed in on this professor. I could feel tension rising from every body in in the room, including my own.

“It may not happen to you today, or tomorrow but at the end of the day you will fail, you will screw up and it will be big.”

As a student in a somewhat ‘high-brow’ university, paying out the nose to attend over-populated classes, you don’t want to hear that you will fail. Having been conditioned from an early age to always look to success, each student paused. At that given moment our collective blood pressures  could have shot the roof off of the building. We were in this race to win it, we were in this Hunger Games style arena aptly referred to as, ‘college.’

Pins could have been dropped a millimeter from the carpeted ground and you still would have heard them. My professor pushed onwards, “But you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to fail. That’s how we naturally learn as human beings. We make mistakes, we make poor judgements, and in the end we find ourselves with the wrong answer. And it’s okay.”


I wasn’t feeling okay with this line of thinking.

“We learn by goofing up, failing papers, and getting the wrong answer on the first try. That’s because we are programed and designed to learn step by step, pace by pace.”

The words of his lecture fade from my mind even as I type this, but I remember feeling a vast unease swallowing my mind. I left the lecture hall thinking, ‘Pssh, that won’t happen to me. I’d rather be buried alive than fail.”

Now fast forward to May 2016. I was half way through a master’s program I’d already dedicated 5 years of my life to getting into and completing. I gave up a career in oncology work, disappeared from my friends’ and family’s lives. I was a ghost of a father and husband staying up to obscene hours of the night, every night.

I was a shell, a husk of a man. My wife would look at me every night before going to sleep, as if to say, “Who are you?”

And I found myself not knowing the answer.

It was finals week and I had finished my last final of the Spring semester. It had been a challenging semester. My brain was beyond mush. So when my phone buzzed notifying me of an email it took quite some time before I understood what as going on. It was an email from the chair of my program, never a good thing in my book.

I had had my struggles with the program. Having had to sit out for an entire academic year to retake a course, I constantly found myself on the back-burner of the faculty’s “what-do-we-do-with-him” list. I knew my grades were suffering, and that I wasn’t doing the best in some of my class, but I wasn’t doing the worst. Or so I thought.

“Please meet with me at the end of this week. Thank you.” was all that the Chair wrote to me. What little emotions I had left inside my brain stirred with unease. The meeting was scheduled for the last Friday of the semester. And I watched everyday before hand as my grades dropped lower, and lower, and lower. Feedback from my professors grew more and more negative, and I found myself balking at the bluntness of their responses to me.

“What’s going to happen?” My wife asked, in a small voice as we laid in our bed staring at the ceiling one night.

“I’m going to be kicked out.” I said. Feeling what little of me remained crumble to dust. The morning of the meeting I called back my old job and asked if they had a position for me. And with an air of dehydrated anticipation we left for the meeting.

The building was low and ugly as we walked towards it, arm in arm. Windows stared at us, black frames foreboding in their place. The walls were gray, blending into lifeless carpet. As we took proffered seat, the Chair’s desk before me lay piled high with a disarray of paper. A  stern face held a look of bored resolve as the Chair fingered an envelope.

“I’m sorry we have to meet like this, but your grades have slipped below the line. Your teachers tell me you don’t listen to feedback, you don’t make changes, and you don’t demonstrate the ability to function within this line of work. So you are hereby dismissed from this program.”

It was so abrupt, so devoid of human emotion. They could have slapped me in the face and I would have preferred it. I wanted to scream. ‘I have a family you know?’ I wanted to throw all the messy piles of paper off the desk in front of me. ‘I have children that don’t see me for weeks on end.’ I wanted to blame it on the lack of investment I had seen withdrawn from me.‘I have a wife that was hoping to stay home with the kids next year until they grew up.’ I wanted to blame the department, the not-to-code architecture of the building. ‘We wanted to move away and buy a house.’ I wanted to blame the utter lack of empathy and understanding that one who had already experience this program should give to a student. ‘I wanted a meaningful career.’

Never mind the life-altering experiences I’d been a part of with countless patients and clients. Never mind to those working professionals that all but begged me to contact them the minute I graduated for a job.

“You are hereby dismissed.”

I failed. I failed big. Even with my wife at my side, I found myself alone and with no one to blame but myself.

What happened in the intervening months is almost too hard to put into words. I quickly fell into a depression as everyone I knew and loved asked me what happened. Not a day went by when someone would ask, “How is school going?” “Oh dear, whatever happened?” and “That’s just too bad.”

For the first time in my life I felt the sliding arms of a dark depression wrap around my mind. It was almost like that feeling you get when you knock the wind from  your lungs, and try as you might you just can’t fill them fast enough with air. I couldn’t feel the happiness of having two beautiful children vie for my attention. Nor could I feel the anguish and fear that had made my wife’s radiant smile dim.

Books no longer held any pull to me, and I would often realize, mid bite, that I was eating something. Work was work and I performed it robotically. I was depressed and I didn’t want to do a damn thing about it.

There were only two constants through this period. My wife and kids, and writing. My wife is a saving grace. She knows what it’s like, feeling the darkness, the sliding sensation of a pathetic apathy towards life. It’s almost like you are a tiny muppet, trying to control a huge mechanical body. You know how it’s suppose to go, you know the body is functioning at peak capacity, but you lack the energy and understanding of working the controls. She knew what I was feeling and did her utmost to be understanding, and not angry with me, although I beat myself up everyday about it.

I didn’t keep a journal, like you’re always suppose as a writer. Instead I found myself typing down stories in the dead of night. Some of them were horrific. Some of them sad. Other’s contained hope, joy, and laughter. Some came straight from my life. I found a part of myself, separate from the pain, depression, anger, and sorrow that was my mind. And I nurtured it.

“Maybe you should start a blog.” My wife said one night. She was no stranger to my writing habits of the previous six years. I had started a blog and stopped it with the intention of never returning to it ever again. She knew of my obsession with reading and dreams to be a published author. She had heard some of the hundreds of stories that waited to be released through my finger tips.

“Really?” I replied, quelling the spark of hope I felt in my chest. I had shared the thought with her some time back, but had immediately stopped any and all efforts towards it.

“Yes, try it.” She looked at me. For the first time in months I was able to look her in the eye. “Maybe you should stop doing all your other social media stuff while you’re at it too.”

And thus this blog was born. It’s been one of the most challenging years of my life. No, I have no diagnosis of depression, nor have I formed any disorders. I haven’t suffered from chronic depression my entire life. But over the past year I have felt my mental health crumble, and rebuild.


I am me. Incredibly imperfect and awkward in so many ways. I still feel the fingers of depression press in on me when more of life’s challenges come. I find myself in a trough of life, stuck between two waves as I watch friends and acquaintances move forward to the dreams I once thought I needed to be me.

I “failed big,” this last year. And now I have picked up the pieces of my life and am learning how to live. In this span of time I’ve come to some realizations about life and myself:

  1. I can no longer judge someone by the mistakes they make in their life.
  2. Depression deserves understanding, no matter what.
  3. Failure promotes growth.
  4. I cannot afford to waste time on being negative towards others, especially to those who fail. Everyone deserves to be understood.
  5. Why judge someone when you can learn from them?


Now, a year later I find myself satisfied as I watch my boys play knights and Star Wars with each other. I relish those moments when they pause and say, “I love you daddy.” I’ve never been as close to my wife as I am now. We’ve known one another for more than twelve years and now I feel like we finally understand each other. I’ve never been happier with my work as I help patients with their recovery. I write daily, well I should say nightly. And with this blog I’ve posted over 100 pieces. These pieces have in turn, reached over 50 different countries world wide.  I’m entering pieces of work into global and international competitions. There have been many kind and constructive words passed on to me by wonderful followers. In short, I’ve never felt more triumphant with my life than now.

There are times where I feel a darkness pass over my eyes, and my mind grow heavy with remorse. Memories from the past still haunt me, and may continue to do so for a while. It’s part of this experience we call life.

So if I can impart any kind of wisdom to you after writing all of these words, it’s this:

In this day and age, I feel our society doesn’t necessarily acknowledge that we have to struggle and fail. It is when we break down and make mistakes that we actually grow. With modern advances of social media and our ability to be constantly observed and in contact seems to demand perfection in our every day lives. But real life doesn’t work like that. We have to fail to become better.

Right now I find myself in a good area. I know hard times will always come and go. Life will present me with more challenges that may bring my depression back. I can’t say I know exactly what someone else with mental health challenges is going through, but I can say that my experience has taught me to have more compassion, respect, and understanding for those people who do.

When you come across another person, remember they are struggling through this day as well. We are all failures of one sort or another, imperfect and not without our blemishes. It does no one good to further that tarnishing. Just as we ourselves deserve kindness and light in our lives, so does everyone else.

And to finish, here’s a song I’ve adopted a while back as my theme song. Happy listening.
-M.E. Inkowl

Fatherhood


Born through a thunderstorm.

I heard your bawling voice call,

My heart left its cage of blood and bone.

It fell into your grasp as you reached,

Reached for comfort, identity, substance and meaning.

I held you close and kissed your face.

Forever a changed man.

Benjamin

Your face so full of wrinkles, and mouth puckered just right.

How I wish when you blinked thanks at me, I could wrap you up tight.

I’d hold you and tell you everything is fine.

And when you shed tears, cried in pain, or in fright,

My arms would wrap round you, and I’d whisper close,

You are the one that I love the most.

Friends For Days Tag Award

ountry-wedding-club-11

It’s a beautiful day to get your blog tagged! I was nominated by the Honey Lemon Blog to participate in the Friends for Days Tag created by the Pink For Days Blog. I am delighted to be nominated and am excited to nominate seven other bloggers for this tagging award. Go check out the Honey Lemon Blog! It’s got some fun energy and interesting insights with life, the universe and everything! I believe the writer is based out of Thailand and I love hearing about life from around the world. She is a fun read.

This tag allows for new and upcoming blogs in the WordPress community to be featured and have wonderful things said about their blog. It’s also a way for each of us writers to lift those around us and give back to our immense writing community.

Here Are The Rules:

• Say who create the Tag and provide a link to their blog
• Do a blog post showing your Tag;
• Add the logo to the post;
• Always thank the person who nominated you, provide a link to their blog and, if you like, say something positive and supportive about their blog;
• Choose 5 bloggers that you don’t know very well or that are just starting their blog;
• Go over to their blogs and read a few posts, leave them a few likes and comments;
• Say 3 things you love about their blogs; (3 things for each blogger);
• Those 5 bloggers are automatically nominated to do the same!
• Nominate two bloggers who have been doing this for a longer time! (you get 7 nominees). Don’t forget to let them know you’re nominated them!

My Nominees:

Unbolt Me Uncensored–  I love the feeling of their blog. It feels so real life and raw with their insights and stories. Also Tetiana and Tony both have a unique and genuine story to tell. I recommend reading their poetry and prose. Seriously, just go check out all of it, they are amazing.

XP Nuggets–  If you need inspiration to keep your chin up not only with your writing but with life check out this blog! It is full of wisdom and positive thinking that can really help you if you’re in a funk. I love how this blog introduces goodness into the world and seeks to build up those that follow it. Come and take a look.

Eyes+Words– Eyes+Words is like a portal into the world of poetry and writing! There are so many avenues of education, promotion, and feedback one almost feels dizzy with the opportunities! I love how visually pleasing their blog set up is as well. I can’t wait to submit some of my own pieces and be given the chance to publicize my work over the internet!

Metamorphosis– This blog gives readers quite the transformation through real life experiences and personal experiences. I was drawn in by the writer’s words and wish to hear more thoughts about working through depression. As you read through each post you can feel a metamorphosis happening. It’s quite moving.

Make It Ultra– Eric. C has created a visually stunning blog with an aim towards health discussion of mental health and ways to keep one’s self positive and supported. I have recently been acquainted with his work  and find it very interesting, uplifting, and insightful. If you need a pick-me-up or someone positive to interact with come visit this blog!

Poems and paragraphs– I’ve followed Kindra from almost the beginning of my blogging experience. She has a powerful way of writing that draws you in and leads you into her world of darkly beautiful poetry mixed with splashes of her own life events. She is a refreshing read every time and I whole heartedly recommend a visit to her blog!

The Feathered Sleep– The poetry found on this blog is exquisite. I can’t help but scroll to the next poem, and the next and the next! I love how my emotions are pulled in all directions, and I feel so raw after reading their words. Come here to help your mind pause and deep think.

I hope those of you that have been featured here take the time to reach out to those blogs you are fans of, as well as those less known. You never know what kind words and encouragement can do for our fellow writers until you do something. Happy reading!

M.E. Inkowl

Understand


I’m trying, please wait.

I can imagine, it’s excruciating I can hear.

No you’re right, I’ve never had that before.

But trust me I’ve seen this on a hundred faces, maybe a thousand.

I’ve carried the weak, held up the depressed.

Yes I’ve even held someone to their dying breath.

Trust me, I understand.