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A Social Media Sabbatical

I decided to deliberately not use social media for an entire weekend. From Friday afternoon to Monday evening I did not scroll my Facebook time line, tweet on Twitter, tumble on Tumblr, or post on Instagram. I did have a prescheduled post, but it did not require me to log in since it was automatic. I got a few notifications about posts from groups. I ignored them, well I attempted to ignore them. Next time I will disable notifications. Oh yes there will be a next time. Forcing myself to avoid social media was enlightening to say the least.

What I learned was that I am addicted to social media. I found myself unconsciously picking up my phone and opening apps, then closing them because I made a promise to myself not to participate. It was like my body and mind had been hijacked by social media. An unseen force moving my hands without my brain being aware until it clicked that I had opened an app. I yelled in my head, Hey what are you doing?

This automatic motion and mindless actions reminded me of when I was a party drinker. Alcohol made me behave in a simular way. Don’t get me wrong, I still drink a glass or two of something now and again but I do not let myself drink more at one time. The result isn’t that I can’t, rather I choose not to. I did not like being out of control of myself. It is unnerving. I felt the same way when I realized I had opened social media like a zombie.

Also, I discovered that my contacts and “friends” did not miss me. I only received a couple of messages on Facebook Messenger from people who do not text and use that as their primary form of communication. While that is a form of social media it is not mindless scrolling. Messenger is actual communication. That was it. No tagged photos, no memes, no posts on my time line. The ads to tempt me to buying things I did not need kept coming. I have friends. I know that I have people who care about me. That isn’t what I am talking about. It is the lack of contact that surprised me. I realized that it is me who reaches out most of the time to the people on my friends’ lists. That was a little disheartening.

The absence of contact for “friends” proves that I am not as popular on social media as I thought myself to be. I know I don’t have thousands of followers. I am not a famous author, yet. My social image is inflated in my head. I am truly a nobody to many.

I have decided to extend the break for the rest of the week. Maybe I will have withdrawals, maybe not. Maybe I will delete it all together, maybe not. My plan is to limit scrolling to thirty minutes once a day. Post only what is relevant to my writing and my family.

Social media is a drug of the ego. It has one goal. To get humans to mindlessly interact, disengage from life and give up their money all while believing that they are standout important to each other. The reality, no one cares, our health is declining, our brains are losing capacity, and our wallets are shrinking thanks to social media.

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Why Not Trick or Treat?

I was asked why do I hate Halloween. My first thought was hate is too strong a word. I do not hate Halloween. I enjoy the cute children in costume knocking at my door. Their happiness shines through innocently doing what the adults in their lives expect them to do. I don’t hate the modern tradition of Halloween. I do despise the evil roots of it and the potential evil the tradition attacks.

The name “Halloween” comes from the All Saints Day celebration, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the Christian martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” was eventually contracted to “Hallow-e’en,” which became “Halloween.”

As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures. The organized church would move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences. The church succeeded in “Christianizing” a pagan ritual. The ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That’s what happened to All Saints Eve. The fun of Halloween is real and so is the evil it came from. That can also be said for other holidays. Christmas, Easter and others have roots in the attempt to compete with pagan tradition. All the holidays have evil and good intentions in the seemingly harmless traditions.

God tells us to set priorities according to His eternal value system. We are to “seek first” God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and we cannot be devoted to both God and evil at the same time.

How do we who claim to have a relationship with God reconcile the conflict of wanting to allow the happiness of the holiday and continue to seek God?

Christians can approach Halloween in a limited, non-compromising way. There’s nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel sharing opportunity with neighbors.

Whatever way you choose to participate in Halloween, honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world of evil and show mercy to those who embrace it. God will forgive the evil in a person, all they have to do is want it. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?

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Emerald Coast Review 2021

The West Florida Literary Federation (WFLF)’s Emerald Coast Review (ECR) has published the voices of regional writers in an anthology since 1989. This year marks the 21st volume. It is available for purchase on Amazon

You will find Lori O’Gara’s contribution on page 116. It is a bittersweet memory of her childhood and a tribute to her mother.

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Dear Lord…tell me a story.

Me: I need to hear how it ends? What happens when the storybook closes? I know that the story is not over. You have much more for me, well, for all of us humans to do, but what is the point if you are there at the end already.

God: Why are you so worried about the rest of the story when you haven’t even read all the beginning that is waiting for you to read? I know it has been misrepresented and has been edited severely by humans who thought they knew what I wanted you to read. Don’t worry about that either, just read it. All the answers you need are in there. It isn’t difficult to understand if you trust what you know to be true and listen to your heart. If you want to know what I said, read my books… all of them. You will find the sacred if you look for it. The point is love and faith.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

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Dear Lord…make it stop.

Me: Oh God! What is wrong with people? What is happening to my children? This world is full of people who have twisted reality so much that the truth is hidden. What seems harmless is damaging the thought process of our children. Truth has been watered down so much that lies have taken control. The result is our young no longer see past the moment. They can’t or don’t want to see the long term consequences of their actions. How do I save my kids?

God: Each generation has its own lessons. The generation before has wisdom because it has survived the lesson. Sadly youth is blind and deaf to guidance from those who know. Even when that advice is given freely with love. Love them and live truth. Keep trying to tech them through the facade that evil has put between the children and the truth. Better yet, give them to me and pray.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28

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Dear Lord….I can’t but you can

Me: I can’t. I can’t handle the stress. I can’t deal with the uncertainty of life. I can’ t handle the hurt, the trouble that others cause. I can’t handle the incompetency of the humans around me.

Lord: You don’t have to handle it. I’ve got you. From me comes deliverance. If you call upon me, I will answer you. I will come to you. I will save you. I will protect you. What, then, will you say in response to these things? If God is for you, who can be against you?

Me: Dear Lord, I often forget that I can’t but you can.

(Psalms 3. Psalms 27:3, Romans 8:31)

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Dear Lord….but Why?

Me: I am do not understand why I have this thing in my life that is being so damn difficult. Why can’t things happen correctly the first time? Why all the extra hoops to jump though? Why is it so much easier for everyone else and not me?

Lord: If you would stop looking at your problems and look at me instead then you would trust me, because there is hope; And you would look around and rest securely.

Me: Dear Lord…remind me to turn my thoughts, my soul eyes to you when I have doubts.

(Job 11:18)

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Dear Lord…I want to be heard.

Me: Lord, I feel like no one hears me when I speak. I have so many wonderful things I want to share with those I love, especially with my children. I feel so ignored.

Lord: Stop talking. Let your actions speak for you. Remember what I told the first disciples, let your light shine before others, so that they may see me in your actions. The point is to reflect my love in all you do.* Your children will learn more from you actions than your words.

Me: Dear Lord, help me to remember who is watching me. Put the right words in my mouth at the right time.

(*Matthew 5:16, paraphrased.)

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Dear Lord…I want a house.

Me: Lord, I am really wanting that big house. The one with all the space so each one of my teenagers can have their own bedroom, a shop for my husband to tinker around in, a sunroom, a hot tub on a deck, maybe a pool, and plenty of space for books. A great big 3500sq foot house with at least three or four acres of land. Oh, and maybe a house keeper, baby goats, a cow and barn for a pony.

Lord: You really do not need all that space. You work full time and are gone more than you are at home. Your husband and teenagers are busy people too. It is difficult to clean and maintain a big house. You also hate yard work and don’t like to sweat. A hot tub? Really Lori? Trust me. I will provide a home that is just perfect for your family, your budget and your lifestyle.

Me: Dear Lord, please teach me to only desire what you will for me to have. Teach me to live within your boundaries for my life. Make my wants match your blessings. Amen.

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New Blog Series

Beginning tomorrow I am starting a new blog series called “Dear Lord”. The posts will consist of a summary of my conversations with the Lord. To have a relationship with anyone who is important in your life you need to communicate. It isn’t what we do for each other that is important, but rather how we communicate with and through love. It’s no different when it comes to your relationship with God.

My hope is that by sharing my conversations they will inspire you to have your own conversations with the Divine.

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Reflections on Lent

Today I am in the midst of a sit and wait period of my life. It is one of those places where I have no control of the outcome and must depend on the actions of unseen people to move my life in one direction or the other. I have decided the best thing I can give up for Lent is control. By letting go of the need to control every outcome, every minute and every result, I will make the best of each moment as it comes.

I know God is in control. I know that whatever the outcome. He has my future.

The joy of Easter is that no matter what comes our way, the Savior is not in that tomb because God willed it so. Let go of the control and give it to God. Look forward to the joy that is coming.

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Goals Not Resolutions

I dislike New Year’s resolutions. How many times have you made a resolution that ended in a fiery disaster? It is not your fault. Resolutions are a form of “cultural procrastination,” according to Timothy Pychyl a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada. Humans assume willpower is a character trait that you’re either born with, or innately lack.  Keeping resolutions requires changing behavior and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking. Brain scientists have discovered, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns which become the default for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Change takes work and new ways of thinking.

I took a multi year approach on resolutions. Every year I decide on a theme for the year. My past two years have been to simplify my life (2019) and focus on what is important (2020). First I simplified my life to include my environments, habits, and the way I thought about my daily tasks. Then in 2020 I focused my mind and thoughts on what was important to me, such as my family, my writing and my health. I took small steps to realign my brain, my thoughts, to my goals. I took steps to improve what was in my control and accept what was not.

My 2021 theme is Forward Progress. I will take those realigned thoughts and move forward toward positive progress. I may actually reach some of my goals in 2021 that I started thinking about in 2019. By making goals actionable, measurable and shareable, I have built in accountability to my success or failures.

With each goal I made a short list of action steps not shared here due to space constraints. Then I made visual representations of the goals. The next step took courage, I shared my goals with my family. Now, by writing this post I am sharing them publicly, with you Dear Reader. Here are my goals:

  • Finish 50% of my in progress writing projects.
  • Loose that last 50 pounds.
  • Save an additional $2000
  • Take my family on a big adventure. (AKA Family vacation)

For my savings and vacation goals. I have a weekly saving plan. I printed list of how much to save every week for each goal and I gave one of my daughters the job of reminding me to make the deposit every Friday. She even gets to pick the weekly amount from the list.

For my weightless plan, I have sought advice from my doctor, changed my eating habits and exercise over the last two years. I also have a schedule for weighing and measuring that is not every day. I have changed my thinking that weight loss is a progress not a pass fail thing. Loosing a few pounds is a mini celebration and gaining a couple back is a given. It happens and I do not beat myself up about it. The goal is to steady go down over time. Sort of like investing in the stock market. You have see the line graphs that look like a mountain range, right?

For my writing goals I have created a vision board. My point is, for each goal I have taken small steps in the right direction. Rather than set myself up for failure by setting arbitrary resolutions that focus on denial, I have made a list of actionable steps for each goal and put visual reminders right in my face. Also, I have not kept them a secret.

Resolutions are promises you make to yourself that you keep secret and you can break when keeping them gets difficult. Setting goals that you share with others, gives you a safety net to catch you if you fail and help to keep you focused. Also, this multi year approach gives you time to form goals and manageable actions steps. Then sharing your goals give you someone to celebrate with you when you succeed.

2021 is my year of Progress.

For my writing goals. I made a vision board.
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Your Stomach Rules

Yes your heart and mind are the primary driving forces in your life. It’s a balance between logic, intuition, faith, love and trust. You make decisions on the information from the mind and heart in a dance of thoughts and ideas. You might think that is how you get through life and it is for most things. However, your physical self, your body, is ruled by your stomach.

Humans will kill over a scrap of food when starving. They will stop whatever pleasurable thing they are doing to eat. If your stomach lurches, humans will run to a place to retch or defficate. Your stomach will assert its dominance often at an inconvenient time and at an unexpected place.

When you are young, sometimes you are picky about what you feed your stomach. Maybe as you get a little older you become adventurous and try exotic flavors. Enjoy the freedom that your youthful stomach gives you. It is fleeting.

One of the most debilitating pains I have ever experienced was given to me by my stomach and intestines. Gone are the days of spicy and exciting food. Gone are the over indulgences of my youth.

Listen to your gut when it speaks. Be a slave to it and it’s command. Learn to be submissive to it’s desires. Your mind, mouth, and tastes will try to over rule your belly. Do not fall for it. Your stomach is the general to which all other organs thrive or wither. Treat it well.

The retribution for disobedience is not worth the pain and suffering.

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Arguing with God- Pt 1

God: I need you to do this thing.

Me: (whining) There has to be someone more qualified than me to do this thing.

God: No, you are the one.

Me. (again…whining) but why? I don’t want to.

God: You can choose not to do it, but the consequences are my choice.

Me: ugh….(stomps foot) no I will not do it.

God: As you wish….

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A Gift for You

One Week Only! 

FREE EBOOK JUL 31-AUG 5
Believe by Lori O’Gara

What do you believe in? Open your mind to possibility. The possibility that there is a loving God who wants to be known. The possibility that there is another way to serve God, love humans, and live your faith than what you think you know. In short chapters, this book explores the concept of belief from a unique perspective that challenges you to broaden your belief in God, love, Jesus and truth.

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A Goal is a Wish with Action

It is easy to say, “I wish…” It is easy to dream, of things you want to accomplish or own. Life is about wishing and dreaming as much as it is about doing. The trick is to not stop at the wishing part and continue on to the doing part of the process.

Many people want more out of life than what they have. I spent years wishing and hoping and dreaming for things that would make my life seem real and fulfilled. Do you know what all that wishing and dreaming got me?

Nothing.

I watched and listened to all my friends doing the same thing. I want….I wish… I want more money. My life is going nowhere. I don’t want to be alone.

On and on we droned. Commiserating and complaining. Wishing and dreaming.

One day, I woke up and said, No more. I made a plan.

I decided what I wanted out of life and I went after it. Yes, I had to step on the heads of some of those friends who were stuck on the same level as me. If they did not move, I stepped over them.

I am not at the end of my journey yet. I am not at the top of the mountain that I chose to climb. I am still dreaming and wishing. The difference is now when I say, “I wish I could…” I then work that dream into my plan. Sometimes that plan is more research on the thing then act. Sometimes the plan is to talk it through then act. The thing is I keep moving toward the big goal that I wished for in the first place. Do not lose sight of the goal. The end prize.

If you make a wish and a plan then the plan fails, reevaluate the plan. The problem is not your dreams, it is the execution of the plan.

As I stand halfway up the mountain and I look back down where I came, I can see that some of the things I thought were failures were not actually failures. They were trajectory adjusters.

Believe with big picture wishes. Believe in long reaching journeys. Believe in dreams as actions.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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Tired…so Tired

I am so tired. I am tired of grand events, parties, drinking Mojito’s on the beach, shopping for the perfect pair of shoes, sitting in the cafe’ writing the next big thing, watching the sunset over Key West with my girls and…oh wait that is not my life.

I go to work every day and do what I have to do. It seems that every day gets longer and rest is shorter. I am not sure what is going on with me. I am tired. Tired of fake people, back biters, drama, liars, trouble makers and bulls**it…..yeah all of that. I am just plain tired. I am tired of a job that used to be fun now it is not. This is so not my life….oh but yeah..guess what? It is. I am tired of going nowhere fast and struggling slow. Working to an end of …..what? Retirement? I am tired now.

I want to soar. I want to get away I want to fly away…hey hey hey ……..I want the sun on my face and the wind at my back. I want a future so bright…..shades anyone? I am just tired……I am even too tired to write….ok I am never that tired. How can I write when I can hardly even think? I am never too tired to write.

Hello, is anybody out there on the edge of reason hanging on with a pinky finger that was a square once? Where are my binoculars? If I squint and strain my eyes maybe I can see the future that I have in my dreams. It is bright and blinding….I can almost see it…..it is so far out of reach…..but if I try……ahhhh….there it is, just on the other side of Get-over-it Hill…..right before You-can- do- it Lane……There it see?

That is my life…..now sit back and watch me get there. Right after a quick snooze…No….There will be no sleep. I made promises to her. That girl, that future girl. Can’t nap, not today. I have to write…write that novel, that story, you know the secret one that I want no one to read yet everyone will want to….the one I have to write before I die……yeah that one…..maybe it will be my money maker….. my dream taker….that story. I hear it in the corners of my mind whispering to be written, but I am so very very tired.

This was me in April 2009. My life looks absolutely nothing like that, not now. I am no longer tired and depressed. I did 180 in my life. Found love and changed jobs.

I am happy and oh, yeah…I wrote the story. The one that had be told. That story has now been published. It is appropriately titled,

We Will Get There

and well, I got there.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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It Gets Easier, Right? Wrong.

Hey God, this thing…this life lesson thing. I am trying really. I am trying to do that forgiveness thing too. I am not doing a good job of it at all. I get mad still…ok, I get angry. It is not fair. It is not fair that those who did mean and bad things to me get the good parts of life that are supposed to be mine.

GRRRRR….

What’s that God? Do I need a time out?

No, No, I’m ok. I will have to be, right? What choice do I have.

I can’t make things be different just by willing it so. I have discovered the fail safe you put in that magic bullet called Free Will. That mess is not free at all. There is a consequence payment system built right in.

I have free will to make decisions but not free of the consequences. I understand but I do not have to like it.

God, I hear you say that I will be happier if I forgive. I am happy now, just mad. Will I be less mad if I forgive? No, there is no guarantee about that so I will just be be mad.

I was wronged. I was hurt. I was the one who was broken. Yet, I was also the one who sacrificed for a better life.

I am the one who continues to pay for someone else’s crimes. There is no solace for me. and then you wonder why I can’t forgive.

I am so done. D-O-N-E! Done. When they come looking for me and I am gone. You tell them why. You tell them the truth. It will be too late then.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”[a]

It will take more than seventy…Forgiveness is hard and I don’t want to.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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Deep Trust

Who do you trust? It’s easy to say, “I trust you”, do you really though? What does that mean?

The trust I have for coworkers and friends is different from the trust I have for my children. The trust I have for my children is different from the trust I have for my husband.

I have levels of trust. I picture them as circles from the one closest to me where there is only me and him, circling out. He’s got the equivalent to top-secret all-access clearance to all of me and my soul.

Inside that tight circle…deeper still is my trust for God. All other trusts I have built upon the foundation of that sold rock of my relationship with God.

What does multi-depth trust look like in real life?

What trusting my husband means to me is that I trust him to diligently do things in a way that will not deliberately hurt me physically or emotionally. I trust him to keep his promises to me. I can say beyond a doubt I completely trust only my husband at this level. I center my life around him. He and he alone is my person. I will cut loose a whole different side of Lori if you in any way attempt to infiltrate the trust circle where my love is. I trust he does the same for me. When I say we trust no one the way we trust each other, that means no one.

The only soul I place in higher esteem is God. Period.

Then together, we provide the same for our children. We are their parents, protectors, and providers. Not only is this the only way to be married it is commanded by God, “As the Scriptures say, a man also leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Eph 5:31

When I say I trust my husband, it does not mean that he will not make mistakes. It does not mean that I trust he will never hurt my feelings. He is human and therefore fallible as am I. For the record, he has never hurt me. That fact alone makes me trust and love him more every day.

Trusting someone so completely is terrifying for some humans. For most people, it takes time to build a bond that tight and unbreakable. Trust like that takes effort on your part and the person’s who you are building trust with. It is best accomplished one on one, just you and your person. There is no room for another soul in that circle. Put another circle a bit further out. That is for the children. Then continue with others in your life. You might move people around from one circle to another, but never into that space reserved for the one you love most.

As soon as you add another soul into your second circle a child, a friend, whomever, you better have a foundation of unwavering trust with your person or your relationship will blow away like dust on the wind.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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Hey you…

Yes you, sitting there scrolling and scrolling down whatever social media is your time killer of choice. What are you doing with your time? Where is your life headed? Do you want to sit there day after day, hour after hour, looking at memes, reading whiny posts from your depressed friends who are sitting there doing the same thing you are doing?

Stop it.

Get up and find a life with living. Turn that computer off, toss that phone across the room or simply look up!

Look up. See that?

Life is happening and you’re missing it.

If you have a dream or desire to do something different with your life, something radical, do it. Even if it is a simple as trying a new hairstyle or hobby, try it.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are stupid or unimportant. Your dreams and wants are just as valid as any ideas that anyone on this earth may have.

Take the chance. You might end up being the best at whatever it is. You may succeed in ways you had could not have imagined you could.

Look up, move yourself and live a life!

The one thing that is certain, if you don’t do it, if you keep doing the same old things you always do, you will miss out on unlimited possibilities.

Life may just turn out amazing if you look up.

I dare you.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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Silent No More

I am usually the quiet one. I see all the chaos in the world and I keep my mouth shut. I do not share my opinions. I was taught at an early age that if you can’t say anything nice say nothing at all. Writing what I think is one thing, and saying it out loud is something altogether different. As a child raised in the southern United States, I was taught to always respect my elders and those of authority even if they do not deserve respect, respect their status. As a result, when I have a not so nice thought or my opinion is different from the majority, I keep silent.

I am no longer silent.

I am known for being transparent and honest in my work, writing, and lifestyle. Ask me a question, be certain you really want to know the answer or the truth as I know it. I am going to give it to you with a description, reasons, facts, history, spreadsheets, and sometimes pictures. If I don’t know the answer I will find it for you.

If you have a differing opinion I welcome your response. That is was decent humans do. They welcome a differing opinion. We can agree that we believe, feel, or think differently and still have an open honest conversation. We can still be nice to each other.

It is good, actually vital that we have some difference in beliefs as individuals. We should not agree with every ideology that comes around. 

It is not all meant for us. 

It is not all good for us.

It is also right to agree on the essential things that make us decent humans. There are some things that are non negotiables.

What we must do is communicate. We can agree or not, we will openly talk about it.

Not saying anything at all breeds negative energy. Negativity spreads faster through not so nice humans than positivity passes on through decent humans. We should speak out with the truth.

Life is not easy, I get that. You can’t always have life your way, because of a thing that you can’t change. I heard about your struggle and your hard work. You have issues. 

Hey, we all do. 

Are you going to let that stop you?

Keep going. 

Keep proving to those who think you are less or not good enough that they are wrong.

You are fabulous.

What is never good and should never be allowed is for someone to use what is unchangeable like skin color, sex, age, disability, or person’s past, just to name a few, to hurt others. We should never be allowed to use one’s position in life and in society to do harm to others just because we are in the position to do so. I do not care who you are or who you think you are? No….stop it.

Harming innocents is not what a decent human should do. It matters not in what capacity you claim that it is your right to do these things.

Discrimination is wrong. I do not care how you try to dress it up. 

Listen up, all of you, beautiful people who have been hurt because of who you are, I see all the hurt and grief caused directly or indirectly due to you being you. 

I do not care what the cause, real or imaginary is for such mistreatment.

This one human, me, does not condone it.

I also see the parasites who attach on to any decent human in the attempted to get ahead in life. They use mainstream media and their neighbors as catalysts for their own personal neurotic agendas. They use their position in society and on social media to spread their narcissistic negative agenda. They use what makes them unique to get ahead in life no matter who they hurt in the process. 

They are not decent humans. Hateful is as hateful does.

  • Do unto others as you would have them do to you….
  • You owe your neighbors, all of us, a public apology.
  • If you can’t say anything helpful, keep your mouth shut.
  • If all you can say is hateful and hurtful things, keep your mouth shut.
  • If what you say is not truthful, keep your mouth shut.
  • No one can argue with the truth. Truth does not change because it is not a popular opinion. Truth is truth.

There are ways of saying what you need to say without being rude. Some of you never had a shoe on your backside from your grandmother’s hand and it shows.

I said what I said… again.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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We Want Normal Back

but how much do we really want?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We humans have been shaken up. This is the first crisis of significant magnitude that many adults have seen. Others, like me, who are a bit older have seen other devastating events. In all the past chaos that I can remember living through there was an enemy or somewhere to place the blame for the event.

Covid-19 is a completely, utterly different type of stress inducer and the clear enemy is ourselves.

We have been told that our family, friends, and neighbors must be avoided. We can’t go hang out at the restaurants, movies, bars, clubs, civic group houses or other places that are usually filled with our tribe, our people. We can’t go to school. Some people can’t go to work. There are no play dates for stay at home moms to take littles. There is little in the way entertainment. Even the way we worship and tend to our spirituality has changed. There is no escaping the mandate of stay home. Most of us are doing as instructed.

We are all terrified of the invisible enemy, so we comply.

Mental stress caused by this event is unlike any I have experienced. I miss my friends. I am scared for my family. I am doing all I can to protect them but what if it is not enough. Normally I am a deep and easy sleeper. If my house fell down all around my bed, I would sleep through it, not now. I find myself depressed with no real reason. Sometimes I am just not right to the point I want to cry.

I know I am not the only one feeling this weird vibe.

Then there is the change in how we communicate from a distance. What I have noticed is the moment we were told to stop physically interacting is when humans started to interact. I don’t see faces looking down at screens when standing six or more feet apart in the store to pick up groceries. People are smiling and talking. They are socializing where before they did not. Before it was an occasional hello, not now. Everyone smiles and says hello. It was a bit creepy at first.

Now, people are outside in the sunshine. I am one of the blessed few who is still going to work. When I drive in and out of my neighborhood, people wave and nod. I see more humans out walking and on bicycles than before we were told to stay put. Some of the same people who in the past have ignored me are now waving. Most houses look fabulous outside with manicured flower beds and trimmed lawns. It is strange that in a time when we are more dependant and hyperfocused on technology, that our first instinct was to rush out in nature and spend time in the sun.

What’s more, people are using technology to conduct virtual face to face meetings. Now technology is our lifeline. People who do not like technology are learning how to see their colleagues and family through the screens. Humans are using technology to socialize differently than before. Yes, they are still using messaging and social media, but now I see more Facebook Live notifications. Seems everyone is giving their friends a glimpse into their day to day lives.

Curious and curiouser, Alice. I am not sure what is happening. Did I fall into that rabbit hole?

Could it be that social distancing has forced us to realize what we could lose by living so much of our life in the virtual realm? Has social distancing caused us to crave being more social?

Here is the big question, how much normal do we really want back?

For those of us who remember life after 9/11, this feeling of connection, of unity as a nation stuck around for a long time. Then one-day without knowing when it happened, the intense patriotism was gone. We started ignoring each other. We became skeptical of government and life took on a new us and them mantra.

The sense of the individual is slowly peeling away as we have come to realize that only as a whole can we eliminate the risk. It takes all Americans doing their part for us to survive this. We have to trust that our neighbors, coworkers, fellow shoppers are all doing the same things, taking the same precautions.

I will be interested to see how this plays out for us. I hope that we as a society keep on this path of wanting more time with our loved ones. I hope we continue to explore other options for living. I hope this human determination to survive and to connect in person even across dividing factors remains after we are allowed to get back to normal.

Right now in the midst of this crisis, I feel like it is the calm before the storm. I have this weird vibe that I can’t shake. Like something worse is on the horizon. I hope what I am feeling is wrong.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

Featured

Why I Write.

White Cross on Pensacola Beach

Matthew 16: 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

What does it mean to “take up your cross and follow” Jesus, I asked sitting in a crowded Starbucks one quiet afternoon.

Yes when I talk to Jesus, I talk aloud. I have been in places that I should probably not literally talk to him. I have received strange looks from co-workers, family, people in waiting rooms and restaurants. I just think if I am to have a relationship with Jesus, we need to talk and often.

So I asked, “what are you saying?” Am I to literally get a cross and …. “No” was the answer I received. The human race is in trouble if it was required that I follow Jesus on that aspect of His life.

To take up your cross is to follow God’s will for your life through your relationship with His son Jesus. Don’t take on other things that are not yours. Leave other people’s crosses alone and take up your cross. What is your cross? It is anything the Savior tells you to do in His service for Him. It may be your job, your family, your position in a church family or you may not know what it is yet because He has not told you. He will let you know in His time.

For me it is writing.

I know I hear you saying, “But Lori you love writing” OK let’s get one thing straight. Writing is torture. It is like childbirth. Painful and difficult with the hope of a healthy child when it is over. It is suffering an obsession that controls my every waking minute. I have a love hate relationship with words and writing them. I have fought God on this point for years, in fact, all my life. “Me a writer, are you kidding me?” I asked again aloud in a crowded Starbucks full of young hip college kids who already thought I was a crazy woman. Yep, I confirmed that for them.

Then I tried to reason with God. I cannot write. I have to do other things. I cannot live off writing. I did not trust Him to provide for me. You may have the same response when Jesus says to you, “Your cross is…” I went running and screaming in the other direction for years in denial.

God said to me, yes I am hearing voices in my head here, “You will write for me”. I can’t explain how I heard it. It was more like an over whelming thought that echoed in my head and spread over me like a panic. My next question was, “How?” Relief washed over me and I knew that I didn’t have to worry about the how.

“You will write for me.”

When God calls you to a mission, a life for Him, He works out the how. All you have to do is have faith. That’s it. Faith in God and a promise to follow Jesus where He says to go. Let the Big Guy worry about the big stuff. You are to simply follow the instructions. Pick up cross and follow.

I gave up the plans I had made for my education, my life, and future. I gave it all to Him. My advice to you, when Jesus says to you “pick up your cross and follow” Don’t question, just follow. Save yourself the embarrassment of looking crazy.

~Lori O’Gara

(One note: If you are not a Christian, your first step is to meet Jesus at the foot of His cross on your knees. You will find Him waiting for you there with open arms. You have to accept Him before you can have a cross of your own.)

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

Publishing News

The West Florida Literary Federation (WFLF) released its 21st Emerald Coast Review (ECR) featuring a record number of regional writers and artists, and I am among them! This anthology has been published biannually since 1989. The publication features quality fiction, nonfiction, poetry, contemporary, emerging, and experimental works along with the best of art, graphic design and photography from area writers and artists living along coastal Florida and Alabama. To purchase a copy of the ECR XXI, you can visit this link on Amazon, amazon.com/Emerald-Review-Florida-Literary-Federation/dp/B09GJJ12N8/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=emerald+coast+review&qid=1634549293&sr=8-1

#WFLF #ECR21