The Other Side

2:20 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

I have to be honest. I did NOT think I would be here on the other side. The other side of what?


And it's not that I didn't trust God. I didn't trust myself. I didn't think I had the energy to read one more article, to synthesize one more book, to write one more word. To think. To anything. I just KNEW I didn't have the power. There were many times when I just said, "Forget this mess. OK, let me tuck tail and go home."

But I didn't.

And I don't get all the glory.

I don't even get all the victory.

I know for a fact that it was God who carried me through this darkness, this new foreign place (in so many ways for me).

It was God who didn't hate on me because my attendance at church slowed while I got lost in the forest of academia and could not find my way back out. It was God who whispered in my ear, Keep typing, or who told my body, "Don't listen to that girl anymore. Go to bed. She'll be OK."

And even though I cried on those nights my body betrayed me and fell into a comalike slumber, and even though I was so sure I would be unable to get work done because I slept instead, I DID get it done.

Did I do it well?

Well, that's to be determined.

But I did it. And I did it with the best of my tired abilities.

One thing I know now and what I will carry with me as a testimony is I can get through it ALL because I got through this. This was the hardest part. New city. New state. First time separated from family in eight years. Alone. New school. New discipline. New level of education and expectancy. "Accelerated" pace of learning because as a fellow, I took four classes this semester. Everything about this experience was new. There was bound to be moments of feeling lost, unsure. There, of course, would be times when I threw in the towel only to quickly pick it back up, use it to wipe my tears, and keep moving forward. And yes, there would have to be times when I thought I wasn't as brilliant as I always assumed myself to be.

All those things were expected.

And despite them all, I made it.

And because I've gone through these pitfalls and because I lost my faith and because I regained it and because I am now on the other side of victory, I have a list of "lessons learned" that I can take with me and that will aid me throughout the rest of this journey.

That is, until I hit a "new" thing and have to feel my way around that.

For now, I'll be grateful and blessed for THIS victory and revel in it for awhile.


I Am Grateful For...

1:00 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

This time next week, I will have only two final exams to write to conclude my first semester in the doctoral program, and once I'm "done" done, there will be a celebratory, reflective post here.

For now, I want to talk about BEING GRATEFUL.

The Monday before Thanksgiving I was battling some big-time depression, and the Monday after Thanksgiving I was talking about being done with NaNoWriMo.

Totally missed out on that great Thanksgiving tradition of talking about what you're grateful for.

I'm grateful (and blessed because for me they go hand-in-hand) to have a God who looks out for me when I don't look out for myself. He really is the reason I have come this far and that I can see some light at the end of this tunnel. He never let me forget (even when I tried) my intelligence and my strength. He always had just the right word to calm me. He always knew who needed to call me, or who needed to invite me to lunch to talk, or who needed to tweet me so that we could go out and vent. He put plenty of blessings before me and though I tripped over a few, I was smart enough to go back and collect my blessings.

I'm grateful for my mother and my siblings, who love me and my crazy self. We have been through some storms. The trials, the tribulations? Got them in spades. But through every painful moment that inflicted us, there was hope, and there was laughter. There have been a lot of up and down moments for me this semester, whether my own or from those close to me, and my mother was there, on the phone, while I cursed and cried. And when the tears subsided, she made me laugh. My siblings were there - via phone, Facebook, and text - to offer me support, love, and comfort. And laughter. They didn't complain when I didn't call. They called to make sure I was still alive, to tell me they were proud, and to get me off the phone so that I could get back to business.

I'm grateful for my sistahs, my misfit band of renegade chicas, who are always there with a Godly word, an encouraging word, a funny word, and hugs I can feel clear through cyberspace and fiber optics - and you KNOW who you are. Each of my sistahs is different, and each gives me something that I need, that keeps me going. Whether it's a late-night IM chat about men, a praise session over how good God is, a lecture on how I still have talent even if it feels like my creative well has run dry. They know who I am. They know what I need. And they make sure I have it.

I am grateful for those I have met here at Texas Tech; honestly, I do not know how I would have made it through this semester without them. There is my band of "fellow" comrades. Man, barely know what to say about them. When I was working on my MFA the thing I clung to most was my band of writer friends. They were people who shared my interests. I could talk to them intellectually, and they got where I was coming from. There was no need to overexplain. We knew, and we understood. There aren't many people I can talk about Bakhtin to, you know what I mean? LOL But aside from the intellectual stimulation and connection I get from my TTU Crew, the comrades have become a part of my life. I care about them and their well being. And their successes here only fuel me to be as successful in my academic endeavors. There are those professors whose bright smiles, lunch dates, brilliance, spark, demeanor have already begun to help me shape my thoughts into topics of interests. There are those students - on-site and online - who I have encountered who have added another layer of intellectual conversation, another layer of hilarity to my life that has helped right at moments when I thought I was down for the count.

I could, believe me, write a book (or at least a really long chapter - lol) on many more characters who have added color to my life, and to all of those people, I'm grateful to have you, too.

Ultimately, I am grateful and blessed to be here, living and breathing and reconstructing myself through this experience; I'm glad God deemed me worthy of such an honor.


The Journey Continues: What I Learned through NaNoWriMo '09

9:20 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Since 2004, I have participated in NaNoWriMo. In 2004, I didn't win. Can't remember what I was working on, but I know I petered out early on and wasn't concerned with the fact that I stopped participating.

Since 2005, I have participated in NaNo and have won and have actually went beyond the 50,000 words to complete full novels (which will see the light of day).

This year, I was unsure if I would participate. For those of you who have been reading the blog regularly, you know that I've been struggling with my creativity since starting in the doctoral program back in August. In fact, up 'til NaNoWriMo this year, I had written NOTHING. And wasn't trying to. I was convinced writing would have to take place during the holidays - the Christmas breaks, the summer vacays.

So, I decided not to do NaNoWriMo and was actually OK with not doing it. Until everybody started talking about it. Until I went to my page on NaNo and saw that I had participated and won NaNo four years in a row--had the books to prove it.

Mid-October, I decided to participate. Even marked in my planner a few days where I could put together an outline for a story. Two days before NaNo began, I had yet to work on an outline. Didn't have the time.

So, on November 1, I jumped in with a title (Educating Sophia), a character's name and some words in my head for the beginning. That was it.

First week of NaNo, I wrote about 23,000 words.
Second week, I wrote about 12,000 words.
Third week, I began to peter out: about 8,500 words.
Fourth week, just wanted to get done: about 7,000 words.

Two and a half days before the end of NaNo, I stumbled into the finish line with 50,043 words.

In those 30 days, I realized a few things:

I can do more than I think I can. All semester, I was so sure that not one more thing could be integrated into my life. There just was no time. I reading until I wanted to vomit words. I was trying to digest vast quantities of information so that I could at least sound like I might understand. I was working on projects, papers (still am!), studies (still am!). I was busy having my minor (and not so minor) breakdowns. I simply could not add creative writing to the mix. But, just like I realized every November for the last four years, writing creatively is my sanity. It's the thing that makes everything else doable. I was using my morning hours to write, which helped me get through the rest of the day. I was a lot more structured in other projects because I had the umph from writing creatively.

I can write without a net. Though, I have to admit, I never want to do that again, LOL I'm a plotter. I like letting a story develop itself on my mind's screen and then writing out an outline of this story that has manifested itself in my mind for days, weeks, sometimes, months. Once I have that outline completed, then I write, and the writing usually comes fast and swift - not just because I have an outline, but because I know and breathe these characters, these places, situations, conflicts, tensions. They are there, primed and ready to gush out of me. This go round? No outline, no net. But I wrote over 50k in 30 days. The key? About two weeks into NaNo my engine for the story began to peter out. Had no idea where to go, what to write, if I even cared about the character. The story was, in a way, tied to my life, and I was tired of writing about dismal things, LOL So, instead of lamenting (literally and figuratively) over the story itself, I focused on the dreams and wants and thoughts of the character and wrote that. The main character kept a blog and though there is a linear story, there are also links that fall away from the story, links that develop the main character, allow us, the readers, to get to know her better. Because I knew this, I jumped in every day and asked, "What does this character want? What are her hopes, dreams, desires?" And I would pick one and WRITE. In the end, did it make the best story? NOPE, but I tell you what. I WROTE, and that tells me that if I am focused and organized, I can write the "good" stuff, too.

I can be creative and academic simultaneously. This was a huge hurdle for me to overcome. Creatively, I had gotten very complacent, fully believing that I could not be the creative writer, the author while in the midst of Ph.D. Land. After that first week, when I crossed 20k in less than 6 days, I knew that I could be both creative and academic, and throughout the month, as this knowledge bore itself into me, I began to believe it. As such, my mind automatically started to think about this Christmas break and how important it is for me to organize my projects so that once school starts, I can carve out time to write and actually have something good and productive to write. This has been one of the best things about this NaNoWriMo journey.

I can actually merge the two for academic endeavors. The other night, I'm doing research and writing for one of my papers and storytelling is still swirling about my mind and just because, I began research the use of storytelling in the field of I'm studying, and lo and behold, there are books and articles written about this. Initially, that deflated the excitement for me. No new ideas under the sun, I thought. But a good friend of mind, a sister to me in all truthfulness, told me to Spin it. You're creative. So what people have already done something on it. As a writer, you of all people know how to mix what's been done to make it new. Find a way to do that with this. And so now, I have a new research channel in my mind to explore that might actually allow me to play in my storytelling abilities but in an academic way.

The best of both worlds.


Dealing with Depression with the Word

1:03 PM Shonell Bacon 2 Comments

This past week has been an experience for me.

I actually had a day on campus where I just couldn't hold in my emotions any more. They shot through my mouth in the form of words as I talked to people. They leaked from my eyes in the form of tears as I sat in classrooms. They settled onto my face in the form of dull eyes and lifeless expression.

I was tired. And I was done.

I could not get my brain to slow down enough to get any work done, I was having panic attacks daily, and I knew I was slipping into a depression. Had been for weeks--was trying every and anything I could do to prevent it, but I didn't have the energy to care.

Out of desperation one day, I ran to my bible and closed my eyes. I whispered, "God, I know I haven't been faithful to you lately, but please give me a good word."

With eyes still closed, I shuffled through pages, finally letting the book open.

I then hovered my hands over the pages, wanting to feel a pull toward a particular passage.

I fell upon Zechariah 3:1-10.

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.”
So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
6 Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:

‘ If you will walk in My ways,
And if you will keep My command,
Then you shall also judge My house,
And likewise have charge of My courts;
I will give you places to walk
Among these who stand here.
8 ‘ Hear, O Joshua, the high priest,
You and your companions who sit before you,
For they are a wondrous sign;
For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.
9 For behold, the stone
That I have laid before Joshua:
Upon the stone are seven eyes.
Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’
Says the LORD of hosts,

‘ And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10 In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts,

‘ Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.’”

I talked to one of my close friends after reading it and did some research on the verse though neither of those were necessary; I knew the message God was sending me: in essence, God was restoring me, making me whole and cleansed despite my circumstances.

And I felt it was true. I believed it was true.

And then a few more days passed and despite this word from God, I was still down and depressed and unable to focus.

When I returned to the Bible for a word, I was presented with Isaiah 5:1-12. It made me sit up:

Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:

My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.
2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.
3 “ And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
4 What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes,
Did it bring forth wild grapes?
5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will lay it waste;
It shall not be pruned or dug,
But there shall come up briers and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
That they rain no rain on it.”
7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.

8 Woe to those who join house to house;
They add field to field,
Till there is no place
Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!
9 In my hearing the LORD of hosts said,

“ Truly, many houses shall be desolate,
Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant.
10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath,
And a homer of seed shall yield one ephah.”
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
That they may follow intoxicating drink;
Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!
12 The harp and the strings,
The tambourine and flute,
And wine are in their feasts;
But they do not regard the work of the LORD,
Nor consider the operation of His hands.

The message from this passage wasn't as sweet and loving as the former passage. The minute I read this I knew I was being reprimanded for allowing my depression, for allowing my mind to devalue me, to make me an unproductive vineyard. I managed to take one seed of doubt -- my inability to get academically productive -- and turned it into a crop full of failure. I managed to take every facet of what made me me and find a way to devalue it. Even when I had moments of happiness or moments where I believed things might be OK, they quickly evaporated and I returned to laboring in my field of devalue.

As I embark on a new week, I'm working hard to keep my head above water, keep my vision focused on positives, and finish this semester with part of my sanity intact.

I'm also realizing that as I try to creep out of this depression, going to the Word is what's going to help me most. God has never steered me wrong, and even when I feel like nothing can help me, I know that he can break through the hard shell of my walls and balm my bruises and heal me.


Letting God Navigate

4:49 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

It's hard. Letting God navigate.

You want so hard to be in control, to fix everything, to make everything perfect.

It's like you don't even know the truth: nobody is perfect.

It's been one of those things I've been learning this semester. Nobody's perfect. I'm not perfect. Things will happen. I'll want to give up. People will try to make me feel better. I will not listen to them. God will help me even when I don't feel like being helped.


And repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

These days, God has plenty of reasons to not be happy with me. For one thing, I haven't been going to church faithfully, and even though I'm not the person to hang my faith on weekly church amen, I do enjoy going to church.

Life has just been so hectic, so crazy that my sleeping schedule has been off and come Saturday night, I'm trying to justify getting up early to do work instead of going to church.

Yeah, it's been that bad.

The last several months have been an experience for me. The most interesting experience I've ever had, actually. Let's me know that you're never too old to be surprised.

While trying to stay focused on schoolwork, I dealt with major self issues while also worrying, lamenting, praying, dealing with big issues back home - with family and friends.

It's been hard - being here and not there. It's been hard - not being the fixer. It's been hard - just letting my prayer and thoughts be enough.

But it's what I had to do, so I did it. My family insisted. Mom and sister checking in on me, making sure I'm OK. My brother calling and texting with his jokes and telling me not to worry and keep chillin' with my books. My girlfriends telling me that I already have this degree, just keep moving forward to reach it. Even in the midst of their own angst and problems, they looked out for me.

And so did God. And so is God.

At each and every breaking point, he has been there, letting me know that I'll be OK. That I am OK.

He has never left my side even when I left my side.

Through the panic attacks, he's there, calming me, getting me back to the computer to write and work on projects.

Through the tears, he's there to have me turn on a song that makes me smile and revs up my heart and mind.

Through the angst, he's there to say, "Shonell, stop, OK? You got this. Can't you see that?"

And just when I think I can't see it, there comes a slither of light.

And I know that at some point, some point, I will be bathed in that light.

And that's enough to make me move to the side, give God the wheel, and ride this semester out to its positive, brilliantly lit conclusion.


Gettin' "Real" Real

12:40 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

I've been real in all my posts, but today, I feel the need to be "real" real.


Because these days, Shonell is a bit more raw, bit more open than usual, and "real" real is all that can come out.

So, what's the "real" real?

I'm tired. Stop. Actually, "tired" isn't strong enough a word. Neither is "exhausted."

There is no word.

And no, this isn't a whine. And no, I'm not comparing my life with anyone else's. Not looking for sympathy, and actually not sure I care if anyone cares that I feel this way. I just have to let it out because it's what I feel. Period.

School is kicking my butt from here to Africa and back.

Within the last two weeks, I've thought about just disappearing and returning to Louisiana at least ten times. Though it's probably been more. Mind is a blur these days. Memory flickers off and on.

It's been five years since I've been a student, and a lot has changed in me during that time. I was used to being the worker, the teacher - not the student.

And even the last time I was a student, things were different for me. School was all play, even the hard stuff. I was pursuing my MFA, and because I lived and breathed creative writing, everything new learned excited me. I was busy trying to figure out how I could use these techniques or theories or ideas in my stories.

And I even know about hard work. As a GT, I was expected to be a full-time student (12 credits), plus teach, plus do work in a grammar lab, plus attend readings, plus anything else that came up as opportunities that were "suggested" we take part in; believe me I know about having a full plate. I even know about wanting to high tail it...ironically enough, it had NOTHING to do with the amount of work that I had to do.

This experience, the one I'm in now. The one in which I don't have to teach or do grammar lab. I just have to be a student. GREATEST opportunity ever. And I've been lucky. I actually really like Lubbock. I like the area, the people (so far). I heart the school. The, their brilliance is tangible. When I'm in their presence, I can feel it, and I always try to secretly steal a piece and save for a dire moment of stupidity on my part. I haven't learned, thought about so much in all my life.

Now, having said that, this is by far the HARDEST thing I've ever done in my life. For a lot of reasons.

1- I'm in a new place.

2- I'm alone- and though I usually don't mind this, during the hard-hard times, I could really use a f2f hug and a "It's going to be OK."

3- I had never received a word from God so strongly before that propelled me to do something. I've told you many times how he told me to come here, to only apply to TTU. That makes it more urgent that I stay though recently, I'm ashamed to say, I started to think God didn't tell me anything, and I decided this all on my own...a weak attempt to put it all on me so that I can put tail between legs and leave and not blame God.

4- Read, read, read - I am drowning in words and have no idea how to connect it all into anything meaningful. When I see others that have managed to do so, I feel stupid, inadequate, unable to do it even more.

5- This is, for the most part, a new field for me. This isn't like a Ph.D. in mass comm in which I would be building upon the masters I already have, or a Ph.D. in English... or in Creative Writing, where - again - I would be building upon what I already know. I don't understand half of what gets shoved down my throat, so I don't feel comfortable enough with the material to understand it, synthesize it, and use it. I'm still in the trying to UNDERSTAND part.

The list of reasons could go on, but I think you get the point.

It's hard. It's only going to get harder as I work on annotated bibliographies, papers, studies, and finals within the next four weeks.

Sometimes, I wonder if I squandered time with other things - of course, one can always manage time better, but honestly, aside from this weekly blog and the tweets and Facebook comments I write, my life is compiled of three things - school, eating, and sometimes sleeping. There is hardly room for anything. For others, there might be, but this is my first semester after half a decade out of the classroom as a student, and I'm not as "quick" as I used to be (perhaps that will change after the first semester). Most of my life over the last several months has been right here. Sitting on the chair in front of my laptop while I read and took notes, read and wrote lit reviews, read and tried to develop ideas for paper topics. I mean I got cable two months ago haven't watched a week's worth of TV yet. Haven't watched one full game of football yet. School IS my life. Not sure how healthy that is.

The last few weeks, aside from being beyond tired, I've reached this stage where I get depressed and just don't care. The energy zaps from me and I can barely lift my head from the pillow. I just want to be left alone, in the quiet, to imagine things beyond the here and now.

As this has only gotten worse, I do see God trying to keep my head above water.

Two verses I've received within the last few days have really helped me to cling to whatever's left of my sanity.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart - Gal. 6:9

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward - Heb 10:35

I do believe this is for my good. I do believe I have grown very weary, and I'm working to see beyond the weariness to the blessing that this journey has been for me.

I do believe I have lost my confidence. Most of the time I feel stupid and unaware of anything significant, but I do believe that if I can regain my confidence and persevere great rewards are there for me to have.

And it's because of these, scratch that. It's because of GOD that I'm still here because Shonell is bone-weary and spends most of the hours of her day NOT CARING and NOT WANTING TO CARE but God manages to cover all that NOT CARING up and gets me up and wipes the tears and rubs the Bengay on the wrists and massages the temples so that I can do what needs to be done.

Shonell would say right now that she doesn't know what tomorrow will hold for her - will she make it or not? She has not the foggiest.

The God in me, however, would say I will make it. I've already made it, and I'm just going through the journey to the end of it: the great reward.

Right now, I'm too tired to trust anything that's going on in my mind.

I think I'm going to trust God. He's never led me astray. Don't think he would start doing it now.


Managing Happiness...with Writing?

1:29 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

You know, I came to a conclusion recently that was quite baffling: Happiness will hinder my success.

I know what you're thinking, What in the world is wrong with this girl?

I know, I know. But let me explain.

You see, since I've been here, I've lived on a low-grade level of exhaustion. Beneath the eyes that are somewhat open, the mind that is almost alert, the brain cells that try to retain information; I am utterly exhausted.

If I sit in one spot for more than ten minutes, I can assure you that I will pass out, and I probably won't wake up for three, four, sometimes five hours.

Doing all the reading, researching, writing, etc. that I do for school drains me. Not whining. Just stating the obvious.

Anything over what I've been doing exhausts me even more.

One thing I haven't been doing a lot of is being happy. I've just been making do. Waking up, going to classes, reading, maybe spending one evening/afternoon a week with the fellows, perhaps some sleep. Repeat.

Sure, I laugh. Sometimes, I've even fallen into spastic fits of laughter, but it always dies down and I quickly return to somber, stay on track Shon.

There have been moments of happiness over the last few months, and it took me 'til now to realize that this happiness, when I don't manage it, puts me in a drunken stupor, affected my productivity for that day and for a day or two after the happiness has subsided.

SO, what does this mean? Should I just be depressed, sullen? Definitely not because I've been that, too, during this time, and Lord...*shaking head* put me into a whole other personality for almost a week.

What it means is that I need to manage my happiness.

Sounds read, I know, but in thinking about my situation, thinking about the six weeks of school left and the two lit reviews, three papers, two studies, and three final exams that must get completed between now and then, believe me, MANAGEMENT is key.

So, how do I manage happiness?

Um...don't know yet. LOL Still trying to figure that out.

I will say this - last week, I decided to jump on board and participate in NaNoWriMo. I've participated the last four years, and each year hit well over the 50k mark on each story. I didn't think I would do it this year. School takes up most of my time, and quite honestly, no idea had popped into my head for the last three months.

Before the last week of October, I always had a story outlined and ready to be written. This time, I had a title, a main character's name, and a loose idea of the basic plot of story. That's it.

And yesterday, first day of NaNo, I cleared the 5,000-word mark (pacing wise, it's good to think of say 1,667 words a day as a goal). Today, I went to Starbucks in the morning and made writing my first to-do of the day. Cross the 8k mark.

What I'm writing probably is crap, but you know what? I'm writing, and I will productive. Not only that, but I'm getting more done with school, too.

Want thing that always amazed me about November is how much I got done. When I was teaching five freshman comp courses and doing other stuff for school and participating in NaNo, nothing ever got slighted and it all got done well.

Maybe sparking my creativity is the happiness I need that will spark me enough to make it through to the end of the semester.

Creativity is not a flash-in-the-pan happiness. It doesn't spark you, drain you, and leave you passed out on the sofa for five hours.

It's a constant thrum, that makes your mind think of plots, characters, tension, climax...makes you happily get through Foucault so that you can get back to writing...makes you think about that to-do list and stay active to complete everything on it so that you can feel accomplished.

SO, in this musing, I guess I realized what can manage my happiness. What can keep me feeling happy and productive in all areas.

Creativity. Writing.

And it knew EXACTLY when to show up.


To Be Wholly Hot and Holy

1:28 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Every Sunday/Monday for the last five months, I have posted at least twice - once for my Verse of the Week entry and then a longer entry on the goings on in my life.

This past Monday, I didn't post.

I had left church Sunday morning with the burn to write. I knew what I would write about because I got it RIGHT from the sermon.

Church was on FIRE last Sunday, and it helped to get me out of the reverie I had been feeling over the last few days because of personal issues that occurred back home and rocked my mental foundation. Thanks to church, I was seeing positively again and felt I could overcome my circumstances.

Well, we all know that darkness loves to dwell just behind the light of goodness, and as soon as I arrived home, the darkness enveloped me whole. The issues I had moved to the back of my mind came back with a swiftness that literally took my breath away and brought with it tears, anger, and angst.

In a split second, I didn't care about anything. I didn't care about school. I didn't care about anything I had to do. I just didn't care. I just wanted to be alone to lick wounds.

But of course, one never really gets that chance. We don't get the opportunity to press pause on life and get our minds, hearts, and spirits righted. No, we have to push forward while in the midst of the pain and hope that somehow, some way, we get over the pain.

It didn't help that I had a week in which I would have to do something that always causes me angst (talk extensively in front of others) and to spend time with others in different venues.

When I'm hurting. When I'm angry. When I'm tired, I need to be ALONE. I need time to just do nothing, to mend, to pray, to ask God to help me over the hump. I knew this would be a week in which doing these things would be hard.

As I look back over the week, I have to admit that I'm proud of myself. I didn't think I would be able to lead discussion in class. I didn't think I would be able to go to other classes and participate like I normally do. I didn't think I would get through my midterm. I didn't think I would get through my the social outings lined up.

But I did.

Despite the fact that my heart was hurting and nothing seemed to keep me in a happy frame of mind for more than a few moments at a time, I made it through.

One reason is it's part of my nature. I live by the creed of "keep on, keeping on." I always say, "I didn't have a choice." Most of the time, I believe this. It's part of my nature to do, to accomplish despite the obstacles. I don't know what the other choice looks like. I've never gone that route.

Another reason, a powerful reason, why I made it through was God and the sermon my pastor preached last Sunday.

So many times, in little ways, I lose my faith. I lose my connection with God. Something hits me so suddenly that I'm left on the floor, tattered and bruised, with no direction.

In this state, I am so weak with emotion that the thought of opening my mouth and asking God for help seems like too much. The thought of even using my mind to telepathically call to him is too great.

And over this week since church, I kept thinking about what the pastor talked about - how to stay wholly hot and holy for God.

There used to be a time when I would condemn myself for not talking to God or for wanting to be alone or for just wanting to pause the world and forget it.

I don't anymore because I know I'm not perfect. I know that this is a journey and we all have to walk it, experience it in our own way.

But no matter how long I pause and get myself girded again, I still have to get back to being wholly hot and holy for God.

So, how do we do that?

My pastor brought up three things.

1- Do not cower to anyone who opposes Christ, Revelation 2:13
My thought: In our journey to be Christlike, we are going to face opposition. The deeper you grow in your faith, the deeper the opposition grow for you. No matter what you face, no matter what befalls you, it's important to come back to your beliefs, your faith and not let anyone or anything push you off your path indefinitely.

2- You must not compromise who you are in Christ, Revelation 2: 14-15a
My thought: This can be a hard one sometimes. Because of peer pressure or because you're the type of person who hates confrontation and wants to see everyone happy, you might compromise your beliefs in order to appease others. WRONG THING TO DO. In the end, it's not what those people think they sets your judgment; it's what God thinks. It's hard to stay in faith when we live in a world that seems so corrupted, so off-kilter. But we have to. It's part of the job description of being a Christ follower.

3- You must not close your ears to the commands of Christ, Revelation 2:16-17
My though: When we are open, fully, to live and be of the faith, we can hear the Lord. And he has a lot to say. He can give you the hugs you need in times of despair, and he can give you a stern talking-to to make you realize that you've stumbled off your path. We need to be open to not only receive the praises, but also to receive the admonishments of the Lord. It's the only way we can grow.

As I stumbled through the week, I found myself clinging to this points and trying to right myself.

When a close friend called me with disturbing news, news that left me beyond angry, my initial reaction was to rail against the world and to shut down, but I found myself praying to God, asking for guidance, and talking to my friend about how we can right the wrong that befell her and her family.

A few hours before I was set to lead discussion in class Tuesday, I found myself near tears. I was panic-stricken over having to lead discussion, especially when my emotions were so high and on alert. I had girlfriend give me words of encouragement, telling me God had this because he knew I was too overwrought to do it on my own. And I chose to believe them because I knew I wasn't "right" enough to believe my crazy thoughts. I felt God breaking in, trying to tell me to ignore the negative whisperings in my ear - those whisperings of the devil. The moment my girlfriend called me, the pain of her news had ripped the covering off stress and anxiety from the last few months, and every negative lash I had chained down began to infect my mind. Kept thinking I was a failure. That I couldn't make it. Survive. God was telling me to ignore them. He was telling me to listen to him, and initially, I didn't want to. But because the time drew near for the class discussion and because I was too exhausted to argue, I told him, "I know what you believe about me, and I choose to believe you." And he guided me in that discussion.

And he guided me throughout the week, keeping me from letting my opposition win. Keeping me from compromising what I know to be true about me and the God in me. Keeping me from keeping my ears closed to him and his words for my life.

In keeping my heart, my mind, my body, my spirit wholly hot and holy for God, clutter is blown from my path, naysayers mouths are sewn shut, my ears are opened, and God will provide me with the strength and wisdom to keep on, keeping on.


Verse of the Week

1:12 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell[a] in the house of the LORD. Forever. (Psalm 23:4-6, NKJV)

I read this, and I smile. I read this, and I feel happy. I read this, and truly, I fear no evil.

And there are no words I could use to describe this verse and its impact on me. However, there is a song - "The Lord Is My Shepherd" - that has all of the emotions and description that I need.


Being OK

2:49 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

It's hard to put into words what I feel these days. It's ALL and NOTHING. At once. Mixed furiously together. Leaving me breathless and full of wonder.

And leaving me wondering - what's next?

Every day presents itself with new challenges, new hills to climb, foes to slay, people to befriend, questions to answers, opportunities to jump at...and those to say "No" to.

This Monday, I'm at a phase I don't often get to - one of feeling OK.

And this feeling of OK presents itself with both a positive and a negative reaction from me.

Let me explain.

Positive Reaction
Being OK tells me that I'm starting to get "it." What is IT?


Being alone for the first time in almost seven years has given me the opportunity to see what I like and don't like. Has allowed me to buy for self and not for others. Has made me think about how to treat myself for a job well done. Has pushed me to think about my relationship with my boyfriend and where I want it to go next.

What is IT?


I'm still bumbling a bit, but I'm seeing connections with everything I'm doing, and I know at some point those connections will develop themselves in ways that I'll be able to articulate. I'm realizing just how important academia is to my life. It always has been, but over the last few years, I felt it wane, and I think it's because I wasn't challenging myself, challenging my mind. I'm doing that in spades now.

What is IT?


One thing I've always known about myself is I'm a giver. In the past, I've done this to the detriment of self, but I'm learning how to do it effectively, how to know in my gut when it's time to give, when it's time to help another help him or herself, what it's time to step back and let God take the wheel of a situation. I'm learning that it's OK to fall and not immediately jump back up. I'm learning that's it's OK to let someone else fall and not immediately jump up to fix the problem. That was me. That is still me to an extent. The Fixer. The chick in the cape willing to give of everything to see someone happy - and sometimes doing that stunted another's growth. Sometimes, we have to fall so we know what not to do and learn how to do things correctly. I shortchange myself as a giver and others when I don't allow us to have those life lessons.

The ITs in my life are keeping me happy. Every day, I'm learning something new that makes me feel like I'm growing into who I want to become. And that's, actually, more than OK.

Negative Reaction
Because I'm not used to being OK, I oftentimes have very painful psychological issues with trying to deal with the OKness. I'm so used to things falling apart or to the next painful thing showing up and dismantling my universe that even in the midst of being OK I'm looking left and right and upward, wondering where the attack will come.

I know some of you can relate. You find yourself playing down the blessings in your life because you think
1) I don't want people to think I'm boasting
2) I don't want to offend those who might not be feeling good these days
3) I don't want to make the bad stuff come quicker by talking about the good things

So what happens? You fall into this quagmire in which every time your heart starts to feel light or a smile starts to infiltrate your face, you drop a negative thought to disintegrate it.

Needless to say, this leaves me mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted...almost to the point I think I need to invoke another personality just to get me through the daily life while my central self gets through this conundrum.

How to Deal?
I've worked hard, for years, to strip myself of this tendency. I used to lie to myself and say it was part of me being humble, but thinking yourself "less" has nothing to do with humility. People would pay me compliments, and I would shoot them down with things like, "It's nothing" or "I'm sure there's someone better." All to the defeat of self. I am intelligent. I am creative. I am giving. I am strong-minded. I'm a lot of other things, too, and to say I'm not depreciates me...and depreciates God who has instilled these things within me to blossom at my will. Does this mean I need to go around spouting my good fortune or virtues? No, but my actions, my words, and my reactions to others' thoughts about me should illustrate the positives that flow through me.

I talk to God about it a lot. I, often, vocally acknowledge how good he's been to me and how blessed I am that he gives me what I need even when I don't know I need it. This is vital for me. I'm a person that's "of the mind." What I say often pales in comparison to the thoughts I have within me, that I keep in because of fear. God is about the only being I feel comfortable in saying everything to. Even when I'm over-the-moon happy I tend to now show it so that others can see it. But I show it to God (even though he already knows) and that gives me the confidence to say it, show it to others - their reactions be damned.

Though I haven't use this word in this entry, handling all of this is about having FAITH.

I have to have faith in myself, in my decisions, in my walk, in my God so that I can make it through the growth spurts I'm experiencing in this new phase of my life.

There are going to be pains ~ isn't there always in growing?

But as long as I keep getting up and heading toward the finishing lines in my life, I'll be OK.


Verse of the Week

2:11 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation." (Psalm 91:14-16, KJV)

You want to feel the presence of the Lord. Read fully Psalm 91. I can't read through the whole passage without crying, without feeling abundantly blessed at just how good the Lord is to me...because I set my love upon him.

Psalm 91 reads like a love letter, a love letter in which the one who holds our heart knows how much we love him and in response showers us with the truth of just what he will do FOR us because of our love. Not only will he loves us, but he sends angels to protect us as well. And in the passage above, we even learn that upon helping us through troubles and delivering us victoriously, he will honor us.

In my whole life, there has never been one human to show a taste of that kind of love and devotion, and because we love God, he gives us a full banquet of his love.

Nothing better than that.


Share Your Story ~ Someone's Reading

12:30 AM Shonell Bacon 2 Comments

Dedicated to my spiritual daughter, Ceria

Friday night, I hooked up with a "fellow" fellow to see author Jeanette Walls. Walls is the author of the NYT bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, which details her life growing up in extreme poverty and the unimaginable obstacles she faced.

To say Walls is a character is an understatement. She was brutally honest and funny and sweet and vulnerable as she talked about her life, and we in the audience were very receptive to her story; every time I nodded my head or offered a quiet "Mm mm mm," at least twenty people were in agreement with me.

One thing Walls talked about was the power of storytelling and how important it is for us to reveal our truths. These truths do not have to be in a NYT bestselling memoir, mind you. They can be revealed to yourself as admission. They can be revealed to another as an initiation of comfort.

As she talked about this "revealing of truth," tears slipped down my cheeks. I thought about from which I came, and the painful stories of my past and how now I could look back at them and talk about them in the same way Walls talked about hers. Not removed, per se. But as a person who had overcome and who could examine things close-up and not fall apart at having done so.

In my writing, I can always tell when I have "moved past" an issue because my characters stop having the same inflictions as I do. A lot of my earlier writings were embedded with the things I lost, things I suffered in my life. Through the journey of my writing, I've moved from the things lost to the anticipation of great things to receive.

In a sense, I counseled myself through my writing - examining what hurt, exploring why it hurt, suggesting ways to fix the hurt and move past it.

But my writing has never been just for me. It's always been my goal to educate, entertain, move readers one word at a time.

This is another facet Walls spoke of, the overwhelming response to her story from people of all walks of life. It moved her to see a kid, much like she had been, read her book and think that she could have a better life. It moved her to see the "change" that occurred in readers when they connected her story with their lives.

And it's no coincidence that at a time when I had been worrying about my creativity, I received a gift that let me know my creativity was alive and thriving...even if it was creativity from years gone by.

My spiritual daughter came to me the other night on IM. All she could write was "Wow. Read your book. Wow. Can't stop crying." I had NO idea what book she had read. The ones out were not really tear-jerker stories. She told me that she went to her school library, on a mission to find other books I might have written. There, she found my master's thesis, the novel The Greyhound Chronicles. This is a novel I wrote back in 2003-2004 to receive my MFA in creative writing. This is a novel that I've touched a few times since and have always wanted to go back to, revise again, and resubmit to places. This is also a novel that has a lot of autobiographical experiences in it. A lot of the pain I had yet to overcome are within the pages.

When I read the title - The Greyhound Chronicles - my heart flipped. Memories came rushing back to me. Not making me sad or upset or angry. Just making me remember.

I asked my daughter why she was so moved, what had her so emotional. She told me she saw herself in my story. She saw what I went through and she hurt for me and hurt for herself for having gone through similar things. But ultimately, she felt joy because she saw that the character had managed, more or less, to overcome big issues in her life, and that gave my daughter hope, strength to know she could overcome her obstacles, too.

Needless to say, I was moved. A story I wrote nearly six years ago still had the ability to touch and move someone, especially someone as special as my daughter.

It made me realize, once again, how writing is a part of me. It will never leave. It will always seek to be released because 1) every story I write, in some way, chronicles those things I'm passionate about, 2) releasing these stories releases a lot of angst from me, making me able to breathe and see beyond the hurts, and 3) my words have the ability to matter to others.

And because of this, I am mindful of what I write and how I write. I have stories to tell. For my emotional release and growth. And hopefully, for the emotional release and growth of others.


Verse of the Week

12:29 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:19-20, NKJ)

My first full day in Lubbock, a girlfriend and I went onto TTU campus and took pictures. In the distance, we saw a white guy approaching us. He slowed, smiled in our direction, waved, and kept walking by. We waved back.

I saw the guy stop and tilt his head as if he were thinking about something.

He turned, walked toward us, and said, "God told me I had to come back and talk to you two. He has great things in store for you both."

My girlfriend and I stared at one another, smiled, and nodded. We expected this to happen. The entire drive to Lubbock and the night before we talked about my purpose for being here: the purpose beyond attending TTU. God had brought me here. There was spiritual work to be done in me here. I didn't know how I would connect with someone in order to begin my work, but both my friend and I knew it would come.

And it did in the form of this guy.

We talked for a short while, and he asked me to visit his church. Told me it was on fire, and they were ready to do the Lord's work. He wrote down information for me, all the while laughing because he was so happy and moved to have met us.

Before we parted, we held hands and asked the guy to pray - for my friend's safe journey home, and for all of us to do the will of God. For at least five minutes, he prayed, with my friend and I adding as the mood struck us.

Eventually, though it seemed like none of us wanted to part, we did. My girlfriend and I walked back to her car, slowly. She was laughing and doing her Holy Ghost dancing to the car. I was smiling and full of truth. I had known God wanted me to be here because he saw to it that I got here. But this moment cemented it for me, removing all doubt. On the drive to my apartment and for awhile after we arrived, we remained silent, both of us deep in thought.

That moment on campus, with our hands and hearts and minds and spirits connected, God was in the midst of us. He collectively brought us together to worship him, but individually, he whispered knowledge, direction to each of us.

There are many moments in my life that I recall fondly for having done something significant in me.

This moment outranks all but one, my being baptized.

This moment showed me the power of God in my life and in others' lives. It showed me that when I'm surrounded by like-minded, God-minded people - people who truly want to help, grow, and connect - my life is made that much better.


The Many Faces of Creativity

3:18 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Last week, I was in woest me mode to the Nth degree. I was so sure my creativity was dead and then several people - to include professors, fellows, friends, and family - reassured me that it wasn't dead. In fact, not only was my literary creativity being nurtured to resurrect later, but also my academic creativity was in full swing.

I never looked at what I'm doing now, that is being a doctoral student, as something creative because creativity for me was storytelling.

Throughout my woest me mode, I talked to God a lot. I kept reassuring him that my whining would cease, that I was going to pull out of this, that I knew this was just a bump in the road and I could always get up from the fall, dust myself off, and keep on, keeping on.

I could hear him laugh; he already knew this and more. He wanted me to move from thinking about getting better to actually doing better. I don't think it was a coincidence that I played Mary Mary's song "Get Up" nearly on repeat for several days on end.

I don't think it was a coincidence that one day, while still in woest me mode, I headed to American Heritage Dictionary online and looked up the definition for creative/creativity; I found the following definitions:
  • Having the ability or power to create
  • Productive; creating
  • Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative
Seeing these definitions, I knew for a fact that I had been creative over the last five weeks. It takes creativity to read theories and to try to integrate them into contemporary times. It takes an imagination to state what you believe the nature of technical communication will be in ten years. It takes originality to pick paper topics that haven't been done ad nauseam. It takes expressiveness to open one's mouth in the classroom and hope you sound almost intelligent. It takes major productivity to work through four classes in a semester while dealing with new surroundings, major life changes, and other work.

I smile because my creativity isn't dead; it simply manifested itself in my current endeavors.

And this weekend, while hanging out with a professor friend from back home, I had the highest pleasure of talking about literature with her and several other writers and students who attended the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (TACWT) Conference this weekend. My heart warmed and I nearly swooned at being able to talk about literature. And I found my heart equally warmed at talking about technology and composition and rhetoric and communication. It was almost a sense of euphoria at entertaining both creative outlets at once.

Though I'm still in major go-go-go mode with readings and feeling like I'm floundering, everything around me is saying, "You're doing OK. You really are."

And to prove to me that's so, I actually dreamed (the first in nearly two months) of one of my screenplay ideas last night and reveled for awhile in scene development.

And mind went straight to thoughts of intertextuality, rhetoric, and paper ideas.

Yeah, my creativity is still there.

It's probably working more than it ever has.


Verse of the Week

3:09 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"If you believe, you will receive…" (Matthew 21:22, NIV)

It's short and to the point, but it's effective.

What's important to remember about this verse is what's not stated, what's hidden within that comma between believe and you.

I liken this verse to another one of my faves that is also short and sweet:

" without works is dead." (James 2:20, NKJ)

You saying, "I believe" is not all that's involved in truly believing. When you believe, your mindset changes. If you truly believe that you'll get that job or be accepted to that university or will be published, then that belief infiltrates your mind, your thoughts, and your actions.

You begin to not only believe, but to think the belief is! You'll start putting forth the action that will guide you to the fruition of your belief.

So in the end, if you believe -- and make your mind and actions coincide with that belief -- you will, in fact, RECEIVE!


Can My Creativity Be Resurrected?

10:44 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

I'm a bit bitter these days.
A little salty.
A smidgen of angry.
Because Creativity is dead.

Well, at least for me.


One word: school.

This doctoral program is a full-time job. It can take upwards of 40 hours a week (more once you start researching for papers and projects beyond the required "in class" work) to do all the reading and preparing to be brilliant in the classroom. And it's not a 9 to 5 job where you do work that doesn't tax your mind, therefore, leaving you feeling energetic and refreshed and ready to conquer the world creatively.

Oftentimes, in fact, I'm mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted and want nothing to do but some mindless activity or sleep (which is a rarity in itself).

This is not me complaining, mind you. I accept what is necessary to do. As I've stated numerous times throughout this blog, it was my destiny to be here, and because of my pact with God, I'm in it to win it.

That being said, it doesn't mean I won't get tired or irritated with it all sometimes. I'm human. It's what I do.

And having said this, I actually love being here - in Lubbock and in the program. I missed being an academic. I adore books and knowledge and developing new ways to see things. All of that pumps me up in ways I can't fully explain.

But I tell you one place where I'm hurting.

My creativity.

Writing is my bloodline. I know God put me here [on Earth] to write, to share my words, to move and entertain and inspire others. Have known it since I was about 8 - made moves to do something about it since I was ten and started writing scripts for The Guiding Light in a 25-cent green leather diary my mom bought me at a flea market.

Since I've been in Lubbock, however, no creativity has come forth. In fact, I'm not sure how to actually get my mind to be creative to actually write.

I'm still editing others' works, but that is a job to me now, and so I'm able to move from one job (student) to another (editor). Moving to writer - which I have yet to see as a job because it is my passion - is difficult.

Just before I came to Lubbock, I finished the outline for a screenplay that is quite different from anything I've written. Was excited, thinking I'd have time to write while here, but I have yet to find the time or the creative inclination TO write.

And it FEELS like the time to do so. Been getting some reads of scripts I've already written, and a part of me knows that if I can get this one written, someone will take notice.

I know what some of you might be thinking, and no, this isn't fear keeping me from writing -- except for the fear of taking away time from school, which can directly hurt me in the classroom if I come in unprepared.

For the last month, I hadn't thought much about any of these...FEELINGS...because I'd been in the mad rush to read, respond, and stay on pace.

And then yesterday came.

Yesterday, I was tired. Beyond tired. Slept two-and-a-half hours Friday night. Stayed up late Saturday, going to library for hours then coming home and reading. My goal Sunday was to take time to pray and meditate in the morning and be a slave to reading for the rest of the day.

But I got up and felt off. Felt sad. Felt disoriented. Felt out of touch with me. And that scared me a bit.

I prayed and talked with God, and that allowed some of my frustration, my irritation of losing a part of myself - my creative part - to come to the surface.

And then a fellow chica fellow (love writing that - lol) posted a link to Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" from YouTube, and I took the time (plus one hour) to watch it.

And it moved me. Not just because Pausch was a brilliant man and professor who wanted to live life to the fullest. But because Pausch DID live life to the fullest, connecting with all of his passions and his desire to help others and his love for his family before he was taken too soon by pancreatic cancer.

I watched it, and I cried.

I finished watching it, and I cried more.

I walked around my apartment, head killing me, snot running, as I sobbed (wailed actually), and at the time, I wasn't sure what exactly I was wailing about. I just knew I felt distraught and empty, and tired and confused, and wanting and distracted, and (enter any adjective because it would fit, assuredly).

I grabbed a blanket, fell onto the sofa, and continued to cry as random thoughts came to me. I missed my mom. I missed my siblings. I missed talking to my girlfriends every day because I had the time to do so. I missed my boyfriend. I missed watching TV and actually JUST. WATCHING. TV with no expectation of having to do it quickly because I had 50-11 other things to do. I missed thinking about my life in the future (because lately, it's just been about WHAT'S DUE TOMORROW. WHAT'S DUE NEXT DAY. WHAT'S DUE DAY AFTER NEXT...not months from now thoughts).

And just as important as all those "misses," I missed creativity. I missed daydreaming about characters and stories. I missed falling asleep and having a great idea come to me and waking up to jot it down. I missed talking to friends and colleagues about short stories, novels, screenplays, poetry. I missed placing fingers upon keys and bringing words to life.

I was...and am missing a huge part of what makes me who I am.

And I knew that within all my "misses," this was the one miss which I had taken NO part in within the last six weeks. I hadn't opened my script's outline and reread it. I didn't attempt to write a page. I didn't talk long about writing (unless it had to do with clients' works). Every time I allowed myself these flights of fancy, I admonished myself, saying, "You don't have time for THAT. Get to the real work."

But you know what? Writing is my real work. It's my REAL me. Without it, Shon is a very dull, very sad little girl.

And so I guess the point of this long winded entry is to say that my creativity is dead, and I miss it.

And if I'm going to be productive - in whatever fashion that productivity comes - I will have to resurrect my creativity and embed it into my life because a Shon without Creativity, much like faith without works, is dead.


Verse of the Week

10:42 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"And whosever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27 (KJV)

The Message version of the Bible offers this translation:

"One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple."

I read this verse, and it strikes me, hard, right in the middle of my chest. It's one of the moments in a life in which there is a major decision to make, and it's a decision that will change your life completely. It is a directive that's not for the faint of heart. It's a directive, that if taken, means you know that there is something greater than everyone in your life, that there is something even far more greater than you, and because of this knowledge, you are ready to do the following two things:

1- Follow the Lord because he is greater.
2- Carry your burdens

Now, does this mean you must denounce your family? Not be there in times of pain or trouble? Go off in the forest and forget the world altogether?

No, but it does mean that you have to be open to God and his voice and to what he wants to do with you through his son, Jesus Christ. It does mean that God is the center of your world.

What it also means, which I believe is so awesome and which is not directly stated in the verse, when we follow the Lord with our heart and soul, he is there to help lift our burdens because we believe him capable of doing so.

What a mighty, mighty God we serve.


Being Born Again: Birthday Remix

2:46 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

A year ago today, I couldn't see anything positive in my life.

I was another year older, I was in a job that would end within a year's time, my writing (it seemed) was still going nowhere, I was ready to branch off on my own again but didn't have the means to do it, I was thinking about pursuing my Ph.D. (and had every notion TO apply); but was worried about if I would get in, and a host of other negative issues.

To top the negative pile off, Hurricane Ike decided to pop in around 1 a.m. on September 13th, blackening our home and leaving us without electricity for several days.

To say I was miserable would be an understatement.

It was hard for me then to realize that everything would come to pass and that I would be OK.

A year later, I am OK. I'm actually more than OK. I'm BLESSED beyond measure.

Through God's grace and his strength permeating through me, I kept moving - one foot in front of the other - until I walked out of that hurricane, I walked out of my job, I walked out of my publishing fears, I walked out of my relationship woes, I walked out of everything that tried to fill me with dread and disarm me, and kept moving to the next phase of my life.

I truly feel like I'm a new being - as if God's granted me a new birth. It's hard for me to look back over the last year of my life.

Not because I'm sad or it hurts me, however.

It's because I hardly remember the year. It's all a fantastical blur of forward movement, accomplishments, obstacles, and achievement to reach the place I'm in now. A place in which I'm feeling myself as a SELF. I see me for me and not me connected to others who might influence what I like and don't like.

What does that mean?

Well, the art of buying things for my home is an example. I don't have to ask others what they like; there's no need for a discussion. I know what I like, and I buy it.

The food I buy is different; I hardly eat meat anymore, choosing more healthier options because - quite frankly - it's cheaper to buy healthy when it's just one person and not an entire household.

I pray more because I have the space to fully be me as a praying person.

I emote more because I don't have to worry about anyone's thoughts or worries about me while doing so.

I feel more because I'm not cloaked in others' misery or sadness, which kept my feelings bound inside, twirling and festering.

I am more because where I am now is not where I was before and because it's where God wants me to be.

Don't think any birthday gift could be better than that.


The Wonder of His Safety and Love

5:39 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Life these days is hectic, fast-paced, blurred, awesome, worrisome...and many, many more adjectives.

Since school started on August 27th, I have been chained to words, a plethora of words on philosophy, technology, writing, and all these words swirl in my mind in a harried pace, and most of the time, I am unable to capture the significant points of these words to make meaning.

It is a daunting task.

At least three times I told myself I wasn't cut out for this, and one time last week, I actually thought about bolting from a classroom as my eyes blurred with pending tears, my heart raced, and my mind whispered, "You're not smart enough to be here."

And for the first time since I've moved, I had the ache of loneliness. That day, the day I almost ran from class, packed my bags, and hightailed it out of Lubbock, I got home and realized there were no siblings to crack a joke to make me laugh. There was no hug to chase a frown away. There was no "Come on now. You got this. We been calling you The Brain for HOW long?"

There was nothing but utter silence and my realization of that silence.

And I cried. I will admit my fellow fellows made me feel better as they convinced me that I was not the first nor would I be the last to think I was a fraud in this Ph.D. game. They also made sure to follow that up with, And you are not a fraud.

But there's something about the hug of a brother who gives it to me because I pout and say, "Me needs hugs." There's something about a punch in the arm from a sister which means, "I love you, and you'll be OK." There's something about a kiss from Mom on my forehead, right along the hairline.

I sat in the chair in the living room and collected these memories of reassurances as I cried.

As I sat there, my boyfriend texted me, "R U OK?" Normally, I would reply, "Yep. You?" This time, I wrote, "Not really." And he called with the quickness and stepped to the plate like a good man should. One of the sweetest things he said was, "I know the God in you, and I know you can do this because He has you there." He provided me with the words, hugs, and kisses that I couldn't get in the real.

After I talked to him, I sat in the silence and look at the coffee table where the bible rested. It had been a few days since I cracked it open.

And I remembered I hadn't been doing my daily reading of Psalm 91. I started reading it a few weeks ago and promised myself I would keep it nearby. Whenever you feel your footing is loosening, whenever you feel unsure, not safe, bare, and exposed; it will immediately cover you.

So, I picked up my bible and read it aloud and personalized it to fit me. I have never been able to read it, to seriously read it, all the way through without crying. This time was no exception.

To know God will cover me, morning to night - night to morning, will protect me from my enemies, will give me the tools to fight foes, will dispatch angels to take charge over me, will deliver me and love me and show me his salvation... Whew. I don't know how I can know all those things and not feel already victorious. Not already see Dr. Shonell Bacon written on papers. It's already mine. I just have to make it through the race and get it.

But I do know how I can miss the big picture.

I'm human. We get scared. We get lonely. We get worrisome. We get hard. We get unmoving. We get a lot of things that keep us from reaching our final destinations.

But God bought my ticket here, and I have to move beyond my human ways to get the job done. It's not just about me. God got me here. He told me to apply to this one school. He told me he would supply for my needs.

So far, he's done that PLUS.

Who am I to renege on our pact?


Verse of the Week

5:28 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

Yep. Life is hard. Damn hard. And the more you get on God's side, the harder it will be in some ways. Despite that, it's important that we look up and speak out to him, even if we're as down as we can go. The woman with the issue of blood didn't care what anyone thought of her as she reached out to the Lord and neither should we. If we need grace, if we need help, if we need a hug, a word of assurance, a love that surpasses all understanding, God can give it to us.

As long as we come boldly.


Ego? Arrogance? No, CONFIDENCE

2:03 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Did you know there's humility and then there's self-loathing?

I used to be one of those people who shunned every nice word from people. They would compliment me, and I would be quick to say something like, "Whatever" or I would laugh off the compliment as if the person was crazy to suggest something nice about me.

Why did I do that? A few reasons...
  • I was extremely shy, and I hated any form of attention to be on me.
  • I truly did not know how to respond, and yes, I know all about THANK YOU, but..yeah...I'm weird.
  • I didn't want to take the shine away from God because without him, I cease to be.
I wasn't being humble. I was self-loathing. I was not validating the positive traits I possess, traits that God has infused me with and that I have , through the choices I make in this life, enhanced.

And despite how badly I have disserviced God and myself, he has still done a very quick work in me and my life.

Just recently, I realized how quick God has come to my rescue. Yes, I waited (patiently and impatiently) for him to come with things, just like everybody else, but Lord, when he came, he came hard, fast, and repeatedly.

Just two months ago, I hadn't been behind a wheel, I didn't have much to take with me to Lubbock, I was used to be complacent, in being in the life I had "made" for myself for the last eight years.

And in just two months, God got me behind the wheel, and I passed the driving test. God provided for me for those first couple of weeks when I had nothing. God gave in abundance, allowing me to not only lease my very first car, but to drive said car in a new city, a new state. Even with my jitters from being a new driver, he continues to put me behind the wheel and teach me how to be independent and how to get through issues that arise - like running over a bumper in a parking lot (and scaring the mess out of myself), getting my first parking citation (thanks TTU!), and having to go to an auto shop to get my tire pressure checked.

God wanted to equip me with the means to take care of myself, to get where I needed to go, and to be able to get where HE needed me to go to help spread his message on earth.

The last few days, I've been thinking a lot about ego, about arrogance, about confidence.


Because I've been feeling like a "bad mutha." Every day, I feel closer to being the woman God wants me to be, I feel happier with my decisions. I even feel good about the pains and trips and falls I've experienced because I'm finding solutions in ways the old me would have never considered out of fear and insecurity.

Believe me, it's not my ego or any form of arrogance that has me smiling and thinking my stuff don't stink.

I know, just like I know I'm breathing now and typing this blog that God is the reason for all the changes in my life, and just knowing that makes me feel so unbelievably blessed that there are no words, no emotions high enough, no actions that could ever convey my happiness or my thanks for having such a loving Father.


Verse of the Week

1:55 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"I have given you authority …to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." (Luke 10:19, NIV)

How strong should we be because of this verse? VERY strong. God has given us power to control the enemy so that we can keep our minds, hearts, souls, and spirits connected with God and the path he places before us.

Even in the daily struggles and tragedies of life, we have the power to rise above our situations to claim the blessings God has for us.

If you're going through today and can't seem to think of one reason to hope or believe, reread this verse until it runs through you like blood, becoming a part of you.

Nothing can harm you as long as you have God on your side.


And So It Begins

7:30 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

I got up early. Had two things to do before my 11 a.m. orientation meeting: pick up my permit and get my school ID.

I had been told there would be lines galore, so I made sure to get up and out the house so that I could be at University Parking Services at 7:30 when it opened.

Everything went according to plan 'til I got in the car and on the road. Somehow, some way, I couldn't find the place and found myself circling one particular area three times before frustration, irritation, and tears came.

For all purposes, I'm a new driver and I still get twinges of nervousness when behind the wheel, and being in a new city, a new state just makes matters worse, so in my state of breakdown, I let loose a string of profanity, turned around, and decided to go back home.

Screw a parking permit.

About three, four blocks from my complex, I saw the sign for the university police and went to ask them where UPS was.

When an employee told me the building was right next door (and not called University Parking Services at that), I couldn't help but laugh and ask God, "So, you like playing with me, huh?"

Thank God, there was NO line, and I was in and out in about five minutes.

Next, finding the commuter parking (which is like centuries away from civilization). That wasn't the hard part.

What was hard was looking like a tourist as I held my map close to my face and meandered nearly half the campus to reach the English building. Thirty or so minutes later, I reached it - hot, sweaty, and tired.

I didn't go in. I just knew how to get to SUB (Student Union Building) from it, and that's where I needed to go to get my ID. I did, however, see on a bench under a blanket of trees to catch my breath before another trek.

Again, thank God, there was NO line for the ID, and I was in and out in about five minutes.

And because I had such an early start, thanks to all the people who told me to expect lines, I had a little over an hour to chill before orientation, and I did, nearly falling asleep and providing new students on a tour with my pleasant snores.

The orientation, which I was so nervous about, actually was great. Got to meet my fellow fellows and the director. Got a major pep talk and overview of the program. Got to share my interests and talk to people, and I found I openly talked. Me thinks I was missing talking with people face to face, LOL

After the meeting and a lunch with other students in the department, I made the trek back to the car and headed home.

Once there, I sat, staring at my TTU card and smiled.

I called my mom, told her about my day, and said, "No matter the whining, complaining, and worry I exude over the next several years, Mommy, know this: I got this."

And I do. I'm excited about this and ready to be around people and have intelligent conversation and do research and write papers.

It'll be hard. I'll be cranky. I'll be sleep-deprived. I'll wonder why I tortured myself through this.

But I'll be fine.


'Cause...I got this.

I'm official, baby.


The Devil Is a Liar, Part Three

8:40 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Devil's truth: You Can't Win

The devil likes to pick. He likes to niggle his way into the dark crevices of your mind, find the tiniest things that make you weak, and water them, nurture them until they rear their ugly huge heads, darkening everything in your path.

The devil starts small because he knows that if he festers in enough of your small weaknesses, he will break you. He will make you feel and believe the whisper he sends through your mind: You Can't Win.

When you get that promotion and think everything's aces, BAM, here comes the devil to say, "You can't win. The recession is still going on, and who's to say your company won't downsize?"

When you meet that man who seems to make your heart sing and you think he might be the "one," BAM, here comes the devil to say, "You can't win. Remember how much your father hated you? Remember when you were raped? Remember the bad relationships that followed that? How you think you can have a real, good relationship?"

When you go to celebrate your girlfriend's purchase of a new home and while there, you're happy and drinking mimosas, BAM, here comes the devil to say, "You can't win. You've been looking for a house for how long? Wasn't it you that convinced her to grab a piece of the American Dream? Where's your dream? That's right. It's not coming true."

No matter the scenario, whether you're at a place of blessings in abundance or you're patiently waiting for your blessings to arrive, the devil waits, ready to pounce.

What he fails to realize is "light shines in the darkness for the godly" (Psalms 112:4a, NLT).

And just as he works his way into the crevices of our dark hurts and pains, light can filter into those dark moments and provide us with the hope, the faith we need to continue.

When Tiff and I left for Lubbock, I had enough money (at least I was hoping) to pay for gas both ways, a few (read: very few) necessities for the apartment, and a bit of food. After that, I had six bucks in my wallet and wasn't expecting another piece of money to fall into my lap for at least three weeks.

On our first night in Lubbock, we went to the Dollar Tree, and we were looking through the kitchen stuff.

Initially, inside, I was terribly upset. I was scared, frightened. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I wasn't sure I'd be strong enough to be on my own again, especially considering I knew God had me here for a specific mission. Could I do what he needed?

A million and one dreaded thoughts circled in my head, and then Tiffany touched my arm.

I jumped and said, "Yeah?"

In her hand, she held pot holders and oven mitts and kitchen towels with a funky brown, green, and orange design.

"You like these?"

I smiled and took them. "Yes, you know I love me some brown...and green."

And as Tiffany busied herself, finding little dollar gems for me to buy, I held those pot holders, oven mitts, and kitchen towels, and smiled. My heart almost grew bigger than me, and I could feel the tears were imminent.

"Ooh," Tiffany said in that awe voice, "I feel the presence of God all through here. Hit me just now."

And I smiled and looked at her and said, "I feel happy right now."

"You excited?" she asked, and I could tell that she truly wanted nothing but for me to be happy.

"I'm getting there." I pointed a holder at her and added, "Your excitement for me is making me excited. I'm getting there."

And as we continued through Dollar Tree, I didn't let go of that feeling, that sliver of light that shined into my dark thoughts to whisper its own words to me and to the devil, "She is mine, and she can do all things through me because I strengthen her. You can't have her. Go."

And as we left Dollar Tree on our way to Walmart, I felt the devil do just that. GO.

And nearly three weeks later, as God has blessed me with the means to give to others and to get a few things for myself, I smile.

In my wallet, I still have the six one-dollar bills.


Verse of the Week

11:25 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me." (Micah 7:8, KJV)

We spend a lot of time licking wounds. We fall, and we cry and bemoan and whine and complain about the incident too many times. Then, we spend an equal amount of time thinking about the incident, too. And though tears are not bad and talking about an incident isn't bad in and of itself, the problem only increases when we begin to think about others, the ones who expect to see us fall, who actually want to see us fall. When we start thinking about them, embarrassment, shame, and disappointment can filter into us, keeping us in the mess we've created.

Whenever I read this scripture, my back straightens. I feel taller, stronger, able to conquer every and any obstacle that comes before me, and then stand and tell my enemies, my haters, "Yep, I'm back again because God got my back."

No matter what befalls you, no matter the hoards of people who abound, waiting for your downfall, remember you have a Father who will always lift you up, dust you off, and set you back on your path - if you want him to do that for you.


The Devil Is a Liar, Part Two

3:41 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Devil's truth: Black Women Can't Get Along

In my life, there was a time I didn't believe this. Then, there was a stretch of time that I did believe this. And now, I'm back where I started; let me explain.

I fully believed black women could get along. I had a long list of black women, in my family and friends and with working environments, who were there for me, lending an ear, offering a hug, giving advice that turned out to be the thing I needed to hear. And even though I always heard conversations about how black women were catty, and mean, and self-focused, and back-biting, I never believed it because I had PROOF to the contrary.

And then I entered graduate school ~ won't even say which one, and you guys know it's been many, LOL

I met a black female professor who offered to take me under her wing my first semester, to show me the ropes. "We have to look out for one another, you know" was the essence of her words, her actions.

And I was happy because I assumed this would be another black woman I could add to a long list of supportive black women.

But things turned bad quickly, and by the end of my first semester - after I had put together a conference, took over classes when needed, and did a million other things for her as an independent study student - I received a C and was dismissed from the school (needed As or Bs to stay in the program). Went as high up on the chain as I could possibly go and still, no one listened. I was let loose.

This one instance washed away all the good black women from my list. I tried to get past it, but shortly thereafter, I ran into other altercations with black women who seemingly wanted to help me or forge alliances only to betray me, stab me in the back, and leave me wounded.

Was I bitter? Hell yes. Was I angry? Most definitely, and it showed as I decided to just stay away from most people and keep to myself.

The devil had won out. He had managed to take something good and mar it, and I was letting him by not going back to my list and showing him my PROOF.

But God has a way of working his way into you when you think you've turned yourself off from the world. He introduced me to strong, confident, self-assured black women who were great in their own right but also wanted to connect with other great women to empower.

He introduced me to my best friend, he introduced me to women - both online and off - who would become like sisters to me...physically and spiritually.

One of strong black women is Tiffany Phillips. When I first met her, I didn't like her, and she tells everyone this story! I had already pegged her as a black women set on self and ready to trample others in her path, but I had to work with her on a project. I couldn't run from her.

In spending time with Tiff, I learned that first impressions aren't always the best. You don't get to see what's inside of a person. What matters to her. And through our working together, I learned she was a giving, loving, supportive, G0d-fearing woman who would give you whatever you needed if she had it.

She reconnected me with church. She was there when I was baptized. She encouraged me to grow and go deeper in my faith walk. She rallied behind me when I was treated unfairly and shook the pom poms when God things began to happen in my life. She drove me the 12 hours to Lubbock, a drive which was full of good talk, revelation, love, and sisterhood. She made this journey to Lubbock less fearful. She made me excited during times fear, anxiety, and doubt weighed heavily on me. She prophesied over me. She woke me up early in the morning about dreams she had of me and allowed me to share my fears.

She's been a wonderful black woman in my life, and because of her and countless others that God has placed in my life over the last few years, I can say, "The devil is a liar. Not everyone is going to be to our liken, but that is no reason to cast a whole lot away. There are good people, no matter the race, the sex, and when it's your time, God will place those people in your life and restore your faith."

And it's my time. And God has kept his promise.