Saturday, May 31, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Nothing But the Whole Wide World

"God wants us busy, never giving up

He wants nothing but the whole wide world for us

Nothing but the whole wide world for us
Nothing, nothing
Well there's nothing but the whole wide world for us
Nothing, nothing
Well there's nothing but the whole wide, whole wide world for us"

I hear those words and I am reminded that no matter how hard my struggle seems, God is always there for me. He wants me to succeed according to His idea of success. 

So on the days when things are difficult -- the depression seizes me, when I'm tired and unfocused, when I feel completely worthless -- He wants nothing but the whole wide world for me. And it doesn't mean I have to go out and take it by storm. No, all He asks of me is that I receive what He offers.

It doesn't solve everything. It doesn't pull me out my pre-summer funk. But it does provide comfort and hope. Things can and will be better.

He wants me to have the world, as long as I recognize that He is the world.

listen here 

(lyrics from "Nothing But the Whole Wide World"/Ghost on the Canvas by Glen Campbell)



linking up with Five Minute Friday


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Understanding and Perceptions


I've been misunderstood my whole life. Or at least it feels that way. 

Let's be clear, I'm not complaining about how other people see or perceive me, but rather my own perceptions about me.

I assume when I was very young -- before the abuse -- I had a relatively good understanding of who I was. At least as much as any 3-4 year old can. But when the bad things started happening, it played havoc with my understanding and perception. Good people weren't always good. People lied. Nice people would hurt me for no apparent reason. I seemed to be misunderstanding a lot of things. 

I kept misunderstanding what was happening to me and especially why it was happening, so it changed my whole perspective on how I was supposed to function in life. Instead of sharing what I wanted and needed, I came to the conclusion that the most important thing was to figure out what everyone else wanted from me. If I could do that, clearly they would quit hurting me. Not just quit hurting me, but love me, as I was and for who I was.

The reality of it all was that I wasn't the one being misunderstood. I was the one misunderstanding. I was taking on responsibility for other people's actions -- actions that no one could really understand -- and by doing that I was trying to control what other people did.

It's taken years and years to learn that the only person I can control is me. I can only control how I react to another person's words or actions. It seems so simple when it's typed on the page, but it's been a tough lesson to learn and hold on to.

I've learned to be specific, especially when I feel misunderstood, but I've also learned that just because I'm misunderstood, it may not always be my fault. And that's when it's time to walk away.

linking up with Writer's Workshop and Just Write






Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yaya's New Do




linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Catching My Breath


It snuck up on me this time. I've been busy and distracted with travel and life. Concentrating on other things, I was caught off guard by Memorial Day and the unfortunate effect it has on me.

I wrote about it the first time years ago. About how the changing of seasons from spring to summer triggers all kinds of scary stuff. 

Yesterday I sat in my therapist's office and told her I was scared and ashamed. I was afraid I was losing ground -- going backwards. I find myself distrustful of everyone, even myself. I can't concentrate, and I just want to sleep. I'm beating up on myself for not being more organized and fearing loss of control. I feel scattered and frantic.

Memorial Day came early this year. For some reason I thought I had another week. I hadn't consciously thought about the triggers involved with summer, and I think that made it much worse. Or maybe it's not worse. Maybe I'd just forgotten what it was like to walk around afraid all the time. 

The vast majority of the abuse occurred in the summer months. Time that is supposed to be reserved for joy, fun activities, and family. But every year, unbidden, my body reminds me of the abuse. Some internal clock turns on to prepare for the onslaught. The abuse itself ended a long time ago, but the effects are still triggered by the change in temperature and the summer attitude that takes over everyone around me.

I want to look forward to summer, and I do. But there is always this period of transition where I have to adjust. To remind myself that the abuse is over, and that it is normal to have a bit of struggle right now. 

I went to the allergist this morning because I've been having trouble breathing. She adjusted my asthma meds and was very sympathetic. I brought up the psychological aspect of triggers this time of year. She acknowledged that it may play a role in the difficulties. She also praised me for recognizing it and being willing to share it as a possibility, because it could effect how we treat this flare up. 

I'm home now with a new prescription, but I stopped on the way and treated myself to a diet Dr. Pepper and the time to make a list. A list similar to the ones I was making last month for Lent, reminding myself of the positive impact that attitude adjustment had on me.


I'm breathing easier, literally and figuratively, this morning. Facing down memories, triggers, flashbacks, and pollen with intentionality.

linking up with Just Write


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . May 27, 2014

Outside my window . . . already 75* and overcast. I think it's going to be a muggy day.

I am thinking . . . that sleeping through the night changes my perspective considerably.

I am thankful . . . for safe travels for all my peeps yesterday.

In the kitchen . . . banana bread over the weekend. Grilled burgers tonight.

I am wearing . . . my homemade cotton gown.

I am creating . . . not much. Things have so hectic I can't seem to get organized. Hope springs eternal!

I am going . . . to an appointment and then have the house to myself for the rest of the day :)

I am wondering . . . what may triggering some additional stress I've been feeling lately.

I am reading . . .  The Silent Twins by Marjorie Wallace.

I am looking forward to . . . having some quiet planning time today with everyone out of the house.

I am hearing . . . lots of quiet this morning. Alan and Claire are out of town, and Sam's gone to take care of a neighbors dogs. Just me and my dogs hanging out this morning.

Around the house . . . not feeling much motivation to clean. Organizing is okay, but that whole cleaning thing is just not appealing right now.

I am praying . . . for a friend looking for a job. Another friend who has just begun chemo for pancreatic cancer. For my family and me to have a good summer break.

One of my favorite things . . . is creating things of beauty, and yet I have so much difficulty organizing my time to allow that to happen.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . a calmer week than last week. I am hoping that will make it possible to get back on track.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
a happy basket of color




Monday, May 26, 2014

Banana Bread


The hubs and I sat down to watch some TV yesterday evening. With 10 minutes remaining in an episode of "House" on Netflix, my husband paused the show and asked when the banana bread would be ready. I said as soon as the show was over I would start it. He was horrified. Apparently he thought it was already baking, and was only watching TV to wait for the bread! He still got his warm banana bread last night, and he and our son are taking more on their climbing trip today.

This is the recipe that became the Banana Pear Bread last year, but here it is in it's original form.

1 cup demerara sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack. Spread a generous layer of butter on the top of the hot loaf and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cool completely before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf. Store in the refrigerator wrapped in foil.


linking up with Made by You Monday




Saturday, May 24, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

photo credit Alan Pennington

Friday, May 23, 2014

Close

It's the close of the week. In my world anyway. Friday has always been the end of the week for me. Perhaps it was bred into me with all those years of schooling. Or maybe it was that Saturday always felt like a preparation day for Sunday, since I was the preacher's kid.

Whatever the reason, Friday signals the end of the week, and a time to contemplate successes and failures. Has it been "good" week or a "bad" week? Did I succeed at living my life the way I wanted or did I miss the mark more often than not?

If I go all the way back to last weekend (and that's a long time ago!), I know that Saturday and Sunday were good days. Time spent with my husband in Philadelphia just enjoying ourselves. Monday was good because I spent time with my bestie, and that is always a good thing. Tuesday was stressful, but ultimately good. And Wednesday and Thursday were long, but mostly good spending more time with the hubs by being his chauffeur to an out of town business meeting.

So I'm closing out this week with wins. Which is a nice way to close the books.

linking up with Five Minute Friday


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Putting It Out There

The most challenging part about blogging for you is . . . 

Knowing how much to share.

I started writing this blog as an outlet for coping with PTSD and the long lasting effects of childhood sexual abuse. I probably couldn't have told you that was why at the time. I tried to convince myself that I was just going to write about everyday stuff. Deep inside I wanted to talk about all the awfulness that was going on in my head, but I was terrified of sharing. Of putting it out there to be judged. Of being called a liar. 

I felt selfish for wanting to hear positive responses. I felt selfish for wanting to talk about myself, so I tried to frame it in my head as doing something for someone else. Although I couldn't imagine how putting my trauma out there could possibly help anyone else. I knew it was just a ruse. I just wanted attention.

Over time I've come to realize that it was okay to want to share my story for my own sake. It was okay to need some attention. To need someone -- anyone -- to express horror, care, concern, and even pride, at what I'd come through.

It's still difficult to write sometimes. Even this post makes me wonder for a minute or two why I am saying all these things. But I stop and remind myself that I'm not forcing anyone to read this. To follow my blog. To comment. And I do know that there are people out there who are helped by my honesty, and there is a great deal of comfort in that.

Mostly I'm just so grateful to have this opportunity.
linking up with Writer's Workshop


Thy Friend

“Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Image courtesy of Unsplash.
We met in high school. We'd known of each other for years. Our school was doing a production of "Fiddler on the Roof". I don't know how it happened, but suddenly we were always doing things together. Calling one another after school to plan something else to do together.

There was a core group of us. We did everything together -- movies, dinners, plays, grocery runs, choir. We were inseparable. But I trusted her more than anyone else. I could always count on the truth no matter what. 

I graduated and went to college the year before she did. I made new friends. We didn't see each other every day. It was harder to stay connected. 

The next year she followed me to college. She lived on campus. I lived off. I was a history major. She was a business major. We did some things together. I still called her my best friend, but it wasn't the same. 

I met my husband. He didn't like to share me, and I was a people pleaser. I hurt her. But she didn't abandon me. She embraced him even though he saw her as competition.

She helped me with wedding plans and gave me a bridal shower. She was my maid of honor. 

After that we kept in touch, but not the same way. We were there for all the big events. The birth of my daughter. I was in her wedding.  She and her husband helped care for my daughter while I was hospitalized before and after the birth of my son. I celebrated with her at the birth of her daughter. She had a miscarriage and I reached out. I needed her in my life, but I wasn't sure she wanted to be in my life in a deeper way. 

When her son was born, I was at the hospital while she was in labor. I asked if I could be in the delivery room and she was happy for me to stay even asking my opinion on the final name choice. 

We began truly reconnecting, though, when I began remembering the abuse I had suffered as a child. Ten years after the birth of my daughter. And I turned back to that friendship. I asked for her help because I couldn't think of anyone else I trusted enough. I knew I could say to her, "I can't clean my house, and I can't let anyone else see how bad it is." She came and asked questions and listened and never, ever judged me or doubted me. She became my family at that point. The one person I could call no matter what or when. She laughed with me as we realized my addiction to buying lotion and cleaning supplies. She told me what to get rid of when I became overwhelmed with stuff and crap. She counseled me and encouraged me and prayed with me and over me. She listened to all the awfulness and some how stayed and loved me anyway. She reminded me of who I was. 

And now. Now we see each other every week and talk or text almost everyday. I can't imagine my life without her. She is the sister God gave me, and I am blessed beyond all understanding by that gift. We help each other. We listen to whining and call each other on it when it's time to stop. We encourage each other to honor who we are, and to strive to be better at being us. And we laugh. 

There are no weeds on the path to her door anymore. The good news is that those weeds have been pulled and dug out. The path has been renewed.

(to LBB with so much love!)

linking up with Write on Edge


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

In which I find a new mantra . . .

I said it again yesterday. "He makes me feel . . . " And I was reminded that no one can make me feel anything without my permission. I give someone power over me by not recognizing and validating my own feelings and beliefs. 

It's been a very difficult lesson for me to learn. I'm still constantly working on it, and it's hard not to criticize myself for the continuing struggle. After I said it yesterday, I looked at my therapist and said, "I said something wrong, didn't I?" I could tell from the look on her face, but I had no idea what I'd done. She was quick to reframe it not as my having done something wrong, but rather as an opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

Needing someone else to validate my feelings and beliefs has been one of the toughest aspects of healing from childhood sexual abuse. Trust is broken and often lost as the result of abuse -- not surprisingly. But one of the things I'd never realized until I began to work through it myself, is that trust in self is one of the primary losses. It's obvious to me that victims/survivors would lose trust in the abuser, and maybe in people in general. That makes perfect sense. I couldn't trust people who had previously been trusted because now they had become abusers. It made me wary of other people. Strangers for sure, but even people I already knew, because I couldn't be certain they wouldn't turn on me as well.

Perhaps the greatest loss, though, is trust in myself. Abuse made me question everything I thought and felt, and a lot of what I believed. Retraining myself to trust me has been so difficult, especially when there were times that other people couldn't understand my feelings. Just because someone else doesn't "get it", doesn't invalidate my feelings. (A new mantra for me).

So I'm working on trusting myself more each day. Taking my feelings out for a test drive, as it were. Asking myself why I feel certain things without needing (as much) for someone else to validate those feelings.

It's a bit scary, but like everything else on this path, I'm trusting it's worth it.


linking up with Just Write


Fountains and Philly



linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . May 20, 2014

Outside my window . . . 68* and a clear blue sky!

I am thinking . . . about routine. Things have been so hectic lately I can't seem to get into a routine with vacuuming and dusting. I know it's a "first world problem" but on the other hand I have to fight the "I'm a bad person" syndrome when I'm not doing it regularly.

I am thankful . . . improved moods around the house.

In the kitchen . . . last night at ds's request we had Oven Fried Parmesan Chicken, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, Sister Schubert rolls, and brownies. Tonight is looking like "clean out the refrigerator" night.

I am wearing . . . my homemade cotton gown.

I am creating . . . the mandala I started last week and I have a pair of pants cut out and ready to sew if I can just get a couple of hours to make them.


I am going . . . to have to do some clothes shopping for myself pretty soon, as pickings are getting quite slim in my closet.

I am wondering . . . about how to best prioritize some projects around the house. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what should be taken care of next, but I'm leaning toward my own personal preference.

I am reading . . .  still working on Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler

I am looking forward to . . . my schedule settling down a bit.

I am hearing . . . the usual morning activity as people leave for work, and my dogs wandering around before they settle for their morning nap.

Around the house . . . a little bit of clutter, but not too bad.

I am praying . . . for a friend whose mother died yesterday, and my friend who starts chemo tomorrow for pancreatic cancer.

One of my favorite things . . . is spending a day with my bestie, and I got to do that yesterday.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . a couple of appointments today, tea with my mother and dd in the mornng, drive dh to Knoxville tomorrow afternoon, a day in Knoxville on Thursday, celebrating dd's birthday Thursday night, and maybe, if I'm lucky, absolutely NO PLANS for Friday!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
dh doing his thing in Philly



Friday, May 16, 2014

Raining in Philly

“Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?”
― M.C. Escher



I'm pretty sure it can. In my topsy turvy world, up and down, good and bad, black and white have often been confused. So if the floor wants to be the ceiling or vice versa it makes perfect sense to me.

I grew up in an environment that encouraged me to accept the status quo. Follow the rules even if they made no sense. Just because I didn't understand them didn't mean they weren't the best way. 

So I grew up as a "rules girl". My kids still refer to me this way. I've worked over the past 14 years to be more comfortable with asking questions. Wondering why. Suggesting a different perspective. 

Take today for example. I'm in Philadelphia with my husband. He's here for a business trip and I just got to tag along. 

We packed and left on time with no grumpiness between us (a feat that should be recognized for its rarity). We arrived at the airport, got through security with no significant snafus (they had to double check the buttons on my sleeves!?!), and then got settled to wait for our flight which was scheduled to be on time.

It's raining cats and dogs in Philadelphia and has been all day. 

About the time we should have begun boarding they announced that the plane had not arrived yet because of weather issues in Philly. Apparently our flight was coming from Philly and heading right back.

But we took it all in stride. My husband had a 2:30 meeting, so he contacted his client to let them know we were delayed. We finally boarded and took off about an hour and 15 minutes late. I don't really enjoy flying. I think I'm more of a first class, big jet kind of girl, but we have a businessman's budget, so we were on a little plane in the back row. And did I mention we got to walk across the tarmac to board the plane, and check our carry-ons because there wasn't enough room in the cabin for them? 

And there were clouds. Lots of clouds that tossed the plane around while we got up to altitude. I did my deep breathing and read my book and held Yolie and my prayer beads. I actually slept through the landing which was a blessing.

The Philadelphia airport is doing some construction right now, so we got to hike a goodly way to finally arrive at the cab stands. There was no covered walkway to the stand, and yes it's still pouring in Philly.

Still in a good mood, my husband called his client and let her know we were in transit and he hoped to be there by 3:00. The cabbie was very nice and pointed out that it would be closer to drop me off at the hotel first. My husband pointed out that I had time to spare. So we dropped him off and the cabbie circled back to drop me off at the hotel, which has no covered pull through. I dragged 2 rolling suitcases, my purse, and my husband's backpack with his wet Crocs dangling from it up the sidewalk and into the driving rain, and into a revolving automatic door that moved at a geriatric turtle's pace. 

Once inside I pulled myself together and went to check in. The attendant was very sweet, but pointed out that since the reservation was in my husband's name and I didn't have the verification code she would need my credit card and driver's license as well as his cell number to call and verify that is was okay to let me check in. Whatever!

I got into the room and was just about to collapse when I heard the distinct sound of dripping water. I walked to the corner windows and saw water coming in. Someone had thoughtfully spread a couple of towels to catch the drips, but apparently not notified the front desk that the room was out of service. 

I called the "careline" and they agreed that the room would not be acceptable, and could they please move me to another room. You think? I could either come down to the front desk and pick up my new room keycards or they could run them right up. I suggested that the latter would be better and could they perhaps send someone to help schlep my luggage for me? Right away they assured me.

A half hour later as I was beginning to lose my patience there was a knock at the door. New keys and an offer to help with my luggage. 

I'm settled in my new room now. I've eaten the warm chocolate chip cookie they gave me when I checked in (no longer warm of course), and when they called to check on my new room I asked for free wifi. They were happy to oblige. 

All that to point out that "rules girl" has learned a few lessons over the years. Lessons about rolling the punches, going with the flow, and asking for what I want.

So sure a floor can be a ceiling if it wants, just let me take a nap first.



linking up with Write on Edge





Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stretching

"There comes a moment in the life of every individual when reality must be faced. When this happens, it is as though some link between emotion and reason is stretched to the limit of endurance, and sometimes snaps."
--Daphne du Maurier


I don't know when or where I read this quote for the first time. I'm not sure if is a real life quote from Daphne du Maurier or a quote from one her novels. I do know that the minute I read it, it resonated with me in a mesmerizing fashion.

I hope every person has that moment -- where reality must be faced -- but I'm not sure they do. I know a lot of people who seem to continue living in their dream worlds. For me it wasn't one moment though. It's been progressive moments over a period of years. A series of links that have been tested -- stretched at times to that breaking point. 

There was a phrase that I said a lot in the beginning and the middle of coming to grips with the PTSD and accepting the abuse as reality. "I just don't know if I can do this anymore." I'm not sure exactly what it meant -- suicide was considered, even organized in my head. I could never get past what a legacy it would leave for my kids, and a sense that it would give evidence to the naysayers who thought I was just "very sick".

I think what I was really looking for was a time out. A chance to regroup and catch my breath before the next wave of reality and emotion crested over me threatening to take me down. I never envisioned it as snapping, but more like drowning. And yet I felt compelled and obligated to keep getting my head above water if only to tread on a little bit longer because I had obligations and responsibility -- and besides what would people think or say if I didn't do what was expected.

When I was finally able to truly face reality and what it all meant, I had built up enough strength and knowledge, and created a support group, that I didn't snap. But I understand those who do and those who, perhaps, sometimes wish they had. I know the story of one woman who did snap and left behind a husband and children who deal with it every single day. I think of them often. I don't blame her. I do blame the abusers and the naysayers for not holding her up. For taking the easy route for themselves by saying she was crazy -- had always been off her rocker. You would be too if you'd been abused and no one would listen to you or believe you when you tried to tell them.

That link between emotion and reason has been stretched over and over again. Thank God it hasn't snapped.

linking up with Writer's Workshop




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reframing Honesty

What's the difference between dishonesty and full disclosure?

No, no. I'm really asking.

I had this conversation yesterday. It started out simply enough. I commented that I felt dishonest at times because I don't always share all my feelings. I keep certain things back, even from my husband. I present things carefully so as to keep from getting hurt. Or hurting the other person.

Is it dishonest not to share everything? Or is that just making a personal choice? 

I learned this lesson early on in my life. Limit what you share, because it can be used against you. For humiliation or for pain. So I am still reticent to share deepest thoughts and feelings. Trust takes a long time for me to establish, and is easily extinguished. I typically assume I am wrong -- the only one who feels this way or thinks these things. So it is best to keep these feelings and thoughts to myself.

Over time I have found I am not the only one. When I've found the strength to express things I haven't always been shut down. Sometimes there have been others who shared the same feelings and thoughts. Sometimes there have been others who appreciated my perspective as different from theirs yet still valid. 

By keeping so much to myself I allowed my perception to become skewed. I began to think of myself as dishonest in certain areas. I've joked for years about being pathologically honest. So how could I hold two such divergent views of myself simultaneously? I don't know, but I did.

So now I'm working (again) on reframing my view of myself. Honesty is a huge part of my moral make-up, but so is trust. For years I felt I had to choose between the two. Not so anymore, but it's still a hard lesson to embrace.

linking up with Just Write and Imperfect Prose





Snack Time





















photo by Alan Pennington

linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . May 13, 2014

Outside my window . . . the sun is shining and the sky is blue. It's 75 already. We're still dealing with high pollen which makes breathing a bit problematic for us asthmatics!

I am thinking . . . about an email I got this morning from another survivor and how best to respond. I am honored and a bit afraid at the same time.

I am thankful . . . for a slower paced day today.

In the kitchen . . . lots of kale salad, slaw, and pasta salad -- and it's not even Memorial Day yet!

I am wearing . . . one of my favorite cotton gowns. It has pockets in it!

I am creating . . . a mandala using this pattern for Lucy's Yarndale project. Here's my start


I am going . . . to have a window installer come by and measure for some new windows for our bedrooms.

I am wondering . . . so many things! 

I am reading . . . Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige 

and Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler
Remember last week when I had nothing to read? Not a problem anymore.

I am looking forward to . . . a weekend get-away with dh and a chance to see a friend from college.

I am hearing . . . the blessed quiet as the dogs are settled, dh and dd are gone for the morning while ds is still snoozing away.

Around the house . . . dd cleaned as my Mother's Day gift. Quite lovely :)

I am praying . . . for a former co-worker dealing with multiple health issues including pancreatic cancer, and a young lady whose mother died on Sunday.

One of my favorite things . . . is flowers, but I'm very good at killing plants. I'm trying my hand again this summer, but keeping everything in pots. So far I have geraniums and begonias. I bought some clematis to plant as well. Here's hoping I can keep them alive all summer long.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . an appointment today, contractor this afternoon, day at home tomorrow (!), Bible study on Thursday I hope, and then off to Philadelphia with the hubs for the weekend.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 



Monday, May 12, 2014

Roasted Tuscan Chicken

The other day I was looking for a summer tortellini salad recipe I used to make a lot and I ran across a completely different recipe I haven't made in ages. It's not really a summer recipe at all, but I had all the ingredients on hand and decided to give it a go.

As I was making it my husband and I were discussing how to tell a good recipe from a bad one. This is one I pulled from a magazine. It was an ad for Ragu spaghetti sauce from (gulp) 1997. I remembered liking the flavors but not liking the overall dish as much as I should have given the flavor combination. I quickly realized the flaws were in the directions and the prep. As always I reconnoitered and made it my own.


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders cut into 1" cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 medium potatoes cut into 1/2" cubes (about 4 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 jar spaghetti sauce (I like Paul Newman's Organic)
1 pound fresh or frozen green beans
1 teaspoon dried basil or fresh basil if you have it
salt and pepper to taste 

Preheat oven to 350. Saute (on medium high heat) chicken and garlic in olive oil until chicken is lightly browned. Add potatoes and peppers and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and pour into a 9x13" baking dish that has been sprayed or wiped with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove foil for final 5 minutes of baking. Makes 6 generous servings.

linking up with Made by You Monday




Saturday, May 10, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

photo credit Alan Pennington

Friday, May 9, 2014

Grateful



I am grateful. 

Last week I wrote about a mess I was struggling with. The struggle is still there, but it's not quite as overwhelming. And I saw Ann Voskamp's quote on happiness and gratitude on a friend's page this morning -- a friend who lost her only daughter in a car wreck . . . a friend who is helping to raise her small grandson without a mother while instilling memories of her in his heart -- and it made me remember to acknowledge how grateful I am.

Gratitude is important to all of us. We want to be acknowledged when we do something nice for someone else. It validates the giver and the recipient. God wants us to acknowledge our gratitude to Him, and we should. But the reality is that acknowledging my gratitude to God is really more for me than for Him. Stopping and sitting with my gratitude for all the things that God does for me makes me take notice of them. It makes me give Him credit which in turn brings me closer to Him. And that's what it's all about.

Being grateful makes me recognize my own needs and limitations, and opens me up to receiving and recognizing God's love and grace.

So right now, in this moment, I am grateful.

linking up with Five Minute Friday


Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Shoreline of Perfection

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”

― Sarah Kay




I keep trying to get it right -- this thing called life. 

I tried to be the perfect daughter -- doing what my parents told me to do. Being interested in their interests to try and gain their respect and admiration. Living the life they wanted me to live.

I tried to be the perfect wife -- agreeing with my husband. Taking his advice. Compromising as much as was humanly possible. Being the wife (I thought) he wanted me to be.

I tried to be the perfect mother -- reading all the books. Watching all the other moms and trying to emulate them. Hair bows and ball games. Dance class and music lessons. Being the mom I thought I was supposed to be even though it felt so fake.

I kept trying to kiss the shoreline of perfection, but I kept getting sent away.

And then I realized the flaw in my strivings. I can't be perfect. I can only be who I am. I was never meant to be perfect, just like the ocean was never meant to stay on the shoreline. There is an ebb and flow to all things in life. Give and take. Life isn't stagnant. It's a process that requires adjustments -- meeting and parting, gaining and losing, learning and unlearning. 

Lately I've taken on a new approach. I do the best I can at any given moment with the information I have at that time. And I'm giving myself a lot of grace. 

So kissing the shoreline of perfection as I'm pulled away doesn't feeling like failing anymore. It feels like living.

linking up with Write on Edge






Uhm, no?

1.) List your top 6 biggest fears, choose one and tell us why.
2.) Whose fault was it?
3.) Share a favorite recipe.
4.) Something you're reading.
5.) Write about a wardrobe malfunction.


Dear Mama Kat,

I just can't get my head around any of these.

1. I don't want to talk about my top 6 biggest fears. I can't narrow them down to 6 and certainly not to 1!
2. Clearly it was their fault. I could name them all, but I don't want to get sued.
3. I usually do that on Mondays, so don't mess with my blogging schedule.
4. I can tell you what I'm reading, but I just got started so that doesn't sound like a much of a post (Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler).
5. Well there was that one time when I was pregnant with my first child that I came out of the ladies room with my dress tucked into the back of my undies, but let's not go there!

So thanks for the prompts this week. Maybe I'll do a better job next week.

Warmest regards,
Melanie


linking up with Writer's Workshop


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Risks

I wrote a post on Monday about a flashback I had over the weekend, and here is what has fascinated me about it. As always, it helped put some things in perspective. Just getting the words out in a coherent pattern. Processing by typing. Friends who read the post via Facebook have been incredibly supportive, and no one has told me I did anything wrong by sharing so openly (my expectation every time I write specifically about the abuse). The post had more hits in a single day than any other I have ever written -- but not one single comment on the blog itself. 



I wonder why that is. Who are those people reading about my trauma? Are they other survivors contemplating their own stories? Are they people who had no idea things like that happened in "nice" families? Are they just people with a prurient interest? I don't know. And the likelihood is I will never know for sure.

But all that wondering brings me back to something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Connections. I crave connections and yet am terrified -- even repelled at times -- by the thought of putting myself out there to connect with other people. Because real, true connections require risks. The risk of being real in another's presence knowing that they may not reciprocate with their own "realness". 

When I started on this path of healing one of the things I feared was that by sharing my story I would somehow be giving other people ammunition to use against me. That my history would be used to prove my invalidity. I was terrified of having the tables turned on me and rugs pulled out from beneath my feet. And yes, it has happened a few times. But so many more times I have received validation and acceptance beyond my ability to comprehend. By risking being real I have given others the opportunity to be real in return and I have received so much more than I have risked. 

I am going to keep risking -- by telling my story, by being honest about my wants and needs, by being kind -- because the potential connections are worth it.





linking up with Just Write and Imperfect Prose