Friday, October 31, 2014

Leave



It's time to leave October behind. It's the last day. The day kids have been waiting for -- costumes and candy.

Leaving is part of living. Sometimes we leave places, jobs, people. Sometimes we leave because we have to; sometimes because we don't get a choice. Leaving is good. Leaving is bad. To leave is to change.



And if we don't ever leave, we don't change, we don't grow.

Eventually we leave school and home. We build new homes, sometimes with new people and sometimes on our own. Either way we can't have the new without leaving.

I've left school and home. I've left jobs that just didn't work out and jobs I've loved. I left friends because the time for that friendship ended or distance just got in the way.

The hardest leaving is when you leave to help yourself knowing it hurts someone else in the process. I've done that one too. Sometimes it's temporary leaving. Sometimes it's forever.

Today I'm leaving the 31 days behind me. But I'm not forgetting them. I'm incorporating them into my life which is richer for this experience. 

Blessings. 

(Congratulations to all the other 31 dayers out there. We did it!)

linking up with Five Minute Friday and 31 Days of Writing




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Juxtaposition

Mama Kat gave me juxtaposing prompts this week.

List 7 things you miss about being a kid.
Write a post inspired by the word: bitter.

It's a double whammy for me. How do I determine what I miss from a childhood of broken memories? Am I bitter (angry, hurt, or resentful because of one's bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment) about those broken memories? Maybe I have to answer both to answer either one very well.

What do I miss about my childhood? Well I miss thinking everything was normal, just the way it was supposed to be. The thing about kids is they tend to assume whatever their world looks like is reality for everyone. There is a (false) sense of security in feeling superior to other people. 

I also miss some really key people from my childhood. My great-grandmother called Nur (nuh) and her sister, Auntie (ainty) and her husband Uncle Horace. They were my havens of safety growing up. I doubt they knew it, but I sure did. The unconditional love they showed me probably kept me going, even through all the horrors.

There are a few toys from my childhood I wish hadn't gotten lost along the way, but I still have my treasured Dahlia and the red rocking chair I got the same Christmas she came to live with me.

I miss reading all night long, because I could. It's easier when you don't have anywhere to be the next day. And I miss eating Nana rolls until I was nearly sick, and fried chicken at my daddy's mama's house. I miss feeling as if I belonged with that group of people, but they're all gone now.

Am I bitter? I don't think so. My life wasn't a bowl of cherries, but it wasn't all bad either. I went through some horrific experiences, but I did have a family. A place to live and good food to eat. I had family who loved me as best they could, I guess. No, I'm not bitter. But I am sad. There are a lot of experiences I'll never have as they were meant to be. Like sex with my husband the first time, or feeling accepted and secure right away with other people. I missed out on childhood the way it was meant to be. Innocent. 

For whatever reason, I've never felt the need to play the "why me" card. "Why not me" has always been the question for me. I wouldn't wish those experiences on anyone else. Not anyone. No, not even the abusers themselves. It's not that I'm happy or okay that it did happen to me. I think I'm just accepting that what was, was. It's not something I can change, so there's no point dwelling on it.

It's taken me years to work through a lot of the issues, and I'm sure there will always be things that crop up. Things to be addressed as time goes by, but that's true for everyone. 

I guess my life is actually just like everyone else's. There were good things and bad things. Things I miss and things I'm glad are in the past. Life goes on.

linking up with Writer's Workshop and 31 Days of Writing






Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Little Reminders





linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Unite


Unite -- come or bring together for a common purpose or action

That's one of the best benefits of 31 Days of Writing. Writing is by its very nature a solitary activity. Those of us who write do it because we feel compelled to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, but we do it alone. 

As a rule I'm okay with that. But every now and then it's nice to be reminded that while I am alone in my nook writing, there are lots of other people alone in their own nooks writing as well. And that makes me part of something larger. 

For the past 29 days we've had the opportunity to write and share about what ever interests us, and it's been wonderful. I've connected with people on my blog, on their blogs, and on our Facebook page. 

We're creating a community of writers that will last long after these 31 days are behind us.






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . October 28, 2014

Outside my window . . . the skies are overcast, but there is a beautiful sugar maple turning shades of orange highlighted against the gray skies.

I am thinking . . . about understanding the differences between "want to" and "need to" particularly as it applies to my lifestyle.

I am thankful . . . for a good night's rest.

In the kitchen . . . last night we had pot roast with roasted potatoes, carrots and onion, and steamed green beans. Tonight is pasta and sausage.

I am wearing . . . a cotton gown with my turquoise and red shawl.

I am creating . . . more goodies for Presents with a Purpose (November 8th -- The Well).

I am going . . . to therapy and then home for a couple of hours of creativity with my bestie.

I am wondering . . . about trust and faith in God. I don't know if I have faith about the future or if I am just naive in believing things will be fine.

I am reading . . . The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey

I am looking forward to . . . all the little trick-or-treaters on Friday night. Now that my kids are all grown, it's nice to just sit back and hand out candy.

I am hearing . . . the dogs puttering around the house after their breakfast and possibly my dear son rousing himself for school.

Around the house . . . order is returning. At my pace, but I am just fine with that. 

I am praying . . . for peace and understanding concerning change in the future.

One of my favorite things . . . is writing this blog. I've never been very good at keeping up with a diary or journal (except during the worst of the abuse remembering). The blog gives me a journal of sorts, and I feel compelled to do it because I see it as being more for others than myself.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . no extra activities this week! Yay! Daylight Saving Time ends on Saturday/Sunday, though.

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




linking up with The Simple Woman and 31 Days of Writing



Monday, October 27, 2014

Keeping House


We're in the final stretch of 31 Days of Writing. I'm pretty content. I've only missed 2 days so far -- although I did make up Day 9. Yesterday just never happened. I don't usually write on Sundays, so those have been the hardest.

I asked my husband yesterday what I should write about. He said I could compare my life to the Titans football team this season. I should be offended by that, but there are some comparisons. We both just seem to run out of steam before the job is finished.

I thought about writing about the cooking I did this weekend. 
Monkey Bread

Roasted Compari tomatoes and zucchini

Polenta with garlic and olive oil

Grilled barbecue chicken

Not to mention the baked shrimp scampi, baked salmon, succotash, and new potatoes for dinner last night that I forgot to take photos of. Apparently the cooking mojo came back over the weekend.

What I really keep thinking about though is the idea of making homemaking meditation. It's so easy in our current society for the idea of staying at home and making a "home" to be viewed as a waste of time. I fight it everyday in my own head. My kids are grown, but I still want to be at home doing these kind of things. I just need a little more validation and appreciation for it. I'm no Martha Stewart and I don't want to be, but I do like taking care of the home front. 

I read a book years ago, Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson. It really spoke to me about recognizing that making and keeping a home are spiritual endeavors. They provide intrinsic value to our lives. Homemaking cannot truly be valued in our money driven society. 

So I don't really know what I'm trying to say here. Maybe I'm just preaching to the choir. I want to feel proud of the job I have and I want to feel valued; like what I do is enough. The fact is I'm the only one who can make me feel that way. For today I choose to believe that the path I've chosen is a path of value, and that I am making a difference.

Blessings!

linking up with 31 Days of Writing



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fun Girls and Patio Life



I have a group of friends we call The Fun Girls. I've written about them before, but essentially it's a group of friends I've known since elementary and high school. We get together one Saturday a month to craft, catch up with each other, and sometimes just catch up on stacks of stuff that accumulates over a month (you know, unopened mail, catalogs, newspapers). One friend usually brings The New York Times which she peruses, occasionally pausing to share tidbits with us. We snack. We work. We talk. We laugh. We share. It's a really good thing.

This month we had intended to go camping instead. Our ringleader or cruise director as we call her, owns a popup camper, so last month we decided we should take it out for a spin. Plans were made and then fell through unfortunately, for a variety of reasons. So instead we met up at the cruise director's (TCD) home for a weinie roast with chili and all the fixins'. And we included our significant others.



TCD's husband is a whiz with backyard beauty. He took a standard concrete patio, added a flagstone area to enlarge it, covered the patio with a lovely tin roof. The whole area is surrounded with an enchanted garden that looks as it if just naturally appeared one day. 

We all sat around their chiminea and chatted and ate. We made smores, and followed those up with ice cream treats. 

Dh and I had to leave early because he had homework, but I know the festivities went on for a bit after we left.

I suppose the point of sharing all this is two fold. 1 -- I wanted to remember what a lovely night it was. There was no event that drove us to do this. We just did it. 2 -- I want to appreciate how lovely the simple things in life really are. Sitting around with old friends and eating everyday food. Laughing and feeling accepted. 

It's a cliche, but it really is the little things that make this life worth living well.

linking up with 31 Days of Writing


Friday, October 24, 2014

Dare


"I dare you. I double dog dare you."

I don't take dares. I never played truth or dare but once. I hated it. It felt as if I were allowing myself to be set up, and I'd had quite enough of that already, thank you very much.

But then I look at the definition 

:to have enough courage or confidence to do something 
:to not be too afraid to do something 
:to do (something that is difficult or that 
people are usually afraid to do)

And I realize, I may not take dares, but I do dare. Every single day that I had acknowledge my survival I am daring to live an authentic life. To call truth, truth. To call darkness and evil, darkness and evil. 

So I dare you today, confront boldly, contend against, venture, try. You might be surprised by how daring you are.






Thursday, October 23, 2014

Anachronism


Do you ever lose your way? Not literally in the "getting lost, I need a map" way, but more in the "this is not the way I intended to live my life" way.

I do. Of course I get lost literally as well, but that's a different story.

I've been feeling a bit lost on my life path lately. I know all the things I am supposed to do -- read my Bible, pray, serve others, find a purpose, be kind to others, keep a lovely and orderly home, cook meals, organize and take care of needs and wishes and desires. But lately I've been suffering from "what's the point" syndrome. I think it's moving into empty nest and having a husband in graduate school preparing to change professions. I also thinks it's my reaction to a society that tells me to do more and more and more. The things I enjoy most are peace, quiet, reading, moving at a relaxed pace, not striving. I get so tired of trying and having to fight for everything. 

[Right around here is the point I feel compelled to throw in my proviso -- I HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. I have a great life. A lovely home with running water, heat, a roof that doesn't leak. I have healthy children who have grown into capable, fully functional adults, and they still talk to me. I have a husband of 29 years, and we still love each other (even through the rough patches). So I know I've got it really good.]

I'm not quite sure what my function is, according to other people. Now if I throw the other people out of the equation (again, not literally) what I want is to maintain my home, cook, craft, read, write, walk, yoga, help others, and grow closer to God. So why is it so hard for me to achieve those personal goals while feeling good about them?

I don't work outside the home. I don't volunteer all over town. I don't teach cradle roll at church. I'm a introvert who likes being alone or with the people I feel most at ease with. Does this mean I'm failing somehow? Is my desire for quiet simplicity a failing of my character, or am I just an anachronism? A person out of step with our current society? 

I'm not sure. What I do know is that if I don't live my life as my authentic self, then I have lost my one chance at being who I am. Who I believe God made me to be. I tried living up to everyone else's expectations and I tried pleasing everyone else and ignoring me -- it doesn't work.

So I'm back to doing the things I want to do and caring for the people who are my responsibility. All the while reminding myself that I am my own worst judge and critic.

linking up with 31 Days of Writing


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ramblings of a Disorganized Blogger


I write about my life here. I don't do much in the way of planning. I tend to sit down and start writing. 

I've struggled at times over how much detail to share of the abuse I went through. I've struggled over sharing other family members' information and issues. The one line I've truly tried to honor is my marriage. I only talk about the good stuff where my husband is concerned. I think that's a good plan, as I certainly wouldn't want him talking about all the things that I do that frustrate him to a bunch of strangers on the internet.

That being said, when my marriage is going through stuff it can be difficult to write without feeling as if I'm being inauthentic. I've always had a problem with full disclosure and lying/keeping secrets. On some level I believe that if I don't tell everything, I've lied. If I don't provide you with all the facts (evidence) then you can't make a fair assessment (judgment) of the situation. Of course all of that assumes I looking to you for validation, judgment, and/or approval. Which unfortunately I probably am.

Because ultimately it all comes back to trusting myself. My impressions. The idea that I must have misread the abusers because otherwise I would have known to stay out of their reach. Clearly a 5 year old has the skill and capability to read the nuances of a pedophile and remove themselves from harm's way. Right?

And that paragraph is why I write. Because it is in the writing it out that I see and understand the flaws in my reasoning. Flaws that were embedded by the abusers and the abuse. 

I think it's that way for most people whether they were abused or not. We all benefit from writing down ideas, concepts, and beliefs. It forces us to carry thoughts through to the logical conclusion, and often it's not until the very end of the process that we see the flaw in the logic.

So I write -- with little or no plan. Mostly to get the thoughts out. But I write in a public forum because I need input and responses, and I need to believe that I'm doing this out of more than just selfish motives.


linking up with 31 Days of Writing


Nostalgia




linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . October 21, 2014

Outside my window . . . beautiful blue sky and the temperature is in the 50s. Just doesn't get much better than this.

I am thinking . . . about the impact of physical illness on my mental process. It's amazing how a sinus infection (and meds) can throw my mood into the toilet. So happy to be on the mend, both physically and mentally.

I am thankful . . . that Alan and I had a safe and uneventful day trip to Milan and Dyersburg, TN yesterday. I was a bit concerned about my driving skills considering dizziness it always a sinus infection side effect.

In the kitchen . . . last night was take out from The Chill Spot. There's been a fair amount of takeout lately. I'm hoping to get something actually made for dinner tonight, but schedules are wacky.

I am wearing . . . a giant t-shirt and my flannel robe.

I am creating . . . scarves for Presents with a Purpose. I picked up some clothing patterns yesterday and am going to try my hand at making myself some clothes again.

I am going . . . to therapy and then home to tackle the mess.

I am wondering . . . about metaphysics and the Dreyfus Affair. A sick mind is a wondering mind.

I am reading . . . just finished re-reading Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton. I read this series (or parts of it) when I was working at the Brentwood Library. Last week while I was sick I went back to it as I needed something mindless to read. Now I want to read them all! I just started reading An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, hence the interest in the Dreyfus Affair.

I am looking forward to . . . a couple of days at home to strike order around the house. Halloween is 10 days away and I have nary a ghost, goblin, or ghoul decorating my house yet.

I am hearing . . . the lovely quiet. Sometimes I think this is the only time each week that I stop and appreciate the quiet. Answering this prompt makes me stop and recognize the gift that quiet is.

Around the house . . . The new Hoosier is here, and at least temporarily placed. I have a little nook that I use as an office and it's filling with furniture. I need to consider arrangement options.

I am praying . . . for a stop to all the fear mongering in the news and social media. Yes, there are things to be concerned about, but as a Christian I am called to trust in God no matter the situation. 

One of my favorite things . . . is having the house back in order. The Lord willing, I will achieve that by the end of the week. It won't be perfect, but it will definitely be better than it currently is!

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . a calmer schedule and health to nest around my house. SouleMama has been talking about nesting as summer changes to autumn. I like that imagery, and I think that's the feeling I'm having as well.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
yes, it's that's bad!





linking up with The Simple Woman and 31 Days of Writing


Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear 2.0



I'm traveling today, but here is a repost on Fear (today's word) from 2013.


What's my biggest fear . . . 

This reminds of a post I wrote nearly a year and a half ago. 

What's my biggest fear? It's a ludicrous question to ask a survivor of abuse. I've got a list a mile long. The list shifts and fluctuates, but the one constant is this -- the fear of not being believed. 

It's a deeply rooted fear. Planted by abusers, and tended by those who didn't provide an environment of safety to risk telling. Then reinforced by those, who when told, didn't believe, even offering explanations of why I would make up these atrocities. Explanations that cast aspersions on my character, proving the lies the abusers told me are true.

According to Wikipedia, Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. 

It takes a lot of people believing my story to counter the few who don't. 

Maybe that's why I keep telling it.

linking up with 31 Days of Writing and Five Minute Free Writes





Sunday, October 19, 2014

Honor



It's one of those words that has shown up repeatedly in therapy. My therapist is always telling me to "honor" my feelings.

According to Webster, honor means "respect and esteem shown to another. Honor may apply to the recognition of one's right to great respect or to any expression of such recognition".

That's a hard word for me to apply to myself. Respect and esteem. That's a double whammy.

It's difficult to learn self-respect and self-esteem when you grown up being hurt and threatened. When you grow up hiding your own reality. When you grow up with a box of secrets tucked away in your head.

Like so much of healing from abuse, learning to honor my feelings has come oh so slowly. I have good days and bad days. I get confused and think I am being overbearing by stating my preferences. I assume anyone else's feelings/needs/wants are more important than my own. 

And I come back time and time again to "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31; Lev. 19:18). If I'm going to love my neighbor, I'm going to have to start by loving (respecting, honoring, esteeming) myself.

Another biblical imperative that got lost in my translation. 

linking up with 31 Days of Writing and 31 Days of Five Minute Writing



Saturday, October 18, 2014

House of Mess



It’s Saturday morning about halfway through the 31 day writing challenge.

I have a sinus infection that is making my head swim and the meds are making my stomach queasy.

My house is a disaster with dirty dishes and extra furniture sitting everywhere. I bought a few items from an estate sale. Normally this would be a fun chance to rearrange and reorganize, but with the sinus infection, it’s just one more mess.

The hubs and I had a good conversation last night about the way we communicate. You’d think after 29 years of marriage we’d have this down to a science, but we don’t. We still find ourselves struggling through the same disagreements we have had for all these years. Maybe I’m unrealistic, but I thought by now it wouldn’t be this way.

I’m still learning about me, and he’s still learning about him. We assume the other one is thinking the way we are, but assumptions are a very dangerous endeavor. I assume he thinks the worst of me, and he assumes I think the best of him. I remember in Technicolor detail some slights from the past that he has no memory of, while he remembers exactly where we were standing and his thought process just before he said that incredibly hurtful thing to me.

I’m working on that black and white mentality of mine, and he’s trying to really listen to what I say. I’m trying to let go of the fear I have in speaking my mind, and he’s trying to understand that his reactions have reinforced my fear.

We are a work in progress. We love each other, and we are good together, most of the time. But when sickness, stress, sleep deprivation, and messiness get in the way . . . anyone who’s married knows.

So I’m re-evaluating what I feel like doing and what really needs to be done. I’m looking at messes and reminding myself that this is one day. I’ll feel much better in a few more days and none of this will be nearly as difficult as it is right now.

Blessings from the house of mess this Saturday morning.



linking up with 31 Days of Writing


Friday, October 17, 2014

Long


It's taken a long time. This learning it's okay to say what I want and how I feel. The abuse taught me early on that it didn't matter what I wanted. I didn't matter. Those feelings were reinforced living in an environment with people who didn't recognize the abuse. 

Over the past 14 years I've talked and written. I've cried and cursed. I've prayed and appeased. I've made world's of progress. I'm still not where I want to be or think I should be.

I'm hard on myself. It's taken me a long time to be able to say that. I'm so afraid that someone else will think I'm not doing enough that I don't respect and honor my own wants and wishes. Or talents and skills. I don't see myself as valuable. 

Slowly, I'm developing an appreciation for myself. Negating the idea that everything in the world is an "either/or" proposition. People are different. We all have different likes, dislikes, skills, and talents. I'm not right and you're not wrong. We're just different.

It's taken a long time, but that's okay.


linking up with Five Minute Friday and 31 Days of Writing





Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adjust



I like routine. I've said it a thousand times.

Routine makes me believe I am safe. There is a plan and I have chosen accordingly. Nothing will go wrong.

Lord, what fools we mortals are!

Just because it's written on a a piece of paper or tapped into my iPhone calendar, doesn't make it so. God wrote commandments in stone, and we all know how well that worked out!

But I continue to think that if I just make a plan and stick with it everything will come up roses.

Let's be clear, I'm not complaining about my life, and these are clearly first world problems. I have a roof, electricity, running water. No one is sick (well, ok I've got a sinus infection, but it's not ebola!), and everyone is still speaking to each other. Things are just a bit disorganized and discombobulated for a variety of pretty good reasons. 

Unfortunately this is when "black and white girl" shows up in my head. Things are either right or wrong -- black or white -- there is no middle ground for this girl. Yet I am the first person to tell anyone else to just "roll with it". I believe that to be true, but I still have a really difficult time applying the concept to myself. I assume everyone else around me is mad and thinking terrible things (usually about me), and I begin to function as if those assumptions are accurate. 

Attempting mind reading is always a dangerous pursuit, but especially so when I'm functioning on minimal sleep filled with steroid induced dreams.

So I'm re-evaluating (again) today. Making that very basic list, and giving myself permission to take it slow and easy until this infection clears up. 

Adjust. Oops this was supposed to be a 5 minute post.

linking up with 31 Days of Writing




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion


A couple of months ago I went out on an artistic limb. I entered a memoir writing contest. The guidelines were pretty simple -- write the opening paragraph of your own memoir, but limit it to 150 words.

The timing on this was interesting because I'd just recently been pondering a personal memoir. I've thought about it for years, and clearly this blog is memoir driven. But the idea of diving into an entire book is intimidating to say the least. The contest felt like a nudge.

I wrote my paragraph and had my husband and a close friend read it. Caroline was wonderfully helpful. It's so nice to be surrounded by smart, talented people. I submitted the entry, and put it out of my mind.

Women's Memoirs, the blog hosting the contest, contacted me to let me know they had received my entry and to ask how I'd found out about them. Apparently they were inundated with entries, so they broke the winners down into groups -- honorable mentions, bronze, silver, gold, and grand prize winners.

Yesterday I received an email telling me I was a gold winner! 


I am truly excited and proud to have been selected. Today I'm sharing my entry with you all, and I hope you'll have a chance to check out some of the other award winning paragraphs at Women's Memoirs.



I’ve been in the sun too long. As I walk into the barn, I am temporarily blinded. The bright sun followed by the sudden shift to the dark barn causes my retinas to temporarily shut down. She is farther back in the barn. Beckoning me. It is cooler in the barn, but stuffy, making it difficult to breathe. I weave my way to the back of the barn where she is waiting for me. She is smiling. I am still unaware of the dangers in that smile. [...Later I will come to understand her smile is maniacal, not friendly.] I cannot know that what is about to happen will alter my life and perceptions for years to come. I cannot know that I will tuck these events deep into the recesses of my mind for more than 30 years.


(Editor's comments -- Melanie’s opening is impressively chilling.  She skillfully weaves palpable details, such as the dim light and stuffiness in the barn, with the mysterious “she” who beckons the narrator.  She might hold back (delete) the italicized sentence below, and let the reader slowly realize that the smile is maniacal, not friendly, which would add to the suspense.)

Thanks to all of you who have been reading, following, and commenting on my blog for over 5 years. You are my compassionate witnesses.

linking up with 31 Days of Writing