Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Simple Woman

FOR TODAY . . . April 28, 2015

Outside my window . . . partly cloudy and in the 50s again. Maybe a bit of rain, but everything is GREEN. And my irises are blooming.

I am thinking . . . about relationship issues. There is an ebb and flow in all relationships. Change is a good thing. Growth is good. But it can also be daunting and painful.

I am thankful . . . for my fabulous group of friends who listen, support me, and tell me the truth even when it's painful.

In the kitchen . . . last night was barbecue chicken sandwiches. I'm thinking about grilling some kielbasa tonight since I've got fresh sauerkraut, but I'm not sure what to serve with it.

I am creating . . . several projects in process. Still working on that secret crochet project. Making up a wallhanging design as I go.
And a new rosary yesterday.

I am going . . . to therapy to talk through some more difficult things. It is good to have someone to help me process these issues, but it can be very painful to go through the process.

I am wondering . . . about how to honor myself while being kind and respectful of those who aren't in agreement with me.


I am reading . . . I finished Morning Sun on a White Piano by Robin R. Meyers yesterday and I'm already missing it! Still working on A Prayer Journal by Flannery
O'Connor and enjoying very much.

I am looking forward to . . . getting to take my bike with me to some new locations. I got a new bike rack (and a new basket) last week. Lots of riding in my future.


I am hearing . . . Squeaker puttering around the house as I type.

Around the house . . . I'm feeling better about things. Perhaps it's not as bad as I think it is, and maybe, just maybe everyone who enters my house doesn't immediately become horrified by what's not been done.

I am praying . . . for Nepal and Baltimore. And for my little family.

One of my favorite things . . . is spending a day with my bestie. Got to work on beading all day with LBB yesterday. As an added bonus got to visit with her parents for a bit as well.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . therapy, Radnor Lake walk, a haircut, and then it's the weekend.

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
next on the morning reading list


linking up with The Simple Woman

Monday, April 27, 2015

Homemade Granola Bars


I'm a sucker for a good granola bar, but I'm also a lazy cook. This recipe is pretty much the answer.

Of course I made a few changes. I added white chocolate chips and craisins (YUM!). Make sure you follow the directions on cooking the butter, honey, and brown sugar mixture, as these do fall apart if you don't. That didn't stop us from eating the first batch anyway! 

I just stirred in my chips and craisins and eliminated the whole "pressing" step {lazy}.


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons white chocolate chips

2 tablespoons craisins


In a large bowl, stir oats, rice cereal, white chocolate chips, and craisins together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes. Pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan {about 12x8x1} and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness. {If your pan isn't small enough, pack the mixture into one side. You really want to press them down so they stick together. I use a piece of wax paper sprayed with a bit of cooking spray}. Cool on a countertop to room temperature for two hours or until set before cutting into bars. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Recipe Notes: If your granola bars don't seem to be staying together when you cut them, you may have not boiled the mixture long enough...you want it to make it just past the softball stage. OR you made them too thin or you didn't pack them in tight enough. Stick them in the fridge for 20 minutes and that should help keep them together. {Be sure not to keep them in there too long or else they'll become super hard!} The next time you make them, try boiling for an extra 15 seconds or so.


Happy eating!

linking up with Made by You Monday


Friday, April 24, 2015

Hide

I know how to do that. I did it for years. Hide from others. Hide from myself. Hide from God.

It's hard work, this hiding. Keeping all my real, true feelings inside. Trying to figure out what everyone else wanted me to be, think, feel.

What I didn't realize during all those years is I wasn't hiding anything from God. I was just hurting myself by cutting off the greatest support system in the world.

He already knew it all. He knew more about me than I did. He knew I'd been abused. He knew I was scared and why I was scared. He was just waiting for me to turn to Him because His arms were wide open all that time.

I try not to hide now. I try to tell the truth. I trust in Him to guide to the people to share with and keep me from the people that will harm me. I don't always succeed, and it can be really scary not hiding. But hiding is like holding your breath. You can only do it for so long. 

I am breathing easier now.

linking up with Five Minute Friday


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . April 21, 2015

Outside my window . . . we have clear blue skies! It's in the 50s and looking lovely out there.

I am thinking . . . about anxiety. Today will be another tough day in therapy, but I know it won't be as hard as last week, and I have experienced relief.

I am thankful . . . for some new realizations and strength to hold my own ground and beliefs about myself.

In the kitchen . . . what can I say? These crazy schedules make meal planning and execution really tricky! Not sure about tonight yet since no one will be home until after 7:00.

I am creating . . . lots of ideas. I'm feeling more hopeful and that always leads to more creativity.  Optimism is critical to our spiritual health  -- Julia Cameron.

I am going . . . to make time for myself again today. I used to take therapy day off completely for rest and processing. I need to get back to honoring my needs on these days.

I am wondering . . . about other people's need to question my choices. Recently I was having a conversation about vacationing and I felt that the person I was talking with was rather overly opinionated (negatively) about my destination choice. I don't like feeling as if I have to justify my choices.

I am reading . . . several books as I mentioned last week, but I am particularly enjoying Morning Sun on a White Piano by Robin R. Meyers and A Prayer Journal by Flannery
O'Connor. 

I am looking forward to . . . more crafting and more bike riding.

I am hearing . . . just the quiet with everyone gone for the day. Squeaker is napping on the rug as I type.

Around the house . . . baby steps. I'm pulling things back together without shaming and shoulding myself. I'm doing things as I see them and feel like doing them not because "I'm a bad person if I don't".

I am praying . . . for a friend whose mother died yesterday. An adoptive family struggling. Another friend whose husband is recovering from a significant stroke.

One of my favorite things . . . is Netflix. I LOVE being able to treat myself to an episode of a favorite TV show as an afternoon treat. (We won't talk about the potential downside of binge watching!)

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . therapy, grocery, and a massage today! Walking with dh at the the lake tomorrow. Spiritual direction on Thursday, and Friday I'm having a hitch put on the Fiat so I can put a bike rack on it and take my bike wherever I want to go! Thanks, dh!

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
on my desk


linking up with The Simple Woman

Monday, April 20, 2015

Contemplating the Sacred Ordinary


"timeless contemplation of the ordinary"

I read that line this morning. A beautiful phrase that speaks so much. Originally a critique of Vermeer's work, I want to claim is as my approach to life.



I was a history major in college. My interest sprang, not from a desire to understand the big picture, but rather a desire to know about the realities of life for day to day people at a given time from the past. I came to understand my interest as more "social" history. I wanted to understand how real people felt and lived through those great moments that perhaps they never really knew about. 

I read . . . a lot. I want so much to share the insights and gifts I find in my reading, but I am hampered by not knowing how best to share. The ability to put into words the feelings that develop eludes me at times.

This morning I read a story from Morning Sun on a White Piano, and I was nearly overcome with emotion. The writer's words speaking so eloquently of his young son's deep need for all to remain safe, secure, and predictable. "No wolf. No wolf," the young boy cried when his father attempted to introduce an element of danger and suspense into a story. The boy didn't want his "bunny story" infiltrated by evil, and who can blame him. None of us wants our world to include a ravenous wolf. And yet they all do in one form or another.

And so I choose again to see the ordinary as sacred. To find pleasure in small things. A cup of tea. Clean laundry to be folded. The sound of rain on the roof. As Flannery O'Connor wrote --

I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace. Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace, Oh Lord. Help me with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Read This Week . . .


"memory and hope are the deepest of currents" -- Morning Sun on a White Piano by Robin R. Meyers

“It's still National Library Week. You should be especially nice to a librarian today, or tomorrow. Sometime this week, anyway. Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding.” -- Neil Gaiman

"As a prerequisite to empathy, imagination makes kindness possible by allowing us to inhabit skins we weren't born in." -- Morning Sun on a White Piano by Robin R. Meyers

". . . but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing." -- A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor

"Words have always attached themselves to me. They get inside the machinery of my head." -- Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." --Anne Lamott

"I dread, Oh Lord, losing my faith. My mind is not strong. It is prey to all sort of intellectual quackery. I do not want it to be fear which keeps me in the church. I don't want to be a coward staying with You because I fear hell . . . It is a matter of the gift of grace." A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor

"Walking is hot I try to become more attached to these streets." -- Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley

"For every story you hear that's tragic, there's another that's equally tragic or more so. I think you come to look at it as part of life." -- Kelsey Grammar

"I am in the habit of looking not so much to the nature of the gift as to the spirit in which it is offered." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

". . . the only thing to do when your rights are being violated is to 'rise and say this shall cease'." -- Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley

"Give me the grace to adore you . . . Give me the grace, dear God, to see the bareness and the misery of the places where You are not adored but desecrated." -- A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor

"Anger and love. Twins maybe." -- Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley


Thursday, April 16, 2015

rest


i had a flashback nearly 3 weeks ago.

i was with my husband when it happened, but i didn't tell him. i didn't tell anyone.

i didn't journal about it.

i didn't think about it.

i didn't acknowledge it in any meaningful way.

i held it in for nearly a week, letting it eat at me and drain my energy away.

and then i wrote about it.

then easter came, and i got triggered again.

i kept treading water. telling myself i was okay, all the while knowing i wasn't.

on tuesday, my therapist and i delved into it.

i was a wreck before i got there. 

we dove straight into it, and i was so anxious i couldn't remember the process. a process i've done dozens of times.

i processed. i relived it. i talked about it in detail. i cried. i hurt. i talked without pausing to be worried about what i was saying.

i came home and laid on the sofa all afternoon and evening. i felt miserable and hurt and damaged and sorry for myself.

and then i went to bed.

Rest.

I slept through the night. 

I woke up feeling better. Lighter. More lucid.

I didn't hate myself. I hated what had been done to me. I hate that more time was stolen from me. I hate that he's not being punished for his crimes.

But I don't hate me.

I made choices I wanted to make. I did things I wanted to do. I made a list and got some of it done, and felt good about it.

I did things that just a day or two ago seemed impossible. I felt alive again.

Rest comes from lots of places. Sleep, yes, but sharing and taking care of myself are restful too. And necessary. 

Today I'm resting in who I am, and putting aside what was done to me.

linking up with Tuesday at Ten



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . April 14, 2015

Outside my window . . . it's in the mid-60s and cloudy. We had rain most of the day yesterday and it looks as if we'll get more today. April showers . . . (yes, this is the line from last week's post, but we're in the exact same place today)

I am thinking . . . about plans for therapy today. Feeling anxious.

I am thankful . . . for a good walk at the lake with dh last week, and a lovely ride on my bike with dh rollerblading on Sunday.

In the kitchen . . . last night was clean out the fridge night. I'm still not sure about tonight. Probably chicken of some sort and whatever veggies I have on hand.

I am creating . . . a shift in my secret crochet project. Details to follow . . . I hope!

I am going . . . to take care of me today.

I am wondering . . . about this quote I read this morning --
"I wondered how I should feel 
instead of having feelings."

I am reading . . . I've put The Haj by Leon Uris on hold for a bit. But yesterday I posted about all the other books I'm reading.

I am looking forward to . . . tea with a friend on Thursday.

I am hearing . . . birds chirping and cars heading off to work.

Around the house . . . I'm still struggling. It could be that I'm being a bit hard on myself, as I have been known to do that at times :)

I am praying . . . for things to go well today. For answers to some big questions about the future (work related), and for peace as I walk through this time.

One of my favorite things . . . is Amazon. I know there are a lot of issues with a big supplier like them, but on the other hand I LOVE being able to sit down at my computer and find difficult items with just a few keystrokes.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . therapy today, a lake walk tomorrow, tea on Thursday, and the dentist on Friday. I'm not sure what the weekend has in store.

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
the first Squash Souffle of the season
(made with smoked gouda with mediterranean herbs)



linking up with The Simple Woman

Monday, April 13, 2015

Books I'm Reading

I am overwhelmed by books I want to be reading right now! I'm juggling 5 titles at one time, which I never do, but that's how my mind is functioning right now. So be it.


A friend recommended this and I can't get enough of it! I just love the lyrical prose, and the ideas of simplicity and sacrament are near and dear to my heart.


I've always been a fan of Flannery O'Connor, but only recently ran across this little book. Just started it this morning, but I'm looking forward to it immensely.


I'm not sure where I found this title, and it's not going where I expected, but it's quite good. An interesting tale of adventure, reconnection, and compassion.


Vacation planning!


Dh is reading this one for his internship and I'm reading along. Part marriage therapy, part professional interest. Mixed feelings on this one.

So what's on your reading list right now?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Relief

a feeling of cheerfulness or optimism that follows the removal of anxiety, pain, or distress: I breathed a 
sigh of relief

It's a good news/bad news dilemma. Easter is past, and I feel relief. 

Easter is a time of celebration and joy, but each year I'm hampered by the call to feel a certain way. An enforced happiness because I am a Christian. Springtime brings a new set of triggers for me. A rape that took place in the spring, many years ago. Reminders come. It is the nature of trauma for it to rear its head. I've written about it before, and each year it's a bit easier.

So it's a relief for me to have Easter behind me. I remind myself there is no biblical imperative to acknowledge Easter in a different or more extravagant way than any other Sunday. I focus on the love of God -- to send His son as a gift for me. 

And I'm reminded of one of my favorite homilies. It comes from the movie Chocolat, an unexpected source of pleasure and learning for me. 

Père Henri: I'm not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be. Do I want to speak of the miracle of Our Lord's divine transformation? Not really, no. I don't want to talk about His divinity. I'd rather talk about His humanity. I mean, you know, how He lived His life, here on Earth. His kindness, His tolerance... Listen, here's what I think. I think that we can't go around... measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think... we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create... and who we include.


linking up with Five Minute Friday



Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Spring Bucket List

I like the idea of a bucket list as long as I can view it as suggestions and not absolutes. I don't want to be forced into doing something, fail, and feel guilty for failing. Okay, so maybe I still have some issues to work on. With that proviso, here's my list.

#####

1. Clean out and restock my bird feeders. Every year I do a finch sock, songbird feeder, and a hummingbird feeder. I enjoy watching them throughout the spring, summer, and fall.


2. Plant some daffodil bulbs. I know they won't bloom this year, but I keep meaning to do this because they are my favorite flower and I don't have any in my yard.


3. Create a fairy garden.  My bff sent me this picture and I now I really want one.


4. Lay on a quilt in the grass. It sounds a bit silly, but it's something I love doing, but rarely take the time to make it happen.


6. Ride my bike at least once a week. I got a new bike right before all the snow and ice hit us this winter. I've been out on it several times already, and I want to keep it up.


7. Read some non-intellectual literature. Not necessarily bad lit, just casual and relaxed. Suggestions?


8. Sort through my spring clothes and create some new looks. 



9. Finish up those spring sewing projects before summer gets here.


10. Drive with the top down as much as possible. Still loving my Fiat convertible.

linking up with Writer's Workshop









Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . April 7, 2015

Outside my window . . . it's in the mid-60s and cloudy. We had rain most of the day yesterday and it looks as if we'll get more today. April showers . . . 

I am thinking . . . about a kind comment on yesterday's post. I guess I am the "Kool-Aid" mom!

I am thankful . . . for improved moods and attitudes around my house and in my heart.

In the kitchen . . . last night was salmon and steamed veggies. I'm probably going to pick up a rotisserie chicken for tonight because I've got a busy day.

I am creating . . . still working on my secret crochet project and spring sewing goodies, although not as much as I'd like to. Hoping for increased motivation.

I am going . . . to resurrect Flylady around my house. Something's got to happen to get my mojo going!

I am wondering . . . the vagaries of life. I just read about a family whose bakery did so well over the Easter weekend that they gave their employees a half day off yesterday as a reward. This morning their Facebook page says they will be closed the rest of the week because their 19 year old daughter was killed in a car crash yesterday. So very sad!

I am reading . . . The Haj by Leon Uris. This is so good, but I'm having trouble concentrating right now, so I'm on the hunt for something lighter to mix in with it.
And this morning I got up to a book recommendation from a friend. God moves!

I am looking forward to . . . lots of things coming up this week.

I am hearing . . . birds chirping and cars heading off to work.

Around the house . . . I had a better day yesterday so things are beginning to look a bit better. I pulled a pretty notebook from my collection and used it to make my lists in. Then I crossed off items with a hot pink Sharpie. It's the little things.

I am praying . . . for the family mentioned above. For a friend who is having surgery right now for partial foot amputation. Prayers of praise and gratitude that Lila's (the 2yo) tumor has shrunk by 80%! 

One of my favorite things . . . is fresh flowers, and dh surprised me with some yesterday afternoon!

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . therapy, grocery shopping, a walk with dh at the lake, a massage, spiritual direction, then driving dh to a business meeting on Friday, and lunch with The Fun Girls and my bestie's parents on Saturday. Whew!

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
my Easter lamb cake 
(also from dh)




linking up with The Simple Woman

Monday, April 6, 2015

Impromptu Birthday Cake

The other night ds and some friends came in from dinner and announced that it was K's birthday. They were heading to the climbing gym and wondered it I could bake a cake for them to have when they go home. No pressure here! Bake a birthday cake from the pantry for the birthday girl I'd never baked for before. She asked for a lemon cake. Did I have fresh lemons? No I did not. So I had to wing it.

I have a yummy recipe for a lovely bundt cake, Treasure Toffee Cake. I had some of the ingredients for that, so I just went with it. The cake was a success and made lovely coffee cake the next morning.

1 yellow cake mix
(7 T. butter, 3 eggs, water)
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/3 cup Heath toffee pieces
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (because I had them)
1/2 cup raw sugar (you could use brown sugar here)

Follow package instructions. Mine called for the items in (). Grease a bundt pan well. Pour 2/3rds of the batter into the pan, and sprinkle on the mixture of sugar and sweets. Top with remaining batter, and bake according to package directions. Invert on cooling rack as soon as you take it out of the oven.


Not a traditional birthday cake, I'll admit, but not too bad for a cake request at 8 pm on a Tuesday night.

Happy eating!

linking up with Made by You Monday


Friday, April 3, 2015

Good

It's been a good week. I've had some "ick" to deal with from abuse issues, but I've been handling them. 

I did better at more positive self-talk. Less criticism, more compassion. So that's good.

I've gotten some physical activity almost every day, and I've eaten well -- read not obsessed about every bite that goes into my mouth.

Dh and I got home from a long weekend in Los Angeles, and even got our Wednesday walk at Radnor Lake done.

I had tea with dd and enjoyed the chance to sit and chat with no agenda.

Ds asked me to make a cake for a friend's birthday last night, and I created a tasty one from what was in the pantry. It was enjoyed by all.

All of that is really good stuff, and I'm happy to have been kinder to myself this week. Maybe as kind to me as I try to be to others.

But what's really good about today? I'll share my husband's comment:

Why is it good Friday? According to one article I read, the original meaning of the word "good" was also "holy", so it is a holy day on which Jesus scarified himself for the world's sins... my sins... whatever the case, thank God he did... Have a blessed day...

linking up with Five Minute Friday



Thursday, April 2, 2015

No one ever asked

Write a blog post that ends with the line: No one ever asked me.

When I started this blog my plan was to write about the abuse and healing in a way that would help other people. I hope that's been true, but it's really been about helping myself. The more I get it out there and the more positive feedback I get about getting it out there, the less alone I feel.

I spent a lot of years walking around in a fog, pretending (unconsciously) to be something I wasn't. I was striving so hard for perfection that I wasn't really living. Not connecting with myself, so it was impossible to truly connect with anyone else. I even had a friend tell me later in life that he was always so impressed with me because I was so poised. Apparently I was a better actress than I thought I was, because I was doing a good job of fooling the people around me.

Part of my problem was I needed permission to share my story. The abusers had locked it away inside of me. Some with overt threats. Others with implied threats. And over time it just became a given that I wasn't supposed to tell. What few bits and pieces I shared were dismissed or ignored as unimportant, so there was no hope of anyone believing the really bad stuff. I put it away in a box in the back of mind and conveniently "forgot" about it, because it wasn't going to be addressed until I felt someone really wanted to know, but no one ever asked me.

linking up with Writer's Workshop



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

blue ribbon -- a repost


every april I pull out my blue ribbon and pin it on my shirt. 
the first time I did it, I worried about what people would think/say.
I worried they would ask what it meant.
I worried they wouldn't ask what it meant.
I worried about what I would say.
I worried about what I wouldn't say.
each year that I have worn the blue ribbon it has become a little easier to set aside the worrying -- to expect nothing -- to be happy with a good conversation -- to set aside the discomfort of others.
it hasn't gotten any easier to have them look away though.
as I was having blood drawn at the doctor's office, the technician said, "what's your pin for?"
"april is child abuse awareness month. I am a survivor."
"oh", startled, she looked away, and I felt it again. the guilt and shame. 
what did she think of me now?
should I have kept my mouth shut?
not worn my blue ribbon?
there was no more conversation and little eye contact. she drew my blood, while I dealt with the pain of the needle in my arm and the accusation in her looking away. I was damaged goods all over again. I was at fault. I was less than.
I read a post about seeing people.
all I want is to be seen for who I am. a grown woman who is still 5 years old inside, wishing someone would intercede for me. wishing I didn't feel guilty and ashamed for others' actions.
but every april I pull out my blue ribbon and pin it on my shirt.

(this post was originally published April 13, 2012 -- I repost it every April in honor of Child Abuse Awareness Month)