Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mrs. Corley

When I was in the first grade I broke my leg. On the merry-go-round on the playground at school. It made me a little famous. I got to go and tell kids in the other classes how I broke my leg, and how they could avoid the same experience. 

My first grade teacher was Mrs. Snyder. She had big bouffant hair and big glasses, and always wore a big pin, usually shaped like some kind of insect. And she threatened to flush us down the toilet if we didn't behave. I was a little afraid of Mrs. Snyder.

One day, while my leg was still healing, she left me sitting in the door of the classroom, alone, while the rest of the kids went to PE or recess. Now this was the '60's so that's not as terrible as it sounds, but I did get a little scared and lonely.

Just around the corner was the second grade classroom, where Mrs. Corley taught. I'd been to her class to share about the merry-go-round. Mrs. Corley came down the hallway and saw me crying and invited me back to her room until my class got back. What could be better than that? The celebrity 1st grader was going to spend the hour with the 2nd graders!

The next year I got put in Mrs. Corley's class. I was so excited, because I already knew her and liked her. Lots of my friends were in the class as well. Early in the year we had a fire drill. We were to walk outside in a straight line and stand in the 2nd grade spot without talking. I was never very good at not talking. And my best friend was in line with me. And it was a Friday. And I was going to spend the night at her house. So we may have talked. Just a little.

Mrs. Corley caught us. I saw my life pass before my eyes (it happened really quickly), and I knew that Mrs. Corley would never be nice to me again.

But that's not what happened. She told me she knew I was excited because I was going home with Trina, but it was very important to be quiet so I would hear important instructions if there were a real fire. She wrote my name on the board, but promised to erase it if I was good for the rest of the day. So I was very good. And she erased my name. And I got to go home with Trina. And Mrs. Corley was still nice to me.

Years later when my son was in elementary school at a different school, he came home telling me about a helper teacher in his class. I asked her name and he said Mrs. Corley. I practically ran to the school. Yes, it was my Mrs. Corley, and now my son was loving her just as I had. And better still she remembered me, and was loving my son the way she'd always loved me.

So thanks, Mrs. Corley, from 2 generations of talkative kids who really appreciate nice teachers.
Mrs. Corley last summer with some of her grandkids

linking up with the writer's workshop

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Light -- imperfect prose on thursday

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.~ Plato

Light or dark. 

I've been afraid of the dark all my life. But then again I've been afraid of the light most of my life as well. I lived in the dark for a very long time, because I thought it was the safest place to be. Once I started to let the light in on my history, I was afraid of the light, but only for a little while. The more light I let in, the more used to the light I became, and the more light I wanted. 

The hard part for me was discovering that some people around me preferred to live in the dark. Each time I opened up to them, to let in light, they pulled away from me. Retreated back into their darkness. So for awhile I tried to live in light and dark. Segueing between the two to accommodate them. 

It didn't work for me. Trying to dwell in light and dark simultaneously was like trying to serve two masters -- “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." (Matt. 6:24 NIV). It was cleaving me in two. 

So for now I've walked away from those who fear the light. I need to stay in the light to survive. I want them to join me. To feel the warmth on their skin, and the weight lifted from their shoulders. But I can't force them to come with me. I miss them, and I pray for them, and I dream of them joining me.

The light has become my true friend: filling me with joy, overcoming the darkness, and showing me the way.  I revel in the light -- being truly seen, having the weight lifted off my shoulders.


see more at Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little Reminders . . .

so my one word for this year is purpose.

look what I found on Ann Voskamp's 25 Point Manifesto for Sanity in 2013

I'm telling you it's there.

All you have to do is open your eyes.

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . January 29, 2013

Outside my window . . . we're having another warm spell. No snow so far this year. It's already in the 50's -- cloudy and windy.

I am thinking . . . about this quote I read yesterday --

From the time we wake up in the morning to the time to go to bed we look out on a world that is flat, open to interpretation, and sort of like a Rorschach blot. Mark Twain once quipped that "Life is one damn thing after another." Our days are like that. Something happens, then something else happens. A string of events until we fall back asleep.
from Experimental Theology

I am thankful . . . all the little things that add up to make a day special. Messages from old friends. Requests to help with things I love. Lunch with my daughter. Time to talk with my husband. Unexpected, pleasant, phone calls from my son.

In the kitchen . . . husband and I created a new dish last night Rice Krispie Chicken Tenders. We had them with new potatoes and steamed asparagus.

I am wearing . . . my robe and slippers.

I am creating . . . really not much of anything right now. I have several crochet projects in process, but I'm not feeling the mojo. I also cut out fabric to make new curtains for the bathroom, but I haven't gotten any farther than that so far.

I am going . . . to have coffee with a friend I haven't seen in probably 30 years. I am excited and a little nervous.

I am wondering . . . about taking a walk at Radnor Lake today. It depends on what the weather does.

I am reading . . . One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna on my Kindle.

I am looking forward to . . . a series of massages I have scheduled (and already paid for) during the month of February.

I am hearing . . .  peace and quiet.

Around the house . . . I arranged this nice display for the dining room table. The candle stick holders are from SERRV.

I am pondering . . . why a haircut lifts my spirits so much. Maybe this time it has more to do with how long it took me to get around to doing it!

One of my favorite things . . . is the time I spend each morning doing my devotional time. I'm using the Common Prayer. I just really enjoy the format of this one. I really look forward to using it each morning. (also available online)

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . I've just about given up on plans! See quote above.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
fun pens my dh brought me from a meeting he attended

for more visit The Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 28, 2013

Apple Pie

I made an apple pie Saturday night. Well actually I made two apple pies Saturday night. My intent was one, but when I went to place the filling in the crust it quickly became evident that there would be two.

I used a recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and of course made a few tweaks. I am, apparently, incapable of simply following a recipe!

6 medium to large Rome apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used my apple corer peeler slicer  -- so quick!)
2 deep dish pie crusts
2 regular pie crusts (I know I need to master pie crusts, but I'm still working on that)
3/4 cup demerrara sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).
Mix sugar through flour in a small bowl. Place apples in a large bowl and add dry ingredients. Toss to thoroughly coat apples. Place 1/2 apple mixture in each deep dish pie crusts. Dot each pie with 2 T. softened butter. Cover each with a regular pie crusts, and crimp edges.
Place pies in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees (F) and bake for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender and crusts is golden brown. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings: cheddar cheese wedges, whipped cream, or my favorite, French vanilla ice cream.  Serves 16.

Happy Eating!

linking up with Made by You Mondays

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Me, Then and Now

would you ever be friends with your younger self?

emily at imperfect prose posed this question, and I've been contemplating how to answer it.

She asked if, at 32, she could be friends with herself at 16. I'm a lot older than 32, so it's been a lot longer since I was 16. My initial response is yes. 

I think back, trying to remember what I was really like at 16, and memory's fluidity interferes. What I think I remember of her is this -- she enjoyed school, she loved to sing and drive with the windows down. She was just catching the acting bug and was amazed that people thought she had any skill. She put on a good show of being okay, but inside she felt like an imposter most of the time. And she was awfully judgmental. Value in a another was measured by how many times they attended church each week, and what church they attended. No drugs. No drinking. No swearing. Good grades. And yet she saw good in some who didn't fall within those parameters. 

I fear that now I would see her as a self-righteous snob. I'd like to think I would be able to see beyond all of that -- to see the fear and self-loathing. That I'd be able to reach out and help her in some way. But maybe I'm just transferring or mis-remembering.

Thirty-four years was a long time ago. Who knows. So much as happened in the ensuing years. But here's what I do know, that 16 year old me wanted desperately to be seen and liked for who she really was. She really cared about her friends, and hoped, so very much, that they cared half as much about her. And she was searching without knowing exactly what for or even where to look.

linking up with imperfect prose

Wendell Berry Quote

“The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.” 
-- Wendell Berry

Saturday, January 26, 2013

{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, January 25, 2013


it rolls over me like a wave, this lethargy.
it shocks me with its intensity, this anxiety.
how can they both exist simultaneously? how can i be exhausted and innervated at one time?
"you are strong, courageous, brave, and spiritual. you are suffering." 
can one person be all those things at one time?
he says, "pray without ceasing. just keep praying."
she says, "breathe. keep doing the relaxation breathing."
how do i accomplish the myriad of other responsibilities when expending all this energy just remembering to breathe?

abuse is incessant. it never really ceases. it simply changes format.

linking up with Five Minute Friday

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Are You Reading?

This is an interesting question for me right now. 
A little over a year ago, I got a Kindle Fire. I am not a proponent of ereaders, but there were other things I liked about the Fire. Easy internet access for checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and of course playing games.

I don't buy fiction. As a retired/unemployed librarian I'm a big believer in using the library for recreational reading. But I'd heard all the hype about great collections of easily downloaded books, so I decided to give it a try.

It's hogwash. Or my taste is too esoteric.

I've checked out a handful of ebooks from my local library, but mostly when I get on their site the books are 1) not available in ebook form, or 2) there is a lengthy wait-list to get it. I need a book right now! It could be all those years of working in libraries and just having books fall into my lap has spoiled me.

The upside of the ebook revolution is all of the older material that is now available for free (allow you do have to read reviews of the free editions to see which is better), so I'm going backwards in time and reading things I've never read before. The good news is if I don't like it, I just click delete and pick something else. The bad news . . . well it's not really bad news, but I am a little embarrassed by all the "great works of literature" I've never read, and the ones I've tried and don't like. 

The answer to the question "what are you reading" right now is Alice in Wonderland

I downloaded this edition, or I should say a sample of it. It costs $2.99 and I wanted to see if I'd really enjoy it or not. So far it's quite good, so I'll probably pay the cash to finish it. I've also got Les Miserables and an edition of Grimm's Fairytales available.

In real books, I'm reading One Thousand Gifts

So that's what (and how) I'm reading right now. Do you have an ereader? How do you feel about paying for books this way? Do you think the availability of books for loan is up to par? Inquiring minds want to know!

linking up with writer's workshop

Lovely Inaccuracies

painting by emily wierenga

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been. ~Robert Brault

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

I read these quotes, and I think how lovely, but inaccurate they may be. They are good things, but they are generalizations -- pictures of how we would like things to be.

I look at those lines, and I don't feel truth in them in my relationship with my mother. And I wonder how much truth is there for my children. My mother was not/is not a perfect role model, but then neither am I.

I believe my mother loves me. I believe she believes she would do anything for me. I know she would not. There are things I have asked of her, needed from her that she did not/would not give. I do not believe I would do anything for my children. I hope and pray I would do anything that was in their best interest. Having a bipolar child has taught me to avoid generalizations and absolutes. People say "I'd step in front of Mack truck to protect my kids", but really how many of us ever find ourselves in that situation. Instead, for me, it's been "I will stand up for my kids' right to be who they are. To ask questions. To make mistakes. I will love through all of that."

Would I like a do-over sometimes? Oh yeah! Daily.

And I keep coming back to this picture of the Holy Spirit as "mother". And I like that. I've made some peace with Abba God, and that's been good for me, and gives me hope for my relationship with my earthly father. Maybe working on Holy Spirit/mother will help me work on my relationship with my earthly mother. Maybe it will help me be a better mother to my own children.

linking up with imperfect prose on thursdays

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

see more at Wordless Wednesday

Next Big Thing

Welcome to the Next Big Thing! What is a blog hop? It’s a virtual event that helps readers discover new authors. The first author tags five others whose work he or she admires, who each tag five more, who each tag five more, and so on. This particular event has been so widespread, covering so many genres and talented authors, that it was impossible to say no to participating.

Let me start by saying I was stunned when my blog showed up on Mark My Word. I have known Mark since college, but somehow Facebook really connected us. Maybe it's writing and storytelling that really brought us together, and it just took the internet to provide the outlet. So thank you, Mark!

For those of you who may be new to my blog, let me tell you a little about myself. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and I write a lot about the healing process, but that's not all. I am a wife to an amazing guy (27 years and counting), a mom to 2 grown kids (Claire 22 and Sam 19), a reluctant crafter (beading, crocheting, sewing, quilting), and a somewhat snobbish foodie (I love to cook, but I have my own little quirks and extreme preferences!).

In this particular hop, the authors I’ve chosen and I will each answer, on our respective blogs, the same 10 (predetermined) questions ranging from our current works in progress to our writing processes and beyond. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about our work. Please feel free to share comments and questions.

Now, here is my Next Big Thing!

1) What is the title of your book(s)?
Well this is an easy one. I have no books. My husband is itching for me to write my memoir, but it's actually harder than you might think. I like to talk and write, but I tend to ramble. I did write a piece about what my book might look like and you can read that here.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?
When I first started addressing my past, my therapist told me there would be a great book in it someday . . . and that I should dedicate it to him! He was just that kind of guy. I want to tell my story, and have in bits in pieces, to help me heal from the past. Unfortunately, that still feels pretty selfish and petty to me. I want to get to the place that writing it all out will be to help someone else. Of course, I wouldn't mind a hugely successful book that made me fabulously rich!

3) What genre does your book come under?
Memoir, self-help, survival?

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
Yikes! I don't really know as there would have to be different actresses portraying me at different ages. Probably Kathy Bates would be good to play me now (although she is older than I am!) I prefer not to think about actors/actresses to play the abusers, since it might make it difficult for me to continue to enjoy their work.

5) What is a one sentence synopsis for your book?
This is not just the story of abuse, but the story of one woman’s move from victim to survivor to compassionate witness.

6) Is your book self published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
Well, since I haven't written the book yet, it's a little hard to answer this one.

7) How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Twelve years and counting. That's how long I've been thinking about it. I have a file cabinet drawer full of handwritten journals, and heaven only knows how many files on my computer, not to mention 3+ years of blog entries to be culled through as well.

8) What other books in your genre would you compare you story?
Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern, and I've been told, Haven Kimmel's works would be similar. I haven't read Kimmel's books as too many have encouraged me not to for my own sanity!

9) What or who inspired you to write this book?
Obviously, my first therapist, but my husband is the real driving force behind it. I've had other friends mention that I should, and some of my blog readers as well. Memoir is sticky, though, and especially so when it's riddled with bad people doing bad things, and no evidence to back it up. It's just my story, the way I remember it.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Recovery and healing are processes, so the story is always changing. Sometimes for good, sometimes there's a downhill phase. I try to write through all of it. Life isn't a straight line whether you've been traumatized or not, and real life continues as it's usual pace even while you're trying to find lost parts of yourself.

Below you will find authors/bloggers who will be joining me on my blog (I hope!) next Wednesday, January 30, 2013. These are people that are real. They've done their homework and they write from the heart, sometimes funny, sometimes serious. Please be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on works in progress and new releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . January 22, 2013

Outside my window . . . it is cold! We are in the teens and not expected to get above freezing at all today. Clear skies though.

I am thinking . . . about so many things right now! Working on my blog and telling my story. Helping out with my FIL and others who are sick or grieving, and still trying to get back into my groove after being so sick over the holidays.

I am thankful . . . for every gift from above. I realize that is a generalization, but that is how I'm truly feeling today.

In the kitchen . . . I made chicken and black bean soup last night. I served it with blue corn tortilla chips, shredded cheddar, and sour cream. Quite tasty!

I am wearing . . . yoga clothes. Not sure if I'm going to class or doing a DVD. It's too cold to want to leave, but it would be nice to see the yoga peeps.

I am creating . . . afghans and hats and coasters -- oh my! I think I need more focus in my focus!

I am going . . . to get my haircut -- eventually. I've been trying to get in to get it done since before we left for Florida in early December. Maybe today's the day!

I am wondering . . . where my crocheting mojo has gone. I just am too tired in the evenings to work on it, and can't seem to find time during the day.

I am reading . . . One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho last night. Nice read, but I'm not sure what all the brouhaha was about. Thinking about read Les Miserables now because I want to see the movie, but have never read it or seen the play. I know, I know how did I let that happen?

I am looking forward to . . . a day at home with no interruptions. I hope.

I am hearing . . . Yaya whining to be let out of her case. She's not going to happy when I let her outside either. 

Around the house . . . dd has just about finished deep cleaning the bonus room, i.e., scrubbing walls and the tile floor on her hands and knees! Bless her heart she is earning jewels in her crown (and some spending money from mama!)

I am pondering . . . Life of Pi. Dh and I went to see the movie (finally) yesterday. They did a wonderful job with it and I'm glad I saw it, but I didn't really think about how exhausting it would be to watch it all unfold in just 2 hours. I still don't know how it got a PG rating. I would not have taken my children to see it. Wonderful movie for adults.

One of my favorite things . . . is hedgehogs, and one of my besties sent me this link last week. How cute are these!?!

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . housework, trying to get the new curtains made for the bathroom. I really, really hope I'm going to get back to my Precepts class on Thursday. I haven't seen those dear ladies since before Thanksgiving!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
yes, that is a squirrel IN my bird feeder!

for more visit The Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Sometimes I just need scalloped potatoes. My mother always made them using a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, but since my daughter is allergic to soy (which is in everything, now) and I'm trying to user fewer processed foods in my cooking, I had to do a little experimenting.
I started with this recipe and tweaked it from there. It was pretty good the first time around, but scalloped potatoes should always have onions in my estimation, and I wasn't wild about the cayenne pepper. Also I thought the sharp cheddar cheese was a bit too potent. So here's my revised version (which I didn't get a photo of as I was sending dinner to a sick friend, and forgot).

4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
1/2 large thinly sliced onion
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
garlic salt, to taste
coarse ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated Italian five cheese blend (Kraft)

In a small sauce pan, melt butter and blend in flour.
Let sit for a minute.
Add all of cold milk, stirring with a whisk.
Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
Reduce heat and stir in 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Italian five cheese blend.
Place a half of the sliced potatoes and half the sliced onions in a lightly greased casserole dish.

Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.
Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes.
Repeat with second layer of potatoes, spices, and cheese sauce.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Bake covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Happy Eating!

linking up to Made by You Mondays

Friday, January 18, 2013

{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.


I have cherished her as long as I can remember. Since the Christmas morning I rocked her in my new red rocking chair. She was my constant companion throughout my childhood. A witness to some of the horrors. The only comfort at times. I mistreated her at times -- unintentionally of course.
She came with a pink plastic crib. Dressed in a pink gingham bubble suit. Over the years those were lost, and the mother made more clothes for her. As a teenager, I still gave her a place of honor in my room.
She moved with me when I married. And I allowed my daughter to occasionally play with her. But she was mine.
Not long after the diagnosis of PTSD and beginning to unravel my past, I found a doll doctor. A lovely lady who did repairs from her home and treated these beings with the honor they deserved.
It was difficult having her away from me, but when she returned it was worth it. She was refreshed. She was getting a second chance. And maybe I was too. It was turning point for both of us.
She is cherished still. She sits in a place of honor at my tea table. She and I have traveled long and treacherous roads together. 
And we have miles to go before we sleep.


linking up with Five Minute Friday

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I've decided trauma recovery has much in common with the grieving process. This isn't really news, but I saw a list of the five steps of grief and realized I've been through most of those in some way since beginning this journey.

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

I don't know that I went through them in that order. My therapist and husband will tell you I haven't spent nearly enough time on the anger portion. Obviously, I had denial down pat for years and years. The bargaining was a brief period of "just let me be crazy and they can lock me in a padded room" instead of this reality. The depression . . . well that's an ongoing issue, although not nearly as bad as it used to be. 

That leaves acceptance. I believe getting to acceptance is a process, not an epiphany. Unless you call it an epiphany the way Ann Voskamp does, a "light here, and then it's gone". Each day I learn a little more about accepting the reality of the abuse. I learn a little more about releasing the guilt and shame. I learn a little more about seeing myself as me, and not as their victim. Add up all those little bits, and that's the path to acceptance. 

I'm not happy I was abused. I'd trade it all in for a perfect happy childhood, except, who really gets that? And who would I be if I hadn't been abused? Don't misunderstand me. I'm just accepting the reality of my life now and how I got here. And reminding myself that my current reality is pretty wonderful. It's not trouble free, but life isn't trouble free -- not if you choose to really engage. And I want to be engaged.

So I don't shrink from the past the way I used to, and I don't dwell in the past either. But I do take it out and look at it, turning it around and around in my hands and heart, so that I can learn from it, and see how far I've come. 

"Acceptance means that you perceive reality accurately 
and consciously acknowledge what you perceive".

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I've been working on another episode from my past. It's an assault that happened when I was very young -- perhaps around 5. I know it happened in the autumn. I know the house I was living in at the time. I know that in the long run it benefits me to revisit these events to help me gain perspective and understanding of my behavior then and now.

What I don't know is how long it takes. How many times do I need to think through --  talk through an horrific incident to come to grips with it.

One of my recurring issues is belief. Belief that these events really happened and that I am not just making things up. As I type these words, I recognize how inane they may sound to others, but I remind myself that I was told, repeatedly, that no one would believe me. I have been amazed by the people who have believed me and stood by me as I work through my history, but I have also been re-victimized by those who won't or can't accept my history.

As I review episodes, I begin to see patterns emerge. Patterns of thought processes. Patterns of coping mechanisms. Patterns of self preservation. Patterns lend credence to my story and help me see the consistency in the stories I share.

Recently I saw a pattern that I have struggled with for some time. I don't know if I can make you understand, but I will try.

Dissociation is a coping mechanism/technique that many abuse victims use. In short it is the mental capacity to remove yourself from an unbearably traumatic situation by imagining you are in a different location. In a dissociative state you believe you are truly in this new location. You feel textures, see things, smell flowers, feel breezes blowing, and hear sounds that are apropos to that environment.

As a child I learned to remove myself this way from horribly painful and traumatic abusive situations. My refuge was to find myself outside of the location of the abuse. Usually in an open grassy area. I can "remember" the feeling of the grass on my feet. The way the light and shadows play in the yard. I can hear the neighbor lady chatting with her little dog. I can feel the cool evening breeze dry the sweat that has accumulated on my body during the abuse. It is vital to my survival that I keep my back to the location of the abuse. If I turn around, I will be sucked back into the events that are on-going. Inevitably these episodes lead to exhaustion and a sense of safety and peace that lull me to sleep. But I am not really asleep. I have just escaped mentally from a situation that did not allow for physical escape.

The question is this -- how do I reconcile the clarity of these memories that I know to be protective imagery with the clarity of episodes of abuse that I fought so long and hard to suppress? If the clarity feels the same, how do I know what really occurred and what was simply dissociation?

One of the best responses I've received to this question came from my first counselor. He pointed out that people usually make up good things. We make stories about ourselves that will impress others and raise our standing in the community. My memories don't do that. He also said that those made up good things are made up to share. I fought tooth and nail to keep my story to myself from fear of alienation and not being believed. 

But here's what has finally helped me the most -- I have decided I don't have to reconcile the two. They are different phenomena. I don't have to know every detail perfectly
accurately to know that the abuse was horrible. And knowing all the specifics will not make any of it more or less true.

All that actually matters is that I survived.


T.S. Eliot said, "April is the cruelest month", but right now I'm thinking it could be January. In the past week my father-in-law has retired from teaching because of pulmonary fibrosis. My sister-in-law's 87 year old mother died on Sunday. This morning I learned of 2 friends who lost parents in the past 24 hours. I have 2 more friends whose mother's are dying. Add to that my son is struggling with possibly changing college majors/colleges. My daughter just started her final internship for college. My husband is struggling with his father's illness, our son's challenges, and his own work in graduate school.

That leaves me as the voice of calm and reason around the house right now, which reminds of how important it is to learn to release stress, or whatever portion of it I can. 

Learning to release stress is difficult. For me, what's really hard, is learning to accept what I have no control over. The reality of this life is that I have very little control over anything, and recognizing that lack of power is strangely empowering. It's not my job to heal the sick or raise the dead. Okay I probably already knew that, but it's also not my job to make my kids happy, solve their problems, or those of my husband either. Dealing with difficulties, heartache, loss -- that's all part of living, and for most of us the only way to grow is through those experiences. So the carry over is if I protect my kids from difficulties, I'm also hindering their growth.

So, yeah, January's been rough. And it's not over yet. But that's okay because it's not my job to keep bad things from happening. My job is to be a listening ear and a loving wife and mother, and I can do that and release a lot of the stress.

Ice Storm?

linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . January 15, 2013

Outside my window . . . it is very cold, cloudy, and wet. We have run the gamut in the past week. Over the weekend we had near record highs and thunderstorms. Now we are stuck in the 30's with freezing rain and sleet. January.

I am thinking . . . how quickly moods can shift. Our crazy weather of late has had us all a bit grumpy. Add to that ds is contemplating a change in major (and college?), dd started a new internship, FIL retired due to illness, and SIL's mother died. And that's all in the last week!

I am thankful . . . for so much good conversation with my ds while he was home for the holiday break. He goes back to college today. I will miss him.

In the kitchen . . . things have been very busy lately:

I am wearing . . . jammies, my flannel robe, slippers, and my favorite shawl. It's cold.

I am creating . . . a new baby afghan using this pattern.

I am going . . . to be stuck at home again today (not that I'm complaining) since dh's car is out of commission.

I am wondering . . . if I can really do this memorization project. I really want to, but I am a very slow memorizer!

I am reading . . . One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

I am looking forward to . . . a massage this afternoon. I found a new masseuse last month and she is fabulous!

I am hearing . . . dd getting ready for work and the dogs settling in for morning naps. They've been up for over 20 minutes!

Around the house . . . I had a great day yesterday! I am using this schedule sheet from Ann Voskamp. So far I'm really liking it.

I am pondering . . . these words: explore, trust, accept, release, create

One of my favorite things . . . is calm. I've mentioned this before. I don't like confrontation and I want everyone to be happy all the time. Can you see how I add stress to my life!?!

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . more homemaking, blogging, memorizing, Bible study, and a funeral visitation and memorial to attend. Plus sending ds back to college. Whew!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
gf, ds, bf eating soup

for more visit The Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 14, 2013

Unplanned Pound Cake

A change in plans found me needing to provide a dessert for a Sunday afternoon gathering. I'd already been to the store for Saturday, and really didn't want to go back. So I did a little internet surfing and found this wonderful Paula Deen pound cake recipe. The only change I made was using a stick of unsalted butter in place of the vegetable shortening. I baked it in my standard bunt cake pan and it baked right out of the pan and all over my oven (I'm cleaning my oven today!), so you might want to put some of it in a loaf pan, or maybe I just beat it too much. Either way, it was tasty! The recipe says it serves 16-20, and I served it to a group of 12 and have 2 slices left (we did have 3 teenage boys there!).

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, plus more for pan
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

With a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Happy Eating!

linking up at Made by You Monday