Monday, June 30, 2014

My Friend, Robyn

My friend, Robyn, died on Saturday. She had been suffering with pancreatic cancer. She really never had a chance, but she was surrounded by her friends, family, and incredibly loving husband to the very end.

It's gotten me thinking about that word, friend. I call her my friend, but I hadn't seen her in years. We used to work together and occasionally get together for a movie or dinner or drinks. I was in her home a couple of times and she was a spectacular hostess.

Webster's defines a friend as 

: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)

By that definition Robyn was a wonderful friend, because she fit all of those ideals.

Today I will go to her visitation and meet many more of her friends, a few I know already, but I am sure there will scores I've yet to meet. We will talk about Robyn and all that was good in her, and we will grieve with and embrace her family, especially her remarkable husband. 

Life was far too short for Robyn. She made a huge impact on every person who knew her and many who only met her once. She will be missed and remembered well.

We could all learn a lot from her. I know I have.

In loving memory --

Saturday, June 28, 2014

{this moment}

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Discoveries

I've lost something this summer. Usually I bounce back from my late spring/early summer blues by this time. It's just not happening this year, and frankly it's beginning to worry me. 

I said something to my daughter about it yesterday, and she reminded me not to feel obligated to explain it. It is what it is. But I can't quite shake that old feeling that if I were a good Christian I wouldn't be feeling this way. 

And that's when I stopped and made a mental list --
:: summer is rife with bad memories for me
:: dh is in grad school and working full time leaving him precious little time for relaxing with me
:: I have 2 friends who are dying of cancer -- imminently 
:: my allergies/asthma are making it practically impossible to enjoy being outside, so no swimming so far this year
:: and not to over share, but I'm going through "the change"

So this morning I'm looking at that list and making a new list. A shorter to-do list that includes some fun stuff for me and a lot more kindness for feeling tired and overheated and a bit breathless this summer. 

Instead of viewing something as lost, I think I'll focus on discovering something new about summer and me.

linking up with Five Minute Friday

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice. Each year I think about doing something to celebrate or recognize it. I read about others' rituals, parties, and remembrances, and I think it would be nice to participate in that somehow.

But then again it comes in the early summer, and early summer and I are not friends.

This year the summer solstice found me meeting up with some folks I hadn't seen in awhile. My parents. Together. 

I have a difficult relationship with them. I limit my interactions with them for my own sanity. This is made even more difficult because we live close geographically (about 15 minutes apart), and most people I know, know them as well.

Emily Wierenga posted a blog the other day entitled How to write a memoir without hurting your family. I was really excited to get some input and ideas, but her situation is different from mine. I'm still trying to figure mine out.

But I digress. 

Summer solstice was this past Saturday, and I found myself scheduled to cook dinner for some people and to meet my parents to celebrate my dad's birthday. I was not a happy camper, although I had made a conscious, thoughtful decision to test the waters in this way.

I made plans, but ultimately resorted to past coping skills to get through what had to be done. I threw together a casserole and salad from what I had on hand for the dinner which my husband was delivering. I showered and dressed in comfortable clothing, and planned on beating my parents to the restaurant.

I pulled into the parking lot, scanning for their car. I didn't see it, so I headed into the restaurant. I looked through the front window and saw them sitting at the center table. A table I would never have chosen. 

We greeted each other warmly (as warmly as we do -- always some underlying unease on both sides). We chatted. We ordered. We ate. My head began to pound. 

Why? Nothing was going wrong per se. It was just all the same. I invoked my standard coping mechanism that I use with my mother. She is a nice older woman, and I am doing this for her, or in this case for them, and I got through the rest of lunch. 

I left, took 2 ibuprofen, and headed for my reward -- a mani/pedi. I hardly said a word the whole time I was there, as I was fighting the need to lay my head down on the table and sleep.

When I got home, my husband was there to pick up the food. We chatted a bit about my lunch date. He asked (again) why I do this to myself. I tried to explain, but acknowledged that clearly I'm not ready for this yet. 

Once he left I collapsed on the sofa, watched TV, and slept -- typical coping mechanisms for me.

I really need to get planning on next year's summer solstice!

linking up with Writer's Workshop

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Assumptions and Love

Words are important to me. 

Clearly I process much of my information and thoughts by writing about them. Recently I've been working on recognizing the importance of the words "I love you". I've found myself in a dilemma. I was raised in house where those words were rarely uttered. I don't know why. We loved each other, but we just didn't say those words, so I grew up craving them.

My husband was brought up in an environment where his mother loved everyone! She was effusive, perhaps to the point that the words became meaningless. So he grew up wondering what exactly those words meant.

Over the years we've had countless conversations about that phrase. He is analytical. I am emotional. Sometimes this can create a distance between us -- a moat. I need to hear those words AND see them backed up with actions. He craves actions over words to express love. 

It's an interesting balance to work on. My need to hear those words is based in part on my fear of assumptions. Assumptions can be very dangerous things. I can't just assume that someone who has previously been kind, helpful, and loving will continue in that path. My experiences have taught me that people can change on a dime. 

With nearly 29 years of marriage together we still traverse this emotional mind field. But I'm choosing to have faith in those 29 years and all the ways he shows his love. This is a safe assumption. He loves me whether he says as often as I'd like or not.

linking up with Just Write


linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . June 24, 2014

Outside my window . . . 76 degrees and overcast. I just heard some thunder in the distance so it looks like more rain today.

I am thinking . . . about a stressful lunch I had over the weekend. I had thought I was up for something, but wound up with a pounding headache and sleeping most of the afternoon away. That item will go back on the wait list.

I am thankful . . . for a good beginning to my lectio divina practice.

In the kitchen . . . things are still pretty haphazard with wacky summer schedules. Tonight is grilled flounder, steamed green beans, and poppyseed coleslaw. I'm substituting shredded brussel sprouts for the broccoli for a little change, and I found a poppyseed dressing without artificial sweeteners to use. I'll let you know how it goes.

I am wearing . . . my cotton batiste gown.

I am creating . . . order. I'm still not really in the "making stuff" mood, but I did get some mending done last week and that made me pretty happy to have a pair of summer pants and a maxi dress available to wear again.

I am going . . . to get printer ink and have my oil changed today. Ahhh, the life of excitement I lead must be overwhelming to all of you!

I am wondering . . . about my mood. I'm much less depressed than I was, but I'm still having trouble getting my mojo and routine going. Trying to be kind to myself and wait it out.

I am reading . . . Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection on my Kindle. Really enjoying these stories.

I am looking forward to . . . finding whatever this summer's routine is going to be.

I am hearing . . . complete silence. This kids were both up and out early and the dogs are quietly napping. It's quite lovely.

Around the house . . . the new windows are in and the new couch arrived and was a hit with the whole family. Of course now the dishwasher is dying, so I guess that's next on the list -- you the one that never ends?

I am praying . . . for my friend with pancreatic cancer. She is sleeping all the time and hasn't eaten anything for days. I know her time is short. I am praying for her husband and children who have been so strong, loving, and supportive during this very brief illness (she was diagnosed in late March).

One of my favorite things . . . is coloring. I took it up after I was diagnosed with PTSD. I find it soothing. I have a new set of crayons and a new coloring book that I need to make time to play with, maybe while I wait for my car this afternoon.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . nothing much planned but I'm sure things will accumulate before I know it!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
the new sofa on a regular day
(notice Yaya's blanket!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

What's In the Pantry Casserole

Saturday was a busy day for me. I had promised to provide dinner for my husband's brother and family, and I really needed to go to the grocery store. I also had a lunch meeting I was stressing about. Dh was at grad school and I knew it was possible our paths would not cross until late in the evening, so that meant dinner had to be prepared before I left for lunch so he could pick it up when he headed to his brother's house.

Yeah, I didn't go to the grocery. Instead I stood and stared into the pantry thinking what can I send from what I've got on hand. I put this one together and stuck it in the fridge for dh to take. When he got home he informed me that my sister-in-law asked for the recipe and where I had found it. He knows me so well that he told her I had looked in the pantry and just thrown some stuff together. 

So here it is with photos from the second batch I made last night for our dinner. I served it with a simple tomato and cucumber salad. 


2 cups basmati rice, cooked in 2 cups chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups water

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 10-oz. can all white chicken, shredded

1/4 tsp. each: garlic salt, black pepper, coriander, and oregano
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

chunky salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease a 2 quart casserole dish and layer ingredients as listed except for salsa. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. 

Serve with warmed salsa on the side. Serves 6-8.

linking up with Made by You Monday

Saturday, June 21, 2014

{this moment}

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

Friday, June 20, 2014

Epiphanies and Release

I wake up every morning and think about the day. What's on the calendar. What needs to get done. What I want to do with this day. 

I go to the kitchen and make tea. Feed dogs and sit down at my computer. I check emails, Facebook, and the stats for this blog. It's all part of my morning routine. 

This morning's prompt is "release". A million thoughts swirl through my mind, including the annoying theme from Frozen, "Let It Go". I hate that song, and am reminded once again of how happy I am to not have small children in the house clambering for the latest from Disney.

Somewhere in that rambling, internal dialogue I have an epiphany of sorts. This wasn't my usual routine just a few years ago. Back then it went more like this -- startle awake, frantically look around the bedroom, try to remember if anyone was angry with me, try to calm the rising panic, and then berate myself for "still" struggling with the effects of childhood sexual abuse.

The epiphany was the realization that I rarely wake up assuming I'm in trouble anymore. I wake up with a clear conscious most mornings. And on the days when I don't, I can get there relatively quickly. For years I've been working on letting it go. On releasing. 

It doesn't happen over night, this release. But it is happening. I open my hand and release another part of the pain.

linking up with Five Minute Friday

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Fun

List 7 things I’d rather be doing this summer --

#1 -- Cruise the Greek Isles on a private yacht with John Stamos as my tour guide

#2 -- Visit New Zealand and tour the Hobbit house

#3 -- Have a housekeeper who handles all the planning, shopping, errands, bill paying, checkbook balancing, and housekeeping chores

#4 -- Have a total make over done: new hair, nails, makeup, wardrobe. The works!

#5 -- Engage a private masseuse to come to my house at least once a week for a minimum 1 hour massage

#6 -- Join a book club and read a book a week

#7 -- Surprise a total stranger with a gift or experience that will make their day

linking up with Writer's Workshop

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


linking up with Wordless Wednesday


We are on vacation and watching a movie in the room. The Bourne Legacy. He has seen it before. I have not. Typically for us, I become increasingly engrossed in the movie and he falls asleep.

The main character, Aaron, is in deep trouble. Being chased by a spy who has been altered physically and mentally. Aaron is the best, but he is losing ground against this machine of a man. They run into a building under construction. I am tensely watching to see what will happen next. 

Rebar. The screen is covered in rebar poking out of concrete. Aaron is maneuvering his way through the maze. All I can see is rebar.

I know it's happening, and I know it will go one of two ways. I shake my head and tell myself to stop it. Stop focusing on the rebar. I know even as it's happening. I am having a flashback. I will either breathe through it or move into a panic attack.

I don't intend to focus on the rebar. I'm watching a movie. It's just set dressing. It doesn't have anything to do with the story, but it's all I can see. Rebar like she raped and sodomized me with in the barn. 

I start deep breathing. I adjust myself to a more upright position. I'm sitting up now. A more powerful position. One with more control. I slow my breathing. I have an internal dialogue. Whatever happens here -- control or anxiety -- is okay. There is no right or wrong reaction to the situation. 

I couldn't have seen it coming. I can't quit going out in public or watching movies or reading books or looking at Pinterest, because something might crop up and trigger a memory.

I keep breathing and am suddenly re-engaged in the plot of the movie. I have survived the trigger without a full blown panic attack. I did it by myself, and I recognized what was happening in the moment. I stayed present through it all.

This is something huge. I am as used to triggers and flashbacks as one can ever become, I suppose, but this may be the first time I've made it through one fully present. It's a milestone of sorts. I took care of me. I didn't turn on me. 

It doesn't mean it won't happen again. There will always be triggers as long as I am alive. And the odd thing is I wouldn't trade those horrific memories because, ultimately, they are a part of who I am. But I am truly grateful to have consciously survived this one on my own.

linking up with Just Write

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . June 17, 2014

Outside my window . . . the sky is clear blue. It's 77* and I'm sure it's going to be another hot and muggy day. Summer is definitely in middle Tennessee.

I am thinking . . . about new bedroom windows installed yesterday and a new den couch and ottoman being delivered today. Exciting developments on the home front!

I am thankful . . . for my bestie who talks with me and encourages me all the time.

In the kitchen . . . dd kept things spick and span while we were out of town, so all I need to do is restock the kitchen. Tonight is salmon, sweet baby peas, and polenta.

I am wearing . . . my cotton batiste gown.

I am creating . . . a life. Yesterday I was bemoaning being in-between craft projects. A friend reminded my that everything I do is "creative" in one way or another. A good perspective adjustment.

I am going . . . to sit on my new couch this afternoon and hope I like it as much in my den as I did on the showroom floor!

I am wondering . . . about respect. It seems that our current society has lost the concept and I'm not sure how we can reclaim it.

I am reading . . . Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection on my Kindle. Really enjoying these stories.

I am looking forward to . . . getting into my summer routine.

I am hearing . . . the dogs snoring and dd getting ready for her day.

Around the house . . . I'm feeling the desire to do some rearranging or at least redecorating a bit from my stash for the summer months.

I am praying . . . for my friend with pancreatic cancer. She is under hospice care now. Her husband has been so wonderfully loving and supportive through this journey.

One of my favorite things . . . is slowing down. I like it more and more as I am getting older. Not slowing down because I can't do as much, but because I enjoy taking more time to savor experiences.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . getting settled with our new acquisitions, a meeting today, another tomorrow night, a walk with a new friend on Friday, and starting a new class on Lectio Divina on Sunday.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
dh was excited to find his favorite Austrian
candy on the shelves in Atlanta

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dreaming of MBYM

It's Monday again and I've still got no "Made by You Monday" mojo. Mostly because I've been out of town since last Tuesday and didn't expect to be home until today. We got in last night, but I really haven't had time to "do" anything but unpack and catch up with the kids.

We had a nice time in Fairhope, AL just relaxing and talking and spending time together just the 2 of us. I really like having time for that. 

We found a yarn shop (of course!) in Fairhope and visited with the lovely ladies there and I bought some yarn (I know you're all shocked!). I snapped a picture of a beautiful summer shawl the owner had knitted and I'm going to try and crochet something similar. So here's what I hope to be showing in you in a few weeks --

(two shawls in different color options)

and these are the yarns I chose

I also saw a couple of really cute crafty/sewing ideas that I snapped to add to my "I'd Like to Try" file.

So that's it for this Monday. Hopefully by next week I'll have something completed to share. Until then happy creating :)

linking up with Made by You Monday

Saturday, June 14, 2014

{this moment}

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . June 10, 2014

Outside my window . . . it's 71* and sunny with wispy clouds in the sky. Apparently we'll have more rain and storms this afternoon and evening, but for now it's gorgeous!

I am thinking . . . about everything I need to get done before 2 pm. Oy vey!

I am thankful . . . for an amazing message I received yesterday in response to my blog post. Sad and uplifting at the same time.

In the kitchen . . . my bestie and I cleaned thoroughly yesterday (in truth, she did most of the cleaning!). I made quiche on Sunday, bean burritos for lunch yesterday, and macaroni and cheese with hot dogs for dinner. Haute cuisine!

I am wearing . . . another cotton gown. Are you sensing a theme here?

I am creating . . . very little. I'm hoping that a few days away at the Gulf may inspire me once I get home.

I am going . . . on a brief vacation with dh. We are leaving later today and tooling our way through Georgia and Alabama to the Gulf for a view days of rest and relaxation.

I am wondering . . . how many people there really are out there who struggle with the after shocks of abuse. The more I write about my own experiences the more I learn about others who have or are struggling right along with me.

I am reading . . . Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection on my Kindle. Good reading for traveling.

I am looking forward to . . . our getaway!

I am hearing . . . peace and quiet. My favorite way to start the day.

Around the house . . . we are awaiting the delivery of our new sofa and ottoman for the den, and the installation of several new windows. 

I am praying . . . for a friend struggling with pancreatic cancer, another friend who is job hunting, and traveling mercies for dh and me.

One of my favorite things . . . is creating a healthy, tasty, attractive meal. This was Sunday's lunch -- baked tilapia with steamed rice and veggies.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . heading out on vacation. That's really all I've got going this week.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
sweet little ride parked in front of my house during
 my neighbor's yard sale

Monday, June 9, 2014

Depression, Angst, and Beaches

It's Monday, which is supposed to be "Made by You Monday" and I've got nothing. No creative meals. No crochet. No sewing. 

What I do have is a pretty bad case of the blahs. I've been struggling since right before Memorial Day. I went back and looked at older journals. I do see a pattern of deep depression in the late spring and early summer. Maybe it is just that it's been a good, long while since I felt this way, but I'm really having trouble with this round.

Tomorrow will be an anniversary of sorts. Not a good anniversary, but a really bad one. It will have been 31 years since the rape I survived in college. I don't know if that is the primary driving factor in this round of depression, but I keep thinking if I can just get through tomorrow things will begin looking up. But that little voice in my head says, "What if they don't?" And I look at that number -- 31 -- and that little voice says, "That was a long time ago. Let it go." (with apologies to the "Frozen" fans -- but that song has just about done me in!)

As I've said before, traumatic events such as rape and sexual abuse -- abuse of any kind -- leave deep, lasting scars. I don't choose to be depressed. I feel guilty for having these feelings. I know how good my life is now. I know the blessings in my life. I know that so many people are suffering right now, and I'm not. And yet, none of that knowledge seems to knock out the depression.

I can give some rational explanations for the depression and its annual visit -- most of the abuse occurred in the summer; that rape in college caused a lasting rift in close relationships that lingers to this day impacting daily choices and conversations; there are a lot of things that I'll simply never have answers to about all of the abuse. But the fact is rational doesn't do much good against recurring depression. Sometimes I just feel really stupid and slow that I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not a bad person . . . bad things were done to me. I feel as if everyone else looks at me and thinks, "Sheesh, is she still struggling with that?!" 

So once more I make a plan. I write out a doable to-do list. I drink hot tea and listen to music. I wait for my best friend to get here and help me implement my list. I think about the upcoming trip dh and I have planned. And I try really hard to be happy instead of depressed. 

But here's the funny thing. I went and Googled "depression quotes" and as I read through them, they made me mad. All that angst and whining. And I do feel better for having read those silly quotes, maybe because they got me out of my own head for a little while, and maybe because I realize I'm not the only one in this struggle. All those perfect people out there probably aren't as perfect as I think they are. 

So here's to summertime blues and the need to feel my way through them to get to the other side. I'm pretty sure that's why God gave me beaches!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

{this moment}

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

(with special thanks to MLH)

Friday, June 6, 2014


He reaches out for me and I feel refreshed. A hug. A pat on the back. The pressure of her hand on mine. 

That touch of care and tenderness. I'm not sure tenderness can be expressed without touching. Words just don't send the same message. Nothing like the touch of a hand. And I crave those feelings.

After all the years and episodes of "bad touches" you'd think I'd shy away from physical contact, but I don't. I want it so desperately, but am so afraid of what might come with it. But I'm learning that most of the hands reaching out to me these days are hands filled with love and hope and healing.

I'm still not totally comfortable with receiving what those hands offer, but I want it so badly! So if I cringe or flinch, don't misunderstand. It's not that I don't want it. I'm just still programmed to assume it may hurt. 

linking up with Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . June 3, 2014

Outside my window . . . 73* and overcast. It sure looks like rain.

I am thinking . . . about a conversation my dh and I had last night about healing and anger. Interesting thoughts and ideas.

I am thankful . . . for peace and quiet this morning. I am all alone in the house for the first time in a long time and it is lovely!

In the kitchen . . . 4 Bean Enchiladas last night. Tonight I'm thinking about salad.

I am wearing . . . my cotton gown from Vermont Country Store.

I am creating . . . flannel bears for my bestie's VBS program

I am going . . . on vacation next week to visit some family and then spend a few days in Fairhope, AL at the Cabbage Patch Cottage

I am wondering . . . about attachment theory and externalization. See what happens when your husband is in grad school?

I am reading . . . The Salt Garden by  Cindy McCormick Martinusen. It's a re-read from several years ago. I remember really liking it.

I am looking forward to . . . getting my summer routine established. Not sure what it's going to look like, but I know I need more routine than I've got right now.

I am hearing . . . peace and quiet. Except for the thoughts whirring in my head.

Around the house . . . the den is in disarray. We sold our old sofa and coffee table on Sunday and are awaiting the new items' delivery in 2 weeks!

I am praying . . . for guidance on some questions I'm wondering about right now.

One of my favorite things . . . is feeling happy. Or at least content. Both have been in short supply of late, and I'm working on getting my mojo back.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . nothing terribly pressing, so I'm still trying to acclimate to the new summer work/class schedules for everyone.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
latest addition to the hedgehog collection