Monday, August 24, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . August 24, 2015

Outside my window . . . it's sunny and unusually pleasant for August in Nashville. 

I am thinking . . . how quickly order can be undone around the house. I know it won't take that long to straighten things up, but wow.

I am thankful . . . for a good weekend and many congratulations on our 30th wedding anniversary.

In the kitchen . . . pumpkin bread TWICE last week.

I am creating . . . a writing routine. I'm reading On Being a Writer by Kroeker & Craig along with Kate Motaung and her crew at heading HOME. I'm trying to keep up! 

I am going . . . to strike a bit of order around here and then head over to my bestie's house to work on Presents with a Purpose (more info to come).

I am wondering . . . about conversations and perceptions.

I am reading . . . too many books at one time! I have 5 books going at once and my brain just can't handle it. I'm going to have to cull, but I don't know how.

On Being a Writer by Kroeker & Craig
The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto
The Witch Of Portobello by Paulo Coelho
A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson
A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy by Robert Benson

I am looking forward to . . . a personal quiet day I have scheduled for Wednesday. The Sisters of Mercy offer individual and group retreat rates, so I am taking advantage of it and have planned a day of personal quiet and reflection.

I am hearing . . . the ticking of the clocking and the dog's gentle breathing.

Around the house . . . a bit messy with the return of both the dh and the ds. 

I am praying . . . for Harrison Waldron the young man who is in a coma from an ATV accident, and an 11-year-old boy at my daughter's church who has a brain tumor.

One of my favorite things . . . is finding new places to eat. Dh and I ate our anniversary dinner last night at Saffire. It was lovely and the manager served us complimentary champagne when we arrived.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . all the usual suspects plus the quiet day, and hopefully a visit with a friend who's been sick for quite awhile.

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
by Mary Engelbreit

linking up with The Simple Woman

Friday, August 21, 2015


I'm looking for a solution. 

I'm looking for something that got lost along the way. 

I'm looking for a promise. 

And while I look I'm holding out hope. 

Marriage is hard and wonderful. Being with someone you love and who loves you seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world. Living with someone who grew up in a different house with different expectations and experiences is one of the toughest things in the world.

I'm on a treasure hunt right now. I'm looking and hunting and hoping. Because I really, REALLY want to find what's been lost along the years and the struggle of long-term marriage. 

I want to find the joy and companionship and comfort and peace and ease that comes from being with a trusted, dear friend. 

I'm in this hunt for the long haul and I won't stop until I find all of that good stuff again.

linking up with Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Am a Writer

I am a writer.

I’m not sure the first time I applied that to myself. I’ve felt that I was a writer my entire life, but it seemed too lofty a title to apply to me. Writers are people like Hemingway and L’Engle. Hawthorne and Thoreau. My father was a literature professor. He taught about writers. Clearly I did not belong in that illustrious list.

But in my heart I wrote. In the third grade, I wrote a play about pilgrims that our class presented to the entire school. I have no memory of writing the play, nor do I have a copy of it, but I have a mental picture of myself dressed as a pilgrim in my black dress, white apron, and white cap. My bangs are in disarray, but I’m smiling my snaggletooth grin, as I stand front and center on the stage taking a bow as the author.

I wrote vociferously all through middle school and high school. Pouring out angst on to lined notebook paper. Writing all the things I couldn’t say aloud for fear of judgment or humiliation, and then I would rip those pages to shreds and throw them into trashcans, humiliated and embarrassed by my own self-centeredness and gall.

In later years I attempted to keep a diary, but I was so concerned with someone else finding it and reading it that I was hampered in expressing my reality. So those diaries looked more like log books of daily occurrences and “appropriate” commentary on life. It wasn’t until I began to acknowledge the abuse I suffered as a child that I began to write in my true voice, and even then I worried that I was creating – writing not my true voice, but the voice I thought I should have.  It took 9 years before I put anything out for public consumption -- a leap of terrifying faith in myself to post a blog. Who could possibly care what I had to say? Surely the world would come crashing down on me for having the nerve to share what I thought and felt.

I’ve been writing regularly for nearly 6 years. I write something almost every day. I don’t need someone else to validate it, but it’s nice when that happens. I write because that’s the best way for me to stay connected with my own voice. Sure I write for other people, and I always hope that my words help someone else in some way, but mostly I write because I want to, because I love it. I love doing it and having done it and having evidence of what goes on in my brain.

linking up with On Being a Writer and Yeah Write


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . August 17, 2015

Outside my window . . . it's cloudy and raining. We've had a rainy August. I'm not complaining as the rain does help keep the temperatures down, even if the humidity is still very high.

I am thinking . . . difficult conversations. How is it that 2 intelligent adults can have discussions with so much effort and thought, and still not be able to see eye to eye?

I am thankful . . . for good friends and a pleasant brunch on Saturday with The Fun Girls, e.g. Linda, Caroline, Sandra, and Keith (honorary title).

In the kitchen . . . fresh banana bread yesterday. Dh asked for something sweet, and I told him I could do apple cake or banana bread as I had apples and bananas that needed to be cooked.

I am creating . . . still working on the new prayer shawl and looking at some sewing projects that have piqued my interest --

this sturdy fabric basket

I am going . . . to my bestie's house today to help her with some projects. She got a new sewing machine and we're going to play with it! 

I am wondering . . . about dreams. I woke up with classical music playing in my head today. I have no idea what the piece was or what I dreamed that led to it. Of course, there are worse ways to wake up.

I am reading . . . The Keeper of Lost Causes (Afdeling Q #1) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

I am looking forward to . . . getting a massage on Friday!

I am hearing . . . the sound of the rain hitting the vent pipe. The clicking of the keys on the computer. The ticking of my clock.

Around the house . . . things are straight, and that makes me happy.

I am praying . . . a friend's son-in-law who was severely injured in an ATV accident over the weekend. Will you pray for healing for Harrison, too?

One of my favorite things . . . is Hitchcock films. I've been watching some of them lately and am reminded of what a craftsman he was.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . to LB's today, a couple of annual doctors' appointments. Ds comes home from his week of climbing out west. Dh has a seminar Thursday through Saturday, and Sunday will be our 30th wedding anniversary. We are going out to eat and trying to plan something else to do that night, but we haven't come up with anything just yet.

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
I found this drawing a clothing catalog,
and I really liked it so it tore it out to keep

linking up with The Simple Woman

Friday, August 14, 2015

: : Learn

I learn every day whether I acknowledge it or not. I learn to trust. To obey. To believe. To have faith. To be brave. 

It's a constant in my life. I learn something new most days. Some days I learn the same lesson over and over again. 

I used to believe that if I had to learn a lesson more than once it proved I was stupid or stubborn. Now I see those repeated episodes as reminders, reinforcements. I learn on a deeper level as I grow and mature. I learn different levels as I have new experiences. I learn nuance from new people in my life. I learn a new perspective because learning must never be stagnant. It's organic -- like life. Ever changing. Ever moving. To learn is to grow.

And I want to keep growing because if I ever stop, I'll die.

linking up with Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Word of the Day

a:  of inferior quality or worth:  tawdry, sleazy <cheap workmanship>
b:  contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty, or redeeming qualities <feeling cheap>

A word I learned early on to hate. 

I couldn't define it, but I knew what it meant. People who were cheap were valueless. Worthless. A waste of space and time. There was no fixing "cheap". It was a degenerative character analysis to be avoided at all cost.

But here's the thing about terms like "cheap", they're relative. One man's trash is another man's treasure. And that applies to people as well as things. So while the abusers in my life saw me as cheap, tawdry, sleazy, irredeemable, even contemptible, that didn't make any of those definitions permanent or even accurate. 

For years, I've fought to discover my value as a person. Is it determined by how much money I make annually? By how productive I am in a given time period? By my weight or my car or my house or my husband or my kids or how many "good works" I do?

Is my value based on how healthy I am (another variable definition)? What I choose to do for relaxation? What I eat or drink, or don't eat or don't drink?

The recurring answer I hear when I let myself relax and listen is this, I am not cheap. I am valuable because I am a person. A being made in the image of God. I exist because God has a purpose for me. I may never know or understand that purpose, but that doesn't change the fact of its existence. 

Lately, I've been praying a series of rules or daily offices or prayers (whatever you want to call them) and this line keeps standing out to me

Fulfill now, O Lord our desires and petitions as may be best for us,
     granting us in this world the knowledge of Your truth . . . 

I have chosen to trust in God's knowledge of me. I have chosen to trust that He knows what is best for me, regardless of what I ask. I believe God has much better things to do than worry about cheap people or stuff. If His desire is to hear from me and grant me the knowledge of His truth, then there's no way I'm cheap.

linking up with Writer's Workshop

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Movies, Marriage, and Mirrors

A hundred years ago I sat down on a Saturday night to watch the movie Marnie on network television. Understand this was the dawning of the age of VCRs. No Blockbuster. No Hollywood Video. No TiVo. No Netflix.

I'd never seen the movie before. I was in the basement of my parents' house watching on a portable black and white TV with adjustable rabbit ears. There were COMMERCIALS! I was in college dating the man I would ultimately marry. The phone rang. There was no caller ID. I don't think we even had an answering machine. 

It was my boyfriend. I explained that I was watching a movie and I'd call him back as soon as it was over. I really wanted to see how the film ended. Hitchcock, you know? You can't just walk away in the middle of it.

Thus began a lengthy discussion about my lack of love for him. Was he not more important than some old movie? Didn't I want to know how his shift at work had gone? Personal relationships are the bedrock of society. Television was destroying the world.

I argued. I cried. I swore my undying love. I begged, for the love of all that is holy, let me see what happens to Tippi Hedren!

By the time I disengaged from this ridiculous conversation, the movie was over. 

Fast forward to yesterday. I checked out a copy of Marnie from the library, and after my counseling session I sat down with my lunch to finally watch it all the way through. Oh my gosh! There's a reason I needed to see this movie to its conclusion. In many ways, the movie was trying to tell me my own story.

Let me tell you a little about me. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I didn't know that at the time. I had repressed most of the experiences, and the one I did remember I couldn't label as abuse. My boyfriend was quirky, but he was a lot better than where I'd been, so I didn't hang up on him or tell him to take a flying leap. I just rode it out the best way I knew how. Twisting and turning emotionally trying to figure out how this had escalated from watching a movie to the depth of my devotion to him. 

"Mark marries Marnie although she is a habitual thief and has serious psychological problems, and tries to help her confront and resolve them." That's how iMDb summarizes the plot. Barely scrapes the top layer. 

Marnie is suffering from repressed memories, undiagnosed PTSD, flashbacks, and molestation among other things. She is frigid and can't bear to be touched by a man. She spouts religious rhetoric and acts out impulsively to deal with her unexplained issues. Mark is a cold fish who is a widower with an interest in zoological behavior. He suspects Marnie is up to something, but rather than confront her he lets the whole thing play out before he blackmails her into his loving (?) arms. And it just grows from there.

It's a masterpiece of a film, and it's no wonder it wasn't well received in 1964. A psychologically taut piece that was far ahead of its time. Nobody knew about PTSD and dissociation. Mark was trying to be a 1960s man and handle his woman. A firm hand, that's what she needed. Both Mark and Marnie are flawed characters aching for redemption.

I didn't have Marnie's coping mechanisms, and my future husband didn't have Mark's exact issues, but we had our own weird methods that were mirrored in the movie. My husband pushed me into therapy after years and years of digging at my psyche. He pushed and pushed and pushed until I finally broke down and went. And then he wanted a play by play of every session. That was nearly 15 years ago. In a few days, we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary. I wonder if Mark and Marnie lasted that long.

By the time I finished the movie, I had a better understanding of what that argument had really been about all those years ago. I also had a pounding headache, upset stomach, and massive anxiety. After some medicine and relaxation, I realized how glad I was that I'd watched the movie all the way to the end this time. 

linking up with Yeah#226Write.Me

{Who Am I? I Am . . . }

I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about whether or not I am using my time wisely. Am I doing the things I am "supposed" to be doing? Am I making good use of time? Will others be judgmental of how I choose to use my time? Am I lazy? UnChristian? Selfish?

See how it spirals out of control?

Lately I've been trying to look at my time and life. I've been making choices and working hard to quiet those critics in my head. "We are human beings, not human doings." That's the refrain that keeps sounding in my thoughts when I can slow them down enough to listen.

I was raised in a works oriented religious tradition. The more you do, the better a Christian you are, and the more secure was your salvation. So it wasn't Christ and grace which saved me, but rather my acceptance of Him AND how hard I worked to prove that I was saved.

Add childhood sexual abuse to that mix and you have a potent cocktail for constant self-doubt and panic. How can I trust myself under those circumstances?

So who am I, really? 

:: I am kind

:: I am compassionate

:: I am intelligent

:: I am introverted

:: I am meditative

:: I am creative

These are not the kinds of attributes that American culture values much these days. I am surrounded by people who seem to find their value in how busy they are. How much they have to get done. How pressed they are for time. 

I live with an extrovert who thrives on activity and interaction with people. How we wound up together only God knows. Our children are grown (one out of the nest, and the other well on his way out). I'm looking forward to a quiet, slower pace. My husband is worried about what we'll do. 

I don't feel any need to fill my days with activity. I find myself contemplating what life on the plains looked like for women. Yes, their work was much more intensive than mine, but it also seems people were more accepting of sitting and thinking. Of reading and listening. Of chatting with friends and family, not to save the world, but to enjoy being in one another's presence. 

And that is who I am. I move at a slower pace because I enjoy it. I savor instead of rushing, because I'd rather remember the details than have a plethora of moments that I can't recall.

linking up with Tuesday at Ten

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . August 10, 2015

Outside my window . . . it's overcast and already muggy.We are expecting thundershowers today, so I'm glad I get to stay inside.

I am thinking . . . about several people I know who are struggling with medical issues right now. Praying for a positive outcome for each and everyone of them.

I am thankful . . . to be on the downhill side of the latest round of steroids. Sometimes I think the cure is as bad as the flare when it comes to summer asthma issues!

In the kitchen . . . last ds and his gf made spaghetti and cheesy garlic bread. They finished up with an apple dump cake which is now sitting on my counter calling to me :)

I am creating . . . peace in my spirit (I hope). This has been a stressful summer (as summers often are) and I am still working on honoring what lowers my stress. And a prayer shawl of course.

I am going . . . to work on blog planning later today. I want to do 2 daily writing memes this fall. In September I am going to attempt the 50 day blogger challenge with A Pinch of Faith which will overlap with 31 Days a writing challenge, every October, every day with Nesting Place and Crystal Stine

I am wondering . . . about how much the medication I am on is adding to my stress. I hope MOST of it is drug induced. 

I am reading . . . The Keeper of Lost Causes (Afdeling Q #1) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy by Robert Benson

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson

I am looking forward to . . . several activities and trips I have planned in the upcoming months. I'll let you in on them as they get closer.

I am hearing . . . G'morning Johann
I bought this cd when my kids were small. We used to listen to it in the mornings to help us start the day off right. I've recently begun to incorporate more music into my daily life and went with this old favorite today.

Around the house . . . just the basics today and keeping it simple and slow as I'm still in recovery mode.

I am praying . . . for dd as she is quitting smoking!

One of my favorite things . . . is my new prayer practice. I find it very soothing and comforting. Much like a conversation with a dear friend. I realize that setting aside time to talk with and listen to God is so important. I am glad I am learning this new practice.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . keeping is simple and hoping that the asthma continues to improve.

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .

linking up with The Simple Woman

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Last 5 Books . . .

I love to read! That being said, I'm not very good at writing reviews. I get bogged down in the minutiae, and I don't want to enforce my opinions on anyone else. However, I do love to know what other people are reading, so I'm figuring there are other like-minded people out there. Here's a list with a few comments on the last 5 books I've read.

1. Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

". . . the vodka, I've found, is a reliable refrigerant . . . "

This mashup of Mad Men and the Kennedys makes for a decent summer read. It doesn't require much from the reader. The characters, while familiar, do bring some interesting twists and turns. Tiny is at times likeable, although I wouldn't want to be her best friend.

2. The Minotaur by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell)

"But good looks are not just a matter of fine, regular features, copious hair, large eyes, and a supple figure, all of which they had, but of how a woman holds herself, turns her head, smiles, her consciousness of her appearance, and the air of beauty she carries with her."

Ruth Rendell was one of the grand dames of psychological mystery and crime fiction. She is perhaps best known for her Inspector Wexford series, but I have always been partial to pseudonymous Barbara Vine novels. Since her death this past May, I've been reading through those. The Minotaur was a real find. Set in England, but with a Swedish heroine. In typical Vine/Rendell fashion the story twists and turns like the labyrinth slowing drawing the reader closer to the minotaur. I particularly enjoyed the Swedish take on British culture.

3. The Girl in Between  by Laekan Zea Kemp

“People don’t exist in just the light or the dark. They exist in the contrast. In the shadows where the two overlap.” 

Young adult literature and Kindle publishing are a perfect pair in some ways. I ran across this book on some random list of free Kindle books and decided to give it a try. Although somewhat formulaic, there is an interesting premise. Bryn Reyes, the Girl, suffers from a little-known ailment called Klein-Levin Syndrome which causes its sufferers to sleep for extended periods of time. Bryn's is different though as she dreams her way through each episode as if in an alternate universe. Interesting read, although are teenagers really like this nowadays? Being YA lit and part #1, be prepared for an abrupt ending!

4. The Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine

"Someone -- was it T. S. Eliot? -- said that human beings can't stand too much reality."

This one had everything I love in a psychological mystery -- good characters with depth, history, flashbacks, and a medical mystery as well! A good, solid story that grew on me as I read. 

5. From Doon With Death by Barbara Vine

The first in the Inspector Wexford series, I felt compelled to read it as a Ruth Rendell aficionado. As I suspected, I'm really more of a Barbara Vine fan. I'll probably read a few more Wexfords to give him a fair chance, but I don't even remember much about the story and didn't make any notes in my reading journal (never a good sign!). 

So there you go. The last 5 books I've read. The most interesting thing to me is how quickly I've read them. All 5 in July! I've almost finished another one this week. Of course, I've been battling asthma for 5 weeks so that makes for lots of reading time.

linking up with Writer's Workshop

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Say "Cheese(cake)!"

linking up with Wordless Wednesday

If I could write a letter to past me . . .

Dear younger me,

There are some things I wish you could know now. You won't learn them until later. Some much later. Maybe knowing them sooner would have helped. Maybe not. But if I could talk to you right now here's what I'd say.

Relax. I know that's hard for you, but it will stand you in good stead if you learn about it now. You will never be caught up, and it will only get worse after you're out of school, not better like you think right now.

Stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking about you. It sounds harsh, but it's none of your business. More importantly, it doesn't matter a hill of beans. The only beings whose opinions matter are God and you. I know that sounds unbelievable, inaccurate, and unChristian, but it's true. God is going to love you NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. So stop beating yourself up all the time, and do the things that bring you joy.

Trust yourself. You won't read these words until 2011 -- You is smart. You is kind. You is important. True words. Things you know already, but are afraid to admit. You are not haughty or self-important -- You is smart. You is kind. You is important. 

Don't be so judgmental of others. You've learned that things are black or white. Right or wrong. Good or bad. It's not that simple. You don't know other people's experiences. Give them grace, and give it to yourself while you're at it.

Be more open. Get out of your box. Have a little faith in people in general. Question. It's good for you. Open your eyes and test the water. Making a few mistakes will help you, not hurt you. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Without mistakes, you'll stagnate. Risk.

You are going to have a good life. Not a picture perfect, Norman Rockwell life, but a real life. Embrace it. Share it. Lean on people. And be there for others to lean on as well. That's why we're here. Don't take your friends for granted. You've got some of the best people in the world with you right now, and some of them will be with you forever. Be grateful.

With love for who you are now and who you are becoming,

linking up with Tuesdays at Ten

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . August 3, 2015

Outside my window . . . it's 74 degrees. The pollen is high and predictions are for bad air quality. At least right now it feels lovely, though.

I am thinking . . . about my bestie. He 86-year-old father became ill over the weekend and is in the hospital. A citywide church singing was held in his honor on Sunday. He was supposed to have been there to lead congregational singing, but instead watch via Skype from his hospital bed. Get well soon, Daddy Paul!

I am thankful . . . for a positive experience with my first week following my new "Rule" from the retreat a couple of weeks ago.

In the kitchen . . . today is DH's birthday! He requested a cheesecake topped with chocolate mousse and ganache, so I'm trying out this recipe for his birthday dinner. Wish me luck.

I am creating . . . another prayer shawl

I am going . . . to stay inside as much as possible today. Hoping that whatever the trigger for all this asthma trouble is will be departing soon!

I am wondering . . . about less and resting more in God.

I am reading . . . Tiny Little Thing by  Beatriz Williams

A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy by Robert Benson

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson

I am looking forward to . . . continuing with my personal "rule" and kindly creating a routine for this new portion of my life.

I am hearing . . . silence. It's just Squeaker and me in the house this morning.

Around the house . . . I'm crocheting and reading, and DH has been working on RC planes again. The ping-pong table is getting lots of use, just not for it's intended purpose.

I am praying . . . for my bestie's dad to feel better soon. They will be moving him to rehab today or tomorrow to help him build up some of the strength he's lost in the past few weeks.

One of my favorite things . . . is being kinder to me without allowing me to feel guilty about it. That may seem strange, but I've spent a lot of years beating up on myself, and have only recently begun to truly show kindness to me with less judgment.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . .  celebrating DH's birthday today; continuing with my "Rule"; crocheting; reading; continuing in my kindness to me; and whatever the asthma doctor tells me to do!

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
one of my favorite views in my kitchen

linking up with The Simple Woman