Thought Recording Devices. Squirrel.

If only I had a recording device in my brain. I suppose one could argue the point that is exactly what a memory is for. I would then need to admit that my memory fails me time and time again. You see, I write the most amazing articulate speeches in my head. I respond to questions that have been raised or that I imagine will be raised with well thought poignant answers. I write chapter after chapter of my personal memoir in detail. Even editing the language and grammar as I go along. There is but one problem. All of this writing happens in the most inopportune places. Places like while I am out on a long walk through the woods, driving around on errands, as a passenger on a long road trip, or while in the shower no-pooing my hair. As I am writing in my head I find myself thinking that these thoughts are fleeting. Although they are good, well written indeed, by the time I get to the place wherein which I could actually write or type them out they will be gone. If I am lucky the idea will remain, but the words will be lost.

I imagine there will be a day in the not so distant future where what I need will be available. At a cost. On the one hand it would certainly require some kind of surgery to implant the recording device. Then you would need the service that would transfer the data from the device to a computer or most likely a cloud service somewhere. Both of which would cost money. On the other hand there are those that would fear the other potential cost would be even greater. Implanting a device such as this could potentially open a person up to the possibility of their thoughts being monitored by someone else. Be that a hacker or the government. Big brother is always watching, they say.

Having my speeches, writings, and ideas recorded while I am out and about would be very helpful indeed. Having every thought that I think recorded and potentially available to others, well that is unnerving at best and bit scary at worst. That’s not to say I have terrible and disturbing thoughts. Come on though, who hasn’t had a bad thought or two here and there? That moment when your not-so-sweet and not so innocent child has torn through your presentation rendering it illegible and unrecognizable. That time when your dog decided your prototype was a snack. Imagine the poop pick up that will entail. Or how about that moment when your spouse, partner, significant other said something the peeved you. Or that one day when you were standing in line at the bank waiting for your turn at the teller and a well thought out plan of how you would rob a bank began flooding your mind. It could happen.

I have tried the many suggestions that have been offered as a solution to my problem. Keeping a note pad and pen next to my bed, the shower, in my car among other places. I have had a tape recording device or two and have even recorded a few thoughts on to one when it happened to be near me at the exact time I began to write in my thoughts. that device sits on my dresser tape still installed with dead batteries. The thoughts on it have yet to be heard. There was even a time that I downloaded an app on my phone where I could record things to be played back later. There it sat on my phone unused for such a great length of time that I finally uninstalled it in an effort to free up storage space. Maybe that is my problem! Maybe the problem isn’t that I need a recording device imbedded in my brain. Maybe I need to free up storage space so that I can better store and then recall the information!

And so I sit here typing away these thoughts in an effort to free up storage space. While I was out on my walk/jog this morning I wrote quite a bit actually. I wrote a response to an email that I received from my sister. I wrote the title, tag line and intro to a book idea I have about a wonderful vacation spot that our family visits on a very regular basis. I wrote a text to my daughter, well that one I actually remembered and sent when I got home. I wrote a post for Facebook to caption a photo that I planned on taking at the end of my walk. And in some ways I wrote or at least started to write this blog article. The big stuff, the email and the book are lost somewhere in my mind or in the part of my memory that gets defragmented to free up space for other things more present. There are bits and pieces still there. I could likely recall at least some of it if I focused. If I tried. This blog post was but a squirrel…….

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The Truth Shall Set You Free, or Not

The Truth Shall Set You Free, or Not.

After very minimal research I am amazed to see how many people post on blogs or boards that they are or were in an abusive relationship. The type of relationship runs the gamut. From dating to decade long marriages, heterosexual to gay, young to old, the make-up may be different but the dynamic is quite similar. One partner abuses the other or in some cases both abuse each other almost equally. During my brief online research I also learned a new abuse type. There are the ones we think of most often physical abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse. The new term I learned was Financial Abuse. This type of abuse was described as a partner who either drains the finances or keeps them hidden from the abused partner so that the partner cannot leave.

After leaving my husband in late 2002 it took a lot of time and therapy to process all that my daughter and I had been through. During that therapy it was inevitable to follow my trauma timeline all the way back to my childhood. While thinking and talking about abuse is quite difficult and painful, not being able to recall events is equally if not more frustrating. My inability to remember much of my past leaves huge gaps with unknown possibilities making it nearly impossible to determine how I got to where I did and what to change in some areas going forward. My options are to undergo hypnosis to see if I can recall my past, ask family members to share what they remember, let it go and accept that the unknown is in fact unknown for a reason. I hesitate to ask my family members, at least the ones closest to the situation for a few reasons. The strongest one being that the family way was made quite clear when the worst of the abuse was uncovered. Although a spot light was shining brightly, nearly blinding you if you looked for too long. That light was quickly turned off. Like a plugged ripped out of the wall socket. No sooner had the flood light of truth opened the surrounding eyes when darkness once again covered the evil that had crept in and lurked around hidden corners in what was supposed to be the safety of a child’s home. Just when I thought the truth would be spoken it was quickly swept under the rug and we were told not to speak about what had happened to anyone. Not only did we keep the secrets, our grandparents did, our aunts and uncles (the ones that knew) and the Pastors of our very own church. Are they not the ones that preach, the truth shall set you free? Instead they walked the path of the hidden truth for the safety of my father, my mother, they said for us kids, and for their beloved church.

And so I was taught to hide the truth as the truth was embarrassing and shameful. To this day it seems those closest to the situation would rather hide or forget the bad that happened. And that is why I do not ask. I fear all I would hear is the good that they remember. Maybe hearing the good times would be good for me since I don’t remember them hardly at all. I’m learning that maybe I do not remember them due to the fact that I feel I am the only one holding on to the truth. Like the voice crying out in the wilderness, begging for those closest to the situation to wake up and acknowledge the truth. Accept the truth. Maybe then I would be willing to listen to and accept that there were good times as well mixed in with the abuse. The other reason I hesitate talking to those closest to the situation is that I fear my honesty and determination to hold on to what happened will hurt them, make them angry at me, make them push me away even further. And yet, I remind myself the separation already exists. What closeness we have is superficial at best. Hidden truths have a way of creating a barrier seen or unseen, recognized or not, it is there. And so I write.

Writing is how I best process information. It helps me to see it in the black and white, challenge and change as needed, accept and grieve, and then in hope of healing move forward. I am finding that what works for me is not necessarily accepted by others. I have always known that people learn and thus process differently. Having been a home school mother of one child, as well as the mother of two children one being a girl and the other being a boy, I am accustomed to the fact that what works for one does not necessarily work for the other. The first time I started writing about my abusive past I was completely taken aback when a person in my life told me to stop writing or they would cut me off. I do not exaggerate. This individual had a track record in the past of coming into my life only to exit, usually quietly, with no contact for periods no less than 6 months and at times up to 2 years. Only to come back in with the promise that the desertion would not repeat. And yet it did. Those times the desertion was due to her own life choices. Choices that went against how she had been raised, I believe she felt she had to live out her life in private so as not to feel the guilt we might impose upon her just by knowing. I have come to accept that this is just who she was. Years have passed since she walked out of my life yet again. This time for good. More recently I began writing again. Having gone through two different cancer diagnosis the past year I found myself once again in a space of reflection and processing. With time to sit and be, my desire to write once again grew louder and louder. So loud that I have found it difficult to ignore. And so I began to write. My writing seems to be innocent at first. I take precaution and care in what I put down on the page knowing that others will read, will hear what I have to say. My initial writings are often light hearted even cheerful. I found this time that the past seemed to come forth more quickly and with an unexpected fervor. I thought I would write about my cancer journey and found that my abusive childhood and marriage were what were most prevalent every time I sat with my fingers poised to begin typing words that would appear on the screen in front of me. Still I tried to tip toe around the subjects and kept the writings as light or as basic as possible. Not divulging the truth in full detail, not just yet.

One of my recent writings had a singular sentence that referenced the abuse my father subjected us to. It did not detail exactly what he did. And yet, that one sentence stood out like a throbbing, pulsing sore thumb to one reader. And that reader texted right away. While this reader did not tell me to stop writing per say, basically that was the just of their message. Or at least, it was to say if I continued they would no longer be present in my blog life. Will that extend to real life? Only time will tell. The reader went further and un-friended me on Facebook. Now this is not your average Facebook friend. You know the ones that you see their posts in your feed and often scroll on by. Once in while you stop, re-look at their name and ask yourself, Why are we friends on Facebook? We aren’t ‘friends’ in real life. Meaning we do not get together, hang out, go to lunch, chat on the phone (truthfully speaking I do not chat on the phone with anyone). You make the connection, maybe they were a high school friend or acquaintance, a parent of one of the kids on your child’s sports team, or a fellow parent from the school PTA. You know each other now or in the past. You bump into each other on the rarest of occasion and thus are ‘friends’ on Facebook. They have a window into your world and you into theirs. No, this is not one of those friends. This is a person that has been in your life since the day you were born. This person was there day in and day out through it all. You were once very, very close sharing hopes and dreams real and pretend. But that was a long time ago. You were young, oh so young. At some point you grew up and grew apart but the connection was to remain, it had to. You are blood. And so, in time you reconnected and became friends on Facebook. Where all relationships real or fake at least seem real. And so it is with this friend that decided to unfriend me on Facebook so that they would not have to see my blog posts. It surprised me. Not that they didn’t want to see the posts. That part I was prepared for. It was the drastic measure taken to not see, the truth. I was not hurt that they unfriended me. I just didn’t see how it was necessary. I guess I just would have handled it differently. If I did not want to read what someone posted I would scroll on by. That simple. I just wouldn’t read it. I wouldn’t click on the blog link. Or if they posted incessantly I would block their posts from my feed. No need to fill my feed with crap I don’t want to read. But unfriend them? Naw, I wouldn’t do that unless I truly did not want them in my life at all. Unless I really wanted to say to them, ‘We are not connected anymore. Not in real life and not in the fake life of Facebook.’ Or maybe, I would be saying nothing more than, ‘We weren’t really friends anyway and I don’t care to have this window into your life anymore. Let’s close the curtain, okay?’ But that is me, how I would handle the same situation. And yet, I respect that it was a choice they had to make. Facebook being what it is, an online way to stay connected. To not be connected on Facebook is not to say that someone is not my friend. We just aren’t connected on the internet. Instead we are connected or not in real life. I suppose I could go on and on about Facebook, internet and real life connections. I will save that for another day, or not.

My writing going forward will likely include a thought or two about my past, my childhood, my abusive marriage, my year of cancer, my current life and then thoughts that have nothing to do with all of the above. There will be truth and there will be fiction. I will try to decipher between the two for you so you are not left wondering. Although it could be fun if you were at times left wondering. For you and for me.

Truth. Hidden and uncovered. Read or unread. Still remains the truth.

When I was researching the other day it was sparked by being unfriended by this person due to my writing of the truth. Each time I have started to write about my past whether it be my childhood or my first marriage, inevitably I have come to the inner conversation where I wonder who I will lose in the process. I am not so callous as to be able to disregard or ignore the fact that the truth I will write will hurt some people. Some of which in no way at all deserve to be hurt again. For they too were the victims in these stories. Others were simply by standers, guilty if at all only by association. They played no role in the abuse other than being related to the abuser. It was in thinking of these people that I began a search. It was something along the lines of “If you write the truth do you lose family and friends?” or “abuse victims who tell the truth only to lose family and friends”. I didn’t have a lot of time but what I came across was post after post of individuals sharing briefly how they had been or were being abused by their partner. One article spoke of how abusers were often abused themselves as children. Not an excuse just a link to the underlying causes of abuse. The chain that is often never ending. Sometimes it is a heavier chain than others. Sometimes it wears thin and is nearly broken only to be strengthened by the next generation as a new abuser picks up the traits and begins again the cycle of abuse.

Once in a while, I am not sure of the statistics or if there are any, the cycle is broken and the abuse stops. I can only imagine, I must believe in order for this to happen that the truth would first need to come to light. The flood light would need to be turned on and the guilty would need to be at minimum acknowledged as such. The victim would need to share the pain, the hurt. Or maybe the abuser, the guilty one would be the one to shed light on their actions in order to break the chain that binds them. Once broken the victims could be released as well as the guilty. Both or all would be free to speak the truth as they so choose and find a way to heal from what they had been through. Each in their own way could process through all that had happened and determine how to change, how to heal, how to move forward differently. In a way that would not hurt others. Not repeat the cycle yet again. And in that realm of choices would also be the choice to not speak the truth, to not process the pain, to not heal or change but to ignore, hide or sweep if you will the truth back under the rug. And sit in hope. Hope that by ignoring what happened and instead focusing on the good that was there, the bad would over time dissipate or decompose along with the memories. Fading away to leave only room for the good that had once been. And when sitting in that truth of only good memories one could stand in shock and utter disbelief when someone else years after the fact begins to cry out.

At first the voice is small and quiet growing increasingly louder as time and strength allowed. Not in order to seek justice for the guilty but to seek healing for herself and for others who are too weak for their voice to be heard. For those who have questions but have no words and don’t know who to ask. For those who feel pain from the ones who are to protect them and love them and can’t understand why. For those who have not been told that what is happening is not okay and needs to stop. For those who are afraid to leave. Afraid to look like the one giving up, the one walking away, the one who is guilty rather than being seen as who they are, they are the one who is the victim. For the ones who so badly want to hear that they are not alone. They are not the only one that has been treated this way. It is not them, it is the abuser who is bad. Who need to be told they do not need to be ashamed although their past is riddled with shameful events. Their shame can be healed. Self-respect and self-worth can be restored. They can come to a place where they can forgive those who unjustifiably hurt them in ways unimaginable without giving up the fact that what the abuser did was in fact as wrong as wrong gets. That by forgiving they are not justifying but letting go. Letting go of the pain, shame, hurt, guilt, hate and anger that at times consumes them from the inside out. And by letting go they are not doing the abuser a favor but giving themselves the gift they deserve. The gift that the truth has to offer. The truth shall set you free. That is if you choose to acknowledge it and follow the journey it takes you on in order to get to that place where you are free indeed. Your journey and your place of being free may be similar to mine or it may be very, very different. All however, start in looking at the truth square in the face. As horrible or simple, as painful as that may be. Are you ready to be free? To feel free from the burden that weighs you down? I was. I am. And so, it is with that in mind that I look at the truth square in the face and by doing so I write about it.

 

 

 

 

 

*I am torn. I feel compelled to write the whole truth. And yet, I feel the hesitation of hurting those I loved in the past and those I love to this day, some more now than back then. I am uncertain as to how I will proceed. To write the truth and post it….or write it and wait to decide if I will publish it as a book….or if writing it in and of itself will be enough.

 

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Basking in Perfection

It’s barely past noon on hump day. The sky is grey and thick with clouds that block out even the slightest glimpse of the blue sky that I gazed upon this morning. And yet, I find myself, hands wrist deep in warm sudsy water washing the dishes with stuck on food that sat upon the counter from yesterday no less, with a smile on my face. There is a warmth in my heart that only comes from the feeling of being content. No, more than content, satisfied. No, more than satisfied happy. No, more complete than happy, accomplished. Or maybe it is all of the above together. A perfect combination of satisfaction, happiness and accomplishment with the overall understanding of being content.

This morning I woke to my ‘alarmy’. It is a phone app that you schedule alarms and choose the method in which you will turn that alarm off. You can either shake your phone a specified number of times, solve a math problem or take a photo with your phone camera. The point being by the time you have done one of these things you are awake and most likely out of bed. Thus you are more likely not to go back to sleep. I am anti alarm clock myself. I don’t recall the last time I owned one. When I got our puppy though I quickly realized I preferred to be the one who determined when we woke up than he. And so I set this alarm clock for the both of us. Each morning as it goes off I pick up my phone and turn it towards puppy who is sitting in his kennel waiting, albeit not always patiently or completely quiet. He begins to dance around in anticipation that I am going to let him out of his kennel. I shake my phone the appropriate number of times to turn the alarm off as I walk slowly across the bedroom to the puppy. I set my phone down on the fire-place mantle and proceed to put on my jacket and socks knowing the first thing I will be doing is taking a puppy outside to go potty. I’ll save you the details from there.

After walking Michael to school with Mr. Bailey (the puppy) I headed in a different direction than our typical daily route. Last night in one of those imaginary conversations with myself I had determined that puppy and I would take a longer walk this morning. We walked across Greenwood and north to 145th St to the entrance to LLandover by the Woods. A trail that goes down through the forest. It was actually one of our better walks with Bailey only stubbornly sitting down refusing to walk one more step a handful of times. You have no idea the accomplishment this is. He tends to stop and sit as any dog aproaches. Not out of fear but in hope of meeting the dog. He does the same any time a human being, young or old, is passing by. No matter if they are on the same side of the street or the complete opposite. Once in the woods Mr. Bailey was all in a-tither. He loved it! For once he was a few steps ahead of me the whole way. As we neared the end of the trail we turned around and headed back. Mr. B so far has never failed to recognize that we are ‘going back’. His pace quickened a bit more and I found that we were jogging up the hilly trail. Good for both of us. My heart began to race and my breathing labored. I was the first to slow the place. Bailey could have run the whole way back. One day I will too. At the top of the trail we slowed again as he realized we were leaving the woods and heading out into the noisyness of the streets. If only we hadn’t been heading home he would have fought me for sure. He seemed to be able to sense that the direction we were heading would lead to home and thus be worth walking on the busy street sidewalks.

Back at home Bailey spent some time out on the back deck giving Maya (one of our kitties) a hard time. She hissed and swiped ineffectively. Bailey did seem to sense she didn’t want to play, much to his dismay. Persistant as he is, he tried again and again to approach her but her mood never changed. Full on anger with growling, hissing and swiping continued no matter the direction he tried all the while his tail stub that it is wagging 100 times a minute. Finally I pulled B back and let Maya run down the deck to the yard. Not exactly where she wanted to go but better than the alternative of being with the puppy. Bailey and I headed inside where he curled up on the rug looking satisfied and tuckered out. I sat down to my computer and began writing. I began the first of what I hope will be a children’s early reader series about Mr. Bailey. This one is entitled Mr. Bailey Comes Home. Another will be Mr. Bailey Walks in the Forest. And another will be Mr. Bailey meets Griffey. I’m sure others will come to me as time goes on. I tried not to worry too much about the details just yet in regards to the vocabulary, number of words on the pages or in the book. I focused on putting the words in my mind on the screen. Editing will come later.

My home phone rang as I typed. It was mom. The one and only person other than telemarketers that calls my home phone. Each time it rings I think to myself its either a sales call or it’s mom. I hope for the latter. Mom and I had a lovely chat. Her greeting was filled with the smile that I know was on her face and her strong and warm embrace reached all the way through the phone line and encircled my body. We shared the blue sky that we were both reveling in here in Seattle for me and up north in Everett for her.

As per usual she asked how I am doing. Letting me know that she and dad pray for us every day but wondered if there is anything specific or new that they could lift up in prayer. I shared how I was doing and then let her know that Tom and I were just talking last night about Michael, our strong-willed child. So much alike and yet in this so different from his sister. On the one hand there are character traits in a strong willed child that when honed correctly are the design for a strong independent leader. On the other hand strong willed children can be tyrants, bullies, stubborn and disrespectful. Deciphering the difference, cultivating the positive traits and knowing when and how to discipline the negative is not easy. Mom offered godly wisdom with examples and scripture. Go to the source she said, the Bible and tell him that just as you are called to obey God he is called to obey his parents. Part of my job as a parent is to obey God and raise my child the right way. Which includes teaching him to honor his father and mother, to respect authority and to ask forgiveness when he doesn’t. The part I found intriguing was the idea of sharing with him that I have to obey God in training him to obey his father and I. So often kids feel like the parents are the ones telling them what to do and never being told what to do. That doesn’t seem fair. Hearing that I too am called to obey just as my son is was eye-opening for me and I hope it will be for our son as well. It was really nice to listen to advice from mom, a grandma who loves and cares for our son and only wants the best for him.

I went back to writing, taking a break here and there to hold my sweet, loving and still tuckered out puppy. After eating lunch I looked once again upon the pile of dirty dishes not getting any cleaner sitting there on the kitchen counter. It was then that I also noticed the little red light on the dishwasher indicating it was full of clean dishes. After emptying the dishwasher I ran hot water to get the task at hand done. As I washed each dish scrubbing away the dried on food I couldn’t help but noticing how I was feeling.  Content, happy, satisfied, accomplished, as though I had been doing exactly what I wanted to be doing from the moment I stepped out of bed until right then. And to think it was just barely past noon. More hours left in this day, more time to be with puppy, to write, to clean my house, to walk to pick up our son from school, to prepare dinner for our family and to clean up messes. Oh yes, there will be messes….. in fact puppy peed on the floor during part of this perfect day. In his defense he was so excited to be once again trying to convince Maya that she should play with him. She on the other hand was a hissing, growling swatting claws out mess of anger. He got so excited he peed! Oh puppy.

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Regret Nothing

Regret Nothing

Just this past week I had a very difficult conversation with my husband. Difficult for me that is. I had a hard time excepting what I had to say. What I know I need to do. I have made this promise to myself more than once this past year. In fact on the day of my first cancer diagnosis I sat in a Chinese restaurant with my husband and told him in no uncertain terms, I am not working this year. For as long as I am going through cancer treatment, I am NOT working. I felt like I was making a statement to him. An ultimatum if you will. Looking back I must admit it was myself that I was speaking to. I failed myself only a few months into my treatment when a client reached out to me with what they promised would be an easy transaction, no work on my part. Honestly, if it is so easy as to be no work on my part then why the heck would you pay me!? I took the work and promised to help them and promised them I would not let it compromise the rest I needed during treatment. In the end, a few months later while sitting in the ER no less, I texted a fellow broker and asked her to take over the work as I was doing too much. The next day they were in contract and I regretted, for a moment, handing them off and giving up my paycheck. Later that year I took on another client, a good friend actually who was going through a divorce and moving away. I couldn’t let them down or let just anyone help them through this difficult time in their lives. This friend had been my life ring so many times through this cancer journey. It still breaks my heart that she moved away, all the way to Ohio. That one turned out well and wasn’t altogether too difficult. As the year came to an end and 2017 was on the horizon I began to feel a foreboding sense that not only was my time with cancer coming to a close but my time of rest and reflection as well. Clients were lining up, a realtors dream, and I would have work from now through spring, no problem. Lying in bed I would imagine how it would be viewing it all through the lens of an optimist. Upon waking, the fear of doing too much, of needing to be somewhere other than home at the very moment when all I wanted was to rest or read or write began to creep in and overwhelm me. I would stuff it down, stifle the voice ready to cry out, “WAIT, I’M NOT READY YET!” I would find other things to distract me, to occupy my thoughts. I would tell myself over and over that it would all work out, it always does. And yet, this deep sense of regret was pouring into my very being. Filling up quickly like a reservoir when the dam has let loose. And with the flooding of regret I began to feel angry. Angry that I was not being allowed the time to reflect on the past year, the time to grieve all that I have lost both physically, emotionally and mentally. Time to think and discover who I am now, post cancer. Time to write which has always been my dream and one that I thought cancer was going to finally gift to me. In speaking to my husband I was finally honest with myself and him. I felt guilty to actually not work and yet I felt angry that I felt I was being forced to work before I was ready. And the only person truly forcing me, was me. I would not allow myself to just stop. To just be. To rest, to reflect, to write and to discover. If I did, that would be quite selfish. I would be denying my family the income I provided. I would be denying my clients and friends the excellent service I painstakingly commit to provide each and every one of them before, during and after their real estate purchase or sale. I would be letting so many people down.

Today while on the phone with a broker who is helping some of my clients and will be helping more going forward this year I said out loud what my heart had been feeling, The one person I am truly letting down is myself. I have always put others before me because I truly care and want what’s best for them. In this moment, at this time, I need to do what’s best for me. I need to allow myself this time. Time to not work, time to think, time to reflect, time to grieve, time to heal and time to discover what is next for me. And I need to do it with no regrets.

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Imaginary Conversations

A simple writing from a prompt at my writing group……

 

If only life were really like the imaginary conversations I have with myself all snug in my bed. The only weight pressing upon comes from the velvety soft blanket purchased from the mega store Costco. The warmth draws me deeper into my already relaxed state of mind. As I lay there getting drunk on my own blissful thoughts (or maybe it is the bourbon…) the next day begins to play out in my mind. An intimate conversation with myself. I will set my alarm for 6:00 AM ignoring the fact that I know full well I do not ever let my feet hit the floor before 7:00 AM. With the rare exception that a Shuttle Express will be pulling up in the wee hours of the morning, the heater running to ward of the chill that will slap me in the face as I drag my suitcase out to the driver. And the only reason that would be happening would be due to an impending flight that will be whisking me away to warmer weather in let’s say Mexico or Las Vegas or maybe to a cruise. It seems I am the only one, or one of very few in this room that loves to go on a cruise. Not for the buffet, or the shopping, as I avoid both. No, for the fact that I can walk aboard, unpack my suitcase and let the ship sail away taking me to a few different cities where I will enjoy some leisurely people watching. All the while gleaning ideas for the writing I will one day write….. but I digress. I will set my alarm for 6:00 AM. Upon its ringing I will energetically get out of bed and put on my workout clothes. I will pop in my Piyo DVD and get my workout done before the sun has even thought about peeking out over the horizon. A nice hot shower will follow after which I will head downstairs to enjoy a cup of coffee in sweet perfect silence before my son awakes. In Jane Cleaver style I will make my son his breakfast, pack his lunch and help him get ready for school. We will chat, my boy and I, about his day and then walk hand in hand in school. The one part of this imaginary conversation that will actually come to fruition. As I lay in bed gazing upon the beautiful morning that lay ahead of me my mind begins to wonder to my writing. A story begins to unfold, line after line. It is perfect! It is wonderful, engaging, dramatic…the words seem to be flowing one after another. If only I had a piece of paper to write it on. I should jot down at least the idea, the concept. And so I reach to my bedside table for a paper and pen…only to fall asleep with the alarm not set.

 

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It’s the Little Things

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My son is my hero. Truly,  he is. On Valentine’s Day I gave him a card that I made for him. He seemed surprised at what it said on the front. Around the heart I had written, You stole my heart the day you were born. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband very, very much. He is the man, the husband, the partner I always dreamed of and prayed for. The one that would fulfill on earth what many did not think was possible. But that is another story for another day.

The day my daughter was born more than 25 years ago, she wrapped her little fingers around my hand and my heart. She was and will always be my first treasure. Her papa always called her Beansy (accept for that time period that he called her, rightfully so, Bossy Cow). She was our little beansy. Born weighing in at only 5 lbs and 10 ounces, she was small from the get go. And yet, her body, mind, and determination were strong. My little girl has grown up to be an amazingly strong woman who is and will do great things in this world for so many people.

With a daughter like that and a husband like Tom, the only thing my heart could want was a little boy. One with red hair, a few curls and fire that goes along with the hair would be icing on the cake. When Tom and I decided to ‘try’ to have a baby we had no idea if we could. For one Tom was nearly 45 years old and had never fathered a child. I, at 34 years old, although I had carried and birthed a child it had been over 15 years. In many cases with a gap that large a woman’s body decides it is no longer going to carry children. Imagine my joy when we found out I was pregnant, then when we found out it was going to be a boy, and then when he came out with red curly hair! My cup runneth over. His red hair and fiery personality are equally wonderful and at times frustrating. And yet, I find myself smiling more often than I am cringing.

If you know me well, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself saying- ‘I didn’t know that’, you know that I am not a lover of things. One of my mottos I find myself living  by is, A place for everything and everything in its place. It is something within me more so than something I strive for. Honestly if there isn’t a place for it I find myself instinctively wanting to get rid of it. Clutter confuses me and makes it difficult for me to feel as though I can function at my best. That said, there are some things that I truly treasure. Not only things that have a purpose (although that is huge for me) but things that have a story.

Last evening I found myself in front of the mirror in my bathroom doing what I do every night. Taking my breast cancer pill, allergy medicine and my calcium. I took my glasses off and prepared to remove the one of only two make-up items that I wear daily,  my mascara. As I looked into the mirror my heart sank. One of my earrings was gone. I had an earring in my right ear but not my left. I took the one out of my ear and found myself leaning to toss it in the trash. The thought that I might actually find the one that was lost did not seem possible to me. They are small and I had been so many places that day where I may have lost it. In fact, my next thought was that my puppy may have actually eaten it! The earring was in the ear that he always kisses, nuzzles and lightly chews on. More than once I have had a fleeting thought about this very possibility. I waved it off as I went about my tasks at hand. Rather than toss the one earring though I put it in my jewelry tray next to my sink where I put my wedding rings every night.

This morning after doing this, that and the other, the earring came to mind. I went upstairs and grabbed the one that remained. Bringing it downstairs I showed it to Michael and said, “If by chance you see an earring that looks like this somewhere in the house please pick it up. I lost one of them. They are special. I wear them a lot. I shared with him who gave them to me and when, making them all the more special. Michael immediately asked where I thought it might be. I could see the genuine concern on his sweet 8 year old face as his brow furrowed. He asked about all the places I had been where it may have fallen out and even contemplated the puppy eating it. I had been through the house, alongside the house, in the yard playing with Bailey and had walked home from the pet store in the dark. It could have fallen just about anywhere. I told him it was highly unlikely that we would find it but I wanted him to know just in case. Without a moment of hesitation Michael began walking around the kitchen and entry way. Suddenly he said, “Come on mom let’s go outside. Get your shoes!”

I hesitated. I didn’t want to discourage him or stifle his enthusiasm to help find my earring, and yet I highly doubted if it were lost outside that we would find it. I grabbed the puppy and clipped on his leash. He needed to go out to go potty anyway. As we headed to the side of the house I casually looked on the ground here and there. I hoped I would see it and could shout to Michael. I so wanted his efforts to be rewarded. I didn’t see it. I took puppy through the gate step by step losing what little hope I had. Michael was down in the yard looking through the grass. Having gone a different way out than dog and I. He let me know he didn’t see it anywhere. Wanting to let him off the hook, I told him it was okay and that I didn’t expect us to find it. Hearing the defeat in my voice, Michael ran up to the side of the house where I take puppy to go potty. I called after him that I had already walked through there and checked. He walked all the way up to the gate and stopped, bent down and then shouted as he sprang to his feet, “I found it mommy! I found it!”

I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t possibly be. Seriously? Could he really have found it? He is known for teasing as he calls it. Thinking he is quite funny when he does it. Not lying, just teasing. Michael was so excited. He leaned down to the ground again as though he were picking an item up. Quickly he turned and dashed toward me with the biggest smile on his face. As he came closer, his arm out stretched I could in fact see a small shiny object pinched between his thumb and pointer finger. I could hardly believe my eyes. There in my son’s hand was the little blue and silver earring that I had lost yesterday. The very earring that matched the one that I had almost tossed out thinking it was nothing more than an orphan earring with a mate that would never be found. The earrings were a gift from a sweet friend, Elizabeth Krout. I admire her as a woman, friend, nurse and mother. Elizabeth gave me these earrings at my 40th ‘Red Carpet’ birthday party over 3 years ago. An evening I will never forget that was filled with love, laughter and friends. I would describe it as the second most perfect celebration in my life. The first being mine and Tom’s wedding. Both events having been held at our home. The earrings are small and simple, and yet they hold the weight of the memories of that special night. They mean so much to me.

Michael handed me the earring. As I held it in my hand my heart was overwhelmed. I wrapped my arms around my son and he in turn wrapped his arms around me. We hugged each other tight, so tight. Michael knew beyond a doubt that I appreciated his efforts to help me find this little earring. We lingered in our hug as I whispered in his ear telling me how happy and thankful I was for what he had done for me. It’s the little things. A little earring. A little time out of my son’s Saturday looking for my lost earring. Even if he hadn’t found it, I would have felt the love he extended to me while he searched all around inside and out for my treasure. Oddly, I believe that he was convinced the entire time that he would in fact find my earring

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Under the Quilt of Love

My childhood memories are few and far between . I have a small selection of snapshots of memories, mostly ones of pain and suffering that my father put our family through. Some are literally a photo that has been shared with me and a story to go along with it. I do not recall the memory but can hold on to the story that connects with the photo. Most of my life is stored away in a vault in the deep recess of my mind. Coping mechanism, that is what my therapist calls it. That is not to say that my entire childhood was bad. I know that those close to me who lived in the same houshold would likely cry out, “How can you say this? How can you not recall the good times we had?” My response would be, I don’t know. I can’t explain why the good is locked away and only the bad, the pain stands out strong. I believe it has something to do with the fact that I am that person. The one that calls out the pink elephant in the room when all around stand quietly by, looking the other way or whispering to someone next to them. I am the one who stops the couple in the park when a teenage boy is verbally assaulting a teenage girl. I am the one that cries out when a young girl is being taught at a very vulnerable time in her life that anger, manipualtion and control are somehow not abuse. Maybe that has something to do with why certain memories stay strong when so many others, good and I know more bad ones too, stay locked away in the vault.

There is one part of my childhood that remains very clear to me. I can vividly see many moments, the seemingly endless hours I spent at my grandma’s house. My safe haven. I don’t know if I called it that as a child. I don’t even know if I knew that is what it was. I just know that I went there whenever I possibly could. One of my favorite memories at Grandma Ruthruff’s house was not a one time event. It was a regular occurrence. Often times when I hopped off of the school bus at the end the day, I would bounce into the house only to drop my backpack and holler, “I’m going to grandma’s house!”

I would run down the street and around the corner to her home. We lived in the same neighborhood just about 10 houses or so apart. Lifting the latch of the chain link fence gate, I would step into her front yard and look to the front door. More often than not the door would be open with the screen door closed. Making sure to latch the gate tight behind me so the dog would not get out, I would rush across the lawn. Leaping over the stump in the middle of the grass from a tree long since cut down, I  reached the screen door in a flash. As I opened the door I would hear my grandma call, “I’m in the kitchen.” No doubt, my mom had called her to say I was on my way. Or maybe she just had a feeling I was coming.

I couldn’t reach her quickly as the entire living room was blocked. A giant obstacle stood between me and the woman who I loved the most, the one that I knew loved me beyond what any child could hope for. There in front of me lay a piece of our family history and one that many of us would cherish for a lifetime. Definitely one that I would never forget, even long after my material memory of it had been thrown in the dumpster by the one person who destroyed nearly everything that I loved and cherished. A framing block, for all I know hand-made, filled the entire space of the front room. The frame was nose to nose with the Davenport, which is what my grandma called her couch, at the one end opposite the TV at the other, from the front window and door all the way to the other side of the room where the my grandma’s rocking chair sat by the telephone (near the kitchen). On the frame was a lovely queen size quilt that my grandma had pieced together herself. First she cut the block pieces, next she pinned the pieces together, then she sewed the pieces together to make squares, then she made rows of the squares that would be sewn in strips., that were finally sewn into a giant quilt. It was a lot of work! Grandma was set to tie this quilt off. She would tie each yarn knot by hand. Most likely with a prayer said while doing so.

I crawled under the frame on my belly army style, until I reached the edge by the kitchen. When I stood up, I saw her. My grandma, standing in the kitchen in her house coat and slippers. We used to call her dresses moo-moos. Or maybe she called them that. Shapeless dresses made of the most simple cotton you could imagine. Nothing fancy, nothing special. Simple, practical, easy to care for. Her grey and frizzy permed hair all a muss, a smile spread across her face as she said, “Come and give grandma a kiss.” Every time I saw my grandma Ruthruff up until the final time I saw her before she died she said the exact same thing, “Come and give grandma a kiss.” She got a kiss and I got a hug. A grandma hug. She would wrap her soft and squishy arms around my entire body and pull me in close to her. Not so tight as to hurt, crush or stifle you, but tight enough that I could think of nothing else but the endless unconditional love she had for me.

There on the cutting board that extended from underneath her kitchen counter, were graham crackers, an orange ceramic bowl of homemade frosting and the box of food coloring sitting next to it. She had waited for me to choose the color for the frosting. I chose yellow. Sometimes she got out some flavorings, lemon and pineapple, and I got choose a flavor too. With the coloring added grandma would spread a generous amount of frosting between two graham crackers. Snack in hand I headed back to the living room. I would carefully crawl under the quilt on the framing blocks, turn on the TV to the PBS After School Special and enjoy my treat. Grandma would go back to tie-ing off the quilt all the while humming one song or another. Songs that she often sang to me while rocking me in the rocking chair when I spent the night on a Friday or Saturday night.

The sweet sound of her voice, the lull of the TV, the loving quilt above me and my home-made snack of graham crackers and frosting. It was all a little girl needed.

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