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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Guilty Heart

A person all alone with a giant shadow standing over them.

Have you ever felt so much guilt that it feels like it will consume you? You feel like you should have made a different decision but then you would feel guilty for that choice too. That is how I have been feeling these past few months. My decision to place Mom in hospice has been weighing on me ever since I signed the papers, did I make the right decision?

They keep telling me that she is acting the way she should at this stage of her disease but I can’t get rid of this feeling of guilt over the decisions I have made to ease her pain and discomfort. I know what I am feeling is normal for the position I find myself in. The decision maker regarding my Mother’s health. I know the decision to place her in hospice was so that she could receive the pain medication that would give her some relief but I wonder if I had waited a bit longer; maybe she would have still been here with us instead of lost in the grip of the morphine.

My niece looks at me with anger and disdain. She thinks that I should visit Mom more often. She doesn’t realize that every time I walk down the hallway towards Mom’s room, that I am assaulted with all sorts of doubts and questions. A heavy sense of responsibility weighs down upon my shoulders. If I could pass this torch, I would do so gladly. If you have ever felt like I do when placed in the position of decision maker for a family member, let me know in the comments.

The definition of guilt in words.

I receive a phone call from the hospice chaplain almost weekly. He asks if I have any questions about Mom and at the end of the call, he always says he is here for not just Mom but for the whole family as well. Is it wrong to not want to hear the age-old platitudes that he probably does by rote now? I just can’t bring myself to discuss my feelings where it concerns my Mother. People usually don’t understand that when they say “we know you love her, it must be hard.” They have just brought up another thing I feel guilty about because I honestly don’t love her. I respect her as my mother but I stopped loving her long ago.

People tell me that I must love her because of everything I do for her. I do what I do out of obligation as the eldest child, not out of love. I do what I do because it was one of the last things my Dad asked of me before he died. If I do anything out of love, it is because of how much I loved my Dad.

This awakens all new questions in my mind. I sometimes think I don’t know how to love. I never was shown what true love looked like. I know my Dad loved us because he didn’t say it all the time. He preferred to show us and when he said the actual words, he truly meant them. Mom, on the other hand, said it all the time but didn’t show it much, if at all. Dad was a giver and Mom was the taker but that subject can wait for another post. This one is not about love, it is about guilt over feeling how I truly feel. Guilt over decisions I have made, and the fact that I am tired of having it eat away at me. How do I get past these feelings so that I can go on with my life without it weighing me down?

How do you live with guilt and how it affects the decisions you have made or maybe the indecisiveness that it brings? Or does that fall more under the feeling of fear?

Let me know what makes you feel guilty or how do you define love? I hope this week will let you love freely and laugh often.




Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Ties That Bind A Family.



Silhouette of a family of five.


Have you ever looked back over your life and thought of the people who have been there throughout it? The ones you could count on come rain or shine. Do you think of friends or does family come to mind first? The people who were your strongest supporters but could also be your biggest aggravation. Yes, I am talking about family. Today I want to talk about siblings, in my case that is two younger brothers. Keep reading to see if you have any similarities with your brothers and sisters.

I didn’t always have brothers. The first three and a half years I lived as an only child. There were good things about it. I got spoiled rotten by parents, grandparents, other relatives not to mention friends of my parents. There was a downside though. I was lonely. I spent most of those early days with a sitter because my Mom worked and my Dad was trying to start a business while at the same time working for others. I have more memories of the pastor’s wife at our church who was also my main sitter. I still remember clearly the last day I ever drank from a bottle. I threw it in the toilet and she closed the lid and pretended to flush it away. Yep, no more bottle for me. I was around the age of two.

She is also the person who taught me to read. Every afternoon she and I would sit down on the sofa and she would teach me to read. It kind of backfired on her though. She did this to relax me so I would take a nap. Nope, not me. I became engrossed in the stories and would not sleep until we completed the book. By the time that happened it was time for her kids to come home from school, so no nap time for me. Did I also mention that I was spoiled and pretty much got my way about most everything?

That was when my Mom decided I needed a sibling, someone to take some of the attention from me. Silly mommy, I am a Scorpio, and I would still get the attention. I also gained an adoring fan that was putty in my stubby little fingers. He arrived just a few months before I suffered my first loss. He was in his crawling phase when we went to stay at my Grandpa’s. Mom and Dad were having some problems and had separated. I remember my brother was crawling at the time because he bumped his head on the front door when he crawled straight into it. He had himself a lovely goose egg on his forehead for a bit. My Grandpa died a few weeks later.

After attending the funeral, where once again I gained everyone’s attention when I declared very loudly that the man lying in the coffin was not Grandpa. I had never seen my Grandfather clean shaved, not once in my life. I also had never seen him in a suit. To my four-year-old mind, that man could not be my Grandpa because of those reasons. A few short hours later, the car was packed up and we were headed back home to Dad. This would mark the beginning of my brother and I clinging together when our lives were being torn apart by an evil disease that had my Father in its grip. I learned to protect the two of us when schizophrenia was ruling my Dad.

A girl holding her baby brother.

A couple of years later my parents welcomed another baby boy. They may have welcomed him but neither my brother or I liked the idea one bit. I would have been fine if I had gotten the baby sister I asked for but another brother was not appreciated. My youngest brother had the distinction of being born on December 23. While my Mom waited for her ride to the hospital, me and little brother woke up and asked to open a present each from under the Christmas tree. As we went in search of the biggest presents under the tree; you know bigger is the best present. Boy have I learned that isn’t always the case. Those tiny little gift boxes sometimes hold the very best kind of present.

Anyway as my Mom sat having contractions, she asked what we wanted for Christmas since she wouldn’t be home for the holiday. I very adamantly reminded her of her promise of a baby sister; up to this point, the doctor swore she was carrying a girl. My brother didn’t say much as he played with his newest toy. So as Mom was taken to the hospital and we went to the babysitters, I was assured that in a couple of days I would have my very own live baby doll to play with. It was at this time, I learned parents do lie. On Christmas morning I got a call from my Mom telling me that I had a new baby brother. I was very nice as I told her to leave him at the hospital, he wasn’t wanted at home.

My brother showed his feelings on the subject a couple days later when as Mom was sitting in the living room holding the new baby, all the family was standing around her gazing upon the newest addition. My brother calmly walked through the group until he was standing beside my Mom before she could react, he grabbed the baby by the feet and tried to pull him off of Mom’s lap. As he was pulling, he simply stated to the crowd, “my Mommy.” Yes, my baby brother was a great addition to the family, he just wasn’t appreciated at the beginning of his life with us.

As much as I complained about having another brother, we all became a very tight-knit group. I became a protective big sister keeping all the harm away from my minions… oops, my brothers. In a couple of years, some of the worst memories in my life transpired. The fight we all faced as Dad’s schizophrenic delusions and hallucinations reached a fever point. I remember him losing the battle on occasion and it became too dangerous for the three of us to stay in the house. I was living on high alert every time Dad was off work. I never knew when I would hear my mom yell for me to take the boys to the neighbor's house. My Mom would shove us out the door and return to battling the beast that gripped my Dad so tightly.

Our lives became more normal after Dad went to spend some time in a mental hospital. While he was there, my Mom ended up in the hospital with a nervous breakdown and the three of us were sent to live in a foster home. I am sure there are still memories of that time that I still have blocked out. What is sad is every once in a while one of those hidden memories will tease just on the edges of my consciousness. Teasing me with feelings of panic and fear. Pretty sure that I want those memories never to resurface. One of my biggest fears is what the boys remember during that time. They were so much younger than me so if they do remember, the memories would be fragmented in their mind.

A big brother holding his baby brother.
Yeah, this scene never happened in our house.
Since I was the only girl and a few years older than the boys, I was usually left alone. I didn’t want to play with the “babies”, they, in my opinion, were no fun. Well except when I needed someone to blame for a misdeed, then they were my best friends. As we got older, the boys were inseparable. They did almost everything together, but they were also always fighting each other. It was weird they could be beating the crap out of each one minute and the next standing together against a schoolyard bully. Years later they said it was that they were the only person allowed to kick their ass, well and big sister. Hey, I had to assert my authority once in a while, I’m only human.

Here we are at the ages of fifty-one, forty-eight, and forty-five and we are still each other's strongest ally. We have weathered being separated, living with our own families, but we have always been there for each other. I think for most siblings just the fact that we had a shared history growing up made us close. Only someone who has lived a situation with you can truly understand your feelings about the situation. We had the same building blocks so to say.

To attest to the fact of how close we are, we all live in the same house. My youngest brother invited me to live with him and his family when I found myself homeless after being abandon by my roommate at the time. I was having health issues and my roommate moved out of our apartment leaving me with all of the bills. On my paycheck alone I couldn’t pay for the place so I had to move out. I went to stay with my mother but where she lived had strictures on how long someone could stay. My brother was getting ready to move into a bigger house and asked if I would like to move in. It was a no-brainer that I would be joining his family. A few years later he was sent to a new Army post and asked if I would like to move to Texas. I figured after almost ten years in Tacoma, I could use some drying out.

The older brother stayed in Tacoma with his wife and family. They were debating moving but couldn’t decide between Texas and Alabama. His wife decided that with or without him, she was going home to Alabama. Since the whole family was in Texas, my brother packed up what was left of his life and came down south. He was pretty much broke by the time he got here so he took up residence with the rest of us. This is how it has been all of our lives if one of us fell on hard times, the other two offered any help we could. It was ingrained in us by our Dad that we take care of each other because at the end of the day you should be able to depend on family. If one of us failed, then all of us failed because we let it happen.

My gypsy blood is begging for me to find new pastures, I hate to leave but I need to do this for my soul. I feel stagnate. My life stuck in a holding pattern. As much as I would love to move away, I can’t bring myself to move away from the family. Especially now that my Mom is fading away day by day. I know that we are going to need each other when the time comes for her to go. This is another thing about siblings when you lose someone as important as a parent, you should join together in celebration of their life.

Yes, my Mom did dress the boys alike for quite a few years.

I know I have rambled on for a bit, I just felt the need to let this out. If it makes you think about your own family and see the similarities then I am glad. If it makes you feel sad that you don’t share the same relationship with your siblings. Remember there is still time to mend your differences. You shouldn’t hold hate in your heart towards someone who has been there from the beginning. Whatever tore you apart, can be fixed if you come together and agree life is too short to hate each other. Sure siblings can push more of your buttons than anyone else simply because they have been there so long. Think about it, you can push their buttons just as well. It is a two-way street.

As I finish this post I hope you take what I have said and take a look at your shared life together. I also hope that you love fully and laugh often.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Sunday Morning Memories

preparing scrambled eggs


As I was trying to think of a good subject to write that would give you a new Glimpse of My World. I thought what would be better than writing about the first thing one does in the morning, well besides waking up, after beating the snooze button into compliance. I am speaking of what I have heard all of my life is the most important meal of the day, and that is breakfast.

I remember as a child, every Sunday morning was family time at the dining table. Mom would get up and yell at us kids to wake up and come eat breakfast. She began by making oatmeal, the old-fashioned kind that not many people eat anymore. As I would slowly wake up, the smells of eggs cooking and toast began to pervade the air. Soon bacon or ham joined in the chorus invading our olfactory senses. One by one the three of us kids filed into the kitchen to find our place at the table. The aroma of Folger’s coffee percolating was the ending in the attack on our senses as my Dad sat at his place at the table and sipped slowly on the magic brew. Sundays were the only day we all ate together. During the week, Dad had already left for work hours earlier than our wakeup time. And he stumbled in soon after we had said our good nights and went to bed.

Some of my best memories are of my Dad during Sunday breakfast. I remember his laughter as one of my brothers cracked a joke. Or how he would push back from the table to let one of our pets lay in his lap. More often than not it was the cat that he said he hated but would calmly sit there and stroke. My Dad was an animal whisperer. I never saw an animal that didn’t gravitate towards my Dad. I remember dragging home every stray I met on my walk home from school and how Dad would always find a home for them. But I digress. We are talking breakfast here; not the story of the garbage man/animal whisperer.

As I got older I took over some of the breakfast making duties. I started with making enough toast to feed an army, then I learned how to make the oatmeal. I graduated to eggs and how to make the perfect pot of coffee soon after. The last subject in my breakfast lessons was the cooking of the meats. Why it was the last is the simple fact that I didn’t want to get splattered with hot grease. I overcame that obstacle with the eggs but still to this day hate to cook bacon. I don’t mind the sausage or ham but bacon is a pain in the butt. By the time I was a teenager, I was chief cook and bottle washer in the house. Mom never liked to cook and loved handing me the golden spatula.

A plate filled with fried eggs and bacon.

In this day and age when the family meal has broken down to a quick hi and bye as you pass on the way to the refrigerator, it seems like as the family unit eating together has ended, also mankind's treatment of each other has eroded away. Maybe if we take at least one day a week and slow down enough to share a meal with our family, that maybe just maybe, it will lead to a stronger sense of community within our lives. In our rush to do everything, it seems as if for one moment we could take a break. To put away our phones, tablets, anything that can distract us away from learning how the week is going for those around us. Not just the cursory retelling we have now, where people ask you the question and if you can spare the time to look up from your electronic device, the other person has lost interest that fast.

This morning when I woke up, I felt like making breakfast for my family. As I stood over the stove, there were some staples from the breakfasts of the past missing. There was no bacon, ham, or sausage. No coffee brewing, just a teapot heating water for my cappuccino. The oatmeal stayed put in the cabinet. This morning the menu is simple. Eggs and toast. As I stood there I remembered those old days of family camaraderie as we sat around an old beaten up wooden table. We didn’t have much back then but we did have each other. Today I just called out each person's name and they slowly found their way to the kitchen to grab their food and then disappeared. No one sits at a dinner table anymore in this house. We all live separate from each other but under one roof. The past is long gone.

We don’t even own a dining table. It is just understood that no one would sit around it so why have one take up space. Just another thing to slip into the past. Do they even still sell dining tables, I sometimes wonder?

Once the meal was cooked and I gathered up my plate and cup. I felt my Dad’s presence. It felt like he had been standing there watching me cook and he wanted me to remember times past. He wanted me to remember the lazy Sundays where a family joined together to share a meal and a laugh. I wish those days would return. I leave you with one wish that you love fully and laugh often. Until next time.



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Butterflies And Memories

two butterflies sitting on pink flowers

I have been working on a different post to break my silence after so long away from posting. Yet I felt today I needed to write about what has been happening in my life the last few days. The battle I have been fighting with the roles that have been thrust upon me against my wishes. I have begun the preparations for my mother's passing. It has gotten me to thinking about how so much is expected of you just because of the accident of your birth.

You are probably wondering what that exactly means. It means that why does it fall on me to be the responsible one, the leader, the surrogate. Just by me being born first. The eldest child. Younger siblings will never understand the role you have thrust upon you from the moment you burst kicking and screaming into this world. You are treated differently in the fact that yes, you were the one to make your parents what they were, parents.

My parents struggled with the idea of when to have more children after I was born. My dad was trying to build a business, while my mom wanted to have more kids right away. She didn't want me to be an only child. As the oldest, you are treated more as a small version of an adult. Unless you are lucky to have parents who have been around children before then just maybe you might be treated as a child. Sometimes I feel like I have never gotten to be a child. For as long as I can remember I have been responsible for taking care of someone else. First with children in my mother's care, and then with my own siblings. I was always the little mother.

"Take care of your brothers." was a litany I heard all my life. And later after my folks, split up. it was "take care of your mom". In fact, that was one of the last things my dad said to me before he passed away. Take care of your mom, and be there for the boys." It was left unspoken between us because you are the oldest. My dad understood because he was a first born child also. He grew up hearing the same thing, that is why he passed the responsibility down to me as I am sure it was to him.

I want to know when is my job done? When do I get to just be me? I gave up long ago of ever having a childhood. My teens were a blur of dealing with a sick mother and taking care of my brothers. I sometimes wonder who is going to take care of me when the time comes and I need to pass on the responsibility. Who do I name my successor? Who do I want to pass the job I never wanted on to?

I am just feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I feel like I am not being given room to come to terms with what is coming. I feel like once everything is said and done I will be fragile as an antique teacup. One jostle and I will shatter into a million small, sharp shards. No glue will ever be able to restore me to the condition I began in. Humpty Dumpty will always be missing a few chips.

Another phone call from another funeral home. I guess I should answer it. I have to be an adult for the moment. I will wait to be the child who is also losing her mother, difficult relationship or not. She is still my mom. No matter how old you get, when you lose a parent you are still that small child climbing up in their lap looking for reassurance that all is right in the world.

Thanks for listening to my rambling. As always love fully, and laugh often.

two women sitting on a bench, one older than the other.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Dying To Get Away

A woman with her head in her hands.



This has been a sad week. The world is mourning the loss of two celebrities that died as a result of suicide. While this is in and of itself sad. The real reason to be sad is that in this day and age mental illness is still consider taboo. It shouldn’t take the death of a celebrity to raise awareness of the fact that so many people fight some kind of mental condition.

An even sadder fact is those people who, when hearing about the deaths of these two people stated that they had everything going for them. They were at the peak of their careers, they had a loving family, they had so much to live for. You can have all you ever dreamed about and still fight the demons that walk hand in hand with mental illness. You can be surrounded by those you love and still feel unloved and alone. That is how the disease works.



Statistics show that on average 54 million people suffer from mental illness a year. That is a huge number when you consider the world population for 2018 is over 7.5 billion people. The scary thing about this is that most do not seek treatment because of the stigma attached to having a mental illness. The next interesting tidbit is that you don’t have to suffer a mental illness to want to commit suicide. Only about 45,000 who commit suicide suffered from a mental disease. That leaves you to wonder what the circumstances were for the rest.

 Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else."  In fact, mental disorders are common and widespread.  An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year.

From <http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/recognizing-warning-signs 

I know as someone who has contemplated suicide that it wasn’t always because of the mental illness that I had these thoughts. I want to talk about what people say about you having everything going for you so why commit suicide. As I mention before the demons that haunt your mind make you believe that you don’t have all you desire. When you reach that point you think that everyone would be better off without you. That you are a failure, that you are not worthy to have everything that is going well for you. Those deepest thoughts eat away at you constantly until to rid yourself of them you decide to take your life.

I know from experience that the first time those dark ugly thoughts ran rampant through my mind that you would never have noticed anything different about me. In fact when I chose to listen to those thoughts no one even notice anything as I gathered the things needed to put my plan into motion. I sat for about an hour listening to the lives go on as usual in my home before I began popping the collection of pills that I hoped would silence the demons that preyed on my mind. As you can see by the fact that I am here writing this that I failed. Nothing makes you feel more like a failure than when you fail at ending your own life.

a teenage girl's school picture.
Would you think this girl was planning on committing suicide?

There are signs that someone is thinking about suicide. I have posted a list of those signs below. Never be afraid of asking for help or if you notice these signs in someone else,  please try to engage them in an attempt to help them. Sometimes the person feels all alone and feels there is no one to talk to. Maybe you can be that person.

What Are the Warning Signs of Suicide?
The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.
  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Planning or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or newly acquiring potentially lethal items (e.g., firearms, ropes)
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

From <https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-faq/index.shtml

I know that it seems like someone else ought to be the one to check on the people in our lives, but if everyone thought like that, this world would be a complete fail. We need to stop running around like chickens with our heads cut off and stop and spend some time connecting with the others we share this planet with. Maybe if we did that more than attack each other the world would be in a better place. I strongly believe that we are all part of the family of man and therefore our brother’s keeper. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what color your skin is, or any of the millions of other excuses people use. If we all treated each other with care and respect, there wouldn’t be so much pain.

I know that some will dislike my opinion but if you really think about it. It makes sense. I know this has been a sad, uncomfortable post. It was just one that I felt needed to be written. Please if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, seek help. It is just a call, text, or a comment away. Here are some numbers to keep handy. I also added a list of helpful sites if you know someone talking about suicide. Remember there is hope at the end of the day. You just have to believe. I hope this finds you loving fully and laughing often.

Knowing how to get help for a friend posting suicidal messages on social media can save a life. Many social media sites have a process to report suicidal content and get help for the person posting the message. In addition, many of the social media sites use their analytic capabilities to identify and help report suicidal posts. Each offers different options on how to respond if you see concerning posts about suicide. For example:
  • Facebook Suicide Prevention webpage can be found at www.facebook.com/help/594991777257121/[use the search term “suicide” or “suicide prevention”].
  • Instagram uses automated tools in the app to provide resources, which can also be found online at https://help.instagram.com [use the search term, “suicide,” self-injury,” or “suicide prevention”]
  • Snapchat’s Support provides guidance at https://support.snapchat.com [use the search term, “suicide” or “suicide prevention”]  
  • Tumblr Counseling and Prevention Resources webpage can be found at https://tumblr.zendesk.com[use the search term “counseling” or “prevention,” then click on “Counseling and prevention resources”].
  • Twitter’s Best Practices in Dealing With Self-Harm and Suicide at https://support.twitter.com [use the search term “suicide,” “self-harm,” or “suicide prevention”].
  • YouTube’s Safety Center webpage can be found at https://support.google.com/youtube [use the search term “suicide and self injury”].
If you see messages or live streaming suicidal behavior on social media, call 911 or contact the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1–800–799–4889. All calls are confidential. This service is available to everyone. People—even strangers—have saved lives by being vigilant.

From <https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-faq/index.shtml>

A person standing in water.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Living By The Code


Have you ever stood in the middle of a clothing store and watched a fifteen-year-old girl stand in such indecision and frustration she is close to tears? Have you watched as your child stands on the precipice of being an adult and lives in fear of the choices they make? We want our children to be strong individuals but the world works against them at every step, trying to turn them into automatons who think as one mind. Any individuality is beaten out of them with rules and education.

I spent last night watching my niece in such a conundrum over what pair of pants to buy. It wasn’t because she is an indecisive individual. She, in fact, found several pairs she liked immediately. What held her frozen in indecision was whether they would pass her school’s dress code. She wouldn’t even have been in search of new pants if not for the dress code. The pants she wore to school that day had been banned and now she was in search of a replacement pair. I saw nothing wrong with the pair she had worn. But some teacher had been scoping out the underage teenage girl’s behinds and found hers was distracting. So I stood watching, with a broken heart, my niece put back hanger after hanger of clothes that would have been perfectly acceptable to wear to church but weren’t good enough for school because of some male pervert who likes to look at little girl’s butts.

A teenage girl looking a clothes in a store.

You know what the funniest thing is? She couldn’t wait to go to high school because they have a lighter dress code than her middle school did. I find it interesting that the boys rarely get dress-coded but the girls are taken daily out of class and told until they change clothes that they cannot return to class. What does this tell these students? It says that a males education is worth more than females. I bet no boy has ever stood in the middle of the clothing store asking his best friend if he thinks the outfit he has picked out will get him kicked out of class. Then they wonder why test scores are so low, let the kids stay in class and actually teach them instead of staring at their bodies. It isn’t the boys we need to be afraid of it is these grown men and women on power trips that end up making these girls so body conscious.

Yes, I added women to that last observation because it is the female teachers who are sending these girls out of class. I know one girl who was sent to the office and her crime was a tiny rip in her jeans right at the knee. I personally delivered her a replacement pair of pants just so she could return to class. I went to school many times with holes in my jeans, being from a farming community there were a lot of kids who did, but not once was I asked to leave class until I could put on a pair of pants without holes. I would have missed school a lot if that had been the case. Which brings up my next rant, what if these are the only clothes these kids have because they live on or below the poverty line? Are they to be denied an education just because they are poor?

All of these outfits would violate my niece's school dress code.

I grew up poor and I know the hardship my parents went through every August to make sure three kids had school supplies, new shoes, and a couple, yes, I said a couple of new outfits. My Dad had to work overtime and take extra work on just to make sure we had that. I am left dumbfounded at the disregard the school districts have for the kids being raised in poverty.

If anything speaks to what the world has become we need to just look at the schools to find out. We have kids going on shooting rampages because of being bullied. The sad thing is the bullying is taught by these teachers who send a kid out of their classroom for something as innocent as a rip in their jeans. I spent a good portion of the night in that store trying to find a pair of pants that didn’t have the “in-style” rips that is all the rage these days. If it is the fashion of the times why are the kids being made to pay for it? With all the hate no wonder the next generation is so confused about expectations.

The future is now. These kids are being raised to believe that what a person wears is more important than what a person does. They are being taught it is all right to single a person out for being just a bit different. They are taught that education isn’t important. If they thought it was important they wouldn’t feel the need to nitpick every little thing about what a kid is wearing. With this happening more in schools I understand the homeschooling movement has become a norm. Kids learn better in an environment that is nurturing, not critical. When they are too worried about what they are wearing, or if they are offending someone, they stop caring about school.

A trio of store mannequins.

I am a strong proponent of school uniforms. I think it evens the playing field between rich and poor, in that it doesn’t make school a fashion show but an educational environment. There are those who talk about the cost of said uniforms for the poorer students. What they don’t understand is that most parents would rather find the way to buy a few uniforms, especially if they can be worn more than one year, than have their children kicked out of class until they change clothes. I have seen my niece in school where uniforms are worn, and in schools with a dress code and I think she was far happier when she didn’t have to worry that what she wears to school will get her in trouble.

I know this has been a lengthy rant, but as I mentioned at the beginning. I hate to see my niece cry. I have watched a girl, who once liked school, become someone who says she is stupid and ugly. No kid should be made to feel that way. I would love to hear if you have ever encountered this problem. Just leave me a comment below. I hope that this will find you loving fully and laughing often.



Monday, May 14, 2018

The Fear of Living




Have you ever backed out of doing something you love because the cost was too high a price to pay? Have you ever lost friends because you canceled doing something with them one too many times? Have you ever felt like a loser or worthless because you can’t do what you once did without a second thought? Have you answered “yes” to any of these questions? If you have, you are not alone. There are others out there who have answered in the affirmative as well. I have said “yes” to all of them as well.

There are many people who live with chronic illness and the price we pay for each excursion in our life costs us in exhaustion, pain, and flare-ups. What once brought us joy only brings us pain. It brings us a sense of embarrassment because we just don’t have the physical or mental capacity to handle life. We start out the day with high hopes that today we might not pay for having fun, enjoying time spent with family and friends. That we won’t decide that we have been feeling pretty good for awhile so maybe we can go do something physical without having to call the day short because the pain becomes unbearable or our mind has decided to send the wrong warnings to our body and fight or flight has been engaged.

We decide to go spend time with friends at an event and just the small amount of exertion to our muscles cause our pain receptors to begin firing. Soon just taking another step leaves us in tears of pain and frustration. We wonder what did we do to not deserve to have a little enjoyment from life? We go home in tears because it hurts so bad, and exhaustion is dragging you down. It takes every last ounce of energy you have just to make it to a comfortable spot to land because it is going to be a moment or two or three before you can find the impetus to rise once more.

I find myself planning the simplest outings to cause the least amount of aggravation to my body. I make sure I go to crowded places when there is the least chance of my Panic/Anxiety disorder to be triggered. Each step metered so that my muscles don’t have a reason to cramp or spasm. I pray that I will still feel the ground under my feet each step I take. I remember before my body turned against me of time spent with friends going to social events, going out shoot pool and spend a relaxing evening just being together. Now I have to figure in the cost of such activities. On how much pain I have been in the last few days, what medicines I can take to get me through a night of fun? I have to live with the toll such activities will have on me the next day or so after. Am I really in the mood to recover for two or more days for just a few hours enjoyment?

Funny how something no one can see outward signs of, can wreak such havoc on your life. Yet there are signs if someone just takes the time to look. For me it is in the way I move. Where once I fast walked everywhere, now I creep along; measuring each step. I am afraid if I misstep I will fall or worse break my ankle. I live in fear of doing anything that will end up with me on crutches. I am worthless at using crutches. The time I tore my Achilles tendon, I scooted or hopped everywhere just so I didn’t have to use them. Although now that I think about it, I realize hopping around like a demented bunny was dangerous too.
A stuffed puppy with a broken leg.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I have a limp. My sister-in-law said just yesterday that I waddle. Gee, that is a picture to put in one’s mind. I picture myself waddling along like a rotund duck plumped up for the roasting. More times than not, my fists are clenched to prevent the spasms that twist and contort my fingers. There are so many signs that the average person glances past. They are too busy finding ways to demean your suffering or to criticize those of us that live with chronic disease and illness. When what they should be doing is thanking God that it isn’t them and having some empathy.

They think when they see us get out of our cars at the store after parking in a handicap space that we should be in a wheelchair or some such. They don’t realize for the majority of us it was one of the hardest things to do. We didn’t want to deal with the criticism and the hate. We didn’t want to admit that our bodies had finally convinced us that something we were most likely feeling “denial” of our limitations had finally won. On my good days I do park a little further away and as I do I pray that during my shopping, my legs will continue to work and not begin the horrible spasms that bring me to the floor. The pain that drives me to leave my shopping cart in the middle of the store and make my way slowly back to my car. A day of joy turned to pain.

I do have to admit that living with chronic pain has taught me to enjoy the small things. To take life one step at a time, and gather what joy and happiness I can find in each moment. It has taught me grace. I am slowly learning to be thankful for the simple things in life that the healthy tend to take for granted. I wake up thankful for each day I can continue to waddle and limp. I know that as the years progress that I will lose more of my freedom until I am trapped inside a body that is a twisted caricature of who I once was.

I catch myself studying wheelchairs and making plans for how I will deal with losing the ability to drive my own car. That is going to be one of the hardest things for me to lose. I have anxiety attacks just thinking about it all. What is worse is I lay awake at night worried about being a burden to my family. It’s bad enough being the childless, single aunt who collects cats. I am not ready to be the crippled aunt too. I remember when I was the fun aunt. The one who would let you do the things the parents would say no to. Now I am looked at with disdain, no longer worthy.

I started this post to highlight what it felt like to give in to chronic pain and illness. To show what one loses when given the diagnosis. How it feels to live in our shoes. I know it became a bit morose but that is the facts of life with silent diseases. Those who suffer them, suffer them alone the majority of the time. It’s is hard to ask for help and support. Especially if you were that person before your body betrayed you. I am letting everyone know that it doesn’t have to be a lonely road we walk. There are others looking for the same thing, there are supports groups, agencies, all who offer a helping and guiding hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out, or be surprised when that outreached hand is taken in someone’s gentle grasp.

Do you see yourself in this post? What are some of the things that you have given up due to your diagnosis? Do you search for support and find none? Let me know in the comments what you do to live a meaningful life or if you wish for help. I am only a text away. Always remember to love fully and laugh often. Until next time.

A hand reaching out in pain.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Nothing New Under The Sun.

Nothing new under the sun

I remember going up to my Mom and with a long, laborious sigh I would flop down on the sofa or whatever piece of furniture would aid me in looking pitiful. I waited for her to glance my way and when she did the ever-present complaint would issue forth from my mouth, “I’m bored.”

Her response was sometimes the classic and irritating, “Hello bored, I’m Mom.” At which time I would send her an agitated look her way.

“There’s nothing to do.” I would continue ignoring her attempt at humor. In her most motherly tone, not really, but for this writing, she would start listing the numerous chores I could do around the house if I wanted something to do.

My mouth would form into a pout and I would say, “but all of that is boring. I want something new to do.” At which point she would tell me those were my only choices and to learn to live with boredom; it’s a fact of life.

You are probably wondering why I am telling this story. It has something to do with the fact that each generation thinks they are the first ones to deal with such things in their life. Just as they think they are the first generation to deal with a major crisis. 

My title comes from the bible verse found in Ecclesiastes Chapter 1:9 KJV “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Even as far back as this writer lived, people were bored out of their mind. Yet each generation thinks they have the market on such thoughts.

a nuclear bomb mushroom cloud.


As with boredom, there has always been some crisis to strike fear into our hearts. Something that
makes us fear for the future and want to hide under our beds. For some generations, it has been an actual war happening. For my generation, it was the fear of our country being attacked by the communist countries. The Cold War made us fear nuclear attacks, the fear of being forced to live underground if we even survived the bombing. The bad thing is we have added new fears with each new generation born after us.

The youth of today think that they are the first generation to be disgruntled with our government and our country’s leaders. They think that we never had the thought that there was no hope for the future. We grew up having a distrust of those in power and what kind of message we were sending to the world. Each generation has had these thoughts and that is why there was change along the way. Our forebears wanted to leave something better for their children. Hell, the United States wouldn’t be a country if a generation hadn’t sought to get away from governmental rules that went against the way they believed.
A yellow ribbon ties around a tree.

In the sixties, you had demonstrations held at colleges across the nation working to end the war in Vietnam. In the eighties, we began to boycott against the things we wanted to be changed. Just look at the boycott of the 1980 Olympics. I also remember tying yellow ribbons around tree trunks to send a message to the hostages being held in Iran in the late seventies and early eighties. Yes, guys, I am that old.

There is nothing new under the sun. History has a habit of repeating itself, and if we fail to learn from it we will repeat the same mistakes time after time. The scary thing for me is it seems no one is even trying to learn from the mistakes of the past. We are becoming numb to the things that should upset us the most. We think killing anyone who disagrees with us is the answer. There are people out in the world abusing children, the elderly, even the animals and the world seems to be frozen in stasis, unable to see that it is becoming epidemic.

I wonder if anyone else gets a sick feeling in their stomach’s when they are barraged on a daily basis with news stories of the atrocities we are becoming more and more capable of. What happened to this world that basic decency is a thing of the past? It has reached a point that when I see a box on the side of the road I am scared to contemplate what might be hidden inside. Will I find a puppy or kitten left to be run over by the cars rushing by, or will it be a baby someone chose to throw away?

a photo of a puppy and kitten.

Nothing new under the sun. Everything new under the sun. As this world continues to spiral out of control, we are going to soon find ourselves a cold, uncaring mass that lives only to destroy. Where will that leave the few people who are sickened by such destruction? Where can we find peace? I am terrified there isn’t one and never will be again. The world has become numb to the lessons of the past. It has stopped caring about the future. This is what is my worry and fear in this new generation. I don’t want to see something new under the sun.

What is your greatest fear in this day and age? What did you fear in the past? Do you think there is any hope of the world learning from these mistakes? Let me know what you think in the comments. I hope sincerely that you have a chance to love fully and to share some laughter always.  



  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Did I Accomplish Anything In The First Quarter of 2018?



 It is that time again. Time to go over the goals I set for the first three months of 2018. Some were accomplished with great fanfare, others sadly fell far behind. The lesson learned though is that there is no true failure if you attempt to accomplish them.

My list of goals for the beginning of the year was a tad small. There were only six goals I sought to accomplish. I know what you are thinking. I only had six goals and didn’t accomplish all of them. Sadly the majority of the month of March saw me fighting the flu. This strain had me so tired, and in pain that I found the easiest project a burden. Then at the end of the month, I had a gout flare-up that added to my misery. I finally broke down and went to the doctor, only to get a lecture for not coming to see her sooner and her thinking I may have contracted a lung virus or a light case of pneumonia in the midst of my otherwise crappy month.
a stuffed bear with tissue and thermometer

With all that said I did accomplish my one major goal. That goal was to finish my book. I can proudly say that I finished the first draft of Tales of The Cat’s Eye Gang and I am getting ready to start the first edit/revisions this week. If you are in the mood to read a fantasy about a group of friends who set off on a quest to find the mysterious Triad. Stop by my story blog and check it out. I posted it in all of its unedited glory for your enjoyment.

My writing goal sadly fell far short this past quarter. I decided to take a break from writing because I just wasn’t feeling inspired. I wanted to clear my mind so that when I sat down to begin re-reading my manuscript to start the revision process, I came to it with no other project cluttering my mind. I instead did some reading to prepare me for what was coming up. I brushed up on the art of story structure so that I can bring you the best product possible come publication time.

Now I know that I failed to deliver in writing word count goal, but since I chose to take a break after finishing my book, I chop that goal up as a goal removed rather than failed. With me taking a break from writing, I also couldn’t accomplish my third goal because it was to begin posting regularly again on my blogs. With the completion of Tales of The Cat’s Eye Gang, I have put that blog on hold. It will only get posted on monthly as I work on this next step in the book’s formation. Starting in the second quarter I will begin to post on a regular basis again. So keep your eyes out for news of new posts or better yet subscribe to my blogs so that you never miss a post.

people doing water aerobics
Let’s move on to the goal that I listed as my second. This was to exercise more. This one met with failure. I started a health club membership, only to discover that said health club had very limited hours.Hours which they did not list on their website. You can imagine my surprise when I showed up that first day and they were closed; in the middle of the afternoon. It also didn’t have a pool which when I was looking at the amenities gave the impression my local club did. This was upsetting because I like to exercise in water. I am a lap swimmer, and I was really looking forward to the water Zumba classes. With the flu coming to plague my existence I also didn’t feel like exercising. It was taking a lot of energy to crawl out of bed just to go to the bathroom. I guess during the month of March that was my exercise. Hey, I take a small goal accomplishment where I can.

My fifth goal was to start saving money for those times when there is an emergency, such as my car needs tires. Or one of my cats getting sick. I did get my new tires and took a sick cat to the vet, so I chalk this up as a win. The next item I am saving for is new shocks on my car because when you have tires that hold the correct amount of air for longer than three minutes after airing them up, showed me that shocks are always nice to have.
a rack of new tires and wheels.
 Also on the list that I am saving for is saving to hire someone to create my book cover, as well as finding an artist to draw up the Cat’s Eye Gang’s pictures for promotional purposes. And I am also saving money to hire two different editors for the book. I still have a little time to stash away money for this one. I am just starting the revision process in the said book.

My last goal to accomplish was to update my author’s website. You can check it out here. I have begun the updates, but there is much more I intend to do. It is an ever-evolving website to fit me, the ever-evolving author. I cannot wait for the day when I can add links to where you can buy my book. I also hope to have a trailer up sometime soon to give you a bit of entertainment.

My goals for the second quarter are:

1. Begin re-read and revisions of my book. My book covered up with hi-lighter and red ink is going to be a hard sight to see but it will be done.

2. Exercise more. I put this on every goal list. It is something that makes you feel good and helps you stay healthy.

3. Write at least 500 words per day.

4. Save money for an artist to do book cover and one to do character pictures, and shocks for the car.

5. Pay off some of my debt. If I pay off some bills that money is freed up to put into savings.

6. Work on web presence. I am always looking for more followers. It is my followers that will help my dreams come true. I am thankful for everyone who chooses to join me on my journey to becoming a published author.

7. Drink more water. You think this is a silly goal but it isn’t for me. I hate to drink water. I prefer to slack my thirst with a nice glass of iced tea or a big steaming hot mug of cappuccino. I figure there is water in both of them, right? Well, I recently had to start seeing a Nephrologist(kidney doctor) and found out that I am fighting stage three kidney disease. This means I need to drink more water to keep my kidneys flushed out.

8.Finish my Spring cleaning. Around this time every year, I get this incredible urge to clean up the house and clean out the cupboards. I began this at the end of March but when you live in a house with two kids, four cats, and one dog. It seems like a never-ending battle of keeping things clean. Speaking of which I really need to shampoo this rug.

9. Do my daily Manifestation/Mindset exercises. I am a firm believer if you have the right mindset to make your dreams come true, they will manifest for you. That being said if you start your day believing you will make things happen, then they will.

10. Feel Good! There are things you can do every day to make you feel good. You just need to sit down and make a list of things that make you happy and make you feel good. Then do something from that list every day.

There you have it, folks. My goals past and present. Do you make goal lists? Share some of your goals for the next few months in the comments section. I always like to see what the goals are for other people. You never know one of your goals may become one of mine. Until next time,  love fully and laugh often.

A stuffed emoji with the word Happy on its front.



 




Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Feeling Good In April



Happy April! I hope you are happy and healthy. I hope you are doing the things you love with the people you love. You might have noticed I am trying to be more upbeat. I have been doing a 7-day course on Feeling Better and thought I would impart some of what I have discovered in my week-long journey to find my bliss.

The week started off with my first challenge being to make a list of all the things that make me feel good. You would not believe how hard it was for me to make this list. I am always thinking about what I can do for everyone else to make them happy, I rarely think about what makes me happy, or makes me feel good. It was an eye-opener for sure. What made it all the worse was all I had to do was list simple stuff like getting a manicure or getting my hair done. Those simple joys we find in life that we take for granted and don’t get as often as we should.

Once I made my list I was then to choose three to five things from the list and do them that very day. So, Monday became “ME Day”. I spent the day doing some stuff I hadn’t done in a while. What may you ask? I could tell you but then I’d have to… well, you know the line.

On Tuesday morning the email that gave me my Day Two challenge was a fun one. It was to make a Feel Good playlist. A list of music that just makes you happy, makes you want to be alive, get up and dance. To just BE. As you may have guessed this meant I spent my morning on my iTunes™ account and on Spotify® looking for great music. I made another discovery about myself. What makes me happy one day, doesn’t always make me happy the next. I am terrible at making a playlist for this reason. I would just rather hit random and if a song isn’t doing it for me, hitting the next button.


I do have some songs that I do seem to add to all my lists. The first is from Cristina Aguilera and the name of the song is “Cruz”. There is something about this song that just frees my soul and allows it to soar. I have to admit there are a few of Cristina’s songs that are on my Feel-Good list, my taking charge list, my get in the car and drive list. You get the idea. Another one that sneaks on the list is a cute song by Heffron Drive called “One Track Mind”. It always puts a smile on my face. Speaking of ladies who end up on all my playlist another one is Demi Lovato, I mean how can you not feel good while singing “Confident”?

The day three challenge involved cleaning up the space around you. Let’s face it. No one is happy in a cluttered dirty space. The good vibes just do not flow. I spend this time of year clearing out the clutter built up over the last year. All the paperwork, started project left collecting dust in various corners of my room, my closet. If I haven’t touched it or needed it in the last year. Guess what? It is time to say good-bye. The same goes for mental thoughts. Do a dusting of your mental faculties, shaking loose all the negative emotions and grudges that you have stored and let them out. They have no place in your happy, feel-good vibe.

Day four arrived with me being in a kind of sad place. Went to the doctor and what never fails? Something pops up on my blood test to concern her. So, on this day I had to go get an ultrasound of my kidneys. Yeah, still waiting to hear back on that. I am also being sent to see a Nephrologist. Day four’s challenge was to list all the places/spaces that make me feel good. And the second part was to create a space in my home that was my feel-good space. Once again, doesn’t sound that difficult but for me, it was a little bit hard to figure out places that make me feel good.

Finding places that make you feel good when you spend most of your time in doctor’s offices, hospitals and fun places like that. You really have to think about the places that bring you joy. One of the places that will always make me happy is anywhere on or near water. I was lucky to be born in a town that had two lakes in it plus a dinky city creek. Anytime I was feeling sad or depressed I could just take a walk, or drive and find some water to be near to recharge my battery.

Another thing I have discovered is I need trees. Not these scrubby little trees we have here where I live in Texas but the ancient green forest of the Pacific Northwest or the old trees of my hometown, that were the perfect height for climbing. Nothing better than climbing up into an old oak tree and just watching the sun and clouds through the leaves. A peacefulness settles within my chest that is hard to describe.

I also love to go to the library or bookstore. The smell of old books at the library takes me back to spending time in the stacks at my public library as a kid. And the smell of fresh ink, paper, and glue on new books at the bookstore sets my endorphins racing for some reason. I can’t wait to hold my own book and get that new book smell rush from it.


As for making my “feel good” space at home. I like to use the wax burners and I interchange depending on my mood and season the smells. They usually are those of nature. Flowers, mountains, or ocean. I have posters of things that make me happy or that inspire me such as the one pictured. Anyone who has read my blog has heard me talk about my ever-blooming rose bush right outside my window. I like my desk next to the window so that I can look out at the world on those days when my writing takes a turn towards the darker side of things.

We arrived at day five of the challenge. I must say that this week I have been in a really good mood. Had a great outlook and been thinking positive. That hasn’t been the case for most of the month of March. I have been having some serious bouts of depression that have left me thinking some rather dark thoughts. I think that is why doing this challenge was so important to me. I wanted to see if I could make myself feel better with just a few simple changes and choices. I admit I was pleasantly surprised that it works.

The day five challenge was to meditate. Now I must admit I have a bit of a problem meditating. I always wondered why until I bought a book on yoga and in it, meditation is about thinking in the present. Most of us think in the past or future. We rarely think in the present. We are always trying to be two steps ahead of ourselves. Or we get stuck looking back on the past and getting lost in our regrets. In this book, it speaks of teaching yourself to breathe correctly and because you must be aware of your breathing it makes you focus on the now. Your mind becomes freed with each outward breath. You look inward as you draw in that next life-giving air.


In the meditation for the challenge, it asks you to imagine everything you already have that make you feel good, yes, I know that is looking into the past a bit. Yet it is the now also. The people, places, things that make you happy and feel good. Imagine them and what it is about them that makes you feel this way. Feel free to experience the emotions thinking about your happy people, places, and things make you feel. Just meditating on these will raise your happiness vibe immensely.

Now I was wondering what could be next on the list for my day six exercise and I didn’t expect to be introduced to “Tapping”. I won’t go into it too deeply right now because I am just learning about it but if you are interested you can find videos on YouTube explaining it and showing you how to do it. One of the people to check out is Brad Yates.

On this day I also learned to Forgive and Release. Nothing brings you down more than holding onto old anger and regrets. It doesn’t hurt anyone but you to hold them. There is a reason the song “Let It Go” from Frozen struck a chord with so many of us. The song says it all. Resentment only hurts YOU!!

The exercise we were given was to make a list of all the things(mistakes, regrets, and people who hurt you, etc.)and then go through the list and one by one say that you forgive them, you forgive yourself and in doing so you are giving yourself permission to “Let It Go”. Once done you take a deep breath, releasing all that stagnant, negative energy to make room for creating healthy positive energy.

On the seventh day, I did not rest. The exercise for this day I had done a bit of on day three. The day seven exercise is all about giving back. It makes you feel good to be able to help someone and it benefits those on the receiving end. I gave old clothes and books to charity on day three but there are so many other ways you can give back. Here are a few.

-Volunteer for a cause you care about.
-Set up regular monthly donations to your favorite causes.
-Make a donation every time you receive extra money.
-Gather stuff you no longer need and donate it to places such as The Salvation Army or if you have old books, your public library or a second-hand bookstore. Another wonderful place to donate clothes and household items is The ARC of Texas. You can find more out about it on their website.

I finished the week feeling better than I had in a long time with a new spring in my step. I will be posting next time my second quarter goals and checking out how well I accomplished the first quarter ones. I hope you check back in to see how well I did.  Give this seven-day challenge a try and let me know if it helped you feel better. I hope April finds you loving fully and laughing often.