Tag Archives: hardships

Seventeen

Do other writers get stuck on a thought, a word, a number that has nothing to do with the current project or task? Anyone else ever struggle to break free from such a grip? I recently resisted a momentary nemesis for days till I turned and met the foe head on.

Fact: Much of my life has been unimaginable to most folks. Several decades ago I realized I was on a collision course with a bleak future. After a series of failed attempts to redirect I got help. It took years to find the right counselor, but for about eight years now I’ve been keeping notes from sessions with the best trauma counselor ever. We’ll call him Rob.

Months ago when Rob pointed out a few concerns, suggested I could be depressed, and insisted I see my doctor, I stopped. I thought hard, prayed harder. And then I stopped longer.

I dread the thought of being known as “that poor thing who…” I write about my life because, well, it’s what I know best. Seriously, I write my stories, my experiences in the hope they help and encourage others. Writing helps me make sense of the grand scheme of things. Plus there’s the perk I get when my work sometimes reveals a bad attitude, it checks me like a friendly punch in the face. Hopefully those that grew up with numerous brothers understand the concept.

This brings us back a little while to shortly after the snow and ice melted here at the ranch, when I hit a wall. That actually had less to do with me injuring my arm and shoulder chopping wood (seriously, don’t all great-grandmothers do that?). The wall had more to do with the preceding twelve years.

Have I mentioned having driver’s licenses in three states within the last two calendar years? Yeah, that’s a lot of moving around. And each move directly resulted from one crisis right after another. When I pointed out this profound revelation to my Go-To Girl, my sister Roan (my on-and-off house mate), she replied,

“Yeah. So?” 

Not the response I expected. She was on her lunch break two time zones ahead of here, so she may have missed my point. We mocked the topic sufficiently enough to laugh it off and we returned to work.

So, after circling back to Roan’s question for a couple of days I set all my other projects aside to seek solid answers.

 

I handle most challenges better when I can break them down to physics, mathematical formulas – or Sun Tzu*. I did the math:

 

 

In the last 20 years Roan has (to my knowledge) moved x times, 6 of which since were her daughter was born, the last six within the past 7 years. But for 17 years she and her daughter were rooted in one place.

Then I again reviewed my nomadic history. Again with the number 17.

  • I was 17 when I married my sons’ father.
  • For 17 years I lived with (and moved around with) my husband.
  • I have lived at 17 different addresses. Seventeen.

Only because of Roan can I imagine living in one dwelling for seventeen years. In my entire life I’ve never lived in any one place for 4 years. That’s a staggering amount of moving around! Additionally some form of drama generated each move and often changed my family dynamics; broken hearts and broken bones (some mine), husbands left, sons outgrew the nest, a heart attack here – loved ones died there, banks became less sympathetic… I tell ya, some hits were hard. But I moved on.

So, our life has been astoundingly complicated compared to most people we know.

So, that itinerant life is over now. And yet, I’m having trouble getting my head around the concept of being home, that I won’t be packing up and moving again in a while. Rob and I figure it’ll likely be three years before it actually sinks in. I marked my digital calendar just in case.

So, days after the aforementioned chat with Rob I visited my Naturopathic Physician. Thanks to our decades old relationship we quickly caught up and then we agreed;

  • I’m tired,
  • I’m possibly slightly traumatized,
  • undeniably I have much to be sad about,
  • but I’m not necessarily depressed.

She studied my blood-work and my DNA evaluation (yes, I happened to have it on me), prescribed a course of supplements and then we went out for tea. Within days the dark heaviness lifted, but I continued to take the time I needed to simply be for a while.

So, the cast in the main house has changed, Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old moved away, but we’re all adjusting. The show goes on. My journals are busting at the bindings and I’m back to working on chapters again. More important, I give myself lots of grace. I walk away whenever I want. And within a couple of hours I walk back – usually feeling lighter. I’m sure there will be more hard days. But it’s like Brother tells me often, “Just settle down. You’re not going anywhere.”

So, today I smile as the mare and the cattle call to me when I step outside my door. I giggle as the hens flutter-waddle to the fence cackling. I’m sure it’s all about me – not the grain, scraps, hay, carrots or apples I bring them.

Most important, hearing how my stories help others also helps me. Having shared the experience with other writers/bloggers, the bobbing and weaving and working it all out, I feel so much better now.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  Just in case my humor missed the mark, I translate much of Sun Tzu principles into Biblical scripture – and disregard the rest.

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Stuffed

Late winter is my favorite season for baking. It warms the cottage while filling it with delightful aromas.

It was the last week of the month. With frozen, wet roads I had left the ranch only when necessary, so supplies dwindled. This is typical. I have seen hard times, so any day there is food is good and having choices is great! I take advantage of bargains and stock the freezer and pantry. Still, there was remarkable room in both.

That particular day I had to be especially creative. I was delighted to find all the makings for a pumpkin cheesecake pie – of all things! Hey, it includes all four food groups.

I gathered the ingredients and began making the crust. But when I went to roll out the dough I couldn’t find my rolling pin.

After exhausting every possibility I looked about for anything suitable for the task. Rolling the dough with a tall juice bottle, I mentally rummaged through lists of things I’d inadvertently left in Texas or Colorado last year.

I put the pie into the oven and began cleaning up. As I put things away I began to laugh. Without some extensive reorganizing I actually have no place for anything else. This cottage is stuffed full!

I know any time I need a rolling pin or baking sheets, I can walk 20 yards and borrow Kendra’s, but the situation made me deeply reflective.

Over my history I experienced some devastating losses. Yet, hard times taught three generations of my family to be resilient, flexible, inventive and most of all thankful for what we have.

It’s not my preference, but if I must I can fish and hunt. I know how to clean fish and dress out a deer, rabbit or fowl. More important, I adore growing vegetables and canning them.

Over the years, I learned to use a pair of forks or knives as a pastry cutter. A tall glass makes an adequate rolling pin as well as a cookie cutter. Since I needn’t make it anymore, a quart of yogurt provides me calcium and protein and a storage container as well. With friends I learned how to make cheese and delightful breads. Long ago, Moms passed their talents for making biscuits, tortillas and pancakes from scratch on to me. And hanging out with Kendra I recently learned to make candy.

Though some of my history is grievous indeed I’m glad for it all today. Because of hardships and heartbreaks, God and I are sufficient in all things. I am blessed indeed!

“I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without.” Philippians 4:11, 12 (The Voice)

 

*Image courtesy of ABSFreePics

All other images courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello

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Bliends – Loving

Love, Before it’s Too Late by Mitch Teemley at The Power of Story inspired me yet again today. Getting to know Mitch and his family through his blog, his stories makes today’s crazy world more beautiful and far more fun. If you haven’t met him yet, do yourself a solid and catch up.

 

About Loving

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Love is not always something we do or feel. It’s not merely something we respond to and it is definitely not something we acquire. I know this because of the love I’ve missed in my lifetime.

I learned early in life to never take the people I love for granted. The details of my family history, some of the losses are public record. Aside from our numbers the love is not recorded. The ties that bind my surviving siblings and I are solid, indelible but they are mostly invisible.

valentine-heart-5992x2227_22848Emotions are part of the equation and work closely with love, but emotions are not love. I believe that like matter, love is neither created nor destroyed. And yet, it can be misplaced, as anyone that’s lost someone precious to them experiences. Death can create a gaping void, a hole in life that God alone can fill. But love goes on.

Not my first loss, my dad died suddenly, unexpectedly when I was nineteen. With our dysfunctional family dynamics I also lost my closest friend at the time. The ramifications of that event separated my siblings and me during our developmental years. And yet love kept us closely bound together. I can see Daddy occasionally; in my siblings, my sons and my grandchildren. Each time I again feel the love.

My husband came into my life. Love thrived – and then he left. I have not seen him since 2010. Though I was open to repairing our connection we failed. Yet the love lives.

Loving my family with all that I am made me appreciate love, relationships, free will and to never allow time to ravage the bond.

I mentioned in an earlier post, some friends slipped into my past and will remain there. Others remain close regardless of where on earth I pause. They choose to stay close and they act upon the choices. A visit, a phone call, email or text keeps the love we share vital. Whether we share the same genetic structure or are bound by our histories, I value love above all.

John L. Green Vera_Marie_Fuller

I’ve missed my parents for a lifetime. Mother left Dad, my siblings and me in 1966. She tried to reconnect until death took her in 2004. Through constant forgiving, commitment and dedication, we loved. My foster parents (pictures not available) passed months apart in 2005. They all continue to be a big part of me.

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My darling brother Seagh left us in 2014. I still feel his presence more often than I don’t. I miss hearing his voice, seeing his face and towering physique. Sometimes knowing I shall not see him again in this world feels crushing. But he frequently reminds me death is not the end.

We love.

 

 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

Hearts Images courtesy Unsplash

All other images are private property and not to be duplicated or shared without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Expectations

house picket fence pixabay

 

 

When I was young I longed for a home, family, a simple life; like the neighbors and my classmates.

I was in primary school when I realized I am different. Root, branch and leaf, my family tree is complicated.

 

It would years before I remotely understood the astounding gene pool from whence I came.  Rather than portraits of nice, normal-looking people in their Sunday best with handsome smiles, our foyer was more like the one in Disney’s Haunted Mansion in Anaheim.

 

 

haunt mansion port 1 pinterest haunt mans port 2 pinterest  *

After my second high school reunion I felt like a failure.

Thinking about it, okay after agonizing over the event I noticed a few things:

At the reunion chatting with some of my classmates, the affluent especially seemed to have their lives prepared for them. Many divorced because of boredom. Some lived on alimony or careers laid out for them with “Daddy’s organizations.” There were some whose sole contribution to society was their fashion sense. Some boasted of homes in the better neighborhoods, clothes, handbags, shoes, etc. Those were nice, but didn’t say much to me about the characters, the individuals that owned them.

After my first tour of the room I had a great time with the group in the corner that shuffled shamelessly through photos of their kids and danced like nobody was looking.

I began to understand I had set myself up for years of bitter disappointment. I had wanted what the former set of my classmates had.

About that time I met Jesus and discovered the wisdom of the Bible. One verse above others stuck with me in those early weeks,

“…I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.”  Job 1:21 (NLT)

That was my turning point. I began to realize when I was young the elements that felt like they would crush me, my hardships actually made me strong and independent.

Sure, my life actually was hard, tougher than most people I know. Anything I inherited isn’t noteworthy, but God gave me strength, grit, determination and ultimately taught me to respect and love myself.

I pray I never stop forgiving, appreciating every aspect of my life and never stop working to be a better human. Amen!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

The House With Picket Fence image courtesy Pixabay

*Disney Haunted Mansion Images Courtesy Pinterest

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Now

bathroomWhile the sickness healed in my throat… What? Okay, now that the pressure’s mostly in my inner ears, I’ve had more time to reflect on life.

I recently recalled the time a beautiful, water resistant shower curtain and rugs display grabbed my attention and held it, I liked them so much. They were pricey for my budget. Still, they inspired a need for change in my house. Usually a spend-thrift, knock offs would not do that time. I cut corners and saved for months until I had enough to buy them.

Lending the illusion of a life I once dreamed of, the bath/spa room is important to me. Having purchased my curtain and rugs I could hardly wait to get home to stage the new look I’d imagined for months. While saving I’d run through every detail in my head and my vision was clear.

old bottlesWhile buying my treasures I remembered I was nearly out of supplies. I have always been careful about cleaning products, but without a spare dollar for the rest of the month, I took a bottom-shelf product and hurried home.

My usual routine was to start with a clean slate, but I’d scoured the entire house the day before. I pressed and then hung the curtain. Taking in the finished scene, I noticed a fresh smear on the wall next to the new curtain. Glad I got the spray cleaner, I pulled the curtain back just a bit, aimed, sprayed and then wiped away the offending smudge. I was delighted with my new decor and how well it blended with my towels and wall color the way I’d imagined. I took a photo to send to friends and flex my bragging rights.

After pasting the photo into the email I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on my new curtain was unmistakable bleaching in the beautiful color! I dashed to the bathroom hoping my eyes deceived me. But no… My wailing brought neighbors running.

In my hurry to make my vision reality and then get back to work, I’d inadvertently grabbed a bottle containing mostly bleach that had been misplaced in the non-bleach section. I’d been so preoccupied with my happy thoughts I didn’t notice the caustic smell. Arrrrgh!cleaner

I wasn’t quick enough to arrest the damage. After sulking a while and, of course bemoaning the unfairness of it all, I began brainstorming ideas to recover some of the original beauty of the curtain. Eventually my imagination kicked in.

What my situation meant for defeat, God used for good. I creatively sprayed more of the the cleaner all over the curtain and then some Ritz dye remnants consistent with my color palette. Eventually I created a poor-man’s Monet, very slightly reminiscent of his Rose Walk.

Even after several washings, the curtain performed it’s primary purpose very well. With every wash the pattern took on new characteristics. Now it’s more like a Wildflower Walk. Yeah, Ritz still bleeds and fades.

I do not recommend intentionally ruining a lovely curtain or settling for less than what we can achieve either. But I can share the worthwhile lesson from that whole process:

Life takes us through lots of twists and turns and we adjust our original plans. In high school I imagined my life in showcase homes. Over the years, with each relocation I told myself, “this will do for now.” I usually settled on the best location, the nicest home with the most space I could afford. While I’m thankful for a great imagination, I graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks, but I’m not the most creative person around. Fortunately, home and garden magazines are always freely available and I regularly thank God for HGTV and DIY network. With that I got by – for now.

Now that I’m used to a healthy over-all lifestyle on a tight budget, it’s all I can do to stay focused on my set priorities. I’ve minimized dramatically while still hoping to become a piano virtuoso. Hey, I can play either one or the other part of Heart and Soul. While I admire friends’ beautiful homes and still aspire to own something similar someday, for now I’m content with a roof that doesn’t leak, food, electricity, and especially good company. Is it just me or is that actually funny now?

Compared to my dramatic, dynamic early years I’ve developed a very ordinary life from extreme conditions. While my long Bucket List continually grows, I have what I need and I’m confident I am exactly who and what God created me to be now.

I believe all the tragedies, hardships, the bad times of my life worked together to bring me right where I am now – I’m good. When we question why God allows so much trouble, sadness and evil in the world, we can too easily lose sight of the joy in life.

victorian house

I won’t lose sight of my ideal house, complete with writing room, and neither will Voithos. Today I’m glad for a modest, comfortable home. While modest, it has been my status quo for more years than I want to admit, with a good, old friend it’s quite good enough for me now. While I keep my focus upon God’s will, He always takes care of the details. I have experienced time and again how He guides me through the necessary clutter with more colorful variations I could never have imagined.

Like the rest of my life, that’s my story – and I’m sticking to it.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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