Tag Archives: long read

Response

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I now marvel over how quickly I’d reacted.

In the moments leading up to reaching my coffee pot I went from motivated to a mess. And I admit, I wanted a villain, someone to blame for my upset, let alone the difficulties that were certain to snowball.

Yes, friends, although I kept my bright red espresso grind coffee container out on the counter for two days – for the sole purpose of reminding me I must grind more coffee – that morning the stark reality that I’d entirely run out of coffee blindsided me.

It got worse. Not only was the strongest caffeine source in my kitchen some aged (however delightful) white tea, Deadline had advanced from the shadows of the cottage and towered over me, sword drawn over it’s obnoxious head. Annnd we had a villain …

Duh – duh – dunh.

This was quickly developing into one of those emotion/hormone-packed, full-on-drama mornings. I had already suspected that in hindsight I would wish to somehow erase it all from the eternal hard drive as if it never happened. A wise woman would have paused the whole day there. Not this one. Not that day.

Still, two mornings back I’d added coffee to my Needs Now List. For the subsequent forty-eight hours I planned my run to town between breaks and staring blankly into space. I try to economize wherever possible and make the most of the trip. This usually works very well. Until it doesn’t. Until that morning.

So, there I was, bravely forging onward sans caffeine, thinking I had a good handle on everything within my ken. Strangely predictably, it became the worst morning ever, something unexpected had happened. Forget happened – I felt like someone hit me across the abdomen with a five-foot long 2 by 4.

The car was gone.

Duh – duh!!  {Roo jumps behind the wall as if sensing a predator nearby, but seeing and hearing none, she then lets out a loud, agonizing shriek, “Why God? Why, without coffee?! scaring away any other life forms from the area…}  Okay, I sighed deeply but imagined screaming loudly.

Assumption:  Since Brother sometimes changes our arrangements, routines and moves things without telling me or giving me a heads up first. He took the car for the day without telling me.

The Lie: Brother doesn’t actually give a care about me.

Reality: The evening before Brother had used his vehicle (ahem, that he keeps mostly for my use), parked it in the back of the lot, and then forgot to press “send” after composing a text to me. Therefore, I didn’t receive his text advising me the night before.

Reality Check: Even though Brother’s mordant veneer momentarily confuses me and annoys me often (like most siblings I know), he also surprises me with thoughtfulness and sensitivity on occasion.

Granted, me without morning caffeine is scary, but it is not the end of life as we know it. Not hardly. However, for those few minutes that morning, before the exchange of texts set me back on track, I had wasted a morning’s worth of energy being extremely upset. A black hole sucked a huge chunk of my life away from us – over nothing.

Later, with a triple-shot/double vanilla latte in hand, I took a time-out with God. Deadline would just have to chill. After some needed time by the riverside I was actually glad for that wake up call.

Roo 1995 Columbia River

There God showed me that with my roots now beginning to unwind I have a better grasp of life than ever before. And yet, once a year  week  occasionally I jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and quickly follow with the big-ol’ lie at the core of it all that God really can’t care for me.

Silly ol’ Roo.

My eyes watered from what felt like a stinging punch in the face. Seriously, I checked for blood. Finding none, He then went on past my faults, deep into my needs. He showed me I have indeed come a long way in every facet of my life. Even so, I lived so long in darkness, ignorant of His love for me, we must also allow for time to adjust to light. Whatever my degree of healing, I was severely damaged back then and I am still quite human now.

He went on:

He noted how I now recoil far less frequently than ever before, that I now voice my upset feelings too – mostly appropriately. Then He assured me that some day soon fear, sorrow or anger will not overtake me with the mere thought of darkness. Then I’ll have learned to respond rather than react.

God says so. While I continue to trip up, and can’t feel it yet, I can believe it.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

I can believe it for me as well as for my siblings, other brothers and sisters on their healing journeys.

Today you and I are the only ones to know how short-sighted and down-right silly I was earlier. Shhh…

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom 5:2 (NLT)

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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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Routine

For the past few days I’ve been reflecting upon my early thirties. Then I’d finally come to appreciate the value of routine.

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God blessed me with a good foster mom. I often recall her saying during my child bearing years, “Mijita, todos ustedes tienen que tener horarios.” Not really grasping her meaning, I’d typically melt into her arms, soak up the love and forget what she said. In Spanish it sounded far more pleasant than when she would later tell me, “Girl, you must get your act together!”

I’d dismissed suggestions that I had more challenges than dyslexia, possibly other forms of autism. Who had time for health care while caring for four boys, an unpredictable, “bi-polar” and often violent husband, and all their companions-du-jour? Yeah, I knew about crazy – in other people. We were fine…  😉

For me if we all got up, everybody ate, got to school or whatever, nobody permanently harmed and got back to bed at night, it was a good day. I couldn’t grasp the value of scheduled daily tasks, a routine until my marriage finally ended. By then I stopped being a DV victim.

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**

Fast forward some decades and I live within a very structured routine. The time-space continuum shifts when my routine is altered. Erin and I are comfortable with this. She’s a night owl and I rise long before the sun does. Until the dam broke in the plumbing, etc. Aye!

We were unprepared for the disruptions to the entire property. Hourly the sudden changes annoyingly altered our habitual behaviors.

construction pixabayI confess, minutes into this morning I was setting things down and closing doors harder than necessary. “Where is the…” Living alone, controlled but intentional banging and “slightly slamming” doors, etc. to release tension worked for me. Such timid forms of violence is nothing compared to the savagery I’ve survived.

I remembered I no longer live alone as Erin stepped away from me – without the coffee pot. Violence here is never appropriate.

Because today, with so many tasks demanding immediate attention, Erin was up early with me, making coffee, using the bathroom, etc. The newly replaced futon mattress loomed over the love seat in the living room, against the linen closet – where we keep cleaning rags. The vacuum cleaner was parked wherever we used it last – and often. This is not our m.o. Have I mentioned our 480 square feet of crowded living space upstairs?

Now imagine the two cats nervously observing everything, add some large bags of items for family visiting for the first reunion in ten years. And we’re grilling for a small army of out of town family in light, intermittent rain, of course. That had to be ready for someone to pick up and deliver to Keira’s whenever they arrive. Then add contractors working all over the property. Chaos.

There we were, waking our bodies and our brains – in the same tiny room of the house together, simultaneously. One can imagine this is a potentially volatile scenario with two old broads well set in our ways. As the sounds of my banging around Erin increased in volume, she paused quoting, “Something vexes thee?*”

We laughed – hysterically. The frustration and tension from our disrupted routine was dispelled. We sat down together – with coffee and prayed. Several times. All morning.

friends coffee pixabay

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

 

*The late Alan Rickman and Geraldine McEwan from Robin Hood; Prince of Theives video clip courtesy YouTube

Photo Images courtesy Pixabay

** (c) 2016 Rapture Practice! Publications images not to be duplicated, shared or otherwise distributed without prior, written permission. Thank you!

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Writing Wrongs

confusedI have an amazing gift for screwing up, and I’m especially good at misidentifying words. Yeah, I’m the writer that once saw the word flagellate and somehow worked flatulate into the context.

 

Weaving my literary tapestries, I must frequently check and double check that my words say what I intend. I practice reading sentences, formatting them in my head to ensure I understand correctly. But even so, stuff happens.

Not long ago, I wrote a lovely piece inspired by a quote. As I tweaked the media in the document, my last step before posting, I suddenly realized I’d incorrectly committed the message to memory from the start. I had read one word wrong, resulting with wrong imagery.

I had keyed the quote from the book exactly as it read, exactly how it was printed – and yet in my mind that one word was entirely different. But only in my mind. Days later I noticed how that one word changed my whole story line. Metaphorically speaking that one word changed a waterfall into a lawn sprinkler, for cryin’ out loud.

Once I realized what I’d done, I literally did cry out loud, “[colorful expletive!] Really? God, what’s wrong with me?!”

Maybe God spoke. I’m not sure, but I remembered – yet again – I’m a whole new brand of special. My brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s, or anyone else’s I know for that matter.

Health care professionals can diagnose and define all they want, but I learned ages ago I must approach some areas of life differently, like reading, writing and sometimes speaking. I’ve practiced this my whole life, and developed a workable regime. Once in a great while I will be late. I may need to rework a few projects, but I’ll eventually get them as I want them, in good time – or close enough to call it.

hair explode

And yet, there I was, an hour from my self-imposed deadline, I stepped away from my desk, made some tea and walked a bit. Still wanting to cry from frustration, I had a chat with God.

 

 

In that conversation I remembered, it’s not the first time I had to tweak an entire article a degree or so. And if I must trash it and start something new it won’t be the first time for that either. And then it dawned on me I haven’t done this sort of goof in a very long time – possibly years. At least not an instance that lasted more than a minute – and those are always entertaining; no harm no foul.

Strangely, as I worked to clear my mind, the image of a toddler learning to walk came to me.

In nano-seconds I recalled how my firstborn, Iain began walking at nine months of age. Motherly pride quickly gave way to exhaustion. By ten months he loved to run – urging anyone to get him. With so many monstrous end tables, door jams and thresholds lurking around… Suffice it to say abstinence of stimulants was mandatory. I now recall developing a fondness for wine as Iain found his sea legs.

Already bigger than most two-year-olds, Iain was remarkably fast; often too fast. Despite his adorable pudgy bulk he was also remarkably agile. Still, when he stumbled and fell there was often blood shed. Fortunately, being the first of his generation, a host of doting aunts and uncles were usually handy to entertain – and spot him.

Among my fondest memories is my two brothers developing an obstacle course for Iain in the grassy yard behind the house. They set out a cardboard box to crawl through, a lawn chair cushion to pounce upon, a coiled garden hose turned into a tunnel and such. In no time Iain wore them down, and yet they both patiently kept close guard while the toddler squealed and bounced along with delight, rosy cheeks glowing in the patchy sunshine beneath the orange tree.

back yardIain couldn’t get more than a foot from both men, but I’m certain in his mind he was footloose and fancy free. Entirely forgetting his nearby sentries he ran, crawled, stooped, rolled and toddled until finally he sat down.

I doubt I’ll ever forget the image of the three of them sitting quietly, backs against the tree trunk until Iain’s head slid slowly onto Seagh’s lap, sound asleep. Or that these were the same guys that would catch farts in their hands to release them in my face. Don’t get me started on other things they taught my sons…

Peaceful, calm assurance restored, I wiped my eyes and got back to my desk. The rework actually went remarkably well and I posted the story in a record five hours later than I’d planned that day.

I sometimes imagine Father God like my brothers in that scenario. As we grow into the various stages of our lives, we often go so fast, too fast sometimes and want to run before we master walking. He gives us healthy obstacles to challenge us and yet, He is always close enough to stop us from running into harm’s way.

Sure, bad things happen. We all fall sometimes and occasionally face harsh consequences after landing. Especially when the pressure’s on it’s good to remember that despite the bumps and bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is, for those who know and trust Jesus, the cross has made us flawless.*

*

 

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:3-5 (NLT)

 

*I do not own the rights to Flawless, MercyMe. No copyright infringement was intended in the making of this video.

 

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