Thanks for stopping by...
I'm not sure how you have happened upon my blog but I’m glad you did. I began blogging several years ago, although initially it was a private journal I kept just for myself. In time, however, I began to share my blog publicly, and now I have quite a few folks who check in with regularity. Perhaps you’ll become one of them!
So who am I? Well I have to tell you, I still haven’t quite figured that out. But I keep working on it. I just passed the half-century mark, and I'm hoping that I'll figure out just who I am someday soon. Maybe by the time I'm sixty?
I’ve had some...um...pretty incredible life experiences at both ends of the spectrum, and I share a lot here--maybe too much sometimes. But I’m having a good time, so what the heck. And the focus of my blog for the coming months will be recording the details of the trip of a lifetime (for me anywy): a thru-hike of the 2,187-mile Appalachian Trail. Check in and if my adventures intrigue you, stick around.
I hope you enjoy! I give you my regards and wish you…
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Recent circumstances make me feel I "should" give up hope in ever meeting my granddaughter. It is so tempting to play the victim in these circumstances and tell you how wrong I feel this is and why, but that is to no avail, so I choose not to adopt such a negative role. Instead I will take deep breaths and practice Acceptance, as I learned at Brookhaven, and try to move forward without dwelling on the "if only's..." and "should's." "Shoulds" and "If only's" only serve to torture us in the face of situations over which we have no control, bringing further anguish. I must accept the things I cannot change. Peyton has made her choice, for better or worse, and we must abide by it. She is Lyla's mother. But I must try not to give up hope entirely, even though it breaks my heart to cling to a hope I sometimes believe to be futile.
I must sow new gardens, literally and figuratively. "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow," said one of my all-time favorite actresses and one of the most beautiful women ever to walk the planet, Audrey Hepburn. For my literal garden, I went to a nursery yesterday and selected some of this year's plants: squash, straightneck and zucchini; bell peppers, California Wonder and Purple Beauty; cucumbers, Marketmore; tomatoes, Heirloom and Lemon Boy; mint: peppermint and grapefruit (sounded intriguing, supposedly makes a good herbal tea); and last and definitely least, okra. I don't like it but some in this household do, so I'll see how it goes. There are a few more plants I want to get: some big, beefy tomatoes such as Big Boy or similar, and some green beans. I feared I'd missed the ideal window of opportunity for planting a summer garden here in Central Texas (zone 8b), but when I went to the nursery yesterday I was assured that I still had time, so I'm giving it a shot. Summer gardening here can be brutal, with temperatures in the triple-digits, sometimes as high as 115. Often when it's too hot the plants won't set fruit, but I am choosing to be an optimist: I'll just plant my garden and hope for the best, for that is all I can do. (Well, I can help it along with weeding and fertilizing, but the rest is pretty much up to Mother Nature.)
As for my figurative garden, I must try to plant and maintain the seeds of hope, even when most everything seems futile. I will tend my garden as best I can with love, patience, kindness, and trust, even on the occasions when those things are not reciprocated. It is oh-so-hard sometimes, and I want to protect myself from further hurt by preemptively closing certain doors, but I know that is not the answer. I will try, against my better judgment, to remain hopeful, even though to take such an attitude leaves me extremely vulnerable to further hurt. The potential benefits far outweigh the risks, but my heart is so wounded after these past years that it is extremely tempting to build barriers against further wounds. But walls not only close off intruders, they close off friends and loved ones too, so I will try to remain as open to possibility as I can, even if I risk further hurt. I will simply take a deep breath and plunge forward, full speed ahead. I vow to remain "all in" on this journey called life.
I'm taking on a new challenge this weekend: my first half-marathon. This is one of my bucket-list items, and I look forward to it with a twinge of trepidation: I haven't trained quite as much as I should have, but damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead! I fly to Nashville on Thursday morning, where I'll have the opportunity to spend time with a dear friend for several days, and she'll be there to cheer me on during the event, the Music City Marathon, which will take place on Saturday. She was going to run with me, but is unable to due to injury, but she'll still be my cheerleader. And I'll reward myself by going to Boot Country, purportedly the largest retailer of cowboy boots in the country. Otherwise, I really don't know much about Nashville, so if anyone has any advice about where to go or what to see or do, please leave a comment. And if any of my friends happen to be in the area, contact me! I'm there for several days; maybe we can get together!
Anyway, I'm likely off the computer for the next several days, so I wish you well and I'll update you upon my return. I'm off to work on accepting the things I cannot change for now...
Adieu. Happy Trails.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Even though all of those folks have grown, whether up or simply older, and we don't anticipate the Easter Bunny's arrival anymore, the important stuff remains: love, affection, devotion, and gratitude for these incredible people I call my own. But we DO still dye eggs, and in fact the family has devised a competition for next year: an Easter egg decorating contest. We can submit ONE store-bought chicken egg, decorated in ANY fashion we choose. Winner gets a dollar from each contestant plus bragging rights for an entire year. This should be interesting because ours is one of the wackiest families on the planet! These likely won't be "pretty" eggs in the conventional sense; rather they will be punny, robotic, ironic, unexpected, inappropriate, exceedingly clever, or any and all of the above and more. I look forward to it.
I hope you and yours enjoyed your Easter weekend as well. I hope it's been filled with all the good stuff: love, laughter, fun, affection, and maybe even a chocolate bunny or two.
Special THANK YOU to Wendy and Lauren for watching our pooches for us while we were gone!!!!!! You two are so thoughtful!
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
The words of inspiration I'd like to share today are quotes about happiness, both of which come from the Dalai Lama XIV:
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
“The very purpose of our life is happiness, which is sustained by hope. We have no guarantee about the future, but we exist in the hope of something better. Hope means keeping going, thinking, ‘I can do this.’ It brings inner strength, self-confidence, the ability to do what you do honestly, truthfully and transparently. I appreciate your having already begun to help others.”
I'm not sure what I believe as far as a Higher Power, but I do believe in hope, and sometimes when I think of a Higher Power, it is precisely in that capacity: Hope. That's what I believe in without a shred of doubt. And I get much of that feeling of hope from my fellow man. I am inspired by mankind. Beyond that? I don't know, and that's okay too.
Hope your Easter is filled with the love of your friends and family. May your hearts be filled.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
I’ve learned a great deal more than that these past several months and I’ll share it with you piecemeal. But today is just a taste of how a change in attitude can help. Such a simple concept but amazingly powerful! And not so simple to put into practice, but hey---that's the key word: PRACTICE!
P.S. Happiness is the squirrel who taunted my dog and flirted with my camera during this morning's walk:
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
I took a risk and showed myself with all of my external warts on Facebook today. More importantly, it should be noted that I had (and have) internal warts to match. By posting this extremely unflattering picture, I took a chance in the hope that my own transformation might inspire those I have friended on Facebook. Then I decided that maybe it would inspire whoever it is that reads my blog, too. It's scary to show myself at my worst, but if it offers anyone out there hope that they might see a similar transformation, then I am all for it. You see, it was only through internal transformation that the external transformation happened. The external transformation was a happy side effect, but it is the internal transformation that is most important.
I once took life for granted. I didn't cherish it at all. In fact, life held no value for me. I was depressed, and had been for as long as I can remember. I tried to mask it with extremely destructive behaviors. I didn't care what happened to me, because my life consisted of just getting by. It was merely an endurance test. I didn't know what joy was. Life measured up to my every expectation, because I expected it to suck, to be painful, to be a trial, to be "not worth living." I set my expectations low so of course, my expectations were fulfilled. I expected my glass to be half empty, so of course that's exactly what it was. I made my life dismal because that was the attitude I fostered.
Some of my attitude came as a natural consequence of where I've been. I learned early on that life was nothing more than a series of trials to be endured. My father abused me, my mother, and my siblings for our entire childhoods. And when I say "abused," you can be sure that were his abuses to occur today he would be imprisoned for what he did to us. Sadly, back then, law enforcement tended to turn a blind eye. And I must assume that my relatives didn't know just how bad things were, or if they did they simply didn't know what to do, because they were not there to help. My mother wasn't able to help us either, for reasons I choose not to go into. But it jaded me, and made me feel that I was helpless. Utterly impotent. I couldn't trust those that were supposed to love me and be my protectors. I had no one to count on but myself, and I learned to use numbing techniques such as drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, reckless behavior, and holding people at arm's length to keep me from being hurt further. And recently, in therapy, I learned that I also dissociate (I call it my "going away," where I leave my body in order to avoid the hurt I am experiencing. I never knew I did it until it was observed on three occasions during therapy at Brookhaven, earning me a diagnosis of PTSD. I would simply "go away" without knowledge of doing so. Now I recognize that there have been many times I regained consciousness without knowing where I'd been the previous moments or even hours. Dissociation is the result of extreme trauma. I hope that I now have the tools I need to handle emotionally difficult situations more effectively, but this was a tool my childish brain latched onto and found effective when I needed it.)
I fought my way through my life to the best of my abilities. I found love with my husband, Pat, and together we created a beautiful family. But I realize now that I didn't even trust him fully with my heart, because I trusted no one. I held him at arm's length too, because I knew for certain that one day he would hurt me too, so I took preemptive strikes. And yes, he did hurt me, but it was in part my own fault, because of my attitude. Today I have so much regret for those years. I wish I could turn back the clock, but Pat stayed by my side through it all, and today we are doing everything in our power to strengthen our relationship, both for ourselves and for our children. We have experienced too much pain in this family to throw in the towel, and we both have made the choice to let the tragedies of the recent past bring us together rather than tear us apart. We both want transformation.
Aiden and Ethan were the impetus for me to transform. Losing those boys laid me lower than ever, and I was suicidal. To be honest, I have been suicidal on a number of occasions, and I have actively tried to end my life on three occasions. Am I still here by coincidence? Sheer luck? Or might there be something more? I don't know, but I AM here and from now on I intend to make the most of it.
Yes, I've had a rough go. Child abuse. Molestation. And worst of all, the loss of two of the most amazing people ever to come into my life. I could lay me down forever, but instead I choose to move forward, better than ever, to honor their memory. I choose to live with my glass half full now. I choose to take care of my body, which I have abused more than anyone else ever did. I choose to live clean, and live fully. I might still live recklessly by others' standards (I intend to become a certified skydiver this summer; learn whitewater paddling either this summer or next; continue solo backpacking; explore as much of the world as I can, alone if necessary; drive a demolition derby car if I can ever make that happen; etc., etc.,), but in my mind I am living fully, not recklessly.
Most importantly, I want to make a difference during my stint here on this big beautiful blue marble. I know that when Aiden died, I did what I could to raise awareness of the principals of Safe Sleep (and I continue to do so); but now I have a new goal: to raise awareness about PTSD and suicide. I feel uniquely suited to do so because I have attempted suicide and I suffer from PTSD, and I lost a beloved one to suicide because he lost his battle with PTSD. I am looking into Toastmasters to help me deliver the speech of my life, which I hope to deliver to military members worldwide if I can make it happen; to groups in which people are looking for hope in the face of despair; and face-to-face, one-on-one, to anyone who might benefit from my life experiences in any way.
Finally, I'm here to make public a lofty goal that I have been thinking of for quite a while: I want to write my autobiography with the purpose of inspiring hope in others. (Truth? I've already begun.) By sharing my story, I want to show you that if I can move forward with the hand I was dealt, I believe you can too, whoever you are and however you've been hurt. I want that for you, I want that for me.
I have discovered beauty in the aftermath of tragedy. I have discovered hope where once I saw none. I have discovered the basic goodness of mankind where once there was complete mistrust. And my transformation is just beginning. I have hope for so much more. I know I can do more than just get by, with a little help from my friends and loved ones, and maybe, just maybe, Someone I haven't met yet but am searching for. The door is opening---slowly, but it is.
And in case you can't see the pictures from my Facebook post very well, here they are: The face of hopelessness (see the dead eyes?) followed by the faces of Hope and Joy, and finally, two of the MANY friends, loved ones, and professionals who've made my transformation possible.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
You may bring your cheerleader if you wish.
“Statesman Capitol 10K names SafePlace 2014 beneficiary
November 6, 2013
I would SO love it if you would join me! You don't need to be a runner. If you are in reasonably good health, you can walk 6 miles. Come for the exercise, come for the fun, come for the energy of the crowds, come for the music, come because it's AUSTIN and it's weird and this is one of the top 10 10K's in the country! Be weird, be fit, be happy!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details, to RSVP, to wish me luck, whatever!
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
After it's fired I will glaze it using earth-tones, then use the top row of holes to lace it to a tree near his burial site, and the bottom row of holes to attach wind-chimes, colorful glass, whatever feels right.
Ethan's gravestone is finally completed but not yet installed. This long, drawn-out process is very painful. Pat and I went to ensure the marker was to our satisfaction and it hurt so badly that I spent the rest of the day in my bed. But I made myself get moving again the next day. One day of emotional paralysis is okay, but no more..
I'm hooked. I've decided to become certified. Pat's not thrilled with this decision, but he understands my heart and he's supporting me.
Pat and I are headed to New York in a couple of days. We're going to watch a singles' tennis match between the top two players in the world: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic; and a doubles match between the Brian Brothers and the McEnroe brothers. Should be some amazing tennis to watch!!!! We are both looking forward to it but Pat made me promise: NO SOCIAL MEDIA DURING THIS TRIP! This trip is to be just for us, but I'll let you know how it went when we get home. In fact, I'm signing off until early April.
I've seen two pictures of my absolutely gorgeous granddaughter and I am very, very grateful. I am unable to share them with you at this time, however, but I wish I could show you just how heartbreakingly beautiful she is. Just like her daddy and her mama. With that DNA combo Lyla truly won the genetic lottery. How I hope with all of my heart that I may one day be a part of her life.
So...my hair. What do you think? (Hopefully you realize that I would NEVER do something like the other to my hair...but this one's fun. I like it.)
Friday, February 21, 2014
At any rate, happy two months "birthday," little one. I really hope to meet you some day. I have presents for you, but it's time for me to find another little girl to give them to. But I really thought that you'd look precious in these. They have a certain sassiness that I'm sure you have too, because some of my blood flows in those little veins! I've had them for about six months. They're sized for newborns.
I hope a day comes when I get to spoil you, as every grandma should with her grandchildren.