31 December 2016

Embody

The process of finding my word for 2017 has not been a tough one.  Last year I went through Susannah Conways' Find Your Word Course and it brought me to my word for 2016, which was Movement. This year, I came to my word rather easily, as it was thrust in my presence continuously over the past few weeks.  I've read it in blog posts and articles, I've heard it uttered in multiple podcasts, and the word has been spoken by friends in conversation.  The first time it hit me, I knew it would be my guiding word for 2017.

Embody.

I've been true to my words the past few years.  Allowing them to guide me, and repeating them in my head every time I needed to remind myself to focus.  Movement got me up off my ass on the occasions during 2016 where I felt the laziness settle in.  Movement has helped me to unclutter areas of my physical and mental space.  Movement helped me change habits and it was the first thing I did January 1st when I woke up after smashing out my last cigarette the night before, and went for a hike with my dog.  Movement took me across the country where I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean on Cannon Beach in Oregon.  Movement has seen me lose 20 lbs during the course of the year and will undoubtedly see 20 more in the coming months.  And just as Presence helped me to pay attention and focus on what is in front of me not only in 2015 but this year also, I'm sure they both will continue to follow me through 2017 as I Embody all of the things that I hold close in belief.

I will Embody the healthy lifestyle I began by quitting smoking.  I will Embody the eating habits that nourish and feed not only my physical health but my mental health as well.  I will Embody the rituals and habits that nourish my physical and mental space and help me to focus on the important things which go much further than what I can see and touch in this world I am inhabiting in this lifetime.  I will Embody all the things that will nourish and enrich the lives of my children and those around me, the moments, the experiences that truly matter and make a real difference.

Most importantly, I will Embody all of my hopes and dreams and see to fruition the things that I have been wanting for so long and will no longer allow fear or "busyness" of life to get in the way of accomplishing these things.

The candle burning in the photograph above was a gift.  I received two in a package and had one of my children walk the second one up the hill to my mother so that she, too, could take part in this ritual of burning a Bayberry candle on New Years Eve, to bring abundance and blessings in the coming year.  She immediately called me and asked me if I didn't remember that she used to do this.  When I was gifted a set of these last year, I vaguely felt something when I pulled the candles out of the box, but nothing concrete, and I never thought of it again.  But it's rather appropriate, as I sit here thinking of my intentions for the coming year, and the years after and what I am wishing for as my children continue to grow and mature and find their own ways in this world.

I hope all of you who come upon these writings welcome the year in with Love and Positive Vibrations in your hearts.

26 December 2016

Intent on Intentions

On December 31, at 11:45, I will be one year free of cigarettes.  There was one evening I had one in my hand, back at the beginning of May I believe, but I never lit it and never would consider it.  I think at that point it was nice to know that I could put one in my hand, look at it, (with a lighter in my pocket as I still need something for incense, candles and such) and just know that I was done with it.

There were certainly points of time during the past year that I noticed the space left open by not smoking, but the space was the reward.  The space of not needing to stop what I was doing at any given time to take a break and go smoke.  If you are a 10 cigarette a day smoker, that adds up to 100 minutes or more a day.  And what can one do with 100 minutes in a day?  Granted, there are things that one can do while smoking, but considering I never smoked in my house or around my kids, the act of smoking was always something that required time "away" from whatever I was doing.

As I look at what I have gained from a year away from the habit, the one thing that sticks out over everything else is how well I handle the cold temperatures.  It can be 30 degrees outside and I'm completely fine to take a walk in it.  My circulation has improved drastically.  Last year I could barely keep my toes warm in two pairs of socks.   I don't mind the colder weather.  In fact, as soon as I'm finished writing this post, I'm heading outside to take a walk and move my body.

I now have a five-year plan that I'm working on and the next step I need to take towards this is a break from social media.  I admit that there are things that I love about facebook.  I love that I can easily keep in touch with friends across the country in one space.  I love that people share pieces of their lives and photographs of the places they live and visit, and I love to share those things myself.  But if I'm saving 100 minutes a day by not smoking, I am probably spending more time than that scrolling through my newsfeed multiple times a day.  And for what?

I'm done watching it. For a while at least.

My word for 2016 was Movement.  And it definitely guided me in many ways.  I'm pretty sure that "Embody" is going to be my guiding word for 2017 and I think it goes without saying that practicing what I preach is where I need to begin.  And if you want to find me, this is where I will be when the time allows.  Stay tuned.  Good things to come!


22 December 2016

Post Solstice Ramblings


As the year begins its' journey into becoming the past, I am beginning my own journey, as I always do at this time, further into myself.  The autumn always greets me with an invitation to dive deeper into the metaphorical waters to continue the search for more. 
To search for more.  Because there is always more.
To look at where I need to make changes. Because there is always room for improvement.
To hold space for what the year has given me.  Because there are always gifts, even in a year that has held many challenges and grief-stricken moments for many people.  My 2016 was 2009, but as an empath I feel it all anyway, so there are always moments of holding space for others in my life.

It's not the prospect of a new year, in and of itself, that creates this force in me.  While I do enjoy the idea of a clear, blank page in front of me, it's the whole season itself.  The darkness outside that invites me into my own darkness inside.  The opportunity to confront myself.  The quietness beckons me deeper to the places I tend to avoid during seasons of abundant light. And there is nothing to fear in those shadows.

On the contrary, I feel like it's all in the shadows.  All of it. Everything we miss or are unable to see through the reflections, or from the brightness that blinds us from what is right there, in front of us.  When you turn that light away and start walking into the darkness, your eyes eventually adjust and begin to focus, and with a different perspective.

When the new year rings in this time, I'm planning to take a break from facebook and will be deactivating my account for a while.  While I've had ideas of making a year out of it, I'm going to be realistic in that I may change my mind at some point, for a moment, or altogether.  But I'm starting out and running for at least a month, as an experiment of sorts.  And this blog, this space here, will be my home.  I'm finding that my own words are being drowned out by the constant clutter of a newsfeed that really doesn't feed me in nourishing ways.  Seems to be a good next step in the natural progression of my journey.  I hope you will accompany me at least occasionally.

Namaste


22 November 2016

December Reflections - 2016 Edition

I've been participating in most of Susannah's photo challenges for a couple years now and while I always look forward to them, I have to say that this years December Reflections is more welcomed than any I've joined so far.

At a time when there are so many words flowing around inside of me, I'm struggling to pull them out and organize them in any rational fashion.  There are multiple projects in front of me that need tweaked and perfected and readied for the finish line.  And all I want to do is sink into my couch, under the blankets, warm tea in hand, and knit. And knit. And knit.

Tis the season, right?

So, this comes as the perfect daily ritual for me, at a time when all I want to do is hibernate,  and I'm feeling myself resisting anything that doesn't involve yarn, or sleep, or comfort food.  It's good to have something to focus on that feeds my creative energy.



I took this photo one morning last week when I was heading out for the day.  It speaks volumes.  Nature has such lovely ways of providing us with the metaphors and messages we need at just the time we need them.


17 July 2016

Change Feels Good

I started smoking shortly before I turned 12. It wouldn't turn into a true habit for a couple years, but by the time I got to high school I was a smoker. We would pack ourselves into the bathroom stalls between periods and "hotbox" one between us in a quick minute and then head to the next class, planning to meet again in 50 minutes to share another.

At that point, it wasn't because I thought it made me "cool".  I enjoyed it.  And for years it would continue to be something I enjoyed.  I loved being a smoker.

Today, the smell makes me gag.

I quit when I had my boys, while I breastfed them for two years, and started right back up when they weaned, though never smoked in front of them, nor did I ever smoke in my house. New Years Eve, December 31, 2015, at 11:45 pm I smoked my last one.  And then I crawled into an epsom salt bath before going to bed.  I had quit numerous times in my life, and the most recent was in 2014 for about 4 months.  At that point I gained 20 lbs. At first I didn't care because I needed to quit smoking and I was going to make it work.  I figured when I was over the craving period I would then work on losing again.  That never happened and I just started right back up again. 

Fast forward to the months before this recent quit.  My feet were always cold, I was always cold, and I was out of breath walking up my stairs, and I was still not losing any of that weight.  I weighed as much as I did when I gave birth to my children.  And while I was quite healthy mentally (thanks to some serious soul searching over the previous two years), I was completely ignoring the shape my physical self was in. 

So, New Years Day, January 1, 2016, I awoke at the crack of dawn, grabbed Princess (my furbaby, who needed the workout just as much as I) and headed out to start the year with a much better habit......physical activity.! For the next three days straight I would do this.  The first day up that trail, in 30 degree weather, I huffed and puffed and my heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest.  But I kept going.  

When the fourth day came and I had to go back to work, unable to begin the day with a hike, I felt it. All those previous days I didn't crave a cigarette in the least. I began to crave physical activity.  My feet were no longer cold and the 30 degree weather actually felt good to be out in.  The rest of the winter would not allow me to hike until nearly March.  So I took to a lot more knitting.
Which brought 20 more pounds. Which made me 20 pounds more than what I weighed when I gave birth.

Not cool. 

Four weeks ago I weighed 185 lbs. which is the most I've ever weighed and wasn't really good for my barely 5'1" frame. I ended up going to the ER with nothing wrong other than the fear that I had a blood clot because the symptoms I spent the weekend with all pointed to it.  But all the tests they did pointed to me being pretty healthy, other than slightly elevated sugar levels that they did not show concern about.

That weekend I cut out all processed foods and swore myself to only consume natural and raw foods. No more sugars, no more breads, no more eating sushi multiple times a week, and no more caffeine in any form.  And water. Lots and lots of it!  I've also been slowly increasing the amount of steps I take each day, forcing myself to walk circles if it's what it takes to meet my goals.

Four weeks later and the list of things that have changed far surpass the changes that occurred when I quit smoking over six months ago.  And they are changes that I've made, without the help of any self-help book on the market, without the assistance of some trendy diet supplement, and without the help of a gym.  Here's a list that makes me feel good to write.

  • I've lost 20 lbs.
  • I've lost 2.5 inches from my waist.
  • I take actual, intentional walks every single day.
  • I crave those walks and when I don't get them I feel anxious.
  • Connecting with nature provides much more than physical benefits.
  • I am more aware of my body and how I feel inside of it.
  • I actually like my body at this point even though I still have about 25-30 lbs. to go.
  • I can see muscles forming.  I can actually see my abs!
  • I haven't been having issues with my neck and back.
  • I no longer crave sweets, or thick heavy cheese covered sandwiches (though I still put cheese on my salads).
  • Less brain fog.
  • Saving a ton of money by not eating out and not buying processed snack foods.
  • Ladies, my pms symptoms are practically non-existent.  The month prior to making these changes, my boobs were so sore for the two weeks leading up to it, and this month there was barely a twinge of pain.  Processed foods totally effect your cycle and completely fuck with your hormones.
  • No caffeine at all and I have even more energy.
  • I actually feel cleaner inside.
  • I'm calmer.
  • I'm less anxious.
  • I find myself not wanting to "sit and relax" as often.
  • I have a "need" to keep moving.
  • I haven't spent a dime on any gym memberships, supplements or trendy diet stuff. 
In the time I spent writing this blog post, my body continued to beg me to stop and get up and move. I'm craving a hike right now. I'm not craving chocolate.  I'm not craving nicotine. I'm not craving wine (I actually rarely drink anyway).

I do give myself one day each week to grab a salad out and enjoy it in the company of a friend.  I also allow myself one cooked meal each week, which is usually a small bowl of rosemary and garlic potato wedges with my kids.  I also have only had chocolate once in the past four weeks, and it wasn't too awful, but a couple bites into it I was wishing a small was much smaller. 

The one thing that has allowed me to make these changes and achieve these results is Me.  With a capital ME. Me making the effort every single day to not allow myself to give in to cravings. Me making the effort every single day to not give up and say "oh I'll start over tomorrow". Me going to Pole Steeple even though I'm still pretty slow-moving on inclines. Me walking up the hill to my moms, again, because it's a good excuse to get another hug from her and I need to get the extra steps in.  Me not stopping for ice cream because I'm pms-ing and "need" chocolate.  Me coming home every day for lunch and making a fresh salad.  Me forcing myself to not sabotage myself.  Me making the effort. Me not making excuses for why I can't. Because I always can.  And also because I will be in the Pacific Northwest soon and I want to be able to tear up at least one serious trail on the Pacific Coast Trail while I'm out there. 

Feeling good feels really good.

31 May 2016

The Land of Blame and Judgment


That's us, and this is the main response I've seen to the unfortunate gorilla incident.  "It's the mothers' fault. She should have been watching her child better.  The zoo should have had more protective measures in place to keep this from happening."  All true. Perhaps. And my own initial reaction was "How did that child get down there?" But our initial reactions should have been more along the lines of:

"That must have been really tough for that mother to go through.  I bet she was really scared."

"It's really sad that the gorilla had to die."

"It's good that the child is safe and okay."

Instead, we respond with judgment.  Why did the mother allow this to happen?  We rush to place the blame and the first place that it goes is the one person who would need compassion and support the most in a situation like this.  How would any of us feel or react if it were our child? Oh yeah, of course it wouldn't happen to us. We would have been watching our kids more closely, right?

It's like this with every story that comes across our news feeds.  A teenager overdoses on heroin?  Automatically the parents are at fault for not keeping a shorter leash on the kid and the government/police are at fault for not keeping the drugs off the street.  The woman in front of you at the grocery store using food stamps?  She should work harder and not leech off the tax payers' hard earned money.  A couple gets divorced?  They should have put more effort into making their marriage work.  There is so little compassion for people who go through tough times and it is especially concerning because the majority of the situations we judge are ones that we know nothing more about than the paragraph or two we read on our facebook pages.  A paragraph or two that is merely the opinion and perspective of the person writing it.  And everyone has an opinion or two, and we all have to make sure to scream it loud enough so it's heard. 

What you're not seeing, though, is that the teenager who overdosed had a tight-knit and supportive family and was raised well, but caved to peer-pressure wanting to "just try it once", and that's all it took to get addicted. (I'm sure most of you remember "trying" a thing or two once or thrice in your youth).  And that kid tried multiple times to quit and the family tried multiple times to help.  Instead of "why didn't they do more" we should be saying "how hard it must be for that family to go through that. What can we do to help them? How can we prevent this from continuing? What can we do to support those who are currently in this situation but trying to change it?  How can we make it easier for people to help themselves? How can we provide the support so they want to help themselves."

The woman using food stamps?  You're not seeing that she was laid-off from a well paying job and unemployment is barely making the rent, let alone all the other expenses required to support herself and her four children. Her ex husband pays support but had to take a pay cut due to slow work at his own job. She submits applications nearly every day and goes on multiple interviews every week.   She is considering applying for financial aid to work towards a degree if nothing pans out soon.  Her kids still need to eat, as does she. Her ex has taken on a part time job to try to help out, giving up time with his children to do so. What more should she be doing?

The divorced couple?  There are many options for what happened to create that situation, so pick whichever makes you feel righteous.

The mother of the child who fell in the gorilla moat at the zoo? All it took was one second. The amount of time it takes to recover from a sneezing fit.  When my boys were around the same age as this child one of them fell from the kitchen counter, head right on the ceramic tile.  I was standing right there in front of them, not even one foot away. I hadn't turned my head. We were making a salad.  I was teaching them, bringing them into the process of being involved in the preparation of our food.  We were connecting.  I never let them on the counter when I wasn't there and rarely even when I was there.  Thankfully he was fine.  Thankfully no one judged me.  Everyone saw my fear, my worry, and they knew accidents happen.  I'm sure, however, if someone posted on Facebook "Womans' child falls off kitchen counter, rushed to the emergency room", there would have been plenty of blame to go around.  "Where was his mother??? She should have been watching him. It's all her fault. She's a witch! Burn her!"  

His mother was right there and already took plenty of blame before you started judging her.

It is really sad that the gorilla had to die.  And I am glad that the child is going to be okay.  His mother will probably hold him tighter than ever from now on.  She will probably wake up every day grateful beyond measure that he is okay.  She will also spend a lot of time judging herself, even without the help of the world wide web. But it was a terrible accident and what place do we have to judge?

There is one thing that we can all take from this, and many other situations, and try to improve upon.  The minute that urge to judge creeps in, ask yourself if you have handled every challenging situation in your own life perfectly.  Put yourself in the other person shoes and ask how you would prefer to have others respond to you in a similar situation.  Basically, try to have more compassion.

We could also stop caging wild animals and allow them to live in their intended habitat. 


11 May 2016

Draining the Well



Life is a series of journeys.  I will turn 40 this October and have been on many already, navigating path after path full of twists and turns. To say it's been a constant challenge would be an understatement.  But that's what life is, isn't it?  One challenge after another.  They aren't all hard and tough challenges, but every part of my journey has called for me to muster up even more strength to move towards the next part.  And strength requires effort.

The past decade has provided some of the toughest lessons and I feel like it has been the most intense in a spiritual sense.  I've gone through some of the deepest soul searching imaginable.  I've questioned everything from why am I here to does God really exist, and if he does in what form?  I've prayed, I've meditated, I've screamed begging for answers and I've sat in silence yearning for them.  I've had soul-filling epiphanies and I've had moments where I've been left more confused than I was before I started questioning.  I've dove into wisdom from countless belief systems and have become comfortable adopting aspects of quite a number of them without feeling the need to label myself as any one in particular.  I've developed a deep understanding and appreciation for all forms of spirituality and for the soul that resides in this body.

I have searched the depths of myself and have discovered pieces that I have been looking for for years. I've searched, and searched, and searched. And I continued to search.

And search some more.

And I think I am ready for a break.

I feel like all that searching and discovering and learning has left me tired, exhausted and ultimately drained.  I have gained an unimaginable amount of wisdom and I am ready for a break from the need for more.

With social media providing us a constant stream of input, unless you purposefully seek it out there really is no "quiet" time for the mind. You can remove yourself from all electronic devices, media, televisions, radio, etc., and still be harassed with input from billboards, signs, flyers and other various forms of physical advertisement that is nearly impossible to avoid.  Even the articles that you resonate with, the bits of wisdom that you agree with and enjoy reading can become redundant and overwhelming when there is no break from it.  I think the key to avoiding the overwhelm is ensuring that you are emptying yourself of as much as you are being filled. If you are not releasing all that input, where does everything else have to go?  Stress, overwhelm and frustration come from not providing ourselves with enough space.  When you release, let go and open up space, then the energy has room to flow.  One can spend their entire life searching for answers that are already right there.  But if you don't create space for them, where will they go?

The time has come to open the drain and let the output begin.  To take a break from all things analytical and just be, create, and watch.  I've wondered for a while now what this decade will bring me in terms of discovery.  I'm leaving the self discovery to all those who are still asking questions and still searching and am embarking on a physical journey. One where I seek to experience without the need for analyzing. One where there is no judgment. A journey of exchange between me and the earth. One that can not be explained in words but can only be felt by walking the trails, swimming in its' waters and standing on its' edges.

11 April 2016

Dear Younger Me



Very thankful for the lovely Susannah, who continues to provide me with creative inspiration.  Here is my own love letter.  You can find Susannahs' love letter here.  Or you can join in every day in the April Love if you are inspired to keep writing.

Dear Younger Me:

At not quite 18, you have no idea how fast the years are going to go.  But I can tell you that one day you will be 39 years old and you will be reminded of the many times that your elders said those same words.  "The older you get the faster it goes."  So many cliches' and every single one of them so very true. 

"You'll eat those words". And my how many of them you will eat.

You are well aware of what you have, even if you do sometimes take it for granted.  All those times you think about the day you won't have to call and check in with your parents and let them know you're okay?  Well, that day will never come.  You will never intentionally let a day pass without checking in with your mother, by choice.  And eventually she will check in with you just as often. And if she doesn't answer her phone, you will then understand the worry you put her through all those times.

Yes, there will be many many "times".  You will do a lot of stupid shit.  Your family will continue to support you and eventually you will stop making stupid decisions.  You'll pay for it, but it will teach you valuable lessons and that first-hand experience will some day make you a responsible mother.  At that point, you will understand even more.  

You will never have to replace an engine in your car, nor will you ever run out of gas because your fathers' words will stick with you.  Some day one of your children will say from the backseat "Mommy, Pap Pap says you need to get gas" and it will both warm your heart and make it ache at the same time.

Family. You are so lucky to have the one you do.  Every one of them.  Remember that, and cherish every single moment.  Some day those memories will be just as sweet and welcome as the moments themselves. 

Your childrens arrival will not be easy, but they are fighters just like you.  And they will be the rock that holds you up when those you've looked up to from your own childhood begin their departures from this world.  It will never be easy, but you have serious strength in your genes, and you understand so much more than much of the world is able to comprehend.  You don't always give yourself enough credit for your strength, or your ability, or your talents but eventually you will learn how to be more gentle with yourself.  

Some day you will realize that every experience, good or bad, joyful or tragic, has its' place.  One prepares you for another.

Your high school sweetheart will break your heart, but he won't be the last one to do it, and even though it will hurt and you will cry a lot, you will love again.  And you will hurt again.  Multiple times. It's a necessity, but you won't begin to understand it until you open your heart wide enough, allowing every part of you to be vulnerable.  Only when you take that love and turn it inward to yourself, only then will you understand.  

Best advice? Slow down, but stand firmer.  Push harder, but hold on loosely.  I know, totally inconsistent, but one day you'll understand.  One day much more of it will make sense and you'll want to kick your 18 year old self in the ass and say "WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING???" And your 21 year old self, and your 23 year old self and sometimes even your 36 year old self.  But it all works out.  Not perfectly but imperfectly, which is much better.  

Love,


Your not-quite-40-year-old-self.....now go home and eat that leftover chili.  You really do make it better each time.

09 March 2016

Honor Your Mother!



In honor of Womens' History Month, let me begin by honoring the first woman I have looked up to. The first woman to hold me, to care for me, to bear the responsibility of being everything that I would and will need, all wrapped up in one person.  Because even though everyone in my family would play a crucial role in raising me, and to this day each of them (here and gone) continues to guide me in one way or another, it is and always will be a childs' mother who can fill a place that no other can.

My beautiful mother is and always was my best friend.  I've given her every grey hair on her head and she's never wavered in her support.  Even when she disagrees with me, she supports me.  I was a really good baby but a rather challenging teenager, and while I am becoming calmer in my years, I still am quite stubborn, and she continues to be there.  

My mother has always been my biggest and most encouraging fan/support when it comes to writing, yet I'm at a loss for finding the words to accurately say what I want to.  

Thank you, mom :) I love you.


08 February 2016

Dear Grandma

Seven years ago, at this very moment, our little part of the village was bustling with police activity and a dark cloud full of grief that would continue to take up residence for a long time after. Today, it was a bright, sunny, quiet morning with few noises when I left to go to work.  They're calling for more snow tomorrow.  When I read back through your journals you mention, quite often, the beauty of the snow.  I know how much you loved winter, and that helps me appreciate it more than I did even as a wonder-filled child. I think of you every time I look out the window and see it sparkling under the moonlight.  When I'm standing at the sink in the kitchen doing dishes, I love to watch the birds at the mock orange bushes.  Cardinals often take a perch to watch me too but I imagine you know that.

There are still many moments where I feel like someone is standing behind me, or is hanging out in the next room watching me.  I see movement out of the corner of my eye often.  The boys experience this too and sometimes I catch Sean talking to you, and my dad too.  Occasionally, upon walking through the door after work, the smell of your perfume lingers heavily in the kitchen.  And quite often you come to me in my dreams and I awake feeling like I was truly in your presence.  I am thankful, every time, for these visits.  

I am also thankful that the boys still have such vivid and clear memories of you.  They were so young when you were taken from us.  I believe I was eight when my Great Grandma Trone passed away, and while I do remember her, there is really only one clear, full memory, sitting with her on the couch at Grandma Wagner's house, she may have been doing embroidery or something.  I do remember talking to her on more than one occasion, but so very little.  The boys remember so much of you and my dad and I'm pretty sure a lot of that has to do with how much we continue to talk about you and share stories.

It makes me think about how much I feel like I know your own mother and father, too, and Aunt Annie, who apparently was a bit of a spitfire and I would probably have gotten along well with.  I asked so many questions as I got older, wanting to know everything. Hanging on the edge of my seat as you told me of your childhood.  I look around this house and I can feel the history, even though I've changed so many things.  Perhaps as I peel away the metaphorical layers, tearing out the walls to expose the old, flowery wallpapers that cover the plaster, I'm peeling away more layers of myself and absorbing the wisdom that has run through this house for well over a century.

I believe in energy.  And I continue to feel my own changing every day.  My grief will always be a part of me, but so will you and everything that I have gained from having you as such a strong force in my life.

Missing you, as always.

02 February 2016

Do Murderers Get Birthday Cake In Prison?


Dear Colton – There is a photo stored away in a box somewhere in my closet from about 26 years ago.  I was 13 years old and holding you as a baby who had just been born.  Your birth was such a cause for celebration to all of us who had been close to your family.  Your mom prayed for you for many years.  My mom, her best friend, prayed right along with her.  You were a miracle and it brought us all such joy to welcome you.  You were a pretty big boy, too, getting stuck on your way earthside, but you made it and we all celebrated your arrival.

I remember one day when you were about 6 months old, we were all sitting on the pool deck at my parents house.  My mother and I, and you with your mother.  Somehow you tumbled into the pool and for some reason, my reflexes were the quickest.  I jumped right in and pulled you out, and you would survive. You weren't in the water very long at all, but any mother who has been through any situation remotely similar will tell you that even half a second seems like an eternity when your child is in danger.  We were all thankful you were safe.  

Over the years, as I'm sure you remember, you spent more time with our family.  We were neighbors, after all, and our parents were very good friends. My grandmothers kitchen fed more people than any other in our community, I can say with near certainty.  She was known for her baking, her hospitality, her warm and welcoming demeanor, her grace.  But you know all this because you were lucky enough to be a part of that throughout your life.  Unfortunately, you would ultimately make the choice to be the person who would tragically and brutally end her life.

You are celebrating your birthday today, and in less than a week we will, again, see another anniversary of her death. Seven years now, it has been since I hugged her; since my children have run up to her with their own arms outstretched, squealing with delight, "Gammy!". Seven years now, I have been on this journey, the survivor of a murder victim. And I have asked myself countless questions.  I have asked the universe countless questions, and I have held many conversations with God (or who/whatever is in charge of all of this).  I'm still no closer to having answers, but I still ask, and wonder.

I wonder if you would have done what you did if my children and I were still living there.  I often wish that I would have never moved out of her house.  Neither of us can go back and erase what happened, but I know if it were possible I would do anything I possibly could to try to keep it from happening.  Would you? Do you live with regrets like we do?  Do you enjoy celebrating your birthday in prison, knowing that it is what the rest of your life is going to be?  Do you even celebrate your birthday there? Do you get a birthday cupcake in prison? Does it taste like prison food?

As much as we know that no one can go back and change the past, and most of all, we are not at fault for what YOU chose to do, it still isn't easy to think back to how we possibly could have prevented it from happening.  But then again, would you have taken my life too?  The life of my not-quite five year old children?  Would I have heard you come in? Would I have had the strength to fight you? You did break every bone in her beautiful face. Would I have killed you? Would I have tried? So many questions, but so pointless to ask because it is what it is.

It is what it is.  Something I have said many times over the past seven years.  Do you ever wonder how life would be for all of us if you hadn't broken into her house that night and taken her life?  I do. Often. And there are times that I would like to ask you, in person.  But I don't know if I'm ready for that yet.  I feel like I have to be at a place of total forgiveness before I can, again, look in your eyes.

I remember the last time I looked into your eyes. The day I stood in a courtroom packed full, reading the hardest words I've ever had to write, as you were sentenced. Your hair was long and greasy and I could tell that jail had not been friendly to you.  And when you had the chance to apologize, I looked right into your eyes. A few tears escaped and slid down your cheek.  I'm not quite sure whether I thought them sincere at that moment, nor do I know for sure what I think now, all these years later.  

I do know that many days go by that I don't even think about you or about what you did.  That's a huge blessing because I know the three months my father lived after finding her were plagued with the image of her in the condition you left her in. While it hurts to know he had to deal with that, I am thankful that I am able to live without being overcome by my grief.  I know that my memories of my grandmother are warm, comforting and span nearly four decades, and also include stories of the generations before her.  The roots here run deep as do the lessons my grandmother taught all of us.  

Lessons?  Well, even though you are a murderer, you are celebrating a birthday today and for that, you should be thankful, even if you are in prison, because, again, I saved your life.  Well, actually, my grandmother, the woman whose life you took, she saved your life this time.  For she was a woman full of grace, strong in her faith, in her belief in her God and she would have let her God be your judge.
The person I was before this event would have sent you off to your death without a second thought or regret.  But the person who my grandmother was would have forgiven you and prayed for you to find God.  

Perhaps one day I will forgive you, and actually send this letter.  For now, I'm content with not hating you, and being okay with you possibly having cake.


Happy Birthday.

20 January 2016

Tuesday's Distraction on Wednesday

It's extremely difficult to focus on work when the boss comes in with his puppy, tells you to keep an eye on her, and walks out the door.  So then this happens. 


This little girl is quickly becoming my best friend. Even though she wants to chew my hair, and my shirt, and lick my jeans (she smells my doggie).

On another note, I was able to get out for a hike over the weekend.  It was a little on the chillier side and I noted the possibility of snow in the forecast, but I went out anyway.  Met a friend there and the trail was much busier than I expected it to be.  Found a group hanging out when we got to the top of the rocks and passed at least three more groups of hikers on our way down.  It started snowing before we started our descent, and it added such a peaceful air around us.  I'm ready to get out again, but it's looking like we'll be snowed in this weekend.  Good thing I have plenty of yarn.

12 January 2016

Tuesdays Distraction

Todays distraction is brought to you in honor of the following:

David Bowie, who I've loved and have been listening to since I was old enough to recognize truly good music.

Movement, my word of the year, combined with the first video below, so that everyone can pay respects to Mr. Bowie and dance!!!!

My dad, who would have celebrated his 69th birthday on the day David Bowie left the earth.  I like to think that where ever they are, David sang Happy Birthday to my dad :).

So, if you haven't already (because obviously social media has already covered millions of shares), or if you have and would like to again (me! me!) here's some David Bowie for your enjoyment, nostalgia, and distraction.

My favorite!

A version I remember seeing when I was very young, but have forgotten about.

6:08 I would totally have bought an audio book of David Bowie does Nursery Rhymes and played it for my kids every night!

I've heard him refer in this way to his process numerous times, the "getting through it" so he can "get on with something else" and it leads me to think deeper about the need to create.  Perhaps this is where we could find answers to many mental "illnesses".  Perhaps people "go mad" or get depressed, anxious, frustrated, etc. when they're NOT able to create and get their ideas and talents out.  It gets stuck inside and festers.  Just like with feelings and such, we need a release, and that's what art is.  I know if I'm not creating, or if I go longer periods of time without creating, I feel stuffed inside.  After I spend time writing pages upon pages, those moments where I throw up in half a notebook, I feel so much better.  I think this needs contemplated upon further....at another time :)
To be an artist.

THIS!

05 January 2016

Tuesdays Distraction


I'm going to go through some creative experimentation this month and work on finding some routines that work for me.  For example, Tuesdays Distraction may turn into an every Tuesday list of things that I find which make me feel good and spark encouragement to create and move.  On the other hand, I might decide that I want to call it something else and do it on another day of the week.  Or maybe I'll do it today and then not ever want to do it again. We shall see. The point is, with my word for 2016 being "Movement" I'm just going with it when it hits me.  Rather than sitting and thinking on things, wondering if it's precisely the way I want to do it and then never really following through. Yay for movement!  For now, please enjoy the things that have been distracting me, but in a good way.

The photo above is a pair of jeans I'm mending using a Japanese hand mending method. I can see this being my new obsession (because I do occasionally need a break from knitting and I have tons of vintage fabrics to put to use).  I could peruse pinterest searches for sashiko and boro all day and into the wee hours of a week later. Because it's just that beautiful to me.  The art of creating something that continues to be useful (and even more gorgeous!) out of that which the majority of America would just throw away (hello there disposable society! That's you!), well, it just reaches down into the depths of my being and gives me reason to hope for a non-disposable future! I also found Rebecca's lovely website, which I am pretty sure I'll be spending some time perusing in between tax preparation (yes it's that time of year again!)

Oh, and if that isn't enough beautiful fabric love for you? Check out shiborigirl! Breathtaking and inspiring!

Spent a bit of time watching how people knit last evening.  This is brilliant and made me want to learn some other methods of knitting, even if I remain comfortable with my current way.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled tax form preparations.


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40. mother. earth lover. mover. creater.