Thursday, December 17, 2009

Favorite song lyrics... JJ Hellar "Your Hands"

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands

Sunday, December 13, 2009

In general

Life is going a bit better. Or maybe it is just that I am changing my attitude.
Stressful things are still present. But I have decided I had been in victim mode. Now I am preparing for warrior mode.

I have sat on anger and disappointment for too long. I have cried too many tears over things I have no control over. And I want to control EVERYTHING. But I can't. This past year, I finally realized was about letting go: of things, of issues, of beloved pets and people, (that was the hardest) and admitting control is a human illusion.

That takes me into thinking of freewill and all those concepts. And I could go on and struggle and beat myself up for bad decisions I have made and will probably continue to make. But I ultimately don't run the world or control the universe. I need to stop trying to do God's job and give it back to the One who does control everything.

I have been angry a lot this year. Biting it back, holding it in led to a major depression. Not pretty. Painful. Not just to me but to the ones I hold near and dear.
I had to learn to ask for help. I am not magic after all. I am human. I never realized how prideful I was, until I had to break down and actually ask for help. It was hard because I am the problem solver, I am the strong one, I can fix things. But no, much like control, that too is an illusion. I can't save a dying animal. Death comes to each and every living creature. I cannot always heal the kids I work with. It is not in my power to do that. I can't fix broken hearts and souls. Sometimes for whatever reason, hearts must be broken. We are born, we live in a messy world and we die. And somewhere in that span are moments of beauty and joy that counterbalance the sorrow pain...

I connect through pain. I reach out to troubled people everyday. I want to help and heal and make whole. But I am human. I finally realized others want to do this too though. That is why I must extend my hand not only in helping but in asking for help.
I can't do this alone, no one can. But I don't have to hole up and become a victim of life, fate or my depression. I can be a warrior and stand with others to overcome what we can.

I can ask for help, from friends, family and God. Most of all I can ask for help and no longer be ashamed that I am not some incredible super human who can do it all. I just hope this time the lesson sticks and I don't have to relearn it. No promises though, I am pretty stubborn...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Unexpected blessings


Today the hubster and I had a couple of unexpected blessings.

He went to work only to discover he actually had the day off. So he came home and we got to spend time together raking the yard. More romantic than one would think...
We are always better as a team than as singles.

Together we worked on herding the leaves toward the curb where the giant sucking truck would come and get them later this week...
He used the Toro blower and later changed it to the chopping thingie. I stuck w/ the leaf brooms. Jake just ran circles and leaped into piles of leaves digging out twigs and sticks.

During the raking I uncovered an earthworm, fat and sluggish, awoken from his afternoon nap no doubt. I helped him to a safer place. A few yard further on, I uncovered 2 tiny purple violets, sweep and purple, hiding beneath dead and decaying leaves, they were in full bloom, struggling to reach the sun. For some reason I resonated with them. After this past year of struggling through dark times and longing for easier times, I feel like I am slowly getting closer to the sun, pushing through the the dank, decaying, dark days, getting back to the light, back to the positive energy, back to Hope.

It was a blessing to spend the day with my hubby and Jake, in the sunshine, discovering surprising things, under the leaves, in the yard, in my soul.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Time passes so quickly! Its almost Thanksgiving!

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I blogged.

This month has been the longest yet the fastest I have experienced in a while.

It started with the glorious fiery leaves on trees that I love and then in an instant there are bare branches and gloomy weather heralding winter...

I have hauled out comforters and quilts, my snuggies to keep the cold away. Last night was a sure sign as I woke up at one point to find not only a husband in bed, but two cats and a dog! Seems winter is approaching.

I will be glad when 2009 is over. This has not been the finest year for our family. I think in some ways this has been the hardest year of our marriage. We have hit rough patches but they were brief and we were younger and managed to bounce back faster.
This year took its toll on us: financially, mentally, physically and spiritually.
But we did not give up, we held on and we are coming out on the other side.

However we could not have made it without friends and our beloved family.
More than anything I have learned this year, it is this. I am loved. Not that I have doubted it, but my family (both sides mine and the hubsters, I can't separate them anymore, they just are MY FAMILY) have come through for us in abundance. I have called on them more than usual to help and they have not once said no to me. I am thankful for all of them. For taking the time to listen to me in the throes of self pity. To dry my tears, to hold my hand, to talk me out of my anxiety attacks and stupid ideas. But most of all I am thankful for their unquestioning, unconditional love. So while I will be glad when the bad parts of this year are over, I will be remembering the love that was there during the dark hours. I will be grateful that I had family and friends who stuck by me. I have no idea how I can ever repay what they have done for me, other to say thanks and let them all know how very, very much I love each and every one.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall

I cannot believe how quickly this month has gone by. It seems that the days have swirled by as fast and furious as the leaves...

It has been a trying and triumphant month.

Losses and gains.

Work and life are a roller coaster ride and I am hanging on, hoping and praying that all will be well.

The strange thing is I am not the only one affected. It seems as if the universe is all topsy turvy. Everyone I know seems to be going through a similar cycle. I hear talk about the economy all the time. War, peace, loss, fear. "These are the times that try men's souls." (Thomas Paine)

I will write more. But now I need to shower and get ready for Halloween with 3 of the 8 greats. Hoping the night is clear and the candy is flowing!

New poem... about the family farm.

In the curve of the land
where my life began
is where I wish my life to end.
in the wild grove where my grandmother’s
roses still grow
where wild garlic from a long ago garden
and buttercups and daffodils
are grown,
That is the final place
I want my ashes sown.

From the earth that nurtured me
and fostered my dreams
and even now tugs me back
for respite and care
I want my last bones and cells to return

I want my DNA to mix into the mud
with which I played
so that someday
maybe future generations
may touch me inadvertently
and feel a whisper of my passion
of my love
of my soul.

I want for them
the love of this land
that never left my bones

It seems only right to put me back
where my heart,
my soul belongs.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Life of late...

Much has been happening and I have not had time nor inclination to write.

Things have been rather strange here, lots of struggles and frustrations. I prayed for strength and now wished I had prayed for peace. I know God is with me but I feel so alone at times. I have cried so much its ridiculous even for me. But I am lucky, blessed with a great support system: family, friends, church and co workers. I will persevere. I will keep on going. Because really what other choice is there?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Trust and Faith

Talking to one of my kiddos, he tells me he wants two new tattoos. One on each arm: Trust and Faith, because he has learned that is what keeps him going. He also revealed he wants to be a therapist someday. He wants to help others because he knows what it is like to come up through the system and to grow up wounded. Plus he says he can make big money. I laughed and said "well make sure you become a psychologist and not a clinical social worker then!" he laughed too...

But it was a nice moment. I had a couple of those with my kiddos. One was angry and took it out on me for about 15 minutes and I realized we were getting nowhere, so I cut the session short and rescheduled for the next day. I asked her to give me a chance tomorrow. Then I tossed and turned all night trying to figure out how to address the disrespect and anger, the hurt she must have been feeling, trying to be firm but still caring...
When I saw her the next day I greeted her as usual and as we walked across the hall, she apologized to me. Told me she was having a bad day and had taken it out on me and was sorry. I validated her feelings and praised her for be accountable for her actions. We talked more that day than we had in awhile. She gave me a chance and I gave her one as well.

My third kiddo has been moved, disrupted again in foster care. We talked about a lot of things. He asked me if God was angry at him. Why? I asked. He said "I pray and pray and He turns his back on me and never answers my prayers." This led to a discussion of sometimes even God says NO and we don't know why. This kid is processing the murder of his dad. We relate because we both grew up as teenagers without dads. He told me I was one of the few people who ever showed up when I said I would. He told me trust is hard for him. He also said he has realized its not the environment that creates the trouble in his life, its his choices. He can choose trouble or not. I told him he was becoming a fine man that his father would have been proud of him.

Life is bittersweet at times. Making these connections is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I am honored and humbled at the trust and faith these kids place in me. I am by no means a hero, I am so afraid of wounding them further. I feel that sometimes I am too easy on them, not firm enough. I am trying to find that balance of firmness and boundaries but also of caring and believing.

It is about choices. Choosing to believe them. Choosing to believe in them. To see beyond the anger, the fear, the tough exteriors into the scared and scarred hearts.
I have discovered my strength is also my biggest weakness. Loving.
Its worth the risk though... because in the end there is trust and faith to see me through.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happiness returns

I have had a few moments of happiness lately. The new meds are working, the darkness is lifting and I am feeling hopeful again. Depression is such a horribly complex disorder...

Lately I have begun to cherish my Friday afternoon drives. One of my kiddos got moved to Richmond. He is the last appointment of the day. I drive down on I 75 to get there, spend an hour or so with him, talking and listening. Mostly listening, as that is really what he needs because he has more than enough adults talking at him. Then after my session with him, I head back on the old road. The road that is 2 lane and quiet, tree lined, and curved. I blare the oldies station and I sing loudly and drive just a little fast with the windows down and the wind blowing through my hair. I feel free, light and easy. I am singing songs from my youth, from a time I was innocent and believed I could make a difference and save the world. When one could actually understand the words to the songs. I crank the bass up and turn the volume up high, I fly down the blacktop, past cows and fields of hay, startling crows and squirrels. I drive past farms and old wrecked houses, imagining the lives that have passed through the dilapidated buildings. I see ghosts of happiness in the ruins. I pass graveyards where people sleep in peace no longer troubled by life's toils and troubles. The sun slants westward and shadows grow long, the scent of autumn swirls about me, the dry crispness of leaves, drying tobacco, hay ripening in the field. During this drive, my work is done, and I am ageless. I am suspended in time. I may be 16 again or 49 or any point between, for the music lifts me and takes me back, takes me to a time when I was happy, when I was free, when it was just me behind the wheel of a car, cruising along, alone and singing, happy to be me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

power of words

I love words, reading, writing, saying certain ones, the feel of them in my mouth, the sound of them, the poetry and cadence, words have power.

To help, to heal, to wound, to destroy. Sometimes in innocence we wield them and cut deeply only later realizing the damage we have caused. Then there are times we purposefully seek to hurt or to heal...

Today I sat and listened to a young teen pour out his heart. He told me things that had happened that had caused him to explode, to act out and to get into trouble, pretty serious trouble. Things that had happened years ago in foster care. I asked why he didn't try talking out the problem with the other party, explaining the situation, reporting his point of view to the authorities. At that point he raised his eyes to me and said to me, " I am just a kid. No one believes a kid. Adults think we always lie." Without thinking I reacted, and said, "I believe you."
We talked for awhile longer and I told him I was sorry bad things had happened to him. I agreed it wasn't fair and that frankly it sucked. He said "Well its the past, its over." I agreed but I also said it still hurts you and you can tell me about it because I am strong enough to hear it and sharing it will help make it less painful. He shrugged. We talked a bit longer and he went to class.

Later that day I got a phone call from school. He got in a fight and wanted them to call me. He had been pretty upset and had spent some time with the school psychologist. She called to tell me he had revealed that he wanted me called because "MaryMartha shows up when she says she will, she does what she says she does and she believes me..." The psychologist said she knew I worked in a thankless profession and wanted to share this with me. That this kid valued my belief in him. That I had a profound effect on him. I sat there listening amazed. I had spoken earlier without thinking, saying what was on my heart. Because I do believe him. I do believe all my kiddos when they tell me they hurt. I know they lie to me at times, and I can usually spot those times. But I can also tell when they are not lying. I can tell when they are in pain. I know when to believe them, when to believe in them. I just didn't realize the power of those words today.

I am amazed at the power of words. I need to remember that and use them wisely. I am grateful that God walks with me and gives me the right things to say. Because it isn't me. I am not that good or wise...

Monday, September 7, 2009

changes

Changes are coming, I can feel them. I do not know whether they are good or bad...

That is the perplexing thing. I am a creature of habit. I used to think I was whimsical and spontaneous, and perhaps once I was, but no longer. I yearn for predictability. I want order in my life. I want to know where things are and what is to be expected. I no longer love surprises.

Anxiety has gotten the better of me. Fear has jockeyed for the number one spot in my mind. I hate this. I know that this time will pass, that things will get better, but the uncertainty is so hard. The not knowing kills me. I am the person who reads the last page of a book first just so I can see how everyone gets there. I figure out the endings of the crime shows 20 minutes before they end. I am a fixer, a problem solver. A control freak. Who currently lives in an unsteady, unsure world. Where everything is an illusion.
Or perhaps all this time, control has been the illusion...

Autumn



I took a long Sunday afternoon drive today, one of my favorite indulgences in spite of gas prices.

And I noticed it was coming. Autumn, fall, the end of summer: my favorite time of year. I hate summer, always have, always will.

Oh there are some moments that are nice. Some things I love: the first strawberries, the first tomato, corn, squash, mushmelon, watermelon, etc. the lightening bugs, the crickets and cicadas calling in the night, thunderstorms and the smell of rain. Still those glorious moments don't make up for the long hot torturous days of endless sun and heat...

But fall, ah that lovely season brings with it a coolness and a promise of change. Anticipation. I always equate it with new pencils, new shoes, crisp cotton dresses and a box of 64 crayons. Ripening persimmons and the smell of leaves drying. Driving today I smelled the barns with tobacco curing and was transported to my youth again. I remember the crisp tartness of apples, the first night it was cold enough to burrow under a quilt but still sleep with the windows open.

I love the crunch of leaves under my feet. Watching the squirrels get fat and slow. The smell of black walnuts, sharp and bitter, pungent as perfume. I love seeing the trees start to show colors, amber, gold, red, orange. Waking to find a lacework of frost on the windshield of my car.

It is the season of soup and stew, hot cornbread and crockpot meals. Simmering and baking, slowing down and savoring the day as the light fades faster and faster leading us to winter.

I don't mind heading into fall, finding my sweaters, digging out the afghans and quilts, getting ready to cuddle and curl up in the sweetness of the evenings.

Goodbye summer, welcome autumn. I have been waiting for you. Anticipating your arrival and today I saw you were just around the corner...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kismet

Years ago there was a man who loved a cat. I got to know them both rather well. Or so I thought. I was there through the cat's last days as she succumbed to kidney failure and old age. I helped nurse her along, admiring her stoic spirit, marveling at the love between the animal and human. I felt humbled and honored to witness such a strong and unconditional bond. I was there when it was time to break that bond as well; when it was time to let her go from this world to the next. With one last injection, one last sigh, she was gone and we were all there watching this man as his heart broke, alone in his misery, alone in a way that not one of us could reach him...
Later I attended a funeral for her, my husband came along and read a poem. We buried her in the animal graveyard and again I watched as this wounded man sat and cried. Another link slipped into place. I was called to help. I was being led to be a therapist. To walk among the wounded, to ease their pain and suffering. To try to break through those walls of grief, fear, loneliness to help heal. He and his cat were not the first link in the chain of broken hearts that have led me, sometimes pulled me onto this path, but they were two of the most memorable links.

A few weeks ago at the dog park with Jake, I listened to the glorious baying of a beagle mix. I have a weakness for baying as opposed to barking. There is something about a baying dog that sounds soulful and soothing all at once to me. It reminds me of cool fall nights, persimmons, leaves crunching and the first fire in the old black stove. As we were leaving, I saw the old beagle mix trundling along near us, and I stopped to compliment his voice. The man with him said "Martha?" and I looked into the eyes of the man who had been such a long ago link. It had been over 10 years, but he remembered me. We started chatting, and discovered both our lives had taken some pretty major hits. He had adopted this dog the day before he was going to be euthanized, same as Jake. We talked about other things. He had been through a lot since the last time I talked with him. He had written a book, and gave me a copy. I couldn't put it down later that night when I read it. It made sense to me: why our paths had crossed so many years ago, and maybe why they were crossing again. He had discovered he had a diagnosis of Asperger's Disorder . Now, I work with kids with Aspergers disorder and it seems very fateful that someone like him had started me on a path that led to kids who had experienced what he had once experienced. And it took me 10 years to finish my degree, start the work before I found him again and could thank him. I finally got to tell him that he had made a difference in my life. Actually, not just in my life, but in the lives of kids he would never meet. By our paths crossing years ago, hopefully the future will be brighter for kids like him.

This is why I believe in destiny, kismet, fate, God. No one but a higher power could plan these things. Sure someone could say it was all coincidental, but I choose to see it as more than that, as part of a bigger plan, as the truth of we all matter, we all have a reason for being, we all are linked by the divine. We all are part of the incarnation of the Christ. In each of us, no matter how wounded, how battered, bruised and broken there is a tiny shard of God, reflecting and beckoning, shining out a light that calls one to another, that draws us together out of the darkness of our world. A light that heals. A light that shines dimly, but still shines over the years, over the miles and through the tears...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What if?

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die." Edward Kennedy

Watching the Ted Kennedy funeral and memorial services remind me of some of my first memories, the death of his brother, JFK. I don't think its a phantom memory, I do believe I remember this time in my life. I was 3 and 1/2 years old, I remember seeing my father cry. For some reason it is linked w/ sitting in Bill Riddle's restaurant w/ my father, eating a chili dog whose sauce I can never re-create, and hearing the news coming from the radio. I remember my father hurrying us home. Then follow blurry images, upset adults, black and white images from television, a horse with a backwards saddle, speeches, days of confusion...

I remember years later the death of RFK, the growing up of Caroline and John Jr., the death of John Jr. Always the Kennedys in the public eye, their lives intertwined with history and with mine in a distant way.

I remember thinking them privileged but dedicated to public service; noblesse oblige.

I have always wondered what the world would be like if JFK and RFK had not been killed. What if they had lived on to carry out their dreams; not leaving Teddy as the lone Kennedy, flawed, fallible but determined to carry on the family dream and mission.

This was read at Teddy's funeral mass:

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

This leads me to wonder what if we actually begin to live as practicing Christians rather than just mouthing the words. What if we actually put others first? Feed the poor? Clothe the naked? Heal the sick?

I wonder if we actually truly lived the Gospel what the world would be like. If we lived it in the government, in the schools, in our homes, in our hearts? Not just talking about it or using it to condemn others or wielding it as a tool of judgment, but instead to merely live it through our lives and hearts. What if we led by example? What if we let our works show our faith instead of our words? What if the whole world could instantly be converted into caring for the least of these? I have this vision that then there would be no inequality, no hunger, no poverty. There would still be pain, disease, and death. There would still be enough work that these ideals could be carried out. From the innocent children to the old and frail, to the animals, to the earth itself... there would still be natural disasters. But maybe, just maybe there would not be man made disasters or wars. Maybe the pain of the world would be lessened.

My heart aches for the world. For all the wounded people I encounter daily. As a social worker, I walk among the "least of these" daily. I see such wounded people that I cannot believe how such atrocity exists. It makes me question so much. At times even God. But then I realize that God has sent me there. Flawed as I am, wounded and weak, I am there for a purpose. I am just one person, but if I can go there, so can others, if these wounded people will let me let me in, open the door, then they will continue to let others in behind me. IF I live the Gospel. If I enter with God in my heart.

There was a time when the only Jesus I could relate to was the Christ child, an innocent baby born into poverty to loving parents.
It is only recently I realized I have begun to know the later Christ. The wounded, bloody, broken man who hung on the cross. Tortured, agonized, confused, crying out to his Father. Reluctantly accepting his job, his fate, his servant status.
I am not comparing myself to Christ by a long shot, I haven't his gifts for forgiveness, his grace, but I have begun to realize my life is not my own. That I am here to serve. That in all I do, in all I am, I am a servant. Yes I must rest and care for myself, but that is so I may care for others. I could have chosen many other paths, but it would not matter which way I would have gone, because on any road I would have traveled, I would have seen the least of these, and been compelled to stop and help. I understand Ted Kennedy. He was flawed, human, broken and incredibly fallible. But he tried so hard to help the poor, the homeless, the least of these. He tried to help the people I see daily and that I have grown to love.

Today my husband commented that Ted Kennedy may be the closest thing we have ever had to a Christian politician...

Rest in peace Teddy. May light perpetual shine upon you.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hope returns

I have the first faint flutterings of Hope again.
What has brought it about again?
I can't say for certain other than it must be Love.

I have had 2 weeks of nurturing from my mum in law. She came and cooked, cleaned, did a mountain of laundry but more than that, she listened. She let me cry. She patted my hand, dried my tears and loved me.

My sister has stayed by side providing unconditional support and love despite her busy life as Mom, Grandmom, wife, and individual.

My Big Brother #2 has helped out too, providing me with relief from worry and assisting with my panic triggers.

Friends have come by with veggies and a homemade lasagna.

Church has been extremely supportive lately showing me what church is supposed to be...

I have been doused in Love. I have been seeing God's grace flowing out of familiar faces and it has amazed me. God is not a stranger, Jesus walks among us on wounded feet, with wounded hands and heart, appearing as friends and family. That is what the incarnation is about. The love of Christ manifesting and flowing through our hearts into the hearts of others.
Blessed Be.

I like this one...

“If for an instant God forgot that I am just a puppet, and He gave me one more piece of life, I would take advantage of that time, the best I could.”

I would probably not say everything I think, but definitely think all I say.

I would value things not for what they are worth, but for what they represent.

I would sleep less and dream more.
For every minute we close our eyes we lose sixty seconds of light.

I would continue where others have stopped and I would rise when others sleep.

If God allowed me one more piece of life, I would dress simpler, would wallow in the sunlight, leaving uncovered, not only my bod, but also my soul.

I would prove to men how wrong they are to think that they stop falling in love as they get older, since they actually start getting older as soon as they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to the children, but I would leave the child alone so that he could learn how to fly on his own.

To the old, I would show them how death comes not with the ageing process but with forgetting.

So many things I have learned from you…. I have learned that everybody wants to live at the top of the mountain, forgetting that is how we climb is all that matters.

I have learned that when a newborn grabs his father’s thumb, he takes a hold on him forever.

I have learned that a man has the right to look down on somebody, only when he is helping him to get up.

So many things I have learned from all of you.

Always tell, what you feel and do what you think.

If I knew that today it would be the last time that I will see you, I will embrace you strongly to be the guardian of your soul.

If I would know that these would be the last minutes that I will see you, I would say to you “I love you” and wouldn´t assume that you would know it.

There is always morning where life gives us another opportunity to make things good.

Keep always close to you, your dear ones, and tell them how much you need them and love and take care of them.

Take time to say, “I am sorry”, “forgive me”, “please,” “ thank you” and all the nice and lovely words you know.

Nobody would remember you if you keep your thoughts secret.

Force yourself to express them.

Show your friends and dear ones how much you care about them.

written by Gabriel GarcĂ­a Marquez

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

3 for today

Today I am grateful for family. Having a family who sticks with me no matter what is my greatest blessing.

I know because I work with broken, wounded, failing families daily. I see what happens when bitterness strikes and chasms open forcing families to fall apart.

So I am very grateful for my family that sustains me and pulls together across the miles to help each other.

I am grateful for my job. In the world where people are losing jobs daily, still searching for a job or in fear of losing their job, I have a job I love. Although it is hard and stressful and exhausting, there are some victories and some days I actually make a difference. Plus I get paid. That helps too,

I am grateful for rain. It rained today, and the world became softer, quieter, calmer.

All in all, I am grateful for these things and more.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Turkey Buzzards


Carrying two dead raccoons, a buzzard tries to check in at LAX for the red-eye to New York. "Sorry, sir," says the ticket agent. "We allow only one item of carrion."


I had a revelation the other day. The hubster and I were talking about life and stuff. I decided that if I could be reincarnated I would come back as a buzzard. I know it seems an odd and even disgusting thought. These are ugly birds who eat dead, decaying road kill. They are the garbagemen of the natural world.

But ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by their ability to glide above the earth endlessly. One hardly ever sees them flap their wings, flying hard to stay aloft or evade a pursuer. No other bird pursues a buzzard.

Instead they find a wind current and circle. Gliding in wide circles, riding the wind, looking down on the earth, free and worry free. They know there will be food, for everything dies and eventually they will find it. They are buzzards so they don't care that they eat dead stuff, they don't care they are ugly by bird standards. Buzzards are strong, confident and self sufficient. They have few enemies. No one hunts them for annual Thanksgiving dinner or for taxidermic display. They are not prize winning trophy birds. They serve an essential purpose in life. Their job is not glamourous but it is necessary. They are the servants of the bird world. In a way theirs is a holy vocation. Caring for the remains of the dead. They perform it respectfully, they stay until the job is done. They don't give up. They are steadfast and dependable. They are honest in who they are. They don't wear excessive plumage or pretend to be anything but what they are.

These are qualities that I admire and aspire to. Except the flesh eating roadkill part.

However I see their inner beauty, I admire their grace and ability to glide. For me returning as a buzzard would not be such a bad deal...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Body slams and blessings


Bad things do happen; how I respond defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.-Walter Anderson

I talked today with my therapist about loss and grief.
(Yes, the therapist has a therapist. I am learning how to care for myself so that I may care for others.)

I realized I have been sitting too long in sadness. Mired down in my own fears and fighting with ghosts of things that may never happen...
I finally am sick of me.

So I took Jake to the dog park. There is nothing more healing than watching puppies, teenpups and old hounds run and leap and pounce.
Animals take joy in the moment. They live only in the present. They don't worry where the food will be, where they will sleep, what the other dogs think of them. They just exist, live, rejoice in the moment.

I was pounced on a lot. There is something about me that invites jumping on and drool.
Even the most well behaved dog will forget all training and pounce me, slathering me with drool and spittle whilst the owner cries out, "Down, get down! I don't know why he is doing that~! He NEVER does that!!!"
I don't mind in the least. In fact I think they know I need a bit of pouncing love right now. That I need life and happiness body slammed into my heart again. I think the dogs are trying to knock the sadness out of my bones and soul...

Animals are healers. They can sense pain. They can tell who loves them, who hates them and who is most allergic!

My therapist gave me an order. Everyday I must find 3 things for which I am grateful.
Today I am grateful for dogs, wounded children who share their souls, and my family who loves and sustains me, the forever baby sister, even though my hair is graying and my face is wrinkling. I am blessed.

Cautiously hopeful

Today I had 2 good sessions w/ clients. Two teenagers who don't really open up, opened up and talked with me and I listened and then listened some more. It feels incredible to be the one they choose to trust. I am honored and humbled every time one of them takes the chance and talks to me as their therapist.
These kids have absolutely no reason to trust me. I am a stranger walking into their lives asking them to spill secrets even they don't know they have. I am just another adult who could let them down. Another adult who will promise but not follow through. In their world social workers are the people who show up with the police and cram all their belongings into trash bags and tear them away from the only home they know. It doesn't matter if that home is filthy and lacking basic necessities, it is still home. It is what they know.

Yet, sometimes they talk. They look me in the eye and tell me stuff. Some horrible things. Some not so bad things. Sometimes beautiful things. They drop the mask and I see their hearts. Wounded, broken, aching, tender baby hearts that long to take a chance and hope again. Hearts that need to be healed. Hearts that want to know love.

How can anyone look upon these children and not be honored? Not be humbled? I am given so much more than I can ever give...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

small graces, minor miracles

OK I am trying to regain my balance after a topsy turvy weepy day.... I took a hard fall yesterday and felt pretty shattered. But I got up today and got on with life again.

Today was peer review, I sat w/ 3 senior clinicians and the clinical director who all admitted they were struggling with the job too. That they feel hopeless at times, helpless, unable to make a difference too. We talked about the traumatized children and adults we see, how it affects our view of the world, how we get burned out quickly.
These are some of my most respected colleagues and I appreciate their honesty and willingness to admit to being vulnerable. It helps as a junior clinician to realize the "pros" are going through the same stuff and its not me, but the nature of the beast.

Still I have to find a balance. Between life with the insane and sane. I forget there is wonder in the world. That even in the harsh and wounded world that there must be beauty somewhere. That there is still innocence and integrity. Hope and love.

My family has been great lately, holding me up from miles away. Friends have checked in and been supportive.

And God had been answering prayers. Little by little. I am starting to come back. Starting to heal.

I am trying to live in the moment, stay in the present. Trying not to live in the what ifs...

Its hard to keep fear away, but I am finding if I wrap myself in my family's love, I can beat the anxiety and the fear that is trying to wear me down.

Thanks y'all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Things are not people

I am learning life lesson # 2009 over and over again. Things are not people...
I have been clearing out my house, giving stuff away, tossing some things that are beyond anyone wanting them.
But there are a few items I have held on to for many years. Dishes, clothes, remembrances of happier times and beloved friends and family.

I am trying very hard to be spiritual and consider it all just material possessions and let go of my attachment.

But today Jake went on one of his wild puppy rampages, I heard MO the cat screeching and then thudding and glass breaking. My first thought was that Mo was dead, shaken like a toy by an unwitting puppy. But no he was fine, just angry. However my favorite lamp of my parents lay shattered in pieces on the floor.

I lost it, totally broke down and cried. This is the lamp I remember from every home I have ever lived in, the lamp that was the one beautiful thing we owned. The lamp I had a serious attachment to beyond any sane rational person...

I know its just a lamp, but after all the dark days and all the trouble and the sadness we have experienced lately, this was the last straw. I started crying and couldn't stop. It felt like my life had shattered and broken and I had lost my parents all over again when I stood staring at the broken pieces of china on the floor.

I know the lamp is not my parents, not my family, not even a thing of great monetary value. In the scheme of things I am glad it was broken instead of the cat.
But still, it feels like my life is shattering into irreparable pieces every day. I feel that I have no control and everyday brings a new loss of some material object. I know my soul/spirit is experiencing growing pains but I am tired of being sad. I am tired of losing stuff. I want to stabilize my world...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mary and Martha 2009



But the Lord answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things:

I have been thinking a lot about obedience, submission of one's will, following rules.
Yes I work with teenagers.
And I wrestle with my own spirituality daily.

I have a friend who is a godly woman. She reads the Bible daily, prays earnestly and faithfully. She tries to live via God's commands and direction daily.
Today she called to tell me that her marriage was over. He is leaving not only her but also the church.

My heart broke for two reasons. For her and for him. Theirs was not an easy life or love. But it was forged and tempered by their faith and their desire to do God's will.
Now she is still trying to live her faith, committed to her ministry. But he has decided to leave the church and his wife. He no longer believes he is a minister. He no longer believes that God is using him in this broken, wounded world. He is a man of many talents. He is a gifted speaker, a singer and song writer. He is a wondrous preacher and has touched countless lives with words inspired by God. But he has chosen to walk away from all that.

Living in the moment, doing God's will is hard. Being a Christian is terribly, terribly tough. It means obeying a will other than your own. It means sacrifice. Being a Christian means following rules, tough, hard rules that can seem to go against conventional wisdom. It means stepping out blindly and believing there is a solid surface for your foot to fall upon.

I know it isn't easy. I am more in tune with Doubting Thomas or Martha the anxious than anyone else in the Bible. I am stubborn and hard headed and wrestle with God daily to try to control everything. So I can understand my friend's husband's frustration, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. And I ache for him.

But she is my friend and I ache for her too. Yet I admire her. Because in the face of devastating loss and betrayal, she said, "God has a plan for me, I just have to listen... and obey."

How I wish I could be so faithful, so strong, so believing. But as long as she is in my life, I can look to her as an example, she is the Mary to my Martha. She is a witness to faith and a teacher to me about persevering and believing.

So as I pray for her in the coming days, I will also remember her words and meditate on them for myself. "God has a plan for me, I just have to listen and obey"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

From the poet Rumi...

Sometimes, in order to help, He makes us miserable;
but heartache for His sake brings happiness.
Laughter will come after tears.
Whoever foresees this is a servant blessed by God.
Wherever water flows, life flourishes:
wherever tears fall, Divine mercy is shown.



Visit the Sick

Visit the sick, and you will heal yourself.
The ill person may be a Sufi master,
And your kindness will be repaid in wisdom.
Even if the sick person is your enemy,
You will still benefit,
For kindness has the power to transform
Sworn enemies into firm friends.
And if there is no healing of bad feeling,
There certainly will be less ill will,
Because kindness is the greatest of all balms.



Bad dreams

One day you will look back and laugh at yourself.
You’ll say, “ I can’t believe I was so asleep!
How did I ever forget the truth?
How ridiculous to believe that sadness and sickness
Are anything other than bad dreams.”

THE SPIRIT OF THE SAINTS

There is a Water that flows down from Heaven
To cleanse the world of sin by grace Divine.
At last, its whole stock spent, its virtue gone.
Dark with pollution not its own, it speeds
Back to the Fountain of all purities;
Whence, freshly bathed, earthward it sweeps again,
Trailing a robe of glory bright and pure.

This Water is the Spirit of the Saints,
Which ever sheds, until itself is beggared,
God's balm on the sick soul; and then returns
To Him who made the purest light of Heaven.

Father's day

At this moment I am calm, peaceful. The heat is slacking off and I feel like I can breathe again.

I am currently in the present moment, ignoring all the what ifs and terrors that loom at the fringes of my consciousness.

It is Father's day and I spent it with a man who has been very fatherly to me all my life. He entered when I was only 4 or 5, marrying my sister. Since then he has bailed me out of trouble more times than I can count. He gave up his morning to spend it at my house cleaning gutters, hacking down hedges and loving me despite my frenzy and craziness.

My own dad died when I was 15. It left me bereft and feeling cheated. Looking back I see how this man stepped in when he could, filling that void. I cannot describe my relationship with him, he is more than brother in law, more than mentor. He has shown me what a father should be. His own daughters turned out great. He has been a wonderful husband to my sister. He is generous with his time, talent and life.
He is my hero.
Happy Father's Day Bob. I love you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let it rain...

I have started to feel blessed today.
I am grateful for my sister and her husband for once again rushing to my rescue.
I have a big brother who gave me a heckuva pep talk last night.
I have wonderous nieces and nephews.
I have loyal and steadfast friends.
I have a husband who adores me no matter how awful I am...
I could go on and on... but for now that is enough. I am calm, peaceful and living in the moment. Finally I am just where I am, not regretting the past nor fearing the future.
Just staying right here, in the now.

I am blessed.

I need to practice what I preach!!!

From : http://www.healthyminds.org/Home-Page-Feature-4/Mental-Health-and-the-Economy.aspx

Women in the survey report sharp increases in stress, anxiety, frustration and other negative mental health indicators since the recession took hold last fall, with job loss pushing these increases even higher. And while more than three-quarters of these women report engaging in one or more positive coping strategies, most tend to prioritize family and other financial responsibilities ahead of their own needs – a tendency that can backfire despite the best of intentions.

More importantly, 76 percent of women polled nationally say are participating in more positive activities than they were six months ago – including spending time with family friends, praying attending religious services, exercising, watching television, reading, or listening to music.

This survey also found that the majority of women view getting mental health care as a positive action. Eighty-five percent see the benefit in receiving support from a mental health professional for emotional or mental health concerns, and view it as a sign of strength. In addition, 80 percent of women are confident they could find mental health resources should they or family members require the services.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Mind
Keeping your mental health in balance during times of increased stress – such as the current economic crisis – is an important part of your overall health and well-being. The challenge is to find effective ways to cope with this stress.

The American Psychiatric Association offers the following tips:

Balance Your Needs
Mental health is essential to overall health. Recognize that stress affects your entire body. Physical activity, diet, sleep and stress management all play a part in having a healthy mind and a healthy life. Taking care of your own needs will help you remain healthy and able to respond to the needs of your family.

Surround Yourself with Supportive People
Look to family and friends for support when facing an emotionally stressful situation. Surround yourself with people you trust and who have your best interests in mind. Their encouragement and feedback will help you think positively.

Focus on the Positive
Avoid activities that cause you to dwell on why you’re stressed. Amid the steady drumbeat of negative economic news, limit your news consumption and make time for other activities, such as listening to music or reading a book. Make sure conversations with friends, family or co-workers do not dwell too long on stressful or negative topics.

Socialize and Have Fun
Invite friends and family for low cost and fun activities – watch a movie or play a game at home, take a hike or a walk, and/or arrange a neighborhood cookout. Inexpensive social activities can help keep you and your family healthy and focused on the positive.

Know When to Get Additional Support
Stay in tune with how you are feeling. Even when you are taking positive steps to manage stress, you can get to a point where you need additional help. If you notice that stress is interfering with your daily life, there are many places you can turn to for support – including your family doctor, religious or spiritual advisor, or a mental health professional.

Indeed...

Who are you?" said the Caterpillar...
"I - I hardly know, Sir, just at present," Alice replied rather shyly, "at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then."
--Lewis Carroll Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I have been under some stress recently and I often have crying spells. Now it could be my age, rapidly approaching AARP land, or the delight delicately referred to as "the change" or the fact that life has just been horribly frustrating and hard lately.

Whatever the reason, I often feel like I change who I am several times daily. One moment I am capable, strong, able to handle crisis after crisis, soothe and protect; an hour later I am sobbing in my sister's lap, a lost lamb afraid of everything, driven to despair by the horrible "what ifs".

I hate this.

I am a control freak. I don't like not being in control. So how do I learn to let go?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

small graces, minor miracles

Just when I start to lose faith, grow weary, and feel all is lost, something unexpected and good occurs.

A friend calls and offers to buy me lunch.

I get a few new clients on my too small case load.

A new pet sitting job crops up.

A family member's diagnosis is not as bad as I feared...

Baby steps.

Maybe that is what faith is all about, just taking those quivering, wobbly steps in the right direction.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dog Day afternoon

I am nearly fifty years old
falling asleep
holding the paw of my dog
but time rolls back
40 years
and I am ten years old again
holding the rough pad,
of another dog;
the feel is the same
smooth nails
coarse fur
pads rough from miles of running
the smell is that wonderful
mixture of rain damp dog
earth and musk
toes that smell like corn chips
dog breath warm on my cheek
he nuzzles closer
pressing against me
a heavy sigh
as he settles
in for our Sunday nap
We are safe
as the storm swirls about us.
It doesn't matter whether I am
10 or 50
for now
for this timeless moment
caught between two worlds
linked by two dogs
I rest easy.
Safe.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My new personal anthem... The Voice of Truth

I have been surrounding myself with as much positive energy as often as I can. I started listening to K-LOVE radio and discovered a group, Casting Crowns. I love this song!

There are so many negative voices out there in the world, so many sad stories, hurting and wounded souls, so many dissapointments, so many lies and threats... but I have to remind myself, which voice do I listen to? Who do I choose to hear? I have the power to choose. Will I choose wisely???

The Voice of Truth

Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
you'll never win."

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

Oh, what I would do
to have the kind of strength it takes
To stand before a giant
with just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound
of a thousand warriors
shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out
my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
time and time again
"Boy you'll never win,
you'll never win."

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size
to put the giant on the ground
and the waves they don't seem so high
from on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
when I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
singing over me

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of truth says "this is for my glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)
I will choose to listen and believe (I will choose to listen and believe)
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe
I will listen and believe the Voice of truth
I will listen and believe
'Cause Jesus you are the Voice of truth
And I will listen to you.. oh you are the Voice of truth

Thursday, June 11, 2009

chewbacca

We have not learned a dang thang!!!

If we leave a shoe out, Jake will chew it.
Apparently the more expensive a shoe, the more tempting and tasty. And if one is good two are better!

I have lost both my Chaco sandals to the gnawing thing. Bob has lost one.

Jake continues to ignore all the yummy pressed Dr. Dentley's rawhides we scatter everywhere.

However he did try to carry Buddy by his head. I discouraged this. So did Buddy.

Hmmm, maybe Buddy has been dealing sandals....


Comfort food

Tonight two of my dearest friends gifted me not only with dinner but also with their presence.

Things have been rough lately, I have been down and these two have been supportive via email and phone, praying for me and sending me encouragement even while they were traveling rough roads of their own.

Tonight we got together face to face over salsa and chips. We laid out our troubles, discussed and vented. Most of all we listened to each other. No one tried to fix anything. We just sat, listened and loved each other. Being in their presence was healing for me. Sitting and being honest, saying aloud that I was tired, scared, feeling beaten down by life to people who I knew would not judge me helped so very much. Then I listened to them.

There is something holy in sharing our lives, our pain, our joy with one another. I have gotten to depend on these regular get-togethers as my touchstones. These two women work as therapists too, so they know what my job is like, they know what life is like, they know me; and they get me. I feel safe with them. I also know I can call them and they would drop everything and come running if I needed them. I would do the same for them given the chance.

Oddly we are all going through some tough times right now. Usually we laugh more and have crazy funny stories to share. Tonight was more somber, more serious. It felt like our relationship had gone to a deeper level. When one of them said I wasn't alone, for the first time in a long time, I actually felt and believed it. Intellectually I know I am not alone, but in my heart I have been lonely. Until tonight.

How do you pay love forward? I don't know, but given the chance, I want to pass on the gift I received tonight. A few hours of total, unconditional love and friendship, comfort food for a bruised soul.

Thanks girls, I love you both.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Now and then

What a difference a few months makes.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Such a roller coaster.


Life has been such a roller coaster lately.

So many ups and down its hard to keep my stomach in place!

The hubster is looking for a job. Everyone keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
I continue w/ mine, which is continuing to challenge me and make me grow as a clinician. I have reached the one year mark as a clinician and am about 1/2 to my next licensing level. I will have my LCSW when I am 50 which was a goal for me. It looks like it could become a reality.

I finished some additional training this week on Trauma. It is very cool stuff and it taught me a lot about myself as well.

I continue to find and reconnect with old friends from grade school, high school and college thanks to the wonders of the internet.

I still have a basement full of junk tho I am trying to carry a box or bag out every week to the trash. Seems like there should be space appearing soon tho!

I run the gamut of emotions from fear to peace. It just depends on the moment.
I know that God is here, I know I am not alone, I know that my family and friends are present and love me. I know all that. I just wish the roller coaster ride would level off for awhile. I think I have grown too old for thrill rides.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is there a puppy in the house???

I was making dinner. I put 2 hot dog buns on the counter as my hot dogs cooked. I walked away. I came back. My buns were gone. I looked around. Went to the bread box. Nope, not there. What did I do with them? I could have sworn I put them out to await the wieners...
Then I saw him.





The no longer a 10# puppy. He is counter height. Sigh. Bun mystery solved...

Minor miracles

Well, I am still struggling. Actually the hubster and I are both struggling, but we are struggling together. Which is more than some people can say. No matter what, we love each other, and hold each other up through good and bad. We just hope good is coming...

There have been some minor miracles. I exited a few cases that met their goals. That was good. I exited a few that needed to just move on. That reduced my anxiety a lot.
There has been some healing going on between family members who were angry.
Buddy the amazing 21 year old cat continue to thrives.
Jake the no longer 10 pound puppy continues to thrive.

We don't have much but we have enough. We are gonna make it. We have friends who love us, family who love us. People are reaching out, praying, sending good thoughts. As one person put it, being Christ w/ skin on...

Hope blooms eternal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Confession time

OK, so yeah, I have been hiding and isolating lately.
I have been scared and anxious and thinking the best way to deal was to avoid everyone.
But lately I have been coming out and slowly talking to friends and family.
I am depressed, scared and worried.
Our finances suck.
We are in hard times. The hubster and I are struggling.
Just like everyone.
That is what I finally realized. We are not alone. We are not the only ones hit by the recession. DUH!
But it is finally sinking into my brain.
That there is comfort in talking w/ others.
That there is no shame in asking for help.
A shoulder to cry on,
a hand to hold.
Prayers, good thoughts, wishes...

I am too much into being in control. The person who fixes things, the therapist for Pete's sake, that I forget I can breakdown and ask for help too.
I forget I am allowed to be human and that its ok if I am weak and stumbling at time.

I have been afraid to talk to old friends because I didn't want them to know that everything was not OK. But then I got an email from one of my oldest and dearest friends who told me that she was struggling too, and I felt... not alone. I didn't rejoice in her sorrow, not at all, but I connected. I immediately sat and wrote her back saying, I understood, I was there too. After 20 years apart we reconnected at a time when we both needed someone who knew and wouldn't judge us.
Someone we could share all our secrets with like we used to as children.

I had been asking for minor miracles. They have started...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On the Hill: notes from a wounded healer.


Its been a while since I wrote.
I guess I have been isolating and too inwardly focused.
Things have been a bit rough at work, at home and just in general.
I know writing helps me but sometimes words aren't enough.
Sometimes I have to retreat into silence to wait out the darkness.
Finally the dam breaks, the tears flow, the pain comes out, ragged, gasping, and I let go...

Letting go is so tough for me. I fight and hold on, trying to control every situation. Every thing in my life. I am stubborn. I have control issues. I want to fix things, people, solve puzzles, make peace, heal the world. But I can't. And attempting to do so wears me down. One would think I would have learned this lesson, but I seemed doomed to repeat it.

I operate out of fear frequently. Driving myself into a tizzy. Making others around me crazy with my anxiety and worry. At work, I seem calm, collected, together. Most of the time I feel its an act that I pull off successfully, knowing that inside I am just barely hanging on.

Recently I realized (again) I am not alone. That others struggle with all my same fears and anxieties or at least similar ones or at least similar feelings. We are all human. What I forget is that I need to connect. I need to NOT isolate. I need to ask for help. I sat recently and just cried while my sister held me. What a blessing. To finally let it all out, to weep until there were no more tears. To let someone know how scared I was. To tell someone I needed them. I called my best friend Diane, and cried, we prayed together over the phone and she was there for me, in spite of her sadness, in spite of her pain and mourning, she took time for me.

It is only in communion with others that we find ourselves, our balance, that we heal. It is only in others that we find the divine connection, the energy that empowers us to go forth. That is why I believe in the incarnation. God is in us all, in the animals, in the earth, in everything living, breathing, pulsing thing. We just need to remember to connect into the energy, into the lifesource. We just need to live in love. To rest in the arms of others when we are tired. No one can go it alone. I need to remember that...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

She dreamed of dance

She Dreamed of Dance

Growing up on the farm
listening to music
late night on the tranisistor radio
catching as catch can
stations coming in across
foggy valleys and hills.

She felt its rhythm
in her soul
and wanted to dance
to let her feet move
her body sway
her steps glide and dip.

On the way to milk the cows
she practiced her steps:
glissades, pirouettes,
arabesques in the barn
where only the cows watched,
over their hay,
contemplating her form
nodding encouragement,
contentedly chewing their cud.

At school she drew
pretty costumes
while waiting for others
to finish their sums and
calculations.
Adding lace and sparkles,
erasing lines and mistakes
seeking a world of perfection.

At 18 in she moved
to town, got a job
scandalous in its own.
Daddy helped buy her a car
and she dreamed of dance
while driving home
the radio tuned in
her fingers tapping in rhythm
her mind creating choreography
in the cars that moved along
the narrow streets.

She tuned the black and white
Philco into bandstand
and with me
balanced on her feet
we laughingly
twirled and glided
and we danced.
I too began to dream
that she would dance…

He came along one day
swept her off her feet
into a life of stability
babies, a home.
Something that had
never been considered.
Something never even
mentioned to me.

Now she has it all.
Security. Safety.
A soulmate.
But I can’t help
to wonder.
Do they dance?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Even animals grieve?

Jake had made friends with the pit bull puppy next door, Rocko. They met through the fence, sniffing each other cautiously. Then they began to run back and forth and touch noses. This progressed to a real live play date. Which led to more. Soon Jake and Rocko were spending hours a day together. They wrestled and ran and played.
Jake ran to the fence first thing and would yip for Rocko to come over. Rocko got loose one time and ran over to us and I dragged him home.
It was blissful for both.
But yesterday, Rocko's family moved and took him away.
Jake is still checking the fence everytime he goes into the back yard. He stands there patiently wagging his tail, looking for his friend.
It breaks my heart. My little puppy has lost his first friend.

(YES I KNOW I AM PATHOLOGICAL! I know I sound like a crazy dog mama...)

But he is grieving his friend and missing him. Today Jake has had a rough day. He chewed up a pillow and 2 pairs of shoes. Something he has not done for a long time. If he were a human child, I would say he is exhibiting acting out behaviors due to deep emotions...
So maybe animals grieve too...

The Box

She loved the woods
and water
and the blue sky.
But when she died
I could not part with her ashes.
So I kept them in a box
painted with the things she loved:
woods, water and sky.

Someday when I am ready
I will let go
and take her remains
out into the world
scattering them to the winds.
And then I will put the box
into the fire
watching
as the paint curls
and blisters
knowing that we both
are free…

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring

The hubster is out mowing the yard, I am getting ready to throw open windows... the lilac has bloomed. Its finally here. Spring!!! I just hope the weather lasts for more than 2 days.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sigh

My vacation is on its last few hours. I will probably be writing more about it over the next few weeks as I look back and remember the fun and peace I experienced.

I needed a break. I needed a rest. I was very good about keeping my boundaries from work. No cell phones, no sneak peeks at emails, no checking in just to make sure they were getting by without me. The world can and does survive without me for a week.
And I can survive without the work day world it seems.

A valuable lesson to learn. And to remember!

The Farm

53 or so of us showed up on the farm last Saturday for a family reunion. 5 generations have lived on this land. 4 generations were present that day. Pretty amazing. The thing I love about this picture is that the newest member of the family, Kayla is gazing at my most beloved aunt Catherine with such an expression of wonder~ the future gazing at the past, learning from and leaning on a great foundation.


Sitting quietly on a porch
rocking and reading,
the storm is yet miles away
like the hustle and bustle
of work.

I have escaped.
My mind is easy,
my soul peaceful.

Time hangs suspended~
moments glitter
like dew caught
in a spider’s web.

The gray sky is soft,
while the pale light
wraps around me like a quilt,
soothing the hurts,
comforting my soul.

Cedar Hill Retreat Center





Carole King said it best:

Way over yonder is a place that I know
Where I can find shelter from hunger and cold
And the sweet tasting good life is easily found
Way over yonder - that's where I'm bound

I know when I get there, the first thing I'll see
Is the sun shining golden - shining right down on me
Then trouble's gonna lose me - worry leave me behind
And I'll stand up proudly in true peace of mind

Way over yonder is a place I have seen
In a garden of wisdom from some long ago dream

May be tomorrow I'll find my way
To the land where the honey runs in rivers each day
And the sweet tasting good life is so easily found
Way over yonder - that's where I'm bound
Way over yonder - that's where I'm bound

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Memories from school


I am still reflecting on my school reunion. Soon I will move on to the family reunion!

Laurie Mc was the undertaker's daughter... David was the teacher/preacher's son... Tim was the mailman's son...
It's funny but I grew up in a place and time where you were "So and so's daughter" or son or cousin... we were known by our kin.

As I grew up and began to write a lot of unpublished stories I began to assign titles, so thus Laurie was and is the Undertaker's daughter. Her family owned and operated (actually still do) the funeral home in Summer Shade. My family history is so intertwined with hers we were bound to be friends.

Her grandfather, Herman, helped bring me into the world. The family story goes like this. The day I was born it had snowed so deep it came up to my 5 year old brother's armpits when they set him out in the snow that morning. My mother went into labor. Daddy couldn't get his car out. The only person in the county who had chains on their car was Herman Mc. On the hearse. So Daddy called Mr. Mc who came and drove Mama and Daddy to the hospital 20 miles away in Glasgow. Luckily they got there in time and I was not born in a hearse. Since then the McMurtreys have been part and parcel of our lives. We bury our family after having funerals at the McMurtrey funeral home. Laurie's dad tells us all stories about our family. Funerals are partly about grieving, partly about remembering and celebrating thanks to the Mc family.

Laurie and I used to sit on a tractor at recess and talk. Or walk around the baseball field and talk. We talked a lot. I don't remember all we talked about, but it must have been very important because we did a lot of it. We also were aspiring writers/artists back then. I remember we worked on a book for our teacher Mr. Hunley entitled "Captured Time" or something equally dramatic, where we put together essays and artwork from our classmates. I wonder where that book is today? I would love to see it again.

Anyway, Laurie pulled together a reunion of our 8th grade class after 35 years after I mentioned I would be down to Summer Shade and would love to see whoever was around. She is still the red haired energetic gal I remember to have pulled that off! I did not get to spend enough time talking to her or any single person the night of the reunion but at least we have reconnected and its a new beginning. It was good to be home...

Successful Students Everyday


I grew up in a magical place, a magical time with a bunch of magical kids…
In a small town called Summer Shade there was a school where about 30 of us navigated the rough seas of adolescence and survived; mainly because we had a solid foundation of family, faith and friendship.

I was lucky enough to see most of these people again this past weekend at an 8th grade reunion. Most people attend high school reunions, and grade school reunions I have come to find out are rare. But we were not your average group of kids it turns out.

I don’t know exactly what set us apart and made us bond so closely that after 35 years we would all gather together after a long work week, some of us driving from Indiana, Tennessee, traveling hours and hours to get together for a potluck in the old school cafeteria, but we did. And it was one of the best nights of my life.

There was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears. Hugs abounded. Smiles. Seriously you could feel the love in the room. What wasn’t there was anyone being mean, trying to outdo, out boast, or one up each other. We all knew where we came from. We had all been in each other’s homes growing up & spent countless hours together. There was nothing to hide, because we knew each other from a time before we had formed masks or artifices or tried to hide from ourselves. We dropped all pretenses. There was no need to pretend with one another, we had grown up together and there was no need to judge each other. We were home again. We were a tribe.

Some of us had left long ago. Some had died. Those who could came back that night. Those who couldn’t were remembered. Mitchell and Darrell who had died were fondly recalled and lovingly talked about. Tema, Keeta, Don, Lela and others who couldn’t make it were missed and remembered. No one was left out. If they were not there physically they were there in our hearts.

We remembered our teachers, Mr. Hunley and Mr. Long; our principal Mr. Branstetter. Great men who inspired us, led us, believed in us, but maybe more importantly loved us.
Mr. Long had just died a few months ago, but his wife and son, David, who was in our class attended. It was healing for all of us to be able to say all the things we never got to say to Mr. Long personally. He was one of the most influential people in our lives. Had it not been for Mr. Long and Mr. Hunley I might never have attended college. They opened doors for me. Mr. Long was a goofball; a whacked out loon who loved teaching and made kids love to learn. His life touched so many of us and we carry him still in our hearts to this day. He taught us more than geography, social studies and history, he taught us how to be the best human beings we could be. He taught us that laughter is essential. He taught us that love is as necessary as air to living. He was a role model on what a decent loving citizen of the community should be. He was a great man. I have never forgotten him and neither has anyone who was in the class of 1974. He was as present in that room as if he were sitting in a chair at the table. Time and distance had not diminished his impact one iota.

Studies show that people who experience trauma form bonds, but I wonder about people who share joy? I moved after 8th grade and attended high school in a nearby town. I made new friends but none were ever as meaningful as these people. There is something about a shared experience, about growing up in a place where someone else’s parents can discipline you, where the community cares about you, where all of you know that you are safe and cared for that connects you for a lifetime. Because I think that is what we shared; JOY. I think we all basically had happy childhoods. We pretty much lived on a level playing field. There were no real divisions, no one was super rich, no one was homeless, we all had families, we all pretty much did the same things, ate the same things, shared a common life. It was a small town in the 1960’s and 1970’s and we remained untouched by a lot of the strife that was going on in the outside world. I don’t remember there being a lot of racial prejudice, or drugs, or antiwar demonstrations. I feel like I grew up sheltered from a lot of the harsh realities. There was life and death, illness and strife but it was a farming community so that was to be expected, it was part of the circle of life. But the bitterness, hatred, envy, all that came later. Lessons learned after 8th grade.

I remarked to someone I still occasionally have dreams about the school. Good dreams. I can close my eyes and see the playground, the old oak that grew beside the gym. I remember the taste of the lemon cookies and Charms suckers we would buy at Punch Mosby’s. I remember the pranks we played, the 4-H skits that won time after time. I remember all those beautiful bright kids. I remember a better time, a better place. No matter how far I traveled, how long I stayed gone, I never forgot. I took every single one of those kids with me. I am a better person because of all of them. I am now a social worker and I see kids who do not have what I had. It breaks my heart. I realize how blessed I was, how truly graced by God I was to have grown up in Summer Shade. I can close my eyes and I am back in an instant. Memory is an incredible thing, but it can’t replace the hugs, tears and laughter that I got to experience last Friday night. I thank everyone who showed up and I encourage everyone who didn’t, to make it to the next reunion. Only this time we will not wait 35 years. We need to do it more often. We all need to remember there was a time, a place, where we were safe and loved. A place that we called home. A place called Summer Shade.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reunion reflection

Underneath the greying hair,
the wrinkles and lines of care,
I still see us.
As we were.

I still see our innocence
our youthful passion
Our belief that we could change the world

Underneath the years of toil
of sorrows borne and
dreams decayed

I still see our hope
our faith in good
our knowing right from wrong

Underneath the makeup and carefully selected clothes
I see the hearts of children
who played together
stayed together
and came out on the other side.

Better than most,
Bonded for life
in spite of miles
in spite of years
in spite of time

We shared a magic world
where love, loyalty and integrity
were not words
but a way of life

Where all lessons learned
were not just from books
but from people
who cared.

Underneath our grown up
exteriors
we all bear the foundation
of a happy childhood
in a small town.
Such a gift
rare and exceedingly fine...

Reunion: More later... but it was heavenly


There are places I remember all my life,
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all.

And with all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these mem'ries lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
And I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them.
In my life I loved you more.

And I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them.
In my life I loved you more
In my life I loved you more

Thursday, April 2, 2009

VACA!!!!

I am going on vacation starting tomorrow. This doesn't mean I won't be blogging. I will be and probably posting pics too!

First is a trip home. No matter where you take me, home is still the small farm town I grew up in, Summer Shade. Lovely name, lovely place, lovely memories...
Tomorrow night I have an 8th grade reunion. About 20 or 25 of us went all through grade school together but I moved right before high school and lost touch with a lot of them. So for the first time in 35 years I will see the group that grew up with me. I am very excited about this event.
The next day FAMILY REUNION!!!!
I am a rare bird in that I LOVE LOVE LOVE my family and never get to see them enough. So we are all gathering at the family farm to celebrate BB2 coming home from Colorado, the official adoption of my great #8 who will make the 5th generation of the family to live on this land, and just to get together for a happy time instead of a funeral. I cannot imagine a better way to kick off a vacation.

After hanging with the family I am heading to the mountain or more specifically Cedar Hill Retreat Center. I have been away far too long from this holy place. I used to go there nearly every weekend in grad school and it kept me centered and sane. I now need that centering and sanity restored. I love my work, but it requires so much of me. I have poured myself out and emptied my soul, it is time to fill it and re-create me.
I am ready to rest and relax...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grief versus depression

I have struggled with depression off and on my whole life. I know the signs pretty well. But sometimes it slips up on me and takes over before I realize it. Its only when I am deep in the pit and become aware of how well I am not doing that I stop and figure out that "OH, its back and its bad"
Grief is different. It comes suddenly and in waves that knock me over and tumble me. Waves that bash me against sharp rocks of pain, battering my soul, bringing fresh tears and gut wrenching sobs.
When depression hits, I stop, I become numb, I cease to feel much of anything. Grief is one huge ache, I am a living, breathing wound.

There have been times of real grief in my life, all connected to losses of loved ones. Some were human, some were pets. When my father died, I remember the unrealness of it. He had been sick for awhile, but even knowing that did not prepare me for the reality of his death. I recall going outside the night he died and standing in the backyard staring at the night sky, wondering where in the vastness had he gone? Where was Heaven and would I ever see my father again? I was 15 and my life changed that night...
I was 29 when my mother died, a new wife, trying to start a marriage, and again, her death left me pondering the huge hole ripped into the fabric of my life. It seemed as if my identity was altered in an instant, I went from daughter to orphan, from me to wife and I lost myself somewhere on the way...
Then of course came the deaths of pets. For people who have never lived closely with an animal this may seem crazy. It is the pathology of the childless, the hubster says that we make the pets our children, our substitute family. Only unlike children, we can choose when to end their suffering. We can choose to take on the emotional pain to end their physical pain. Euthanasia is a hard decision. It costs a certain amount of one's soul.

Unfortunately this last time, depression and grief have overlapped. It is not a pretty place to be. Its rather dark and scary. I have cried more lately than I have cried in years. Losing 3 pets in rapid succession has triggered all the grief of losing everyone and everything I have ever lost. And there doesn't seem to be enough love or joy to fill that void. In spite of my family, friends and amazing husband, I still ache. I am counting my blessings, I am doing my job, I am looking for the silver lining. I am celebrating the lives of all my dearly departed loved ones. But damn it, I still miss them. I still long for one more day, one more hour, one more hug or touch. I am grieving and all I can do, I suppose, is just work my way through this until I come out on the other side.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Idolatry in a chair or a lamp

Letting go
of things
is not letting go
of people
or memories
or love...

yet each item
I shed
takes a piece of me
away

I have held it for so long
it seems to have grown roots
burrowing deep
tendrils,
weaving through my heart
my mind~
curling about my lungs
rising and falling
with each breath

Still it is only
stuff~
atoms arranged
in formation
non living matter
material possessions
that don't feel
that don't reflect back
love.

Idols and images
that I have somehow
connected to
living
breathing
sentient
beings
that I love
deeply

By letting go of things
it feels as if
I am breaking
threads
connections
to those people.

I can name this.

Misbelief.
Magical thinking.
Nonsense.

My mind knows this
but my heart grieves
and my soul mourns
the loss.

Things and stuff

Today I spent and hour or so tossing stuff...
I went into our falling down, collapsing garage and pulled out 4 kitchen chairs, 2 office chairs, 2 floor lamps, an over head lamp, a bunch of rain soaked, ruined books, moldy video tapes, a rusted plant stand and placed them all on the curb.

I took a break, took Jake over for a romp with Jocko the 8 month old pit bull next door who is his new best friend, came back and blogged a bit and am now heading for the basement.

There will soon be more stuff on the curb. Its just stuff. Its just things. Its just clutter in my life that weighs me down. I am tired of it and it must go...

Reconnections continued

Facebook is not just for the young. I have joined the cultish following and initially just communicated with nieces and nephews then more family and then friends and now it has become this amazing tool to find long lost friends.

Among them I found (or maybe she found me) Tami. We went to school together at WKU. We both were in the theater department and were backstage more than onstage.
Tami it seemed actually had a major in something else, probably practical and started out as a theater groupie but became a vital part of our little department.

I have only good memories of her, which is rare I think for most people. All of us remember an argument or a bad time, but when I think of Tami all I remember is fun and good times...

Tami was known as "Space" back then, I don't exactly remember why except she had a high energy level and was a bit ditzy. She was fun though and very lovable. I absolutely could not remain in a bad mood while with her.

Tami was loyal and hardworking. Back then I was one of the scene shop crew. Not only did I design lights for lots of shows, but I was one of three students responsible for running the scene shop, executing and building scenery, rounding up students to volunteer, making sure deadlines were met and shows opened. I remember countless late nights w/ Tami at my side, doing anything and everything to help. It was one of these nights she saved my life. Literally.
I don't know if she even remembers the night or if I ever even told her or said thanks...

At one point in my college career I had a stalker. Some guy started calling me and breathing on my dorm phone. It soon progressed to him telling me he liked my outfit he saw me wearing. He would then describe what I had worn, where I had been. It got creepy but in my naive mind I figured he was a harmless kook.

Then late one night over spring break I think, Tami had stayed behind to help me paint scenery or hang lights or something else until the wee late hours. Being exhausted we decided to crash in my dorm room since my roommate had gone home and it was closer to the theater than her apartment. I drove us there and decided since it was the weekend and campus was deserted to park in the dorm lot mainly used for short term (i.e. 30 minute) parking. We parked, staggered in and fell face down on the twin beds. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, the phone rang. I answered and it was Campus Police telling me to move my car as it was illegally parked. I tried to reason with him that it was 4 am on a holiday weekend, the lot was empty except for my car and couldn't I just leave it until morning? But no the cop was insistent, move it or it would be towed, and I would be fined $200. I woke Tami to say I had to move my car. I started out the door, and she stopped me. "Wait" she said, "Its late and dark, I'll go with you." And together we went out to the empty dark lot where the cop had already left and we moved my car to the street and walked back through the poorly lit quad to the dorm.
The next day we both packed up and headed home for the short break. The more I thought about the incident the more angry I became. Why had the stupid cop made me move my car? It made no sense. When I returned to campus I went straight to the police department office to complain. There was no record of such a call. The campus police started questioning me. What was the officer's name? Well, he didn't give it. What exactly did he say? He said he was campus police. Wrong! They always identify themselves by Officer So and So, Campus SECURITY. They asked if I had any unusual phone calls lately. Well, yeah some kook calling almost daily...
Seems there was a stalker focusing on women in the theater/dance department. There had already been one rape and a couple of thwarted rape attempts. They were trying to find the guy but had been unsuccessful. They were afraid he would escalate and get violent. For the rest of the semester I had to be escorted after dark. Either by security or by a trusted approved male in the department. I also couldn't talk about it in case the person was in the theater department...
Tami you probably saved me from some horrible fate that night. By deciding to forgo your comfort and sleep and stagger out once more into the dark and cold you prevented God knows what happening to me. For that alone I will forever love you and be grateful. How can I ever repay that debt?

I owe this woman so much. Her steadfast friendship, working beside me, never complaining, always helpful and eager, bringing me joy and laughter was just the tip of the iceberg. But to have intervened at such a crucial time, even unwittingly, shows me that God put her in my life for a reason. By helping me at that time, Tami is now helping every single kid I help. By being with me in the dark, by walking by my side in the darkest night, I can walk by others during theirs. And because of her love and friendship, I can show others what that looks like.
Tami brought healing to the earth.

It is so true, we never know how much our life touches others... but sometimes we get a glimpse. I hope Tami knows that her life has and is still touching so many others. That her light is shining like a beacon. Maybe that is why her nickname was Space, because her influence could not be contained by earthly limits, her love, light and hope is so all encompassing, her heart so huge, that any other nickname would have been too small...