Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Been a Rough Month

When last I left, I was facing the possibility of having cancer. I found out that while I do have SOMETHING that looks cyst-like, it is not a tumor or cancer, probably just a fibrous lump. I was going to post that, but then the Universe took over and turned me into Job.

Something happened at my work. I can't talk about it online, but please understand, it shook my foundation. Then something devastating happened in our community and my Hubby was on call for almost 48 hours straight, putting me on call as well.

We have also had a peeping Tom whom we have called the police on 5 times because he is inside our fenced yard late at night 5 feet from E's window. The previous 4 times the man had been so close he heard us on the phone and ran away. The fifth time they caught him right outside E's window. They couldn't arrest him because they had to officially give him a warning for trespassing first, but he has angered me so much that I am prepared to take out his knees if he comes into our yard again.

I had finally started to recover from that when I got a call that my father was in the hospital and was having a stroke. My father had been exhibiting stroke like symptoms for 2 days and my mother never bothered to take him to the hospital until he asked her to. He was not mentally able to realize how bad he was but when he finally asked her, she waited another hour because she wanted to try to get him to fill out a power of attorney. His eyes were working independently of each other by this time and he could neither read nor write, but God love her, she made him wait for help because she wanted that done.

When I arrived at the hospital about 4 hours after he did, the man before me was not my dad. He could talk and walk, but he was another person who very much needed protection. The hospital was waiting to truly treat him because he arrived at the ER stoned. He is a pot-head. When I told my mom I thought I should stay with him that night (there was no room in the hospital so he would be staying 36 hours in the ER), she got upset with me and told me that I never stayed with her when she spent the night in the hospital and I could do whatever I wanted to do but she was going home. My dad didn't even know where he was and she was going to leave.

So I stayed and in the middle of the night I was talking to the nurse who told me he would be getting his first test around 7AM. I asked her if that would give him time to eat breakfast since he was diabetic. She immediately became agitated and said, "He's diabetic?" My mom never told them. MY MOM NEVER TOLD THEM.

It's been several days and he is home. I was exposed to the flu in the hospital and am currently dealing with a pretty bad fever, but I have taken over the responsibility of talking to my dad's health professionals.

As if that were not enough, Hubby and I have this lesbian couple that we are friends with. Woman 1 is a lot like me. We both enjoy cooking, wine and are the nurturers. Woman 2 is a beer drinking, sports loving, more masculine woman. Every time I see them, they talk to me about how they work together, live together and do everything together and needed to get away from each other once in a while.

1 and I have a mutual friend who is suffering from depression and asked to have a whine and wine night. I said sure and invited 1. I didn't invite 2 because of their desire to develop separate interests and because she is a beer drinker not a girly girl wine drinker.

2 blew up at 1, unfriended me on FB and while I was at the hospital WITH MY DAD, this is what I received, FORWARDED through my husband.

From 1:

I know this is a tough time for you all, and know that I am praying for you, your dad and all your family. I also know that this is low on your list of priorities for a while, but I had to get it said. Just put it aside until you are more able to deal with it. There is no excuse for 2's behavior yesterday, but I'd like to explain it to you. The message she heard growing up, literally. ... these words "No one will ever like you" And she believed it. It is the filter through which she sees everything.

She took your message to me as "I hate 2 and don't want to be her friend, so let's get together without her and talk bad about her. " Me saying yes, in her eyes, meant that I chose you over her. I, like you, thought she would be happy that we were developing friendships and activities away from each other. We were wrong. Add to that the fact that she has never felt like she fit in with women or men and it's a recipe for hurt feelings.

If you wanted to, I think you could talk to her and ask if you two could talk it out. I did really want to spend time with you. I think we could probably be friends, but I hope you understand that I have to pick her. She has her issues ( don't we all) but I love her. And I can't let that voice in her head win.

Again, I'm sorry. There are so many things I've done wrong, but please don't ever think that this is your fault.
I will continue to pray for healing for your father.
PS-It probably doesn't need to be said, but please don't let 2 know I told you all of this. I just want relationships to be repaired.

Hubby was a little pissed and responded for me:


I forwarded the message, so Muddy can read it. However, I would not hold out for her to approach 2. I believe it is Muddy who deserves the apology here. Both you and 2 have said several times in our presence that you need to find things to do separately. She thought she was doing a nice thing for both of you, so to be accused of being deliberately mean was very hurtful to her. She does not make friends very easily, and this hurt her deeply. 2 is the one who needs to take steps to rectify it.



This couple does a lot in our church and this has created an awkward situation, but I am so pissed at them I wash my hands of them. This happens to me all the time. I must be a pretty scary person for people to think they can't talk to me when they are upset with me. The sad thing is, if 2 had called me and yelled at me, I would have apologized for hurting her and tried to smooth things over. I can handle being yelled at. But for people to just crap all over me and never let me defend myself? That is shitty.

So anywho, that is why I haven't been blogging. I am really disassociated right now and barely functioning. It's hard to believe so much has happened in such a small space of time. I am really trying hard to work through my feelings about what my mom did and how I feel about being essentially my dad's guardian.

Please send good thoughts my way. I need anything I canget.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Big C

I went in for my yearly mammogram this week. I was called back the next day to come in and have a rescan. Then I had a second one a few minutes later. I immediately got sent to ultrasound. They didn't tell me they were just being cautious. They didn't tell me not to worry. They started talking to me about cancer. I have never, in all my years of being called back in for new xrays or scans, been talked to about cancer.

I am scared.

But now I wait.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

With a Sigh Too Deep for Words

It is hard to blog when you are trying only to blog about positive things. It's not that I don't have positive things happening to me. I do. I have a good job, a loving husband, a happy child, a roof over my head and food to eat. I am living a life that many people strive for, and yet, there is a part of me that feels lost.

I no longer do theater. It's my choice. My daughter is doing theater and she is much more successful at it then I ever was. But the first theater company I helped build is turning 25 this year and no one there even remembers my name. I have a few friends who still work there, who actually work there because I brought them in. But there are no pictures, no reminders that some of those early stepping stones they walked up came from being able to rest on my shoulders.

The second theater turned 5 this year and is having a big performance this week celebrating its 5th year. There was a newspaper article that mentioned every one who helped build it...every one but me. And the truth of the matter is, that theater would not be there without me. When the other 2 directors took month long vacations, I kept the theater in the news and kept pumping out the shows. It would have died in its tracks several times without my ability to pull things out of my ass. I knew when I left that I would be forgotten within weeks, and I knew they were petty, petty people who had a heap of entitlement and very little reality. I knew that I would never receive recognition for my hard work, BUT, I am still angry. I tell myself it was CountryTime so what do I expect? No one there remembers, but I do.

We also have an issue with a drunken neighbor who has been bringing his dog into our fenced yard and throwing his ball against our house at 11PM. Sometimes he doesn't even bring his dog. Every time we catch him just a little bit closer to our 13 year old daughter's window and it has completely destroyed my sense of security that I finally had regained after moving here. We have called the police and I actually flung open my window to yell at the man. That one act, the act of yelling, has harmed me more than anything else. All my life I have wanted to be able to speak up for myself. To be loud and aggressive. Not reality show aggressive, but able to make my needs known aggressive. I have repeating nightmares where I try to scream and nothing comes out but I wake up with this intense pressure in my chest, as if the pressure alone silenced my ability to make a sound. In my life I don't raise my voice...ever. I speak intently. I can show my anger to my husband and daughter. But to actually YELL at a person physically hurts me. I had the same pressure and inability to get sound out awake as I did sleeping the night I yelled at our drunken neighbor. I shook and went in to a blind rage and if I had a gun, the man would be dead. That's a scary thought.

This anger, and my inability to express it, has left me lost. I feel unable to write. Unable to sing. Unable to do much more right now than just ride this anger out. It seeps into my sense of self, my security, my self-esteem. It leaves me gasping for air and struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I....AM....FURIOUS!!!!

So forgive me as I once again use my blog to vent. I struggle to say these things in real life, but I need to say them. I need someone to hear me. I need to know that all my hard work meant something. That drunken neighbors 5 feet from my house ARE dangerous and I am not just crazy from my time in CountryTime. I need to unlock this self-inflicted pressure on my chest and scream that I AM HERE!!!!! I AM WORTH MORE THAN THIS!!!! I AM ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY!!!!

I need to find my way home.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

80's moment

Hello there.

I really didn't mean to be gone this long, but life got in the way. School started and my classroom was switched to a modular classroom. However the modular was condemned before we could even get in to set it up, then we had to wait while the powers that be tried to fix it, then it was uncondemned, then the kids were there and we had no classroom and on and on and on....I am just now coming up for air and finally getting a handle on this school year.

I have been working out regularly for a very long time now. 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day in a gym and 10,000 steps a day in the real world. My trusty little mp3 player that I have used since the start of my fitness regime finally kicked the bucket. Suddenly I was sans music in the land of sweat and headphones. Apparently most people in the world have now started to use their smart phones to play music (as the man at the electronics store told me in a very snotty voice when I went to try to replace my mp3 player). However, I do not have a smart phone. I am already a computer addict, giving me online access 24 hours a day would be a very bad idea. You should have seen the salesman's face when I said that!

Anywho, Hubby tries really hard to support my working out and he seemed slightly offended that I would even consider working out without music. It seems one works out harder when a soundtrack is involved. So he gave up his mp3 player (because he has not one but two smart phones) and loaded it with some of my old music and some new music that he thought I would like. Thought being the operative word.

I have a very folksy, indie taste in music. I love Delta Rae and the Wailing Jenny's and anything with guitar. Imagine my surprise when suddenly "I Will Survive" a la Cake came on. Really don't like Cake. Then there was some Trisha Yearwood (whom I may one day stalk), so yay. Just as I was about to start working my triceps, Open Arms by Journey came on. A wave of melancholy hit me like a medicine ball to my stomach.

When Open Arms came out, I was 11 years old. By the time I was old enough to go to school dances, it was THE song to share with that special boy. Only I was gawky and awkward and I wore a back brace. Heck, I could have been a John Hughes character. No one ever wanted to dance with me. By the time I finally started becoming someone boys could see as attractive, Open Arms had become passe. So I have never slow danced to that song. Ever....I truly missed one of the landmark experiences of a child of the 80's.

Isn't it funny how we live our lives, grow up and let things go? Truly there are not a lot of things in my life that I regret, but when I heard that song and I came to that realization, I was really sad. I could not have changed my circumstances when I was in middle school. The back brace was beyond my control and middle school boys will not change, so it's not like I could have done anything TO make it happen.

But this year I will be married 20 years. I told Hubby that all I wanted for my anniversary was to take me somewhere, IN PUBLIC, and dance with me to Open Arms. Maybe it will help me make 11 year old me just a little less geeky.

But probably not.

Friday, August 8, 2014

If Demons There Be.....

This has potentially been the greatest and hardest summer of my entire life. With E's new found independence, Hubby and I have gotten to spend a lot more alone time together. We go for walks on the beach almost every night, stop for a drink occasionally, take showers together in our outdoor shower. Couple things. Things that I couldn't do when I so keenly felt my daughter's need for mothering. I could never stop being a mother and just be a wife. I could never stop being a wife and just be me. E went away for a week to camp and Hubby and I spent a lot of time just being together. What I discovered is that I really do like the man I married, and he really missed the woman he married.

The summer has been a sea of calm. We have had no illness, no horrible bills suddenly arising, no gut-wrenching struggles with the church, no mean school parents for me to deal with, no drama. It is the first time in years when we have had several months of just being allowed to catch our breath. The thing I've discovered, however, is it is in the down times when the demons arise. Those moments when you are not fighting someone or something else and you suddenly have to acknowledge yourself and your issues.

These are the things I have discovered. My husband hates that I became a woman who wears granny panties. He never said word one about it. It's really not the panties themselves as much as the symbolism. I have such body shame that I felt the need to cover myself as much as possible. I aged myself. When I lost weight, granny panties became uncomfortable and I had to switch to bikinis. My husband, who has never said word one to make me feel bad for gaining so much weight, saw me the other day putting on a pair of granny panties (laundry day) and actually snorted at me. He was having none of it. And I don't blame him. We have spent this summer being open and honest with each other and he doesn't want to see me slide backwards.

I have also discovered that my body image distortion is so bad I am unable to realistically see my daughter's figure. She weighs 123 pounds, is 5'7" and wears a size 2, but I can't accurately gauge if she is a healthy weight. She bought new jeans the other day and apparently I kept mentioning she was a size 2. I wasn't saying it to make her feel bad, I think I was saying it to try to jar something in me so I could realistically understand what she looked like. When she pointed out my comments I so badly wanted to deny them and say she was wrong. But that is what I lived through and I didn't want to do that to her, so I told her about my issues, my struggles with food and that I had never been a size 2. It wasn't a long, woe is me, drawn out kind of discussion. But I wanted to be honest with her and let her know that I don't want my issues becoming her issues. She totally got it and now knows she can call me on it when I seem to be obsessing about size.

This summer I have had to come to terms with my parents. I have had to fully accept that they were not who I wanted them to be (or to make them out to be) and that I do not want to make the same parenting mistakes they did. As they are aging the things that most hurt me as a child are becoming repeated more and more. I hear the same negative talk and watch them become more and more miserable. I am not them and I am trying my hardest to breakaway from the person they created.

Lastly this summer, I have become much more honest with my husband about my issues. He has always been able to read about things on my blog, but lately I have been taking the time to try to fill him in on the circular insanity that goes on in my head. I have made him privy to just how crazy my internal conversations are and instead of frightening him away, it has given him an opportunity to take time to talk to me about his demons as well. We have an office painted in soothing green with an old second hand brown couch. At night when I am working on the computer, he will seek me out, lower the lights and sit on the couch and talk to me. Really talk to me. And listen...

The thing about my husband, is there is something about him that has always been able to soothe my soul. When I had my first miscarriage I just laid on top of him and cried for hours while he stroked my head. No one could talk to me or comfort me or even get near me, but he could. He gets me the way no one else can. This summer he has learned that my internal craziness really scares me, and now, instead of poo- pooing it, he acknowledges it and lets me try to work it out. I have never been good at sharing these things, but I am trying. Having someone acknowledge these issues helps me much more than someone who says, "Oh, that's not true."

I have been hesitant to share all this because I have so many friends going through so much right now. That and it is kind of boring. The thing is, I have not been able to lose any weight this summer. In fact, I have spent the entire summer battling three pounds that come and go. I have made so many discoveries and dealt with so many personal issues, I have been soothing myself with food. I know this is what I am doing, but food addiction just doesn't go away and I never learned as a child how to soothe myself with anything but food. I have watched my very unhappy parents do nothing but eat this summer. They don't have anything in their lives but food and my family. I fell into a trap of my own making. I am hoping sharing it will help me turn the corner.

So the meaning of putting all of this out there is that in the end I have discovered that crazy people need to share and be heard, and the other crazy people sometimes need to know that they are not alone. I have spent this summer holding the mirror up to myself and not always liking what I see. BUT, and this is a big but, at least what I am seeing is more truthful now. Somehow I must now learn to acknowledge my good and bad parts.

As Tennessee Williams once said, "If I got rid of my demons, I'd lose my angels."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Checking in on my Summer Bucket List

A few months ago I printed my summer bucket list. That list included learning how to make homemade ice cream. I thought that I would purchase my own ice cream maker, but then I decided to borrow some friends' ice cream maker, just in case. What I have discovered is making home made ice cream is a little like buying a chicken in Tijuana (Designing Women reference). First you have to soak the bucket, then you have to chill the canister. Next you have to make the base. Then you have to chill the base. Eventually you have to fill the bucket with ice and salt, but not before you crush the ice. Then you finally get to turn on the machine, but you have to watch it every 15 minutes to fill it with MORE hand-crushed ice until...finally...after buying salt and ingredients and spending several hours making this, you have 3 servings of ice cream. Needless to say, I was thankful for friends who own every kitchen appliance known to man so that I could learn that, while I will check this off my bucket list, I won't be purchasing a maker anytime soon. At least now I won't grumble at the cost of good ice cream.

I have slowly but surely been learning to play my guitar. Full disclosure, I purchased a Chord Buddy and have been going through the steps. I know, I know, that's the wimp's way out. But the truth of the matter is, I have owned and sold, owned and sold and owned again, a guitar several times in my life. I may be a great teacher, but I am a lousy student. I knew if I was ever really going to learn, I needed a way to cheat. So far I am doing okay. I can play several songs, however, the Chord Buddy only lets you play songs in the key of G and that is not quite in my singing range. I have had some setbacks, for example, when my husband asked me if I was playing "Holy, Holy, Holy" and I yelled back, "RING OF FIRE!!!!" But, as long as I get there, right?

I have been teaching my daughter to cook. She has made black beans and yellow rice with cheese and pineapple salsa, pork chops and apple slaw AND she made an awesome french toast one night. We tried to make bread during the hurricane, but that was an oops and we are going to try again one rainy day.

I am making the Red Hot Cinnamon pickles this week, although, sadly, my garden has been slow to produce. I have gotten full size vegetables (last year I only managed to grow miniature things), but I get a cucumber and a tomato or two at a time. Enough to use in my meals, but not enough to jar.

So I have one more month of summer vacation. I am working on an upcycled coiled t-shirt rug and E is making a fringe rug, but other than that I am pretty much trying to stay out of trouble.

Oh yeah, I did accidentally dye my hair a goth black. It was horrible. So today, after the ice cream is finally ready, I am going to attempt to dye it back to a more natural light brown. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Baby Steps and Beyond

Something has happened to my child this summer. She has changed and mutated and sometimes I feel as if I have lost her to this thing called "teen". This "teen" disease snuck up on us too soon because, after all, she is only 12. But somewhere along the line this year, her box-shaped t-shirts became fitted, v-neck t-shirts. Her hastily pulled back ponytail has become 10 minutes of primping in the morning to straighten her hair. Her plain jeans have given way to shorts that, although completely appropriate, can't make me stop growling at the boys who only see her extremely long legs. Her "up at the crack of dawn" eagerness has pushed further and further into mid-morning, stumbling out of bed at 8:30 or later. The first time this summer she slept until 8:00, I listened at her closed bedroom door to make sure I could hear her rustling about.

Her attitude hasn't changed. She is still the sweet-natured child who is always willing to help and very rarely complains. But last summer, if she was awake, she was content to be in the same room with me. She enjoyed going places with me. This summer she spent the first week in her room rearranging her nest and now she disappears into it for hours on end. She reads, listens to music and texts her friends all in this space where I no longer dare enter. This "teen" disease means that suddenly I am not enough for her.

The real shock came when her school assistant principal called to personally ask that we enroll her in 3 high school courses. She is 12. She is a rising 8th grader. She skipped second grade so she is even younger than her school mates. And yet, here she will be, taking 3 high school courses because, really, that is what she needs to challenge her. But that also means that she will be 3 courses ahead in high school and the goal is for her to fill those slots her senior year with college courses offered through the school district. How in the world did I go from gawky, awkward tomboy child to a college student in the blink of an eye?

I just feel sad that this is all happening so soon. I want to do what is best for her and I know that I need to allow her to grow up, but at this very moment she is walking with her BFF down to the boardwalk to play in the arcade. I am not there to protect her from perverts, thieves, drugs, cigarettes, bad choices, bad drivers and BOYS!!!! Somehow she became old enough and wise enough to be able to protect herself. And it all happened in a heartbeat.

Someone needs to tell you when you are going to experience last times. If I had known that I was holding her hand as I crossed the street for the last time, I would have held it tighter and cherished it more. Or I might not have grumbled when she woke me up because she was afraid of the thunder that last time. All those last times I wish I could call back and get one more chance to do it right are just gone. Everyone tells you it goes so fast and to enjoy every moment because you will miss it, but when they are young, you think "yeah, right" because you are just too busy keeping them from sticking things up their nose or drinking pretty colored things that have skulls on the bottles.

I am so happy that I have this wonderful, smart, driven young woman as my daughter. She is so beautiful both inside and outside that she makes me hurt. I know that up to this point I have done my job well. But now my job makes me hurt, because it means standing back and letting her make her own way. It means being there when she starts to fall off the path, but not push her back onto the way I would have her go. Sometime this summer, her life became her own. Lord, I hope I am ready.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Spirits in the Coves

I think it is safe to say I have had my fair share of paranormal happenings. I have witnessed the wolf creatures at Old Man's Cave in Ohio, communicated with murder victims, seen shadow figures and interacted with ghostly presences. I occasionally deliver messages and have prophetic dreams. All of these things I have learned to take in stride. What I haven't learned to cope with is residual energy.

I know, it seems silly. Here I spent months being haunted by women victimized by a serial killer and yet, stand-alone incidences of essentially paranormal photographs are what freak me out.

Every year my little trio of family pack our bags and head into the mountains to meet Hubby's parents and his brother's family. One year it was Tennessee, one year it was Georgia, one year it was South Carolina and this year it was North Carolina. While I like the mountains, I find the "aura" there very disturbing. Here on my little island I have learned to filter and block the every day stuff, but for some reason, I can't shield myself in the mountains.

This year we rented a cabin about 2 miles off the beaten path and right on the side of a mountain. To get there we had to drive down into a cove and then up. I hate cove's. HATE THEM!!! Several years ago I went through Cade's Cove. Everyone else talked about how peaceful and how beautiful it was out there. Not me. I spent the entire day trying to ignore images of long gone people. Not interacting, just images. I thought it was just that particular place until this trip. To get to our cabin we had to drive down the mountain, through a cove and back up the mountain.

At the bottom of this cove was an active homestead house that looked to be well over 100 years old. It was extremely well taken care of and very charming, but it was filled with images. There were so many images that I actually became disoriented as to what was real and what was not. At one point, I looked out into a field and saw a large, white-haired man wearing overalls, a t-shirt and a red bandanna using a sickle to beat back the bushes. I instantly turned to Hubby and said, "You see him too, don't you?" Hubby did, but that is how much a cove can trick me. I mean, who actually uses sickles anymore?

I don't know why coves are so active. Maybe they are just active to me. All I know is I think I would end up on some sort of psychotropic medicine if I moved to the mountains.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day + PMS= PTSD

I hate Father's Day. I hate all the posts on Facebook showing happy daughters and sons proclaiming all the great things their dads did for them. I hate shopping for Father's Day cards because they all ooze love and gratefulness for having such a great man in their lives. I hate the litany at church that honors fathers for their faithfulness and presence in their children's lives.

Do you know what my dad taught me? He taught me that no matter how good of a performance I did, if I messed up even the slightest bit, that was all that mattered. Even last week, I performed a song in church and got tongue tied on a few words, the first thing he said to me when he saw me was. "Well, I guess you flubbed the words!" The rest of the performance was pretty damn awesome, but that was what mattered most.

He taught me that when your drunken father chases you around the house in a rage, if you run out the back steps of the house and sneak in the front door to run up to your room, he will be too drunk to figure out where you went and leave you alone.

He taught me that every single piece of food that goes in my mouth has a consequence. If I eat a salad, I am not eating enough. If I eat french fries, I should be trying to lose weight. If I don't finish my meal, I am wasting food. If I finish my meal, I am greedy. EVERY...SINGLE...MEAL.

And I know that the fact that he is still in my life is my fault. He is still there because I grew up with no family. My mom disappeared into depressed stupors for days at a time. My brother was a drug dealing addict who may have had a room at my house, but pretty much left emotionally by the time I was 10. When I had my miscarriage 600 miles from my husband, my dad drove me all the way back to my state (since I wasn't allowed to fly) and sat in the doctor's office while I had a DNC and then drove me the 100 miles home.

He is still in my life because when I had a high risk pregnancy with E he drove all the way again to spend a week with me while Hubby had to go out of town because he didn't want me to be alone if something went wrong. He is there because when my mom disappeared for days, no matter what was going on at work, no matter if he was meeting with the president of his company or the government agency he did secret work for, his secretary was told to never tell me he couldn't take my call. I was always put through.

He is there because he was there. And mental abuse is a vicious chain. That's the reason I don't judge anyone who stays with drug addicts, alcoholics or abusive spouses. Nothing ever takes place in a vacuum and the color gray bleeds into every aspect of our lives. He's is there because for all the damage he has done to me, that I allow him to still do, he was there.

Happy Father's Day to me, just because I survived.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sometimes Bigger is Better

A few years ago I took one of those alphabet personality tests, a real one read and interpreted by a real person, not one of those FB fun tests that tell you what color you are. It showed what I knew (but was finally put into writing). I am an extreme introvert. Not only am I an introvert, the expert told me I was the MOST introverted non-agorophobic person he had ever recorded.

Somewhere over the past 20 years, while I was getting bigger and bigger in my body, I was getting smaller and smaller in my soul. I was literally disappearing behind a wall of fat and fear. I went from being a person who went out every night with friends and rappelled down cliffs and lived my life onstage to being a person who only truly existed online, through my blog. On my blog I was fierce and loud and fearless when it came to sharing my life, but in reality, I was the director of a theater company who couldn't go out after a show to meet the crowd. Fear stole in to every aspect of my life.

Last August my daughter tried on my wedding dress. My daughter at the time was 5 foot 5 and weighed 122 pounds. When I got married I weighed 133 pounds and was 5 foot 5. Long story short, the dress almost fit her. Right in front of me was a very close example of the size of woman my husband married. I cried. Hard.

But after I was done crying I picked my ass up and went to the gym. I started a diet plan and I stopped shrinking. I was still introvert to the nth degree, but I dug in my cleats and refused to allow myself to disappear. Somehow, some way, in the past few months I have opened my eyes and realized just how afraid I had become of living.

Several weeks ago I decided I wanted to start letting go of my uber-controlling personality and break some rules. I was going to start small. I was going to ride my grocery cart from the store to my car. I see adults do it all the time and nothing bad happens. I love the look people get on their face. I can see their inner "whee" monologue as the cart goes flying along. I wanted to experience a "whee" moment.

Friday I bought a cart full of groceries, packed with milk and orange juice and other heavy things. This was it. If ever I had a heavy enough cart to ride on, this was the cart. I checked for traffic, stepped up onto that low shelf and pushed off....for all of 3 seconds. But in those three seconds I imagined all sorts of disaster. My foot would get stuck and I wouldn't be able to get off or stop and I would run into a car. OR, more realistically, my weight would tip me backwards and I would crack my head open on the pavement. I immediately put my feet down and pushed the cart like a grown-up. No whee was to be had. I just couldn't do it. I didn't know how.

I love the show Californication. I don't love it because of the sex or trendiness of it. I love it because David Duchovny's character is balls to the walls and no excuses. Every time he says "Mother Fucker" I think to myself, I want to say that. I want to control my fear enough that I am not afraid to say that to the world. I want to have one moment where I don't censor myself or hide. But I can't. My brain won't let me. I am a mom, a pastor's wife and a teacher. All I think is that I could lose my job or get my husband in trouble or, God forbid, disappoint my daughter. I have convinced myself there really is no safe space for me to say that, at least, so I have taught myself.

So when I talked to Hubby about this, he agreed to teach me how to ride the cart, because he does it all the time. He is a huge rule bender and fairly fearless when it comes to breaking rules. Somehow punishment and shame have never been deterrents for him. As silly as he thinks it is that I don't know how to ride the cart, he knows that it is important to my healing, to my letting go of the protective padding I surrounded myself with.

And you better believe,

when I am riding that cart,

I am going to be nodding my head

and saying....OUT LOUD,

"Yea right, Mother Fucker."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The State of the Schools

I am an assistant in a Montessori classroom. For the first time in 15 years of teaching, I am working in a public school. As the school year comes to a close, I have to say, I am exhausted.

I know that I am not the best technical writer in the world. I use too many commas and don't always know which punctuation to use when being dramatic. But I do know how to teach. I know how to research what I teach so the kids get the facts and not an "I don't know" kind of answer. I never accept crappy work from students and I refuse to let them give up on themselves. I am always, ALWAYS, consistent.

Most of my students started this year with illegible handwriting and no knowledge of cursive. I would say 75% of them refuse to pick up a book and of that 75%, 50% do not have a passing ability to read. Many of them did not know how to format their papers when doing math and had no ability to infer anything from reading comprehension. They needed me to walk them through every single step to get to an answer when it came to a question that asked them to think for themselves. To say I was stunned is an understatement.

The thing is, who do we blame for this? Do we blame parents who refuse to parent? I have children who are falling asleep in class because they stay up until midnight texting and playing on the computer. Parents know their kids need to sleep, but they don't want to take their electronics away because they are afraid of their children's reaction. Some of my children are from other schools, and some of their records show that they perform at a much higher level then they actually do. Teachers out and out falsified information either to save their jobs or to keep the child moving forward in grade level. Most of my kids do not know their times tables or how to do dynamic addition or subtraction. Do I blame the government for implementing all the common core standards that seem to fail to allow children time to internalize these facts?

The thing that bothered me the most is the children who just absolutely refused to work or participate in a lesson. I have never had so many children just say no. They don't want to do anything hard. That is what they say, "It's too hard!" So they quit. If I had refused to participate in something at school I would have been punished at both school and home. Now, however, kids are allowed to opt out of their education and legally I can do nothing about it. Heck, we even have a parent who rewards this behavior by bringing her child a treat whenever the teacher tries to contact the parent over her child refusing to do the work!

I have spent this year teaching nothing but the basics. Hitting is not okay. The holes in the paper go on the left side. Simple addition and subtraction needs to be done in your head (or with Montessori materials), not on your fingers. Getting an answer wrong is okay as long as you tried. No, I won't just tell you the answer because it is easier than teaching you how to find the answer. I do not mind helping you over and over until it clicks. I will not yell at you for not getting it. No, I would never make you walk laps because you don't understand (Yes, I did have several students who had this happen.) Hard never hurt anyone. Reading IS important. YES, manners matter. No, you may not throw sticks at people. Because it hurts them, that's why! This assignment is not an option. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. Yes, I do use very big words around you. Why? Because language is important. No, I do not think you are stupid even if you don't understand. That's what I am here for, to help you understand.

I love my job and I love my kids. I think an education system that expects every single child to be college ready is a farce. I think that man who stars in "Dirty Jobs" is right. When did so called blue collar jobs become demeaning? When did it become realistic that every person had to perform at the the same level and be proficient in all the same skills? One of the smartest men I know never graduated high school but can build you anything you want, electrical, gas powered, what have you. So what if I can discuss philosophy with the best of them, I can't fix my toilet when something goes wrong.

Instead of creating well-rounded people, we are creating a bunch of kids who don't want to learn because they have been called failures because of test results. I know the importance of benchmark testing, but don't tell me the child who is creative and kind and socially well-rounded is dumb because they struggle with math. Give me TIME to teach them and they will get it, just don't expect it to be without giving them the basics first.

I think it is time to take back our children.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hypocritical Me

It's not common knowledge, but there is an underground movement happening in our denomination. The subject of gay Christians and the right to marry is coming to a head and pastors are starting to take sides. There is a slight chance that the denomination will break into two new denominations; one being for gay marriage and the other against.

Hubby and I have always been on the "for" side. I truly believe with all my heart that people are born being gay, or bi, or transgender. I don't believe it is a choice. I have also made sure to teach E that people are people, period. You either believe we are ALL created in God's image (gay people included) or you think he makes mistakes. Okay, I am not the most religious person in the world, but I get that much.

Our most active church members are this lovely lesbian couple. Between the 2 of them, they have created more opportunities for ministry than anyone else in our congregation. Being gay is not an agenda for them, but they hide nothing about their life. They sit in church with their arms casually placed behind the other on the pew, they put their hands on the small of their partner's back as one walks through a doorway, they are very open about their relationship. But they are also very solid Christians and that is the first label they give themselves, before woman or gay or partners....Christians.

The church we are at now is possibly the best match Hubby has had yet. This congregation really puts their money where their mouth is. If the church sees a need in the community, it immediately rises to help. There is a great sense of taking the church out into the world instead of just keeping it contained in a building. But....and this is a big but, some of the older (richer) members are struggling with allowing gay people in church. They welcome them and talk to them, but they express disdain with how visual this couple has become.

No one wants to talk about it, but the church is a business and it needs to be run like a business. If funds don't come in, bills don't get paid and churches close. My generation is attending church less and less and we certainly don't donate as much money to the church as the older members. The older members keep the church afloat. And yet, the older members are dying off and if a pastor isn't looking to the future and trying to replace those members now, the church is doomed.

Hubby has decided that now is the time to make a move and show his true colors. He has spent a lot of time talking to the couple and one of them is interested in starting a ministry through our church for LGBT people in the community. Hubby supports it 100%. He is also going one step more and had invited one of the woman to take over his pulpit this weekend. For the first time in the history of this little church, an openly gay woman will be preaching. Some people are excited and highly supportive, some people will refuse to show up and some people, well, they are the ones I call "monkeys." The monkeys are going to start throwing shit.

The sad thing is, for all my walk the walk and talk the talk attitude, I am afraid. I am afraid of the fallout. I am afraid of going though all the crap like we had in CountryTime because of bigoted people. And yet...and yet...I know that being complacent is worse. I love the Island. I love my life. I feel safe here. This potentially could rip our world apart and get us moved again. But I am lucky. I don't have anyone telling me that I can't make end of life decisions for Hubby. If something happened to Hubby, no one could take E away from me because I wasn't her "real" mom. No says I don't have a right to kiss Hubby in public or that what I have to say about religion is tainted because of whom I love. So my fear is my problem and I will deal with it, because in the end, if someone doesn't start the change and stand up in the Christian world, nothing will ever change.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, April 28, 2014

Breaking my vow...

Okay, I know I promised not to rehash CountryTime stories, but this one needs to be told. If you have been following this blog, you know that I used to live in a parsonage next door to the 5 Star General of the Bloods. He shot and killed 3 people while living next door to me and may or may not have been responsible for the dead body found 2 blocks away in front of E's school. As a result of gang activity we forced our church to move us, causing all sorts of problems. The church moved us out to the country, 9 miles away from ANYTHING. The first thing I said when I saw the house was "Well, this is a tornado waiting to happen." The trustee leading the house tour scoffed at me and mocked me.

But that is exactly what happened. CountryTime was hit by tornadoes, two of which started just yards away from our house. For two hours, the residents of the house huddled in the bathroom under a mattress while the slow moving tornadoes pummeled them. At one point a hot tub hit the house and I can only imagine the terror the residents felt. The house stood, but all through the neighborhood there were trees on cars and sheds moved miles away. Even E's horses that lived at the end of our road lost their barn completely. I have no idea how they survived.

I hate feeling this way, but I am still angry at those people for moving us out to that house as punishment for complaining about the original house. The thing that really got me, however, was a FB comment made by a church member. Apparently the church neighborhood was also one of the hardest hit neighborhoods yet the church remained unscathed. The member posted that "God loves this church." I so desperately wanted to respond, "So all those other people that lost their houses and lives, did God NOT love them!!!???"

Okay, I promise, this blog is not going to become my place to rant and rave again, but this episode feels like the exclamation point on a sentence that just had to be finished.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

That Did Not Just Happen

I am a teacher's assistant. I was offered the lead teacher job, but I hate being in charge and after all the years at the children's theater and all the drama, I decided I wanted to spend some time just being in a support position. Yes, it is a lot less money, but it has allowed me so much more personal time and happiness.

That being said, one of my class parents is extremely unhappy and has been speaking to anyone in the community who will listen about how much he dislikes his son's circumstances. That is about all I feel comfortable saying, except this man holds some power in my community and at the school.

He has been downright mean to my lead teacher. It sent me mentally flying back to all I endured during the time that shall not be mentioned. So much so that I had to physically force myself to stay uninvolved. I am just the assistant. I don't get paid to get abused by parents. (Isn't it sad that teachers are expected to take some abuse from parents?)

But I have also been spending a lot of time trying to teach my students to take responsibility for themselves, to stop making excuses. They are struggling to grasp the concept that at a Montessori school there is no punishment for not getting an answer right, but that they need to persevere until they do get the right answer. I spend hours each week telling kids that I can't give them all the answers and they have to do the work themselves. And then I have kids whose parents think they never do anything wrong. One of my kids hid outside of the room and when I found him, he was trying to destroy school property. When the lead teacher contacted the parents, they indicated he would never do that and I must have it out for him.

Everything just kind of came to a head this week and I needed to vent some so I posted this on my FB page:

"Sometimes I feel as if we have all forgotten how to be kind, how to listen, how to accept responsibility, how to say "I am sorry." Too many excuses and accusations in the world."

You can imagine my surprise when I received a private message on FB from a former CountryTime theater parent. This parent tried to get me fired for not sticking around after one of her son's shows with another theater company. She was mad that I didn't gush over him even though I had a migraine and had to leave. She actually called my boss and tried to get me fired. This was her message:

"Muddy, with your last post being said... I really owe you an apology and I need to let you know what an amazing teacher and mentor you were to (son). I know all of us got caught up in all the "drama" at the end before you guys left (no pun intended) but he learned so much from you and The Theater will never have another teacher like you. Your help and all that he learned, I feel helped him to get where he's at. Thanks so much and again I'm sorry!"

Now you would think this would have evoked some strong emotion in me, but it didn't. There was so little emotion, in fact, that I thought maybe something was wrong with me. I just didn't care anymore. Those people have no power over me. I didn't know what to do. Part of me wanted to just ignore the message. After all, I owe her nothing. Part of me thought I needed to respond so that she couldn't tell everyone in CountryTime what I bitch I was for ignoring her. But the real part of me realized I needed to make some comment. If I didn't, I would be giving her power. I would always be expecting some nasty email or I would think of it from time to time and it would be like a little splinter stuck in my toe. Something that would eventually disappear, but would rub me the wrong way whenever something touched it. So this is what I responded:

"I appreciate your apology, but it is all in the past and was forgiven a long time ago. Your son is a talent in himself and I know that he will succeed if he stays on his path. I am just happy I got to play a small part in his development."

Short and to the point. I didn't engage, I didn't provoke, I just accepted and moved on. It is hard for me to believe that I may really HAVE moved on. Maybe it was all just a bad dream.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Summer To-Do List

I have been seriously thinking about what is going to happen this summer when I am on summer break. As I have established, not having a job to go to every day is a bit daunting to me as it allows my seeming agorophobia to surface and I nest in a not so healthy way. Since summer is just 8 weeks away, I have decided to make a to-do list. Think of it is as things to keep me occupied and protect me from myself.

I am, of course, going to continue to work out, attempt to grow my own food (although I am a huge failure as a gardener) and take E surfing as much as possible, since it no longer causes extreme pain to walk to the beach and sit in the sun. So the givens are not going to be included on this list. And I do have a small, two-week summer job teaching an arts camp lined up. Aside from that and a week in the mountains, the field is wide open.

So here it is, my honey-do list to myself:

First and foremost I am FINALLY going to learn to play my guitar. Seriously. I mean it this time. I am going to be able to play at least 5 songs before August 30th.

I am going to learn to fish from the pier. I have a church member who has the equipment and is willing to teach me. I feel as if I have gotten very far away from my primal humanity (is that redundant?) and would like to have this skill. I am a little queasy about gutting and skinning a fish, but I used to do it when I was a kid, so I am sure I can do it again.

Going along with the primal humanity theme, I am going to learn how to make a fire the cave man way. I know it sounds silly, but I just think it is an important tool to have in your survival skill tool belt. And NO, I am not a survivalist, I just feel the need to be a little more knowledgeable about how things work and what to do if, God forbid, the bridge to my island collapsed and we lost power. It wasn't widely reported, but we even had a tsunami hit our island this summer and that scared me. It was so little it took 4 months for the powers to be to officially say it happened, but still. The Outer Banks bridge got closed down for several weeks this fall and it was pretty scary to us other Islanders. Things happen on barrier islands.

I am going to make and can Red Hot pickles. One of our church members is going to teach me how to can, and the local little organic produce place has said they would like to try them. I love me some cinnamon pickles. Now, if I can just learn how to actually grow things (like cucumbers) to a full-size. Last year all my vegetables were little miniature versions of their true selves.

I am going to make homemade ice cream. Again, I need to borrow an ice cream maker from a church member, but since I eat so little sugar now, when I do eat it, I want it to be worth it.

I am teaching E how to cook and bake. That is a given. But I am also going to create a sourdough starter and use that to make my bread this summer. No more Wonder Bread for this family.

Lastly, I am going to be on turtle watch again this summer. Last summer I got to sit at the head of a nest as it boiled and watch 98 little babies break through the sand. A few weeks later I was called in on a sudden boil and got to be the turtle counter and I am actually now trusted and ALLOWED to handle the turtles. That was a huge thing, if I were more religious I would actually call it a blessing. But that is going to forever more be on my summer list. I am even thinking of getting a sea turtle tattoo on my inner wrist.

So that is it so far. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to let me know. I need 8 weeks worth of things to keep me busy.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Talk to the Hand

As some of you may or may not remember, Hubby does not seem to possess the chemical needed to prevent him from moving or acting out his dreams while he is sleeping. Over the years I have learned to discern his moods prior to going to bed and usually I can tell when he is going to have an active night. On those nights I literally sleep with one eye open. This potentially saved my life several years ago when Hubby rolled over in his sleep and attempted to slam an unseen knife directly into my chest. He has no recollection of it and swears he wasn't dreaming of killing me, but you get the picture.

Last night was a night like most nights and I felt comfortable going to sleep next to the man I love. I had only been asleep about 90 minutes when I felt my husband's arm propped up against my side. He is a snuggler, so that didn't concern me, but then I felt something hovering near my face. I instantly woke up completely and prepared myself for whatever physical onslaught he was about to dish out. Only what happened took me completely by surprise.

There was my husband's hand, being held as if he was working a sock puppet, and, in a dead sleep, he was saying, "Happy hand, happy, happy , happy hand." I honestly thought he was awake and playing a joke on me. I popped up and said, "What the hell are you doing?" He never answered, rolled over and was quiet the rest of the night.

The next morning I asked him why he did that and he has absolutely no memory of it. The only thing I can figure is he was dreaming he was putting on a puppet show. But I sure would like to know who or what Happy Hand is. Or....maybe not.

Friday, March 28, 2014

In the Middle of the Night

There's something to be said for having a place that you call home. I don't mean your house, I mean the town that holds your memories, whether they make you laugh or cry. The place where you can drive down a street and say, "Uncle Eddie got drunk one day at Crest Tavern and had to stop on his way home and pee right in that front yard."

I don't really have that for my childhood since I moved around so much, but I do have that here on the Island. Hubby and I had a rare occurrence today, we both had the afternoon off but E still had school, so we decided to head off the Island and go Downtown for lunch. As we were driving back, we passed the street from our old church. I had to laugh as we passed a small sign on the corner.

Hubby may be a pastor, but he has a huge rebellious streak. He believes rules were meant to be broken, not followed. Although if you ask him, he claims he only bends the rules. Me? I am the world's biggest rule follower and this attitude drives me crazy. I always worry that one day his refusal to go through normal channels will end up with me getting him out of jail.

Back when Hubby was the pastor for the Downtown church, he noticed that all of the other churches downtown had directional street signs. Somewhere on the main roads, there would be a sign saying, "Church of the Almost There" two blocks ahead for every other church. But the Downtown church had no sign. It really bugged him. The church was on the main grid of the city, but it was 5 or 6 streets back from the main road and Hubby wanted a sign.

At this time Hubby could have said, "Well, let's go talk to the City Manager and request a sign." However, a church member who worked with the City Manager talked Hubby out of it. He told Hubby that the request would be denied after months of back and forth bickering. Why go through all that hassle just to be told no? He thought, though, that if they went ahead and put the sign up, it would probably be left alone. So Hubby and this man ordered two street signs and hatched a plan.

The Downtown church was in a borderline location. Two streets closer to the main street and you have million dollar houses. Two streets above the church and you are in the land of drug dealers and pimps. Hubby and his accomplice decided they would get bright orange city worker vests and post diggers and sneak about the city streets at 2AM to put up these signs.

The first sign went right in the middle of the median on the most coveted scenic road in our downtown. It is the road that holds the statue in memory of the Confederate soldiers who died. It is the road that all the parades go down. It it the jewel of downtown. And there was Hubby, lurking in the street lights breaking all sorts of city codes. Amazingly enough, putting the sign up on the median went unobserved. For some reason no one questioned the fact that two city workers were out in the middle of the night putting up a sign.

Having such good luck with the first sign, Hubby and friend decided to head up to the more shady side of the city to place the second sign. This road had a little more traffic at 3AM and there were actually people on the corner looking for customers, if you know what I mean. Hubby, with his little bald head and not so pastoral attitude, dutifully started digging the hole for the sign while his friend kept an eye out for the po po. It wasn't long before a lady in red (literally) walked up the street and struck up a conversation.

The woman leaned against the light post nearby and asked Hubby for a cigarette. I am not sure if she really wanted a cigarette or was just trying to arrange her next date, but either way, neither Hubby nor the other man smoked and neither were going to make her an offer. BUT.. that didn't stop the other man from starting in on telling the woman exactly how he had smoked for 20 years, how unhealthy smoking was and how he finally managed to break the habit, yadda yadda yadda. The woman started switching from one foot to the other, becoming aggravated at the fact that all she had asked for was a freaking cigarette and she was obviously wasting her time. Finally she got fed up and started walking away, calling the men all sorts of name. Within a few steps a car pulled up and she was off on her next real date. Hubby finished the sign and returned home about 4 AM.

Sadly, the sign on the main road met an untimely demise a few short weeks after being put up. A large truck came down the narrow road, veered onto the median and took it out in an inglorious bending of steel. The sign disappeared and was never replaced. But the streetwalker sign still stands to this day. The city workers even mow the grass around it. It is a lovely homage to the anti-pastor that lives inside my hubby, because after all, even pastors are only human.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sisterhood of the Traveling (UP MY DAMN ASS) Pants

Whoever invented low-waisted pants hates women. Ok, maybe he/she doesn't hate the TWO of you out there in the world who are size 0's and can wear clothes designed to look good on clothes hangers, but for real size women with the big butts of which rap songs glorify, low-waisted pants are instruments of torture.

I am a fan of mom jeans. I don't care if they are considered tacky or unfashionable by the people who can afford personal trainers, personal chefs and spend lots of money to buy bottles of AIR. Give me a pair of jeans or pants that cover my chubby cheeks and wrap lovingly around my waist where my waist actually sits on my body and I am happy.

Several years ago I spent a decent amount of money on a simple pair of black pants. I tried them on and noticed they were a little low-waisted, but I thought they still fit nicely enough to purchase. But then I washed them once and suddenly they were just a little uncomfortable. Then I gained several thousand pounds and those pants got shoved back into the deepest recesses of my closet. I actually forgot about them until last month when I pulled out my clothes from my lesser me days.

I tried them on just to see if they fit again and they did. I was so excited I hung them up in my closet, not really planning on wearing them for an all day occasion, but maybe for an hour of church or such. I have lost so much weight most of my clothes are too big and I can't afford to replace them as fast as they outgrow me and they are nice looking dress pants.

Fast forward to today. I washed my work pants last night but forgot to put them in the dryer. I didn't know I had forgotten to put them in the dryer until I was packing my bag for after my workout. Every morning I drop E off at school, head to the gym and shower there before I head to work. I had no other pants to pack but the low-waisted black pants. And I would have no time to run home to exchange the pants because I was taking my school kids on a field trip today. It was those pants or nothing.

Let me tell you, I spent the entire day wiggling, re-situating, picking and pulling at the God Awful Pants. They just wouldn't sit right. They fit, in a way. They just didn't lay correctly. I felt like a toddler, irritable and surly because something was just not right. I picked up E and she asked me how my day was and the only thing I could say was, "I HATE THESE PANTS!" She just shook her head and laughed at me. She has learned to live with all my sensory disorder issues.

I pulled into my garage and didn't even wait for my garage door to close before I stripped off the pants and threw them in the wash. I'm sure the church members who live across the street saw more of their pastor's wife then they EVER wanted to but I just couldn't take it one more minute. I wanted to throw them away, but I hate being wasteful so I am going to donate those pants to Goodwill and condemn some other poor pudgy shmuck to a day of low-rider hell.

Stupid pants.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Journey

I am always amazed by how many of my friends comment on how different I am. These are people who have known me for years and know everything I have gone through. It wasn't easy to get here, but I think telling the tale of my journey is kind of important.

For the first few months after leaving CountryTime; Hubby, E and I were suffering from honest to goodness PTSD. Hubby had it so bad that he has started seeing a counselor to help him. We lived our lives in fear of making mistakes. Things are so peaceful here. We have a nice house in a nice, SAFE, blue-collar neighborhood. We can bike ride to stores, restaurants, libraries....the ocean. People give us our space and church members genuinely respond to us in a positive manner. We even have enough money coming in between our TWO jobs (one for each of us), that our taxes are getting totally paid and we are creating a savings account again.

Things were so good that we were afraid we were going to mess it up. We were afraid to say or do anything that might make people hate us again. I couldn't even force myself to see my long-time friends who now lived close to me because I just needed the security of my little home and my little family. I was afraid to mess up my friendships. It's one thing to live in fear of something that is really out there-gang members, crazy congregants, poverty. It is quite another (and even worse) to live in fear of something that might not happen or that you are creating in your mind.

Now don't get me wrong, I truly believe that if we had stayed in CountryTime, I might have actually, physically died. I gained 40 pounds with no signs of stopping in the three years we lived there. I was having horrible arrythmia and chest pains. I was in a major mode of self-destruct and couldn't see any way out. Moving didn't just make all of that go away. I had spent three years creating this big, puffy, protective self and now I had to figure out how to let go of all of that.

It started in January with one New Year's resolution. In January, 2013, I decided to live my life intentionally. That's it. Just that one thing. But here's the trick, it is really hard to always be intentional. I started with my reactionary behavior. I decided that I was going to stop every time I started to wind up and really ask myself if it was worth getting wound up. If it was, then I let myself get worked up and overwrought because I needed to feel it. But if it wasn't (and here's the kicker, very few things ARE worth it), I had to let it go. I had to. No choice given.

Then I started thinking about what I was doing to my body. I was in pain every day and I was suffering just to walk to the beach. I knew it was more than weight, but I wasn't sure what to do. So I started intentionally trying to sleep on a more regular schedule. It's amazing how much easier it is to be less reactionary when you are getting more sleep. And how much more energy you have. But I was still suffering from pain so I knew I needed to look farther.

So I started thinking about my addictions. I was intentionally not buying diet soda at the grocery store because I knew it was bad for me, but then I would intentionally run through a drive thru because I needed diet soda. So I stopped drinking it and anything with artificial sweetener. It took several tries to break the habit, but shortly after it was finally kicked, almost all of that neuropathic pain ceased. I could be touched without shrinking back. I could walk farther and felt better. I could start to exercise again. In August of last year I joined a gym and now go 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day. Yes, I said 30 minutes a day. After working out for 90 minutes, 5 days a week in CountryTime with no changes, I decided to change what I was doing. And it worked.

But I knew before I exercised I needed to get some physical things taken care of. I went back to a chiropractor and he helped with the other pain. I gave up caffeine because I was using it like a crutch for energy. Then I started doing the Naturally Slim program and I started to lose weight for the first time in 10 years. With each intentional step and decision, I was becoming healthier, stronger and more me-like. I was starting to be at peace.

My latest (and hopefully last for a while) intentional decision has been the hardest. I am trying to overcome my bump-on-the-log syndrome. If you put me in front of a tv or let me off the hook from doing something, I will sit on a couch and bromate for the entire day. I will let the laundry pile up, I will not vacuum, I will not empty the dishwasher, I will not go out into the real world, I will just allow myself to be sucked into useless tv programs. Hubby will pick up all the slack and never once mention it to me because that is how we have lived for so long. All of these things I have done to mask my depression can't hind this one glaring fact. I will sit on the couch and hide from life.

So I have intentionally refused to allow myself to watch tv until 8 PM at night. I think that is fair. I need some time to allow my brain to veg. That means I have to find something constructive to do with my time. My house is cleaner. I read more. I try to walk 10,000 steps a day. I cook more from scratch. And I realized, I need a creative outlet. Even though I have been singing more and laughing more and sitting less, it is still a struggle every single day. I truly believe artistic and creative people have something missing and need an outlet. My creativity ebbs and flows with my mood. Depression is a bitch.

So that's my story in a few paragraphs and why I am back. I am taking each day one day at a time and I fail a lot. But I am no longer afraid that my faults or failures are going to cost us this peaceful life we have here on the Island. One day we are going to get moved whether we cause it or not. I no longer seek out drama and when someone comes into my life who tries to create drama, they are quietly let go. I do sometimes still feel the need to make CountryTime suffer, but I am working on that. That is going to take a long, long, long time.

What's Down There?

I have always heard the saying that sex sells. So straight out of the gate this time, let's talk about sex.

I love reading. I would rather read than do almost anything else. And I will read anything that can hook me with either the flow of the words or a good strong character. Books that teach me things, or challenge me with 10 dollar words or have two characters with that maddening passion that very few people ever experience, call my name even if they are poorly written.

When I was 20 (back in 1990), I read the Earth Children series by Jean Auel for the first time. I love early human history. I can ramble on and on about Homo Habilis and Australopithicus and such. For what ever flaws the books have, Auel did a heck of a lot of research and you can learn a lot from reading them. But back when I was 20, I have to admit it was one of the first books I read that had such graphic sex. I was a late bloomer and had never HAD sex, nor did I watch porn movies and the internet was still a far way off, so, well, I was kind of innocent. Every time she wrote a sex scene (which she called Pleasures), she always wrote about the female characters throbbing knob. It popped up everywhere, every time (pun intended).

I was not so naive that I hadn't heard about a g-spot or a clitoris, but for some reason I assumed they were the same thing. In my head I kind of pictured this little balloon-like organ suddenly peeking its head out of the folds of my "flower" and saying "Peekaboo!" Only that never happened to me. Was I some sort of asexual anomaly?

As I began to come out of my shell and have more mature sexual experiences, things seemed to work all right with everything down there and I began to forget the images the book put in my head. After all, this was the 90's. Maybe 70's sex was totally different and hazy.

Flash forward to this past month. Several years ago the last book in the series was published and I read it as a stand alone book. I remember being really disappointed in it, but we are getting ready to teach early humans to my school kids and I thought it would be good to read the series again just for background info. Once again I was reading about all of these things the character experienced, including the damn knobby thing.

I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to know where this knob was and why I didn't seem to possess it so I went to the source of most of my sexual experiences, my Hubby. I told my husband about my dilemma and asked him where this knob was on me because I sure didn't think I had one like everyone else. I thought my husband was going to choke. I totally came out of left field with the question and he kind of stuttered. Then he began questioning if our sex life for the past 20 years was all just a lie since I was even asking. (Isn't that just like a man?) But that wasn't it. I am not complaining about our sex life, I have never had issues, I just didn't understand the fold imagery. That kind of settled him down and we began to have a very technical discussion about sex and body parts and such.

What I discovered is that I am okay, I knew where everything was even if it didn't work the way Auel wrote it, and that I can still surprise Hubby after 20 years together.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Well Hello There

Has it really been almost two years since I wrote on this blog? Wow. Two years. So much has happened. I hope everyone out there is doing well. I am. I know you are surprised to see me back, but I really miss writing. I need a creative outlet so I decided to return for me.

Things are good here. E is 12. Can you believe it? She is currently starring in her middle school musical. She has been taking part in the school shows for two years and insists I have no part whatsoever in the theater. I respect that because she wants to know she is getting cast because of her own talent, not because of me. She also has friends, lots of them, including a BFF that has stood by her for our entire time here. She is happy and involved and that makes me happy.

Hubby is good. He really loves this church. We live at the end of a major interstate and all the crazies dump out here, but they are good-hearted crazies and it doesn't hurt that we live 4 blocks from the ocean.

I am good. I am back to working in a Montessori elementary school. I have given up theater for a while. I needed some drama free time. I have stayed very uninvolved in the church. I attend and sometimes I sing, but that is about it. Even when Hubby talks to me about things that are church related, I just listen and hold my tongue. I have learned that with him and his job, it is better to be an ear and let him do his job without my influence.

I gave up Diet Coke and everything apartame. It is amazing. 90% percent of my pain problems were coming from it. And apparently so were some of my weight issues. As of this week, I have officially lost 30 pounds. I work out 5 days a week and love it. I feel so much younger than I have felt in years.

So I went through and deleted most of the posts about CountryTime. From hence forward it shall be the time that shall not be named. This blog is no longer about negative things. I have spent the past several years learning to be less reactive and more positive. People who know me in real life always mention how much better I seem and I intend to keep it that way. But I do miss writing, especially funny things. So here I am. I want to share the good things, the silly things, the positive things, the questionable things. I will still tell paranormal tales, I will still give my skewered opinion and I will still use by sardonic wit. I won't talk about too much to do with my job because of privacy issues. I will probably tell congregational tales, but I never again want to have to sort through 417 posts to remove things that might get me in trouble. So some of you may find me boring. And that's okay. Boring isn't necessarily bad. But as I said, I need a creative outlet and I miss writing.

So just to give you a head's up, tomorrow will be a discussion on reading The Earth Children series as a 20 year old and a then again as a 43 year old. Pleasures. SMH.