Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

We are two days out from the new year and I'm sitting at my laptop in sheer disbelief. This year has flown by. I've been doing a bit of looking back over the last year and counting my blessings. 
I've learned a lot about myself this year. I've learned that I've got ambition and courage. I've stood up for myself and found the drive for success that I wondered if it ever existed. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made friends. I made myself a priority in my own life. And you know what? It made a huge difference. I focused on healthier eating, taking my vitamins on a regular basis, drinking more water, studied my ass off, and took the time to make a difference in my own life. I tried some different recipes and am pretty proud of myself. I eat a lot more veggies. (Pinterest has decided that I'm Asian because of the Asian recipes I have pinned.) I have made an effort to purchase clothing that flatters me and my body.




I've always been one to put others first. As a lifetime caregiver, I'm so used to putting others health and wellbeing above my own. But I found myself worn out and run down. I was mentally destroyed, emotionally broken, and physically torn apart at the seams. I had been so focused on everyone else in my life...their needs, their wants, their desires...that I neglected myself for far too long. 
2018 is my year! It will be the year I continue my journey toward self-care and making myself a priority. It means focusing on my education and my health. It means making changes that some people may not like, but they will have to get over it. I've spent too long listening to people who didn't have my best interests at heart. If you're going to be part of my life, you've got to understand my need to make my decisions for my own life and happiness. I'm trying to be the best possible me I can be...more me!



To those who have cheated on me, to those who have left me, to those who have hurt me, to those who didn't believe in me, to those who broke my heart, I say "Thank you!" Because of you, I've learned who I am, found my independence, took back my voice, and discovered my self-worth.

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year's Eve! May 2018 bring you more blessings than your life can hold!




Saturday, December 23, 2017

Silent Night

In the still of a very silent night, the only sound is coming from the great beast at my feet whose rumbles of snoring quake my bed. My holiday candles are lit and the flames are flickering softly, making shadows on my walls. I have music playing quietly. Not the holiday music most would think, but music to soothe my soul. It is Christmas Eve eve.

It won't be long now before sounds of "Santa can't come if you're still awake" will be heard as children are tucked in. Followed by the sounds of laughter as the gifts under the tree are unwrapped in the earliest of morning hours. Food will be cooking away and families will descend upon loved ones to enjoy some time together.

But I ask you for a favor: As you sit with your family and friends, eating meals that have been lovingly prepared in your homes, please remember those who are unable to be around their family's tables this holiday season.



I wanted to share this story with you, in case you have never heard it. It's one I heard a long time ago, but it touched my heart in such a big way. It's the tale of how the Christmas song "Silent Night" stopped a war. "On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 15 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 — and did they really play soccer on the battlefield?
Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own — which means that it’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front. To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce." (You can read the full story here.)

How amazing to think that, even in the midst of war, people on the opposing sides can find the magic of the holiday! So, while we should remember them all year through, can I ask you to pause a moment in your family celebrations and whisper a prayer, blessing, or thought for our military men and women? We often take them for granted. They have the tough jobs, the thankless jobs, and are putting their lives on the line every single day!


I want to take a moment to wish you a happy holiday season! From my home to yours, "Merry Christmas" and may 2018 find you happy, healthy, and grateful!

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Grown-Up Letter...


Dear Santa,
     There are people in the world who would say that I'm too old to be writing a letter to you, however, Grandma always told me I was never too old to believe. (My grandma was a smart woman :)) And I just don't give a shit about the world's opinion.
     I'm usually pretty snarky about these "Dear Santa" things. But here I am, being sincere and all. I have quite a list for you and all it comes from the deepest depths of my heart.
       I have a few things I want for myself, but first, I want to get the big stuff out of the way.
     Santa, I know most of this is big stuff and for most people it would be impossible, but I believe that if anyone can do it, you can.
     1) I want all of our soldiers to come home, safe and sound. So, I guess what I'm asking for is Peace on Earth. Our men and women in the military deserve so much more than we, as a nation, give them.
     2) I want every child of the world to know what it is to feel safe, secure, and loved. No child asks to be brought into this world and so often, we forget that.
     3) I also would like every animal to know they are loved and cherished members of the family. We tend to forget that their care, too, was given to us by their Creator.
     4) I would love to have every homeless veteran to have a home, the medical attention they deserve, and the financial help owed to them from an often ungrateful nation.
     I could be selfish and ask for so many things that only money can buy for myself, but, in all truthfulness, Santa, I've gotten older and maybe a bit wiser. I've learned Christmas isn't about stuff or things. Christmas is about love, laughter, friends and family, and joy. So for myself I ask for the following things:
     1) May my friends and family know how dearly loved they are and may the new year bring them all the happiness their hearts will allow. May they be blessed this holiday and all year through!
     2) I've worked hard this year. I've studied until I can study no more. I've typed, added, edited, divided, read, learned, and tested until my eyes and brain hurt. Please, Santa, let me get passing grades in all of my classes!
     3) The next two I will not give words to, however, I was always told that you know what's in my heart. I don't ask for perfection, Santa, but you know my sincerest desires and what lies in the cold black depths of my heart.
     I know this is short notice and some of these things are next to impossible, but it weighed on my heart and mind tonight. 
     I still believe in you, Santa, and I hope you still believe in me, too!
     With love,
     Gemma
P.S. Diesel would like to add Nudges and squeaky toys to the list.




     

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Season of Giving...

“What can I give him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd,

I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wise man,

I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give him—

Give my heart.” 

-Christina G. Rossetti

I come from a family of givers. I was taught to give to others from a very early age. It was seldom monetary since money was never in excess. Instead my parents gave in other ways. My dad would plow driveways for neighbors. Mom would bake or volunteer at church. It was them giving of themselves.

The above poem was read today and it touched my heart profoundly. 

I've been worried that I'm not giving enough of myself to others. Especially during this time of year. Money is still at a minimum, but so is my time these days. But I took some time to be thankful for the blessings I do have. That's when I noticed some things. 

I'm always baking or cooking. I have to eat just like everyone else. Making a plate to share with a neighbor or putting a plate of goodies together for someone who lives alone doesn't truly cost me anything. Of course, neither does the smile I share with someone as I pass by them in the store or on campus. Dropping a quick line to let someone far away know they are on my heart takes only a minute or two (and those I can spare on occasion). Picking up the tab on the cup of coffee for a fellow student costs me a minimal amount, but the spirit of giving it forward sometimes moves through an entire day.

It's not about how much money you give to certain charities. It's about being kind to your fellow man. We so often hear how money is misspent and only falls on the wallets of CEOs of charities, so why not skip the middle man when possible? Ask the elderly neighbor if there's something you can pick up for them at the store. Shovel someone's sidewalk. Share a smile. Buy someone a cup of coffee. Being kind doesn't cost you a thing. And you might be surprised at the gifts you get in return.




Friday, December 8, 2017

Being a Grinch

I want to apologize for not posting much lately. The final weeks of college have been horrendous. I've been focusing hard on getting through finals and not much else has gotten done.

However, let me say, I feeling a little extra "Grinchier" than normal this year. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure there really is a reason. I'm just not feeling the holiday spirit.

I saw a post the other day that spoke to my heart. I wanted to share it with you. And now I can't find it. The gist of it was this: "The Grinch didn't hate Christmas, he hated people." Now, my spin on it is that the Grinch didn't hate people, per se, he hated the greed and meanness that came out of people during the holiday.




I've seen the sweetest people in the world become so horrible and mean to their fellow man during the stress of the holidays. It breaks my heart. 

Maybe this comes from my growing up poor (though I never knew it). So many years, there were handmade gifts under the tree. My mom would sew dresses or new shirts for me. She'd make gifts because money was tight. Sure I wanted the toys that all my friends were asking for, but I knew in my heart I'd never get them and that was more than okay. In a couple of months, their toys would be cast aside because they wanted something different. But even as young as I was, I knew that handmade gifts came from the heart. I knew the love and time that went into each stitch my mom made.

I'm curious as to when Christmas stops being about stuff and becomes about loving one another. Remember how at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Whos remember what Christmas is truly about? It's about family, friends, community, and loving one another. 

I avoid the stores, if at all possible, so I don't have to deal with the worst in humanity. After all, at the end of my day, I really do want to like people. And some day maybe I'll shed my Grinchy green fur and allow my cold black heart to grow 3 sizes bigger.



Friday, November 24, 2017

Long Line of Love

The other day I was getting ready for school and I pulled out a necklace that I'd put away a while ago. There's nothing wrong with it. It's an unusual piece and I adore it. I just don't wear gold jewelry. I lean toward silver or, better yet, stainless steel. But as I was preparing to leave the house, this piece spoke to me. And it hasn't left my neck since.

When my grandma died, there was one piece of her jewelry I wanted more than anything. I remember asking for it and no one cared for it. It wasn't something they would wear. What's funny is that no one knew the story behind it. Grandma had only bothered to tell me.

My grandmother's father passed away in 1983 (I think it was). I was right around 11 years old. Grandma and Grandpa were divorced. Grandma, in a sentimental act unlike her, took her mother and father's wedding bands along with her and grandpa's bands to the jeweler. He melted the gold down and formed the pendant below.


I remember going with her to the jeweler to pick it up. She came out of the store, got into the car, and told me the story of the pendant. 

When times I got hard and I struggled financially, I had to sell a lot of my jewelry to have cash simply for groceries and gas. I often thought I would have to sell this piece, but my heart broke just thinking I might have to. Just when things were to the point where I was having to think of selling it, money would come through and I'd make it another month.

It is an odd looking piece and not something people would love to wear. However, it is a reminder to me...that I have come from a long line of love. During the holidays (and sometimes along the way), I need to be reminded of that.


Do you have something that reminds you of who you are or where you come from? Tell me about it, please!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Giving Thanks...


As we approach the week of Thanksgiving, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how things have changed since last year at this same time. And I've been giving thanks for all the changes, the good and the bad.

Last year, I was working and thinking I'd be stuck in this job forever since I didn't see a way to go back to school. Yet, here I am. I'm back in college and not doing half bad. I've made some decisions that have helped and I'm moving forward with so much hope.

People have come and gone in this last year. It hasn't been easy to let them go. However, I've had no choice, but to let them go. Maybe some day I'll understand, but for today, I'm thankful that they walked with me while they could. I've learned and grown from having them with me.

I had been panicking about getting my books back from the publisher and I did. I'm grateful for all that I learned with the publisher I had, but I'm also thankful that I can move forward on my own terms. 

I've made personal choices and decisions, made efforts that hurt, but stretched me into growing, and it's an ever evolving thing. I've experienced hurt and happiness, joy and deep sorrow, yet, I'm thankful for everything I've gone through and those who have stuck by me through it all! 


So, this week, while I'm counting my blessings and enjoying the break from school, please know that each and every one of you are among the blessings I am thankful for. 

Life is organic and fluid. Changes are occurring all the time, however, big or small. And they're not always easy changes, but they are necessary. But choosing to be thankful...well, it helps, trust me, it helps.





Saturday, November 4, 2017

Today, We Play

I realized this week that I haven't taken much time to play. And by play, I mean, not focus on homework. I've been working my butt off to make sure I'm on top of it all, but I feel like I'm falling further behind. So, I did the obvious thing today...I put the homework aside and I played.



I didn't "play" like you'd think. Instead, I took some time for me! I gave myself permission to not focus on homework, school, or anything to do with that. I allowed myself to be me!



Which means I ate whatever made me happy. It wasn't about convenience or what could be made in a hurry. I just ate what I was hungry for. Then, I turned on Netflix and got lost in seasons of Parenthood. I made chili, homemade bread, and pumpkin muffins. I cleaned up things that I haven't paid much attention to lately. I painted my nails. I listened to some new music that I've discovered. I allowed myself to not sweat it!

When I gave myself permission to open my American history book, I had clearer eyes. I took my quiz and aced it! I'm not sure whether I want to tackle my arch nemesis, College Algebra, or let it lie for tonight. I'm thinking I may let it lie. A hot shower, a bowl of chili and fresh bread, a glass of apple pie wine, and a snuggle with Diesel may be how I spend the rest of my night. 


So, while I decompress from the world and all the pressure I put on myself, tell me...how to do put it all away and take care of you?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Some Days Are Diamonds...

And some days are stones. Okay, more like massive boulders that hang on your neck, threatening to pull you under.

This last week has been one of those weeks that you just can't believe is happening and you pray ends quickly, but drags on.




On my way to class last week, I hit a deer. In the city limits, outside of a cemetery. Then, on my home from class on Monday, I stopped at a yield sign coming off the highway. As I looked over my shoulder to check from traffic coming, an idiot who had been sitting behind me, rear-ended me. *SIGH* Luckily, it was only cosmetic damage to the truck and I'm fine. Tuesday I had the final mid-term which went fairly well. Wednesday went well. Thursday I completely stressed out and flipped a switch that sent me over the edge. I exploded all over everyone in my life. Friday, I had a pop quiz in history and a quiz in math. The pop quiz actually went better than the planned quiz, surprisingly enough.

And working on edits for my books? Yeah, just didn't happen! If I attempted them, I would have ended up hitting the delete button and I've been told no one wants that to happen. 

Let me tell you a couple of lessons I learned this week: 
1)Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
2)If you don't ask the question, the answer is always "No!"
3)"I'm sorry" are only words unless you change your behavior.
4)Overthinking leads to panic which exacerbates the problem which makes you overthink and panic more.
5)Walking away for a few moments to catch your breath will give you a new perspective.
6)Speaking when you're stressed out and upset makes words come out of your mouth that hurt other people.
7)You don't have to have all the answers, but don't be afraid to ask someone who knows more to help you out.

I tell ya, this has been a week of epic proportions! I've cried, raged, wanted to punch the walls, then, I took some deep breaths, stepped back, and said "I can't do this without some help!" It's amazing the doors that opened up and the hands I found being offered.

I have found the blessings in the disasters and I'm thankful for the little things.

So, I guess the final lesson is this:
8) Diamonds are made from stones under pressure.





Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hello!

I'm taking a break from studying to say "Hello!" I'm in the middle of studying for my mid-terms and it's hurting my brain. I've gotten out for fresh air (and to put gas in my truck). I've made food and ate. I've...wait, I swear I'm not stalling! :) 


My study buddy
This guy has been by my side all day. He's such a snuggler on days when he can get some snuggle time in. He's not much help when I'm trying to figure out algebra or history, but he's my heart. Having a bigger bed to snuggle in has absolutely NOTHING to do with his love! *snort* Life is good and I'm so grateful for all that I have!

I hope you have a blessed week ahead of you. I've gotta get back to this studying thing. I've got 7 layer dip Combos and Pepsi to sustain me. 

Bright blessings to you and yours!


Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Art of Storytelling




It isn't really a surprise to anyone that I became a storyteller. After all, it's in my blood.

I remember sitting on my grandmother's lap as she told me story after story. She'd tell me about where my family came from, how her and grandpa met, the night of my mom and dad's first date, the night I was born, growing up, losing her mother, and life. 

There are some of these stories I can recite in my sleep and others I have lost the thread of. However, I'd give anything for another story from this beloved woman.

I've been watching one of my favorite movies lately. It showed up in my Netflix suggestions and my heart did a little flip. How To Make An American Quilt is the title and it has made me a bit nostalgic. Women sitting around a table, having conversations about relationships, life, and love. 

All of this reminiscing has me wondering if women do this anymore? Do they sit and share stories with their children? Will this next generation know where they came from, where their roots lie? For so long, women have been the storytellers, the secret keepers, for their families, for the world. I'm afraid that there will so much lost to future generations when we stop telling the stories of how our families came to be. We are so involved in the future and how we want things to turn out that we forget to look back and realize how we came to this place.

I'm going to wrap this up with an example of the importance of storytelling: My grandma started a tradition when I was small and it carried on until she passed away. She would tell me the story of the night I was born. When she died, my mom and dad began telling me their versions of that same night. When my dad died, my cousin picked up with her version. That story is a very special part of who I am and I know that the art of storytelling has impacted who I was, who I am, and who I have yet to become. 

This piece always touches my heart in a profound way. Carry it with you.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Where On Earth...



Is it just me or does it feel like this year has been flying by? It's already October which means I've been back in school for almost a month which means mid-terms are coming down the pike! Holy smokes! School is going well! I'm actually getting the back in the swing and loving it. My classes are challenging enough to keep my hopping, but slow going enough that I'm not killing myself to stay on top of things.

I feel good in saying that I've got the majority of my holiday shopping done. Yes, you read that right! I'm almost completely done with my shopping. I'm pretty proud if I do say so myself. If it weren't for the internet, I wouldn't be even halfway done.

I've been sharing some of the things I've been writing with you all and the response has been great! Thank you all for your support!

Here's a little something I wrote and it makes me think of autumn:

His Eyes

Many would call your eyes "brown" when they see you.
However, when I look into your eyes, I see so much more than simply a color.
I see the sun radiating through the fall foliage on a brisk autumn day.
I see fire flickering through a glass of cognac.
I see the leaves changing to their autumn colors with little flecks of green still visible in their coats.
I see the summertime sun filtering through the water in a pond.
I see the moon with a haze over its light.
I see my world.
I see my love.
I see my life.
I do not merely see the color brown.
I see my everything.

I was watching a show the other night and the main character was pondering out loud to her sleeping lover "Where do you go when you dream?" It made me think and this is the result:

Where Does Your Heart Go?

When the night is dark and you're lying in bed alone, lost in your overthinking...where does your heart go?
When the seas of life are rough and the storms are raging overhead, tossing your ship from side to side...where does your heart go?
When your day has been filled with negativity unending and you feel like you've been kicked too often while you're down...where does your heart go?
When you feel cast aside and no one wants you around, when you're feeling empty...where does your heart go?
Whose arms do you ache for comfort?
With whom does your anchor lie?
Who is the first person you reach for?
Where does your heart go, my darling?
When my night is at its darkest and the moon is hidden behind the clouds, my heart reaches out to you.
When the storms are raging around me and my ship feel lost at sea, it's the cove of your love where I seek shelter.
When my day goes from bad to worse and I feel bullied by those around me, I search for you, my hero, to protect me from the world.
When I feel empty and lonely, unloved and afraid, it is your arms that I long for to hold me tight and love me unconditionally.

I'm off to conquer the world of college algebra. I hope you all have an amazing week! I'll catch you on the flipside!!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Thoughts and Ponderings...

I get very little time to simply ponder Life's great scheme. Between work and school, my thoughts are often focused elsewhere. Tonight, I got home from work and my brain was begging me to skip reading for my History or Philosophy classes. I turned on Netflix...couldn't find anything to hold my interest. I surfed the net...nothing there. So, I opened a Word doc and began to type. I got on a roll and searched Pinterest for some writing prompts.

I'm a big believer in the Butterfly Effect. If you're not familiar with the concept, it goes something like this: A butterfly flutters it's wings on one side of the Earth and that flutter causes an effect here. If you could walk a mile in my shoes, you'd understand why I believe in this. I would be a much different person if I had taken a left instead of that right at Albuquerque (yes, I reference Looney Toons). I wouldn't be the woman I am now if it hadn't been for the people I've met along my journey.



Write about the most beautiful smile you've seen: 

It lights up the darkest day. It’s slow and easy. It comes all at once. His full lips pull back, the corners of his mouth making beautiful creases. The kind of creases that make a woman’s heart flutter and her breath catch. The smile reaches his amazing bourbon colored eyes, making them dance with mischief. In one swift move, that smile can go from friendly and easygoing to predatory and sexy. It should require a conceal and carry permit for him to have a smile like that. It is more dangerous than any gun can be. This is the kind of smile that makes a woman’s silky flowered boyshorts drop at less than 20 paces.  It is charming and charismatic. It makes her heart skip a beat…or five. It reassures her that all is right in the world. It brings a smile to her face simply with a flash of those pearly whites. It also tells her just how much he desires her hands on him and how he can hardly wait to get her alone. It is the most beautiful and dangerous thing that man can give her. He never hesitates to give her a smile to carry with her throughout her entire day. “Lethal beauty” is the best way to describe the smile that brightens every corner of her world. That smile is her everything.


From what I've been told, this piece requires a tissue or two. It has been said that I need to warn you beforehand. Consider this your fair warning.

Write about a white dress:

The color of snow falling on a moonlit night, her dress sparkled in the twinkling lights. It had been specially chosen for this occasion. She had spent hours searching for the perfection that embodied this dress. She was absolutely certain of that perfection as she stepped into the silk and lace confection. It slid across her skin without snagging and fit her like a glove. The crispness of the color felt as cool to the touch as the icicles hanging from the storefront’s signage. When the sales clerk had slid it into the bag for her to carry home, a smile crossed her pink lips.
She hung it on her closet door, kicked off her shoes, and poured herself a glass of whiskey, then settled in to admire her purchase. So many thoughts danced through her head as the candlelight in her bedroom played with the sheen of the dress. She curled up in a ball at the foot of her bed, pulling her cashmere blanket around her. Tears pooled in her eyes and fell silently onto the arm she had under her head.
The next morning dawned bright and beautiful. The sunlight sparkled on the freshly fallen snow as she prepared herself for her day. Her hair and make-up must be perfect. Her body was lotioned and scented with the musky patchouli scent everyone associated with her. She decided to let her hair fall softly on her shoulders instead of putting it up like she usually did. At the last moment, she stepped into her white dress and poofed the skirt in the mirror, twirling slightly as she used to do as a child. She slipped her feet into her wedges and admired herself in the mirror. Sunlight bounced off the ring she wore on her left hand, creating a rainbow of color as she stood there. She chose a red rose from the vase of flowers that sat on her dining room table as she walked out the door.
The church was packed with people when she arrived. She checked her make-up one last time before she climbed out of her car, red rose clutched in her hand. She smiled up at the sunshine as she climbed the steps into the church. She took a deep breath and opened the massive oak doors. The foyer smelled of candle wax and furniture polish. She hung her coat on the rack outside the sanctuary. The ushers nodded to her as they opened the door. Music she had chosen specifically for this day played as she walked down the aisle. Whispers were murmured as she passed. Heads nodded. She kept her head held high as she walked on to where he waited for her.

When she reached him, she bent slightly to kiss his cheek. “I’m sorry I took so long, but I wanted to look perfect for you. I promised you the next time we were in a church that I’d wear a white dress. I just thought I’d be saying “I do” instead of “Goodbye.” She laid the red rose in his cold hands, wiped a tear from her eye, and took her seat. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts. My muse is teasing me and allowing my writing to become stronger...at least, I think so. 


Monday, September 18, 2017

Trusting My Gut...

I had someone I trusted implicitly once tell me I shouldn't trust my gut. He told me that my gut was always wrong. And I, like a fool, believed him. While he meant that I shouldn't trust it in certain areas, I, being the all or nothing girl I am, took it to the ultimate degree. I stopped trusting myself when it came to people, falling in love, my life choices, and my writing.


I've been back in school for a bit over a week now. Let me tell you something amazing: by trusting my own gut, I'm discovering that I'm going to be okay. My math skills aren't exactly perfect, but I'm doing better than I imagined. When the professor writes problems on the board, I know what he's talking about. I'm actually able to help others! It's incredible! For me, the biggest step was raising my hand to answer a question! Omg! I was so proud of myself! The guy sitting next to me, made me laugh when he said "Mhmm, you go girl."

Even my writing is coming back. Slowly. I've been working on little writing prompts I find. This is one I wrote a while ago:

She Wanted Me to Break It...

She wanted me to break it…her heart that is. Hell, she expected me to. From the first day I had said “hello,” the beautiful woman expected the worst. Not because of me per se, but because that is what every man before me had done…broke her heart.
One look in those hazel green eyes of hers and I was lost. I had no intention of breaking her heart, her spirit, or anything else. Instead, I wanted to wrap her up in my arms and give her a safe place to call home.
Tears came to her eyes too easily and that made me believe she was fragile and broken. I vowed to be her defender and friend. Her heart was a mess. Her life was a disaster. But there was something about her. Something that made me want to stand beside her.
For two years, I was the man standing there, holding her hand, supporting her. She told me I was the reason for her smile. That I was the reason her world would spin continuously. But I was a fool.
I left her alone when she needed me the most. I wallowed in my own self-pity instead of allowing her to reciprocate the things I had been doing for her. I withdrew into my own world and rejected the hand she offered me to keep me from becoming the recluse I had been before her.
One day, she looked at me, her eyes alight with love and joy. She told me how she had met a man. A man who loved her and treated her like the queen she was. He told her she was beautiful and sexy. And when he said these words to her, she believed him.
I looked at her as she waited for me to say something…anything. Her face shone like the moon on my darkest night. In the vicinity of the heart I claimed to not have, I felt something shatter. I always imagined she would wait for me to be that man…the one who would make her believe she was beautiful and worthy of being my partner. While I was getting my life together, she gave up on me because I hadn’t shared my true feelings for her.

She wanted me to break it…her heart. Instead, she broke mine.

Here's a second one I wrote just the other day:

And With One Look in His Eyes, She Told Herself, "This is gonna hurt when it's over."

Lost in her own world, music playing her worries away, she almost missed him. That isn’t the truth. Sure music was playing and she was lost in her own world, but she could never have missed him. He wouldn’t allow it. He strolled into that room, bigger than life, with a smile that lit up the darkness. Her anxiety was through the roof because avoiding conversations with complete strangers, even handsome ones, was ingrained in her nature.
He slowly slid into her daily routine. Enough so that she began to look for him and look forward to seeing him. He made her days easier and her nights were limited only by her imagination. Her laughter came slowly with this one. Before long, smiles replaced her anxiety and touches were less painful. Touches became a craving and her comfort with this stranger reached a plateau she never thought she’d reach. After all, men hurt women like her. She was nothing to them. She was easily tossed aside and forgotten like a childhood toy.
There was something different about this one. Something that made her trust him and trust was not an easy thing for her to give away. She felt safe and secure. His hands didn’t mean her harm. In fact, they were gentle in their caressing. His face was a complicated picture of perfection and imperfection. Handsome and beautiful, but not in a traditional sense, but honed to a kind of beauty that could only be seen with the eye of love.
Then, she took a chance one day and looked deep into his eyes. She took a breath and dove into the whiskey-colored pools with firelight flickering in their depths. They peered into her soul and she let down her guard. She forgot to breathe. In that moment, she lost her heart. And with that one look in his eyes, she told herself, “This is gonna hurt when it’s over.”

So, as you can see, my writing is making a comeback, but it is a slow going process. Tell me what you think!

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Little Something I Wrote...

School is back in session and I'm excited to see where this semester goes. Lots of homework and I'm trying to get all of the nonsense into a sensible order. However, I have been doing some writing here and there. Just little snippets to keep the muse satisfied. So, I thought I'd share this piece with you:

Photo by Gemma K. Murray

I Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love…

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
I was at the lowest point of my life. My depression made it hard to breathe. Merely going through the motions, I tried to find myself. My anxiety whispered hateful things. I made myself get out of bed every day, even if it was only for the dog’s sake. I hated myself. I despised my life. I was barely alive.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
I was determined that if only… If only, I had an education. If only, I could open the car door. If only, I could climb the steps to that classroom.  If only, I could make it through this class. If only, I could find a reason. If only, I remembered to breathe.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
I was sitting in the dark classroom that September day. I had made the drive. I had opened the car door. I had made the walk to the building. I had climbed the steps to get inside. I sat down in a hard wooden chair. My anxiety was rising higher. I put in my earbuds and turned on some music. I closed my eyes.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
I felt another presence. I slowly opened my eyes. There you were. You were larger than life. Your smile lit up the darkened room. Your eyes danced. I laughed. I really truly laughed from my soul. I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. You spoke.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
I had a focus. If only, I could make it to the next class period. And the next. And the next. You touched me. Repeatedly. I remembered to breathe. My anxiety fell. My depression buried itself. I didn’t hate myself as much. I laughed with you. I smiled sincerely.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
But there you were. Time and again. We were drawn to each other. We spoke. Memories, family, childhoods, we shared them with each other. I opened my heart to let love peek out. You flung the door wide. I looked into your whiskey-colored eyes.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
You promised to hold my hand. “If I say ‘Jump,’ then we jump. Okay?” you said. I still don’t know why, but I agreed. I trusted you. I don’t trust easy. I’ve been hurt too often. One moment with you and trust flowed through me.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
You told me you missed my “beautiful smile.” I’d never been told that before. You focused on one of my biggest flaws. You saw beauty in the brokenness. You hugged me. You held on tighter. You held on longer. You didn’t notice the fat beneath your long fingers. You didn’t notice the bulges beneath your strong hands.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
I made small changes. You noticed. You flirted. I flirted back. You gave me a nickname. You shared things you read. We spoke of politics. We shared ideas. You walked with me. You put your hand in the small of my back. You waited for me. When you couldn’t, you watched for me. You made sure I was okay. You understood my need.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
You smashed the records in my head. “You’re too stupid!” “You’re too old!” “You can’t do this!” “You don’t belong here!” You broke them to bits with your soft words. “You’re not stupid,” you told me. “You are like me. You don’t understand.” You took the tears from my eyes. You brought me laughter to replace them.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
My spirits were lifted. I began to enjoy my life. Things changed for me. I wasn’t hearing the anxiety- fueled messages anymore. I didn’t flinch when you touched me. In fact, I began to crave your hands. You would share my coffee. You were outrageous. You softened my hardened edges.

I didn’t mean to fall in love…
But here I am. Head over heels. Ass over teakettle. Madly. Deeply. Passionately. Crazy about you. Balls deep. Heart wide open. Freely given. Freely accepting. Believing. Dreaming. Tears falling. Breathing. Thriving. In love with you.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Funny Thing About Sisters...



Do you have that one friend who you know will always have your back no matter what? The one who will sit with you in the silence? The one who doesn't care if you speak because they understand your heart without any words being said? I do!

I met my younger "sister" almost 10 years ago when we worked for an online company. I'm not sure how in hell this all even got started, but we began to chat and this friendship emerged. She was simply my person. She kept me sane through the chaos of my life. When I lost my dad, she was online, asking what she could do. When my marriage began to fall apart, the phone calls began. I'm talking 16 hour conversations. I know that sounds like a long time to talk, but those conversations kept me sane. She got me through some long ass nights! Then, when it came time for me to make a decision about ending my marriage, she was the one I talked to. When other people were saying to give my marriage another chance, she told me that I needed to worry about me. She showed me that I was settling for less than I deserved. She was the one who held my hand and helped me do one of the most difficult things I've ever done...save myself. I don't know how I would've made it without her. She keeps me sane and lets me be crazy. She knows my heart better than I know my own some days. When I moved to Wisconsin, she was there. When my ex-friend moved out and left me with no one, she kept me from going so far over the edge that I couldn't get back. When I dated someone who was very toxic for me, she is the one who kept telling me how scared she was that this wasn't going to end well. (She came close to being right on that one.) 

When my world seems to being spinning too fast for me to keep up, she's the one who reminds me to take a deep breath and look at who is making the world spin. It's my world and it will only spin as fast as I allow it. She's also the one who with two words can set me into a fit of laughter that makes my sides hurt! She sends me pins, memes, etc. that have me dissolving into a fit of tears because she knows my twisted sense of humor like no other. She reads my stories and tells me what is working and what isn't. She loves my characters like I do, but she knows when to push and when to lay off. She will interrupt a conversation with "Okay, so off topic for a minute..." and launch into something completely out in left field which leads to nine other strings of conversation only to bring us back to the original topic an hour later. 


Here's the funny and amazing part about us: We've never met! I mean, physically, face to face met. She's a southern girl and I'm northerner. She complains to me about the heat and I share my pictures of my snow with her, listening to her ooh and aah over how nice it must be :) She's an only child and I'm the oldest of two. I remember wanting a little sister when my brother was born. I'm not sure if either one of our mothers could've handled having the both of us as daughters! I'm afraid we would probably have caused more trouble together than we did apart. (I still say I'm the good one! LOL)

As far away as we are from each other, we always message each other "Good morning" to let the other know that we made it through the night and "Good night" to let the other know we've made it through another day. We message (or talk) during the day as time will allow, but we let the other know that we're doing okay. When my ex-friend moved out, I was all alone here. I could've died and the only person who would miss me would be the landlord when rent was due. So, we set up a system to keep each other aware of what was happening. I go out, she knows who I'm going with, where we're going, and what time I should be home. I text her at least once while I'm out so she knows that I'm okay. Even being as far apart as we are, I know that if something happens to me, she'll know before anyone else.

I've always believed that family isn't flesh and blood alone, it's who is there for you when shit hits the fan. That is the perfect example of my little sister! So often I talk about my family, but I neglect to mention the one person who understands my cold, black heart and twisted, tangled mind. I often say "Thanks" to others, but hers is very much a thankless job! 



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Little Things

I found this on Pinterest last night. I read it and cried. See, last week I spent a lot of time making memories. My mom came to visit. We shopped. We ate. We went to some of my favorite places. We ate. But it was the little things like sitting in a restaurant for 2-4 hours just talking. It was relating to each other, not as just mother and daughter, but as women. For the first time in my life, I feel like my mother saw me and it was that little thing that meant the most to me.

Some times the little things pass us by because we are waiting for some grand gesture from the universe. It's a dandelion held in a grubby little fist or a smile from a complete stranger or the big furry body that drools on your pillow that shows you what love truly is.

The last couple of days I've been watching someone deal with issues that are beyond their control. Unfortunately, this person is so focused on the past and the grand moments that they've been missing the little things like letters that say "I love you!" Revenge and hatred steals away so many of our daily moments, if we allow it, and makes life so bitter.

I've missed more than my share of little things. I was so busy looking around, waiting for the sky to fall, and I almost missed something special that was happening. Spontaneous hugs, contagious smiles, laughter over stupid jokes, silly stories, conversations that replay in my mind, the mere words "Take care," it was all little things that added up to something incredibly real.

Yesterday I was on my way home. I was questioning my return to school (merely because self-doubt was creeping its way back in). I was driving along and the van in front of me moved over into the left turn lane. I was sitting behind this black Hyundai. I was so lost in my thoughts and I tossed up "God, please...just a sign. It doesn't have to be big, but I need to know if I'm doing the right thing." The stop light was red for far longer than it needed to be. I sighed heavily and glanced again at the car in front of me. Their license plate had a frame around it, stating they were alumni from my university. I laughed out loud and muttered a quick "Thank you!" as the light turned green. It's the little things!

I think of the small moments that have changed my life. If I had chosen a different math class... If I hadn't looked up... If I hadn't smiled back... If I hadn't removed my earbuds... If I hadn't let him hug me... If...

I'm going to leave you with this video from one of my favorite artists, Rob Thomas. Just listen to the words and let them wash over you...don't miss the little wonders...


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Returning to the Yellow Brick Road

I've been so busy the last few months. Working as much as possible, planning for my inevitable return to college, re-examining my life. I'd lost sight of a few things.

See, when my former roommate moved out, I kept everything in boxes, scared of making this place a home. I'd been residing here, but not living. I've been searching for a new place where Diesel and I can start over. However, I hadn't truly been "in" this space in a long time. I hadn't made it mine again. Instead, I was trying to find greener pastures. Sometimes finding greener pastures starts by watering and tending to your own.

Not my actual boxes!!
My mom is coming for a visit. Ashamed of how bare my house looked, I unpacked a few boxes. Then, a few more. I spruced up this space in which I reside. I opened curtains and let the sunshine in. I stepped out of my comfort zone and reclaimed this space as mine. I am finished with mourning that which was never meant to be. I've let go of so much baggage (and I don't mean physical shit).

By doing all of these things, I've found myself back on the yellow brick road. With the start of college around the corner, I'm feeling optimistic. This is the first time back on that campus since I started listening to my own heart. It is a whole new chapter! I've felt like I was going around and around in circles on this journey, looking for a lesson or sign. I've been wandering around lost and confused.

These are a bit more to my liking!!
Home isn't a place! It's the people who reside inside the four walls. My house is a home because I make it so. All who enter here should feel welcome and loved. But it all has to start with me! If I don't walk through the door to my own house and feel welcomed and loved, why should anyone else? And I can't find a new place to call home until I learned to define what home truly is! I've written so many posts about my childhood home and how the people who I called family made my home...well, home. The problem is that I forgot I was part of that equation, too. I've been trying so hard to recreate that feeling and I've lost sight of the fact that I helped make that house a home, too.

I've been told so long that my gut is wrong. Guess what? It isn't! I listened to others for far too long and let doubt cloud my reasoning!

Look! Just over the hill! Do you see it? That green glow from below? It's the Emerald City! I'm finally back on the right path!

My journey is far from over. I'm still my own worst enemy. I'm bound to take a bad turn every now and again. The Wicked Witch is still certain to send her flying monkeys after me. Glinda is still being the evasive bitch she has always been. I've still got the Tin Man, Toto, the Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow beside me as my companions. Unfortunately, they have their own lessons to learn as we journey on and won't always be beside me. However, together? Together, we can conquer anything!



Friday, July 21, 2017

Father, Forgive Me...

This is not an easy blog to write. This is a confession and part of me is so ashamed. Unfortunately, it is part of loving someone with PTSD.



I have told you many times about being a Daddy's girl. I was and am. I loved him with every fiber of who I was. Which is why it was hard to watch him suffer. His PTSD was combat induced and he showed signs shortly after returning from Vietnam. "Combat fatigue" was the name used at the time. It wasn't until the Gulf War was in full force that the term PTSD was bandied about. By then, my parents' marriage had been destroyed. I was 18 and living in Oyster Bay, New York. I was horribly homesick and every phone call had me ready to quit my job. Finally, I reached the point where I said "I have to go home." My family was falling apart and being so far away was killing me.



For twenty years, I was my daddy's lifeline. I wish I could tell you the number of times he was ready to end his own life. And the phone calls! Oh dear gods, the phone calls! I can replay each one of them, word for word. For me, it's my Hell. Every time, I was able to either talk him down or get help to him in time. He thanked me profusely. The last time was the exception. He had called to tell me he loved me and to say goodbye. I was in Felton, Pennsylvania and Dad was in Palo Alto, CA. How in hell was I gonna stop my hero from doing this? I called 911 in York, PA, who put me in touch with 911 in Harrisburg, PA, who called San Fran, CA's 911, who put me through to the Palo Alto 911 who connected me with the Palo Alto VA police station. Every one of these operators stayed on the line with me as they tracked him down. They got him safely into the hospital and the first call I got was from a nurse named Jaime who told me to take a shot of whiskey and get some sleep, she had this. The next morning, Dad called to ask why I wouldn't let him die? I decided then and there that I was selfish, but as long as I drew breath, I'd always save him.

It took some time, but he thanked me for making that call. However...I watched him suffer. I could hear it in his voice via the phone calls. When I lived with him, I saw it first hand. My dad had become an alcoholic and no one was trying to help him. His brother is an even bigger alcoholic and enjoyed having someone to drink with. Everyone else thought it was just Dad's way. My dad used to enjoy a beer or two every now and then. Mixed drinks on New Year's Eve. However, it was nothing like what he was doing before he died. His demons were full-blown and he was losing the battle. At this point, he said some very hurtful things to me and after sitting and crying, I began to question the decisions I'd made. Why did I save him? He obviously didn't want to live, yet I kept fighting for him. I felt as if I was the only one fighting for him most days, however, he wouldn't have given up on me so I sure as hell wasn't going to give up on him. I do remember saying the words "My life would be so much easier if he weren't here!" (I live with this every single day!)

Every time he called, my heart would race. His doctors were the first ones to tell me that I had secondary PTSD. I'd lived with dad and his terrors. I'd been his "partner" through this hell on Earth he experienced. I'd sat in on his counseling sessions. I'd held his hands when he cried. I could close my eyes and follow him into the jungles of Vietnam. My nightmares were riddled with gun shots and death. The nightmares are less now. I don't relive them like I used to. But let me tell you, my Women's Studies class at UWO one semester was about the Laotians who assisted our troops in Vietnam. I spent more sick days that semester than I ever had before. I couldn't sit through the film footage. I would sit in class and cry.

At that point, I was still a Psych major with an intent on serving our veterans. I was hell-bent on saving our returning warriors, one at a time, if I needed to. I had to take a step back. My anxiety was through the roof. My depression was worse than ever. My PTSD was rearing it's ugly head. I was losing control of my life. So, I had to admit I just couldn't. As much as I want to save them all, I can't. I do know that my heart will belong to a veteran long after it has stopped beating. My lessons in this journey with Dad have taught me many things and loving a veteran is my destiny.

Again, I say the words, "Father, forgive me...I did my best, but unfortunately, my best wasn't good enough, my love wasn't strong enough, and my will was not great enough. But it doesn't mean that you weren't loved with all that I am."