Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

On Being Thankful

Shortly after I started blogging, I wrote a post that addressed holiday emotions: HolidayCheer, Holiday Blues (which would later become my first published article!) At the time I wrote it, I was at a good place in life, happily single, surrounded by fabulous friends and family, and had “adopted” a group of elderly widow ladies at church.  I’ve always had a heart for people who seem lonely, and it blessed me so much to bring a tiny little ray of sunshine into the lives of these ladies simply by reminding them how special they are.  We all have friends who have lost loved ones, or who are separated by work or military obligations, etc.  The holidays, while filled with magic and wonder for many, are often difficult times of sadness for those who are lonely.  My article encouraged the reader to remember those who might be hurting or sad, and to be a blessing to someone in need.

Four years later, I find myself on the other end of the spectrum – one of those people facing an empty chair at my dinner table, a lonely spot on my sofa, and one pillow on my bed instead of two. 

Is it possible to remain thankful through heartbreak and disappointment?

Each November, lots of folks on Facebook will post every day of the month something for which they are thankful. I love reading these posts! Some are lighthearted and comical, but most are heartfelt and meaningful.  I didn’t participate this year.  Instead, I just added a silent “amen” or sometimes clicked the “like” button to the posts of others.  I read each and every one, and was surprised at how many folks sometimes commented that “nobody probably reads these”.  Yes, people read them, and perhaps like me, were reminded to be thankful for those things we often take for granted. 

Being thankful seems to comes natural to me.  I suppose it probably originated from my early years, when learning to talk to God during prayer.  I was taught to thank God for my blessings.  And to thank Him for my trials, even though I may not understand the reason for them.  (No doubt, the blessings are way easier to be thankful for than the trials.  Bleh.)

The dark days of trials are tough, and I sometimes have trouble thanking God for the bad stuff.  Even so, I can usually manage to find something for which to be thankful. Sometimes it's just being thankful to have made it through the day without a meltdown, or without stabbing someone with a fork.  I have learned (and continue to learn) many things while navigating the stormy waters of this trial.  Things about myself, things about others.  About what matters most.  And who matters most.  I don’t like the place where I am emotionally, but I am thankful that every day, another tiny, microscopic sliver of light dispels another tiny, microscopic sliver of darkness.  Today is better than 126 days ago when my world was forever changed.  For that I am thankful.  I am stronger than I ever thought I could be – and for that I am thankful - but only because I have traveled through a place where I was weaker than I ever could have imagined.   Am I a better person for the journey?  Some days I would say yes.  Some days not so much.  I still sometimes feel the need to pitch a hissy fit, and some days I can’t help throwing flaming arrows and prickly barbs at the one who hurt me.  Those are not my finest moments.  It usually doesn’t take me long to come back to earth and face the very simple reality.  It Is What It Is.  For the trip back to reality, I am thankful. 

Everybody hurts.  Everybody cries, sometimes.  (Thank you, REM, for a great song!!) I'm not alone. 

I don’t understand it.  I doubt that I ever will.   If you know me well, you know I’ve got some control freak DNA goin’ on, and there is the need to at least understand it, since I had no control over it. But I don't understand. I really hate that part!! The assault on my heart and my emotions has been devastating – but the collateral damage has been extensive as well.  My family has rallied around me in such a manner that makes me think of a mama bear protecting her cub.  I have seen their tears and sadness in my behalf, and I have listened to their words of encouragement. Family matters.  And for them I am thankful. 

Going through this experience has also reminded of a foolish decision I made long ago that inflicted the same kind of damage to another family that I love, and I am humbled by, and very thankful for, their forgiveness. 

There’s an anonymous quote that I’ve always loved:  “I believe that friends are quiet angels who sit on our shoulders and lift our wings when we forget how to fly."  When the days are dark, and the nights are lonely, sometimes it’s just not worth the effort to raise my wings, and I simply don’t care, or even try to catch the breeze any more.  I don’t know for sure if guardian angels really exist.  Regardless of whether or not they do, every day I pray and ask Jesus to send them to surround and protect my grandbabies.  I believe they do exist, and it comforts me.  One thing I know for absolute certainty.  I have my own guardian angel.  She is not an unseen heavenly being with supernatural powers to protect me from evil and harm.  She doesn’t wear a halo or wings, and she doesn’t float around on a cloud singing, or playing a harp.  She lives 5 doors down from me, and she has been my source of sanity, encouragement, and the voice of reason and hope for the past 20 years, and especially the past few months. I love my daughter, my mama, my aunts, my cousins, my girlfriends, and my awesome co-workers, and all those girls have been there for me in girl ways I can’t even begin to explain!  But there is absolutely no earthly way I would have survived this without my own guardian angel, DJ.  Sometimes, she’s right there beside me, throwing flaming arrows and prickly barbs.  Sometimes she throws gasoline on the flames....  and sometimes she douses them with water when I get a little out of hand.  But she doesn’t judge me. For that I am thankful.  She tells me when I’m wrong, and she helps me see through eyes that are not blinded by tears or self pity.  She forces me to breathe when I don’t want to, or when I forget how.  She makes me laugh.  She lets me cry.  She kicks my butt when I need it.  She hugs me close when I need it.  When I first moved back here she brought me food because she knew I wasn’t eating right.  She does her best to protect me from hurtful things – sometimes including my own self, because of  my thoughts and attitude.  She helps me see that, while the situation that brought me back to The 409 is a sad waste of a beautiful thing, now that I am here, there are good things for which to be thankful.  While I never wanted to come back alone, it is good to be back in my home. It is good to be back among my family of neighbors.  It is good to be almost within hollerin’ distance of my aging parents.  It is good that I am here to take the kids to school every day since the new drop-off schedule would mean extra child-care expense for Whitney and Dustin.  (The extra bonus to that is that I get to see the children for a few minutes every day!)  It is good that I can take an extended lunch break and go to their class functions and parties, when their mom and dad aren’t able to go because of work. Or pick them up when they are sick, or transport them to appointments.  It is good that I can have coffee time at The Huth House on Saturday mornings – something I didn’t do while living in Winterville, though I had vowed I would continue doing it. 

Never in a million years would I have traded my  husband for these things. But since my husband decided to shake things up and end our marriage, I am thankful for the blessings that were waiting for me back home at The 409.

There’s no denying that this has been one of the worst years in the history of my entire life.  Every day is a struggle through the mud and quicksand.  I am reminded of an earthquake that destroys the landscape.  The rocks and trees will someday settle back into place, the rubble will be cleared and the buildings replaced. Years down the road the untrained eye might never know of the deep chasms that once ripped open the face of the earth.  But the contour of the land is forever changed, and the scars will be deep.  Years from now, one may never know of this awful journey I’ve taken.  Life will go on, and there will be brighter, happier times.  But the scars will run deep, and the shape of my life has forever changed.  I am a different person.  Better or worse… that remains to be seen.  I hope and pray I will be a better person, a kinder person, and a more thoughtful and compassionate person.  In the meantime, the landscape is still pretty much a wreck, and there are broken boulders strewn all about – but with time and patience, God’s grace and mercy, and a little help from my guardian angel… I’ll be just fine. And I will choose to be thankful for everything I have learned.  

While it has been a crappy year, and I've pretty much made it All About Me, I do indeed have a Thankful List that has nothing to do with my personal drama.  Like most everyone else, my Thankful List includes my faith, family and friends, to live in a free nation, God's grace and forgiveness, my home, my job, those who serve and protect, etc.  With a list like that, how can I complain?

Yes, it is possible to remain thankful during heartbreak and disappointment.  Not only is it possible, it is a key element in the healing process.  I am thankful for my blessings, and I am thankful that in my trials, I am never alone. 

But above and beyond the scope of all the above things listed, for this Thanksgiving Day 2012, I am most thankful for my guardian angel… my dearest, and one of my oldest friends since even before elementary school…. Debbie Jo.  My wings flutter a little stronger every day, and soon I’ll be able to fly on my own again… because of her.  I am so blessed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ready For The Fat Lady To Sing

Here we are - the eve of what seems to be the most important election we will see in our lifetime. In a few hours it will be over.  No more campaign ads, no more debates.

But wait – I predict we will simply swing from one mode to another, as the country continues to be so divided.  The winner will claim complete and total victory, while the defeated will cry "unfair".  I'm afraid Hurricane Sandy has thrown a monkey wrench into the equation, and a Romney win would  make the cries of "unfair" even louder.   Why?  Check your color charts for the answer.  The areas affected most by Sandy are blue states.  Obama states. Heavily populated Obama states.  It goes without saying that nothing will be normal in the northeast for many, many months.  Yet, the election will proceed as planned tomorrow.  Will everyone affected by Sandy be able to vote?  I wish I could say it would suit me fine if they didn't, because  that would be fewer votes for the incumbent… but even I, a bona fide Obama NON-supporter, feel strongly that every American has the right, and the responsibility to vote. That said, I am hoping and praying that every person without power, without food, water, and gasoline, will somehow still be able to cast their vote, even if it is for President Obama.  Because if Romney should happen to pull it off and win the race, the cries of "unfair" will make the memories of "hanging chads" and "pregnant chads" pale in comparison.  It is a little concerning, however, with voter fraud so prevalent even in the most desirable of voting conditions, that somehow all the mayhem and confusion in the aftermath of the storm could facilitate even more opportunities for fraud.  Therefore an Obama win will likely result in a Republican outcry of voter fraud.  I am concerned for the integrity of the voting process tomorrow.  So much is at stake, and the numbers so close, that the slightest glitch, whether truly accidental or orchestrated, could sway the results.

I shamefully admit that I cheated my way through my high school Economics class.  I only took Sociology (first half of the year) and Economics (the second half) because I had a crush on Mr. Summerour.  I didn't take the classes seriously, and memorized only what I needed for the weekly test on Friday, and copied the homework of others the rest of the week.  The rest of the time I just sat in class like a silly teenage girl, waiting for him to grace us with a pretty smile that showed his dimples.  It was worth listening to all the boring talk about GNP, supply and demand, etc., just to look at him.  Well, okay, maybe it wasn't that bad (or silly), but I really didn't give a hoot about sociology or economics. 

And while I still don't understand the teachings of Keynes or Hayek, the decision we face when choosing our new president doesn't seem much like rocket science to me.

Right or wrong – to my way of thinking, it boils down to one thing.  Jobs.  The working people and property owners in this nation fund the government.  Can we agree on that?  (Well, except for the part where we borrow gazillions of dollars from other countries.) Folks who don't work or own property pay some taxes when they spend money, but negligible in comparison.  If they don't work, how do they have money to spend?  From the money that they get from the government.  Where does government get the money to give them?  From those who work and/or own property.  Of course – ALL of our tax dollars don't go to subsidize those who don't work.The infrastructure of the country, the salaries of millions of government workers, medical research, a myriad of entitlement programs, etc, all are funded with taxpayer money.   But I'll bet it's safe to say that all the money that subsidizes those who don't work comes from working folks and/or property owners.   

The fewer people who work, or own property, the more they will be required to pay.  The money's gotta come from somewhere.  There have been a few news stories this past week about employers telling their workers that a vote for President Obama puts them in jeopardy of losing their jobs.  Understandably, those who support Obama are infuriated by this.  While I don't think anyone has the right to tell another person how to vote, I do think most of the sheeple (I mean people) have little understanding of the "trickle-down" effects of the plan that our president has proposed.  

But this I do understand.  If a business is taxed to the extent that it can't afford to keep its doors open, then people will lose jobs.  Even if they don't have to close their doors, they may have to lay off people.  Or not hire people.  Consider the trickle-down effect of THAT.  Joe America, a wage-earning, tax-paying, property-owning citizen, loses his job.  Loses his home.  Loses his savings.  Loses his insurance. Maybe Joe America's contribution to the government coffers was $10,000.00 or even less for the year. If you multiply that by the millions who no longer have an income to tax, or property to tax, that's a fairly significant chunk of change.  The trickle-down effect of businesses closing affects the entire community, not just individual families. 

There are those who support President Obama because of his stance on gay marriage and abortion.  I respect your feelings and your rights. But allow me to observe that same-sex marriage and the right to use abortion as birth control might not seem as important when our nation falls to a third-world country status, which seems the direction we are headed.  That statement will arouse emotions in some, no doubt – but do some homework for yourself.  Look at the people President Obama idolizes, has used for mentors, and who he has surrounded himself with for at least the past 20 years. We know about Rev Wright, and have seen the videos.  Even the videos where President Obama  lauds him as his pastor, friend, and mentor.  Google the name Frank Marshall Davis.  A mentor to "Barry" since the age of 10.  Who are the people he chose to surround himself with?  Bill Ayers. Van Green.  The list goes on.  

Let's focus on JOBS and the experience of a successful businessman to get the country back on its feet economically.  The social issues will still be there when we recover.  There will still be time to fight for what we believe in.  If you think your rights are being violated now, and we are a repressed people, just wait and see what happens when our administration is run by a bunch of card-carrying communists.  (Dodging rotten fruit and insults on that one… ha!)

And since I'm probably pissin' off my Democrat friends anyhow, let me add something else that has been nagging at me.  The whole Benghazi thing is yet another smear on the face of integrity of  our nation's leaders.  Imagine if that had happened under the Bush administration!!! Fortunately for the President, with the world's attention focused on death and destruction post Sandy, this tragic event will take the focus off another shameful failure in foreign policy.  Maybe we'll learn what really happened in Libya…. after the election.

And on the subject of storms.  I have asked myself how one explains the difference between Sandy and Katrina.  While I take nothing away from the devastation of either storm, I would have to say the biggest difference lies in the people in their paths.  It doesn't appear to me that FEMA is as Johnny-On-The-Spot as everyone expected them to be after the dismal performance following Katrina.  No doubt, there was a massive failure in the post-Katrina disaster relief efforts.  My heart still goes out to those people who, even after these years have passed, still have not recovered.  The biggest difference that I see between the two storms is that the folks up north, while understandably frustrated and impatient, are helping themselves.  They are helping their neighbors.  They are pulling together and getting something done.  Whereas people in LA (at least the ones the news media focused on) sat on rooftops and sidewalks screaming for the government to come save them.  They pillaged and plundered, raped and murdered their neighbors in the Superdome, and they pointed their fingers at President Bush and blamed him for their plight.  President Obama, on the other hand, is lauded as a Savior – while the folks up north, and people from neighboring states, work hand in hand to try to restore just the basic necessities.  Recovery from such mammoth disasters requires the people to help themselves.  Perhaps government agencies  could do a better job, but thankfully we don't get that much practice.

Perhaps there is unflattering behavior going on up north.  Who could blame the people?  As a mom and grandmother, I'd be doing everything in my power, even stealing food and blankets, if it meant keeping my babies fed and warm.  Maybe there are scenes of humanity at its worst like we saw on the news with Katrina.  But if there are, we're not gonna see that.  Because some might say it reflects badly on our government for not being able to take care of our own people.  No, we won't see any kind of reporting that makes President Obama look badly in the wake of this storm.  It is far too convenient a distraction from his abysmal handling of Benghazi.  Let's not focus on anything except his exemplary behavior after the winds and water have cleared.  Shoot. If they could get away with it, they'd probably blame Hurricane Sandy on George Bush, too. 

We'll watch with bated breath as the results trickle in.  It may be days before we have the final numbers.  I think I speak for many when I say that I'll be glad when it's over.  So we can get busy with the challenges we face ahead.  Because, don't kid yourself, regardless of which candidate wins, we still have some tough times ahead, and a long way to go before we can be healed. 

If you haven't already, please go vote tomottow.  Even if you're going to cancel out my vote - (but that also means I'm cancelling yours!  Haha!) Just do it.  Let the fat lady sing, and let's get on with it.