Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vulnerability: the Sanest Place To Be

We're going to Europe. That is what's on my mind. I should probably be looking for places to stay in Frankfurt. And researching good, cheap places to eat for foodies in the Black Forest. Which shop sells the best chocolate in Switzerland? I CAN'T WAIT TO VISIT THE MARKET PLACES IN GERMANY!! AHHHHH!!! That being said, a month long adventure is not the only thing occupying my thoughts. So, instead of looking at hundreds of room listings and affordable restaurants, here I am. For the first time in a year, I am endeavoring to write a blog post. It feels... strange.

September 13th, 2014 will mark four years since I left home. The first four years, they say. After 1460 days, things start getting better. Your brain can keep up with your emotions. Your soul doesn't feel so flattened under the stress of figuring out exactly who you are. Your heart can open itself with a little more trust. You don't remember the voices and accusations and mind games so clearly; each breath becomes a little easier. Has it worked? Am I more... me?

Ask me in September.

What I can tell you is that I have been learning and changing. (A lot.) For instance: as long as I can remember, my emotions were frowned upon, punished and thrown negatively at me as "female." Apparently, only females have emotions and all emotion is bad. (Unless, of course, you're "content" and "joyful".) :nods:

It's come to my attention that my emotions exist and I cannot negate them without negating myself. 

Before we go any further, let me tell you: men and women have emotions. The angriest, most depressed, violently emotional person I know is a male and the most emotionally repressed people I know are of both genders. Being told that my emotions were insignificant was a way of making me doubt myself. After years of being told that all women are easily deceived and that I couldn't trust thoughts, feelings or emotions, getting out of a harmful relationship and an abusive home situation was almost impossible. Saving myself was the most difficult thing I have ever done. But I did it. This gives me hope for everyone involved in abusive situations. We don't need people to save us. Yes, we need people to help us ... maybe even give us that little nudge onto a different path.. but ultimately, we must save ourselves. That is what this blog post is about.

Negative emotions. Anger. Sorrow. Pain. Frustration. Fear. Yes, there are days when they do overwhelm me. There are still days that I would rather traverse a room filled with snakes and spiders than face my emotions. My anger and horror and fears about my previous home and some of the authoritarian figures in the past years of my life had been pushed down for decades. The worse my life became, the happier the mask I put on. After an entire life of pretending, I didn't know what what was real or false. What was I? Sad? Happy? What should I be? I should be happy, right? At approx. 1350 days, I've discovered that the strain of holding down that much negativity can seriously dent a person.

I refuse to play this game any longer. I am so sick and tired of the lies I was forced to live and adhere to. I finally do not have to feel any thing or any way for any one. So yes, there is much for me to be angry about. I'm sad, I'm scared, I'm confused. In facing these emotions, I find myself finally being honest and discovering things about myself. I am also finding that after all those years of pushing down those emotions, feeling resembles a dam bursting and the resulting flood.

"I am so sad. I feel like my parents will never admit anything. My siblings will never stop pushing me away. It doesn't matter how much I reach out to them, they are never safe. I remember what it feels like to not be accepted for who I am. I remember how it feels to live in constant fear. The long days and months and years of waiting... it feels hopeless..."

"Yeah! I am so happy! The world is a wonderful place! Everybody needs to feel this happy. Jesse is amazing and wonderful and more than I could ever ask for. I can't believe how lucky we are. He is my soul. Just thinking about him makes my heart do strange things. Each day, love feels more real and tangible than the last. L. is also on this journey of healing... she is so strong. Every day, I am amazed by her. H. is opening her eyes and starting to accept our past. Her path is rocky but she is up for the challenge. God is real and close. I cannot believe the how much he knows about me and how strong he wants me to be. I know that he has been there all along for me. I know that this hard path my siblings are walking right now must have some purpose. I trust that eventually, they will find the courage and strength to accept the truth and reach out for help."

These are things I have every right to feel deeply saddened about. These are things I have every right to feel elated about. Most of my days, I can handle parts of both -- balancing the sorrow and joy is something healthy people do. My journey is not so simple, though. I've just begun. Some of my days are deeply sad or ecstatically happy. But there is a good part to this: something I've learned over the past few months is that I can acknowledge my emotions.

"I am sad. It's ok to be sad. Why am I sad? Because that man reminded you of someone who hurt you for many years. It's ok. Don't stop looking. Be sad. Don't hide it. Tell someone if you need to."

"I'm scared. Why am I scared? I was happy and I'm scared that if I'm happy, someone will see that and use it against me. That happened to you many times. You would have things you liked or appreciated taken from you just because you felt affection towards them. Why did he do this to you? Because he had to be in control. But you are in control now. Jesse is not an abusive person. He is a loving person. Trust yourself; trust him. Start there."

"I'm happy! Why am I happy? Because I feel loved. Why do you feel loved? Because you are loving yourself and those around you. You are able. You are in control of your life and your emotions. I'm also listening to the main theme from Indiana Jones. That might have something to do with it."

"I have faith in people. Why do I have faith? Because my heart is able to open itself today. It doesn't matter how many times people turn their backs on me, I am going to be there when they need me again. I am actively forgiving them. I have faith that eventually, they will reach out for love and acceptance. When they hurt me, it is because they feel vulnerable. When they slap my face, it is because they feel that someone is doing something much worse to them. When they reject me, it's because they are afraid someone is going to reject them. When they refuse my love, it is because they are terrified of their world crashing around them and all the doors closing. I've been there. I understand. I love them."

There are millions of other emotions. I have just touched the surface of mine. In the midst of the swirling pool of confusion, there is something I know in certainty: I can become stronger. Today, I am stronger. Who knows what tomorrow holds? Who cares? Yesterday doesn't matter either. Today, I am writing a blog post. Today, I woke up. Today, I told my husband that I loved him. Today, I listened to the sounds from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Braveheart and The Artist. Today, I picked up some shirts from the floor. Today, I love my brothers and sisters deeply and painfully. Today, beauty has already taken my breath away. Today, I forgive myself and accept another chance at love and strength.

Yesterday and yesterday people: this is about me and the universe. Go away.

Tomorrow and tomorrow people: this is about me and the universe. Go away.

Today and today people: this about me and my journey and my healing and the people I care about. You can stay.

Note: When I was writing, I had to fight the urge to write in generalizations. Each time I opened a little of myself, I would erase it and put in something else much safer. As you can see, my deeper instincts took over and my vulnerability is on display for all who care to see. Thank you for looking. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Matthew George Smiling

Yes, I did just name a blog post that. :-D We went up to see my nephew, sister and bro-in-law on the weekend. Needless to say, Matthew stole our hearts again quite effectively. :-)



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Things I Like About Today

My student schedule. I would be so lost without it. 
A sister who will pick up lemons for me. 
An acquaintance who gave us a queen bed. We don't have to buy one now. 
High protein food. You can learn to crave protein. Oh yes, you can. 
Lovely people who want to be taught music. 
My beautiful husband. When he gets home, I give him a kiss. 
Computers. I use mine. A lot. 
Laundry baskets. Life is so much better with them in it. 
Movies. We watched five Fast and Furious movies in four days. 
Sherlock Holmes. He will always inspire me. 
Presents. Giving them makes my life. 
Truth. It never ends. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

20 Months -- To Be Loved




All my life, I was told that I was too stubborn, too rebellious and too opinionated. This convinced me that, despite my dearest dreams, I would never find my soul mate because no human being would be able to put up with me.

Little did I suspect that there was a beautiful soul who not only appreciates but encourages my independent spirit. 

Jesse, thank you for loving me for who I am and for never failing to encourage me to improve myself. Thank you for needing me. Thank you for being so pure of spirit and soul. You are the most wonderful human being  I have ever met and I get to spend my life with you.

20 months!! Married life is gooooood!!!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Women Who Inspire -- Helen Keller



I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, 
but I still can do something;
and because I cannot do everything, 
I will not refuse to do something that I can do. 

The most beautiful things in the world
cannot be seen or even touched,
they must be felt with the heart.

It is wonderful how much time 
good people spend fighting the devil.
If they would only expend the same amount of energy 
loving their fellow men, 
the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui. 

Security is mostly a superstition. 
It does not exist in nature,
nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure,
or nothing.  



Death is no more than passing from one room into another.
But there's a difference for me, you know.
Because in that other room, I shall be able to see. 

Love is like a beautiful flower
which I may not touch
but whose fragrance makes the garden 
a place of delight just the same. 

I long to accomplish a great and noble task,
but it is my chief duty to accomplish
small tasks as if they were great and noble.

So long as the memory of certain beloved friends
lives in my heart,
I shall say that life is good. 

I can see, and that is why I can be happy,
in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden.
I can see a God-made world,
not a manmade world.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Ugly Duckling of Life

Be gracious unto me, 
O Lord
for I am in distress;
mine eye is wasted from grief; 
my soul and my body also. 
Psalm of David

For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrong doing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?
 Bell Hooks

He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. 
Ecclesiastes 3:11

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. 
Martin Luther King, Jr

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light. 
Helen Keller

Healing hands: an image of hands in a non-dangerous position emitting the color patterns I see in my head when I look at someone. Such a pretty picture. I imagine those hands are the hands of God. I fantasize about the moment those Hands touch you: heart, soul and body are healed at once, in an instant. 

These imaginings of mine might bear some truth. Perhaps two thousand years ago when Jesus healed someone, he lightened their hearts and souls as well. It is very possible that some are called to such healing even now. There is little we understand about the mysteries of God. What I know is the healing process that he has me walk is not so simple nor clean nor beautiful. 


My knees have so many scars on them. I have had two knee surgeries, several altercations with bicycles and many instances involving trees, rocks and metal getting my blood on them. (It's a good thing I didn't grow up in a mystical part of the Universe because I probably would have inadvertently ended the existence the human race more than once.) My scars cover bloody, gaping wounds. They do the trick but they aren't beautiful. Parts of my skin are numb. I have to shave my left leg because any hair that grows where the nerve endings were severed causes me no end of discomfort. (I like shaving my legs anyway but it was a good reason to start!) My knees are not the same knees that learned to crawl nor are they the same knees that steadied the feet tottered across the grass in my grandparent's yard 25 years ago. They are changed.

Like my knees, my soul has met with some accidents. There have been scrapes and bruises, big gaping cuts that I had taped over so no one could see and if you look closely, a fairly ragged tear down the middle. Unlike my knees, these cuts haven't scarred over. No matter how much I tried to mind them, clean them and tuck them away so no one could see, they festered and refused to heal. 

It happened faster than I wanted it to. But the moment came. It was right. The bandages were ripped off: my soul exposed. Fresh air met with the weeping wounds. 

Healing has begun and the pain is excruciating. 

I knew it would be. But I didn't. I did not know I would feel the Universe tremble. I had no idea the lost memories would come and keep coming. My heart breaking into pieces several times a day really had not entered the imagination. Agony leaving no room for anyone else yet welcoming the entire world is also really weird. Plus, feeling free at last and fighting the urge to vomit several times a day doesn't do much for one's appetite or personality. The fear and courage combined makes a strange cup to drink. 

Moments beset me in which I do not want to go on but I'm terrified to stop. Whatever is coming around that corner might be worse than all that I have experienced put together. This is where the secret comes in. Once you have tasted Truth, the lies are suddenly not good enough. The walls of the self made prison are torn away and you realize you don't have to go back

It's like tasting Lemon Meringue pie made with freshly squeezed lemons, ladies and gentlemen. You wonder why you ever thought lemon meringue pie made from the box was even edible. (I'm guessing you're probably starting to question my use of winsome analogies. Haha.)

In all seriousness: healing doesn't come of it's own accord. You have to want it. You must have the courage. You will have to endure no answers, feebleness, faith, anger, being lost, without purpose, forgiveness, overflowing heart, truth, lies, love, agony... it all plays a part. It looks like nothing and smells like failure. You could swear that there is no sense here, no purpose. 

This is where I keep grasping at faith. 

Someday, my eyes will see.

There will be a time when my soul will be whole again.

I might not be a swan but I will be Naomi. 

Finally.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Because Hugging is Important

Three days ago, Jesse was cleaning up at the shop and managed to get a corrosive substance on his face and in one of his eyes. He immediately went to the bathroom and proceeded to wash it off. Amazingly, he didn't even have redness in the white of his eye, let alone any trouble with his vision. We are so thankful. Every time I see him, hug him, kiss him, I think it again. I am grateful that this incident was simply that: an incident.

Hug your people today. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Music is Awesome

Today, one of my students was playing a piece of music. Suddenly, she stopped and exclaimed, "Ohh! This is in thirds!!" 

Sweeter words a music teacher has never heard. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Self-worth & Forgiveness

Someone recently posted an article about relying on others (and our relationships with them) for our happiness and how we view ourselves. There are many manifestations of this; among them:  Inability to establish and maintain friendships; dominate/submission relationship; needing to be loved by another to feel validated and significant; tolerating abuse or mistreatment from people while excusing their behavior (i.e. he was having a bad day); feeling personally responsible for the way others act and feel; etc., etc.

The article can be found here; if you're curious, take a look.

The fact is, I am fighting these tendencies all day long. At one point I could check off every item listed in this article. Jesse has never wanted or encouraged them, in fact, something he often says is, "What do you think?" or "What would you do?" He has struggled to help me on towards a more healthy place, mentally and emotionally.

I know so many people who are not only living in codependent relationships, they believe this is the way to pleasing God. Thus, it defines your existence. From my own experience and closely observing others who embrace these relationships, I can say that this mindset is damaging in so many ways.

But the realization of bondage didn't hit me until I had been freed. I cannot believe how blind I was, or that I couldn't see even the most basic of truths. It isn't that I have life and love figured out but there is more Truth in my existence than ever before. Gone are the holds of my past. When old habits come back for a visit, I'm able to recognize them and shut the door. It feels good.

The other part of this post is about forgiveness. Some interesting situations have beset my sister and I lately and I needed a reminder. So, I searched for quotes on the subject and found some that really caught my attention. I was also remembering acts of Jesus towards those around him, especially those closest to him. Most significant was the washing of his disciples feet. What a beautiful example of acceptance and forgiveness and humility. He accepted his disciples for who they were (unrepentant, arrogant), utterly forgave their faults (though they did not ask for it) as he washed the dirt away. I seek for such a spirit.


To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. 
-- Lewis B. Smedes

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself, for every man has need to be forgiven. 
-- Thomas Fuller

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.
 -- Mark Twain

Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness,
 or else forgiving another. 
-- Jean Paul

Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.
 -- Desmond Tutu

No one else can take risks for us, or face our losses on our behalf, or give us self esteem. No one can spare us from life's slings and arrows, and when death comes,
 we meet it alone.
 -- Martha Beck

Courage is grace under pressure. 
-- Ernest Hemingway

Courage is not simply one of the virtues,
 but the form of every virtue at the testing point. 
-- C. S. Lewis

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. 
-- Coco Chanel

Who could refrain who had a heart to love and in that heart courage
 to make that love known. 
-- William Shakespeare

And one just for fun:

I am told that I talk in shorthand and then smudge it. 
-- J.R.R Tolkien

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Matthew George

This weekend, Jesse and I traveled to Manitoba to visit Hannah and Daniel... and Matthew. :-) It was so much fun meeting Matthew for the first time. He is very perfect and sweet. 


They are a very happy family. All seem to be adjusting well to his arrival. :-)


Babies and feet. :-)


Motherhood suits her well!!




That expression on his little face makes me giggle every time.


Father and son. Daniel makes a great dad.


Eventually, Jesse's going to make a great father as well.
Someday. :-) 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

all about The Smile

Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts. -- Paramahansa Yogananda

Look back, and smile on perils past. -- Walter Scott

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. -- Dr. Seuss

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray. -- Lord Byron

They  might not need me, but they might. I'll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity. -- Emily Dickinson

Laughter is day and sobriety is night; a smile is the twilight that hovers gently between both, more bewitching than either. -- Henry Ward Beecher


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Morning After...

Yesterday afternoon/evening we had another major storm/snowfall.
This time the wind picked up and created major drifts, even in White Bear.
Here's hoping it's the last of the season.


The neighborhood dogs were really having fun. All I can say is: at least something is enjoying this indecent amount of snow.


One of my favorite shots.


Yours truly, shoveling out the top of the driveway.


Lydia took over. I love this picture of her.


The grader operator saw us working and decided to come help us. 
First he removed the remainder of the berm at the top of the driveway.


Then he motioned for us to move out of the way. So we did. Look how excited Lydia is. :-) If I hadn't been holding a camera, I probably would have been jumping up and down for joy. Lol.


It's -31* C. outside so the snow is pretty fluffy.
Look at it just... move out of the way.


So much snow. Here's hoping our drainage system works this Spring.


Lydia's van is turning into a snowbank.



I'm thinking deck party.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

You Know You're An Adult When...

you are folding laundry when you realize you have folded a towel the wrong way!

you cringe expecting to get thumped on the head or chastised in some way

and

when nothing happens

you giggle a little gleefully

and place said towel on the stack

even though

all of the other towels are folded the way your mum showed you

and your OCD gets really annoyed



I love having my own house

end of short story

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

He's Here! He's Here!

Matthew George Ives made his grand appearance yesterday evening around 7:45 Manitoba time. A little over 7 lbs and a little over 20 inches long. The last we heard, Hannah is doing well... exhausted and adjusting, but doing well none-the-less. What a brave mama!!

I haven't got pictures yet but they'll be a-comin'!!

I'm an AUNT. And I have NEPHEW.

Hehe.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Frozen Moments


On Friday the 1st, we went to up to Lindsey's place for Erin's bridal shower. Here you can see the happy bride (right) and her twin. Beautiful smiles all around!


Erin's ring.


We got to eat awesome things like broccoli...


....and cheesecake!!


Plus, I got to see some of my siblings. 


Always a treat. They grow so quickly.


Erin opened her presents, which were all useful, pretty and numerous. :-)


We all received gifts to take home as well. Lindsey  made these marvelous cookies in a jar for the favors.
I believe I am going to make them for theatre peoples some evening.


Then we came home. And it snowed.


A lot. 
We were storm stayed for all of Monday.
And Jesse caught a cold,
Which he gave to me.
I love him. :-)