Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ten Things of Thankful-26

I am feeling a little themey this week and as this is Thanksgiving weekend it is only fitting.

Photo found at
A moment- They were grateful they survived. Out of a 101 people, 52 sat at a table after a long winter. Those 52 shared a meal with the people who helped them. This simple moment of found Puritan Separatists, Merchants, Sailors and Native Americans sitting at a table and breaking bread.

Food- The celebrated with what they had. Simplicity at its best and something we miss out on in our time of marketing and social expectations.

Cranberry-Pear Pie: I stumbled upon this when the kids were younger. It is sweetened with maple syrup and orange juice. No modern refined sugars. Every time I make it, I feel a little more connected with that original group.

Traditions- This is a tricky word. Often we can get lost in what we had. Family members or gatherings that can no longer happen make the soul groan. On the flip side, every year can be the birth of tradition. A mistake one year can become the standard for the next. I don’t think that original group thought they were doing anything “traditional.”

Family- I had many talks with my kids this week. I asked them this question, “What does ‘Family is forever’ mean to you?” This is some of what I heard:

Family is family. You’re related. Connected. If you have a good family then that is great. If you don’t, it is hard. But, the connection never goes away. You just have to learn how to manage it.

Photo taken by greyerbaby
Wine- Need I say any more?

Being still- The Mutant, Ase, Zaney and GirlyK dance. I am the gopher. Next weekend begins the final rehearsals until Nutcracker. We have been in rehearsals since September for it. This is four days for everyone to catch up on sleep, shows, and books along with preparing for finals. The calm before the storm.

Twinkling lights- Winter here is fog. Sometimes it simply socks in the valley. Other times it touches the ground. Filling the house with fairy lights helps my brain keep track of what is day time and which is night time.

Frozen- We have a tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving night. This year was Frozen with  Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell All five of us plus a few extras snuggled in for song and laughter. Since then, the music has been playing constantly. GirlyK almost has the whole soundtrack memorized. GO SEE IT!

The practice of gratitude- It helps me keep everything in perspective. When my soul’s groans get a little too loud, it helps to focus on something. Slowing down and savoring a moment, a color, laughter or a song is the perfect salve to a scarred heart.

Ten Things of Thankful

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ten Things Of Thankful-Week 25

Grateful for rain- We don’t get much of it around here, so when it does rain life stops. We sit at windows and watch it fall. We taste the air as we breathe, savoring the hint of change in our California weather. So caught up in the glory of it all, I did not take a single picture to share with you. I was too busy snuggling under a blanket listening to it the music.

Nutcracker- As a family of performers. Nutcracker is full swing for us. We have decided it deserves its own holiday. Well, Baileys did a brilliant bit about it. Enjoy!

This whole interwebs thing- Nothing is more fun than meeting new people. Twitter is my favorite place for that right now. Years’ worth of faith questions debated, discussed and satirized all in one place. Listening to another’s journey in faith encourages mine to continue. Micha J. Murray follows up last week’s How Feminism Hurts Men with his own story: How I Became A Feminist.

To Do lists- I am a complete failure at them, but I make them anyway. Having one helps me feel accomplished during the day because a task is crossed off. Also, learning how to graciously deal with interruptions and not able to cross anything off is the best exercise. It has been that kind of week.

Sunshine- After three days of overcast-albiet wonderful rain- it is nice to see that glowing orb again. Gray clouds frost a blue sky as fall leaves dance to the ground.

Daisy- It is that time of year when our tile floor is cold. All winter she will come, bark and bounce on the floor until I pick her up so she can tuck into my jacket. THIS is why many of my To Dos don’t get done. Who could say “NO” to a cuddle?

Watson- We had to put our red dachshund down a little more than a month ago, which left Daisy the queen of the castle. She is a spectacular cuddler, but runs out of steam during my morning walks. Two weeks ago, This basset hound joined our family. As mellow as bassets seem, they love long walks. Now I am forced, three to four times a day, to fulfill his five mile need.

Friend/Unfriend button- I wish life had one of these buttons. It would take the guesswork out of every relationship. Friendships ebb and flow. Not all people are meant to stay in my life forever. I savor the time spent, the stories and camaraderie then, sometimes, we go separate ways. No drama necessary.

Giggling- from Jimmy Fallon, to prepare you for Thanksgiving.

AND with two boys-even if they are men- anything in underwear is funny.

Of course I am grateful for you, who stopped by. More new people to get to know on life's journey!

Ten Things of Thankful

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Friendship Inspires Creative Horizons

Originally posted on June 20, 2013

Starting a new venture is daunting. Especially when it is discovering an art and allowing it expression. Divine Appointments brought people into my life who believed in me when I was not able to believe in myself. Jeannie Hart entered my life first. Weekly coffee which birthed through adversity became an oasis of empowerment and love. Through her encouragement, working through my art possibilities developed from a hobby into a pilgrimage. Learning how to make mistakes with flare are the spice within creativity.

Jeannie introduced me to Aaron. A small business owner and artist in town. He wanted to sell my quirky products. He didn't care what they were. He was happy to give light to anything I attempted. First came towel embroidery.

It surprised me how well they sold. I kept making them and people kept liking them. I played with floursack and bar towels. It morphed into custom orders. Play began to pay off.

 GirlyK needed an new messenger bag. Money was tight and I had clothes heading for Charity. Inspiration hit and using old jeans, a vinyl jacket and sheets, this bag was birthed. I played with pattern making for the first time.

Jeannie fell in love with it and ordered an Ipad bag, I blended denim and upholstery fabric samples.

Next came a purse for myself. I found this Buttercup Bag pattern online and fell in love with it. Her design has a magnetic enclosure, but I added a zipper to mine. Confidence grew
within my abilities. Bag making became a fun experiment. Each one tweakishly different from the one before. 

One day, Aaron suggested I try aprons. He like the ones which looked like vintage cocktail dresses. Like Dr. Frankenstein, I retreated into my laboratory. A little frightened of what might come to life. Joy of surprise flooded as I watched them take shape.

 Skeleton Toile                          Nutcracker                                  Sugar Skulls

Not to be excluded a pile of The Counting Mutant's shirts headed for Charity called out to me. They wanted to be mutated into something different. Of course I couldn't disappoint them. Thanks to pinterest and Grow And Make this happened:

Then, as with all moments of art and crafting, the greatest surprise of all, a person I never met loved the sugar skull apron concept but wanted something different. Gary Smith wanted a muy macho version. Retreating into my laboratory of creative madness I experimented. Many times, I started, then walked away because it just wasn't working. It sat on the wire form in the work room taunting me with desire for a testosterone infusion. Images of barbecue tools and a cold beer in hand kept me motivated. After months of wrestling with inspiration, it conked me on the head. Last week I finished it.

An etsy store is waiting in the wings for inventory. Soon it will be up and running. I do take custom orders as well. With each project, I feel stronger and braver as the next creative puzzle is faced. Without people such as these, my artistic spirit would not fly as confident as it does today. Their company breeds freedom as this artist looks for a true north. I am deeply grateful.

A Mother Life

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ten Things of Thankful

1. Tears- After years of listening to my heart ache and struggle to heal, it finally gained some perspective. Healing tears flowed this week as I walked through my own frailties. The holidays look a little less daunting.

2. About Time- Saw this film with a friend last week. I laughed and cried. The music is divine.

3. Dr. St. Amand and the Guaifenesin Protocol- Seven years ago, I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It is a quirky disease. Fatigue and I have battled since childhood. A friend hijacked my life and took me to him because she was convinced I had it. Counting Mutant read his book and agreed. I started September, 2007 looking like this (the dots are the lumps and bumps within my muscle structure):

For the last year and a half, healing seemed to stagnate. Not getting better, but not really getting worse. In the spring I re-evaluated some other medications I was taking. Yesterday I had my appointment and now I look like this:

Healing is happening. I was about to give up. I am so happy I didn’t. AND I am so grateful to the friend who kidnapped me and MADE me go. 

4.  Mistakes- Went to Santa Monica yesterday for some girl time with GirlyK. Our favorite is to hit the Goodwill thrift shop and then visit Tiffany’s. Somehow it just touches every surface of reality. I leave feeling full. Yesterday the mission was a pink sweater. I found two: one perfect and one dreamy, both six dollars. I tried the dreamy one on three or four times, then put it back.

Why? Because it was too perfect. Too beautiful. Holy Spirit urging me that it was God’s blessing for me. He provided it. Yet, my little faith put it back on the rack and walked away knowing I would regret it.

Why does this make me thankful? Because God still loves me. He provides abundantly even when I am not looking for it. In accepting my mistake, I accept the lesson. Next time when that Still Small Voice speaks, I will run in confident obedience. No questions asked.

5. Panini and a sidewalk café- Each time I meander Santa Monica, I walk by Caffe Bellagio, right at Santa Monica and Third Street Promenade. Yesterday, after the sweater fiasco, I stopped in. The service was fantastic. The food was delicious. The atmosphere was divine.

6. Gelato- what else is there to say?

7. A clean car- The planets aligned and I was able to wash and vacuum my car. Miracles do happen.

9. Micah J. Murray and satire- How Feminism Hurts Men.  It is so liberating when a man lobbies for equality for women. Read it!

10. Fall has finally come- The trees turning into their brilliant yellows and golds before. Driving around this Central Valley town where the smog of California comes to rest, the brilliant colors of autumn break the brown monotony. For a few weeks, the sky stays brilliant blue. breathing in beautiful clean air while it lasts.

Ten Things of Thankful

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Unlovely Around My Heart

Photo taken by grietgriet
“Be angry, but don't sin - don't let the sun go down before you have dealt with the cause of your anger; otherwise you leave room for the Adversary.” Ephesians 4:26-27

I thought I was over it. But my brain has a mind of its own and every holiday season I am reminded of what is missing.

I want to be done.

More tears have been spent on making myself be peace about the circumstances. I have forgiven those who misrepresented me. In my own strength extended grace to those who choose to believe gossip. I understand that who I am will never be accepted. I don’t hold it against them. They have their own pain to deal with. I cannot judge them because I did have a part to play.

I have owned my part. Offered amends for my shortcomings and accepted that the damage is irreversible. No longer do I feel the need to be understood or validated. I only wish them well on their life journey.

Yet…something irritates.

I re-examine Forgiveness: analyze it from their point of view. Where were my expectations unrealistic? What life experience motivated the choices they made. I feel empathy. I understand. I check to see if I hold any expectations of justice or reconciliation with them. I almost feel peace.
Photo taken by bekahboo42

Then… something burns under the surface of my soul.

Anger is checked and I filter through all its definitions:

Anger is a secondary emotion, find out the primary source and resolve it. Then anger will diffuse-check. Did that.

Anger is a messenger. Ask her what the question is, answer it and then anger will be satisfied- check. Did that.

Then GirlyK and I were watching Bones. Sweets interrogating someone said, “Anger is triggered by unmet expectations.”

A glowing hot spear stabs my heart. I missed my own feelings. I never allowed myself to simply feel. Every examination has focused on them. Empathy, sympathy, forgiveness and grace extended to them, but never for myself.
Photo taken by Agarianna

My brain recoils: that’s selfish. That’s not Christlike. Indulging my sin nature gives room to all kinds of evil. I am not supposed to think about me in this situation for it to be resolved. They were the ones wronged. Not me…

But I must. I must filter through it all again this time granting permission to feel. The tools of recovery have taught me only through truth in love can real healing occur.

I awaken at 3:00 with the realization of this unlovely truth: I feel resentful. As I try to fall back asleep, Holy Spirit gently unravels the thick black wire shield which encases my beautiful pink heart. Looking closer I see barbs which point outward, intending to protect my heart from harm. The Still Small Voice calls them resentment. On the inside of the wire are smaller, sharper spines. Still Small Voice calls them bitterness.

In the hands of Divine Love I understand that while I protected myself with frustrated resentment, each time my heart encountered those people, the shield pressed into my heart. Those little spines of bitterness added pain which triggered a landslide of anxiety. Longing for freedom I submit to the Healer. As I release my own feelings, a healthy prettypicket fence will surround my heart. With healthy boundaries I will have clarity.  True grace will I finally be able to extend

And the best gift of all: Shalom.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Of Toilets and Boys

Originally posted Feb 28, 2013

I had no idea. Raised in a house with one bathroom, five females and one male, I never realized the bliss I was in.

As chores go, cleaning the bathroom was a breeze. Heavy cleansers for the caked on hairspray and other nice smelling beauty accouterments on the counter. A quick scrub of the bathtub ring with scrubbing bubbles. Easiest of all was the toilet. A squirt of cleaner under the rim of the bowl, swish with a brush and flush. The bathroom sparkled. We spent twenty minutes tops cleaning the room.
Photo taken by DodgertonSkillhause

I remember my Mom telling us about what her friends with boys said about their bathrooms. She would shake her head in disbelief and say, "You're Dad isn't that bad." The four of us would look at her and agree: how could it be so bad? A large mouthed bowl. The target is big enough. Boys like to shoot things so, how could they miss? Hitting a bulls eye is what they do best, just like Robin Hood.

Then I grew up and had boys.

When they were little, it was excusable. They were short, the lip of the bowl was taller. On tip toes they would aim and mostly make it. Little Cheerio targets would float, waiting to be sunk. M&Ms were the reward when the offending wheaty O melted to the bottom.Once in a while, the unattended seat would slam down on the tender weapon and screams of agony would shake the walls of the house. I felt sorry for them then.

Find them at amazon
As they got older, it became a game:  How far away from the bowl can I stand and still make it? Or, my favorite;  Let's pretend there is a forest fire in the whole bathroom and put it out. The first thing in the morning cold land mines were special. I would giggle to myself, pull out the cleaner and get to work.

With pink rubber gloves on, bleach poured into the toilet itself. It is a bucket with clean water, right? Sponge dip into the cleaning concoction, the wiping and rinsing began. As the cleaning moves toward the baseboards, small yellow dots appear. Rinse sponge and re-moisten with germ busting liquid, I wipe the lip of the floor. Sitting back with satisfaction, I examine a job well done, only to notice streams of yellow on the wall. A snicker accompanies the reloading of the sponge. Scrubbing the lines turns into washing the whole toilet alcove. Perspiring, I follow the amber lines down the baseboards.  Sweating with discontented murmuring, the hidden puddles behind the toilet are scrubbed. Aching arms scour the floor joint and bolts. In full cursing surrender, the complete outside of the toilet is bathed. I am afraid to even look at the seat.

"I did this three days ago." I say to myself setting back on my haunches.

An archaeologist could find prehistoric bugs in the amber droplets encrusted at the bottom of the seat. The sponge is forced with a death grip into the bowl of bleach and wrung to within an inch of disintegration. Excavation begins and the grease in my elbow sprouts a leak. Soon all that is left is the fossil evidence. Laying the seat down, I scrape the lid, bolts and bridge that holds the bowl to the tank. Then disinfect the tank itself, including the top.

The simple task of cleaning the toilet took me 30 minutes!
Find it at amazon

I thought, as the boys grew it would improve. I. Was. Deluded.

Discussing this over coffee with some girlfriends, comradere was thick. One girlfriend wants a urinal put into her bathroom so she can have the toilet all to herself. Another suggests a fly sticker next to the drain. This has been put into place in some public bathrooms: . Research shows that aim improves if men have something to aim at.

I need those flies. Maybe then, my daughter will understand what a clean toilet is.

A Mother Life

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering Veterans

Photo taken by Ladyheart
Today is Veteran’s Day or Remembrance Day. 

My Dad is a veteran.

Now it is popular to be one, but when I was a kid it was not. Dad wrestled with shame, like many Vietnam Vets. He felt a little extra-because he was stationed here.

He worked personnel. Many faces passed through his office. Some were on their way over; some on their way home. He would tell me about the guilt over the ones he sent over and the question that nagged-which ones came home.

We were stationed at Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Hill Air Force Base in Logan, Utah. My Mom played the chapel organ, my Dad worked at the radio station. I would listen as Dad would talk about the new music coming on the scene; Christian Rock which shared hope, all the while being relevant.

As an observer-grown-ups don’t realize how much kids really catch-I watched his pained face as the black screen with names scrolled after the news. When in the car, listening to the radio, songs quickly changed with the push of a button because of a lyric. One time after work tried to run him down. He was in uniform.

The other kids and I had a secret:
Photo taken by mzacha

We loved our lives in base housing. The roar of jet engines and helicopters lulled us to sleep. When other kids stopped playing because of a car, something in the air stopped us because we couldn’t hear each other. Everyone was welcome because tomorrow they might live somewhere else. Being lonely was never an option.

We were proud of our Dads for wearing Blue. For giving their time to our country because the country needed them.

It didn't matter to me if he served in a jungle or in an office. In a jungle he would face bullets, mines and enemy lines. Here in the states, he faced media, people and the feeling of being left on the bench.

Each place held scars.

Both missions held dangers.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ten Things of Thankful: New Connections

This is my first time with Ten Things of Thankful. I am humbled by Lizzy’s invite and endeavor to join this beautiful gratitude charge.

1. I am thankful for quiet. Ace is visiting his girlfriend up north. Zaney is teching a school production of The Important Of Being Ernest. Counting Mutant took Pumpkin to see Ender’s Game. I am alone with sleeping dogs.

2. I am thankful for logic. The last few days my brain fog has decided to visit. Tonight I got lost on the way to my sister’s house. After I laughed at how silly I am, I took a breath, looked at the school in front of me, ran through the school colors of our town and figured out where I was. Logic keeps panic away.

3. I am thankful for cold. After six months of above 90F/32C I am glad to shiver a little.

4. I am thankful for dogs.

5. I am thankful for new nail color. My toes and fingers look so pretty today. Just what my mood needed.

6. I am thankful for food. Lasagna and a glass of wine is waiting for me. I have no idea why I have procrastinated their consumption.

7. I am thankful for tears. They clean the windows of my soul and God collects each one in a bottle. Even they are precious to him.

8. I am thankful for Jimmy Fallon and his self deprecating humor.

9. I am thankful for twitter. It is a constant stream of validation and friendships filled with people I will probably never meet.

10. I am thankful for reconnecting. Ran into a friend this week and had a lovely chat. She was a huge support when the boys were being bullied about dance in the Bible Study group. I will forever be in her debt.

Ten Things of Thankful

About Me: NO vember

NO vember is when it all started.

Photo taken by earl53

November took me away from a family filled with love and laughter. Boy cousins ready for fun adventures. Fall colors at Thanksgiving and snow at Christmas. A house filled with sunlight, a gentle grandfather who had tea parties with me and a grandmother who laughed. Running, camaraderie and bionic adventures for hours were the holiday experience.

Photo taken by ancientrobot

November took me to a winter filled with cold gray foggy days. A house where the windows looked out on trees, but no sun came in. These grandparents argued and watched golf on television. Too busy to play, but not too busy to spank or discipline. I had nothing in common with my girl cousins. Lonely, quiet and waiting for it to be over was the new holiday experience.

Now Thanksgiving Day was filled with angst. Parents stressed because my three sisters needed a nap and these new grandparents insisted on dinner at 2:00. During the hour’s drive, I would talk myself into being excited. Maybe this time it would be different. Maybe someone would talk to me. Maybe fun could be found. Sometimes it would glimmer but like the fairy it was, never stayed for long.

 November finished a year of death. It started the December before, my senior year with a boy named Jeff. We met third grade when we finally settled into this Central Valley town. 

Then that odd Christmas break obituary.

Photo taken by diggerdanno
I went because I knew him. Friends knew him. No knowledge of how he died, just that he did. I sat in the overflow lobby, his pastor announced that he would read the note he left behind. The word suicide was never spoken, but something within me cracked. The idea of adolescent invincibility weakened. I spent the rest of the day trying to figure it out. My parents were as dumbstruck as I. The rest of that year would include a winter suicide, a spring accidental drowning, and an almost fatal accident.

Then November.

Mark was the brilliant musician youth group leader. Blond curly hair, big brown eyes all backed his overwhelming kindness. He was patient enough, one church camp, to learn by ear a song I was going to sing. Complete with grin, he led the band as I for a moment felt like someone with something to offer the youth group. One time he taught on the Beatitudes, which would anchor my relationship with God forever. He said something along these lines:

Photo taken by anitapeppers
“The pure in hear will see God. That means telling him everything. If your mad, yell at him- he knows it anyway. Let nothing stand between you and God. Not even yourself. Always talk to him. Always seek him. Ask your questions. Yell at him about your doubts because eventually you WILL see HIM. He promised.”

This beautiful soul decided he could no longer live.

Eleven months of life taken left an indelible scar. For me there is no, “You Only Live Once.” Life became fleeting and fickle. Every moment deserves attention and presence. Death no longer surprises me.

Almost 30 years later, three kids and a loving husband, we have made our own happy Thanksgiving memories. I make a great turkey and trimmings myself so The Counting Mutant can make his Friday after Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing omelets. I find myself forcing myself to enjoy it all. I find joy in it and the presence of these events still hovers, like the winter fog the Central Valley is known for.

So I am allowing myself this moment to remember.

To grieve so that I may be comforted.

I am grateful for that.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Originally posted on December 9, 2010

Photo taken by fractl
I am always the last one to leave. A party, a theme park, church. An argument isn't over unless true harmony exists for all involved, much to The Counting Mutant’s irritation. A decision is weighted upon all collectible options. In all situations, affirming and confrontational, I do not quit.

Some consider this diligence a personality flaw. 

My soul screams this mantra to my head: to quit in the face difficulty, cheapens the experience of life. 

When in conflict with person or situation; first comes the talking. There is an echo inside my head, so the only way to hear myself think is out loud. Unfortunately that means someone has to listen until a piece of solution reveals itself. Only when I have exhausted all avenues of resolution will I resign.
Photo taken by taliesin

“Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend” Proverbs 27:17

What people don’t recall when they throw around this cliché is:

You can’t have sharp iron without sparks.

Within interaction there will be controversy. To end a relationship or an experience because of difficulty, compromises the value of the life we have been given. To work through these differences creates a better life story.

Photo taken by taliesin
The Counting Mutant took part in a business philosophy course. Close to the end, he was invited to continue in an advanced level. He said yes. At the end of the course, life happened which complicated his ability to continue. During the final conference the offer to continue was extended. This time he declined.  The instructor of the course spoke to the many that changed their answer. He challenged them to examine their behavior.  Was this a common practice in business or their personal life where an agreement was made and then broken?  The instructor introduced the word reneging: to break a promise or go back on an agreement. The consequences of reneging of reneging are; people become leery of  your word and question the reliability of it.

The shame of quitting evaporated. My real issue was about reneging. Whenever a commitment needs to be made, I am thoughtful and count the cost. I never want to jeopardize a person’s trust or faith in me. Through disagreements we learn about each other.  This is why the idea of quitting is unreasonable to me. Listening to another’s grievances I gain strength and wisdom. There is a certain power in admitting my weaknesses and face the conflict. It grants me an opportunity for a Reality Check. My focus turns to crafting those flaws into strengths.  Life is the greatest adventure. Being available for resolution makes my life story richer.

A Mother Life