I’m here

These are the things that make everything worth it.

Hello dear reader.

I made it. I’m here with my daughter and son-in-law. Hugging her is one of the best feelings in the world.

Louissa is one of my very best friends. I don’t know if that’s common with a mother and daughter, but I feel extremely blessed to have that relationship with her.

I wrote a post the other day about how friends can become family. I think that happens more often than family becoming friends does. That’s been my experience at least.

I write a lot about how hard it is to deal with chronic pain. I think it’s even more important for me to write about how thankful I feel right now. These are the things that make everything worth it.

Until next time…

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Home and Family (part 2)

The thing is, family isn’t necessarily about the people you’re related to.

Hello dear reader.

I left you hanging with part 1, and I apologise for that. Life sometimes gets in the way of our best intentions. But here we are, better late than never.

In part 1 I talked about moving across the country and being stuck somewhere I didn’t belong for almost 30 years. I finally found my home in the Rocky mountains of Colorado. Now let’s finish the story.

As I said, I didn’t know anyone when I moved here. I got a job in the General Store/Post Office in the village of Twin Lakes, which has a year-round population of about 25. There are a lot of people who have summer homes there and tons of tourists in the summer. But winter is very quiet. It’s like living in a big family. So obviously I became close to my fellow villagers. I was married when I moved there and had my two youngest children with me.

During the summer I worked in front of a big picture window with an incredible view and met people from all over the world. It was paradise!

Things weren’t going well at all with my marriage. We decided to find a church to start going to, hoping that would help. So Sunday morning we headed to town, found the steeple and went in. We quickly discovered it wasn’t the church we had intended to go to, but it was a wonderful mistake. Coming to St. George’s was like coming to the mountains. It was where I belonged. My husband didn’t like it and stopped going, but I’ve been a part of it ever since the first time I walked through the door. Within two years of moving to Colorado, the marriage ended and he moved away. By that time I had a family in the village and a family in St. George’s. I wasn’t going anywhere.

The thing is, family isn’t necessarily about the people you’re related to. Family is about the people in your life that are there for you, the people you can count on. Family, in my opinion, are people who really know you and accept your for who you are. They’re the ones who take the time to look past the “I’m fine,” and see what’s really going on with you. Family is the people you know will love you no matter what, even if they don’t agree with you.

This is one of my sisters that I’m not related to at all making a toast at my wedding:

She has been with me through thick and thin. I’ve tried hard to always be there for her as well. We tell each other the truth even when it’s hard. I love her so much!

Family is something you choose, as well as something you’re born into, and home is where family is.

What does family mean to you?

Until next time…

Home and Family (Part 1)

The feeling of belonging there was overwhelming.  I felt like I was home for the first time.

Hello dear reader.

I had a topic in mind for today, but then I read a post called Home is Where the Heart Lies on a blog called Wayward Scribbles. It brought up a ton of thoughts and memories. So the other topic will have to wait for another day. Naveena Shruthi, AKA Nathi, got my inspirational juices flowing.

I lived in the Northeast part of the country (Connecticut) until I was 13, at which time my mother and stepfather (for reasons I still can’t fathom) moved our family to the deep South (Louisiana). I dealt with severe culture shock. Everything was completely different. For example, I learned about the Civil war in school in Connecticut. I was taught when it happened and the basics of why. It was history, like the Revolutionary war. When I moved to Louisiana I discovered that for a lot of people there the Civil war had never ended. People actually disliked me (to put it mildly) because I was a “yankee” from the North. They flew rebel flags and had bumper stickers reading, “The South’s gonna rise again!” What was considered polite was also different. I grew up calling adults Mr. or Mrs. last name. In the South, the polite way to address an adult was Ms. or Mr. first name. In the Northeast, saying “yes” or “no” (as opposed to “yeah” or “nope”) was polite. In the South, the polite response is “yes or no ma’am” or “yes or no sir.” I actually got paddled because a teacher asked me a question and I answered “Yes.” She responded, “Yes, what?” and I had no idea what she was asking me. I think the worst of all was when kids at school would gather around me and say, “Talk.” I usually responded with, “What do you want me to say?” at which everyone would laugh hysterically ay me.

Thirteen is a difficult age. The last thing you want to do is stand out. I was a laughing stock because of the way I talked and an enemy because of where I had come from. Teenagers tend to group up. There are the jocks, the nerds, the potheads, etc. There isn’t a group for “yankees” and I didn’t fit anywhere. It was lonely, confusing, and traumatic. I desperately needed a place where I felt safe and loved, but didn’t have one. Things at home were rough, to put it mildly. I didn’t feel safe or loved there either. Eventually I made a few friends and things got easier, but I never felt like I fit in Louisiana.

I got out a few times, but always got pulled back. My sister is the only one of my siblings that never left. My three brothers eventually got out and stayed out. 27 years after moving to Louisiana, I came to the Rocky Mountains to visit. It was incredible! The feeling of belonging there was overwhelming. I felt like I was home for the first time. During my 24 hour visit, one afternoon to the next, I rented a house. I went back to Louisiana for a month to prepare for the move and was homesick the entire time. A week before my 40th birthday I moved with my husband (at the time) and my youngest two children to a tiny village in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado called Twin Lakes. I didn’t know a soul. I got a job in the General Store/Post Office in the village and began attending church in the closest town (Leadville) and quickly made several friends. Finally, after all my years of feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, I was home.

This is turning out to be a longer story than I meant for it to (imagine that!) so I think I’ll continue it tomorrow. Have you ever felt like an outsider? Have you ever found a place that you know was your home? There’s a comment box below where you can tell me your story. I’d love to hear it!

Until next time…

My husband

I fell in love with St. George’s the first time I went there.

Hello dear reader.

Earlier this week I published a post called Finished. In it, I spoke briefly about my husband and said I would tell you more about him in another post. Well here’s that post 😊.

I want to start this story at the beginning, so it may take more than one post. We’ll see how it goes. Ready for an awesome love story? Here we go.

I met Tim very soon after moving to Colorado when I went to the ‘wrong’ church. I fell in love with St. George’s the first time I went there. All my life I’ve heard churches preach about feeding the poor, and helping people who needed help. St. George’s doesn’t preach it, they do it. I wanted to be a part of that. Anyway, I’m getting off on a tangent here. I’ll do a post about St. George’s another time.

Anyway, Tim and I both smoked cigarettes and after services we’d both be outside smoking. We spent a lot of time talking about a lot of things and developed a good friendship. Tim was 9 months sober at that time after struggling with alcoholism for most of his life. We talked about that a lot and I tried to encourage him in his sobriety.

I have to be honest with you. That’s a promise I made when I started this blog. Truthfully, I was very attracted to Tim the first time I saw him. But because I was married, I never acted on it. Tim also respected the fact I was married and never even flirted with me.

My marriage was on life support and I was trying very hard to save it. I was severely depressed and Tim made me laugh. I never talked to Tim about how bad my marriage was. I’ve always thought talking to someone of the opposite sex about problems in your marriage is a recipe for disaster. It never turns out good.

So Tim and I spent two years talking outside the church and getting to know each other, both of us knowing we weren’t going to be anything besides friends. I helped him with some things he was having trouble doing on the computer. He came to my house and cut up a bunch of wood (I paid him). The main source of heat in that house was the wood stove, so I was cutting up enough for each day myself with a bow saw. I was very thankful for the help.

We both got elected to the vestry at St. George’s the same year. I ended up having to go to Ohio for my first brain surgery. I was gone for three months. When I got back I was very excited to begin my work on the vestry. The day of the first meeting after I got back, the alternator in my car went out. I was so disappointed! Tim called to remind me about the meeting and make sure I was going. I had to tell him I couldn’t go because of my car. I lived about a half hour’s drive from the church and it was dumping snow, so I couldn’t walk there. Tim said he’d come get me because he knew how badly I wanted to go. He took me to the meeting and brought me straight home when it was over. Again, we never even flirted.

Two years after moving to Colorado, I finally pulled the plug on my marriage. Tim and I started dating shortly after. Everyone kept saying, “It’s about time you two got together!” They talked about seeing sparks between us.

Wow! This post got long fast! I’ll pick up where I left off tomorrow.

Until next time…

Unconditional love…what a concept!

Hello dear reader.

It’s been a bit, I know.  Between headaches, CASA, and wedding plans, I’m sure you’ll excuse my absence.  Soooo, the day after tomorrow I will be a married woman.  I’m SO excited.  The last few weeks have been insane trying to make sure everything is set up and ready for Saturday.  I have worked my butt off!  Finally, everything is in place and ready and I can relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors.  I try to be  unpredictable when I write, but today I’m going to (predictably) talk about this man I’m going to marry and how much I love him.  

How do I know marrying him is the right thing to do, that it will work?  The really simple answer to that is that Tim and I have been to hell and back…a FEW times…and we still like each other.  Yes, I said LIKE.  I think like is even more important than love.  I have loved people that I didn’t like at all, and it was miserable.  We are best friends.  I look forward to spending time with him.  I laugh with him.  I tell him things I won’t tell most people, things you can only tell a very close friend.  Quick story – Not long ago, when Tim was between jobs, we were SO broke!  We were getting food from the church, were behind on ALL the bills, the bank account was overdrawn, and we didn’t know when any of that would change.  We were sitting together holding hands while watching the dogs playing and looking at a spectacular sunrise.  Both of us said, “I love our life!”  How crazy is that?  Logically we probably should have been completely stressed out.  But we both felt happy and contented just being together.  THAT’s how I know.

I’ve learned with Tim what love is supposed to be like.  He loves me simply for who I am.  He supports and encourages my dreams and aspirations.  He makes me feel smart and pretty.  He considers it his mission to make me laugh at  least once a day.  Okay, some of you are probably saying, “Okay, and the big deal is….?”  If so, you’re a very fortunate person. The big deal is I have never in my life had anyone love me like that, unconditionally and completely.  All the way back to my childhood, any love I got from anyone  was conditional.  I was loved if I did this or that and did it this way or that way.  I was loved only if I was willing to give up what I wanted and felt to do and feel what someone else wanted me to.  My dreams were to be a good mother or wife or daughter, to make someone else happy so that they would love me.  My aspirations were to do things well enough to earn someone’s love.  You know, I think that’s actually the core of it….I don’t have to earn Tim’s love.  He gives it to me…a gift, not as payment for something.  That is the big deal.  It’s something which was extremely difficult for me to learn to accept and trust.

I honestly think I’ve always tried to love that way, unconditionally.   I can’t say I’ve always been able to.  I’m not making excuses for that, but I have learned why I failed at it.  When two people give to each other freely and gladly, both of their hearts stay full because they’re being given at least as much as they are giving.  When one person is giving and the other is taking, the giver’s heart grows cold and empty eventually because there’s nothing to fill it up.  As I said, nobody ever gave me unconditional love, so there was nothing to keep my heart full and I eventually gave up. 

Don’t get me wrong…I’m nowhere near perfect,  I came into every relationship I’ve ever been in (besides the one with my parents) with a lot of my own baggage and misconceptions.  I had a horrible view of myself.  I thought I could never do or give enough to really deserve love from someone else.  I was only partially right.  I could never do enough to earn someone’s love.  All I can do is give my love freely and accept Tim’s love in return.  But I do deserve love.  It’s ironic when I think about it.  Only after I took the time to learn to love myself simply for who I was (am) was I able to trust and accept that anyone else could.

Okay, I’m getting mushy here.  But in less than 48 hours I will marry a wonderful, loving, compassionate, funny, giving, and VERY good looking man.  I think a little mushy is allowed,  :-}

Until next time…

Headaches and wedding Invitations

Hello dear reader.

Today is an awful headache day.  Well, it actually started around 11 last night when it woke me up.  I managed to fall back to sleep at around midnight, but by 2 a.m. it was a lost cause.  It’s super frustrating because I seriously don’t have time for this right now.  There is so much I need to be doing, but I can’t. 

Onto something brighter…I have to brag. Yesterday I discovered that I had made a significant mistake with the checking account and put us into a pretty bad situation. When Tim got home last night (after a 10 hour workday) I listened to him tell me about what a good day he had. You know, the first few minutes determine the mood for the rest of the evening, so positive was a good way to start. The last thing he said was, “It’s been a really good day.” I replied, “I’m so glad, but I’m about to ruin it.” I burst into tears and told him what had happened. This man…the one I get to marry in a week and a half…put his arms around me and told me it was okay. He said with so much going on it was no wonder I made a mistake…that we’d get through it and it wasn’t the end of the world. I couldn’t stop crying, but then it was out of relief.

Speaking of the wedding, a wonderful friend of ours made our wedding invitations for us. We mailed out all the ones going out of town, and the other day we got the ones to hand out locally.
image

Is that not the most beautiful thing?!? The invitation is rolled up inside that beautiful tube. There is no way I can ever show or tell how much I appreciate this. It’s another amazing example of the incredible friends we have!

That’s about all the “brighter” I can do right now. My head is still hurting terribly and I’m going to lay down and try to get some rest.

Until next time…

Quotes

Good morning dear reader.

I’m having a difficult time finding something that inspires me to write this morning. I looked at several writing prompts, but none of them felt right today. I looked at famous quotes, but no, there really wasn’t much there. Then I got to thinking about quotes. The ones that are in all of the apps I have are from famous people, but do you have to be famous to say inspiring or profound things? No, those are just the ones people write down. I’ve heard the most amazing quotes from the ordinary people around me. Now that is inspiring today! Let me see, what are some of the best ones?

God’s got you.”
That’s a good one. Tim used to tell me that all the time when I felt like I couldn’t stand one more day of the pain and feeling of uselessness the Chiari gave me. It sounds so simple. It reminded me that I didn’t have to carry it all by myself. I could see this huge hand that I was sitting in the palm of. That hand carried and protected me. I could let go of the weight and let the hand hold it. That quote often kept me from giving up.

Would you talk to your friend the way you talk to yourself? You wouldn’t even talk to a stranger like that.
That one came from Ali. When I would catch myself looking in the mirror telling myself how stupid I was, or how ugly I was, or how useless I was….I would think about what Ali had said. It took a long time and a lot of practice, but I’ve become much more gentle and loving toward myself as a result. Those words literally changed my life.

One last quote…”You can learn a lot from a tree. They are strong enough to stand tall, but flexible enough not to break in the wind.” That one actually came from me. I was at a very difficult and painful point in my life. Things were changing and I was having trouble changing with them. I was sitting outside watching the wind blow in the trees when those words came into my head. I say it came from me, but I don’t think that’s quite right. I think it was given to me by a much more intelligent and loving Being. I was just the one who needed it at the time. I think it proves the first one I listed, “God’s got you.

What about you? Have you ever been told something that truly made a difference in your life? Who’s quote have you grabbed on to and not let go? I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time…