If We Were Having Coffee: Tequila Would Top Mine

Yes, I know we might be having coffeeimages, tea or even the more refined Wine but honestly this past month deserves the bite of Tequila. Good, strong sipping Tequila. Nothing foofy with umbrellas and silly stuff, just a fresh from the freezer, where I keep it for times like these, sipping Tequila. .

So, if we were having Tequila with or without our coffee, we would be sitting back in my undecorated but praises be, nearly clean to my satisfaction, apartment. From 4,200 square feet to 1,000 square feet is one hell of a downsizing and I honestly didn’t think I could do it, I honestly thought I would lose my mind. Instead what I am finding is a strange peace settling over me as I maneuver through the weird minimalism that is becoming the norm for me. Even after I thought I had shrunk my needs to the bare ‘must have’ I found myself needed to shrink down even more, things I thought were absolute needs became sacrifices to storage in favor of other objects of desire. Amazing what becomes necessity when you shrink your living space.

Would you like another one? Excuse me while I top of my glass.herradura-anejo-tequila-17

You know I have told you about my year, shared with you that I have struggled on many fronts this year. The struggles have tapped me out on many levels, shredded my confidence, my hopefulness at times. Certainly my imagination along with my energy has been drained. I have had to really take out my spirit and examine closely what drives me, what is needful and what is a priority for me. I have had to make choices I never thought I would make, shed myself of what was doing me harm even when this scared the living hell out of me. I have stared into the abyss of my history and torn the curtain away to the future I thought I wanted, sometimes having to set aside people and things so I could begin to truly rebuild.

This has been a work in progress, it started a few years ago when my husband left without good-bye in December 2013. I have struggled to find my footing, to find my heart and my spirit. I have worked to find the independent me under the debris of hurt. People have taken advantage of my vulnerability, I don’t blame them, I put it out there with my need to be seen, to be loved. I put a great big sign over my head, “Here I am…Use me”.

Then after I lost even more confidence along with thousands of dollars, I finally pulled back into myself. Set my need for ‘love’ aside in favor of true healing. Small steps, sometimes backward steps, sometimes no steps at all but instead simply standing still in the space I was and taking a few deep breaths. Focusing on the right then, not trying to force healing but letting the world wash over me, rinse my hurt away in small portions. It wasn’t easy, I wanted everything and right now. There were days when I thought I would miss out on the rest of my life, nothing was working and I was emotionally atrophied; at least I felt like this was the case.

footprints

Early last year I jumped into a relationship to stem the hurt and loneliness. It was an unhealthy relationship. What I learned from it was wonderful though. I learned I would rather be alone than part of an unhealthy relationship. I would rather be alone than part of a relationship that hurts me. I would rather be lonely and alone than lonely within a relationship. I learned I can stand up for myself, I can say no. That is what I learned. It was a good lesson. I learned, I do not have to accept pain as part of being paired. I learned it is better to be uncoupled than unhappy. I also learned what I want in a partner, in a man. I learned what is important. In the ending unfortunately both of us were hurt, it was nevertheless the right thing to do, for both of us. Now I can couple without fear, I know my desires and my limitations. This was a critical step to finding myself, now I am happily settled with myself.

Can I top you off? I could use another splash. I am rambling on about myself, I hope you don’t mind.

This past month has been a challenge. You might have noticed I haven’t been around much, my plate has been full. In truth my bucket has spilled over, leaving me exhausted and exhilarated at one and the same time. I thought I would not make it through the month of May, I did though. Here is what happened and why I find myself sitting here with you sipping Tequila:

  • I moved into my new apartment and nearly finished the unpacking process
  • I finished the downsizing, though I couldn’t have done it without a few well-placed kicks in the ass along the way
  • I performed a wedding for my friend and barrier against the storms of recent years, Red
  • I attended the wedding of one of my younger sisters in Seattle and was reminded of how wonderful family can be, even in large crowds. Yes, my family is big and raucous.
  • I finally met my newest found sister and had a long breakfast with her. We are the odd ones out, part of family but found members (born outside, adopted out and unknown till adulthood).
  • I finally started the real search for my next job, though I know it might be long and harrowing I also know what I want and I am going to hold out for what makes sense
  • I started writing again in my journal and will start to write here and read again because I am giving myself permission and time
  • I stopped holding myself to impossible standards and took a deep breath without crying
  • I read my own posts from a few years ago and realized how far I have come and how some things are still true. I was amazed how far I have climbed out of the void I was in three years ago.

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What I have figured out through all of this?

I can do this. I am enough. I may be scared, it is fine, scared is normal sometimes. I may be sad, it is okay to be sad sometimes, this is normal. I may be lonely now and then, it is fine to be lonely so long as it is the loneliness of waiting not the loneliness of ‘alone’. I can do this, I am enough. I am worth it and I am enough. That is what I have learned.

CoffeeShare2

Stuck in Bad Blues

blueWomanMy absence, my inattention, my sporadic visits to your and even my own blog to read or write have been growing lately. It seems I am unable to keep up with life these days. What is it they say? Oh, right it isn’t you it is me. This is has been all too true lately, it is me. My inner demons along with my real live get the hell over here and be quite introvert, they have been playing havoc with my world. On the one hand, I have allowed everyone to dance to the music without interruption, I suspect it is what I have needed. On the other hand, well I think I may have done myself a disservice, now I am finding it hard to reenter life, any life at all.

Don’t misunderstand, it isn’t I don’t have anything to say. No, I have plenty of thoughts running through my head, plenty of emotions dripping through my heart. The world is a terrible place and it makes my soul scream on some days. There are days frankly I simply do not have the heart to pay attention to all the terrible things happening around me, days when I have to turn the world off simply so I can find peace. Add to this bowl of misery, this miasma of wretchedness; well, somedays I fight to get out of bed and be productive at any normal level.

It is a terrible thing, this feeling of dejection, of simply not having the energy or hopefulness to want to do more than make it through another day. This though is how I have felt. I know some of it is very personal, very internalized. I know this is how I have handled the shit storm of my personal relationships, ignoring many of what was so close to the surface even stuffing it into boxes marked ‘Do not fucking open under any circumstances’. I understand I allowed myself to be dragged into the undertow of pretending I didn’t feel disconsolate and rejected by a bad divorce. That I didn’t feel horrified and afraid by ‘alone’. That I wasn’t petrified as my savings dwindled and my bills mounted. As I always did, I put on a brave face pretended none of it hurt, none of it mattered.

It all mattered and two years later it still matters because I am still paying the price.

I want to stop, I want off the whirl-a-gig that is the price paid for other people’s choices and my own unwillingness to say ‘no’. My nature, beaten into me from an early age to always defer, to stay spinning-carnival-rides-at-the-kansas-joel-sartoresilent in the face of other people’s needs and desires has taken its toll. My innate generosity, my desire to help and insure that others have what they need, what they want even when I cannot afford the giving leaves me without, leaves me paying the price. Ultimately, leaves me alone, lonely and hurt by the trust I have placed that is nearly always broken.

Thus, I retreat to lick my wounds and salve my pride.

I wander my huge home, the one I am incapable of maintaining on my own. The one I wish every single day I could rid myself of. The one I once thought of as a place that would hold love, memories, friends and dreams. I wander this monstrosity and weep, there are days I cannot do the simplest tasks. My body betrays me, my heart betrays me and I live with messes I cannot clean; I dread some days even coming home.

So I retreat even further into my journals and into my head.

It isn’t that I don’t want to live, I mean fully live within the world and all that this means. It isn’t that I don’t want to repair the damage to my heart that I don’t want to fix all the bad that fell out of divorce and financial ruin. Believe me, I truly do and I am working on it, at least I am trying it is simply that over the past two years, I was vulnerable to my own demons first and to those who saw me as easy prey. I wanted so much, so much of everything really. I wanted to be seen as complete and whole. I wanted to be seen as strong and capable. I wanted to be seen as undamaged, as worthy and of value. I didn’t want anyone to see the chinks, hell the great huge dents in the armor I had so carefully forged and wore with such certainty I was protected from everything. I wasn’t though, I was vulnerable and easy.

I was blinded by the need to be loved, to be seen. I was vulnerable to anyone who would pretend for a minute I mattered and pay attention. I was starved. I didn’t know it. I didn’t know my years of famine would leave me so needy. I had been without emotional sustenance for so long my ultimate retreat into myself felt natural. Finally, there was no one else but me, yet the minute anyone came along with a story to tell I fell head long and with an open heart.  I recognize the problem of course, I only understood one way of loving, one way of being loved and that was if someone needed me or needed from me.

I had taken care of everyone else for so long I did not know any other way. When I figured out it hurt, that I wasn’t getting anything back, nothing in return I poured my words into my journal as I struggled to breathe and find peace. I poured myself into myself, into my isolation which became more closely guarded every single day as each person who spoke love felt like a liar and hurt my soul, driving me further into myself and further away from the world.

Now, I don’t know how to move. Each day feels like something to fear, what new hammer will fall? What new lie be uncovered? I feel so petty in the face of it all, thus my voice screams in my head stop whining you twit. Still, I find it nearly impossible sometimes to even get out of bed and face another day. I know, this too shall pass. This ennui, this case of the blues. This too shall move out of my way as it always does. But for now, forgive me if I don’t visit as frequently, I haven’t the energy to face the day sometimes and it is all I can do to face the world. I will get there, I will. Somewhere in my soul, hope resides and is likely dancing in the glen with the monsters I manage to keep contained most days.

Passing the Baton

Linda1Christmas this year was a two-day celebration of giggles, cries of surprise, gift-wrap flying and for me at least a bit of nostalgia, a sense of melancholy even. I am uncertain why it was so poignant this year, why I felt so off centered and incomplete, but this year was off for me. This year I felt slightly disconnected from those I love, from the celebrations, from well from all of it. For some reason this year, despite being in the middle of it all for two days I simply felt isolated.

I admit there have been things on my mind. There have been some additional stresses in my life lately that have been weighing heavily on me and causing me some anxiousness; usually this wouldn’t change the pleasure I take in my family, especially my children and grandchildren. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy them either, truly, I did, my grandchildren are a treat and though it is a bit overwhelming now and then, I am fortunate in the women my sons married and the extended families they brought with them. We are the true American family, extended and expanded through multiple marriages. What makes us a bit different I suspect, is we have managed to keep ex’s close and engaged, thus children continue to benefit. Yes, this sometimes makes it strange, but it works.

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But back to the strange sense of sitting above it all watching rather than participating this year. Maybe it was simply so many of the traditions I grew up with were absent and I finally noticed, finally really missed them. Perhaps, it was the rest of my family was missing; all of my siblings some of whom I haven’t seen since my father passed away five years ago, my wonderful heart mother having passed only ten months earlier. With their passing, something went out of us all I think and we set aside some of the traditions we had all made fun of but in truth had cherished. Certainly one thing we lost was our sense of family, our bond. Even while still mourning my beloved parents, I mourn that loss just as much I think.

My cousin / siblings, don’t blink your eyes so quickly I am after all from Texas we do things strangely down here. Yes, my father married his sister-in-law and no it isn’t incest (my brother asked). 65.justloveyouIt was a match of the heart, a true love match after they had both been single for many years, her after being widowed and him after divorcing my mother. They had known each other for more years than they had been married and divorced combined. We all cheered their marriage and they brought us together as adults and created a large and loving family, though perhaps a bit on the odd side sometimes. We were a loud, loving and rambunctious clan. My heart mother welcomed all of us, along with spouses, children, step-children, partners and friends to Hearts Home with open arms. But Christmas time was the best time of all.

Christmas Eve, where we all dressed up in our finery. The women in satin, velvet and lace with make-up and hair done and high-heeled shoes. The men in suits and ties, if you had to wear jeans they had to be your Sunday-go-to-Meeting best. Children were even put in nice clothing for the evening. The Christmas Eve meal of so damned much food and so many types of cookies and candies, all of them homemade with love. The most important parts of the evening, the Eggnog toast, where each of us made a toast that we spent days thinking about and some man in the family always toasted the women in the family and all the other men groaned because that was going to be their toast. The reading of the Christ Story by my heart mother and the youngest grandchild and finally the singing of the carols which always ended with Jingle Bells, always and we all had bells on ribbons which we rattled at appropriate times.

I should add here, most of my family could not sing a lick. The singing of the carols was like fingernails on a chalkboard to even the most untrained ear, but it was tradition and it was fun. We all groaned, we all whined, but we all did it and we all had fun.

Gift giving was a managed affair, of course, we spoiled slightly any children but we did not exchange gifts between adults. There was an assigned name; you bought one gift outside of your spouse or significant other. Your gift could not exceed $50. Then we had the White Elephant gift market, all children under 18 left the room and the ruthlessness of the adults came out. This was a terrible and hysterical part of the night. Draw a number, pick a gift and open it. Better hope you got a high number, or your spouse got a high number. The higher your number the better your chances of getting something you want out of the pile of gifts in the middle of the floor. During each round, each gift can only be exchanged one time, so once you open your gift look around the room at the other gifts that have been opened, want something else? Take it and give them what you have, they then look around to see what else has been opened; if they want something else (other than what you just took from them) they do the same. It is a ruthless game! There were always some really good gifts and some really stupid gifts. We had such fun.

At the end of the night, we played games. Usually board games until we were tired. Though sometimes we played billiards and sometimes cards. Adults in one part of the house and young ones in another.

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

Christmas day was more relaxed though we had the morning presents for the children under the tree and the big family dinner in the afternoon. It was always Christmas Eve that was special for me. It was always that night that set the tone. I loved Christmas day because we were all together, comfortable and talking, playing games and spending time. But it was Christmas Eve that held so many traditions, even before Hearts Home, even as a child some of these traditions were already part of how I thought of Christmas.

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I suppose as new generations take over the celebrations they create their own traditions. This year I think I just missed the old ones.

What is Love, My Version

Linda1How do we love? What makes our hearts sing, our skin tingle, our knees weak? What makes our hearts soar, how do we love?

For the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about the question of love, is there really different kinds of love, different types of love? I have written about love before here and here, mostly I took a rather pragmatic view, even while talking about what I wanted from love and from life. I have had some time to consider love, some time to watch love at work in my family and elsewhere in the world. I have also watched what it means when we extract love from our world, when we fail at love, when we fail to include love in our lives on a daily basis and it is heartbreaking.

Love is incredibly selfish, this is my first conclusion; yes, I said it Love is an incredibly selfish emotion. Even while we expand our heart to include others, even while we open our arms, our homes, our circle of trust it remains a selfish emotion. Let me explain what I mean by this statement. When we love, we want, not just for the other person but also for ourselves. When we love, whether it is an individual or something other, something more amorphous something intangible that simply opens our heart and defines us as human and with compassion and empathy, we still want something, some recognition of self. No matter what love is for us, it is at least in part, selfish.

This year saw many changes, blossoming of new love, maturing of loves already in progress, coming to peace with love lost and finding new family members to embrace and celebrate.

This month I was privileged to see love at work in my extended family, more than once I spent time in the presence of love and was uplifted. This made me consider what love was when we simply wish for good things, when we are simply part of a larger circle and we aren’t trying to make it about ourselves. There is something wonderful, when we are simply there and part of it. This month, my youngest son married for the second time, this time it truly was a celebration of love, a coming together of families and friends and it was joyous. I watched my son and new daughter take their vows and my heart expanded, not just to include her but to include her children, her parents, her siblings also. I realized with this marriage, my circle to love had grown and my heart simply stretched to include them all.

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Holiday time is always interesting in my world. For many the holidays can be stressful, it is no different for me and mine. Last year, of course saw my marriage fall apart and at that point, I thought I could never look at this time of year without sadness again. Indeed, last year was difficult but with the love and kindness of many people I got through it and realized just what family really is, what it means to be cocooned in warmth for no other reason than for being me. I wrote about last year here, I learned a great deal about compassion and love and it stuck.

Family gatherings mean extended family with in-laws, multiple generations and of course with us all the ‘by marriage’ and ‘step’ relationships. We are the classic blended family; marriage has expanded our families with steps, in-laws, new grandbabies and all sorts of other people to love. My oldest son married a young woman with a boisterous and loving family that exudes warmth and has taken me in, embraced me as if I was one of their own. When I was most in need of a place to land, somewhere to feel safe her family gave it to me and continue to open their homes, hearts and arms.   This Thanksgiving my oldest son and his wife hosted family Thanksgiving for the first time, great food, great wine and lots of laughter. Again, I was reminded why love lifts us up, love has no boundaries and no timelines. We can not see each other for months, yet pick up where we left off; laughter and hugs without stinting and whispered, ‘how are you?’ with an arm wrapped around shoulders letting me know I am both welcome and cared for.  I must admit, I needed that moment of quite affirmation.

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Finally, the latest addition to my personal extended family; a new half-sister. Discovered a couple months ago, she is only a couple of years younger than I am and like me had been given up for adoption. I think she is the only one of my first father’s children he was unaware of. I won’t tell the entire story here, today; suffice to say she is a delight and I am so pleased to find another sibling. I think with all my full, halves, adopted and steps this takes me to twenty-four. What an amazing and strange mix we are what a fascinating world we live in that siblings can find each other through a random DNA test.

The famdamilySo what is love? What I am discovering, it is impossible to define. Love is selfish and selfless all in a single breath. Love is the greatest expression of compassion any of us can show to another. Love is our greatest gift, it is the one thing we have that is entirely ours to give and entirely free if we choose. Love fills our silent spaces while at the same time allows our silences safely. Love lifts us up, beyond ourselves and above ourselves. Love encourages us to do better and be better than we believe is possible. Love heals us and allows us to reach out and heal others.

What is love? The Hell if I know, but I know I would be lost without it.

The News Cycle Bites

soapboxpile“A bad year and a bad month to all the backbiting bitches in the world!…” 
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote

Disclaimer

The first man to call me wife also called me whore and property. I have written about my nearly three years under his roof and his fists, here and elsewhere. I have exposed small parts of my life as a runaway at 15, a claimed woman child with no safe haven until he stretched out his hand and lifted me up. No, he wasn’t a ‘true’ husband, but by Texas law, he could claim the title and I did not know better. I was young, uneducated and afraid. I was afraid of him, I was more afraid of the streets.

I will not catalog every abuse, suffice to say in my nearly three years with him he broke several bones, he beat me so badly I lost my uterus and one ovary, he broke my nose more than once. Other parts of my body, suffered long-term damage and I carry many scars where I had to be stitched up after one of his beatings. This doesn’t even come close to cataloguing the emotional damaging those three years did to me. I never fought back after the first time.

People often ask why we stay, why an abused partner stays. There are many reasons, sometimes fear is the overriding reason. He told me if I tried to leave he would find me and kill me, I believed him. I was also afraid of the streets I had already been on, something I had already lived through and understood. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to for help. In the early 1970’s there was no domestic violence laws, no shelters to protect us. In fact, domestic violence was ignored entirely unless someone died.


 

Domestic violence took over the news cycles the past couple of days; we have been subject to the left hook of Ray Rice in the elevator. Everyone has an opinion and for the most part that opinion is there is no pit in hell deep enough or hot enough for Ray Rice. Furthermore, the NFL and the DA didn’t do enough to punish him for that left hook and what followed. Dragging his fiancé out of the elevator, leaving her lying on the ground, legs and arms akimbo and name-calling, AP presumably has a video with audio in which the casino offers to cover up for him.

Here is the problem in this entire scenario, Janay Palmer Rice slapped Ray Rice first, she spit on him first in the elevator  and appears to have been the aggressor before the infamous left hook. None of us knows what came before the three minutes we have been made privy too, we don’t know what else their lives look like. We don’t know who they are, separately or together. We only know the Left Hook and being the good little drones we all are, we have drawn our conclusions and we have publicly pilloried Ray Rice, without ever once questioning her actions that came before.

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Could he have handled it better? Restrained her instead of punching her, maybe he could have. Likely, this would have been a better choice. However, this says people don’t have a right to defend themselves from an assault if they are men and it is a woman assaulting them. It says as a woman, short of wielding a knife and threatening a man’s life, I can do just about any damned thing I like and get away with it, that no man has a right to hit me, not even in self-defense.

I call bullshit. Yes, me a survivor of horrific domestic violence where I never once defended myself, where I never once raised my hand or my voice, I call bullshit.

There are far worse in the NFL then Ray Rice, if the NFL wants to make examples start with those who have killed, used drugs, been arrested for DWI, or hand all the abusers the same outcome as Ray Rice, it is simple to find this information, go here.

In the meantime, I have another issue with this entire news cycle. It is the diversion, the look over there style of reporting. The amazingly simplemindedness of it all has me dumbfounded. While the entire nation focuses on the left hook of Ray Rice, we forget the national tragedy of a militarized police force in every town, big or small across the land. We forget the unarmed men and women, mostly of color, mostly Black bleeding out on our streets.

We forget Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Marlene Pinnock and these are just the names of those beaten or murdered by cops between July and August of this year.

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At no time did these names, did these murders, did this tragedy elicit the call to action by so many from every side of the aisle, as the left hook of Ray Rice. The murderous acts of cops do not so much as cause our elected representatives to blink. Riot gear, tear gas and wooden bullets turned on peaceful demonstrators doesn’t elicit even 5 minutes of; ‘calm your asses down out there’ from the administration. But the Left Hook of Ray Rice has Congress demanding action from the NFL and the President of the United States issue statements.

I will say it one last time; I am a survivor of domestic violence. At no time did I defend myself; I knew if I did, it would be worse. I was fifteen when it started. I was eighteen when I ran. There are many reasons why a person stays, sometimes it is fear, other times it is love; sometimes it is because we are so broken we think we deserve the abuse. No one can judge. We do not have the right to judge Ray or Janay, not now and not then. What we do have the right to do is step off and start looking at this situation with more clarity.

Men should not hit women; in most cases, they are larger and stronger. However, women shouldn’t hit men, shouldn’t attack, shouldn’t place themselves in the position where a man must defend himself and thus will likely hurt her in the process. I am sorry but self-defense is not abuse. It is a fine line, I understand this however, women are as responsible for staying on the other side of that line as men are. Some of the things I have heard over the past couple of days are idiotic, things that would seem to mean that we expect men to be saints, at all time. Things that would seem to mean a man has no right ever to defend himself under any circumstance, this is simply wrong and wrong-headed.

Some things that are important to know with regard to Domestic Violence, men make up approximately 40% of domestic violence victims.

Over a year ago we fought to refund VAWA, the battle was hard fought and there were some significant concessions that had to be made. Some of the issues the GOP hated? The expansions of services to poorly served populations including Native women on reservations and the LGBT community.

In the meantime, cops are beating and murdering in the streets and the outcry isn’t near what it is for the Left Hook of Ray Rice.

What is wrong with the morality and values of this nation? Don’t you think it is time to start asking this question?

Another take on it: http://theobamacrat.com/2014/09/09/raymell-mourice-ray-rice-abuser-victim-or-both/

I leave you with this.

I Choose

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has been a strange year for me a year full of lessons learned and introspection. I have taken time to look what I wanted from life and what I have been doing with life to now, whether because I thought it was the right thing, out of obligation or because it was simply my nature. I suspect some choices we make will always be born out of our inherent natural instincts, others will be our history combined with our natural instincts; that is how we have inhabited the world through our history. If we have had trauma in our lives and who hasn’t, we will be changed and thus how we interact with the world.

One thing I know after this past several months, anger and bitterness is counter-productive. I made real choices in December of last year, they were scary as Hell but they were right for me and without them, I don’t believe I could have found peace for myself or been open to the opportunities that have been laid at my feet.

When my husband left without word, at first I was devastated, crushed by the blow. In retrospect, what I found was not a broken heart but fear and fury. Fear for myself, that I would be bitter, that I would not find a way through my anger to a loving heart, that I did not know how to love or be loved and so many other terrible fears, mostly fear that all he had said to me would manifest and I truly wasn’t worthy of being loved.

Fury that I could be convinced or convince myself that doing what was right equaled happiness or that life could be lived without joy. I was wrong, thankfully and happily I was wrong.

The next decision I made was not to work for toxic people who made me miserable. I have worked as an independent IT Project Manager in one of the most competitive markets for twenty-three years. In December I made the decision I no longer wanted live the life of a Road Warrior. I love my work, but 100% travel was killing my body and soul. I wanted the chance at a real life, with friends and maybe someday in the future at love. Being gone four to five days a week didn’t lend itself to this. I quit the job I was working and took a hiatus, I will grant you I didn’t intend it to be a six-month hiatus, but that is simply how it turned out.

Monday morning I start a new job with a great company (good reputation) that has promised 30% travel or less doing work I am good at and enjoy. This will certainly be a change, no more lazing about doing whatever the hell I feel like doing!


Cowgirls have To-Do Lists

Cowgirls have To-Do Lists

Now, let’s get to what I really want to say. I decided I am worthy of love. This one didn’t come quite so quickly, in fact it snuck up on me. I decided I have value and I can reach out and claim love when it is offered, I don’t have to be afraid, I don’t have to run and I don’t have slam doors. I decided not every single person wants to devalue me or my history, some of them simply want me just as I am. Sometimes people can be taken at face value, what they show you is what they are you can choose or not to accept them into your heart just as they can choose to accept you.

There are times I can be surprised, by myself and by others. I would guess most of you who read me regularly would be shocked to know I am still in many ways very naïve, sometimes shy and quite often a bit restrained. Though I have told much of my story here, there are many parts of my world and my life I have never told, a history that makes me what I am a history that created the complete me. Breaking down my many walls can be hard work, laying claim to a heart stilled by years of ‘doing the right thing’ rather than the joyful thing, this can be heroic work.

For many months a hero has been giving me lessons on what it means to be a grown assed man or for that matter a grown woman and to fully realize just how worthy of love I was. It began to dawn on me what I was missing as we talked through email, when he first told me this in response to an answer I gave about recognizing love:

You’d better get educated to what love is, and teach yourself to alertly recognize love when it does eventually come ringing your front doorbell ……….

As we continued to talk over many months, I knew I had found someone who did know me and was patiently helping me to discover myself through our discussions.

I know you. You and I have met and loved before. I know your soul and your heart. I know you and sometimes I remember.

There is more to these, more between these small statements, why they are important is they were the pein hammer knocking against a frozen heart, causing cracks to let light in and a few real blushes now and then. Through thousands of lines in e-mail, through longer and longer phone calls in the early mornings and late at night, through storytelling, through banter in various forums both private and public I was learning to be joyful, self-forgiving and more importantly self-accepting.

I was learning to claim myself, my whole and complete self and doing this I was learning I had the right to expect love, to claim it for myself. I was learning to choose for myself what I wanted and what I needed from love and for love. I was also learning to speak up, to say clearly “I choose” and “Mine” without stepping back from those statements afraid of being forward or pushing too hard.

Is this lesson complete? Not by any stretch of any imagination, I have a very long ways to go I think. I was caught unaware and am still stunned by the depth of emotions, yet and still, ‘Mine I choose’.

Some might say, too soon. Even I might say that using my pragmatic brain instead of a heart frozen and in stasis for far too long; yet and still I would say, ‘Mine I choose’.

I choose, because it is the only thing I am able to do with an unfrozen heart turned toward life and that wants love for as long as it is offered to me. I choose, because it is far better to live with joy than to live without it. I choose, because as he said we have met and loved before, I am his rib and he does indeed know my heart and soul.

So now you know my secret and you know my muse. Well you don’t know my muse, only that there has been one for the past few months as I write some of my musings, especially my poetry. Life has been interesting; it has offered me choices, different paths. I could have chosen anything and I chose, we will I think see where it leads.


 

Mother’s Blessings

With the babies all growed up

With the babies all growed up

Mother’s Day is a strange one for me, tangled relationships up and down generational lines. I always approach this day with trepidation, always have even as a child.

I have three mothers, two of them have passed away.

I have two sons, yet no children of my own body, I am forever grateful to their mother, my wife-in-law for the generosity of her heart in sharing them with me. They hold me firmly anchored in the future.

I have, somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-four siblings and some of them are my cousins. Many of these relationships are troubled by the tangle of maternal relationships.

Reading those words, I suspect people wonder how all this came to pass and why I am not more psychotic then I am. I have written about my relationships with my three mothers before, all of the history is available under various series in this blog if your interested I am happy to provide links for you to explore in the comments section, just ask. For Mother’s Day though I want to take a different tact, a more positive one with regard to each of my mother’s and their contribution to who I am.


 

The Mom's & I

The mother who raised me, who I have always referred to as Mom or my Second Mother; who adopted me, perhaps unwillingly after suffering multiple miscarriages. We had a troubled, even sometimes violent relationship during my childhood and through my early teens. Our personalities were like sandpaper rubbing together, despite living in the same house from the time I was three days old we never found common ground, not even in our memories.

Mom and I, San Marco Square, Venice Italy 1965

Mom and I, San Marco Square, Venice Italy 1965

Truthfully we shared only two great loves, my father and my younger brother and these would act as wedges between us rather than bringing us together. It was a difficult relationship, for both of us to navigate even as we steered into our very separate adult lives. Ultimately I chose to limit my interactions with her and she seemed to be happy with this choice, as she made no attempts to mend what was shattered between us. My mom passed away this year at nearly 94 years of age. She suffered from acute Dementia and her body finally failed her, I was there in the end. Her passing has driven a wedge between my beloved younger brother and I, someday perhaps we will heal it. What my First Mother gave to me even through our troubled relationship was this:

  • A progressive and independent view of the world, one that she was outspoken about and frequently argued with my father about who shared many of her views but not all.
  • A love of books and reading, she gave me my first book and taught me to escape into the worlds of the written word. I have never lost my ability to lose myself in the pages of a book my first true love.
  • The love of travel and the appreciation of the antiquities of history. As a child we trekked Europe and its castles and museums. She bought every guidebook, every memento offered and saved them all for years.
  • Manners, I learned manners in her home. It wasn’t all from her, my Southern bred paternal Grandmother certainly influenced some of this, but much of what I learned were European manners and I learned them from her.

My First Mother, who gave birth to me and without ever seeing my face gave me up for adoption I owe much too, certainly my life. But, more than my life, there is much she has given me since I met her when I was twenty-five. My biological (First) mother and father married after I was born and went on to have five more children, thanks to this I have true siblings, people who I share DNA with, who look KrisLogar Weddinglike me and who in many ways I share common traits with. I grew up thinking I was alone in the world, there was no one like me, no one who would completely understand me. Certainly I did not look like my ‘family’, I did not think like my ‘family’ in many important ways. Suddenly at the age of twenty-five I faced not only a mother and father but siblings as well, all of whom I shared common DNA with, all of whom looked like me and in strange ways, acted like me despite sharing no common history. I don’t want to paint this reunion story as if it was hearts and flowers, as if it was easy. Certainly all of us had challenges to overcome as we tried to come together, to understand each other. Truthfully we were estranged for nearly ten years, only now in the past three beginning to re-discover balance and a loving acceptance of our mutual flaws. What my First Mother has given me that I am so grateful for:

  • First and forever, an understanding of where I come from at a very deep level. Having felt so isolated my entire life, never knowing what or who I was this was such a gift. Now, when I look in the mirror, I understand what contributes to what I see.
  • My resilience, my strength. After meeting my mother, listening to her life stories I believe we share a common spirit, something she passed to me to insure my survival even as she released me to a world she couldn’t protect me from through my life.
  • My siblings, all of them. Though I don’t have close relationships with all of them I am nonetheless grateful they are in the world. Perhaps someday we will see past egos and angst and make our way closer.

My Heart Mother (aka Step Mother, Aunt), the love of my Second Fathers’ life (aka Daddy) was perhaps one of the greatest blessings of my adult life. Certainly she was the greatest blessing of my Daddy’s life and I will forever and always be grateful to her. I have written about their marriage, the strange relationship and her end elsewhere, I won’t repeat it here, suffice to say she was a fabulous woman I still miss her. What she gave me in the years she was married to my father:

How I always see them Just Loving Perfectly

How I always see them
Just Loving Perfectly

  • She returned my Father to me, she reached across wide chasms of misunderstanding and hurt and taught us to talk to each other and listen. There could be no greater gift in the world.
  • She taught me hope, even when everything was horrible when I was willing to give up and just stop, when I hurt everywhere she sat with me and talked about how much I was loved, how much she loved me and she gave me hope, she was helplessly hopeful that I would walk, that I would go dancing, that I would live, that I would have the life I wanted, that I would love. She never gave up hope.
  • She taught me about beauty, when I felt fat and ugly and terrible about myself as I learned I might never do things I loved again, she told me the story of myself as a child when I thought I was an ugly duckling in a family of tall blonds. With her thick Texas drawl she stared me deep in the eyes and told my how all my cousins hated when I came to visit, how I was so ‘exotic’ and ‘beautiful’ I put them all to shame with their beanpole common looks, then she laughed and told me now I looked the way I was supposed to look, like a woman.
  • She taught me about unconditional love, as my father descended through Alzheimer’s, as his once brilliant mind disappeared she cared for him without wavering. She protected him and loved him with constant attention, even as her own health was failing. When an accident took her life, my father followed her a short eleven months later.

Each of my mother’s hold me tethered to a strange history but have also cut strings and released me to find my way. I am finally grateful for their sometimes-unwitting guidance and certainly grateful for their loving direction.


 

To all the Mothers out there today, Happy Mother’s Day. So we don’t forget until they are returned;

http://theobamacrat.com/2014/05/11/a-special-mothers-day-blessing-for-the-nigerian-mothers/

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Spring Sprung Famdamily

Whatever or however you might celebrate today, Happy Day (Easter or otherwise). Me? Oh, I am just going to clean my house, do some laundry and go for a walk eventually, maybe to the lake. Perhaps I will take my camera and see if the recent rains have raised our water up at all. Maybe I will see if our Bluebonnets are out, who knows there might be something worth taking some shots of this time. I know I have some small buds on my Lavender out back and my fruit trees are starting to bloom also, it is a sure sign Spring might finally be here to stay.

Anyone who knows me knows I do not like being cold. Truly, it is simply not my favorite thing, I like heat all and any kind of heat. I want to be warm, always. The strange thing about this entire issue of being warm, I do not like heavy clothes. I want to be warm without layer upon layer of clothing. I suspect this is why I like living where it is hot most of the time and why when I vacation my favorite destinations also tend to be, well shall we say on the warm side. I am simply warm blooded; I even like food on the spicy side of the flavor wheel; if my eyes water and my ears burn a bit I am happy.

So all this being said, Spring it seems has Sprung and I couldn’t be more pleased. Hell I might even pull the shades and do a bit of a happy dance through the house. I will have to pick something to dance too though; I will put my pick at the end of this if you like you can dance along.

Well, all this being said I am really only sharing my joy and happiness at Spring Time possibly being here to share some fun times with you. I know I don’t often do this do I? Yesterday though I spent time with my sons and their families and my wonderful wife-in-law. We took a slow train ride from Grapevine to the Fort Worth Stockyards and then wandered the Stockyards followed by dinner. Not the day I might have planned for myself, but when you have small children, well it actually worked out well, for the most part.

Pictures from the train ride, strangers and famdamily.

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I must admit the stockyards are a people draw, a great place for people watching. What a strange collection. I wonder why it is people immediately feel the need to throw on their cowboy boots, even if they have never worn a pair in their lives before.

Pictures from the Fort Worth Stockyards, street scenes and famdamily.

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Finally, we all piled into our respective cars and made our way to Uncle Julio’s, a fabulous and popular local Tex-Mex restaurant with a great menu and spectacular Margaritas. We were all sufficiently starving by the time we arrived and so enjoyed great meal and those of us old enough, enjoyed a libation. During the day I discovered a new Tequila which I will be adding to my bar (Herradura Anjejo), it is a magnificent sipping Tequila for those of you who have a leaning in that direction.

Pictures from our night of waiting and dinning.

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Last but not least of all, my friend Christ Hanna of Posture Studios, did another spectacular job and I want to share with you some of the pictures he took of the newest addition to my family. I am so pleased with how these turned out, think my new grandson is so angelic (never mind if his parents aren’t getting sleep). I encourage you, if you are in the DFW area or are planning to be, give Christ a call; he is wonderful and continues to be my hero.

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Now to what I will be dancing about the house too, you can use your imagination as to what in and how.

 


Lexicon: Wife-in-Law

She and I were both married to and divorced from the same man. She is the mother of my sons. We share a common bond, we love our sons, want what is best for them. We have been part of each other’s lives for better than thirty years and are friends. There is no term for the relationship we have, this one fits.

Jumping in Delicately

I have been absent lately, from my own space and yours. It is has been a tough time, I haven’t made a secret of it have I? That being said and the fact that I have shared mostly the harder parts of the past three months versus the small victories, well it hasn’t been all bad and it hasn’t been a complete and utter disaster, every day and without relief.

Yes, I really have gotten out of bed on occasion. Though I must admit, I do love my bed.

Thanks to the wonderful advice and information found at Lessons From the End of a Marriage, I have started to build up some stamina, a toolbox suggestion came from this particular posting and I am working on my own this week. I realized after reading the post and checking in at the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory that I was high up there (438), not just in the past year, in the past 90 days. Wow, that was an eye opening; guess it is time too really take steps to align my attitude with my true needs and take care of myself.

No, I haven’t found the RIGHT job yet, however, I am committed too not run scared from my plan to stop consulting, stop traveling and reinvent my career and myself. Don’t believe for an instant I am not scared, I am petrified; still I am going to pursue this change for my own good, for my health spiritually, mentally and physically. For my financial health (and so I don’t panic) I may have to modify, I may need to take on short-term contracts, but that is something I can do easily I think.

All this being said, let’s talk about some wonderful things. Things I did for myself and things that have entered my life.

First, isn’t he handsome?

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Yes, he is the newest addition to my family, born Thursday, 13 March 2014. I was there, at the hospital this time. Unlike when his big brother was born, I was there. I realized how special it was to be able to be part of momentous family events, rather than off somewhere else because of work. What a blessing this was. I am so excited with Chase Lee, he is beautiful and his big brother is happy to have a new brother. Yes, for all you who take exception, Painted (Inked) Grandma’s are the BOMB, and I say this with the very best meaning.

Last month Red from Momma Money Matters came for a visit. As most of you know, Red is one of my nearest and dearest and her visit was lifesaving, truly. We didn’t do much, a few shopping trips, a trip to the ballet, a couple of dinners out. Mostly we sat and talked sipped wine and talked. The biggest and most important thing Red did was demand my presence in life, require me to get out of bed every morning and move. I needed that more than anything else at that point. What most people don’t know is I have spent so much time on the road I don’t have a social network of friends here, where I live.

One other thing I did while Red was visiting was have new professional photographs taken. My original intention was simply to have headshots done to update my profile on job-hunting sites such as LinkedIn and elsewhere. With Red in town I expanded that to include her for our business cards and banners at RedmundPro and anywhere else we might choose to use them. But then, with her encouragement, I expanded one more time and had new ‘fun’ and personal pictures taken of just me, being well not quite me but maybe the me I hope to be sometime in the future.  This is the result:

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The photographer is Christ Hanna of Posture Studios, he does a great job and this is the second time he has made me look beautiful (when I was feeling less than). Personally, I think he does a wonderful job and looking through his portfolio, well it is eye-popping to say the least. I am not his usual subject, so I am in awe just how marvelous he made me look. The first time he photographed me the results made me cry (happy tears), it was a low point and I was stunned into speechlessness.

If you are in the Dallas metroplex and want wonderful photos of yourself or someone else I would highly recommend you consider Christ, he is wonderfully talented. I have already engaged him to take the first formal pictures of my lovely grandson; I am more than certain he will do marvelously. With a wedding coming up (youngest son) I intend to hire him again in the near future.

Finally, on a slightly more personal note I am sure will find hysterically funny. I want to relay I am not dead; I might be slightly socially awkward. For many years, I have had two modes of being, the married Val and the business Val. I do not know how to respond to anyone flirting with me other than to ignore and think they are full of it. Blatant showing interest in me whether simply to get in my bed or otherwise, tends to go right over my head. In fact, I truly do not recognize it, I am oblivious; truthfully, I can’t imagine why anyone would.

So what you should find funny, while Red was on her mission of mercy she yanked my chain; twice no less. Yes, men actually flirted with me, attempted to gain my attention and I was utterly unaware. Handsome men paid attention and I was unconscious. Probably I should not admit any of this, what does it say about me? Well, married Val still exists in my heart and brain; I suppose that is what it really says. Somewhere there is someone else, somewhere there is the other me the one who knows how to flirt back, who knows how to ride a bike, who knows how to be less socially awkward. Somewhere inside of me is that woman, maybe someday in the future she will emerge with some encouragement and enough opportunities and reminders.

Thanks to Red and Christ, at least I know now I still look half way wonderful on a good day (Thank you).

riding a bike

Untethered

DP821347First Mother – biological mother gave birth to me and gave me up for adoption at birth. Still living, my friend.

Second Mother – adopted me at three days old, raised me maybe even raised me to the best of her ability. Mostly estranged for thirty years.

Third Mother – father’s second wife, my aunt, heart mother, mentor and guide, passed four years ago.

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This past week I sat vigil as my second mother let go of this life, with me by her bedside were those who had known her for decades. Women, who had been her friends, her pseudo daughters and who loved her, who knew her, as I did not. They saw a different woman than the one I knew. These women, they also saw me in a different light, knew me only through her and did not welcome my presence. But present I was, not because I wanted to be there but because I needed to be there for my brother and maybe even for myself.

It was strange to hear their stories of this woman who I knew mostly from my childhood. I did not recognize her. There were times I wanted to scream, “You didn’t know.”

I sat vigil. As she lay in that hospital bed, never waking. As I sat, after everyone else left for the night I watched, I remembered and I wondered. I wondered how she could have been so different, shown such a different my.operaface to them and even to my brother than to me. I remembered the tumultuous years of my early teens before I ran away. I remembered the hurt, the hurtful words of childhood. I remembered the loneliness. As I remembered, I kept going back to wondering how she could have been so very different as a mother to me, than she was a friend to these women or even a mother to my brother who hadn’t yet arrived.

Two of the women who were closest to her had known her since they were young teens; their mother had been her friend, when she passed my mother stepped in as a pseudo Aunt. She has known them for thirty-five years. She has spent holidays, vacations, birthdays with them. She has celebrated weddings sitting in the seat of honor, births of children; she has mourned losses, consoled them through divorces and other of lives ups and downs. In their eyes they were losing a ‘second mother’, they are losing a lifeline. The older of the two let me know I had treated her unkindly, that she did not deserve my selfish disregard. Both shared her judgment but she was the only one to voice it, albeit kindly.

This was one of the times my teeth nearly cracked from not saying what was in my heart and on my tongue. As her words flowed, it was all I could do not to respond with venom. I chose not to respond, not to defend, not to try to change hearts and minds. Honestly? Who cares, my own brother who knows at least part of the truth insists I am wrong for not reconciling with my mother.

As I sat vigil, I try to see it from the viewpoint of others. I try to understand their perspective and see things through their eyes. It is nearly impossible for me to reconcile the two ends of the spectrum. Perhaps it is because I have always had such a simple standard;

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My second mother passed from this world on Monday morning. My brother hadn’t arrived. Once again, I had to deliver the news a parent was dead. He is angry with me I think, I do not feel this death the way he feels it. I do not feel untethered by her passing as I did by the death of our shared father and my beloved heart mother. I fear only with the passing of this mother I will lose him, my beloved baby brother.

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For the past ten years, when this mother needed something I have been the one to provide it. Whenever and whatever my brother asked of me, I stepped forward and gave; whether it was to move her from her apartment to assisted living, pay for care, talk to providers; I did what he asked of me. I didn’t do it because I believed I owed it, I did it for love of my brother. Now, I think our last connection is broken, because he doesn’t understand me or my hurt I might lose him, this sense of impending loss breaks me.

So I sat vigil. Then I delivered the news of her passing, I held him as he wept at the airport. Then I watched as my brother pulled himself together to act as executor of her estate. We talked and I agreed the women who had been her friends and her companions should be gifted with any of her personal items, I asked only for two things;

  1. Two pen and ink architectural drawings that match a set I already have.
  2. Family pictures from when we were children.

Clearly, others had been more closely aligned and more dearly loved. I will never agree with my brother or them that it was my filial duty to forget, forgive or reconcile our estrangement. At every opportunity, even in adulthood where she might have reached over the chasm, she made a clear choice I was not important and this is what I reconciled to, her choice.

But I sat vigil. She was not alone, she did not pass without human touch and there was not a lack of compassion, not for her or for those who loved her. My second mother was nearly ninety-four; she lived a full and rich life on her terms. I am not untethered in her passing but wonder if I am losing more than the last vestige of my childhood.

The story of my second family is told in Broken Chains: https://valentinelogar.com/category/series-broken-chains/

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