My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Not Much to Tell You

It's raining outside.
I let another couple of days go by without blogging, even though I wrote a few entries in my head.
My BooBoo is still in Atlanta - got here Monday evening and I believe he's heading home tomorrow.
He worked about a hundred hours last week.
I worked about twenty.
I ended up with a four day weekend due to some rearranging of the work schedule.
It would have been a great weekend to go to the mountains except for the fact that Friday morning, my car broke down.
Had I been headed to the mountains, that little mishap would have happened somewhere in the middle of Atlanta rather than 1/2 a mile from my parents' house.
I called State Farm's newly enhanced roadside assistance, had my car towed to the mechanic and was back on the road by Friday evening.
It was some sort of fuel sensor thing-a-ma-bob.
I spent Saturday morning with my kids (well, 2/3 of them + daughter-in-law) searching for Sarabeth's birthday present.
She's having a Georgia Bulldog birthday party. I was afraid this would happen.
I mean... her nursery was decorated in UGA colors when she was a baby.
Jamie's was decorated in Berry College colors.
Subliminal messaging about the importance of a college education.
Anyways... if my beautiful about to be ten year old niece is gonna be a fan, I want to make her a stylish fan.
And so I enlisted the help of my kids (-1, + daughter) and we searched four stores before I found exactly the  right gift.
It killed me to drop my hard-earned money on such. That should tell you how much I love her!
I had found her something else I really liked at the thrift store on Friday - and something I really love for my purple lovin' stylish little Jamie-gurl.
This was the scene of the great break-down. The car, not me. Not this time.
Other than the thrift store, the breakdown, the shopping trip... there's not much to tell you.
Breakfast at iHop with the kids (-1 +daughter) and then my super-talented sons (-1) cooked an awesome dinner for us last night. Steak and mashed potatoes, squash, sauteed mushrooms and onions.
I've watched a lot of football.
Watched a lot of documentaries.
Rearranged my castle in Castleville.
Picked up a prescription.
Cleaned up some dog vomit.
Another day off tomorrow... then I work four days, two days off... can't remember the rest of the schedule as my office manager told me over the phone on Friday.
I still love my job.
Having a little bit of stiffness, hands and hips, mostly. It's been damp outside, kicking that arthritis into gear.

Not much to tell you...
Just life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful For YABBA DABBA DO!

The calendar may say "Thursday" but it's my Yabba Dabba Do Day, which makes it MY Friday. It's been a long, long week. Yesterday I got to the office twenty minutes early hoping to get ahead of the game and I still ended up staying about twenty minutes late.

Ryan left for work before me - before 8 am and the last I heard, he wasn't expected back to Cody's house until 1am. At one point he called Cody to go to the job site and help him. THAT'S a long day.

It's all in perspective, I suppose. I can only tell you about the view from here... and this...

is usually the view from my nest. This picture was taken around 3pm yesterday. Yes, those are pajamas. At 3pm yesterday I was TOAST. Exhausted. Worn out. Done. (and yes, I have some incredibly ugly toes. don't judge.)

Mama picked up Marquee from school (which I sometimes do but didn't yesterday, which was good since I got hung up at the office). Cody cooked dinner for us - spaghetti. Then Cody and Marquee rushed off to help Ryan. Pop went to church. And I stayed in the nest. 

I would love to be ten feet tall and bullet proof again, like when I was going from work to work or work to the ball field or work to church. But... I have to remind myself that my limits are different from other people's limits and what I do is already more than my doctors thought I'd be able to do. 

I've been tempted to ask my doctor to print off the list of my diagnosis' that pops up on their computer screen when they go into my computerized file... just to remind myself on the days that it's ok. Between osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, COPD (although, thankfully, I haven't had a lung issue since June) tachycardia (which has been seriously bugging me lately) and so on and so on... I'm doing quite alright. 

I have to convince my cats that they really don't need to sleep at my feet every night. I've been sleeping like an upside down question mark to accommodate them and it's muy uncomfortable. That's probably why I end up in the recliner for my last hour or so of sleep. 

I also need to convince Sammy and Oscar that they don't have to compete for my attention when I walk in the door... Sammy is crated when we're not here and Oscar USED TO make sure I let Sammy out the minute I get home... but because Oscar doesn't want to share me... lately he's been growling when I let Sammy out. And then they compete to see who can get closer to my face when I sit down...

Today I'm working 11:30 to 4:30 so the animals will already have been uncrated and spoiled before I get home. I *might* be able to just slip quietly into the pjs and watch The Five uninterrupted. 

Since I have a little time on my hands this morning, I'm going to chase a few more branches of the family tree. Right now I'm deeply steeped in Scottish history. It's interesting but requires a good bit of concentration. 

Hope you have a great Thursday! 8 hours until my Yabba Dabba Do!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What a Wonderful Wednesday!

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now... will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine? If I'd been out til quarter to three, would you lock the door? Will you still need me, will you still feed me... when I'm sixty four?

Happy Birthday to my sweet mama today! I'm so grateful to God that He has brought us closer together and that we have become partners in pain. She understands the days that I just can't move... and I understand when she goes to bed at 7pm. Living with chronic pain is frustrating but knowing you have an ally in the house who *gets it* makes it so much easier. (And oh, poor Pop! Having to live with two of us and taking care of his mama and overseeing three houses plus Grandma's business too! I don't know how he stands it but he does!)

We're hoping to gather the fam plus the boys' best friend, Joshy, who IS family to us, at Buca di Beppo, a really fun Italian restaurant on Saturday. You can follow the link to check it out, if you'd like. It's a long drive but it would be a lot of fun.

BooBoo, my oldest, is here working this week. He lives in Pennsylvania but works all over. This week Georgia, next week Wisconsin... moss doesn't grow on him! I'm hoping we'll be able to get him up to the mountain house while he's here, even though that's going to make 3 or 4 weekends in a row that I'm making the trip. I mean... like that's a bad thing, right? If the worst problem I have in life is *having* to go to the mountains a few weekends in a row... It's all good.

I had my Cafe Bustelo espresso grind coffee this morning and it is so stinkin' good that I may drink a whole pot.

Of course, if we're as busy at work today as we have been the past two days, I might not oughta. I so very much love my job, still. But let me tell you... I do more in my twenty hours a week than I ever did in my 38.5 hours a week in that other place! I can barely get up to go to the bathroom sometimes. It took over an hour and a half between *urge to go*  and ability to get away from the phone yesterday. My sales numbers are as high as some of the full time people. I'm seriously making the most of my part-time status!

My boss is a smart-a$$ - which, fortunately is a language I speak fluently. Yesterday he had a little something taken off of his face and had this big gauze pad covering his cheek. I said, "You ought to try being nice to people so they don't punch you in the face" and he said, "I will... right after I say this, - SHUT UP AND GET BACK TO WORK" and we all cracked up. He dictated a letter to my supervisor yesterday and then told her to give it to me to "fix up" since word of my mad writing skillz has gotten out. Not the blog, just my skillZ. I'm not sure I'm ready to be that transparent at work again. Too much bad juju in the past from my sharing my thoughts and stuff. I mean... I wouldn't DIE if the blog got out but I'm not giving anybody a road map, like I've done in the past. I don't even have pictures up at work. I'm just loving my job and loving my real life and for now, "never the twain shall meet".

Our office manager returns to work today after spending three weeks in Italy. She sent the most gorgeous photos from Venice yesterday! She wasn't IN Venice yesterday, she was just finally home and going through her photos. I've missed her. She's - hands down - the best diplomatic, compassionate, competent - person I've worked for, not just in this business but in any and every job ever. I didn't even meet the agents until I'd been there a week or so. Honestly, the wife agent came in last week and I thought she was a customer, didn't recognize her at first! The office manager really manages the office which is what enables us to run two agencies under the same roof with the same people - two are full time, two work four days a week, two work three days a week, three work two days a week, there are a couple of stragglers who work an odd day here and there - taking care of getting photos and stuff, one is full time except she comes in late two days a week and then there's me and my little twenty hours a week and we all keep the little train on the track somehow. That takes a lot of organization!

Anyways... I'm working 9-2 today, 11:30-4:30 tomorrow and... that's my week. You gotta love it!

Hope you all have a Wonderful Wednesday and I'll check in again soon! Love and hugs!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday... After a Three Day Weekend

Did I really just burn thru a three day weekend that quickly? Ugh. I woke up at dark-thirty with my back ... screaming is the word that comes to mind but I know that won't make sense unless you have ever had back pain. Screaming back pain, that is.

I work from 9-2 the first three days this week and then 11:30-4:30 on Thursday. I would kinda sorta like to work the earlier schedule on Thursday too, so that if I decide to go to the mountains this weekend (and I'm kinda sorta thinking I might) I could go up on Thursday before rush hour and would have more time up there.  

But I also kinda sorta feel like maybe I shouldn't. There is some physical work involved in being there by myself... carrying my own stuff in, the trips up and down the stairs to my basement nest... taking the trash and so on... and I feel it in my spine today, believe me.

But... I really love the solitude and all. To which Cody said last night, "Is it noisy here?" and I said... "not noisy but there is a difference - to me, at least - being in the mountains" Like... this kind of difference...

Anyways... gas is $3.69 a gallon and I have to think about the cost involved in going up there.

Although I could do it cheaper than I did this past weekend because I definitely splurged on some favorite foods when I could have easily just done a crock pot full of beans and made some cornbread. But anyways... haven't decided yet.

I keep hoping that Austin will want/need my help, even though that in itself is costly. I want to be around and able to help when he needs me. If he needs me.

So. Anyways. It's Monday. And we need to find some Reasons To Love It... here goes:

1. I did my laundry last night. Organized, folded, hung up. Ready to pick out something cute to wear once I figure out the weather.

2. I made this great batch of taboule this weekend and brought a bunch of it home. Breakfast of champions!

3. It's five hours. I mean. it's not like I'm pulling a twelve hour shift in the coal mines or anything. I love my job, I love my schedule, I love what I do and the people I work with.

4. My friend Whitney from Jacksonville found out last week that she's having a baby girl! I'm so stinkin' excited for them that I can barely stand it. A little girl with Whitney's personality and her honey's - also amazing - personality - is going to be just a treasure. The only things I miss about Jacksonville are the library, the beach and Whitney. And maybe a few restaurants.

5. Temperatures in the mid-seventies for a high today... I might try wearing tights. I love tights. I can't wait until it's cool enough for me to wear my cute boots. It's Fall, y'all!

6. Twice this weekend TWICE, I tell you! I had someone compliment how I look which... seriously... I'm super fat, fatter than I was when I started Weight Watchers the last time... and it semi-sorta bothers me when I catch my profile in the mirror and it sorta bothers me when I can't fit into stuff I want to wear but... being told that I look good even though I'm fat makes me feel like a runway model.

7. Today is my Uncle Carl's birthday. We have a big cluster of birthdays in our family - Daddy on the 21st, Carl on the 24th, my mama and my cousin Dixie on the 26th. My nephews Joshua and Matthew also have birthdays this month.

8. I spent yesterday afternoon reading about Scottish history. There's a twig of the family tree that (I believe, if I'm correct, usual disclaimer) led back to Robert the Bruce, a Scottish King who... ironically was responsible for the death of John Comyn, who is another ancestor, I believe.

9. Work. Picking up Marquee. Back in the nest by 3pm, if I'm lucky. We'll beat this Monday thing. We can do it.

10. My dad's cousin Leslie was born the same week he was... and the two of them were raised like twins, living at Great-grandma Ward's house when they were itty bitties. Leslie died tragically five years ago and this past weekend, her sweet daughter, Rachel, got married. I snagged this picture of the wedding party -Rachel's Gram - (also my Grandma's sister and sweet Steel Magnolia), Great Aunt Bette is 3rd from the right. So lovely! I love her dress. And Rachel's too!

Have a great Monday, y'all!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Random Sunday

Some random stuff about this weekend:

I never heard from Austin. He got his last paycheck on Friday and I guess he's "ghetto rich"... you know, the way people act in the ghetto when they get their guv'ment check, spending unwisely.

I have been perfectly content here in the quiet, resting with no obligations. This place restores my soul.

The pain doctor put me on an anti-inflammatory drug that must be expensive because he had samples. So far, on the smallest dose, it's making a difference. We may have had a break through.

I made a stop by Publix on my way up and bought: a premade salad, a half of a key lime pie, coffee creamer, cherries, figs, hummus and pita, those phyllo dough baked twists things that are crazy addictive and the makings for taboule.

Yesterday I went to the bakery and bought dog treats, cheese sticks (you may have to be southern to know what those are), something special for my mama, and a frozen entree- chicken enchiladas.

I realized that we didn't have olive oil or lemon juice for making taboule so I went to the market and bought those things. Plus chapstick, which I had lost and found immediately after buying a new tube. Plus q-tips because if we have them here, I couldn't find them and I felt like moss was growing in my ears.

In summary, I've not starved up here but I did spend more than I meant to.

Gas was $3.69/gallon when I filled up yesterday.

I had made arrangements to get the mailbox put up as my birthday present for mama and daddy and they decided not to put a mailbox up here so it wouldn't accumulate junk mail. The guy who was gonna do it was one of those in the Redneck Mafia during that disappointing dating season I had up here. We had a nice visit, even though we're still on a big fat "no" of wanting to date and even though he didn't put up the mailbox.

I'm not anti-men but I certainly have gotten past the need to have one in my life. Except when I'm watching football or need a spider killed or a lightbulb changed.

I found out that my u bend fluorescent bulb for my bathroom needs to be a u12 which they don't make any more but I've got a friend who thinks he's got the hook up for me. Otherwise, we need to change out the connector dealies. Right now I'm using a lamp with a bright bulb in my bathroom. It's kinda spooky.

I think we need some kind of marker at the top of the driveway to show people where we are, although the directions are super simple, I think.

I found out the county sheriff lives in our little cove. That's comforting.

I'm coughing up thick green gunk. I think the season of bronchitis has arrived via the autumnal equinox.

Not having a tv up here doesn't bug me like I thought it would. I missed College Gameday yesterday but it featured two ACC teams so I had little interest. I kept up with games via internet.

I would, however, like to have a downstairs coffee pot because tumblin' out of bed and stumblin' to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of ambition is a might bit harder when there are stairs involved.

The light bulb blew in the stairway to my lair and I can't reach it well enough to change it.

I started transcribing Granddaddy Pennington's book because I think we should have a copy somewhere other than the yellowing, crumbling pages. I got through a chapter and a half. There are thirty-eleven chapters.

It's interesting to see his writing style, it's much like mine, I think... and it's such a treasure to be able to hear his voice through his words. He's been gone since I was ten... 34 years now. I loved him so much. He called me Heifer and I think it was a compliment.

Purple Michael is DEFINITELY coming for a stay at our Mountain Bed and Breakfast, although the breakfast might come from Glenda's instead of our kitchen. He'll be here working the Christmas Season at Stone Mountain - he does a skit that's a mini-version of A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) and it's so hilarious that even though I've seen it a dozen times, I cackle like a hen again and again. If you're in the Atlanta area you HAVE to go check it out and introduce yourself to Michael. He is every bit as fabulous as I describe him to be and I love him more than words can say.

I had a long talk yesterday with someone who has been a part of my heart for a long, long time. You know how you yearn for something for so long and it comes true but not in the way you thought it would... so you adjust your sails to accept the wind that is blowing? And then the wind comes along that you had expected and you realize how much of a difference it would have made if the right wind had blown in the first place? Or does that cryptic sentence only make sense to me?

Like, the time that the kids' dad admitted to me that my kids are the wonderful creatures they are because of MY efforts, not his (paraphrased, of course).

Or the time that a family member that had put distance between us called and said they regretted that... (paraphrased again - and then they distanced themselves again so that was probably not as sincere as I had hoped)

Or the guy that I was head over heels in love with who married someone else... but... actually, that's more than one guy, so I think the head over heels part was not a mature, seasoned kind of love, you know, the marrying kind. Which, I kinda think I've become and expert on, having played the wrong hand twice.

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back it's yours to keep. If it doesn't, it was never meant to be. Remember that little saying? Anyways. That's where the wind and the sails comes in.

Time to wrap this up, quit waxing romantic, pack up the perishables and the dirty laundry and the trash and head back to the burbs. Goodbye sweet Mountain House! I'll be back as soon as I can!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Photo Finish Friday

All is well (and quiet) on the mountain home-front. The doctor visit went about the same as usual. Another new med. Blood pressure was 106/84 AFTER driving through Atlanta traffic and fog to get there. I think I've got this blood pressure thing licked! 

I went and bought living room furniture for the mountain house (with Pop's credit card, don't get excited... I'm not making THAT much money!)  An old friend stopped by to visit this afternoon and fortunately was here when one of the neighbors stopped by to say hello. (Otherwise I would never have dreamed of answering the door - there's still too much Riverdale in me for that!) The old fella was retired military and really nice and encouraged me to wander around to the other side of the lake. Maybe one day... today I'm just enjoying the peace and quiet. 

Here are a few photos that were rattling around in my camera:
Oscar DOES know how to eat from a doggie dish on the floor, instead of his usual dining habit of being hand fed. Ahem. 

 Our sweet Lily girl... covered up with Oscar's blanket. She's a love... except when she wakes us up at 2am to go out... or when one of the other animals comes between her and food. 

 Little kitty playing Produce Soccer - his favorite game. This involves quite a bit of skill... he had to knock the tomato down from the top of the microwave... then sort of bob for it to put it up on the jelly jar... all of this without thumbs!
 Don't worry... we didn't EAT it.

 oops! Rolled off the counter. Guess who went after it? Lily. 

 The view off the back porch this evening. Ahhh! 

On the Road Again...

I'm heading to the mountains today! Time to check on the house and the kid and enjoy early fall. The leaves are starting to change here in the Atlanta suburbs so I imagine there are some changes up in Northeast Georgia.

This is the first "non-working" "non-entertaining" weekend I've had at the new house and I'm beyond excited. We still don't have tv up there - which is an adjustment for me, since I'm the kind of person who has a tv on 24 hours a day - but we do have internet so I won't be completely cut off from the world. I'm packing Granddaddy Pennington's book to read, something I've been trying to do for about two months without success. I've also got tons and tons of archival stuff from Grandma's house to sort through. I'm sure I won't be bored.

I have a visit to the pain doctor this morning on my way up. The timing puts me driving through Atlanta at the end of rush hour but hopefully it won't be too terrible. I very much hate going to the pain doctor because it seems like I go... spend $100 or more... and nothing changes. It's sort of discouraging. However, although my pain never completely goes away, the meds that I'm on DO lessen the pain. So I jump through these hoops and check in every 2-3 months according to plan.

Today is also my dad's birthday! I think everyone is going out to eat tonight but... not me, because I'll be in the mountains. We thought about going out last night but mom and I were both beyond exhaustion so we decided to postpone it. Dad has been on a doctor ordered and monitored diet over the past month and has lost 26 pounds (I think, at last count). His birthday meal is going to be his splurge meal. Mama's birthday is next week. I'll splurge then!

The bad news is that Austin has been terminated from the work program. He missed three days last week due to being sick/dentist appointment and then left early on Friday so they dismissed him. It's a strict program, it has strict guidelines and ... to be honest with you... I think he lost interest once he had to start walking to the center to meet the bus to work. The first month they picked him up at his house but for the second month he had to demonstrate his ability to get there. Nobody where he lives has a car so he was having to walk. I hate it for him, I really do. I know it's a tough way to get started in life HOWEVER this is the path he chose for himself. He was welcome to come down here with me and do the program here, we could have provided transportation. For that matter, I feel certain that if he had utilized his contacts at church, he could have found someone to help him get where he needed to go.

If you want to do something bad enough, nothing will stop you.
If you don't want something, nothing will make you do it.

So he's back to the harsh world of being unemployed, living with people who are unemployed, not being able to pay his bills or have the basic necessities, other than food stamps. He says his friend "Fat Pat" has a job opportunity for him. We'll see. I called him last night to see if he needed me to take him to get his last check and cash it and he said he had it worked out. The last two weekends that I was up there I spent a fortune in gas running him around for things like shopping, getting his haircut, getting his laundry done, picking up his girlfriend, etc. If he doesn't need me this weekend, I'll be delighted. I want to help him but I also get a little frustrated with having to haul him around. It breaks my heart a little seeing him in need and not being able to be where I can help him.

I'll come back home on Sunday. It's a short trip, shorter than I would like, anyways, but I'm glad to have a three day weekend and glad to get up there for a bit. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Step One: It's ok to be you.

Continuing the theme from yesterday... I want to tell you a little bit more about my journey back. You could, if you really wanted to, read back through my blog from the beginning but... I think I can summarize a lot of what happened fairly simply: keep living.

That's my advice. I'm no psychologist (my brother is and I've always been his number one case study) but even in the Nut House I found myself in a position of encouraging and counseling the other inmates patients. Even when you don't have the answers for yourself - or for someone in your life who is discouraged - sometimes the very basic reminder -  not flippant or unsympathetically - just a reminder that life can and WILL go on. Even if you spend a few days with the covers over your head eating ice cream straight from a carton, as long as your heart is beating, you're still living.

I think we find ourselves unable to move on from heartache because we try to figure out the ending to the story. We're a tv/movie society: we expect to have the story wrapped up within two hours with the big letters spelling out "THE END" and... well, that's not how God created us. We are born of struggle, we are living in a sinful world, we are creatures of free will and that means that the story drags on, sometimes without a clear plot, long after we *think* it should be over.

Isn't that what suicide is? Jumping to the end of the book and reading the last pages before you have a chance to flip through all the pages of the book? We have to give ourselves permission to just. not. know. and to accept and adapt to whatever comes.

Four years ago I couldn't imagine any other life than being in Jacksonville in a miserable situation.
Two years ago I couldn't imagine any other life than happily doing my Weight Watchers and feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof.
A year ago, I would never have imagined my job ending and having to accept that I would probably never again work full time and/or be able to live independently.

Even if we think we have our "happily ever after" plotted out, life can change on a dime. A diagnosis... an accident... a reversal of fortune... life's about change, nothing ever stays the same. The people who survive change are the people who are willing to accept a "new normal"... people who are willing to be creative enough to visualize a life that is different from the life they thought they would have.

I was a girl who always thought that I had to have a man in my life to be happy. Let me be more specific: I thought I had to have a certain kind of man who behaved in a certain kind of way so that I could fit in with the folks at the ball field on Saturday and with the Sunday School class on Sunday. When I realized that wasn't my reality, I lowered my standards. Instead of having that special guy, I settled for having ANY guy on any terms and to be honest... the stress drove me crazy. Once you get out of middle school, the whole "I like you, do you like me? check yes or no" conflict loses it's charm. More than once I met guys who couldn't (or wouldn't) be the man of my dreams. More than once I suffered deep discouragement.

It took me a lot - UH-LOT - of years and a lot of wrong relationships to realize how amazing life is all by myself!  Don't get me wrong... I have an enormous amount of respect for stable, committed relationships. Married couples are the backbone of our church and society. That's just not the life that God has designed for me. Or, let me say it this way, that might have been the life that God intended for me and my impatience to wait for His will and way set me off on a lifetime of missteps.

Step one for me on the way back to sanity was to accept that single doesn't equal loser. I've learned to embrace the flexibility that comes from being on my own. It is very, very rare for me to even want or try to imagine being part of a relationship at this point. I like my life. I like the course that my life is on. I like my cozy little space in the house I grew up in and I love the spacious little space at the house in the mountains. There's no room for a man in either of those scenarios and I can't imagine anyone being able to compete with the stability that I've built for myself. I don't trust anyone enough to interject them into the baggage that my health would bring into a relationship.

It's like... there was the season of being a full time working single mom... and now there is the season of being a part time working awesome old maid aunt.

My situation is unique to me but it applies across the board: whatever you're facing, if it feels like the road ahead of you is making some sharp turns that you can't see around... just embrace this stage of your journey. Stop and smell the roses. Be comfortable in your skin. Don't try to force yourself into a cookie cutter shape that you think - or that the world thinks - you should be. It's ok to be different.

Honestly, it's better to be different and happy than to be the same and miserable. Learn to love your life and learn to love yourself. If you love yourself, you would never harm you.

And that was my step one. Have a great Thursday! It's my Yabba-Dabba-Do Day! Three day weekend ahead!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happily Ever After

Almost a week has gone by since my last post. I've started to write several times and just haven't had much to say. Work is good. My back is bad. The weather's nice. Same old stuff.

But today is not just another day. It's the anniversary of the day, four years ago, that I could have - and would have - died. Ironically, on that day I thought that I was powerless to change the unbearable circumstances of my life... and unable to continue life the way it was. And yet, that day that marked the beginning of a season of change that I couldn't have imagined.

My friend Joey used to say that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The problems I had four years ago are so far behind in my rear view mirror that I can barely remember them. And don't want to.

The short version of the story, in case you missed it, bad marriage + discovery that husband was cheating = overdose. Husband knew I had overdosed and left me in my room, dying, for several hours then finally decided to take me to the E.R. I spent the next three days in ICU, the three days after that on psych hold and then got the heck out of dodge.

It was about as quick as that last paragraph sounds. I literally walked out of the doors of the hospital and into the arms of my waiting friend, A.T., my two oldest children and my oldest brother. We packed up, withdrew Austin from school, stopped long enough for me to get a manicure (because every major life change should include a decent manicure and blood red acrylic nails) we broke my piggy bank to rent a U-Haul and then loaded up the truck with as much of my stuff as we could and headed to North Georgia. We made it to the mountains on the evening of September 26th where my sister-in-law had a pot of chili waiting for us.

From Hell to Helen, we called it. It was not without drama - there was this really sad, pathetic encounter with the husband in the parking lot of the hotel where we were staying the night after I left the hospital (because it was decided that it was a bad idea for me to stay where things had gone so terribly wrong for me). I stood in the parking lot talking to him while he gave me back my wedding rings (that I thought would finance my escape - until I realized that they were fake - nothing like having some hillbilly pawn shop owner say, "Oh honey... you think these are real, don't you?") He had the audacity to tell me that if I left him HE had nothing left to live for. Except the woman he was cheating on me with, of course. My sons, brother and friend stood in the parking lot watching over the exchange and making sure he didn't do anything to hurt me.

No. He had lost his power to wound me. The hurt had already happened and the healing had begun. Four years ago, my life started over again. This time - these last four years - were borrowed time, bonus time, time that I wouldn't have had.

The last four years haven't been easy. I worked hard and suffered a lot - first due to the lung damage that we discovered that led to several bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia and then due to the crippling back pain that reared it's ugly head. I made a lot of great friends but I was alone way too much. I have lost - and gained - forty pounds. I kissed a few frogs that didn't turn into princes. My house got struck by lightning and we had to move abruptly. I guided a child through four years of high school and watched him leave the nest. I had my car repossessed. I had my power shut off once. I had my water shut off once. I had my satellite and internet shut off more than once. I lost my job and suffered through quite a few indignities from that.

Yet. Here I am. Still standing. Since my attempt,  I have a friend who lost his brother to suicide - he couldn't live with chronic back pain, ironically. I met and swooned over a young man who lost his wife to suicide. My dear, sweet friend wrote a book about her husband's suicide and that book is now set for release, the story of her journey as a survivor. They're everywhere, people touched by this epidemic of suicide.

Yesterday we had stormy weather. As I was driving home from work there were dark, grey clouds swirling all around, ominous and menacing. And there, between the grey was one tiny patch of blue in the middle of the storm. I thought... "wow... the blue is always there, sometimes you just can't see it." The blue is permanent and the grey is temporary. And that simple epiphany describes my bonus years. I've learned to trust that the blue is there, even when all I can see is grey. Not knowing what your next step should be doesn't mean that you have to end your journey.

Four years ago I stopped being a victim and became a survivor. And I lived happily ever after.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful for a Thursday off

I worked 9-2 on Monday, drove from Fayetteville to Morrow to pick up Marquee from school, came home and crashed.

I worked 11:30-4:30 Tuesday. I had some errands to run before work. We were shorthanded at work and I worked my tail off. I came home from work and crashed.

I worked 9-2 Wednesday, was insanely busy, doing three or four things at once, had a lunch meeting and therefore had to actually put what I was working on aside and get my usual five hour work day completed in three and a half hours. I came home absolutely worn out. Mom and dad had a potluck dinner at church. I didn't go (you know, since I'm home-churched) and had decided just to eat cantaloupe for dinner but my sweet mama brought me back a plate with fried chicken, potatoes, potato salad, deviled eggs, congealed salad, corn casserole, beans... I mean, it was a feast! God bless the good Christian women at Riverdale First Baptist. I spent the evening curled up in the nest feeling so exhausted that every breath was an effort and then I couldn't get to sleep until after midnight.

I'm off work today, Praise the Lord. I still have that overwhelming feeling of complete exhaustion. My limbs feel like they're filled with lead. I can barely keep my eyes open but I can't go to sleep either.

I'm working harder in the twenty hours a week at this new office than I did in forty hours a week at the old office. The main difference is that the old office included long stretches of nothing to do, I could have easily done that job in four hours a day which would have been - like it is in my new office - a win/win situation - no hours on the clock where productivity has waned - and reducing the stress on my spine. No way in the world would I have walked away from that situation with the economy like it is... but if it took going through that season of uncertainty to get to this season of blessing where I can still use my gifts and talents in a time frame that I can endure and feel productive and valued, then I'm glad to have been through what I've been through.

That's the problem with suffering... you don't always get to peek to the end of the story to see how it turns out. Many people suffer without ever finding the blessing from the burden. I'm a creative girl with an active imagination and, for the most part, an optimistic view of life and even I couldn't see this kind of work opportunity as the next chapter. Something kept holding me back from filing disability. Three doctors told me I could qualify. I just felt like there had to be more for me.

I'm struggling to keep my energy level up working 20 hours a week. I haven't had the strength to be much help to mama and daddy. I have basically just sat and stared at Cody when he comes over after work. I'm not lazy... I'm seriously unable to move. I know there are a few of you out there who deal with these same sorts of episodes of fatigue and I'd love to hear from you. I try to push myself to do a "plus one"... work plus one more thing every day. One day it was picking up prescriptions. One day it was picking up my daughter-in-law. One day it was cooking dinner. One day it was filling my gas tank. Today it's doing laundry.

I'm hoping that this day off will give me the strength I need to get back to "plus two" or three or more. I still have so many projects that I want to complete - reading Granddaddy's book - inscribing Grandma's bible (that Pop asked me to do weeksssss ago, I just haven't felt very articulate) working on the genealogy, organizing my wardrobe rack/closet.

And I'm also hoping that this season of struggle brings forth blessings... and that my Spirit is awakened enough to recognize them as blessings. I'm not crazy. I'm not lazy. Sometimes I'm hazy. But I'm always glad for every day, especially a day in the Nest!

If you would, pray for my friend Stephanie. She is having heart surgery today and her family is really worried. Also, a good friend who is having a lot of health problems with no real answer in sight... and Missie, who is dealing with a broken jaw and seizures. I could go on and on... I am not the only person in cyber space with obstacles. May we all overcome them with grace and faith! Love and hugs, y'all!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday - Up Early Edition

I've been waking up with horrible back spasms lately. The only remedy is to immediately get on the heating pad which means... waking up enough to sit in the recliner and turn on the heating pad... which means first going to the bathroom and getting something to drink (hopefully coffee) before sitting down... which is tricky when my stinking back is in spasms because it makes my left leg not work right and the whole process of walking involves grabbing onto walls, chairs, etc, on the way down the hall. AND all of those things mean that I'm wide awake too dang early! Yet... even though I stumble through the valley of the shadow of ... discomfort... there are plenty of reasons to love an Up Early Monday today!

1. Up early means I get the coffee while it's still hot and the pot hasn't turned off yet from when Pop made it at middle-of-the-night-thirty.

2. Up early means freaking out three dogs and half the cats in the house. The other half of the cats are just furry furniture and don't move from their perches, regardless of what I do.

3. Up early means spending an hour pinning things that make me giggle.

4. Up early means that my hairstyle might just possibly evolve past the standard work day ponytail. Up early also means wondering if the lady who has been the only one to REALLY know how to cut my curly hair is possibly back in the United States and Facebook stalking her to find out. She last checked in from Nepal. Ponytail it is. Oh, wait... Nepal was two years ago... her status is separated... there's a chance that she may be back in the same time zone as me!

5. Up early means finding out which of my friends have insomnia. Insomniac facebook posting is the social networking equivalent of drunk dialing.

6. Up early means seeing the bubble headed bleached blondes on Fox and Friends First and guessing their first grade level word scramble at the first letter... while it takes the Fox and Friends hosts all the way until there is only one letter left.

7. Up early means being awake enough to actually eat breakfast before work.

8. Up early means finding an empty bowl on the floor beside the recliner and wondering what you ate post ambien last night.

9. Up early means wondering if there's a nefarious reason why Blogger's spell check doesn't recognize Facebook as a correctly spelled word. And then realizing that blogger disagrees with your failure to recognize facebook as a proper noun.

10. Up early leads to the best time of day: EARLY BEDTIME! Working 9-2 today, picking up the daughter-in-law from Clayton State, picking up my prescriptions from the pharmacy and... I should be back home and in my warm cozies by no later than 3:30. It's not a bad life, y'all.

BUT THE BEST thing about Up Early is seeing Lily... the big dog... who normally sleeps like this...

hijack the blanket that usually covers Oscar the wiener dog like this...

and get all warm and cozy like this...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lady Godiva - My 30x Great-Grandmother

I've spent the weekend about a millennium back in time. I broke a tooth and it feels like it's trying to abcess, you know,  giving me a headache and an earache and aching into my sinuses and just draining my energy (even more than usual)... so I've stayed in the nest doing my genealogy and watching tv.

The thing is... I didn't have a formal history class in high school. Our gifted class took the slot where our history class would have been. We learned SOME history but it wasn't the same kind of memorization/test cycle of most history classes. And then... I didn't go to college. So when I embark on a certain branch of the family, I have to dig a little deeper to understand the background of that time period and I find myself googling things like, "The Mayflower" or "Middle Ages". I'm a wikipedia junkie.

Last night I figured out that *if my research is accurate* (and who knows if it is?) I'm a descendant of Lady Godiva. And then I realized that the only thing I knew about Lady Godiva was that the theme song for the tv show "Maude" started with a line that went, "Lady Godiva was a freedom fighter...". So I had to figure out WHO she was. Here's the lineage:

Lady Godiva (1002 - 1067)
is your 30th great grandmother
Son of Lady
Son of Aelfgar III The Saxon Of
Daughter of Estmond Earl of
Daughter of Eve
Son of Margery
Son of William
Son of Otto
Daughter of Thomas
Daughter of Maud
Daughter of Ada de
Daughter of Maud
Daughter of Maud
Son of Maud
Son of Sir Humphrey
Son of Sir Humphrey
Son of Humphrey
Daughter of HUMPHREY V
Son of ELEANOR Ellen
Daughter of Johnis Stafford
Son of Audrey
Daughter of Christopher
Daughter of ELIZABETH
Daughter of Elizabeth Catherine Almay
Son of Rebecca
Son of Cornelius
Daughter of John
Son of Deborah Ann
Son of Elias M
Son of Theodore Stogden
Son of Bruce Bronson
Daughter of James Edward

Below is copied from wikipedia... 

Lady Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. They had one proved son Aelfgar, Earl of Mercia.[2]
Lady Godiva's name occurs in charters and the Domesday survey, though the spelling varies. The Old English name Godgifu or Godgyfu meant "gift of God"; Godiva was the Latinised version. Since the name was a popular one, there are contemporaries of the same name.[3][4]
If she were the same Godiva who appears in the history of Ely Abbey, the Liber Eliensis, written at the end of the 12th century, then she was a widow when Leofric married her. Both Leofric and Godiva were generous benefactors to religious houses. In 1043 Leofric founded and endowed a Benedictine monastery at Coventry[5] on the site of a nunnery destroyed by the Danes in 1016. Writing in the 12th century, Roger of Wendover credits Godiva as the persuasive force behind this act. In the 1050s, her name is coupled with that of her husband on a grant of land to the monastery of St Mary, Worcester and the endowment of the minster at Stow St Mary,Lincolnshire.[6][7][8] She and her husband are commemorated as benefactors of other monasteries at LeominsterChesterMuch Wenlock and Evesham.[9] She gave Coventry a number of works in precious metal made for the purpose by the famous goldsmith Mannig, and bequeathed a necklace valued at 100 marks of silver.[10] Another necklace went to Evesham, to be hung around the figure of the Virgin accompanying the life-size gold and silver rood she and her husband gave, and St Paul's Cathedral, London received a gold-fringed chasuble.[11] She and her husband were among the most munificent of the several large Anglo-Saxon donors of the last decades before the Conquest; the early Norman bishops made short work of their gifts, carrying them off to Normandy or melting them down for bullion.[12]
The manor of Woolhope in Herefordshire, along with four others, was given to the cathedral at Hereford before the Norman Conquest by the benefactresses Wulviva and Godiva – usually held to be this Godiva and her sister. The church there has a 20th-century stained glasswindow representing them.[13]
Her mark, di Ego Godiva Comitissa diu istud desideravi [I, The Countess Godiva, have desired this for a long time], appears on a charter purportedly given by Thorold of Bucknall to the Benedictine monastery of Spalding. However, this charter is considered spurious by many historians.[14] Even so it is possible that Thorold, who appears in the Domesday Book as sheriff of Lincolnshire, was her brother.
After Leofric's death in 1057, his widow lived on until sometime between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and 1086. She is mentioned in the Domesday survey as one of the few Anglo-Saxons and the only woman to remain a major landholder shortly after the conquest. By the time of this great survey in 1086, Godiva had died, but her former lands are listed, although now held by others.[15] Thus, Godiva apparently died between 1066 and 1086.[3]
The place where Godiva was buried has been a matter of debate. According to the Chronicon Abbatiae de Evesham, or Evesham Chronicle, she was buried at the Church of the Blessed Trinity at Evesham, which is no longer standing. According to the account in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, "There is no reason to doubt that she was buried with her husband at Coventry, despite the assertion of the Evesham chronicle that she lay in Holy Trinity, Evesham."[3]
Dugdale (1656) says that a window with representations of Leofric and Godiva was placed in Trinity Church, Coventry, about the time of Richard II.[16]


Lady Godiva by John Collier, c. 1897,Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
According to the popular story,[17][18] Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering grievously under her husband's oppressive taxation. Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to remit the tolls. At last, weary of her entreaties, he said he would grant her request if she would strip naked and ride through the streets of the town. Lady Godiva took him at his word and, after issuing a proclamation that all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only in her long hair. Just one person in the town, a tailor ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her proclamation in one of the most famous instances of voyeurism.[19] In the story, Tom bores a hole in his shutters so that he might see Godiva pass, and is struck blind.[20] In the end, Godiva's husband keeps his word and abolishes the onerous taxes.
Some historians have discerned elements of Pagan fertility rituals in the Godiva story whereby a young "May Queen" was led to the sacred Cofa's tree perhaps to celebrate the renewal of spring[21] The oldest form of the legend has Godiva passing through Coventry market from one end to the other while the people were assembled, attended only by two knights.[22] This version is given in Flores Historiarum by Roger of Wendover (died 1236), a somewhat gullible collector of anecdotes, who quoted from unnamed earlier writers.

Lady Godiva: Edmund Blair Leightondepicts the moment of decision (1892)
At the time, it was customary for penitents to make a public procession in their shift, a sleeveless white garment similar to a slip today and one which was certainly considered "underwear". Thus, some scholars[who?]speculate, Godiva might have actually travelled through town as a penitent, in her shift. Godiva's story could have passed into folk history to be recorded in a romanticised version. Another theory has it that Lady Godiva's "nakedness" might refer to her riding through the streets stripped of her jewellery, the trademark of her upper class rank. However, both of these attempts to reconcile known facts with legend are weak; in the era of the earliest accounts, the word "naked" is only known to mean "without any clothing whatsoever".[23]
A modified version of the story was given by printer Richard Grafton, later elected MP for Coventry. According to his Chronicle of England(1569), "Leofricus" had already exempted the people of Coventry from "any maner of Tolle, Except onely of Horsse (sic.)"[citation needed], so that Godiva ("Godina" in text) had agreed to the naked ride just to win relief for this horse tax. And as a pre-condition, she required the officials of Coventry to forbid the populace "upon a great pain" from watching her, and to shut themselves in and shutter all windows on the day of her ride.[24] Grafton was an ardent Protestant and sanitized the earlier story.[21]
The ballad "Leoffricus" in the Percy Folio (ca. 1650)[25][26] conforms to Grafton's version, saying that Lady "Godiua" performed her ride to remove the customs paid on horses, and that the town's officers ordered the townsfolk to "shutt their dore, & clap their windowes downe," and remain indoors on the day of her ride[27][28]

I've been working on the same branch of the family all weekend. I'm not much of a "long-term project" kind of girl. I want to finish in a reasonable amount of time, i.e. before it loses my interest. Tracking your entire genealogy, even with the benefit of and the internet is a long, long, time intensive project. However, it's not like I'd be out feeding the homeless or running marathons if I *wasn't* doing the genealogy project. Hopefully, one day when my kids or nieces and nephews or grandkids or whomever gets interested, this will HOPEFULLY be a complete, completed record for them to access. And maybe by then there will be some other fantastic way to do this kind of research so they can just build on what I've already figured out.

At any rate... that's my weekend... hope you had a good one!