Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"One should never say things cannot get worse because Life will find exponential ways to disprove that statement." -- me

I could list the things that have beaten me down during the past fourteen months, but I think today I will not. Instead I will simply be glad that I'm here once again, writing in this blog.

The title of this blog was written ironically. It emerged from a previous blog in which I finally learned to write honestly about my past, and given some of my experiences, it seemed odd that someone like me could believe my life--my world--is beautiful. In fact, some commentors mentioned the fact that most who experience a past like mine do not emerge as I have, seemingly unscathed. I have no way to refute that, nor do I know why I have done so. Although, regardless of what "seems" to be true, I am not unscathed. Daily I live with the aftermath of my past. It makes little difference whether that aftermath is detectable by others.

But I have always tried to find joy no matter what sorrow has entered my life. I believe the two can exist simultaneously. And I have tried to lift the people I love even when rising above my own difficulties seemed impossible--because it costs me nothing to share a smile or a word of love or encouragement. I don't know that I've been as successful in the past few months. My life has been chaotic and filled with stress and sadness--but I have tried.

There has been so much chaos that some of the things I do every year to strengthen myself and keep me grounded have gone by the wayside. This year my front garden did not get planted. I know I'm not a gardener, but I buy plants and put them in the ground and if they live, that's my garden. The plants are usually tomatoes and herbs surrounded by various flowers and three varieties of mint. There is no plan--I am not a landscape artist. I just buy the plants I think are pretty and put the tallest ones in the back. I end up with a jumble of color, lovely tomatoes, and herbs that last until late October.

This year I could not do it. My strength was gone. My beautiful friend, Brozy, sent me home with about a thousand baby plants. Three of them made it to the garden plot and I waited until it was too late for them to bear tomatoes. They had become spindly and unhealthy. I felt guilt every time I looked at the plants Brozy gave me. Probably the three I planted were simply to assuage that guilt.

I thought about buying some colorful flowers, but the thought of digging holes for them made me nauseated. I I did nothing. I hated the barren plot. I began watering it to keep the three tomato plants alive.

I have mint along the back wall of my plot. I don't know why it remains there, as mint has a tendency to spread, but it seems to like the warmth of the wall behind it and it stays put. In July, tiny sprigs of a different variety of mint appear. This mint has is slender, rarely grows taller than three inches, and has small, dark yellow blossoms. It fills in between all the flowers, herbs, and tomatoes and looks lovely.

I waited for that second mint to come. I thought, at least I'd have some flowers from that source from July through September. In mid-July, I saw the first of it begin.

By the first week of August I was puzzled. The mint was becoming much taller than usual and its normal skeletal leaves were lush and plentiful. I decided maybe that's how it looks when not impeded by other plants, and allowed it to flourish. A few days later I saw buds. These were not the tiny yellow flowers to which I was accustomed. I pinched the leaves of the plant just to make sure I could smell mint--and I couldn't.

I watched for a few days, then one of the buds bloomed into a large purple flower. It looks like a daisy. I have no idea what it is, nor where it came from, but the plants are rapidly filling my flower bed and next week the garden plot will be filled with the lovely blooms.

I blame The Big Guy. I suppose to many people it would just mean that some stray seeds volunteered in a barren flower garden. Maybe the flowers are weeds most people would pull out and throw away. But for me, they're a tiny miracle, a spot of color, perhaps even a tender mercy because The Big Guy knows how much I love flowers--so he gave me some.

It's a silly explanation, I know. I also know that today--and perhaps tomorrow--and maybe the next day--I need to believe in it. And my belief does not decrease the loveliness nor nullify the existence of this year's flower garden. The flowers were not my choice, but they're beautiful--which sort of describes my life right now.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"You should laugh every day." ~Jim Valvano

I don't get songs stuck in my head. I used to try because my friends would tell me about the phenomenon and I wanted to see what it was like. I could never do it. I really don't understand how it works. Darrin tells me that usually it involves not the complete song, but a catchy snippet that keeps repeating. I know when it's happening to Darrin because he shares whatever is stuck in his head...over...and...over...again...

I do get words or phrases that pop into my head randomly. Darrin says that's not the same thing because they don't repeat and I can stop thinking about them if I want to, but sometimes when I'm really, really tired, a word gets into my head that makes me laugh and then I can't stop thinking about it.

Last night when Darrin came to bed I was lying under the covers giggling helplessly. I tried to stop thinking about the word. I knew Darrin was tired and wanted to sleep. I kept giggling anyway. Darrin was unhappy. He was more unhappy when he asked what was funny and I choked out, "Lunch meat," then dissolved into giggles once again.

Darrin sighed, kissed me good night, and turned off the light. I have no idea how long I laughed. I've heard of crying oneself to sleep. Last night I giggled myself to sleep. And just in case you were wondering, nitrate and sodium laden meat of questionable origin is hilarious.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Today will never happen again." ~Og Mandino

It's August second. Unless one was born on the second, probably it's just another summer day. For me, however, this date has become an anniversary I will quietly observe for the rest of my life. It marks the first day after my last flashback. I have now been flashback free for two years.

Two years is not a long time. However, if one has been reliving through flashbacks the horrors of rape and abuse for many years, two years feels like an incredible gift.

So to celebrate, I walked on the ridge near my home. I noticed a family of hawks circling. I watched one of those birds harvest a tiny rabbit from the prairie grass. I listened as the cry of the rabbit was drowned out by the scream of the hawk. Wildflowers have sprung up as they normally do in the spring. Our seasons have been confused by the smoke and forest fires of June and early July. Rain has come in abundance and although it is late summer now, everything is green. The flowers that in past years go to seed by August, are just budding out and spreading across the grassy ridge. Even my favorite blue flax, gone always by mid-July, blooms in intermittent patches.

I noticed the white clouds weaving lacy patterns over our vividly blue sky and felt the soft breeze on my skin and I breathed a tiny prayer of thanks to whatever deity cared to listen.

My life has been incredibly difficult in the past couple of years. I'm facing terrifying decisions I do not wish to make. I live in stress and panic daily. There are days when I believe I am losing my mind.

But today is August second and I have had no flashbacks for two years. Today I took a break from everything that causes me stress for just an hour. Today I remembered how hard I worked to get to the point where I was no longer bothered by flashbacks. Today I believed in myself for just a moment.

So I wish everyone who stumbles across this post a very happy second day of August. I hope, you, too, will take a moment to remember some small triumph. I hope you'll look around and notice the things about your life that bring you joy. I hope you'll hug someone, and dance just a little bit, and hum a few bars of your favorite song.

And if you have my number and a minute of time, please feel free to call me and wish me a happy anniversary. After all, this is a very important day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Adam spent yesterday in Denver. For the past four years he has planned annual expeditions in July which included a day at an amusement park, dinner at a fun restaurant, and a movie at the IMAX theater. Each year we've taken a large number of friends and family with us and enjoyed Adam's funfest.

This year, because of my recent hip surgery, I opted out of the trip. DJ was unable to arrange his work schedule to accommodate the time off, and most of Adam's friends said they'd like to do dinner and the movie, but the amusement park wasn't something they were excited about. In the end, only one friend chose to participate in the entire day's activities and the rest made plans to meet Adam and Friend at the restaurant that evening.

Adam decided that he and Friend needed VIP passes at the amusement park which would allow them to go to the front of the line of any ride. He's wanted to buy the passes every year but has never been able to come up with the necessary extra money. So the passes were purchased and Adam could barely sleep the night before due to insane anticipation of the upcoming day of fun.

Yesterday, I drove Adam to Friend's house at 6:45 a.m. (Friend was driving). I told him it was silly to leave so early because they would arrive at the amusement park before it opened. He said they'd go get breakfast if that happened. I shrugged and said good-bye, asking him to please check in with me periodically so I would know he wasn't dead.

At 10:34 a.m. I received my first phone call:

Adam: Hi, Mom. I'm just checking in. 
me: I appreciate that. How are things going?
Adam: Fine. 
me: Fine?
Adam: Well, yeah.
me: You don't sound very excited. Is something wrong?
Adam: You know how we bought those VIP passes?
me: Yes.
Adam: Well, we thought it would be great because we'd get to ride lots of rides and have no wait, but it's not.
me: It's not great?
Adam: No.
me: Why not?
Adam: We feel bad. We keep cutting in front of people who have been standing in line for a long time. It's not fun.
me: You know, even if you have the passes, you don't have to cut. You could wait your turn, too.
Adam: But we paid for them!
me: Adam, you're weird.
Adam: I know. I'll check in with you later.
me: Okay. Bye.

About six hours later, I received a second call:

Adam: Hi, Mom. I'm just checking in again.
me: How are things going?
Adam: Well, around 12:30 we realized we'd ridden every ride we wanted to about three times, so we decided to leave.
me: Adam, you said you weren't going to drive around while you were there. You have Friend's parents' new car.
Adam: We didn't drive. We just walked around downtown. And we found the best hamburger restaurant. And it's a lot more fun than the amusement park, so I think we're just going to walk around some more and when it's time, we'll meet up with everyone else for dinner. 
me: Okay--but you're still weird.
Adam: I know. 
me: Check in with us when you head for home?
Adam: I will.

So Adam ended up having a marvelous time just walking around Denver with his friend and disregarding the large amount of money they both spent on amusement park passes. I would like to say I'm surprised, but I'm not. I like him a lot, but he really is a weird kid.