The Truth About the ‘Old Ball and Chain’

Only two months since my last post, not too shabby. ::pats self on back::

This post is a bit different, I’m going to talk about marriage. My marriage specifically. I’m usually pretty quiet about it, I feel like marriage is sacred between two people and when you discuss it openly it lessens it, like you’re letting others in to your secret. Today, though, today I’m going to talk about it and really open up about some vulnerable things that some may find uncomfortable.

I also want to preface this with a note that this is not about any other relationship than my own. This isn’t about single moms or separated-but-coparenting families, nothing like that, this is only about me and the man I’m married to.

I went to college. I had every intention of not having kids and working my whole life. Well now, I spent the first 8 months of motherhood as a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) and then started watching a child. Here we are, five years later, and I have a full daycare. I never would’ve planned this for my life but I love how things are unfolding and truly believe this is where I am meant to be right now.

When our daughter was born I had severe postpartum anxiety and OCD (you can read about it in previous posts of mine), it prevented me from enrolling her in daycare because I was so concerned about her being injured or killed at the hands of another that I would spend more time panicking than enjoying life. My husband never pushed me to do it, when I started watching the one child he said, “As long as you can cover your student loans then go for it.”

Five years later we have more in our world as far as bills, including a mortgage and two car payments, but he has not pushed me outside of my comfort zone as far as work. He supports me running a full-time daycare, he knows when things are stressing me out, he encourages me in my volunteer opportunities, he gets my anxiety and doesn’t hold it against me.

We’ve all seen those things floating around on facebook about how much at-home moms do in a day; there’s a popular one right now about a husband coming home and complaining that the house is a mess, is it so hard for his wife to just have a nice house for him to come home to? What he doesn’t see is all the laundry and cleaning his wife did while the kids went behind undoing it, he didn’t acknowledge that she made his favorite dinner, etc. Any at-home parent knows that feeling.

The truth is I do all of that, too. I’m the only one who woke up in the middle of the night with our daughter since birth. When she’s sick, I’m on it. I play nurse, coach, cheerleader, chef, entertainer, chauffeur, counselor, maid, the list goes on. I’ve complained about the lack of recognition.

The truth is, though, that I am able to be all of those things to our daughter, and to my daycare children, because of my husband.

He works about 55 miles away and wakes up at 3:15 every day to get to work early (because of parking), then naps in the car till his shift, works in conditions I certainly wouldn’t want to, drives an hour home (as long as there’s no traffic, then that can lengthen to up to two hours), spends hours doing homework because he’s also in the apprentice school at his job to advance his opportunities, he still cuts the grass, attends our daughter’s school events, AND volunteers with the VFW. After a 40 hour work week, ten hours (give or take) in driving, and 15ish hours of homework…he is working overtime this weekend!

The truth is, there is no backbone in our house. We are twin pillars. He is the provider, the hunter and gatherer, if you will. I am the nurturer, the homemaker.

My daycare income helps to pay down some family bills, extracurricular activities for our daughter, etc. I often feel badly because I’m not providing a major financial contribution to our home. Any time we bicker and money comes up I feel even worse. My husband is definitely the financial provider, but what I can’t contribute to there, I contribute to in many other ways. That doesn’t make either one of us superior or inferior.

So. There you have it. This is my public declaration that, while I work hard, my husband works hard, too. Every at-home parent would love a pat on the back, a “thanks for dinner, this is delicious!” because I know I’ve grumbled about those things, but at the same time, how often do at-home parents actually say, “Thanks, [spouse], for busting your butt every day for us to have this life. I appreciate you.”?

That is what this is about.

Thank you husband, my man piece, for busting your butt every day for us to have this life. I love you and I appreciate you and all of your sacrifices. I am blessed to have you. In your grumpiness, in your snoring, in your goofiness, in your dirty boots or your sexy basketball shorts, I love it all and I love you.

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“Baptized in the river, I’m delivered.”

So the title is a Good Charlotte song called “The River.”

I know I apologize for this every single time I post but I’m going to say it again – I’m so sorry for being so horrible about regularly posting. Let me just say, though, holy cow has life changed!

So when I last posted I was really only just dipping my toes into the whole Jesus thing. I’ve actually dubbed it my “Journey to Jesus” because that’s really what it was. If you read my, But…I’m an Atheist…? post you’ll know how this opportunity presented itself, but I was recently asked what made me an atheist. I thought I’d address that as I jump into this.

When I was younger I was raised in a Catholic family. They weren’t the “You’ve done wrong, go pray the rosary and say ten hail Marys” kind of Catholics, but that was their faith and so I grew up with this idea in my mind that God was the all powerful judge who shamed and punished for all the sins. I was absolutely certain for the longest time that my dad didn’t love me because I lied about liking spinach, that it was God punishing me with love. To this day I have a very hard time with love and fearing that people don’t love or like me and it stemmed from that moment when I was six. As I got older it was just something that I let go of, I decided there was no possible way that an invisible man hanging out in the clouds was in control of us, it was silly. So I just stopped believing. I actually became very anti-theist; religion was the root of evil in my eyes and I’d dismiss anybody who made any sort of religious comment around me. I was braggy about it and a proud atheist. For anybody reading this who remembers that and was annoyed by it, I do apologize because I’m experiencing delayed embarrassment lol.

In my early 20s I was with a guy whose family was very Christian and so I attended church with them and even attended bible study once or twice. When things started getting sour in the relationship I went to the church because I needed help. Not only did I not get help in a life or death situation, but they made it worse. That was when I decided that the church was just full of hypocrites and when I left that relationship I left God, too. If he was so great how could he let one of his children almost be killed when she already struggled with love?

Fast forward to now. For simplicity sake I’m just going to assume that you already read the aforementioned “Atheist” post so you know how God made himself present to me back in November (of 2017). I kept going to church every Sunday, each week moving a little closer to the stage, I was feeling the songs on a deeper level (I’ve always been about lyrics in a song, and these felt like they were being written just for me). I started serving in the church down in the kids’ rooms monthly, I started going to a weekly woman’s gathering on Tuesday mornings that was for the women of the church. I was attending and excited about our small church group hosted by the very own “preschool mom” who started this whole thing.

I was really getting into it. Surprisingly, I was really enjoying it, too!

At our church there’s this woman and, it doesn’t matter where you sit, you hear her. She’s the woman who says, “Mmhmm!” or “I know that’s right!” You hear her heart announce, “You’re preaching now, pastor!” when the pastor really gets into his sermon. Something about her voice, I’d never even met her..only heard her voice, made my heart say, “You need to meet her. You need to know her story.” So that’s cool my heart said that, but in the churches I went to growing up you didn’t just walk up to some strange person and talk to them, you had to know them or be introduced to them. Actually, the churches I went to never even had that active listener in the audience. You just sat quietly and listened.

Well in March there was a conference called “Thrive” and it was a women’s conference that spanned over one weekend and women came from all over to attend. I never buy expensive things for myself but I bought myself tickets to this conference right around the time of my “Atheist” post. Leading up to the conference that loud audience member won tickets so I finally learned her name when she was called to the stage! What’s even cooler? The very first night of small group at Preschool Mom’s house, this loud woman walks in! What are the chances? Preschool Mom and Loud Woman (sorry that that’s the nickname you’ve been given, I love you and you need to know that your loudness nudged me in the direction that it did) never sat near each other so I never would’ve guessed they were that close. I was so excited, I came home and told my husband all about her and her husband. I think the world of them. When the time is right I’ll make a post just about them.

The conference was amazing. I was so excited to go and see what it was about. I’ve never really had girl friends or done things with large groups of women so I was curious to see if this was going to be a positive and moving experience or turn into some giant bitch fest. It was so much more than a moving experience. It literally changed my life.

On Friday during the opening ceremony the church presented a young woman a Bravery award. This award was for the bravery that she showed during extreme trials in her life and how she showed unwavering faith. Hearing her story brought tears to my eyes, I just wanted to hug her. As we were doing our closing prayer that night I asked God for a sign (if you haven’t caught on, signs are really big to me) to let me know this was right. Walking out to my car that night with my daughter the stars were so bright, we stopped in the grass just to admire them and, clear as day, a shooting star zipped by us. That was my sign.

Saturday evening, during the final session for the day, the church presented a second Bravery award. Our senior pastor was talking about a friend of hers who was trying to invite a woman to church but the woman always had a reason why she couldn’t make it to those Tuesday morning Sisterhood groups but they kept praying for her. It turns out that the woman was attending church and quietly sitting in the back of the auditorium which was big progress from her listening to the sermons online in the privacy of her kitchen while she cooked dinner. I laughed and leaned over to my friend (“Preschool Mom” is now her name for the sake of privacy and familiarity for my readers lol) and said, “Man, I think I’d get along with her!” and no sooner did our senior pastor say, “So if we could welcome, [insert my full name] to the stage!”

UM. WHAT?!

I was presented the second Bravery award that weekend for my stepping out in faith, for what I do with the daycare, everything I do with my dad, the Climb Out of the Darkness movement, and for what I do within my town. I am still in shock. I never looked at what I do as brave. It was a truly amazing experience and I’m so grateful for it.

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Now it’s July and I’ve read a few more books in the Bible, I’ve been active in everything I mentioned earlier, praying more, discussing Jesus and the Bible with friends, I’ve stopped taking my anxiety meds (which is huge for me and came after I spoke with my doctor), I haven’t been as anxious in social settings, my introvert and OCD tendencies are subsiding enough that they’re not interfering with my life nearly as much, things are changing in me. I actually love myself. I can’t remember the last time I could say that. I am proud of who I am and what I’m doing with my life and the world around me.

I just finished the book of Acts and let me tell ya, Paul? The apostle? He’s a cool fella. I think we would get along swimmingly. That book was my push. It was my, “Now is the time,” moment and, after talking with Preschool Mom about it, we picked a date.

July 3, 2018

My entire small group was there as well as the other group from our town. I made a very corny invitation so if you’re reading this and you received it, please know I’m doubly grateful that you showed up despite my cornyness…there’s so much more to come lol. My closest friends here in town. Their families. It was truly incredible. I laugh because I had a larger turnout for my baptism than I did my wedding lol. All day I prayed for my sign that this as right. Seriously, if you haven’t read my “Atheist” post by now you need to for this next part to make sense (click here, it’ll open in a new tab). I also prayed that somebody else would feel moved and want to be baptized with me.

As my pastor and I stood in the water I could hear nothing, it’s like the 30 people on the beach and the wind and the water all just silenced, I only heard him, and he spoke of Paul (who, I’m just gonna say, Paul is my homeboy), and he leaned me back, and I went under.

I know it only lasted a split second, but in that moment under water it’s like I was being hugged, I felt safe and whole, like I could be there forever. As soon as my head went under water a hawk flew overhead. A FREAKING HAWK!!! MY MAIN SIGN FROM GOD SINCE THE VERY FREAKING BEGINNING!!!! (if you didn’t read the “Atheist” post by now that’s your own fault for not understanding why I’m so excited about a bird.) I didn’t see it but it almost means more that way. It’s like God wanted me to just do it and have faith, but when I wasn’t looking he made Himself visible.

The best part? Two more got baptized in the river, too. The daughters of two of my friends. It was magical. I know God was there yesterday. I felt him. I know they all did too.

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There’s Always Gonna be Another Mountain

I really struggled with a title for this one, as it sits I’m starting this with no title at all.  My “But I’m an Atheist” piece was surprisingly popular, it provoked a lot of conversation.  This one is more for me to get things off my chest because I feel very weighted down right now and don’t have anybody to really talk to.

There’s a term for people like me, I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic.  An ACoA.  Apparently a lot of what I’ve considered my personality flaws are actually traits of other ACoAs.  There’s a whole laundry list of things that characterize us.  It’s pretty spot on.  If you’re interested, here’s that list:
ACoA Laundry List

The first one on the list is, “We become isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.”  One of my biggest weaknesses is my social anxiety.  I haven’t quite pinpointed what I’m afraid of, honestly.  I think it’s rejection, though.  The second item on the list is, “We become approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.”  While I can’t say that I’m afraid of authority figures, I can say I seek their approval.  I always wanted to be in the good light in my teachers’ eyes, I pride myself in being a lawful citizen with a spotless driving record, I’m trying to be as active as I can in my community, and all because I want to please.  I want to please everybody and have them think highly of me, or I fear that they will reject me.

I don’t know that I’ve mentioned this person before, but my dad dated a woman for 8-10 years, I’ll call her Cindy.  He and Cindy broke up 10 years or so ago but she and I have kept in touch.  She has a unique roll in my life because she got to see this part of my world from the belly of it; she saw that my dad couldn’t get us for custody visits because he was too drunk, he could cook for us because he was too drunk, he couldn’t do anything.  So she did it.  She’s a mom so she mothered us when he couldn’t be a father.  She went with us on trips to my grandparents’ house a couple times and she got to meet the unique duo that is my dad’s parents.  They always treated us so differently from our cousins, my brother and I, we got different breakfasts, less dinner, a different tone of voice, we couldn’t watch TV but our cousin coulds, but nobody believed us if we tried telling them.  Until Cindy.

Cindy saw it with her own eyes.  Once I became an adult and had a more hands-on role in my dad’s life, she and I got closer.  I looked forward to our phone calls, we’d text throughout the day, and one day she brought up how my grandparents treated me.  She went on and on, she even cried, telling me that it was wrong and cruel, she remembered sitting at the table helpless while my grandparents went on and on about how much awesome our cousin was doing but brushed off anything we did.  She saw it all.  I tried so hard to please them.  All the time.  As hurt as I am about it now I still find myself trying to please them.

Cindy also opened up to me a lot about how my dad treated her, which was terrible.  I’ve been in a domestic violence relationship, I know how hard it is to leave, but the people who were in my life during that point of my life, I’d never do to them what Cindy did to me.  I remember listening to how my dad spoke to her, the nicknames he gave her, how he’d treat her when she walked by, my dad was a jerk.  And that’s only what I saw once or twice a month, I know it was worse when we weren’t there.

Yesterday I called Cindy to catch up.  I’ve been so busy and have had some major changes in my life that I really wanted to share with her, she’d always been so supportive of the things I got into.  The conversation started great, we were excited to hear each other’s voices, we were laughing about things, then she asked about my dad.  I started going into it, not telling her the full extent of what was going on as of late because that wasn’t why I called, and her whole tone shifted.  She became cold and mean.

Another trait that ACoAs have is that we internalize everything.  We have terribly low self-esteem, we judge ourselves too harshly, if we try to stand up for ourselves we usually end up feeling guiltier than anything.  It’s no secret that I have anxiety.  I have all of these fears about what I’m doing with my life and the worst way people could perceive that; doctors tell me that’s my anxiety, my panic.  My church tells me that’s the devil whispering in my ear.  Through meds and prayer I’ve been able to squash a lot of the negative and climb above those worries.  Until that conversation with Cindy.

She found each. and. every. single. thing. I am anxious about in my life and she shoved it in my face.  She blamed me for all of it.  According to Cindy I’m a greedy bitch, I have a useless degree, who cares that I own a daycare, I’m just a glorified babysitter and her felon sister did the same thing, I’m worthless, she never loved me and was kind to me because she loved my brother more (which has always been a worry of mine with my own mother).  She called me a glutton for punishment, that I asked for all of this with my dad because I’m a sick control freak and this is my way of being able to pull the strings.  Then she said, “You are just like your dad.  I hate your dad.  I hope he dies because he deserves to die.  You’re just like him.”

I calmly said, “I’m done with this conversation, take care of yourself,” and I hung up.  Then I cried for two hours.

It’s one thing to have anxiety and panic disorder.  It’s chaos in my own head all the time.  I fear all of those things and have successfully convinced myself for years that it’s just me, it’s just the anxiety, nobody really thinks that.

But Cindy did.  Cindy said it out loud.  To me.  With no mercy in her voice.  Her voice was steady and strong and fierce.  She spoke with conviction.  Like those words were there, brewing for years.

And in her one tirade, her episode of word vomit, she knocked me down on years of self-help and confidence-building.  I really just feel so low right now.

Logically I know what she said isn’t true.  She’s angry and she’s projecting.  I was able to leave my sick father, start a good life for myself with a good man in a new place, and she’s stuck where she is.  She can’t leave.  She sees my dad around town.  I know she was angry and taking it out on me.  However, I can’t help but think of that saying, “A drunk heart speaks a sober mind;” she may not have been drunk with alcohol but she sure was with rage.  The mountain I’ve been climbing for so long, each insult she threw was a stick of dynamite and she lit each fuse.  My mountain crumbled and I’m left at the bottom, covered in the debris of my anxiety and fears, and I’m too weak to have even stood up for myself.

Now I have to go shower because I have church in an hour.  I feel much lighter having gotten all of that off of my chest.

❤ ❤

But…I’m an Atheist…?

I have had so much on my mind lately that I’ve missed just sitting here at the computer and letting it all out.

So my dad’s health has declined.  The doctors removed all of the cancer so that currently isn’t a concern, but his mental health has taken a huge hit.  He’s very much ready to die and I understand where he’s coming from.  Looking at this as his daughter, it does make me sad.  I feel like I was deprived of a relationship, a real, quality relationship, with my dad for most of my life, and now there’s not much a relationship at all.  It’s become business.  Looking at him from a business standpoint, I understand where he’s coming from and I empathize.  I know he’s miserable.  None of us were prepared for this.  Between being stuck in the house, not being able to eat, drink, talk, anything…it’s understandable he’d sink into depression.  He’s been begging for hospice but since the cancer is gone they can’t approve it, so he was sent to palliative care.  They prescribed him some antidepressants but he won’t take them.  He just wants to die.  I kind of feel like he’s doing everything in his power to bring on death sooner.

As for my personal life, my daughter started preschool this year.  It was an emotional couple of weeks but she’s done great and has really thrived.  I was kind of excited to chat with some of the moms at drop-off and pick-up but not many really talk to me.  There’s one mom in particular who doesn’t like me, she’s made it quite clear, and if she’s nearby nobody else will talk to me.  It’s been like this for a couple of years so I’m quite used to it, I’m just bummed that the cliques didn’t end in high school.

Since nobody talks to me none of them know what’s going on with my dad, obviously.  I knew life was really getting crazy because my dreams were showing it; one night I had a dream that I was alone on a boat, I could see myself laying down on this little wooden boat in the middle of a large body of water, it was dark out so I could see the moon reflecting on the near-black water.  All of a sudden a storm picked up and waves were crashing over the boat and I just laid there, I did nothing but let the storm go on around me, crash over me.  The next day was a particularly rough day.  My dad was being so stubborn and demanding, the kids were all acting out, I just had a lot of stress going on.  I brought Charlotte to school and as I was getting in the car a mom, a mom I had only briefly met on the bike trail over the summer, approached me. (For anonymity she will be “preschool mom.”)

She said that she didn’t normally do this sort of thing and apologized if it was weird, but she had a dream about me the night before and she didn’t know if I was dealing with some storms in my life but she felt like she needed to reach out and invite me to her church, she offered for us to sit in her pew and said she wouldn’t be offended if I said ‘No.’  I thanked her and that was it.  I got in the car and as soon as my seat belt clicked I broke down.  I cried the whole way home.  She was a stranger to me, she knew nothing of my life, I’m very good about keeping my personal life personal so I know I wasn’t wearing my emotions.  It was just weird.  I thought a lot about her offer, though.  I talked to my best friend about it and I cried a lot.  Man I cried so much that day.  I looked up her church, though, and it is a non-denominational church a town or two over.  I watched a couple of the sermons online.  The pastor seemed cool, down to earth and not one of those IN-YOUR-FACE-LETS-SCREAM-ABOUT-JESUS kinds of people.  In the three sermons I watched there were a couple things he said that really stuck with me, I wrote them down and I’m going to share them here:

  1. “When you’re in the fight and things are hard, find Him.  Remember that He will be by your side.  Go to Him.  Lean on Him.  Let Him walk you through the tough stuff.  Remember that He is with you and you are not in this by yourself.”
  2. “Maybe you’ve never known that kind of father, maybe you never knew the kind of father that you could count on and holler for when you needed help.  Maybe that kind of relationship, it’s really foreign to you; that when you’re in trouble you can call on him and you know they’re going to come rescue you.  But God the father has not left you.  God the father is with you, too.  If you’re here and you’re like, ‘I’ve never seen God this way before, I’ve never seen that God’s the one that could help me or save me, the one that is with me in all things.  I’ve never leaned on God when things were tough before,’ you’ve never walked with Him…if you’re not sure how to walk with Him and this faith thing is new to you then all you need to do, when you start to believe…God grabs you by the hand and He teaches you how to walk, just like he did for Ephraim, and whenever it gets hard and you’re not sure how to move forward from here, He takes a little bit more weight and He keeps moving with you as you let Him.  When you start to fall, He catches you and when you start moving a little too fast He can pull you back, and when you get tired, He can carry you.”

So, based on just this blog post, and if you’ve read previous ones you’re familiar with my relationship with my dad, you can probably understand why these two quotes resonated with me.  The next day I told the preschool mom that I was really honored by her invitation, that it actually made me cry (and then I started crying right there in the preschool parking lot) and I put a lot of thought into it.  I briefly touched on what was going on with my dad and why her offer had such an impact on me, but wrapped it up with accepting her offer.  Then we hugged.

That Sunday I went to church.  I have not been to church in about ten years aside from the few funerals that I’ve attended, a couple baptisms.  I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was more open-minded because this one is non-denominational.  The lack of a title, I guess, makes me feel like I’m allowed to just be there without fully identifying as something I might not be.  The pastor I watched online didn’t speak that day, so I was a bit bummed, but a senior pastor did.  His sermon was a bit more historically based but he spoke about a fella named Gad who only appears in the bible a few times.  He’s not a key player, but when he appears he says something, usually a few words, that people don’t pay full attention to, but they should because his words are usually important.  He went on to say that sometimes people who aren’t key players in our life carry the post powerful message.  Naturally I couldn’t help but think of this preschool mom who definitely wasn’t a key player in my life (yet) but she had a message.  This senior pastor also mentioned that God doesn’t always come into your life as this loud, powerful, BOOM of a message, but sometimes he just comes quietly, when you need him.  He doesn’t force people to believe in Him, He wants them to just believe because they do, not because they were forced to.  So that sat with me.

That night I did something I haven’t done in 20 years or more.  I prayed.  I’ve mentioned before I think about how I’m a person of signs.  I feel like life gives us signs and we can do with that what we will.  I love that book “Animal Speak,” that I posted about previously, because we can look up the animals that come to us, if we see an animal we don’t usually see it could be a sign.  So while I was praying that night I asked for a sign.  I said that I felt weird, obviously this is outside of my comfort zone because I’ve identified as an atheist for most of my life.  I was confident in my views and never questioned them.  Why am I now?  So the very next day I walked out of the library downtown and there was a hawk on the sidewalk.  He looked at me, didn’t fly away but stood still.  I thought it was odd because it’s downtown, people are walking by, but we’re rural so a hawk isn’t a crazy thing to see.  I was driving home and as I turned on to my street there was another hawk just hanging out in the parking lot where our town has a small farmers market in the summer.  Again, odd, but not crazy.  Finally, I got home and as I pulled into my driveway I noticed there was a hawk sitting on my freaking roof.  Three hawks in the matter of ten minutes?  What are the odds?  So I tried to ignore it but that night I had a dream about a hawk flying above me all day.  I woke up and I looked up with the hawk means and the book said, “Hawk is akin to Mercury, the messenger of the gods.  Hawk medicine teaches you to be observant.  Life is sending you signals.”

I don’t know how I feel about all of it, honestly.  I’ve talked to one of my friends, a Christian, I’ll refer to her as MR, about all of it and she thinks it’s amazing.  She thinks that this is God’s way of showing Himself to me when I really need Him.  There was a sermon the other day on anxiety, given by the aforementioned senior pastor, and, for obvious reasons, it was so powerful to me.  I reached out to the cool pastor (his name is Danny) about my experience with the postpartum community and he referred me to his wife, who struggled with postpartum depression.  She and I spoke for a bit and she said that she felt so alone and it was so tough reaching out because you don’t think about “Christian” and “depression” going together, but she wants to work together to help other moms within the church.  I told MR about this and she suggested that maybe this was God opening up that door for me, to help more people who I wouldn’t normally have helped because of my lack of religion.  I hadn’t thought about it but it’s a real possibility.

So I come back to where I stand.  I’m confused, honestly.  I’ve been very open to this new path, though, and I’ve been reading the bible, I’ve been going to church on Sunday mornings, I’m even considering going to a bible study tomorrow night but I’m really torn on it because preschool mom won’t be there and she’s kind of been my crutch in that she is the one I confide in with this journey.  It’ll really be outside of my comfort zone.  I feel like it’d be silly for me to ignore the signs I’m being given.  I also feel silly because I feel almost hypocritical in all of this, like people will think I’m a fraud or that I’ve lost my mind, that maybe I’m only turning to God because of my dad.  I’ve identified so strongly as one thing for so long that I don’t want people to think that I’m becoming somebody else, that I’m only trying to fit in or appease other people, you know?

I’m almost embarrassed, and that may be the wrong word but, like the church community will see me as this rebellious non-believer who is just trying to infiltrate their world and my world, who knows me as an atheist family woman with good intentions, will think I’m abandoning myself in the sake of being accepted.  Neither is true, of course.  I’m just a confused woman, a lonely woman, with a lot of stress and emotions, who is just trying to find a little bit of peace.

I’ve Got the Eye of the Tiger, the Fire

Hello again!  I’m stoked to say that I’m officially down 7.4 lbs as of yesterday’s weigh-in!  I’m also down a whole shirt size and half of a pant size (I didn’t record my starting inches but I wish I had so I’ll be recording those from now on)!

On this journey I’ve decided to try some meal replacement shakes for the days that I’m too busy to eat a good meal which, let’s be honest, happens more than I’d like doing daycare.  I have a friend who sells Shakeology so I decided to look into that; she was kind enough to give me a sample and I will say it was pretty tasty (I made a chocolate pouch with one cup of 1% milk and a few ice cubes) – it was filling and not chalky at all.  Actually, here’s my review:

My Shakeology Review (opens in a new tab)

Ultimately what it came down to is that it’s too expensive.  It works superbly for her and her husband but I just can’t afford it off of a daycare income.  Sooo I started looking at other options and was suggested FitMiss Delight that I could buy on Amazon.  I know a few personal friends who use it and swear by it so that’s what I bought.  With Prime it cost $31 for a 36-serving container, it got here about 18 hours after I ordered it, and I just made my first shake this morning.  Here’s that review:

FitMiss Delight Review (opens in a new tab)

Ultimately, this stuff was AMAZING.  I made it with a scoop of powder, 2/3 c. of 1% milk and 2/3 c. of black coffee (Wegmans brand 100% Arabica Ground Coffee, Traditional, Medium Roast) and hoooo my gosssshhhh it was SO YUMMY!!!

I wasn’t going to do a review but it was just so good that I had to lol.  I also thought that I’d share a current photo of me because you can really see it in my face and that makes me feel good.

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Both pictures are taken without face makeup (I have mascara on a little eyebrow tint in the right picture) and you can see just how clearer my face looks, my jaw line is more pronounced, my cheeks are going down…this is all so exciting!!

I’m probably going to post again soon because I’m doing a very important walk in a week that has a fundraiser and everything so I’ll post either later today or tomorrow.  We’re puppy sitting this weekend so maybe I’ll post tomorrow because three boxers is a tad exhausting lol.

Till then…toodaloo! ❤

Why Can’t We be Friends?!

why can't we be friends

I really suck at this whole keeping my blog updated thing.  Again, my apologies for that.  I actually put a sticky note in my day planner so that I am faced with a reminder the same time each week!  I was reading a thread in one of my facebook groups about moms who have no friends and that’s what inspired this post.  As a matter of fact, this is the meme that was shared with that particular thread:

pathetic mom

What do you think of it?  The meme itself made me giggle because I actually know a few people like this, but also because I don’t have this option.  I moved to Virginia five years ago leaving my family a few states north and had trouble making friends because of the whole introvert thing, but then when I became a mom it got even tricker.  Suddenly people didn’t just judge me on my personality alone, they judged me on my parenting style, too.  Then, to really kick it up a notch we moved to a small, traditional, southern baptist town where everybody already knows each other (but the safety rating is awesome and the schools are unparalleled).  So now I’m known not only as the outsider, but as “that alternative mom.”  That’s fine, I am confident in my parenting style and life choices, but it’s damn lonely.

If you surf google for a bit about how to make friends as a mom you’ll find some pretty common suggestions:
– Put yourself out there (I do that!)
– Make the first move (I smile and say “hi” to everybody)
– Get contact info (Hard to do when I don’t get a smile or “hi” back)
– Plan the first playdate (Again, hard to do when I haven’t gotten the previous two steps)
– Be yourself (Ehh…that seems to be what people don’t like)
– Don’t gossip (in this town, I’m the source of the gossip so that’s fun)
– Talk about something other than your kids (which isn’t as easy as it sounds)
– Don’t shy away from moms who don’t parent like you (I’ll be blunt, if we witness you hitting your kid or talking down to them we don’t want to be friends with you anyway, but other than that this isn’t a big deal for me)

You’re getting the gist, right?

Whenever there is something kid-related or family-friendly going on in the area I try to make sure our calendar is open so that we can attend; not only do I want to meet people but I want my daughter to make friends, too.  One of our favorite activities is the library each week; they do a weekly story time so I get to talk to other adults and my daughter (and daycare kids) can play, listen to stories, sing songs, and do a craft.  It’s great for their growing minds and socialization.  Well.  For the first few months nobody spoke to me except for the women who were bringing their grandchildren, which I’m okay with but it’s not like they were jumping to be friends with me, you know?  There was one mom in particular there who was always cold towards me and I never understood why until I found out that she’s the other in-home daycare in town.  So basically I’m the competition and she has big pull here, so other moms weren’t talking to me for fear of betraying her.  On the days she wasn’t there, though, people spoke to me.  Mature, right?

I created a facebook group for the moms in our town hoping that it’d break the ice, we could chat about common things amongst the group and then we could add each other and get to know each other better, you know.  Well the group is doing fair, but once people find out that we do gentle/attachment parenting and we don’t go to church you’d think we were personally here from the bowels of hell just to sacrifice their children.

I have no problem keeping my religious preferences hush hush, I’m quite used to it actually since I’m the black sheep in my catholic family, but because of my daughter’s age (she’s three) it comes up pretty quickly.  I’m often asked if I’m sending her to preschool and “the absolute best preschool in town!” happens to be a catholic-based program.  I mean heavy catholic.  I’m okay with religion and I teach different ones at home, but I’m not going to pay (what I think is a high amount) for my daughter to go to a program that doesn’t teach much outside of the ABCs of the bible.  So I try to graciously explain that it’s just not for us and I’m often met with rebuttals ranging from “There’s a scholarship option if money is tight” to “Ohhh, do you go to a different church?”  I usually respond with, “That’s fantastic, it’s just not something we’re going to do, we really enjoy learning at home and while we’re out and about.”  My answer is apparently a big red flag because I have had two different moms completely stop talking to me because of that.

Another thing that is apparently taboo in motherhood?  Not drinking wine.  I don’t drink at all, but I don’t see why wine needs to be a part of a playdate?  I love coffee.  I worship coffee.  I pray to the java gods every morning.  Coffee is a much more suitable beverage when surrounded by kids (and trust me, I’d know).  I had a mom once ask me, “Should I bring a red or a white?” when I asked her and her sons over for a late-morning play date.  What?!  I can understand a glass or two after the kids have gone to bed, but after breakfast?  No.

You know what else seems crazy to many moms?  Enjoying being with your child.  I schedule activities that I know my daughter would enjoy because I love seeing her have fun.  I love seeing her learn and enjoy herself, it makes me happy.  So when I’m not going to leave my daughter with a sitter on a Saturday to go lay out on the beach with you (one, I don’t even know a babysitter and two, I freaking HATE the beach) that doesn’t make me a shitty person, it makes a happy mom.

I like to use my weekends for family time since that’s the only time my husband has off (as long as it’s not an overtime weekend).  Apparently that’s bizarre, too, because I’ve often been asked to just leave my daughter with daddy so I can go do things with other people.  That’s fine, my husband would be supportive of it, but I wouldn’t enjoy myself because I’d constantly be wondering what my daughter is doing and if she’s okay.  Plus, the only things anybody invites me to are those stupid MLM parties (Scentsy, Pure Romance, LulaRoe, ItWorks!, etc) or to those Painting with a Twist parties.  Those aren’t really my style.

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t like doing things that many others enjoy; for example, I prefer coffee shops to bars, museums to clubs, I’d much rather stay home in my jammies to watch a movie than go to a theater.  I like being home, I like doing things that are free, I absolutely hate being surrounded by tons of people, I definitely don’t want to have to buy things from you for us to have a friendship.

It would just be so nice to have a friend come over for coffee or something that understood the restrictions that come with having a kid, it’d be awesome if they had a kid so all of the kids could play together.  A friend who I could text with about the silly things in life and one I could meet up with after lunch to bring the kids to the park.  We could talk about everything from the kids to the weather to politics to husbands, everything.  I was told once that “in order to have friends you have to be a friend.”  I think that’s kind of a messed up statement.  In order for me to have friends I have to do things they like and enjoy, but nobody wants to do that with me.  Instead I’m mocked for my likes and dislikes, mocked for my lifestyle and choices, but I’m kept around because it’s convenient for them.  No.  That’s not how this works.

I digress.

Morning frustrations have put a sour taste in my mouth so I’m going to wrap this up before I sound too jaded lol.  I hope y’all have a great day!

I’m a Gentle Parent…Not a Passive One

gentle parenting not passive parenting

I never planned on having kids so, like many non-parent adults, I had views on parenting that I was certain would work best.  Those views were very traditional, strict parenting: spanking, time-outs, yelling, like hell the kid would sleep in my bed, etc.

Then I became a mom.  A mom who suffered from postpartum anxiety and OCD (my post about PPA/PPOCD)) and man, did my views change.  In helping heal my PPA I found that taking a gentle approach to my life truly helped me; I started meditating, I stopped stressing about things I couldn’t control,  I would practice my breathing and control my emotions before I responded to a situation and I found that it worked!  While I still have general anxiety, I’ve learned to regulate it without medication and, for somebody who has been struggling with it for almost 20 years, that’s a big accomplishment.

My daughter was very attached in her infancy; I had to babywear if I didn’t want to listen to her scream because if she wasn’t near me then she was just miserable!  I found that I loved babywearing, though, so it turned out to be a win for both of us.  As she got older and more mobile it became harder to wear her while trying to do things around the apartment so she’d just follow me and scream, out of frustration I’d yell at her to leave me along for five minutes, if she touched things she wasn’t supposed to I’d smack her hand.  Every time I did something like this the look on her face would break my heart but it’s the only thing I ever knew in regards to “discipline” and teaching.  She was a very high-needs baby, but also very sensitive, and that has carried on with her now that she’s a preschooler.

One day we were getting in the car at the mall after a play group and after telling her to wait by the car while I loaded in the little boy I watched my daughter darted into the road and a car had to swerve to miss her!  She thought it was funny and giggled as she ran, but out of complete fear I raised my hand and I spanked her butt.  I hit my child.  I was angry and so scared, more scared than I had ever been in my life, but I hit her.  I buckled her into her seat and I sat outside my car and I cried.  Man did I cry so hard.

While most people will read that and think, “Good, she deserved a pop for that!” I am still feeling guilt because of it.  It broke me.  I was spanked as a child and I grew to fear those spanked me.  I never felt respect for them, I never felt that I learned anything, I grew to be cautious of them; if I stepped out of line or said the wrong thing I could get hit.  I never wanted that for my child but there I was, hitting her in a parking lot.

Something needed to change after that.  I started applying my “gentle life” techniques to my parenting and it was like an instant change in our daughter.  She started listening more, she was more curious about life and was much more excited to show me things that she found in her world, we were interacting on a different level and it was incredible, I don’t even really know how to describe it.

I’ve shared that I’m a SAHM/childcare provider, my husband works long hours and, as a result, isn’t around much so it took a long time for our daughter to get used to him.  For the first year and a half of her life he was active duty but then after he got out of the USMC he took another government job with equally as long hours, often getting OT on the weekends.  Charlotte wouldn’t go to him much, she was wary of him because he has a strong presence; a stone face, doesn’t show much emotion, strong voice, and loud when worked up about something.  He was raised in that traditional, strict home as well and then joined the Marine Corps. where emotion was pretty much banned, so, in a nutshell, the man is far from Mr. Rogers lol.

I’ll never forget the day that he and I reached our breaking point in parenting.  While I had started to filter gentleness into my style, he remained the strict one.  We were packing our apartment to move to our first house and our stress levels were much higher than usual; Charlotte happened to touch something that my husband didn’t want her to and instead of saying, “Lets not touch that, we could get hurt,” he shouted, “NO!!” and smacked her hand and snatched up the case she had touched.  Instantly she came screaming to me, red, puffy cheeks and eyes, shouting, “Daddy scare me!”  He heard it.  As I hugged her and calmly said, “Daddy didn’t want you to get hurt,” she just cried and wailed, “No, daddy scare me!”  He acted preoccupied but I could see that her words were hurting him.

yelling silences message

That moment caused a fight between my husband and I (and in our five years together I can count our fights on one hand).  I described his actions as listening to a TV when the volume is too high: you can hear the noise but the words aren’t clear.  That’s what was happening with our toddler, a tiny human who was still learning how things work – she was exploring and instead of learning why not to do something, she was basically told to fear it because she couldn’t understand the message.

Since that day I’ve noticed an incredible change in my husband.  He is so much more patient with our daughter, he takes the time to show her how things work and explain why we do things.  He even invites her into the garage (his personal sanctuary) so they can work on his project truck together.  We had snow a few months ago and he went outside and built a snowman with her.  He encouraged her walk along side him while he put some chemicals on the lawn last weekend.  She gets so excited when she wakes up and realizes that he’s still in bed and not at work, because it means she gets to hang out with him.

I know that it made him sad that our daughter was scared of him for so long, his family would comment on it, he even made a remark to a friend of ours at a Fourth of July BBQ that our daughter would never want him to play with her the way our friend’s son was playing with her husband.  I’m so glad to say that in under a year that has changed all because of his new gentle approach to parenting.

We are often criticized for our choice to not spank or yell, because we choose not to isolate our daughter in time-out, that we still hug her when she’s sad or hurt or scared, but to those people I say, “Oh well.”  We are raising a child who is confident in her choices, who knows that it’s okay to be wrong from time to time, a child who isn’t afraid of an accident.

be it to teach it

I found this quote recently and I quite like it:

“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.”
– Haim G. Ginott

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  Were you spanked as a child?  How do you feel about it?  Do you spank as a parent?  Have you asked your child what they think about being hit?  I hope y’all have a great weekend!  ❤

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

I am awful at staying up to date with this, I know I keep saying I’ll get better and I’m so sorry I haven’t.  I do keep little sticky notes around my laptop, though, with ideas of what to write about.  If you have any topics you want me to discuss leave a comment and I’ll do it 😀

Soooo ghosts.  The paranormal world is one of those almost taboo subjects that people like to hear the stories, especially if they’re real-life experiences, but then don’t want to believe them.  I’m one of those in-the-middle people; I’ve experienced things that are completely unexplainable despite me trying to debunk them or find solid reasoning that they couldn’t be paranormal.  I’ve mentioned before (at least I think I have) that I’m atheist so the idea of believing in ghosts and spirits but not believing in God, Satan, angels, demons, etc. is odd.  I will say this, despite my disbelief in God and His posse, when I used sage to smudge our new house I also carried a rosary and an amethyst with me.

That’s another thing, I like stones and crystals!  Not only are they pretty, but I love their significance and healing powers.  Even if it’s all in my head, it doesn’t hurt to like them.  That’s not really related to this entry, I guess, so I digress and will get back to the topic 😉

Growing up I always loved when my mom would tell me scary stories; she’d tell me some of the experiences that our family or her friends have had in regards to ghosts or paranormal and I would listen, totally mesmerized.  As I grew up, though, and started to gain a better understanding of life and all of that good stuff I believed it less and less, mainly because it didn’t make sense; there wasn’t a solid reason or evidence that ghosts were here so I just didn’t didn’t believe.

However I have had a few things happen with me and now with my daughter (who just turned three and doesn’t even understand what ghosts are) so I thought I’d share those:

Happening #1 – Part One:
I’m from western NY and we had a serial killer in the 70s (Arthur Shawcross a.k.a. The Genesee River Killer) who targeted prostitutes.  He dumped their bodies in various spots, but two of the bodies he dumped in the same park (Turning Point Park).  As a junior in high school a few friends and I went down there around 11:30 pm.  The way the park is laid out (the part where he dumped the bodies) is like a giant oval on it’s side.  The parking lot was about smack dab in the bottom part of the oval and the path to the left lead to a big opening (roughly 1100 sq. ft.) and then the path continued down hill to the Genesee River.  Reports have it that he dumped one decapitated body in the water and the second he threw in the woods just past this giant opening before the path continued down hill.

Well I was a smoker at the time and as we were walking I had a cigarette in my right hand (imagine how one holds a cigarette) and on the palm of my hand and in between my fingers my hand got tingly, like it had fallen asleep.  I shook it off and didn’t pay any attention to it, just tossed out my cigarette.  We got to the giant opening and something literally stopped me.  I was the only girl in the group and my friend Bob* (names changed for privacy) was at the front of the line holding the video camera that had a light on it.  I spoke up saying, “Guys, I don’t feel comfortable..something isn’t right!” and they all stopped and came around me trying to calm me down but Bob had the camera light right on my face and it was blinding, so I told him to turn the camera away.  We talked for a few minutes but I just couldn’t (phsycially) move any further forward and so we turned around and called it a night.  A few days later Bob called me and said that I had to get to his house – I wouldn’t believe what was on the video.  So my boyfriend at the time (who was with us that night) and I went to Jim’s and we crowded around his TV.  You could hear us talking and joking and you could see a little bit of my cigarette smoke floating in front of the camera.  Then you hear me say, “Guys, hold on..” and a blue orb floated past the camera screen (totally plausible that it was dust, but wait for Part Two) and went into the woods to the right and then you could see this gray transluscent mist come walking up the hill (from the river) and it stopped at the top of the hill facing us (none of us saw it because the camera was facing that way while everybody talked to me).  That’s when you could hear Bob say, “Okay, let’s just leave.” and he closed up the camera and we left.

Happening #1 – Part Two:
So now it’s 2006 (four years after part one) and some new friends and I go down to Turning Point Park to walk the whole thing since it was afternoon.  I had just gotten a brand new digital camera, charged up the battery and was excited to test it out.  My friend Tom* (names changed for privacy) was the only smoker in the group and in the one picture where he had a cigarette I was about 50 feet away testing out the zoom feature.

(This picture below is without the zoom)

CIMG0115

(The picture below is with the zoom)CIMG0112

These two pictures are taken at the bottom of the hill (the water is the Genesee River) and this pier that they’re on is where one of the bodies was found.  As you can tell it was getting dark so we started back up the path and I kept feeling like something was following us.  I kept checking but nothing was there.  Finally my friend suggested taking a picture so I did:

(The picture below is of the path behind us – note: the blue orb was the same one we saw on Bob’s video camera four years earlier)

CIMG0145

We got to that giant opening and both my friend Marie* and myself felt really weird.  I kept feeling tinglies on my body (remember from part one I said it felt like my hand fell asleep?) and Marie said her head was pounding, she couldn’t think straight.  We stopped (Tom was going towards the car, not with us at this point).  I kept hearing something in the woods and I took a picture:

(Below is a picture of the woods where the blue orb disappeared to in part one)

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At the same exact moment both of our cell phones shut off, Marie’s watch stopped, and my camera flashed once and then completely died.

(Below is the last picture that was captured by my now-dead camera)

CIMG0149

Marie and I ran to the car and locked the doors and sped off.  At the end of the street our phones turned on, her watch started and my camera turned back on.  I haven’t gone back to Turning Point Park since this happened.

Happening #2:
This one happened in a dream so I don’t know if it counts in the way that other ghost stories do but I think it is really special.

When I was a senior in high school one of my older friends (who had graduated and joined the Army) had commit suicide at the park right up the street from my house.  His little brother found him.  It took everything in me to go to the wake and I was just so drained that I couldn’t get the energy to go to the funeral, so I stayed in bed and just cried.  

About a week later I was feeling so guilty that I missed the funeral that it was just eating at me.  I was becoming physically ill because I felt so selfish that I couldn’t just go say goodbye.  Well one night I went to sleep and I had this dream that I was walking through the halls of my school and Steve (my friend that died) was in the back corner (where a lot of us hung out) and he was just playing hackey sack.  I smiled and waved and went to class.  In class an announcement came on over the PA and said we were to all meet in the bleachers on the football field (Steve played football).  I walked out there and everybody was already there so I found a spot all alone in the bleachers and looked down at the field and there was a casket with the flag draped over it.  I couldn’t stop staring at it and then Steve opened up the casket and climbed out, walked up the bleachers and kneeled down in front of me and said, “It’s okay…I’m okay now…you can let go.”  

It was right then that I woke up and I instantly felt lighter and like I could breathe easier.  I went to the cemetery that morning and I sat down on the still fresh grave and I told Steve my dream.  When I got done I told him that I’m sorry I didn’t go to his funeral, that I love him and just didn’t want to say goodbye.  Right then a cardinal came and landed on the headstone and sang his little song and flew away.  Something just told me that everything was okay.

Happening #3:
There was an old house in my hometown that everybody used to say was haunted and that at midnight it’d glow green – I never witnessed that – but I was fascinated by the house because it was a huge and beautiful and it didn’t fit in with the other houses in the area…or the whole town for that matter.  Well, anybody from that area can tell you that the Easter of 2004 was so hot that people were already swimming at the beach!  Mike* (names changed for privacy), my bf at the time and the same guy who was with me at Turning Point Park, and I decided to go for a walk and as were nearing this house, we decided to walk around the property since it was vacant (and had been for years). 

We started with the barn (to the left of the house) and as we were walking on the far left side of it we could hear and smell horses.  We could hear them kicking in their stalls and neighing.  Around the far back side of the barn there was a balcony of sorts but the wood looked all burned and charred.  At the top of the balcony there was a set of french doors that had stained glass windows and the doors themselves were fine – they even looked new – but the wood around the doors was completely burned up like the rest of the balcony wood.

On we went.  Behind the barn just to the left (if you’re looking at the front of the house the structure is to the right of the barn, behind the main house) there was a smaller house (it has since been torn down but I learned that it was the servant’s quarters) and we were able to look in the windows.  There was still furniture in there and there was a small kitchen table with glasses and plates still on it like somebody was about to set the table.  There was one door off the kitchen that looked to be a bedroom (I could see the corner of a bed).  We switched windows and were looking the other end of this house now and I could see a middle door (kind of separating the kitchen and living room) that was a bathroom; my eyes suddenly caught a rocking chair moving and the third door (at the far end of the living room) slammed shut.  We jumped back from the window and kept walking.

We approached the main house and started in the back.  There was a set of concrete stairs that let to nothing…literally just a wall.  Then there was a a big ditch that lead to the basement of the house – kind of like there was supposed to be cellar doors there and they just weren’t anymore.  There was a piece of wood that was placed inside the house and attempted to board up the opening to the basement, but it didn’t cover the whole space (so there was a triangular opening to the basement).  As we walked by that there was a huge blast of cold air..so cold both Mike and I saw our breath (keep in mind, it was at least 90 outside that day).  We kept walking by it trying to feel the cold again, Mike even climbed down the slope and put his arm inside the building and the cold was just not there.  So we walked on to the east side of the house (in the picture it’s the right awning) and as we approached the concrete slab (all the white fencing was not there) we could hear kids laughing followed by a door closing.  We walked on towards the front of the house and near the front left window we got a really strong smell of bourbon.  It was so strong we actually looked in the bushes to see if a bum had left a bottle there!

Now, I was talking to a town hall member about this experience and he told me that in the mid-1900s a man lived there with his family but suspected that his wife was having an affair and so he killed her along with his kids.  He remarried and his new wife loved horses so he bought her two horses for the barn and things were good.  Then he suspected her of cheating, too, and locked her and the horses in the barn before setting it on fire.  That front, left window was rumored to be his study where he’d go to drink and reportedly took his own life there.  The servants didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to be accused so they fled.  I have tried researching this story and can’t find anything to validate it, all I could find is that it was a working farm and the owner owned a local coal company and the Rochester-Buffalo-Pittsburg Railroad.  The property is now offices and for sale. 

(The below picture is a semi-recent picture of the house)
Yates Thayer Mansion

Happening #4:
We recently bought a house and where we moved to is about 30 minutes from major stores; a trip to Wal-Mart is about a half hour and through farm country. One day after leaving WM my daughter (who was two and a half at the time) started screaming, “Stop! He look at me!” and seemed truly upset. Naturally I pulled over and jumped out of the car to search the back and there was nothing, I finally concluded that she just saw her distorted reflection in the shiny handles and that was that. She acted this way in the car for a few weeks, but it was lessening. Finally one day we went out to the car and I opened the door and she goes, “Hi! I miss you!” and chatted with nothing during all of our errands. We got to the grocery store and she pointed at the side of the car that originally scared her and said, “Okay, I be back. You wait here!” That’s when I started getting curious so I took pictures of the car, the inside, outside, each seat, and I posted them in and paranormal group I’m part of. I told them no details, nothing about my daughter’s behavior, just the photos. One woman, who is a an empath and can connect with spirits, responded and said that my daughter has the gift (now mind you I told her no details, not even that I have a daughter) and that our area is rich with history and it appears I picked up hitchhikers, of sort, in my travels, that we had an older woman and her grandson in the car and they were using our vehicle as their portal to get where they needed to go. She suggested driving around the area to see if it made a difference so we did that one day and after about 20 minutes I heard Charlotte say, “Bye! I miss you!” and she hasn’t mentioned it since!!

Happening 5:
I was at the jewelry store here in town and the owner had her dog there so Charlotte kept petting the dog but kept looking in the back room asking about the other dog, the big white one. I didn’t pay much attention to it and told her that the other dog was back there sleeping and she had to stay out here because the back room was only for employees. As we were paying I asked the owner about her other dog in the back and she said she doesn’t have one back there, that the little French Bulldog was the only one in the store. I looked at her confused and asked about the big white dog that Charlotte was talking about and she told me that her white lab died there in May.

Happening 6:
I had just got done donating blood and afterwards was strapping Charlotte into her carseat.  She was watching me more than usual and then suddenly put her hand on my cheek and said, “God will bless you mama.”  Keep in mind, I’m atheist so I’m not discussing God or blessings with her, I work from home so she’s with me all the time so I know she’s not hearing that from other people, so it was a very bizarre thing for her to say.  I asked her to repeat what she said and she smiled and said, “You be blessed mama,” and then went back to playing with her toy.  Odd but I shrugged it off.  So recently, about a month and a half after the post-blood donation thing, Charlotte was playing and kept talking about Sophie.  Sophie this and Sophie that, Sophie loves God, we be blessed, etc.  Weird things!  She doesn’t like watching “Princess Sofia” so I knew it wasn’t that (and I asked if her if that’s what she was saying) but, again, I shrugged it off and chalked it up to toddler imagination.

I was on the phone with my mom just a couple days ago (we’re states away) and she was telling me about the psychic fair that she and a friend went to; they go regularly so it’s not out of character for her.  She had been really stressed out about some work and family stuff so she felt like that stress was blocking her energies, but one of the readers told her that a motherly figure was visiting but since my mom’s mom and her mother-in-law are both alive she felt like it wasn’t accurate and went about the fair.

As my mom was telling me about her day it reminded me of Charlotte talking about Sophie, so I mentioned how I’d love to bring her to one because of it.  I asked her if we had anybody in our family tree named Sophie and she got really quiet for a few seconds and asked, “Why do you ask?  That’s a really strange question…”  so I told her about Charlotte mentioning Sophie and the things she said about her, to my surprise my mom started crying!  She then told me that her grandma, my great grandma, Charlotte’s great great grandma, was named Sophie and she was an a spunky Catholic woman who went to church every day and said the rosary every night, she always used to tell my mom that she’d be blessed!  So the psychic was right – a maternal figure was visiting, she was just visiting my daughter!
So that’s that.  All of these things I can’t really explain but are interesting, at least to me.  Do you have any experiences that are paranormal or unexplainable?  If so, I’d love to hear them!

 

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

I started reading Harry Potter 17 years ago, at the same age Harry was when he and his peers started Hogwarts. I remember exactly where I was when I started reading it (in the car on the way to an amusement park), who I was with (my best friend at the time, Lisa), and how I felt (annoyed at first because I forgot a book for our hour drive but I was sucked in quickly). I grew up with the characters in those books.  I was picked on so often growing so I had such a connection to Harry, Ron, and Hermione because they were picked on, too.  I adored them, their talents and quirks, their friendship.

I remember where I was when I learned about Professor Severus Snape’s true identity (on the way to a camping trip in the Thousand Islands), who I was with (my boyfriend and some mutual friends), and how I felt (I was sobbing uncontrollably!). I had already graduated high school at this point and my car full of friends was teasing me about crying over “kid books” but Harry Potter, Hogwarts, was always my happy place. As Dumbledore said, I entered a place that was entirely my own.  They offered me the magic that my life lacked.  

Reading the news yesterday morning and seeing that Alan Rickman passed away just broke my heart, there is no other way to describe it.  It was like a piece of my childhood was gone.  It’s kind of poetic, in a way, that he passed after a battle with cancer.  You’re probably wondering, “Poetic?!  What the hell is lady thinking?!” but let me explain.

Voldermort was the death of the series and Snape worked with him as long as he could, he manipulated his odds against the monster, he shaped lives in the process, mine included, and he taught lessons that many will pass on.  In the end, though, the monster may have taken his life but Snape won, he was the bravest man we knew.  Alan Rickman made such an impact in the world that many generations are feeling the impact of his passing.

I was telling my dad about how sad I am about Rickman’s passing and he asked, “You still like that stuff?!” It was the perfect time to give the best answer…

Always ❤

RIP Alan Rickman

il_570xN.709244688_cw38

He’s a Dick…Addicted…

I was four and it was winter it upstate NY. My mom was at work so my recently fired father was in charge of babysitting me, a chore that he hated. My uncle was in town visiting, the first of three times I’ve ever met him, so my dad decided it would be a good idea to take me to the playground at the end of our street, I could play and they could talk.

He forgot my jacket.

While he zig-zagged back to our house I told my uncle to play with me. “Well, what should we play?” my single, mid-20s, kid-fearing uncle asked me. “Let’s pretend mommy and daddy still love each other!” I told him as I flew down the slide.

My dad never came back with my jacket, he decided it was too cold and we’d be home eventually. That was my uncle’s first memory of me.

That summer I was invited to a birthday party. I was only invited because the whole class was, but nobody really played with me. They were playing house and told me I could be the neighbor since my mommy and daddy weren’t married I wouldn’t know how to play house the right way. I cried until my mom picked me up.  Kids were mean, even in the early 90s.

After my parents split up my mom got sole custody, my dad was given every other weekend and a pathetic amount for child support. I remember getting so excited on his weekends, I’d pack my weekend bag and sit on the front steps waiting for him. For hours.  If it was raining I sat outside under an umbrella.  Just waiting.

He’d call and tell me he was having car trouble or he was helping a friend. Sometimes he wouldn’t call at all and my mom would encourage me to go play with friends, promising to get me as soon as he got there. She never told me the truth: he was too drunk to show up. She never talked poorly about him either. I give her credit for that.

I’ve been struggling recently with my father. He is an addict. He is an alcoholic. His functioning level, his bare minimum, is twice the legal limit. If his BAC drops below that he starts experiencing withdrawals. He has liquor everywhere, secret compartments in his vehicles, stashed around his apartment, he even has bottles hidden in the woods around his home.

I’ve seen my father sober once in my life. It was October 2009, six years ago; he was at Strong Memorial Hospital after having a tumor removed.  I touched on that in another post (“Daddy Issues”) so I won’t elaborate fully here, but he is very much not the same person when he drinks.  When he was taken out of his coma, 100% sober, it was like he was hollow.  He was looking around the room but not really seeing things, he was watching me speak but I don’t know that he was absorbing the things that I was saying.  His body was so used to drinking and taking swigs from bottles that he would go through the movements of reaching behind his pillow, unscrewing the lid, putting a bottle to his mouth, throwing his head back to swallow, smacking his lips a certain way that I will always identify as my dad’s “drunk lips,” screwing the lid back on, and stashing the bottle back under his pillow.  There was never a bottle, though.  He did the same thing with cigarettes.  The doctors said that, physically, he was sober and that he could live the rest of his life like a sober man but he would need therapy; he would need treatment that would help him unlearn his motions, basically.

He never got help.

One of the most frustrating parts of his addiction is my support circle.  I know with every ounce of me they mean well and I love each one of them more for that, but I don’t think any of them fully realize just how far gone he is.  He has been an alcoholic for roughly 38 years.  That is longer than I have been alive.  He is so far gone that he has “wet brain,” which is medically known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.  Basically, WKS is brain damage that’s caused by a lack of the B1 vitamin and it’s common in chronic alcoholics.  I spoke with some specialists and I was told that, while he’s been suffering from WKS for a good 20 years or so, his hospital stay in 2009 exacerbated it because it got his brain functioning on a “normal” level, like a restart, and there’s glitches because all of the proper components for functioning aren’t there.

He doesn’t remember much; his short term memory is gone and to fill it in he just makes things up.  He likes to tell people things about his amazing life that he’s had but he uses bits and pieces from other people’s lives.  Many of his stories contain info and accomplishments from his dad’s life, his younger brother’s life (the uncle from the playground), and others.  It’s hard to know what is the truth and what isn’t.

I mentioned my support circle before and in that circle is the aforementioned uncle who I have developed a great relationship with.  I said before that I’ve only met him three times in my life and the last time I saw him was in 2004 when we went to Costa Rica.  After that trip my dad told me all of these horrible things about how much shit my uncle talked about me, how he thought I was scum and trashy, I was a failure to the family, so I never went out of my way to speak with him.  Due to my father’s most recent hospital stay I got in touch with him and we talked for almost six hours!  Now, I look forward to our phone calls and having that relationship with him that I never would’ve had otherwise.  He’s a really cool guy and it sucks that he lives in Arizona, but at least we keep in touch.  He’s a great pillar in my sanity when it comes to my father.

A faulty part of my support circle is my grandparents, my dad’s parents.  They are noble people, not your typical lovey-dovey grandparents, they don’t BS, and they don’t discuss their problems.  Therefore, they don’t believe my father’s addiction actually exists.  They give him an allowance still.  He’s almost 60!  I think their logic, though, is “out of sight, out of mind.”  Their allowance enables him to buy all this shit he doesn’t need, including alcohol.  I have told them, doctors have told them, their other sons have told them, my dad is an alcoholic.  They don’t believe anybody, though, because, “Barry said he stopped drinking!”

I don’t know that there was a specific point to this entry, more of just a way for me to vent and document this frustration.  Maybe one day my grandparents will be surfing the web (lol!) and they’ll stumble across it.  Why they would read a blog of all things, especially one titled “Yoga Cups and Coffee Pants,” is beyond me, but hey, stranger things have happened.

I guess if you’re going to get anything out of this, please be mindful of alcoholics.  Of all addicts, really.  There comes a point when the addiction takes over the body and the person loses all control.  Alcoholism is the only addiction where the withdrawal can kill you.  Sometimes I wonder how his disease hasn’t killed my father.  It killed his best friend of 45 years, it’s tried to kill him more than once, but somehow he always makes it out.

Anyway.  I’ll share a couple pictures, you can kind of see the deterioration in my father.

dad in hospital

This is my dad in February 2011.  He’s wearing reading glasses that he found on a bench and he wears them because he thinks they make him look smart.  He’s holding a crossword puzzle in his left hand and was using a cotton swab as a pencil in his right.

dad in wheelchair

The picture above is my father in February of 2011 (same trip as the first photo).  He is in a wheelchair because the room we had to go to was too far and his lungs couldn’t support that kind of exertion.

dad holding isaac

The picture above is my father in November of 2010 awkwardly holding my nephew.  That right side of his face is where they removed the tumor.

dad at wedding

This picture is at my wedding in April 2012.  If you look at my dad’s face you can see where half of it is missing.  The only reason he made it to my wedding (smelling like booze) is because of the woman on the far left.  She’s his ex-girlfriend.

dad at sticky lips

Okay final picture!  This one is in June of 2013 – you can see how much my father has withered away just over the few years shown in the pictures.  I haven’t seen him since this photo was taken.

Till next time ❤