Story prompt – Mountains

Sunday Scribblings  is hosted by peckapalooza – the Confusing Middle

This weeks prompt is Mountains.

Usually, I try to write a story with the prompt. Failing that, I try to write something/anything.

This morning my creativity feels stopped up and I have nothing. It’s like the mountains currently in my life are creating the barrier.

I thought, hey, I could write a blog post about personal mountains interfering with my obligations.

The more I considered the idea the less it seemed like a prudent move. Maybe I could just leave a comment on Aaron’s site explaining my lack of participation. That sounded like a better idea.

One good thing about procrastination; it gave me time to think things through and come up with a better idea.

I decided the post idea was the best way after all.

I had two thoughts causing doubts about the wisdom of sharing. Maybe some would make more out of my mountains than they should. That could cause ripple effects. Or maybe more would say What, you call that molehill a mountain?

I decided they are my molehills and I can call them mountains if I want to. So there.

I think I just killed two birds with one stone.

Random thoughts on a Friday night.

It’s a disappointing book day but I’m loving the view of my garden on this sunny day.

Part of the reason for today’s disappointment, other than the lack of interesting suggestions – is the erotica the Amazon logarithms insist on showing me. They haven’t figured out that offense causes me to spend less time browsing and downloading not more.

Maybe their overall sales are down and they are making a concerted effort to boost the numbers with what they believe the consumer wants. I don’t suppose they will notice but it’s backfiring, at least with some of us. And I would wager it’s happening more often than they realize. Many people are on the fence when it comes to reading, they do very little over the course of the year. The fight needed to find something worth reading is pushing away rather than drawing in new readers.

I didn’t plan to say any of this when I started this post but I am steamed over the stuff Amazon keeps pushing on me. The logarithms are supposed to keep track of my likes and show me ads and suggestions that reflect the same. They are not. It’s like showing you choices you hate when you’re shopping for food. Highly annoying.  It’s enough to make you lose your appetite and send you to some other more satisfying vendor

On the upside, with fewer downloads I’m better able to catch up on the backlog of books waiting to be read. I guess you could say they are doing me a big favor.

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I have had several time consuming things on the agenda this week to keep me from reading and blogging.

One is my high maintenance yard. It was in need of a make over and now most of the planting and moving things around has happened. Hopefully the last of it will be finished  this long weekend. That’s the goal, anyway. The weeds are not as prolific this late in the season either and that’s got me feeling encouraged. Maybe I can do this. Have it looking beautiful and then keep it that way. I am pleased with the changes and I love the new look.

Another perk in spending a lot of time out doors. The best tan I’ve had in my adult life. It’s mostly on my arms but hey, it’s still good. Improved muscle tone after a passive winter hasn’t hurt (much) either.

The other nice thing about time outside is neighborly conversations. This has been the best summer ever in that regard.

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The second time consuming thing this week has been my job.  There have been some challenging projects pop up and one of the upsides to that has been time spent working with colleagues to figure things out. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and the chance to work with others. It’s been great.

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This is the before picture of the flower bed on the left and the empty spot in the back by the hydro pole. They are both sporting new plants. I’ll try for new pictures of the upgrades tomorrow.

20200626_134658

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I’m currently still reading this collection. I’m finally on book 5, just started.

The Newpointe 911 collection

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Until tomorrow…

Happy reading!

Charles Martin bargain books July 26, 2020

It looks like this is Charles Martin night.

I stumbled across a bargain book by one of my favorite authors. Charles Martin is a awesome story teller and in this book he tells his own story. I’ve not read it but wanted to. It’s a bargain today at $1.99

What If It’s True?: A Storyteller’s Journey with Jesus

What if it's True

Amazon quote:

Years ago, Charles Martin cracked open his Bible and began wrestling with a few fundamental questions. He asked, “What if every single word of Scripture is absolutely true and I can trust it? How do I respond? Something in me should change, but what? How?” This book is the result of that exploration. 

In What If It’s True? he brings key moments from the life and ministry of Jesus to life through his descriptive, novelistic words. In addition, Martin shares key moments from his own journey as a disciple—and bondservant—of Christ and a mentor to others. The result is an exploration of truth that helps us not just think differently, but live differently. Today.

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More of Charles Martin at bargain prices $2.99, and $4.99 for a collection. All of these I have read,

Maggie: The Sequel to The Dead Don’t Dance (Awakening)

Maggie

Amazon quote:

“When Maggie opened her eyes that New Year’s Day some seventeen months ago, I felt like I could see again. The fog lifted off my soul, and for the first time since our son had died and she had gone to sleep—some four months, sixteen days, eighteen hours, and nineteen minutes earlier—I took a breath deep enough to fill both my lungs.”

Life began again for Dylan Styles when his beloved wife Maggie awoke from a coma. A coma brought on by the intense two-day labor that resulted in heartbreaking loss. In this poignant love story that is redolent with Southern atmosphere, Dylan and Maggie must come to terms with their past before they can embrace their future.

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The Dead Don’t Dance (Awakening Book 1) 

The Dead Don't Dance

Amazon quote:

A sleepy rural town in South Carolina. The end of summer and a baby about to be born. But in the midst of hope and celebration comes unexpected tragedy, and Dylan Styles must come to terms with how much he’s lost. Will the music of his heart be stilled forever—or will he choose to dance with life once more, in spite of sorrow and heartbreak?

The Dead Don’t Dance is a bittersweet yet triumphant love story—a tale of one man’s journey through the darkness of despair and into the light of hope.

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Or you can get them both in one book for $2.99 (The Dead Don’t Dance and Maggie )

Down Where My Love Lives 

Down Where My Love Lives

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And another collection at a bargain price.

A Charles Martin Collection: When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies, and Wrapped in Rain  $4.99

Charles Martin Collection

Amazon quote:

When Crickets Cry

A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest.

Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he’s restoring at a nearby lake. The stranger understands more about the scar than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives.

Before it’s over, they’ll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry . . . and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.

Chasing Fireflies

They have one summer to find what was lost long ago.

“Never settle for less than the truth,” she told him. But when you don’t even know your real name, the truth gets a little complicated. It can nestle so close to home it’s hard to see. It can even flourish inside a lie. And as Chase Walker discovered, learning the truth about who you are can be as elusive—and as magical—as chasing fireflies on a summer night.

A haunting story about fishing, baseball, home cooking, and other matters of life and death.

Wrapped in Rain

An internationally famous photographer, Tucker Mason, has traveled the world, capturing things other people don’t see. But what Tucker himself can’t see is how to let go of the past and forgive his father.

On a sprawling Southern estate, Tucker and his younger brother, Mutt, were raised by their housekeeper, Miss Ella Rain, who loved the motherless boys like her own. Hiring her to take care of Waverly Hall and the boys was the only good thing their father ever did.

When his brother escapes from a mental hospital and an old girlfriend appears with her son and a black eye, Tucker is forced to return home and face the agony of his own tragic past.

Though Miss Ella has been gone for many years, Tuck can still hear her voice—and her prayers. But finding peace and starting anew will take a measure of grace that Tucker scarcely believes in.

, Mutt, were raised by their housekeeper, Miss Ella Rain, who loved the motherless boys like her own. Hiring her to take care of Waverly Hall and the boys was the only good thing their father ever did.

When his brother escapes from a mental hospital and an old girlfriend appears with her son and a black eye, Tucker is forced to return home and face the agony of his own tragic past.

Though Miss Ella has been gone for many years, Tuck can still hear her voice—and her prayers. But finding peace and starting anew will take a measure of grace that Tucker scarcely believes in.

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 This author is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. While many have read his books, many more haven’t and they need to discover this gem.

I hope you will be making the discovery.  His stories touch the heart and reading one of his books is an experience.

Happy Reading

What are you reading?

Personally, I hate this question. I was reminded of this fact a few minutes ago while  reading a blog post giving advice to introverts attending writers conferences. One of the suggestions  was to ask what are you currently reading as a conversation opener.

Generally, I’m speechless when someone uses that question on me……. even when I am  in the middle of reading a book in a public place.

Not always, but most times, I’m enjoying the book and under the right circumstances would be excited about sharing why, in great detail. So why is this question a conversation killer for me?

The first thing that comes to mind is hype around what is considered to be a must-read book. Pretty much never, is how often anyone will  find me reading a critically acclaimed book. Filtering what I’m reading through this criteria robs me of words. I assume the asker will be expecting me to name some fabulous book. Maybe I assume wrongly…. I might need to give that some thought.

The reason I rarely read recommended books is because (in my mind) book critic’s  ratings are on the same scale as movie and fashion critics.  Their picks usually appeal to a niche market, not the mainstream. I march to the beat of my own drum. I like what I like and don’t spend time worrying about what’s trendy or popular. How’s that working out for me? Very well, I have to say.

The second filter has to do with time. When I hear the question, what are you reading, I feel like the answer should be along the lines of – this month we are reading ____

The thing is; most often the current book was started a few hours ago and in a few more hours it will be a different one. That’s just the way it is for me. Gobble, gobble. The only time a book lasts longer is when it doesn’t appeal and breaks are needed to help get me through it.

Maybe the last reason I’m reluctant to name a book is because I expect it will be a conversation stopper when you hear what I’m reading.

So, what am I currently reading? ……  Blog posts.

I’m taking a break, a new book will be starting shortly.

I have been reading awesome authors with amazing stories. Maybe I just need to get over my own insecurities and stand tall and proud about what I’m reading.


In this setting, I like telling you about books I’ve read. I’m still behind, so more are coming …. soon.

Happy reading!

Podcasts, vlogs, and blogs

Podcasts and live videos have been capturing my attention lately and I am hooked. There is something about live interaction that makes the dissemination of information so much more attractive – at least to me anyway.

Podcasts

Carey Nieuwhof is one of the podcasters I’ve been following lately.    http://careynieuwhof.com/mypodcast/

Carey’s specialty is leadership training and everything he does revolves around that.  He has the gift of finding interesting guests and insightful questions for his podcasts. Every one I’ve listened to so far has been worthwhile and inspiring; even more interesting  than the titles suggested to this non-leader type  person. I examine the subject title and wonder how it could relate to me. It’s a surprise to find there is always something to catch my interest and keep me listening. Most of the interviewees have recently written a book and that’s always part of the conversation as well.

Today’s podcast was to be about organizing your calendar in a way that would make it possible to accomplish a daunting list of tasks without spending mega hours in the office. This guest is a busy man with an overwhelming mountain of responsibility  but somehow he manages to streamline his day and get it all done.  They discussed his methods for a while and then switched to the topic of his new book. It’s called The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery, by guest Ian Morgan Cron. It’s based on an old psychological system with nine personality types. That’s a higher number than some of today’s more popular systems use, which makes it different before we even get started. They touched briefly on each of them in the hour long podcast. Carey had read the book and applied the test to himself so the informed discussion was enlightening.

The first order of business at the end of the podcast was to purchase my own  copy from Amazon. I’m always interested to see what I can learn about myself with any of these tools. I haven’t started reading the book yet but I’m sure I’ll be talking about it when I do.

Video Podcasts (Vlogs)

Anglican Unscripted is a video podcast/vlog I’ve been following for a year or so. They do a journalism show in live video. The subject is always news as it relates to the Anglican church and happens once or twice a week. I’m not Anglican, (although I am ecumenical –  does anyone even use that word anymore?) but I find their discussions interesting. It appeals to me because I like to have a feel for what is going on in the world.

There are three main participants in the show; Kevin Kallsun and George Conger in the US, (Connecticut and Florida) and Gavin Ashenden in the UK. The link to check them out is AnglicanTV Ministries – YouTube.

Gavin used to be chaplain to the Queen but parted ways with the Anglican Church over doctrinal issues. He is highly educated and has a wise way of expressing himself. George is an Episcopal priest and while he agrees with Gavin, most of the time, he has his own slant on things. I enjoy watching them discuss the issues of the day. Once in a while, we even hear interviews from Australia, Israel, Africa, or several other places.

This week Anglican Unscripted/Anglican TV shared six videos that captured my interest enough  to watch all of them three times. The speakers were polished, knowledgeable, and inspiring; workshop leaders at an Anglican’s For Life Conference in Washington DC. The conference was in conjunction with a Right to Life march happening there that weekend.

The speakers did touch on the subject of abortion, but only one spoke to it in depth. The others spoke on topics like terminal illness and its affect on both the patient and the family; the needs  that stem from this hurting community and how they can be met. Up to ninety percent of a persons support systems fall away after cancer diagnosis, mostly because as a society we don’t know how to deal with the issue and tend to run away from it. The challenge from each speaker was to step up and learn what we can do to be there for these people in our lives. They talked about post abortion devastation and the grief process that is being endured hopelessly, in silence, and about bringing hope to the elderly – their life isn’t over, it still has meaning and purpose, if they look for it.

On the surface the subjects sound depressing but each speaker dealt with their segment in a way that brought hope for a better future.

I found the speakers compelling and know I will be contemplating their thoughts for some time to come. If you would like to hear more, the videos are on YouTube on the Anglican TV channel. It would be well worth your time if you have a heart for hurting people.

The speakers I liked the best were Georgette Forney, Rick Berge, David Bereit, Aveda King (related to Martin Luther King Jr.), Ryan T Anderson, and Cathie Young.

Blogs

Last but not least, I have been following Dr. Perry’s blog at  makeitultrapsychology.wordpress.com.  I recommend his site if you are looking for safe and helpful input in your life. Check out his bio for a clearer idea of what his site is all about.

This time it was an excellent and helpful post about empathy; but what really caught my attention was a comment on the post. A reader mentioned a book she found helpful, by Alan Alda, one of my favorite actors in the old Mash TV series.

Alan is an intelligent, educated, and well-read man interested in all things science. He hosted a science show for over a decade and has followed some of his own ideas with an obsession. Communication is dear to his heart and he’s put much effort into testing and understanding his ideas for improvement. Empathy forms a large part of his strategy for good communication and he has a light-hearted way of sharing serious information so that it sticks. He’s written a book called If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?  I’m half way through it and I have to tell you; he has a lot to say. This book is the literary equivalent of a well packed suitcase that must be sat on to be closed successfully.

Empathy is connection with another person. You learn how to notice what they are thinking and feeling. This takes communication, and relationships, to a whole new level. Empathy improves not only verbal exchanges but written ones as well. We can become better writers if we practice empathy. And practice is exactly what’s needed. the more we do it the better we become and our work will improve to show it.

If I understood you

There is so much more that could be said about each and every one of these examples but I wanted only to give you a taste, hoping you would explore these sites for yourself, and be enticed to follow them too.

Happy hunting.

 

 

 

Happy New Year

January 1st is a good day to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. May 2019 be kind to you, kinder than you expect it to be. And, may your travels bring you many great books in 2019.

Finding books to read is a challenge for me this week, all because the unthinkable happened on Christmas eve. My Kindle died with a broken screen.

It seems I crammed my constant companion into my purse one too many times. Imagine the shock and dismay to pull it out and see a frozen fragmented screen.   Just when I wanted to catch a few stolen reading moments too. It felt like the end of the world. Panic set in.

Of course, at that moment I didn’t know the problem was the screen. I thought maybe a reboot would resolve the issue. A half dozen attempts later and I had to admit defeat. Not ready to lose hope, I wondered if travelling in our cold winter weather was the cause, maybe a warm up would wake things up. With high expectations for a positive outcome,  I looked for the warmest spot I could find in a cool bedroom – under the covers with me. It was a sad moment, facing the truth of the death of my friend.

Did I ever mention I’m addicted?

The next question was how to replace it in a timely fashion. I wanted to walk into a store and walk out with a new one ready to read. I decided the best option was my most favored office supply store and I hurried over there at the first possible moment. I was crushed to find they didn’t carry Kindles. They used to.

You would think I would scurry home to figure out what to do next. Nope. I figured while I was there I should check out some other things I have been thinking about lately. After about a half hour of cruising up and down one section, thoughtfully reading all the labels, considering what they meant in relation to my needs – a clerk (who turned out to be the store manager) stopped to ask if I needed help. He didn’t know what he was getting into when he asked that question.

To make a long story short, he answered my many questions, listened to my many needs and this old lady walked out of the store having purchased a powerful gaming computer. I chuckle out loud every time I think of it. I love my new computer.

The need for greater power comes because I have started another blog, with a totally different slant, and some of my plans for it will require a capacity I don’t currently have in the computers I’ve been using.  I know I will tell you more about it once it’s ready to go public, in case you are interested.

In spite of no Kindle, I left the store a happy camper.

At home I took the plunge and ordered a new Kindle online. It will show up in about a week. In the meantime, I do have the Kindle app on several devices so it’s not like I can’t read if I want to. Telling you about the latest books I’ve read has been the challenge. The app on the computer sorts differently and I’m lost. In the fruitless search I’ve also discovered I can read many books again, because I don’t remember reading them the first time. Good to know, when I am out of recent books appealing to me.

I am feeling pretty excited about the surprises 2019 could hold. I’m excited about new ventures already unfolding in my life. I have two major passions (more than that if I’m honest but only two to blog about – although I will admit that could change) one here about books and the new one. The new one is stretching me into unexpected first time areas.

There seems to be a general sense of positive expectancy about the future. I feel it but I’m also hearing other people talk about it. Talk that is encouraging us to take risks….. to be all that we can be. To live up to our potential. To dream, ignoring the naysayers.

The purchase of the new Kindle and the expensive new computer is evidence of my commitment to becoming more than I’ve ever been before.

I hope that many of you will hear the challenge too, to become more than you’ve ever been. I think the world needs us, more than ever, to stand up and do this.

That’s my challenge for 2019…. Dream big and go for it!


I will save books for the next post but will  still challenge you to keep reading! I am reading too.

All the best for 2019

Happy reading!

 

Exposed

Hours of enjoyment, that’s what was waiting for me in this boxed set. A Romantic Suspense collection.

Off the top, I have to say – I appreciated the clean-ness of these books. I find that when it’s less than clean (for me anyway) it’s like going to a party with a spot on the front of your favorite outfit …..  it takes the shine off the whole experience. I love an awesome,  distraction free, tale of mystery and intrigue.

These books were well written, with interesting characters, and a fresh slant on the idea behind the stories. I’m a fan of all three attributes but fresh slant is my favorite.

It seemed like before I knew it, I was finishing the last book. I’m a chain smoker when it comes to books. Finish one and light up another. I think I’ve mentioned I’m an addict.

I’m always sad when a story comes to an end. For a few seconds anyway.


Speaking of addictions: that reminds me……. of a idea I’d better save for the next post.


 

So….. back to books

Exposed

Exposed

A Boxed Set Book Bundle Collection of Romantic Suspense with seven great books

Hallowed Ground – Mary Alford …… Erin is devastated when Blake, her CIA partner, is killed in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan and she’s grateful to have the support of Blake’s best friend and fellow agent, Jax.  The team is sent to Afghanistan on a mission to find  Blake’s killers but it’s a set up. This realization set in when their unit was attacked and  none but two survived.  The details of their deployment could only have come from their superiors. With no idea who to trust, they carefully start digging and uncover more lies. Did Blake discover something he shouldn’t? Or was he part of something worth killing for? Working with Jax to find the truth has Erin realizing for the first time, Jax is a good man.

Fire – Lynette Bonner …. Kyra is a teacher by trade but helps out with manicure’s on the side. It’s a shock, on the first day of school, to see a new student in her class, looking much like a younger version of the good looking guy in her shop on Friday, the one who asked her out. Case Lexington is just as shocked to see Kyra and is living with fear she will blow his cover. He’s posing as a student, to help umcover the source of the drug supply killing local teenagers. Kyra wants to do her part in this search, motivated by the drug related death of her brother. Case is attempting to discourage her, afraid for her safety. A mere student has no credibility so, as a last resort,  he chooses to keep an eye on her by working with her. Not an easy thing to do. It’s been a very long time since he met a woman who could catch his interest, and she thinks he’s a student. The next shock is the source of the fatal drugs.

Jill Came Tumbling After – Lesley Ann McDaniel …. Jill Martin, a single mother of two, is looking for a job, after finding the courage sever ties with her alcoholic husband. Jobs are scarce but there is a new factory in town and, in spite of her obvious lack of skills, they hire her, effective immediately. Working to get the offices up and running she begins to see things that don’t seem quite right.  She is smarter than expected and  manages to figure out they are planning something that will be a hazard to the whole town, She’s torn between the need to tell and the need to keep her job. If they notice her discovery …. will she even live to tell?

Deadly Exposure – Lisa Phillips …. Bradley Harris comes home from deployment to discover his sister, a US Senator, has been abducted and the FBI suspect Alexis, her best friend and former aide. The whole town holds Alexis in contempt, but, knowing her as well as he does, Bradley has doubts about the accusations against her. Once he uncovers the truth behind her fall from grace, he wonders if any of them will survive the fallout.  Getting his sister back and saving Alexis too – seems like an impossible challenge.

Dead on Arrival – Angela Ruth Strong …. Peruvian Princess, Maritza Rosado and her father land in Washington DC and instead of the usual presidential welcome, they are  greeted with a gun battle that kills her father and his body guard and has Maritza running for her life. Hiding out in a soup kitchen is not going well, she’s been recognized by Levi Parker, fresh home from a mission trip to Peru where he learned of her.  Terrified to trust him, she does anyway, and venturing they discover someone has taken over her country. Not only that, they killed her father and want her dead. Devastation is finding out the betrayal is at the hands of someone they both trusted.

Termination Dust – Alana Terry …. Kimmie is afraid to move away from her abusive step father after the death of her mother. She is old enough to leave and make a new life for herself but she is afraid she would be forced leave her little brother behind, and he  would pay the price, in escalated abuse, for her actions. The family has lived in isolation and secrecy for so long, she can think of no one she can turn to for help.The local State Trooper suspects the truth of the situation and is trying to offer acceptable support,  encouraging Kimmie to leave before the abuse escalates. It happens, before her plans are in place, – she is forced to grab her little brother and run for her life.

For Love or Money – Virginia Vaughan …. Amy Sullivan left everything  behind with the lure of a family connection. When an aunt she didn’t know existed, contacted her  requesting a visit, it seemed like a dream come true. While finding a family connection is important to Amy, it’s not easy learning to love a stranger. Inadvertently she discovers there  is more to the situation than she has been led to believe. Her aunt has been hiding the fact she has terminal cancer. Amy was there for her mother and is determined she won’t be shut out now. Despite the growing closeness in those final days, it’s a shock for her to learn she has been left with a sizable inheritance. It’s an even greater shock to   discover someone wants it enough to kill her to get it.


‘Til next time – Happy Reading!

Here’s hoping you are also experiencing many hours of good reading. I don’t want to be the only one finding exquisite treasures, not when there are so many to be found.

 

Some things need to be talked about

I am convinced there are some things that need to be talked about. There could be a number of reasons for this. Maybe someone shares a similar experience and needs encouragement. Maybe  someone feels lumped in with the abusers and needs reassurance. Maybe someone has the false impression that all abused women hate men and need to know that’s not true. Or, maybe it’s just to help me figure out some things. It could be for any number of reasons that haven’t even occurred to me yet. Whatever the reason, I feel pretty confident there will be some good come out of a discussion.

This post is a continuation of some things I have shared recently, regarding men and my trust issues. Men have been both a blessing and a curse in my life. In spite of the good, I’m still left with trust issues that creep up on me in a way that makes no sense sometimes. Although, maybe it would make sense if I could uncover the old memories triggering these reactions and deal with them somehow.

Today was one of those days. My niece has the sweetest young husband and I met him for the first time. They stayed over night with me as they are travelling back to Western Canada, they were easy to have around. We found lots of interesting things to talk about, it was a great visit. In the morning though, when it was time for them to leave, it was awkward. I wanted to hug them both good bye but I just couldn’t bring myself to initiate a hug with him. I cannot explain to you why that was, there was just something holding me back.

I am still beating myself up over it.

He could have hugged me and I would have responded, but he didn’t know that.

This is an ongoing issue with me, it happens all the time with my son-in-law, whom I love dearly. I want to hug him like I do the rest of the family, but I just can’t. He could hug me but I sense he has some of the same trust issues I do. It seems we end up hugging with a look.

So, getting back to the initial thinking behind this new post.

There is a question I have been asking myself for the last couple of weeks – how can I have empathy and distrust all at the same time? It seems like it should one or the other. Black or white.

For a short while, I was worried there was something emotionally wrong with  me, and that was distressing because I didn’t want it to be true. The concern over this idea was quickly relieved when someone shared a video on Facebook about a five year old brother comforting his little sister. In a flash, it struck a deep cord with me. I realize I learned to love at a very early age, even while I was learning to distrust.

I am the oldest of three with two brothers. There are five years between the oldest and the youngest and there has always been a strong bond between us.  Until now I have never really questioned why that is. I can see that I need to start asking more questions.

When I was thirteen or fourteen, living with my grandparents, I was asked to babysit, briefly, for several families with young babies. These were people I had never met. At the time I wondered why they would consider me, but it didn’t occur to me to question why I felt like I could do the job. Now it occurs to me to ask the question.

Why did I feel confident I could comfort a crying baby or change a dirty diaper? Why did  Grandma have enough confidence to allow me to take the job? There were no babies in our life with her, any experience I had with them would have come from another time.

At this point, looking back on our family dynamics, I can see my mother pressing me into service with my youngest brother. I’m sure Grandma would have been aware of this fact. I have no memory of any of it, but then, I don’t remember a lot of things. It turned out I did indeed know how. I still do.

me and Jax may 2017 WPG

My youngest brother’s great grandson Jax. We’ve just met for the first time (a year ago). His mother took this picture.

There’s more….

Lately, I have been having conversations with my older brother about our life in the early years. He remembers some things I don’t (my mind has buried all of the painful parts) and hearing what he had to say tells me – life was even worse than I imagined. Among other things, he said Dad was not a nice man.

He told me a number of things about those days but there was one story that shook me.

It was about Dad driving on the railroad tracks running behind our property, he was playing chicken with oncoming trains. I had heard these stories for years  and used to laugh, thinking it was something my crazy risk taking father would do. What I didn’t  realize at the time – my brother was with him, scared out of his mind. That’s one of the reasons why Dad did it, it was his perverse way of trying to force this kid to grow some courage. It finally stopped  when my 10 year old brother made up his mind he wasn’t going to let his fear show anymore. I’m horrified Dad would do that to a kid.

We also talked about another time I do remember. It was Dad beating my brother with a piece of hose, in front of all of us. A tool was missing from his work shop and he was convinced it was my brother’s  fault. I can still remember the distress of watching this happen. I could never understand why Mom did nothing to stop it.

One thing I’ve learned, by first hand experience, boys suffer from abuse as deeply as girls. That is the genesis of my soft heart for men, surviving life alongside my brothers, recognizing the pain in their life.

My oldest brother is the reason I’ve left denial behind and have taken ownership of the abusive early years in my life. He adamantly insisted that I must, even if the memories were shadowy and I couldn’t remember the actual events. He wanted to know why I thought I would be the favoured one, to escape abuse.

All three of us have blocked painful memories, but deep inside, we will never forget.

Our story does have a happy ending in spite of the terrible years. All three of us have grown into well adjusted, productive, loving people. We’ve left behind the bitterness and rage. A miracle, really.

One thing I’ve loved about this process of discovery – the heavy load of old baggage seems to grow lighter with each breakthrough experience.

 

 

It’s complicated…but I feel better now

It really is complicated, and it’s causing discomfort – like a pebble in my shoe. The pebble moves around a bit and there are periods of relief, but lately it’s been sitting in a tender spot and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to move on.

This latest state of discomfort started with a conversation back in December, just before I left on my winter road trip to British Columbia to spend Christmas with family.

I was telling a friend about some of the people I hoped to see along the way, including some of my work clients I’ve never met in person. I was startled by her quick response – but you are still married.

My instant reaction was an emotional – what’s that got to do with anything? I felt like I was being wrongly accused of something.

I haven’t been able to get this conversation out of my mind and it has become the proverbial pebble in my shoe.

There are two things troubling me about the conversation – the thought patterns behind her comment, and the trigger behind my reactive response.

My weak and ailing marriage fractured more than two decades ago and I have been on my own for at least half that time. The relationship is dead and buried. Divorce is not a reality only because I have been reluctant to address it, (the reasons behind that need to be explored, another day) so I am not sure why she thinks the lack of a divorce is a relevant issue.

Also, as I’ve shared in other posts, I have major trust issues with men and have been actively avoiding any chance of another relationship. My friend knows this too, so – where is her thinking coming from?

I feel bad about my reaction to her because it is not one she has ever seen from me. I expect she felt a little like she’d been punched. That’s the trouble with triggers, reactions to them are unpredictable and often painful to the person on the receiving end.

As I think about all of this, I am reminded of similar conversations with other people in other settings. Conversations that were distressingly perplexing because I couldn’t figure out the reasoning or motivation behind them. In every instance I felt like I was being wrongfully accused of something. And, in some cases the conversations became quite emotional.

Maybe that’s the trigger, feeling wrongfully accused. I will have to think some more on this, at a later date.

Now, after a week of letting all of these thoughts simmer, I expect my friend has moved on and forgotten all about this brief conversation, and I need to do the same.

The exercise of thinking and writing my way through this issue has been more than beneficial. The proverbial pebble in my shoe has ceased to be a bother. My original thoughts on this subject have been replaced by today’s much more coherent offering and I am left with new, and healing,  insights into both sides of the conversation.

It occurs to me that the thoughts expressed by the other party in these conversations may have stemmed from the space they are in personally, and had little to do with me at all. Maybe I need to stop making everything about me. Maybe I need to pay more attention to the pain of others and give greater consideration to things going on in their lives.

The benefits of understanding have also been reinforced. Understanding why seems to take the heat out of certain thoughts and emotions and allows me to move on to a healthier place.

This has been a productive exercise. It looks like I will be doing it again soon.