Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Full of Grace

1. Going blueberry picking with my family.  This has been a yearly tradition since the girls were little and I love that they still want to go.

2. Surviving a deep tissue massage.  My regular massage therapist is out on maternity leave so I booked with a woman who lives in my neighborhood.  A very butch woman who used to be in the Marines.  What was I thinking?  I never knew someone could stick their elbow so far into my flesh.  Still, she did work out all the kinks and I am still standing.  

3. Biting into a peach and having the juice drip down my face and arms.  Summer fruit must be the food of the gods.

4. My brother-in-law narrowly missed death, but is now the proud owner of 4 heart stents.  He gave us some scary moments this week but I am grateful to have been able to hospital sit with my sister and see my BIL back in good health.  

5. An awesome storm at the lake where the thunder just echoed through the mountains.  And I had nothing better to do than to sit back and enjoy the awesomeness of nature.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I was walking in a downtown area when I saw him.   First, just out of the corner of my eye, when a sense of dread started bubbling up.  And then I saw him face to face.  I immediately recognized this man as the man of my worst nightmares.  The man who was the sadistic leader of the group who attacked me and Daphne.   Of course, it wasn’t the same man.  The person I saw was in his 20s and the attack was decades ago.   Still, he looked just like him on the day.  

I am documenting this event here for a number of reasons.  

First, because I find it strange that after years of therapy and hours and hours of being drilled about the details of that day, I have never been able to remember what these men looked like.  The sound of their voices have stayed with me always, as do their mocking and hateful words.   I can describe the clothing of some of them.   But I have never been able to describe, more than very generic hair color and weight, what they looked like.  All my memories were faceless.  Until I saw this man.  And then those memories came flooding back.

Second, because even with those most painful and terrifying memories rocketing through my head, I was able to stay in control in that moment.   In what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only seconds, I was able to go from heart racing sweatiness to a logical assessment of what was happening and stay in the present.  

This is a major accomplishment for me.  It wasn’t all that long ago that something like this would have put me in a high anxiety state, rocking in a fetal position, for days.   For years Lauren, my therapist, put me through hours of anxiety reducing exercises and I practiced and practiced and practiced until I could indeed have some control over outside triggers.  

This incident was however, a new and important milestone for me in that I did not conscientiously go to my exercises for control.  My mind/body seemed to just do it automatically.  Stressful trigger - recognize and understand the trigger - just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  I consider this a huge success.

Unfortunately, this has not quite carried over to my sleeping self and I am having a little difficulty with nightmares.  But even the effects of these are significantly reduced.   There was a time when the rape nightmare would have me waking, drenched in sweat and crazed with terror and often punching and kicking the crap out of Martha.   Seeing this man has unleashed the nightmare again but the impact is much less and when it wakes me, it only takes a moment to realize where I am and that I was dreaming.

So today I am feeling accomplished and more confident than I ever have.   Even after having some therapeutic success with PTSD I am still always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I know there are still a lot of memories about that day that my mind has mercifully hidden from me.  But it is definitely a confidence builder to have a shoe drop and be able to slap it away.  

Someday I will have the courage to go back through this blog and read the story of my progress in processing trauma and living with PTSD.   I know how I used to be and how far I have come.  I don’t know if there is a finish line, but I am feeling stronger and more secure in my ability to handle whatever comes at me.   

And I am so very thankful for all those people who stayed with me through the hard times, those who taught me there could be not only a tolerable life, but a joyful life after trauma, and everyone who has supported me on this path of healing.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Full of Grace

1. A slow and easy early morning kayak outing on a lake as smooth as glass to soothe my jangled nerves.

2.  The simple pleasure of toasting, and of course eating, the perfect golden brown marshmallow.

3.  Sharing a beautiful night at Yankees stadium with the family -  hot dogs, cracker jacks and Jeter figurine giveaway day.   I am not a big fan of baseball but I do love watching my Yankee fanatic partner and Jeter obsessed daughter enjoying the game.

4.  Being able to donate a bumper crop of beans to my local food pantry.  And they keep on coming.

5.  That there are people like this is the world.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Seeking Peace

I can imagine no place on earth more peaceful than a lake in the mountains. In these times of unfathomable violence, how fortunate I am to have such a place to retreat to, in the company of others who seek to live without hurting others. This is where I will be for the weekend, praying that all who are suffering may know healing and peace, wherever they may be.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Full of Grace

‘I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.’ - Alice Walker, The Color Purple

I found this little flower all alone among some water grasses when I went kayaking.  Stunning.

Gay feathers.  I had asked my former therapist’s daughter if I could have something from her flower garden when she died.  These gay feathers were Lauren’s and they bloom every year right around the anniversary of her death.

Purple beans.  A friend gifted me a packet of these purple beans.   The plants have delicate purple flowers and the beans are much easier to pick since they are more visible than green beans.   They do turn green when cooked, but I think they look amazing, raw, in salads.

I saw this clump of flowers (which look pink in the picture but really were purple) in a little wetland area on my walk to work.

I have no idea what these tiny flowers are.  They were in a field of scrubby grass where we went tenting this weekend.  They gave the whole field a purpley appearance.

The world is filled with such amazing colors!  I hope you get to enjoy some too.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Girls Night Out

I got invited to tent in a field with some friends to view the Supermoon on Saturday night.   It was simple and easy.  She asked everyone to bring something - beverages, snacks, or breakfast foods. It was a bit cloudy but the moon still put on a fantastic show.   We built a fire and chatted and roasted marshmallows.  Eventually we retired to our tents and then rose at sunrise to share a communal breakfast.   

Being in the company of women, sleeping under the stars, sharing a simple meal.  Sometimes life is just perfect.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fitness report

It has now been just about 3 months since my last reconstruction surgery and my commitment to get back into shape.  This is my public report card to keep me accountable:

Weight - I have lost 10 pounds which puts me at the weight I was before all the surgeries.  (you would think cutting off body parts would have reduced my weight, but it didn’t)  I am now in a healthy range but I could stand to lose a few more pounds before the cooler weather sets in and I switch from berries to mashed potatoes.   I am not really trying to diet but with Martha cutting out the carbs (she has lost 30 pounds)  I am just naturally eating healthier.    
Grade:  A

Strength - I have been going to the gym fairly regularly and have surpassed the amount of weight I could lift even before all the surgeries.  It helps that Beaner’s BF is a strength and conditioning coach and Peachie is an exercise science major.  They keep giving me new things to try which has kept it fresh and interesting.   I am still not what anyone would call “strong” - I still can’t open a jar, and a toddler could beat me in an arm wrestling match.  But I am stronger than I ever was which is a good goal.
Grade: A-

Aerobic - Have I mentioned how much I hate doing the aerobic exercises?  Boredom sets in and I wind up avoiding the machines.  Peachie did suggest that I do 10 minutes on three different machines which has helped, and on those few mornings when it has not been too muggy I have managed to get out on my bike.   It has been too hot to even walk the dog.   This area needs a lot more work.  
Grade:  C

Bending/stretching -  I still have not made it back to yoga.  I don’t know why.  My gym has a free class at a time I could easily go.  And I have not even been stretching at home.  I think this is mainly because Beaner’s BF is always around and who wants to have their butt waving around in downward dog while their daughter's BF is sitting behind them?    Yeah, no one.  Still, I am feeling so stiff I need to do something.  
Grade:  F

Spiritual - my trip into the mountains did wonders for my spiritual health.  Plus, I am now spending a lot time in my flower and vegetable gardens which I love   That’s all good.  But I still haven’t done an ounce of volunteering.   I am living in chaos at home and camp with various projects going on, and I am allowing the BF to get  under my skin.
Grade: C

Emotional - I do not seem to be in good place these days.  I am feeling fragile and moody.  The word bitchy comes to mind.  I am quick to frustration, especially with my youngest daughter who just seems  to get on my last nerve, constantly.    I am starting to think this may be tied to the estrogen killers I take.  I am once again having wicked hot flashes and very restless sleep.  Or maybe I feel the sadness of the anniversary of my beloved therapist Lauren.   Either way, I have a string of medical appointments coming up and I have made an appointment with my new therapist.   I need to straighten this out before someone in my family is charged with justifiable homicide.
Grade:  D

So, except for my new muscle definition this is a pretty poor report.  I am definitely out of balance. Some of the emotional things I don’t understand yet, but things like volunteering and being bendy is just laziness.  It’s a weird thing when you KNOW what’s good for you but you don’t do it.   


Anyone have any good motivational techniques?  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Full of Grace

This week’s gratitudes were all about simple pleasures.  I had jotted a few things down like, getting ice cream cones, riding carousels and strolling through an historic park, barefoot, while listening to the sounds of jazz and later watching fireworks reflected off the lake.

But our weekend ended sadly with our neighbor’s 22 year old son being killed in a motorcycle accident not three blocks from where we had all just watched the fireworks together.

So today I am mostly grateful that I can still hug my children and tell them I love them.

If you can too, I hope that you do.  And know how truly blessed you are.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Random stuff

- The boyfriend's apartment fell through so he is again looking.  He stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights but will come for the weekend.  Thursday night thru Monday morning.   Oy! I think I need to leave that quote around about fish and house guests beginning to stink after 3 days.  

- Beaner’s great clinical assignment also fell through as the program lost its funding.  So now all the local spots have been filled and the university is trying to find her *something*.  Something could be an hour away and who knows what.  But Beaner, always positive, is taking it all in stride.  

-  I just discovered that the two most common searches that land on my blog are  “not having breasts”  and (all from southern states) “where do I get a 'the bro and his ho have got to go'  bumper sticker?" which takes them to my bumper sticker post.    I find this a little depressing.

- I read that the writers of the Broadway musical “If/Then” starring Idina Menzel said they chose to make her character an urban planner because: “we wanted a profession that a dynamic, intelligent, glamorous, but also very detail-oriented and somewhat wonky person would have.”   When I read this to Martha her reply was “well, they got the wonky right.”   Seriously, I get no respect.

-Martha and I spent a day at the lake fixing things that had broke.  The lawn mower is now working. (fingers crossed)  We replaced the heating elements in the water heater and we have hot water again. Yay!   We replaced an old (flush and pray) toilet with a new low flush model.  I repaired the roof where some shingles had gone missing.  Martha did something so we can now use the DVD player without spending an hour behind the TV playing with wires.  I did repairs on our new beach because the massive storm breached the barrier and washed a significant amount of sand into the lake. Martha installed a much needed outside outlet.   We are feeling quite accomplished.  Now if the gremlins could just stay away for a little while we might be able to use the cabin to sit, relax, read, etc.  

I hope you all have a wonderful (and safe) holiday weekend.  We will be at the lake, hopefully relaxing. Well, after we do a few chores, because you know, there is always something to do when you own a house.   But mostly it will be watching a little Wilmbelton (if we get reception), eating barbeque, napping, reading, making s’mores and then kayaking to the middle of the lake to watch the fireworks that folks around the lake set off.  No phones, no cable, no computer, no watches.  My kind of day.

You can’t rush if you don’t know the time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Full of Grace

1.  Beaner's boyfriend, having moved within 2 hours of us,  finally got his own apartment!  I get my house back. I get my bathroom back.  One less car to have to jockey around in the driveway.  I'm sure he will still be here on weekends, but no more starting my week tripping over him.

2.  That Beaner got her first field assignment for her graduate program - working with kids whose parents are incarcerated.  Yay!  So much better (for worrisome me) that she is not in another prison.  I love that she has chosen a career wanting to help people that many do not want to help.  But as a mom, I'd rather her be safe.

3.  Taking Peachie to NYC to celebrate her 21st birthday - Fifth Avenue shopping and to see James Franco and James O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men.  I really don't see the appeal of Franco, but she does so she was a very happy camper in her front row seat.  How O'Dowd did not win the Tony for this performance is beyond me.  He was phenomenal.

4.  Playing the ladies who lunch, I had this amazing salad - lobster waldorf salad with the most delicious vanilla bean dressing, which I got on the side.   And then licked the serving bowl of every last bit.  Wow was that good!

5.  Starting to harvest food from my garden.  I'm not sure there is anything so satisfying as growing your own food.  Or anything that tastes so good.

A week filled with the blessings of abundance.