Blog Posts

Time Travel

haHA

Located in the small North East Texas town of Bogota (pronounced Buh-Go-Tuh) – we’re country people, every vowel is soft – my inner child had to preserve this moment via blog.

Spending every weekend with all the people I deeply love has opened my soul in new ways. Growth doesn’t just happen individually. Though it’s incredibly sad we have been unable, for a million different reasons, to bring everyone together when it does happen it is unbelievably satisfying.

These are my people, my family, my ancestors, my history. They shaped me; I model my own aspects of motherhood around the things they taught me. Aren’t we always watching?

After a powerful and heartfelt dialogue, the truth came crashing down on me. For all the years I’d been so focused on justice, the fact of how much my father truly loved my siblings and I was overlooked. It had gotten jumbled up with the negative emotions, with the heaviness of grief. Who knows? Maybe this is the next step toward forgiveness. While my second cousin (a necessary detail because of age differences) sometimes seemed to be sucked into his own grief and recollection of dealing with the literal aftermath of his youngest cousin’s suicide, a valuable lesson of stepping up and doing the right thing was not lost on me. Although the details were painful to hear, even after all these years, the weight of tragedy that has befallen our family is such to renew a commitment in always making sure my family, and others, feel they are not alone.

My uncle looked up to my father; he was devastated by his death; his own kind and patient demeanor just couldn’t get past my dad being gone. He felt somehow responsible, from my understanding, that he wasn’t there for my dad, but I know even if my uncle had voiced these feelings to others he wouldn’t have easily believed he was in no way tied to his older brother’s decisions. But that’s how guilt works, isn’t it? It isn’t always the black and white of actual guilt, it’s the perception of what we believe. That psychology degree is coming in strong today. All this being said, the past cannot be changed but I can clearly see some valuable lessons for the future.

As stories were told regarding the sacrifices my father made for us children and his “perfectionism” – their words, not mine! – I understand even more why I am the way I am. I will say I have admitted to having such lofty expectations of others based on my own value of being a perfectionist it makes life difficult at times. But I’m really trying to curtail the urges. Sometimes the proverbial skeletons in the closet make way for more coats, umbrellas, and miscellaneous crap relegated to a dark space. Every family has them. But the willingness of those who choose to face the uncertainty, tell about it, and answer questions can not be minimized. I’m so blessed to have this time with my brave aunts, cousins, and great aunt. Their stories are memorialized in my writing albeit gray and very parallel to all the other lines of randomness. It’s a blog, not a dissertation.

Admittedly, during the hardest moments of conversation, I found myself re-centering my thoughts on what I could touch and feel in a very literal sense. My fear was that by becoming invested in another’s memories I would take on those feelings as I so often do. The reminder I am not a rescuer circled in my mind; I think I did well because I was able to stay removed even when sobs threatened to explode from my cousin’s chest. Later that night there was a self-congratulatory moment for being brave and refraining from the immediate desire to run away. It’s funny (only to me, I’m sure) how I’ve been desperate to hear these recounts yet also a little panicky I won’t be able to appreciate them. How can that be? I’m the most accepting person I know! The small nods to my father’s cooking skills, his desire to encourage our schoolwork despite his own childhood struggles with dyslexia, and his exceptional housekeeping goals are a testament to things I deem important still. Please don’t take this to mean if you can’t cook well, hate education, and suck at cleaning I dislike you or we can’t be friends. I just may not visit often. Kidding! And as I write, errr type, these lines, I realize so clearly I’m the apple who didn’t fall very far from the tree. In closing, this lengthy post has gone many directions. Perhaps you have chosen to locate any italicized sentences and only read those for a daily dose of humor then move on with your business. Fair enough. However, for any who have stuck with me until the bitter end, thank you.

_________

I ask you –

Do you have a family storyteller or history re-liver?

Hope you all have the most joyful Thanksgiving! This year may be quite different than all the years previously, but there’s thankfulness to be found in every single day. Wishing you and yours the best!

What Healthy Looks Like

You know what? I like being able to be counted on. In a world of empty promises, I’m dependable and have a “psychotic drive”, to name a backhanded compliment once received. I’m not mad. So if the best and brightest minds need some help, why be so quick to dismiss it when they, too, ask for a little help?

Credit: Nuraar, located via Instagram

Society has really wrecked the openness necessary to cope with hard things while simultaneously making it easier. Don’t ask me how this is such a conundrum. Everything is available at our fingertips yet mental health is still taboo. I have my suspicions; perhaps it can be traced back to times of witches and evil spirits.

Upon learning a close family member suffers from severe depression and anxiety, diagnosed much later in life, it inspired me to impulsively share with her (and many others in the room) my own struggles. I, too, take medication to combat the effects. Whoohoo. What a relief to be so open. Considering my childhood trauma, it should come as no surprise but I’ve kept it under wraps for so long for a variety of reasons.

I never wanted help. This type A personality loathed even the consideration of asking for help. I thought what I felt was normal. Too bad it took so long to realize this didn’t have to be. Even more than what I felt inside, I was afraid to ask for help for fear of this information falling into the wrong hands. I was afraid others might think I was an unfit parent and take my daughter away. I was afraid of very real scenarios and many only created in my paralyzed mind. It’s a very sad existence to live in a world where others have power over you, real or otherwise.

possibly one of my favorite photos ever

For the record, I take medication to combat debilitating anxiety. Sometimes I struggle with depression. But, more importantly than any part of this, I’m a good mom because I realized how these difficulties were affecting my relationship with a sweet, brave girl who deserves a fully engaged role model.

And I’ll be damned if I’m ashamed of that.

________________

I ask you –

Any dark secrets you want to share on this most public forum?

Do you or others struggle with anxiety?

This is why…shameless.

Escape

I’m taking a break! No, not really. With all the rush rush of a not-so-simple society everyone needs a break now and then. A prior gym manager I consider a good friend recently told me there’s a nameless disease inhabiting us with the primary symptom of always needing to have a flight booked. As I type this, it feels as if I’m forcing myself to write and am unable to find the correct words for what I want to share.

Perhaps I shall start with photos instead.

My dream – amongst others – of owning a bookstore slash coffee shop slash wine bar may never be realized so I shall live vicariously through other’s dreams.

playing with fire

A visit to the east coast isn’t complete without red wine and Oreo truffles! Oh chocolate, how could you betray me? Reconnecting with those whose opinion often enhances your own is incredibly important in building lasting relationships but also because it makes the heart grow stronger. Though some things don’t require re-hashing, evidence (self described) exists it is possible to start over. I think what I’m getting at is this: damage can’t be undone, but trust can be renewed at a level only slightly different than before. There, that’s it! Not to say it doesn’t take a lot of work because it really does.

thrifting

If anyone feels the need to purchase this for me, price unknown, please make sure it can be delivered, if you don’t mind. Isn’t it adorable?! Can you see me and mini toodling down the street on this? Most likely Fred Flintstone-syle punctuated with the unmistakable complaining of a typical fournado who has better things to do. Still. I could terrorize the neighborhood in this gem!

sunsets are paradise

Lastly, seafood beneath the diminishing sun with the best company in the world is truly priceless. Great conversation, great food, and great love know no bounds; in fact, all may be attributed to the American dream. Doesn’t have to be a dream. Life may push people in multiple directions yet the ties that bind can always find a way.

______________________

I ask you –

Are you or would you like to be a business owner? How about investing in my bookstore concept?!

Do you enjoy thrift shopping?

Tell me about your dream!

Misplaced my List

Why walk when you can run?! Fall brings about the desire to be outside at all costs.

A lovely thought came my way whilst preparing for a trip: when I’m motivated, nothing can match my drive to get something done; when I’m procrastinating, I rival the laziest sloth ever encountered and I will f- around until the last possible moment. Truth be told.

Thankfully this blog isn’t on the lesser end of the spectrum. In all this time I haven’t adopted an Eyore voice of “poor pitiful me, I have to work on the blog”. I’m truly excited to do it. I make time even if it is Sunday afternoon when I publish Monday morning. Like clockwork, it’s there. To be genuinely excited about something someone else may see as a ‘have to’ instead of a ‘want to’ is fascinating to me. Grocery shopping: have to. Blog: want to.

Running is also in the category of want to, but I will confess sometimes it’s a have to. As in, have to for my sanity and the continuation of not going to prison. You know, details! Running and blogging have some similarities, really. They’re both solo sports. Although there are elements of other people interaction, the brunt of them happen where motivation and drive meet. Not to say I don’t rely on my readers, coach, race manager, etc. Nothing wrong with having individual goals; in fact, it is quite welcomed.

As is the norm, my plans are riddled with speed bumps. An injury, an expected race cancellation, just the regular things. They seem to happen at random, but I’m not convinced. Perhaps it’s a voice telling me to slow down. Nevertheless, I continue making plans, even if they may be reworked time and again.

_____________________

I ask you –

On a scale of 1 to you’ve got to be kidding, how would you rank your motivation?

Do you have any prison stories? PG only, please. Weak stomach here.

Name some things you have to do and some you want to do.

Generational Lines

Would it surprise you if I said I have tons of photos of my beautiful great aunt and adorable mini both in the kitchen and at the piano?

This past year has me spending more time with these incredible women than ever before. I couldn’t be happier. Not only are they strong, but also insanely funny! This time I’m the apple. In several weeks, hopefully, I’ll have an opportunity to update these photos with another brave woman.

The holidays are tough for me so I make no excuse for shying away from people during this time. However, as the years progress, it becomes more clear I must take steps to preserve our family history. Relying on others to participate and/or step up hasn’t done me any favors. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

In the meantime, I continue to listen to stories of days gone by, smiling at the far off look she gets when the memory comes back to her. Thus far, we’ve read handwritten letters my grandfather wrote to her before he deployed from Camp Lejeune on his way to a Purple Heart, as well as had long discussions about the state of her fattened squirrel population. Nothing is off the table, literally and figuratively.

Advice given to me: share every opportunity you can with those who came before you. The stories will live on in your voice.

________________________

I ask you –

Do you have a relative you are closest to?

How often do you receive cards or letters from loved ones?

Preserve your memories!

Texas, my Texas

Surely no matter where you live you’ve been privy to the song that goes something like this…”the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.” Bonus points if you sing it. Double bonus if you hear it in Sheldon Cooper’s voice complete with hand clap.

Anyway, nevermind my (lack of) singing skills. The big reveal is an update to my race plans! Didn’t see that coming, did you? Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio is still happening, from my understanding, but I quite possibly found something better. Introducing The Stars at Night Half also in San Antonio and just 2 weeks later than the RnR.

Bigger in Texas!

Upon discovery, I quickly notified my childhood friend and we equally, excitedly, committed ourselves to this new race instead. Not only does it give us a few extra weeks of training, but also a picturesque view of the beautiful JW Marriot Resort and Spa.

coursework

And there will be Christmas lights! And it’s a night run!! Bucket list! And my sweet, (not so) little girl will be able to be there! And…and…and!

I’m a little bit excited. You can find me under the stars! And if it’s cloudy or raining or whatever else gets thrown at us, I’ll be smiling anyway.

__________________

I ask you –

Are you familiar with Sheldon Cooper?

Name a few things on your bucket list!

Hopefully I haven’t been too annoying with my seemingly constant change of plans lately.

Where the Pines Grow

When I’m here I remember what peace actually feels like: leaves falling, long, winding, dirt roads, and a stillness that speaks to my heart.

dirt and dust

This is the part of my life I willfully hide yet am trapped inside. Still working on that book; there’s so many twists and turns I’m half afraid a publisher may encourage me to separate it into two. But what a problem to have, right?

aptly named the white house

My childhood home – now reduced to overgrowth and rotting wood. When I look at this photo, I think of the movie Titanic. In many scenes, they show a type of flashback where the beautiful, newly painted stair case transforms into the vision of what the researchers found at the bottom of the sea. My mind’s eye paints a picture of a home with children inside and a grandfather clock chiming. Memories, the most nostalgic.

I don’t recognize any of the vehicles that pass me while out walking, but I feel my heart beating and know I belong. Still.

miles of roads

Passed down from my grandfather, a gift I hope will always keep on giving. I’ve renamed this land Kel’s Corner though family will know it always as Uncle Pete’s Place. I am blessed beyond measure to own this little slice of my past.

heaven on earth

Speaking of slices, my great Aunt Mary Catherine’s blueberry pie is legendary. Although I have the recipe, there’s no comparison. Nothing will ever be like hers. If I could have one wish, it would be to epitomize a fraction of the woman, baker, mother, friend, and God-loving aunt she is to me.

As for that pie? No, I didn’t share.

______________

I ask you –

Did you grow up in the city or country?

Do you revisit your childhood home? (provided you don’t currently live in it)

Fun fact: I once won a contest with a story I had written about my Aunt MC. She tells me she still has it.

Day in Photos, pt 903

Whammo Blammo!

a collage

An outdated magazine, some safety scissors, and a glue stick bought me almost 1 whole hour of quiet time.

practice and perfect and all that

In hopes she’ll be sleeping in her own bed before she starts college, the transition to a sleeping bag might very well be the ticket! All jokes aside, it doesn’t bother me. She can sleep beside me forever. Hello, small heater!

my kind of night

When I asked mini what girls do on a girl’s night, she stated “watch movies and eat!” Her very own words. So popcorn for her – the salty – and brownie for me – the sweet. We each ate the whole bowl, respectively. Girl code.

best pals

If you ever expect to hear a full story without mention of an animal, you’re asking too much. She has a deep love for all four-legged creatures. And the ones that don’t. I respect her disregard for people’s behavior, but her innate ability to ask why creatures do what they do. Sadly, I rarely have answers.

Story of my life.

______________________

I ask you –

Really. What’s the difference between scissors and safety scissors?

Did you sleep with your parent(s) until you were older? No, my sister and brother and I slept in the same room (until age 7ish) but each had our own beds.

Tell me your favorite animal!

Mother Nature, you ok?

At the time of this writing, there’s a good chance of snow. In October. In Texas. Because why not, right? Amongst the millions of other things I don’t understand about this year, now the weather has decided to participate, too. Lovely.

Don’t get me wrong…I love snow! It’s beautiful and serene and innocent. My question is this: if it snows in October, what does that mean for the winter months? Is this our one and done? Does it revert back to summer in February? Apparently I have more than 1 question. And let’s not forget my newfound fear of motor vehicles + snow. “Yes, boss, I’ll be sitting this day/week/month out. You can find me on my couch. Ta-ta.”

Patient for 0.37 seconds

In related news, for informational purposes only, we shared the possibility of snow with my mini. Cue the excitement. However, she got her days mixed up and awoke before 6am to partake in the flurry activities. Unfortunately for her, she was about a week too early and was mucho disappointed when no snow adorned the sidewalk. It was 65° outside that particular morning. Ah the life.

looks slippery

Sometimes I attempt to keep up with worldly news sources and find myself on a strange path into the weird underworld. And then sometimes I find gems, like the one that mentioned how virtual learning would result in zero snow days and the art of the snow day would eventually disappear. I’m truly devastated. Though my child is still a wee bit too young to go to school, I want her to experience snow days! But as a parent I also can see why parents may cringe when faced with children staying home mid-week. Either way, snow days are a staple and I may have to champion a cause to “bring back the snow day” even for those utilizing virtual school. In fact, adults should have mandatory snow days, too. We could all use some childlike joy.

____________________

I ask you –

Does the weather do crazy things where you live?

How often does snow come super early?

I’m accepting bets on what time mini will wake up the next time snow is mentioned.

Into the Unknown!

…and if you didn’t sing this title with all the gusto of Elsa the Ice Queen, I may have to reevaluate our relationship…

In fully contemplating my upcoming half marathon may very well be virtual, I faced a tough decision: where exactly would I run the miles? a) treadmill or b) outside -> which left me with many more questions, like if I chose outside (no brainer) where would I go? a) neighborhood or b) Gordon Lake aka my go-to running location. But what if there was another option; say a previous unknown location with many open miles of pavement and gravel?

c) Eureka!

During recon of new location, I’m mildly disappointed I didn’t know about this before. Too little, too late. But it’s not really too late because at least I know now! Intending to join a running group upon transitioning to my new job in the spring, apparently the rest of the world had other ideas. Surely they would have schooled me in the fine art of new path discovery. Locals refer to it as the Circle Trail; I’m sure by the end of this I’ll have my own name for it. Definitely not family friendly.

According to the maps I’ve located online and what’s posted around the trail, there’s over 20 miles of available running surface area. Translated: no reason I can’t do a half marathon (even a marathon) here. Might as well put all this training to good use. Granted this isn’t my first choice. I WANT to run with my childhood friend in San Antonio; however, if a wrench gets thrown in our plan, then I have a backup option. It may be my final chance to get some kind of event completed in 2020. In other words, why not?!

So as I plan to train on these trails, amidst the wildlife and foliage and abundance of wasps – all I need is to get stung; hello anaphylaxis – I’m both excited and reserved. This trail gives me all the feelings of last year’s Texas Double so we’ll start there. As always, standby for tall tales.

____________________________

I ask you –

Have you ever been the last to a party? Seems I’m way behind on what everyone else knew about.

Anyone else completed a virtual race this year? Suggestions?

Tell me what you’re allergic to!