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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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.

Where Forgiveness Finds You

With a rather dark anniversary in my life approaching, much of my group discussions have centered on peace and forgiveness. As I explained, I expected a washing over of divine peace and all the good feelings when I said aloud the words “I forgive you”. Yeah, not so much.

Fast forward to the good stuff. It didn’t come. No butterflies appeared. No washing of anything. End of post. Haha you don’t get off that easily. Seems I was mistaken – don’t tell anyone – when I thought it was the end of my journey into forgiveness. Granted it’s been an almost 25 year process, but surely it can’t last forever, right? Right?!

Though not forgotten

Doubts begin to creep in regarding my ability to forgive my dad for his actions surrounding his death. I think the fallout and unanswered questions were more hurtful. I remember running on the treadmill in/around Dec 2018 and stopping mid-run because the tears wouldn’t cease. It felt like everything I’d bottled up was exploding from me (again). Maybe it was because I had finally experienced a profound love in my life; maybe it was destined to happen then. Who knows. But I somehow knew I had finally found forgiveness for the man I only knew for 10 short years.

It was miraculous. Life changing even. There was an inner smile, a light no one could extinguish. But all lights eventually go out. Time went on, patterns changed, and although I found my own forgiveness of him that day, every day since has been a battle. My heart gets heavy, I retreat inside myself, and I vow never to feel that type of hurt ever again. News flash! Hurt happens regardless.

Without a true sense of closure, I imagine I’ll live with this until I die. Little reminders will always trigger me. Dates in November and December may have me crying, unable to express the loss I feel, but dark days don’t last forever. Peace is found in the little things; He who watches over me ensures sorrow is replaced with light.

I believe it, if only by faith.

_____________________

I ask you –

Are there dark times/days in your life?

Have you ever intended to forgive someone?

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, please call 800-273-8255 or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline using the Home link below. Your life is important!

Home

Dumdum

Always starts off strong…

Lately I’ve fully realized I’m just not as smart as I originally believed. Fine. I said it. You know I read these mystery/thriller/murder-ish books. Michael Connelly is my favorite. But even after reading nearly all of them, I can never peg the correct killer. I’m always surprised and tell myself ‘you should’ve seen that!’ Ugh. I’m pretty dumb to be so smart.

Nanners (MIL, from the flower collecting generation) calls it “murder porn” and she’s obsessed. Pointed look in your direction. Somehow she always knows who did it, why, and how they almost got away with it. Me? Never. I never get it right! Kel, you suck at this game.

Maybe I just get lost in the details. Oh yeah, that’s it. And I’m very particular about the details which is a hiccup in the whodunnit tales. If they’re gory, nope. If they’re overly heinous, double nope. I can’t even watch a fish being cut up, why would I think a person would be excusable.

On second thought, perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. I’m always surprised at the end! Those of you who have already guessed correctly? Where’s the fun in that?! So what you got it right. Good for you! Me? Ehhh. I’ll be over here shaking my head at the preposterousness.

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I ask you –

Do you typically guess who the killer is before it’s revealed?

Where did I go wrong?

Fun fact: I always wanted to work in the criminal justice field.

Whole, but like an Orange

Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin
caterpillar -> butterfly

A few nights ago, there was a discussion on wholeness and what it meant. Granted each person can go a million directions on this one word alone, but a similar premise regarded growth. As buzzword as growth seems to be now, I haven’t found an adequate replacement yet. And so it begins!

For all the darkness, uncertainty, and confusion this year has worn like a shroud, I can honestly say my life has been overwhelmed with growth. Though it may be easy to overlook it’s definitely not lost on me. My inner strength has multiplied! Of course there have been tough times. But overall I’m better off now than I was in 2019.

Responsibility has not been mine alone. Let me rephrase – I take full responsibility, but wholeness is the sum of many parts. Not too long ago, I shared how something(s) were missing in my life. More so inside me. Disjointed pieces unable to come together, like several puzzles accidentally mixed up. Not only did I not feel whole but I was bordering on the edge of simultaneously feeling everything and nothing. Only recently did I accept how dangerous that place is. When you continue to chase a high, it always takes more to reach it.

(neighbor’s yard)

A friend used these words: if you’re not growing, you’re dying. If you came here today thinking I’d have funny stories, sorry to disappoint! Without continuing to seek growth or, in my case, sort out those puzzle pieces, there will be a point you, and I, can grow no more. All downhill after that.

I encourage you all to keep growing. Find the things to facilitate wholeness, whatever it looks like for you. Never forget we all struggle, but one person’s struggle is another’s time to grow.

_________________________________

I ask you –

First impressions of the quote I used today?

Are you feeling growth or stagnancy in 2020?

Name your least favorite buzzword! Balance. That’s mine.

Running Reel – a short story

…that thing about one door closing…

Occasionally I enjoy reminiscing about past accomplishments. Helps with the current lack of running events.

Though I’m a little bummed about making a choice not to run a marathon – yet – I can’t help but feel super excited about what I was able to do in 2019 alone. I mean, I ran a double, people. A back-to-back half marathon AND I pr’d. Hellooooooo! There were a lot of changes going on then; who would have known despite them I could still pull a glorious race out of my assssss, I mean hat. This may forever be my running ace.

2 years ago, I was coming off a spectacular failure. Remember that DNF? Because I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, right?! Although I didn’t doubt I’d overcome it, there were a few times I heard “Hey Kel, you shouldn’t do this again.” Lucky for me, I make my own rules. Well…Kel does. More on that later.

Post VA Beach, which I haven’t run since, sore subject and all, I bumbled my way through another half, then traveled across the US to train on the West coast for a few weeks. In many ways, that trip changed my entire trajectory. As a last minute decision, I decided to run with a pacer at the next race. Good move! It gave me the confidence I needed and I pr’d.

Digression to current events: approximately 5 days before Labor Day (is it approximate if I say approximately and then give a specific number?), I found out the Texas Triple, always held Memorial Day weekend, was rescheduled to Labor Day weekend. Ooooof. I could’ve been training for that! I wanted to run it!!! Damn the luck. Needless to say, it’s on my race radar next year. Any running friends want to join? Hey, Coach, I’m pointing my finger at you.

so much more to come

Basically this synopsis brings you up to speed. I ran several other races during this course of events, but these are the highlights of my race reel. Maybe I’m just weird (no input, please) but I take an unusual amount of time analyzing the good/bad of my past runs so I can improve.

Because isn’t that a small part of life? Finding ways to do better, be better, and get stronger.

_________________

I ask you –

Do you make plans to improve some area of your life?

Anyone interested in the triple?

Tell me your biggest success! Dare to also share your biggest “failure”?

Welcome to the Show!

the shit show…

Let me tell you about my friend. She’s with me all the time and has known me my whole life. As an integral part, I’ve had to accept her shortcomings, her nuances, her idiosyncrasies. For some, she’s the only one they know. Her name? Kel.

from deep inside

Did you know many writers have an alter ego or, at the very least, an ability to ‘become’ their characters? It’s true. No more weird than a child pretending to be a dog – there’s a ton of psychological and growth patterns in these behaviors. But I imagine when an adult says this, it prompts some uneasy stares.

Not to worry – there’s nothing overtly wrong with my psyche – that’s what I’ve been told anyway. Truly I’m going out on a limb just sharing it here, but I think if we were all truthful with ourselves we’d realize everyone in our lives receives a certain part of us. Lucky for my readers, you are invited to the party between Kelly and Kel.

Allow me to explain. Anything in italics is Kel. She’s my sarcastic, funny, no bs, speaker of the heart. Kelly though? I’m forced to be what is expected of me, what society can dictate, what so many only know me as. Kel’s the fun one. Interestingly enough, there exists a handful of souls who give me an opportunity to merge both sides of myself into the true me, if you will.

I promise I don’t suffer from any personality disorders or the like. Some have even said I’m normal. Probably paid to say this, but I’m not complaining. My goal here is to explain what I think most people, if they dive deep, will find within themselves: a merging of characters due to life events. Surely I’m not the only one! Kel has been around for a very long time, but I didn’t really understand her role until I was much older.

In speaking to a very amazing woman, she regaled us with tales of her 3 or 4 “children”. These children represent different chapters in her life: childhood, adolescence, etc. It was explained that anyone who has gone through any type of trauma may develop the practice of naming and “unboxing” (my word, not anyone else’s) different parts of themselves. To be brutally honest, when I first heard this woman’s descriptions I was very resistant. I thought perhaps this wasn’t exactly what I had signed up for and maybe I should move on. But the more she spoke the more I realized I had done the same. Don’t forget about me! I even acknowledged how peaceful it feels to recognize this part of me.

a seamless combination

So there you have it. To be called Kel is actually a very personal part of my life. It’s rare and treasured. I can count on one hand how many refer to me as Kel – it’s not an invitation, rather I believe when it happens I am being seen for my true self. It’s a pet name, a private nickname, a word of adoration and understanding. She is me and I am her. And if you have the chance to be invited into this world, consider yourself lucky. Really though – I’m the lucky one.

_________________

I ask you –

Are there any other parts of you?

Did I go too far in sharing this post? Religion, death, and psychological topics: very taboo.

Tell me what you refer to yourself as: full name or a nickname!