Merry and Bright? No, not really.

Probably TMI, but I thought I’d share this just as a reminder to people that not everyone’s holidays are merry and bright. Don’t forget people you know who may be grieving, or alone. The holidays can be the saddest time of the year for many. For me.

Anyway, I have my Christmas tree partway up. It’s in the stand with the lights on it. But after I got that far last night, I became overwhelmed and cried for hours (I haven’t cried like that in over a year). I haven’t touched the tree since, and I’m thinking about taking it down entirely.

Well-meaning people are always telling me to decorate for holidays, that it’ll make me feel better. But it honestly makes me feel worse. Much worse. I’m doing lots better this year in many ways. I can see decorations in the stores and around town without having a meltdown. So that’s huge. Huge! I even have my outdoor decorations up and I’m not having trouble with that.

But I’m going to be gentle with myself this holiday season. And if it means not having Christmas decor at my house, so be it. And if it means staying off Facebook for a while, so be it. And if it means going somewhere in the world with warm beaches and doesn’t celebrate Christmas, well, only in my dreams. 😉

Tough day today. And here my goal for this year was to take my holidays back. Maybe taking them back will just mean tossing them out for a while longer.

Maybe next year.

~Debi

And on a completely different note, here’s a cheerful little hedgehog I painted last week.  Her name is Franny. 🙂

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Personal Ponderings


DSCN4806.jpgI’ve gone through so many changes the past few years, when I look at the contents of my various blogs and websites, it just feels like it’s not representative of me anymore.No more kids at home. Can’t remember the last time I baked a pie. I cook for the freezer a little bit, but it’s not my go-to form of cooking anymore. Still living frugally, but not because I’m trying to find ways to feed and clothe five people on a single income. Just because I’m broke.  😉  Everything has changed or is up in the air.  In many ways, I feel like I’m rebuilding my life from the bottom up.

I feel like it’s time to make some changes in my online activities, writing projects, and websites/blogs. No definite plans yet, but just sort of thinking out loud here.  I know I’ve mentioned on here that changes are coming, and I’ve several times thought I would implement those changes.  But I just keep feeling torn about which direction to take.

I finished my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics three years ago, so I’m planning some projects inspired by things I learned in the MFA program. I did finish an experimental book of erasure poetry, Bad Things Happen, that was published two years ago, but readers seemed uninterested in reading it. Evidently my more esoteric creative projects need to be done for love, and not for readership. 

We’ve suffered some major relationship upheavals in our family, too. Long story very short, I’ve been estranged from my kids for three years (I will not share details, please don’t ask). It’s the most gut-wrenching, soul-crushing thing I’ve ever experienced. I was suicidal in the beginning, but have come a long way since then.  With the help of counselors and support groups, I’ve learned to cope with, and accept, the unacceptable and unimaginable.

This blog used to be called “Life: The Journey” and documented our family’s experience with my husband’s degenerative brain disorder. Many readers found it helpful and I was told it was inspiring to others going through difficult, senseless experiences.

Sometimes, I feel like I’d like to share the things I’ve learned over the past three years as I’ve traversed this latest journey. Grief, heartache, rejection, depression, suicidality, hopelessness, hopefulness, mental health issues, physical health, hospitalizations, etc.

Currently I’m going through a class on DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy). Each week, I find I learn at least one — often more than one — thing that I find so helpful. I’ve been wanting to share some of those ideas and practices with others. Simple ideas that can help people cope through difficult and challenging times. And even just the mildly annoying times we all face, even in the best of times.   I’m tossing around the idea of sharing each week something learned from the DBT class.  I asked folks on my Facebook page yesterday, and several people expressed interest in that topic.

Anyway, I thought I’d just think out loud here and see if any of this resonates with anyone.

Sincerely,

~Debi

4th of July memories …

I asked my Facebook friends today, “What are your favorite 4th of July memories from when you were younger?”  Feel free to answer the question and share your thoughts and memories in the comment section.  It’s fun to be nostalgic from time to time.

Food-related Memories: When I was a child, our traditional 4th of July dessert was Angel food cake with whip cream and strawberry frosting.  That particular cake was our family’s traditional birthday cake, and because my dad’s birthday was on July 7th, we celebrated his birthday early on the 4th as the entire extended family was together anyway. Yep, birthday cake on the 4th was my favorite tradition, food-wise. Other than that, I remembered we had an All-American feast of grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, bbq chicken, potato salad, macaroni salad, strawberry jello with sliced bananas, corn on the cob, watermelon, marinated cucumbers and onions, baked beans.  Yum.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.  🙂

We would eat dinner outside on the back porch at my grandparents house on Yarrow Point.  The porch was shaded and was close to the barbeque.  The rest of the day, we’d hang out by the water to stay cool. Lots of swimming, wading, splashing, floating on air mattresses.  Cold lemonade and sliced watermelon for snacks.  (The photo above is my grandparents’ front yard.)

Then in the evening we’d drive to Seattle and watch the fireworks over Green Lake. When our neighborhood all returned home from watching firework displays, the families gathered at the end of our little cul-de-sac and shot off our own fireworks. Mr Razor always had a welding torch handy for lighting the fireworks so we didn’t get to play with matches or lighters very often. lol

So how ’bout you?

~Debi

Facing my fears …

“You faced something that frightened you, and you approached it with strength and the willingness to deal with it directly. This is pretty much the theme of what you’ve been working on over the past few months.”

This was spoken to me by my therapist as she walked me to the elevator this afternoon. Wow. I hadn’t even realized that I had a “theme” in therapy. I thought my theme was staying alive. Seriously.

“Your focus, at first, was survival, but you turned a corner a while back. You’ve been working on moving ahead with strength, courage, and purpose. You’ve been looking deeply at issues and traumas from your past, and you’ve been able to leave those things behind and move on into a different future.”

Wow. Sometimes it just takes someone else to reflect my life back at me to be able to see things clearly.

I knew I was making progress. I knew I was facing my fears. I knew I was tackling painful memories. I knew I was working on rebuilding purpose. I knew I was sensing renewed hope.

But just knowing those things in an abstract way wasn’t as real to me as it was hearing someone articulate the very same things to me. Someone who’s been walking with me through the current trials and traumas.

I had been listening in the car on my way to my appointment to a CD of a lecture. It was by one of my favorite poets, David Whyte. He’d been talking about the idea of things that scare us — that we refuse to look at — as being things we throw into a black bag that we carry around with us throughout our lives. When we’re children, the black bag is small enough, it can fit on our belt. As life goes along, we accumulate more and more things for our bag, and the black bag expands and grows larger until it’s so big, it drags along behind us and catches in elevator doors.

When my therapist noted that I’ve been dealing head on with things that frighten me, it fit in so well with David Whyte’s conversation about the black bag. I think it’s possible to stop and open my personal black bag, and begin dealing with those things that have been out of sight and dragging along behind me for far too long.  My bag is quite full and contains memories of past traumas, phobias, nightmares, people who’ve hurt me, gossiped about me, personal failures, mental health issues, abandonment, grief, rejection, bullying, lies, abuse, and plenty more.

So, I’m curious … what themes are you seeing your life? And what things have you put into your black bag?

~Debi

Grandma …

I’m sad to announce that my 107-year-old grandmother, Madeline L. Taylor, passed away last week. When my dad saw her last, she’d been sleeping peacefully. A peaceful passing was what we’d wished for her.

She led a long, full, and interesting life. If you’re curious, you can read an Oral History report I did on her life for a class at University of Washington Tacoma several years ago. I made the report into a small website, so that Grandma’s life could have a presence on the internet.

She was much loved and will be greatly missed.

~Debi

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