Time for happy thoughts.

Happy thoughts like the kind that make you laugh so hard you float up to the ceiling for a tea party with Mary Poppins and Bert and the kids.

Or happy thoughts that make you fly again like Peter Banning when he remembers how to be a Lost Boy in Never Never Land.  Bang-a-rang!  (I miss Robin Williams. He was a perfect Peter Pan who forgot he was Peter Pan and then remembered again. Oops…not so happy.  Bang-a-rang Robin Williams wherever your beautiful spirit is flying today!)

Happy thoughts like when you look outside all of a sudden and see nothing but big, fat, white flakes falling from the heavens, blanketing the trees and the hills and the Jungle Fort out back.

Happy thoughts like the first sip of the first cup of coffee in the morning.  Ahhhh, nirvana.

I have found it so easy to feel like I’m drowning in the ugliness and the chaos and the inhumanity of the current state of affairs in this country.

My last post spoke to the jumbled-up-ness of my psyche as it tries to digest the news of the past week, let alone the past one and a half years.  Putting a misogynistic, sexual predator who defends domestic abusers in the White House will likely be remembered as one of America’s absolute worst acts ever.  Ever.  The psychic trauma of this last year and a half for those of us who don’t subscribe to the beliefs of the xenophobic, racist, sexist bully’s regime is great and may take years to recover from.

It’s been a delicate dance since November 2016.  Too much news and politics and I yell at the radio and say bad words and feel knots in my stomach.  Not enough news and politics and I feel that I’ll miss something that will be the turning point, the coup de grace, the final blow to this national nightmare.  From which we can all wake up and resume being civilized humans in a civilized society again.  (Nota bene:  dearest daughter Gracelyn won’t let me change the station too often, asking me if I remember what happened the last time I consciously did that?  She’ll answer me in her sweet, sing-song voice:  “Comey was fired.”  And so we leave it on the news station.  I think we’re both just waiting for words that will make us have faith again.)

I published the last post (My “And So I Stayed” story) on another site on Sunday morning and was overwhelmed by the responses.  Affirmations of what I’d written, stories of others’ experiences, kindnesses, love, gratitude, appreciation…just generally the best part of our collective humanity.  It was truly humbling.

And so freeing.  I have felt a bit lighter since initially getting the words out.  Sunshine truly is Nature’s best disinfectant.

Sunshine.  That’s a happy thought.  Usually in the middle of winter, I’m content for gray days with snow and blustery winds and freezing temperatures.  Perfect for sledding or skiing or drinking hot cocoa (for her) and hot coffee (for me).  Or snowball fights, or making forts, or throwing snowballs.  But this winter hasn’t turned out to be much of a winter, with a paltry amount of snow on the ground and bare spots every where you turn.  We had mud in the drive already.  Mud.  And exposed grass in the front.  It’s only the middle of February.  I don’t care what that groundhog said.  I don’t see much winter left.  So when it gets like this, I think my Spring Fever sets in and I’d just rather get to the sunshine.  And the sprouting grass and the buds on the aspen trees.  And the sun rising higher, not hidden behind the mountain on its shallow arc across the sky.  Instead, blazing a path right overhead.

So sunshine is my happy thought today.

“You’ll never know dear, how much I love you….please don’t take my sunshine away.”

Blessings be.

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And so I stayed…

The first bloody nose happened not long after we started dating.  But he was sincerely sorry. So I stayed.

The yelling and the name-calling started not long after we became engaged.  But he was, always, sincerely sorry.  So I stayed.

The second bloody nose happened after we were happily married.  But again, he was sincerely sorry.  So I stayed.

The bruises, both physical and emotional, were sprinkled throughout the relationship.  The fault was always mine.  Or that’s how he made it seem.  So I stayed.

Because how could anyone else ever put up with me? How could anyone else ever love me as much as he did?  Tolerating my hysterical outbursts, my neediness, my emotional swings (hormones anyone?).  Who else would stick around, if not him?  So I stayed.

One time I fought back.  My open hand connected with his face.  He took to the bed, gave me the cold shoulder, wouldn’t respond to my pleading, my begging for forgiveness.  Finally, after much groveling on my part, he said “how could you hit me?  I can’t believe you hit me.”  I had no words to say except “I’m so sorry.”  Over and over and over.  And I stayed.

I was ashamed.  I was embarrassed.  I was humiliated.  Me, the smart one.  Me, the feminist.  Me, the one who seemed to have it all together.  How could I possibly have let this happen to me?  I began to internalize the emotional abuse, began to turn on myself, began to doubt myself.  Maybe all the things he said to me, about me, were true.  Maybe I was a lunatic, a crazy bitch, a nutcase.  Maybe I did deserve to be pushed around, to be bullied by his size and his strength.  Maybe I was worthless.  So I stayed.

I never found the words that would have stood up for my battered self.  I never found the courage to stand my ground, to say “NO MORE.”  I never found the love for myself that would have enabled me to feel I was worth so much more than what I was getting.

In retrospect, the end of the marriage was a mutual parting of ways, after time spent apart, for reasons due to school, residencies, jobs.  Once again, though, I was a coward.    My best friend ever, my beloved Golden Retriever Calvin was diagnosed with lymphoma and died within weeks.  I was devastated.  Two weeks later, he called to say he was filing the divorce papers.  Not “Happy Birthday. How are you?  Do you miss Calvin?”  Emotionally abusive, in his way, to the end.  I never confronted him.  I hid behind the age-worn excuse of “we both want different things out of life, so we should go our separate ways.”  It seemed easier to not say anything.  Just like it had been easier not to say anything during the ten years we were together.

I thought by signing the papers, by taking back my name, I would be shedding that part of me that had been abused.  That by walking away, the scars would disappear and I could pretend as if none of it had happened.

Funny thing about scar tissue though…it doesn’t lay down in nice, neat, straight, parallel lines that fit perfectly into the lanes of life.  Scar tissue forms in clumps that can knot up and disrupt the best laid plans.  Scar tissue can form and lay low for a while, not causing any problems.  Until one day, life tries to travel down that path and WHAMMO! BAM! Road block.  Cause there’s no moving smoothly over ginormous balled-up adhesions.  There are triggers, I will be honest.  I have a personal space now that if I feel is being invaded, I will defend mightily.  I can’t watch movies that have even the slightest hint of domestic physical abuse without my heart rate accelerating and my respirations increasing.  I have been angry of late.  At the bullies in our world…the men in positions of power, the stories that are coming out, the ones not told, the ones not believed.

The stigma of being “one who stayed” rears its head often in my life.  The father of my daughter, my second husband, has said countless times over the years that he just cannot understand how a woman would go back for more abuse.  We have this conversation a lot. I used to get pretty worked up when I was trying to explain it to him.  I’m far enough away from it now that I have the ability to dial down the emotion so that I don’t explode out of my skin. He has a hard time reconciling the knowledge of me, his wife who is a passionate feminist, who has two professional medical degrees, who is a successful parent/homeschool teacher/employee outside the home, as ever being “one who stayed.”  I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve tried to explain it.  But to be honest, it’s as if I’m speaking ancient Greek and he’s speaking Cherokee (which is in his family tree, so I can say that without being disrespectful).  To him, it is unfathomable that a woman would stay in a relationship with a man who is physically abusive.  To him, that woman is simply stupid.

And therein lies the stigma.  And the dichotomy.  I stayed.  I am not stupid.  I am actually a pretty smart person.  But. I. Stayed.

I anticipate running into another clump of scar tissue soon.  Our daughter is 11 years old now.  She is strong, in every sense of the word.  She is physically strong, but she is also emotionally strong.  Strong-willed and strongly opinionated.  She is passionate and intelligent and has a fine sense of right and wrong. How do I tell her that her mother was “one who stayed?”

And dear Goddess of the Universe, how can I help her be one who won’t?

 

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Legacies

leg·a·cy
ˈleɡəsē
noun
noun: legacy; plural noun: legacies
  1. 1.
    an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.
    synonyms: bequestinheritanceheritageendowmentgiftpatrimonysettlementbirthright;

    formalbenefaction
    “a legacy from a great aunt”
    • a thing handed down by a predecessor.
      “the legacy of centuries of neglect”
      synonyms: consequenceeffectupshotspin-offrepercussionaftermath, by-product, result

      “a legacy of the wars”

      (Thank you Google for the above.)

 Legacy:  a thing handed down by a predecessor

Something to think about this MLKJr Day, am I right?  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr certainly left a legacy.  He handed down to us words, dreams, thoughts, calls to action.

He would have been 89 years young this year.  What would he think about this country today? Would he take a knee, bow his head and speak his big words of “love…together…peace?”  Would he link arms with John Lewis, Michelle and Barack and the rest of us hurting at this time of strife in our country?  What would he tell us if we could stand and listen to his fiery oration?  Would he still have a dream?

Would he think we had squandered all of what has come before us–the suffering and the sacrifices that he and his brethren made for the rights of all?  Would he be angry that we hadn’t done more, that we had wasted time, that we are all still not sitting at the same table?

Or would he clasp hands with each and every one of us, wrap us in a hug, and tell us that “Love is the key to the problems of the world?”  Would he tell us to stay strong, to believe in the movement, to not give up, to keep marching?

I heard this on the night that Barack Obama was elected President in 2008:

“Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could walk.

Martin Luther King, Jr walked so that Barack Obama could run.

Barack Obama ran so that our children could fly.”

The above was reworded by Jay-Z from the original wording uttered by Cleo Fields, former Congressman and State Senator from Louisiana:

“W.E.B. Dubois taught so that Rosa Parks could take a seat. Rosa took a seat so we all could take a stand. We all took a stand so that Martin Luther King Jr. could march. Martin marched so Jesse Jackson could run. Jesse ran so Obama could WIN.”

Either way the words are a testament to the giants who have come before us.  We must carry on their legacy.  We must remember Martin’s big words: love, peace, together, dreams.

We must stand and march and run and dream and fly.  This country is depending on us.

Again, I quote Joseph Kennedy:

“To those who have been given much, much is expected in return.”

It is time for us to give.

 

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Musings by Grace (guest post)

(Untitled)

December night,

warm and bright inside.

Fresh arroz on the table,

Peas, so delicious, make it

stable.

Baked pollo, spicy shrimp,

outside the snowflakes

fall.

A large white cake, sprinkled

with snowy sugar and

sparkles.

A happy family birthday.

 

and

 

Silence Has a Sound

Though you don’t notice for all the

noise around,

Silence has a sound.

The whisper-roaring you hear,

Every time you put a shell to your ear.

The Hush-shush of skis on snow,

The shifting of an ice flow.

Marching ant feet,

making something, to them, so sweet.

The pop, pop, pop of an octopus underwater.

The clip-clop , clip-clop of a relentless

horse trotter.

The crash-clang-bang of a fight with

swords,

The power of a few words.

The scritch-scratch of a pen,

Telling not where but when.

Silence is made up of all the

sounds in the world,

Curled

In on its self.

Silence has a sound.

Silence has a sound,

the world ’round.

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Exclusive: Sources: General Flynn ‘Wept’ As He Asked FBI to Spare Mike Flynn Jr

The noose tightens ever so much more.
The long, national nightmare of this last year may indeed be on its way to being over.
I fear we have a long journey ahead of us, but there is light ahead.

patribotics

Exclusive: Retired Lt. Gen. Flynn broke down and sobbed, sources familiar with the matter said, when faced with the extent of the signals intelligence, or SIGINT, against himself and Mike Flynn Jr. Senior law enforcement officials presented Donald Trump’s former National Security adviser, already indicted at the time for failure to register as a foreign agent of Turkey, with irrefutable evidence of espionage committed on behalf of the Russian state by both himself and his son and business partner, Mike Flynn Jr. Espionage is a capital crime.

Separate sources with links to the intelligence community and the Justice Department report that a deal for leniency for his son offered to General Flynn, on which we exclusively reported earlier this year, may have been derailed by Mike Flynn Jr’s compulsive tweeting of divisive, pro-Kremlin propaganda.

Patribotics is grateful for the support of our readers, which makes our journalism possible. If you can…

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The wheels of time

I am sure if I had a few extra seconds in my day I could go back through the archives of “Excerpts from the Diary of a MadRanchWife” and find words written at about this time each year, describing the melancholia that seems to descend upon my countenance.

We had a long discussion this morning about the conundrum we encounter each year at this time.  My daughter is living up to her mini-me status in yet another way.  She senses the passage of time as acutely as I do.  She is as melancholy as I when she steps outside and feels the need to add a sweater due to the autumnal chill.  She must also intuit the changing sunlight, the different arc the orb traces through the sky each day, the loss of the brightness as it travels overhead.

I told her how truly conflicted I am at this time each year…saddened at the waning days of summer (we have such a truly, short summer here), the loss of our beloved flower garden, the exit of our zinging hummingbird friends as they head south for warmer climes.  The regret at lists not completed, projects not even started, hikes not taken, books not read.

We talked about feeling despondent and powerless over time marching on, despite our very best efforts at attempting to lasso it and hold it still, long enough to eke out just one more day of summer, one more night of backyard camping, one more s’more, one more day sitting on the front porch smelling the flowers and watching the hummers dip and dive and fly crazily about.

And then we began the slow turn to musing about the myriad of wonders that fall brings, in all of its splendor.  We spy the beginnings of the leaf changes, first the ground cover, followed by the willows beginning their dance of rust and red, then the wild rose bushes, with their bright red rose hip berries and yellow-gold leaves.  Finally the aspens start, at the very tippy-top, with a few leaves sporting new colors, usually varying shades of gold.  I anticipate a lovely fall, bursting at the seams with varying hues, a result of the many rainy days in August.

We talk about the smell of fall–fallen leaves, musty earth.  We talk about the tastes of fall–the biggest, crispest, sweetest apples of the year.

And we both come to the inevitable conclusion that though we are loathe to leave summer, we welcome the autumn with open arms, with all of the awe it has to offer.

We make a pact to enjoy what each day has to offer, to try not to live with regrets for things not done.  We decide to be grateful for what we have before us, to not be saddened that the wheels of time continue turning, despite our best efforts to hold them still.

This is the blessing of my life–to be able to share with my daughter the bittersweet lessons of letting go and learning how to live in the moment.  I don’t always get it right, but knowing I have a kindred spirit to share my path helps to soothe my soul.  Knowing that her life has been entrusted to me, by the Universe, to guide and teach and shelter along the way helps me to look forward to trying to be a better person, a better mother.

Blessings be.

 

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These are the times that try men’s souls.

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. ….

The above are the beginning lines from an essay titled “The Crisis” by Thomas Paine, written on December 23, 1776 and read to the troops at Valley Forge.  Paine writes in the essay about various battles, commanders, revolutionaries and their common struggles, in an attempt, I think, to “rally the troops.”  Now, some 240 years later, it would seem the words ring just as true.

I have excerpted several passages, the ones that seem to speak so directly to events of today.  It had been my thought to comment on each paragraph, drawing similarities to what we currently face as a nation.

 

I think, instead of inserting my own thoughts after some of Paine’s words, I’ll simply put the entirety of my excerpted passages so that you can read uninterrupted.  Paine’s words flow eloquently and one can imagine the troops massed at Valley Forge that cold December day, hearing these words meant to spur them on in the battle for the soul of the new nation.

Without further ado:

‘Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. …

Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. …

…that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire…..

…I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands;…

…It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death…

Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.…

…I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. …

By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils – a ravaged country – a depopulated city – habitations without safety, and slavery without hope – our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.

Powerful, gut-wrenching words that unbelievably seem so appropriate for today, some 240 years later.  How can that be?  How can Thomas Paine’s words be applicable to today?   The American Revolution was fought and won and birthed our great nation.  The centuries turned, the country expanded, the times- they changed.  So much has happened since December 23, 1776 yet so much remains the same.

We are now massing in numbers to fight the tyranny of a leader, a government that seems hell-bent on putting their heel down on our backs.  We are forming groups who are banding together under the slogan of #TheResistance, empowering each and every one of us to dig deep, to find our voice, to rebel against those that seek to oppress us.

A most trite and hackneyed phrase–history repeats itself–has never seemed more evident than now.  As Paine writes above, it is frightening to see how rapidly a panic will move through the countryside.  Panic are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy.  Whew, that’s a loaded sentence that pains one to cogitate, ruminate a moment as to what exactly Paine is attempting to say.  Hypocrisy is exposed to the light of those who are sincerely panicking? Hmmm. An interesting way to suppose I have an inkling of an idea as to what he meant.

I would have to say I believe we are currently in a state of panic.  We are exposing much to the daylight and grappling with what the light has revealed.

How will we do?  Will we choose the perseverance and fortitude put forth by Paine above?  Or the cowardice and submission, giving in and giving up, throwing up our hands and saying “it’s too hard to fight all the time, I’m tired, we’ll never win anyway, my voice doesn’t matter.”

“Tis the business of little minds to shrink…”

He’s not mincing words there.  And we must not shrink from this fight either, 241 years later.  We must soldier on, we must find the courage to persevere.  We must not give in to the hate, to the divisiveness, to the tyranny that threatens to tear asunder the very fabric this country was stitched together with.

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot must learn how to be all-weather!  This is not the time to stand idly by and think the work will be completed by others, to languish on the sidelines, not sure if there is anything to contribute.  This country was forged inch by inch by the blood, sweat and tears of those who have gone before us.  Those who felt a stirring deep inside their bones of the absolute belief in the power of the people.  The power of principles.  A rag-tag bunch of colonists banded together to fight for what they believed in.  If ever there was a story of the little guy against the giant, the American Revolution was certainly it.  Our Revolution birthed a nation, birthed heroes for that nation, and birthed the people to populate that nation.

I’m conflicted as to whether or not it’s a good thing that it is becoming increasingly obvious we need to muster ourselves for another round.  It seems to me our nation is under attack, and not just from a foreign enemy.  If we want the blood of our forefathers, the founding fathers, and every patriot who battled for every inch of this country to mean something, then it becomes imperative that we take a stand today.  If we believe that great harm is being done to this country and the ideals for which so many gave their lives so many years ago, then it is upon our shoulders the mantle lies.  We must take this responsibility and, as Paine writes, “lay our shoulders to the wheel…come forth and meet and repulse it.”

I am reminded of another’s famous words, told to his children frequently as they were growing up:

“To those who have been given much, much is expected in return.”   ~Joseph Kennedy

We, the people of this hallowed country, the United States of America, have been given much.  It was handed to us by those who fought with everything they had to create it.  We have many struggles here; the battles against us are many.  But, truth be told, many of these are  “first world problems,” a meme mocked around the world.  None of us gets a free ride and none of us should be allowed to take without giving in return.  We are blessed to be alive in this country, albeit with its many imperfections.  But again, #firstworldproblems.  To those of us who are able, those of us who have been given much, it is time to give in return.  My ancestors fought alongside General Washington.  I have a great(x many)-uncle who fought in the Civil War and died, wounded, as a POW in a Georgia prison.  At the age of 22.  My ancestors bled for this country.  I have been given much–the freedom they fought for.  Much is now expected from me in return.

The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.

This is not a time for shrinking.  This is a time for us to gather together and grow stronger so that our children and our children’s children and their children will be able to look back upon this time period in the history of this nation, and state, unequivocally, that we answered the call.  We summer soldiers and sunshine patriots smiled through the troubles and became braver and bolder and more courageous for it.  That we did justice to the sacrifices made by those who walked before us, that we honored the government they so carefully crafted, the documents they so diligently debated.   That is the story our children’s children’s children should tell.  That we stood up and did our duty as American patriots.

For these are the times that try men’s souls and we must succeed, as history has its eyes on us.

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