A Snap Shot of Life on the Extra Board.

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Photo Credit: Ales Krivec

This super-short is in response to a writing prompt that is very dear to my heart. You can find the original post at What Inspires Your Writing?

Twelve hours had come way too slow. He had been stopped in the middle of nowhere with no one else but the engineer for ten hours of the day. Not moving. Just waiting for dispatch to give them a green light. Instead they will deadhead in a van with a sketchy driver to their destination: a dirty hotel without consistent wifi. Bored and tired, he was ready for the day to be over.

Ten hours had come way too fast. She really felt she could use a few more hours in the day. By the time dinner for the kids was finished, hers was cold. She did the dishes while she ate, with the baby chatting in her high chair and son playing Mouse Trap upstairs. Bottles washed, diaper bag and back pack ready for the next day. Her own lunch prepped and ready to grab for the morning, she takes a few more minutes to clean up the living room before scooping up the baby and carrying dirty clothes with her upstairs. Then baths, PJs, teeth brushed, stories told, milk refilled, bedtime snack given, cuddling the babe back to sleep, more milk, and finally she is able to take off her shoes and work clothes. Laying in bed, she keeps the TV on for light and mindlessly looks at her phone until sleep arrives. She can hardly make it to 9pm, exhausted. 12am a little boy appears and snuggles until she is able to wake up enough to return him to bed and fulfill his requests. 2am a sleepy girl cries for milk. Twenty minutes to satisfy her hunger and then back to bed. She glances at the clock. 3 more hours until her alarm goes off. She doesn’t even know what day it is.

 

 

What Do I Say When…?

 

As an introvert, I do not often mix work and my personal life. At work, I am “on”. I enjoy the people I work with and give as much of myself as I can. At home, I put up a protective barrier and little gets through, maybe aside from Social Media. But then there are certain people that also give of their energy instead of taking.

I have a dear friend that has such a wonderful and eloquent way with words. She is such a positive light, even in her own hurt. I sometimes joke when I introduce her to people, that she could tell you about a dog taking a poop in a way that would make you WANT to pick up that poop. She finds, identifies, and celebrates the good in people and situations. She is truly amazing in the way she breathes life into people.

So it absolutely broke my heart when I learned that this awesome woman lost her father. I am really horrible at condolences and often just give space to the grieving. But as we both are very articulate of our feelings, I simply asked if I could share her gift of word with the world.

“Nearly 15 years passed after his first stroke, but his tenacity never wavered. That ogre called stroke suppressed his body, but not his will. Today, he unexpectedly surrendered to the daily plight endured, cast hemiparesis aside, and walked into heaven’s gates unbroken. While dense fog permeates our midst, we have been lavished with an outpouring of love.”

She wrote an email upon her return from the service:

“I return to work today still feeling afflicted and emotionally bankrupt, but at the same time, attempting to find gratitude for the small lights of love in my midst. Those came by way of a multitude of messages and expressions of kindness.

I kindly accept warm embraces and must add, those have sustained me in the past week. While I will readily accept all hugs, I do ask that all refrain from questions. I know that any conversation about my dad will erupt in a flood of tears.

My dad’s services honored his life and highlighted his will to serve. I hope to continue carrying the torch he so readily upheld.

I wrote the following piece, printed 50 copies, and had all our family read along during a dove release ceremony. Thought I’d share below:

Your soul is released to a place on high;

Where trumpets sound in the celestial sky.

Those left behind your hand wish to hold;

We trust in God and will rely on one another, further cementing our bond as if cloaked in gold.

We promise to band together, to forge and cinch our allegiance and unity;

To honor your life and remember you for all eternity. ”

 

She told me that a conversation with her niece sparked her inspiration for this poem. She felt the need to pull her family together. Time had waned the urgency of family and life took priority of making memories. We talked about coming of age where we leave much behind to work hard and make it on our own, that sometimes we no longer make time for those outside of immediate day to day life. My friend did not want her family to feel regret, or dwell in a place of division or seclusion. But she wanted to honor her father in the way that memorialized who he was.

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My dad loved to spend time on the water, so we spent the weekend at Grand Lake sharing stories and honoring his life.

She went on to tell me that her father had the gift of word. That he had a way of speaking life, hope, and happiness into anyone. Something she wanted to carry in his legacy.

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“You left my world unexpectedly;

without notice or advisory, you were taken from me.

While I cannot comprehend why you are no longer here,

I try to hold on to reason and rationalize my fears.

Many of us want to rewind the clock, to hug you one more time,

and feel your embrace, hear you try to make rhymes.

Sometimes your words were poetic to me.

You were gifted and talented in prose, with a God-given ability to speak.

When inspiration knocked, a flood would emit

and the end resulted in persuasive words that yielded significance.

I will honor your legacy by appealing to others with your gift of word,

And continue your tradition of inspiring others with purpose to serve.

Your words infused conviction for all humanity.

You manifested God’s love, showcasing a life of integrity.

Thank you for the gifts bestowed along the way,

For establishing a bedrock of truth, for that and more we honor your life today.”

 

My heart is so full of this woman. Her words are always so heavy with love, encouragement and praise. It was no wonder then when she described her father’s gift of word, where she had gotten it from. She spoke of him in a way that made me wish I had known him. There is no doubt that everyone that had that privilege was a much better person because of it.

 

Dear My Sweet Friend,

I cannot fathom the emptiness left by the physical absence of your father. The hunger and thirst to hear his voice, and receive his words that would pick you back up and set you on track. You have worked so diligently to ensure that your family is able to feel warmth and love in a time when otherwise would feel cold and regretful. I also can see that this is the constructive way that you have chosen to heal. You have strength beyond measure and his light and gifts shine through you every single day. You honored him even while he lived and you continue to do so. You are allowed to be emotionally taxed. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to set those boundaries for yourself. But know that you are supported by people that admire and love you. Thank you for letting me share you, your father, and your story with the world.

Hold the Phone, I am an Author!!

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OMG Mom, You’re AMAZING!!

My writing and novel are being show cased!! Please hop over to What Inspires Your Writing to check it out!! Follow the links to my novel and make it #1 on the charts (I’m currently #2!!)

 

The Up Hill

 

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The thing about depression is there is no black and white. No yes or no. It’s a journey. Some days the going is hard and other days just treading water is a success.

5 days shy of 8 months and I finally feel like things are on the up for me. You see, getting better does not really start at getting help. Some times it gets significantly worse after that. Getting help is like clawing at the sides of the hole you are in to slow down the rate at which you are falling. You are either going find something that saves you, or you’ll hit the bottom. And for some, that is the only time they are able to climb out.

For me, I did not quite get to the bottom. I am adult enough to know that things could have been far worse. For me, reaching out meant a small dose of medication, counseling and a ton of support from the people around me. I am not embarrassed about postpartum depression. I have a ton of friends that are pregnant. If they start having symptoms, they know exactly who to talk to.

My PPD was not a disconnect from my children. It was different. It was not even triggered by pregnancy and birth, but exasperated due to the hormone changes that go along with it. I’m depressed because I hate the way I look after these beautiful creations clawed their way out of me like Ace Ventura out of a rhino butt..

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I am sad because I will never be 20 again. I will probably NEVER fit any of those jeans in the blue tote in my basement. And I will NEVER reach my fitness goal of wearing my old bras again either.. I have so many cute ones, this in itself is depressing. You can tell me I am ridiculous and to go easy on myself because I just had a baby. But when have you ever known me to go easy on myself? It’s one of my quirks and everyone secretly loves me for it. If I was not so hard on myself, people would not get paid, and my son would smell like farts. All.The.Time. So you are welcome for me holding myself to high standards.

Back to what I was saying. I am glad you think I am beautiful. My husband is still attracted to me after this transformation, but I am not attracted to me. Nope. I struggle with the state of things. I know how to fix them, but I have not been able to sleep because babe wakes up at least every two hours to nurse, I work full time and I solo parent a lot of the time.

And I have been so tired that I would cry when my alarm went off. It was bad.

This week has actually felt like I consistently kept my head above water. I was even faced with something that would have completely derailed me, but it did not. In the past and with everything I have been through, I thought I was pretty resilient, and I guess I still am. I did not stop fighting to be happy. I knew that if I was unhappy, my children would be effected. My marriage had already taken a huge hit. But I made it through. We made it through. I could not have done it with out them.

But you know what the big turning point was? Moving the baby to her own room and sleep training. I stopped nursing in the middle of the night. She protests adamantly in the beginning but no more than an hour of crying and falling asleep and crying again cycle. After one week, I am a brand new person. I could, and plan to, conquer the world. Now I can enjoy my coffee instead of survive on it. Maybe it is selfish of me not to want my baby close at night, and I have noticed that as I get older, I am less and less willing to compromise on things like sleep. Selfish? Fine. I will own that. But I am also getting back to a personal state of better health. Which is far more important to both of my children at this point.

So thank you darling. I know when you grow up and read what your mama wrote about you, you might not like it. But if we could help others by sharing our experiences, then I’d say we’re already a pretty darn good team.

 

via Daily Prompt: Better

Not As I Do

This is a Mother’s Day post, but not in the sense that you may think. The last 17 years, our relationship has been complicated to put it simply. There were many lessons that she tried to teach me as I was growing, but in true child form, I opted to make mistakes versus listening and obeying the warnings she tried so desperately to penetrate into my adolescent psyche.

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I hated everything when I was a teenager.

She became a mother at a very young age. They were married soon after conception and my father, owning the responsibility of his new small family, joined the military. Then I came along. I have written about what I remember (or don’t) of my father in those  early years of life, but the constant was my mother. She was always there.  She raised us with very little help from anyone else, as we constantly moved from one place to another and away from family most of the time.

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My dad was stationed in Korea for a year and Mom was left to raise three kids alone.

I really wish I had appreciated her more then. I wish I had followed some of her instructions. I wish I had even liked her more. No doubt that I love her. She is my mother. But with my stubbornness and her life long search to find herself, we were never friends.

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In the fourth grade (I know this is a trivial time in one’s life that should not hold much weight into adulthood), I started to suck at school. I discovered at an early age that I was really smart. I also discovered that I learned so fast, I could pretty much wing-it most of the time. So I stopped doing homework. To this day I will go out of my way to avoid bringing work of any fashion home with me. This habit also was the driving force that convinced me it was time to leave the military. All this to say, my teachers informed my parents, who were unsuspecting that anything was wrong.

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But we managed a little fun in the midst of frustration.

In 1995, my mother wrote me a letter. It has remained preserved in a clear pencil pocket all these years. I took it with me after I went to juvy (another story for another time), was court ordered to live with my aunt, through college, to war and back twice, owning two houses, having two children of my own. This 3/4 piece of paper in my mother’s handwriting has remained with me.

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The coffee stain at the bottom happened today. This is the first time I have taken it out of that pencil pouch. Dammit.

Dear Dacia,

You are a very intelligent young lady. Your father and I are very proud of you and your accomplishments. We only ask that you try a little harder at keeping your mind on your studies while at school. You only get to go through school one time, please make the best of it. Life is too short as it is. Loosen up, enjoy yourself but remember without knowledge and education, we are poor people. And I don’t mean just the lack of money. I mean, in the lack of mind and knowledge. Try to view school as a play. You have the lead. Your even allowed to make up things as you go along. But you have to learn your lines. Spelling, Math, Reading, Social Studies, etc. You know what I mean. You know you can do better. I’ve seen you do better.

I love you,

Mom

When I became a teenager, my mother and I started down the same path. I can recall a day sitting in the passenger seat of the family car and mom driving. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told her that I just wanted to party. All the time. At 15, I decided that I disagreed with 98% of what the world viewed as the responsibilities of being an adult. She tried to explain these concepts of paying bills and taxes, needing to get a job and what it truly took to support myself and be successful.

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I cannot imagine the desperation of my mother, to see me headed down a road that would lead me to just barely scraping by. I am truly amazed that at 32, I do not have an 18 year old child of my own.

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Recently, I had a chance to spend sometime with my mother. More time than I have spent with her since the day she drove me to the police station and handed me over.

It suddenly occurred to me that we both walked down a path together. And as I left her that day many years ago, I was able to jump back on the right track and make something of myself. She stayed. She made a series of choices that led her to a place that me and my siblings felt needed some intervention.

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As I picked her up and drove her to my home, I could not help but feel like the tables had turned. If I had not finally accepted the advice my mother had tried so hard to give me, I would still be in that passenger seat refusing to accept responsibility or acknowledge consequences of my life choices.

There is so much I want for my mother, but really, I just want a mother. I did not grow up how she expected, but I found my round about way to a successful life. I was not around for us to build that relationship that other daughters have with their mother. My kids might not get to visit Meemaw at the same house she had lived in for decades, like I got to growing up. But that’s alright.

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On Mother’s Day, I always struggle to find a good card at the store. Vague ones that simply say “I love you, Mom.” and don’t talk about “You were always there for me. You’re my best friend. I couldnt have done it without you.” I wish I could say those things, but for whatever reason, my fault, hers, or simply victims of circumstance, we don’t have a relationship like most women.

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Yes we are hoola-hooping in a bar…

I love my mother so deeply. I would tear down a mountain for her. And heaven help anyone that disrespects her or hurts her in anyway. That said, I cannot force her to make choices that would help her fit into this idea of “Mom” that I knew before. If she is happy, healthy, and taken care of I cannot ask much more than that.

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I needed my mama to help me. My PPD had gotten so bad. This visit really was a huge turning point in my own recovery. I still need my mama.

Even though her time with me was under stressful circumstances and her departure was quite abrupt, I did learn one thing. I need my mother. No matter who she was before or who she is now. I just needed her because I know she’d love me even if I wasn’t successful. Even if I was still in that passenger seat. Even if she had an 18 year old grandchild. She will always love me in the ways she can.

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So, happy Mother’s Day, Woman. I love you.

My Perfect Work Space

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I have not taken part in a flash fiction challenge in a long time. I have followed Kimberly Crawford since the beginning of my blog nearly two years ago. My first short story, The Last Piece,was from my first shot at one of her challenges. I am thankful that she continues to post these.

This week, we are challenged to write about our ideal work space. Deep in my heart this is where I want to be.

I write in the wee morning light. When everything slumbers. When the night animals tuck in their dark spaces to escape the day and the day animals roll sleepily where they had claimed as home the night before. When my children are snuggled so warm and peaceful and my husband’s feet are still warmed by the pup at the foot of our bed. The crickets have stopped and the birds have not started.

My wooden desk sits slightly shorter than most, but perfect for me. It’s old and worn and soft to the touch. The front ledge is rounded from generations of pen wielding arms pulled from left to right creating hand written letters, stories, poems. Parchment replaced by technology: a double screen, wireless keyboard and mouse. The sentiment remains the same.

My chair sometimes requires conscious balance. Leaning back is a guaranteed concussion, but the arm rests still serve their purpose. The cushion needed reupholstering when my grandmother was a child. The red, orange, yellow fibers are still vibrant nearest the wooden frame but the seat has a comfortable divot to accommodate my posture. Nothing comes close to this custom fit. I have purchased new chairs, but none offer the history and familiarity as this heirloom.

My coffee sits to the left of my keyboard. The steam carries the aroma of awakening and clarity. It brings me from the fog of sleep into the world that I have created on the screen. Sometimes the two intertwine in my dreams, other times I require the liquid motivation to bring back to the place where it started, like a conditional learning pattern. I keep a black pen near my journal on the right. The journal is made of recycled material and has rough, beige pages. My pen spills more ink than needed making my thoughts appear bold and important against the imperfect paper.

A picture frame proudly displays a collage of my family: two happy adults with their silly and adorable son and daughter. A fat beagle is never far from the subjects. I keep a calendar for literary reference and sometimes to remind me of where I am in time, if ever I get lost.

I do not keep a clock and hide one from my screens. My children are my alarm in this place. I have reached a state where they are no longer competing for my attention. My work is completed in the silence of the morning, not in the corporate bustle of obligation.

The nook of my writing space is an extension of the living room. Pushed against the wall underneath a wide window. It faces south, so the sun passes by as it makes its daily journey but never directly in. With them cracked even just an inch, the sound of the rushing creek engulfs the space. It is both strong and gentle. It ushers a breeze that carries the scent of the over-hanging cottonwoods and tall standing aspens. The smells of earth and coffee transport me to the place where my thoughts become someone else. Where primal fears fuel the adrenaline needed for survival. Where lust is mistaken for love. Where death is not the end that it was once perceived to be. The world is no longer confined to what is tangible, but is simply anything I am able to articulate.

Sometimes, I do not even right. Sometimes I hold my coffee with two hands, lean carefully back in my soft but unstable chair and I muse. I let my mind step out of the window and float amongst the leaves of the trees, fall to the water and chase the rapids between rocks. I think of other places and who I would find there. I put them in situations and create their reactions. I allow myself to feel emotions that belong to others and make note of their progression.

With sounds behind me, a giggle, a yawn, sometimes even a flush, bring me back to the world that I cherish above any other I could imagine. Where my calendar reminds me of how far I have come and the little people so excited for the day that they have woken up and are that much older. They look forward to the real adventure Mommy will take them on. For the journey that they will live and the emotions of situations that are their own.

Before leaving, I glance one more time at my space and thank God that it has given me the ability to give to my children what I had only dreamed of.

Teething: The Cold Hard Truth

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Imagine, if you will, an ache. A small swollen pain that is constant and further irritated by doing the one thing that soothes you. Then remove your ability to fix it, or even articulate your need for assistance aside from screaming bloody murder and thrashing around. You have become a miniature angry octopus-banshee creature that is utterly inconsolable. This is my child.

You have become a miniature angry octopus-banshee creature that is utterly inconsolable.

No, I did not get lip injections, I was somehow kicked in the face multiple times. While I tried to pretend  it was a massage, my muscles were not fooled. Yes I did shower today in a desperate attempt to wake up, however this hair style is called the my-eyes-were-still-closed bun. If I had not set my kids clothes out last night, they would be wearing pajamas to the sitter. I also sincerely apologize to the gentleman that I MIGHT have cut off today on the highway. Your middle finger was very much warranted. Thank you for not retaliating in any other way like tailgating, honking or the like.

Normally I am that annoyingly chipper morning person, so I’m just guessing this is Karma coming back at me. Well played, life. Well played. I am far too nice to not smile back at everyone I see, but it is seriously exhausting to do so.

I cannot taste my coffee. It is having zero effect. I desperately wish it was Friday instead of Wednesday but it is feeling so much like the third Monday of the week. Oddly enough I will probably be far more productive today in attempts to compensate for my lack of motivation.

But after such a torturous night, waking up to happy kids puts a nice buffer on the rest of the day. Pulling myself out of bed after only hitting snooze once, made for an easier morning and less rushing.

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It is amazing what an hour nap does for a baby. I love you, Pumpkin, but you have made Mommy’s day suck really bad. And there does not seem to be an end in sight. I’m scared to google “how long does teething last” because my four year old now has molars coming through. Heaven help me.