Category Archives: Freedom

It’s been a while …

since my last blog post. 

Since last time, satan has reared his ugly head and life has given me a bonified black eye, busted lip, bruised rib, and all around beating.

My mom, who I depend on way more than a nearly 50-year old (ok, 47 in two weeks, but still) woman should, has been ill.

In the hospital, taken by an ambulance, ill.

My dad, who leans heavily on my mom, has been beside himself.

My dearest friend has been given (by mere mortals) six months to live.

It has been a trying month.

First off, my mom is home, well and feeling quite herself. 

My dad, an Air Force Veteran (whom we should all be applauding today for his service to the USAF) is better because my mom is feeling better.

It brings a surprising revelation to light.

While this would distress and hurt me beyond comprehension, I have this hope they would die, in their sleep, at the same time.

As awful as this may sound to some, I’d rather mourn them both at the same time than try to handle one without the other.

I can’t frankly speak for my sister, but wonder if she wouldn’t agree.

If that isn’t possible, I hope my dad, my hero and advocate goes first, because I cannot fathom him without my mom.

Mom would miss dad terribly, but she’s strong, and would survive.

Maybe I’m more crazy than I imagined, but I can handle Mom’s tears more easily than Dad’s.

I honestly don’t know how I would deal with him if he had to live without her.

As for my dearest friend, who is battling cancer, I advised her, as I do everyone, to live every day as if it’s the very last one.

Nobody, but nobody has the promise to live further than the moment they are in.

I know where I’m going when I’m gone from this world, so dying doesn’t scare me.

Living, however, without the people who love and understand me, gives me pause.

If that sounds selfish, it’s because it is. 

I thought I’d grow old and watch, with my husband I dearly loved, grandchildren playing in the yard.

Then, I came home one day, and out of the clear, blue sky, found him as dead as Moses.

No warning. No goodbye.  Just gone.

There’s no promise of life, to any of us, past the single moment we find ourselves living in.

If one doesn’t intend to live life as it happens, they forfeit their right to complain when it’s over, or nearly over.

You can quote me on that.

Right now, in this moment, is all I am certain of.

It is all any of us can be certain of.

This moment.

This breath.

This heartbeat.

Each day, if it doesn’t mean something, is wasted.

I say this to family, friends, former friends that I miss with an intensity that embarassess me, and though I can’t think of any specifically, my enemies.

I don’t think I have any absolute enemies.  If I do, they’ve been mighty quiet about it, and I forgive them anyway, knocking out the one leg they, were they real, had to stand on.

That’s good, though, in my way of thinking.  Who, when they have life to contend with, need enemies to muddy up the mess further.

And yet, as I often do, digress.

Now is the only thing that matters.

Grab on or be left behind.

Those are, in actuality, the only two choices.

As Shakespeare said (though he may have meant it differently as words in his day were perplexing, they pretty much say the same thing). To be or not to be … that is the question.

I choose to be, even when it hurts, is painful, annoying, hurtful, betraying or joyous.

I choose to give it everything I have, be whatever I can be and love, even those who don’t love me, unconditionally. 

Be it joyous, angry, confused, happy, sad, contemplative or any number of emotionally relevant states, with bright lights, awesome auroras, sleepless nights and flying debris; I’m there, every day, all the way.

I know who I am and if I die before morning, I know where I’ll find myself.

I love you all, even when you’re unloveable, just as you do me.

We, though we are all in the image of God, are, intrinsically human.

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October is …

unrivalled, my favorite time of year.

It is a month of contrasts for me.

The joy of Autumn.

Leaf-strewn country roads, leaves falling as I drive with the top down, deep colors in the forests, tobacco hanging in aging barns, hay waiting in long fields and orchards full with ripe, red apples.

These are the joyous things that lift me high and make me feel as free as the raptors migrating along the spine of my beloved Clinch Mountains.

The sad parts have a say, but they are muted; dulled by the magnificence of Mother Nature as she concedes, under the watchful eye of Father Time, her reign to Old Man Winter.

Time, which has no regard for anyone, will pass without fail or regard to any of us.

The voice of things past becomes harder to hear as years go by.

That, in and of itself, is a good thing.

If I stumble and fall over what is in the past, then it’s not possible to say that I have moved on, adapted, regained my balance.

I could wallow in what can’t be undone, but to what purpose?

I could brood (I’ve been told that I brood in the fashion of my Irish and Scottish ancestors).

And sometimes, I do, simply because I feel like brooding.

During those times, I throw breakable things at breakable things and have completely awesome meltdowns that leave me purged, yet restless.

Most often, however, I just go with it.

Time doesn’t care about me, mine, you or yours.

It simply passes, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

I’m claiming this October for myself.

Not for what I’ve lost, but for what it is.

My favorite time of year.

A peaceful, easy feeling.

That, for the here and now, is how I intend to roll.

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Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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Being broken …

is a blessing.

Yes, you read correctly.

I am broken; have been broken and will, God willing, be broken again.

I am closest to God when I am broken for He loves me enough to be with me during the times in my life when I have nowhere else to turn.

I don’t seek out opportunities to be broken, yet find myself there.

I try to be good, to honor my Lord, yet I fail Him more often than not.

Ones who don’t love me have long given up on me.

That number is many.

People I have loved and adored as friends have cast me away as flawed, unworthy and incapable of love or friendship.

I don’t blame them.

I see myself that way.

But He sees me differently.

In His eyes, I am, though I’m broken, redeemable.

He sees something in me I can’t imagine.

Something worth saving.

Something He can use to help me reach out to others like me.

I am broken, yes, and being so, I am blessed.

I’ve lost so much, endured many trials, felt the hatred of those I held close to my heart.

It hasn’t been easy, but in order to be of use, it has been necessary.

I’ve been to the worst places;  destitute, friendless, homeless, persecuted, forgotten, scorned, and yet have survived the flames that threatened to burn me to ashes.

It could have hardened me but instead, it gave me an understanding I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

The fire refines me and, with each refining, I am stronger than I began.

Given a choice, I would have chosen an easier path.

An easier path, however, would have likely made me hardened and judgemental; useless to the work He had in store for me.

He lifts me above the flames so that I might relate to another’s trials.

I’ve been there.

In the fire.

In the desert.

In the wilderness.

Alone in the darkness surrounded by shattered pieces.

And wherever I was, whenever I was there, I wasn’t alone.

I will never, as He promised, be alone.

I once thought myself cursed, but now I find myself chosen.

How lovely to suffer for my Lord so that I can understand the heartbreak of His children.

I cry often, yes, but each tear that falls, falls into His hand and is treasured.

I understand who I am because He understood who He made me to be.

I love because He first loved me, though I was so often unloveable.

All of us, regardless of what we perceive ourselves to be are, at one time or another, unlovable.

That, we have in common.

Don’t follow my example, but learn from it.

That is my blessing and I am thankful for every heartwrenching trial.

Without them, I would be just like everyone else and, to my delight, He has set me apart.

Grace, mercy, tolerance and understanding are mine so that I can see, without blinders, His people.

Thank you, Lord, for eyes to see and an often broken heart to help me understand.

Amen.

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Over the weekend …

I had a total bipolar meltdown on my dad.

He was, at first, completely blindsided, and then perplexed.

I usually meltdown on my mom, who knows to just let it ride until the event is over.

But she wasn’t there and I was melting down in real time.

I think it was good for him, my Dad, that is, to see me as I have a propensity to be.

Totally crazy, on the edge of straight-jacket territory.

A mess.

I try to shield him from this side of me, because, well, at the risk of starting a riot, he is my dad and is, with abject certainty, a man.

Men rarely understand the astounding psyche of women.

Don’t roll your eyes and pretend to be insulted.

We know that maneuver.

Add bipolar to the mix and a total discombobulation takes over.

I love my Dad.

He is my, second only to Jesus and third to John Robert (who is dead, by the way), my hero.

A man who’s integrity I would bet my last dime on.

But he isn’t my mom.

He wants desperately to pat me on the head and tell me all is ok.

All is not okay.

I’M HAVING A MELTDOWN, WHERE IS MY MOTHER?

In my own defense, I didn’t say that.

I wanted to, but felt the ramifications would skew the effort to find out WHERE THE HELL my mom was.

So I cried, sobbed, made little sense while blindly clinging to my Dad.

I seriously doubt he will
ever be quite the same.

It’s a bit, I suppose, like trying raw oysters.

It sounds gross, but the rewards … well, they, by spades, outweigh the risks.

I hope, some day, to eat raw oysters with my dad.

A small, and yet ambiguous dream.

He hugged me while I was sobbing incoherently and told me he loved me, no matter what.

Major points for that.

Major.

Points.

Major.

I got lost …

for a bit of a while.

Wandering aimlessly even though I knew full well the direction.

But I didn’t follow them.

The directions.

It happens to everyone at one time or another.

I left what I knew to be true and followed what I wanted to be true.

A path that can lead to nowhere in particular.

I have made it clear in previous posts that “religion” has very little to do with me.

Depending on what someone believes, their “religion” could be just about anything.

I love Jesus.

I do.

I fail to show it more often than I succeed, but it is true.

People fail.

It is in our nature to falter and to struggle.

We. Are. Not. Perfect.

But Jesus doesn’t expect perfection.

And that is a very good thing.

Otherwise, we would all be doomed to what we have done.

Don’t shake your head and say you haven’t done anything because trust me, you’ve done plenty.

If my past was the crux of my salvation, I would already be doomed.

I could tell you stories that would curl the hair on your head, and if your happen to be bald, it would sprout growth.

I deserved to have stones thrown at me.

I still do, every day, and yet, for some reason, Jesus loves me.

One day, He will dry the last tears I will ever cry.

That is a lovely line and I would like take credit for it, but it comes from a song from Casting Crowns called “The Wedding”.

It says a lot of things that mean something to me.

Why?

Because I know that any goodness I have, have had or will ever have comes from Jesus.

He made a choice to give His life for all of us.

God didn’t make him.

Jesus was, as we are, of free will.

He could have opted out and even prayed that the cup be taken from him.

He could have refused.

But He didn’t.

It should be enough to know that he could have and didn’t.

I judge myself daily, multiple times.  I don’t need others to judge me, but they do anyway.

All I really know is that He shows me incredible things through His creation.

I feel the wind on my face, the sun on my skin … see the lightning and hear the thunder.

I am amazed by who He is and what He has done.

I feel odd saying that He loves me, but He does.

I don’t know why and have stopped asking.

He just does.

Via Casting Crowns:  “There’s a stirring in the throne room” … “the last tears she’s will ever cry have been wiped away”.

Today is Easter.

The “Third Day”.

“Resurrection Day”.

I believe this just as I believe the birds sing, the sky is blue and the moon is beautiful.

He loves me even when I am unlovable, tainted, scarred, sinful, judgmental .

He finds me beautiful as He will find you.

I will share this day, not my photographs, which He has given me through the eyes of His spirit, but a song by the group Casting Crowns.

Know your worth in Christ.

He is beautiful and finds you to be the same.

Don’t be ashamed of who you were, be joyful in who you are.

We are His and He loves us even though we are not worthy.

A beautiful thing, that.

Psalms 139:14 ~ I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

 

 

Ignorance is bliss …

but unfortunately for most of us, ignorance is a luxury.

I have found myself spellbound by the idea of someone.

The thought that they were what I might, had I actually been looking for someone, have been looking for is like a siren’s song.

It is easy to become sidetracked by the fantasies we weave in our own minds when we aren’t paying close attention.

I did that.

I wove fantasies, thought thoughts, dreamed dreams and built castles in the air when there were no fantasies to be fantasized about, no pertinent thoughts to think and no castles to build.

It is the downside of an active imagination.

Reality takes a back seat and the fantastical takes on a life of its own.

There is no shame in that; the imagining, wishing, dreaming.

No shame at all, however, it is important to know where dreams end and reality begins.

Otherwise, you are left scratching your head and wondering where you went wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time becoming whole and confident in my own thoughts and abilities to throw it away by putting all of my eggs in one basket.

If you put all your eggs in one basket and then  drop that basket, all of the eggs are ruined and you are back where you started when you didn’t have any eggs at all.

I, for one, want to have at least some whole, unbroken eggs in my basket.

I have, up until my husband passed a few years ago, never lived on my own.

Never experienced the pure joy of doing what I want, when I want, the way I want or not doing it, whatever it may be, at all.

I came very close to throwing all of that away by thinking I needed validation for this or the other thing.

I don’t.

Need validation, that is.

I am happy being by myself.

Alone, I am not lonely.

Instead, I am free in a way I never imagined.

I find myself pulling back from what I once longed for and realizing that I am perfectly content as I am.

I don’t know how I would react to a relationship, but the past few months have taught me that I do not need anyone to complete me.

I always thought I did, but I don’t.

I can ‘t remember a time when I felt so content.

Yes, sometimes my brain overtakes my soul and I’m manic to the point of madness.

But that, as it always has, passes and I am left, once again, serene in my solitude.

I have my thoughts, my words, my music and the magnificent creation of my Father to sustain me.

It makes me want to encourage others who feel they are not whole unless they are paired with someone to rethink their priorities.

I don’t know what I would, at this juncture in my life, do in a relationship, but I feel, at this point, that I have become too self-sufficient to rely on anyone to complete me.

When I need completion, I grab my camera and head to the mountains.

Companionship comes to me in the form of moon, sky, trees, water, light and shadow.

Seek what you will, but know, before you seek, that even if you don’t find, you are, as you are, enough.

Everything else is simply icing.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence