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What Side is Your Bread Buttered On?

 

Moon -  everything you want to know is within you

 

Last weekend our family went out to lunch to celebrate the birthday of  my daughter-in-law, Courtney.   She chose Spring Creek Bar-b-que, which is a well-known restaurant around this area of Texas, and a family favorite.

One of the things I love about Spring Creek is their warm rolls.   They are so divine!  You get one on your plate with your meal and then a hostess walks around with a huge basket filled with warm rolls, carrying a long-handled tongs to keep you well supplied with hot rolls.  The rolls are heavenly with butter melted in the middle and are perfect for sopping up the last tidbits of sauces and meat.

Of course, Samantha was not hungry.  She was just too excited to eat.  Before coming the restaurant, her parents had taken her to the animal shelter to pick out a new animal companion, a kitten.  They had visited this kitten the week before and he seemed to choose Sammie as much as she was choosing him.  He is black and his name is Jinx.  She calls him Jinxy Boy.   So with all this going on, she was just to excited to sit still and eat anything.

Never the less, Courtney split up a roll into pieces and buttered them, then placed them on a napkin in front of Sammie.   After awhile she finally sat down and reached for a piece of roll.  Immediately she dropped it back down and exclaimed “this bread is wet!”

Samantha does not eat wet bread.  It did not matter that it was butter, the bread was wet and it was unacceptable to her.

This caused me to start thinking about that old saying “you need to remember what side your  bread is buttered on”.  Any of you remember that?

What it means is that you should realize who is providing for you and show appreciation and gratitude.  It can also work against you.  If you are in a bad relationship but you have no wherewithal to get away and on your own, you do whatever is necessary to keep the peace and get along, because you know what side your bread is buttered on.

I heartily agree that our lives are better when we show gratitude and appreciation for the blessings we receive in life.  Not to do so is selfish and wreaks of entitlement.

But I think Sammie makes a good point as well.  This bread is wet!  A person, especially girls and women, needs to be able to butter their own bread!  This idea is called empowerment.

In order to empower yourself you will need to realize that you are strong and brave, that you are gifted and talented.  Tune into your intuition.  If you feel like you do not trust your intuition, practice it.  There are many books available on this topic.  The main thing is:  you already know what you need to know, and if anyone tells you differently then you must be strong enough not to listen!

You have a right to choose the kind of life you want to live.  You have a right to choose the teachers in your life.  I am not talking about public school here.  I am talking about parents, coaches, leaders, friends, parents of friends, counselors, spiritual leaders, ministers, the list goes on.  You choose these people yourself.  If they do not serve your well-being and growth, make another choice.  In the end you become what you choose to be, you become what you think you are.

I want to repeat that.  You. Become. What. You. Think. You. Are.

If you don’t like who you are, change the way you think about yourself.  Practice a new thought, and it will become part of you.

Sammie finally did eat some food.  Her daddy bribed her with banana pudding.  One bite of meat, then one spoonful of pudding. ( hey, anyone remember a song like this? Let me know if you do, I am curious to see who comes up with the same answer I am thinking of!)

Sammie knows who butters her bread.  She is too young to butter it herself right now.  But she is only three years old.  Her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are in her life because she chose us.  We will make sure she learns to butter her own bread.

Women, girls, listen closely!  Butter your own bread.  Don’t accept wet bread from anyone just because you don’t think you have any other choice!

You always have a choice!

??????????10-4-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share your thoughts and comments below!  Don’t forget to let me know if you remember the song I hinted at in this article!

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Suicide Recovery, My Story , Suicide Prevention Week

Pier and Gulls

This week is Suicide Prevention Week, so I thought I would share my experience in the hope that it will help someone who is thinking of this as a way out, or someone who wants to know how to help someone else.

In 1993 I met Ernest.  He was to become my second husband.   I had been divorced for about twelve years and my son was just turning fourteen.  We were set up to meet each other by mutual friends.  I had been told that he had a steady job and made pretty good money, that he was very nice and lived in the same town that I did.

My friend gave Ernest my phone number.  He called and on that first phone call we talked for 3 hours.  It seemed like we had so much in common.  We talked every night for a week before actually meeting.

Although we liked different music,  we weren’t opposed to the music favored by the other.  I attended  church and he didn’t but he was a believer, he said.  I told him I was bi-polar and he told me his sister was too, so he understood.  That, to me, was a big bonus.  I won’t go into our courtship at this time, it is enough to say that less than a year after meeting, we were married.

Less than six months after the wedding the marriage started to fall apart.  There had been some red flags before we got married and I missed them.   Later I was told by others in my life that they questioned the wisdom of the marriage, but they NEVER said a thing to me.

He wanted a child, I really didn’t.   He got mugged downtown, and somehow this changed him.  He started to behave in a paranoid way. He was possessive and emotionally abusive.

He started to complain about my weight.  He would drive recklessly when I was in the car.  He insisted on always driving.  He hated my haircut, and had to go with me when I got my nails done.  He stopped trying to get along with my son.

I wanted to fix things.  I was already in therapy when we met, and he went with me once we decided to get married.  At that point the sessions stopped being about me and how to handle being bi-polar. It became about us, or him.

I made a decision that perhaps I should have a child for him, maybe that would make him happy.

Before stopping my birth control, I first stopped my Lithium.  I would need at least six months to get that out of my system.  I didn’t tell anyone about this except for him, and he didn’t think I needed the medication anyway.  It didn’t occur to him that I seemed so well, compared to his sister, because I was medicated!

The first few weeks of being off the Lithium were pretty rocky.  My moods were up and down constantly.  At the same time, he was trying to handle his emotions about being mugged and his guilt about breaking the cat’s leg.

He started spending more time away from home.  He said he was staying over night at his best friend’s house.  I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter now.   At the time, it confused me because I would have never thought of spending a night away from him!

Several other things happened, he asked me to do some things that went against my personal morals.  Things just kept going down hill, and I sank into a deep depressive episode.

One day while he and my son were gone, I drove myself to the library and parked underground.  I just sat there awhile, then I began to write him a letter.  It became a suicide note.  I cried for a while then drove back home.  I kept the note in my purse, but I told him how I was feeling.  That I was feeling alone and I wasn’t sure I wanted to live.  He called my therapist for advice.  I don’t know what was said but he did stay home the rest of the day.

At our next therapy session,  he told me that he wanted to speak to the therapist alone before we started our session.  “Nothing to worry about”, he said.   After about thirty minutes he came out and went into another room.   I went into my therapist office.

He told me what he and Ernest had spoken about.  That Ernest wanted to move out, that he wasn’t happy.  I freaked.  I shouted no very loudly.  I told him that if Ernest did this, he would never come back home.  He told me that right that moment Ernest was on the phone with my son instructing him to put away all the silverware, knives and medications, out of my reach.   He told me that he believed that Ernest just wanted a break, to figure things out,  that if I  loved him I would let him have this time.  Bullshit, I said.

I realized at that point that nothing I would say was going to change the situation.  I made up my mind then.  I went silent, and just sat there until the session was over.

I had a bottle of pills in my purse that no one knew about.  Librium, which was prescribed for my spastic colon.

On the way home Ernest drove through Wendy’s and I said all I wanted was an iced tea.  He tried to get me to have some food but I didn’t want to eat and I wasn’t going to just so he could feel better.

When we got home,  I very calmly told my son to eat some dinner and I think I gave him a hug.  Then I went with my purse and my tea into the bedroom and locked the door.  Immediately I swallowed the entire bottle of pills, and it was a pretty full bottle.   Ernest tried to open the door and found it was locked, called my name.  I just told him I needed to be alone for a bit.  He walked away.

I called my dad in Tennessee, told him what was going on and asked him to drive down to Texas and pick up my son.  We talked a little while, I don’t remember now what was said.  After that, I called my best friend who was living in Arkansas at the time, to say goodbye.  People say that if you want to commit suicide you don’t tell anyone, that if you do then you really don’t want to die.  Well, I did want to die.   I just wanted my son to be taken care of and I wanted to say goodbye to my friend.  She was too far away to stop me anyway.

Suddenly there was a confusion of phone calls.   My dad beeped in, so I let go of my friend.  While I was on the phone with dad, my therapist beeped in ( my friend had called him!).  So I let go of my dad and talked to my therapist.  I told him it was too late to do anything now.  He asked to speak to Ernest. So, believing it was too late for them to stop me, I opened the door and gave the phone to Ernest.  I closed the door, locked it and got into bed.

Suddenly there was banging on the door.  Ernest demanded I open it.  I said no.  I was feeling really calm by now.   He told me he was going to call 911 if I didn’t open the door.  I told him to do whatever he  wanted.

About five minutes later the door flew open, and there were cops in my room!   They asked me if I had taken something and I said yes.    They told me I needed to go to the hospital, and I told them no, I didn’t want to go.

One of them told me I was going anyway, so I could either go on my own in the ambulance or they could arrest me and I could then go in the ambulance.

This pissed me off, I can’t express how much!

I said “Ok then, if you are not going to let me die, I don’t want to be arrested either.”   The paramedics came in and got me onto the gurney.  I had them stop in the hallway where I could see my son and told him I was sorry, and not to worry.  He looked at me with so much love and smiled.

I had requested to go to the local hospital, but no, since it was a suicide attempt I had to be taken to the county hospital were they could decide if I needed to be kept.

On the way there, my heart rate started to drop.   I heard the attendant tell the driver to hit the lights and get moving, that my heart was tacky.  He then started asking me all kinds of asinine questions.  I know he was trying to keep me awake, but I just wanted to rest.

Finally we arrived at the hospital and I was rushed into a bay in the ER.  An aide came in with a pair of scissors and said he was going to remove my clothes.   I pitched another fit and told him hell no, if they were not going to let me die then they were not going to ruin one of my best outfits!  I undressed myself.

Suddenly there was Ernest’s angry face inside the door, telling me that he wasn’t taking responsibility for this.  He said it over and over.  Just as the doctor came to the door I yelled out “This isn’t about you!  This is about me so just go home and get out of my face!”

He left.   The doctor came in, introduced herself as the head of the ER, and told me she was sorry that I was suffering so much.  She told me she didn’t want to see me suffer anymore than I already had.  She just kept talking like that in a calm soft voice and I felt myself calming down.

Then she explained that they needed to get the drugs out of my stomach.  She explained the two ways this could be done.  One way was to pump charcoal into my stomach, wait a bit then pump it out.  The other way was for me to drink the charcoal voluntarily  and then wait to throw it up.  I chose option two.

It was nasty, let me tell you.   It was the size of a 7-11 Big Gulp, grainy and dirty tasting.  I swallowed it as fast as I could.  Then I waited.   It didn’t take long.

Someone walked me to the bathroom and left me there with the door closed.  I vomited, again and again.   And then my bowels wanted to move, again and again.  Finally after what was only about ten minutes but seemed like an hour, it all stopped.  I washed my face.  I opened my mouth and could see that my tongue, teeth and lips were now black.  I rinsed and rinsed.  It didn’t help much.

When I came out, the nurse set me up on a gurney with a saline bag, parked me in the hallway and told me someone from psych would be down to get me.  She said I couldn’t go home until I talked to someone there.  It was now about 8 PM.  I sat there in that hallway until midnight.

Sometime during that long wait, I started to pray.   I felt so empty, so useless and so very tired.  I really did not want to live.  I didn’t want another divorce, I didn’t want to raise a teenager on my own,  I didn’t want to BE alone.  So I prayed to God and told him that if he wanted me to live, he would have to do it for me because I just could not do it anymore.

Within seconds I felt filled with peace.  I felt this warmth drape over me from head to foot, like  a warm blanket.  Then other thoughts began to enter my head.   Thoughts like “You still have the same job that has always supported you”.  “You made it just fine before he came along and you will be just fine without him”.  “You aren’t really alone”.

I felt so relaxed, I finally fell asleep sitting up.   Around midnight they finally took me upstairs.  Again, I waited another several hours.  I didn’t get to speak to anyone until about 5 AM.

By that time,  I had this.  I knew what to say.   I told the resident that I wanted to live and finish raising my son.  I told him that if my husband wanted out he could go.  I told him I wouldn’t do this again.  I promised to see my therapist later that day.

At 6 o’clock I was released.  I called Ernest and told him to come and get me right now.  He said he would be late for work. I said “So what?  I am still your wife, come and get me this minute.”   After he picked me up, I made him get me some breakfast.

As we drove into the parking lot at the apartments I saw my son and his girlfriend waiting for the school bus.  I waved at them.  I knew we would talk about this later.

I got out of the car and Ernest went on to work.  The doctor at the hospital had made me promise not to be alone that day but Ernest didn’t care about that.  So I called his sister and I called my sister.  Then I called my parents to tell them I was home and ok.  My mother was there, my dad at work.  Mom said she was so glad I was ok, that she would have missed me.  That short statement meant all the world to me!

Ernest’s sister, Connie, came over for the morning. She took me to the therapist, and brought me home and waited for my sister to come over.

My little sister.  We didn’t spend much time together because our lives were so different.  But here she was with a huge bag of Reece’s peanut butter cups.  She climbed into bed with me, asked me to tell her what brought all this on, so we talked and ate chocolate and talked some more and slept.  She made me feel normal, calm, ok again.  This wasn’t the first time she had come to my rescue and it wouldn’t be the last.  I am so grateful I chose her to be part of my family.

My son came home from school and we talked awhile.  I wanted him to understand how sorry I was to put him through this, but that I had made arrangements for him, so he would not have been alone.  I told him that I really was glad to be his mom and I did really want to keep on being his mom.  He told me he understood and hugged and hugged me.

I went to work the next day, smelling to my self like a litter box because the charcoal was leaking out the pores of my skin.  But I went to work.  I knew it was important for me to keep busy for the next few weeks.

I let Ernest go.  For awhile I hoped he would come back.  But as I continued in therapy I soon realized the amount of emotional abuse I had been subjected to.  I had to learn to deal with that, how not to blame myself for not seeing it.  How to talk to my son about it.  As I talked to friends and family about the abuse,  I found out they all had seen the signs yet never spoke up.  I was incredulous about that!  I made them all promise me if they ever saw anything like this again to speak up!  Just think how much could have been avoided!

I don’t blame anyone now.  I have gotten past that, so if you are reading this and you are one of the people who had thought about mentioning something but didn’t, please know I am not angry about it.  Do I blame Ernest?  I did for years.  We never talked about it.  Looking back now, I believe he was also suffering from some form of mental illness.  I really think I have let it go now.

I never went back on the Lithium or the Librium.   My spastic colon turned out to be a bad gallbladder.  And the Lithium? That is another story for another day.

Don’t let your friends or family die before their time if you can help it.  Most times, you can help.  Don’t mind your own business.  Keep up with what is going on in the lives of your loved ones.  Your family and friends.

And never threaten to leave your spouse while she/he is depressed.   Just don’t do it!  Get her/him help first, get her/him stable again.   Wait and see how you feel about things when the storm has passed.

I truely hope my story helps you in some way.  Don’t give up,  there IS more to life than darkness!   Even though that darkness seems permanent and never-ending, I promise you it isn’t.

I now have a beautiful granddaughter, and I am glad I am here to enjoy her.  My son has grown into a wonderful man, and my daughter-in-law is so precious to me.  I shudder when I think of what I might have missed out on!

 

 

Hugs That Heal

Zebra Family

The older I get, the more I realize how much healing is needed in our world.   I have also learned there are many ways to heal.  There is also a difference between healing and being cured.  Being cured means that whatever was ailing you has been removed permanently.   Being healed can mean the same thing, but it also can mean that you are given the strength and understanding to handle what you find you must endure.

For this moment, I am going to write about a healing that also cures.  Hugs.  Yes, hugs!   Have you ever been hugged so well that you could feel the sadness leave your body?  These are the best kind of hugs!

Someone said that the only jewels you need around your neck are the arms of a child.   I find this to be true.   No, they don’t come in colors that match your new outfit, and you can’t pawn them for money.   But they are priceless beyond compare!

I suffer from major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder.    It’s been so long now, that I seem to carry a certain amount of sadness with me every day.   Most of the time I don’t notice it, but it’s just under the surface waiting for a trigger.

When I first read that comment about the arms of a child, it reminded me of how I feel when I get a hug from my grand-daughter and my son.  My son is over 6 feet tall, and I am 5 foot 7.  When he hugs me, his arms go all the way around me and he pulls me up against him. I rest my head on his chest and I can hear his heart beating.  I can feel the heat of his body.  He will squeeze me, just right, and I can feel myself relax.  I usually don’t even realize that I was holding my body tense until that moment.  When he is hugging me like that, I feel safe and I realize that all is as it should be.  My mind clears and I smile again.

When my grand-daughter hugs me, she will tell me that she is going to hug me.  This means I am supposed to keep my arms down and let her hug me.  It is a gift she is giving to me and I am supposed to just accept it.  I find that more than precious!   She is just 3, and learning how to show love when she feels it.   She will wrap her arms around my neck or around my arms, as far as she can.  She will stay like that for a minute or two.  I can smell her hair,  the clean smell of her skin that little children have.   More than that, I feel her unconditional love for me, her grandma. It’s all I can do to stay still and let her do this without throwing my arms around her!   But I must, because she wants to give me this gift.  So I just close my eyes and soak it up.  I can feel a peacefulness come over me like I feel when I am alone with God.  Perhaps in that moment of receiving the hug of a child, I am alone with God!

When I want to give her a hug, sometimes she puts her arms around my neck and sometimes she just stands there.  She doesn’t resist, so I pull her as close to me as I can.  I hold her as tight as I can without hurting her, and feel her heart beating.  It is a feeling of life, of energy.  The feeling of a connection that I have with no other person on this earth.  My sadness and loneliness fade away.

There have been other people in my life that had this effect on me.  One of the first was my own grandmother.   When she would hug me, I could feel her love in the way she pulled me to her and wrapped her arms around me.   I knew I was her favorite, and I needed to know that.  She was there for me with a hug at times when no one else was there for me.  I miss her every day.  It is her example that I want to emulate with my grand-daughter.

Another one who could heal me was my son’s father.  He was my first love, and we were pretty young.  He was a very tall and muscular man, and his hugs were strong.  I felt safe and secure.  Again, I could feel his heartbeat, and it was strong and steady.  When he was out to sea, I had a cardigan sweater that belonged to him, and I would wear it because it smelled like him and I would feel his hug.  But thinking of this makes me sad, because the hugs became fewer and finally stopped.  He went away and I was heartbroken for years.

Not too long after he left us, I met a man who was older than me by fifteen years.  I will write about my relationship with him in another article.  He was experienced with hugging.   He knew I was a scared young mother, and he knew how lonely I was.  He knew just when to hug me.  When his arms were around me, I felt accepted as a woman again.  It helped me heal from losing my husband to another woman.   We were together for many years, off and on, as friends and lovers.  He has moved on finally, and I miss his hugs very much.  It’s ok, because all is as it should be.

Hugs from my girlfriends are different.  I don’t rest my head on their chests to hear their heartbeats.  But we hold each other tightly, patting each other on the back gently, and look into each others eyes knowingly.  When my friends hug me, I know I am part of a larger family.  I feel uplifted, I feel believed in.

I have one sister, she is two years younger.  We have only started hugging again in the past couple of years.    We did hug each other a lot when we were very small.   As we grew older there were family dynamics at play that caused me to pull away from her.  It wasn’t until she went through her second divorce that she realized how much she needed me, and I was able to find a way that I could be her big sister again.  We don’t see each other often, but when we do, we hug.  We hug hello, we hug goodbye.  It is a reassuring type of hug, letting each other know that we are there for the other.  I look forward to her hugs.

When my son was eighteen, he was arrested.  It was Christmas time, and I was frantic and panicked.  The first thing I did was drive over to my parents’ house, in tears.   I came to them because they had been through the same thing with my brother many times.  They both hugged me long and tightly.  I could feel the fear leave my body, because their hugs told me that they understood what I was feeling, and that it was all going to be ok.   It did turn out ok in the end.  Again, everything is as it should be.   Even so, the hugs got me through it.

I hope that as you read this article, you are thinking about the people in your life that hug you.   The people who you hug.   What do they feel when you hug them?  I hope they feel loved.  I hope that when they hug you, that you feel all the sadness leave your body and in its place you are filled with love.

After all, Love IS the great healer.

 

You are invited and encouraged to leave comments, indeed your comments are appreciated.

 

The Struggle Of Butterflies

Tree Lady

I read a story once about a man who caught a caterpillar and put it in a jar with some twigs and leaves.  Eventually, as caterpillars do, it made a cocoon around itself.   The man watched it as the weeks went by, then one day he noticed a crack in the cocoon.   He kept watching it each day, noticing a little progress now and then.  At one point the encased butterfly had it legs out through the crack, but after a couple of days more, there seemed to be no further progress.   The man couldn’t bear the thought of this butterfly not getting free.  He thought about it and came up with an idea.   He gently lifted the cocoon out of the jar.  Then he found a small sharp knife.  Carefully he nipped at the opening in the cocoon until he was able to pull it open with his fingernails.   The butterfly crawled out.  But.. something wasn’t right.   The butterfly did not unfurl its wings and take to flight!  Instead, the wings were damp and withered.  The butterfly was forever crippled.

You see, the cocoon was designed to be hard to break out of.  The struggle required would wipe away the excess moisture and strengthen the tiny muscles of the wings.   This was necessary for the wings to unfurl and become strong enough to take the butterfly to the wind.

In trying to help, the man, not understanding, had taken away the only chance that butterfly had to become what it was meant to be.

I can relate this story to many times in our human lives.  There are times we need to struggle in order to learn something new and useful, or to become an adult, or even to heal a bad injury.  But, unlike the butterfly we don’t do these things alone.  Usually there is someone to help us, a parent, a teacher, a doctor.  The key is to know how much to help, and when to let a person help themselves.

Some things we can not do for ourselves at all.  When we are infants we can’t even feed ourselves.  In the case of breastfeeding, it is an exercise that requires two participants.   The mother must make her breast available, but the baby must take the nipple into his mouth and learn to suck.  He has to do this on his own, and is born with the instinct to root and suck.

Once that baby is a child, there are various degrees of responsibility that he learns, and the parent must let him own that responsibility and reap the reward or suffer the consequence.

This world is full of needy people.  Some can’t help it.  Some have made unfortunate choices, and some just don’t want to try.   We can’t apply the same reason to each of them.  They each have their own story.

If we are to become a peaceful world, we have to learn when to help and when to let go.   If someone is starving, you can’t teach them anything at that moment.   They just need to eat and gain strength.   Once they have strength, we can’t just walk away and let it go at that.  They have to be able to take care of themselves, but you don’t just put a fishing pole in someone’s hands and tell them to fish.   You have to teach them how to use the pole, teach them how to attract the fish.  They need to learn how to clean the fish and how to cook it.  Once they have the knowledge and the tools, they can then take care of themselves.

So, who is responsible for doing these things?   Why didn’t their parents teach them how to take care of themselves?   There are so  many answers to these questions.  Not all the answers are correct.

Many people will quote the bible and say ” I am not my brother’s keeper”.   I would like to remind anyone who wants to say this that it was the murderer who said it first.   The truth is, we are the keepers of our brothers and sisters of this planet.

Those who are fortunate enough to have, must be gracious enough to help.  To help in the best way possible, which does not mean to enable.

The world we live in is full of poverty.   Every city has its homeless, but financial poverty isn’t the only kind of poverty there is.  There is emotional and spiritual poverty.   The thing is, there doesn’t have to be any of this!  There are so  many ways to help each other.

Even if you are just getting by in your life, you can probably spare a little time each week or month to do volunteer work in a food pantry, nursing home, hospital, hospice, or shelter.   There are many kinds of shelters that need help.   The first one you may think of is a homeless shelter.  But there are shelters for battered women and run away kids, and they need people to spend time with their clients.  Doing this kind of work won’t cost you a dime except for the gas or bus fare to get there.

You say that in order to just get by, you are already working two maybe three jobs?  Ok, you can still help someone.   Don’t throw away your old stuff!   Give your clothes to Goodwill, call the DAV or Salvation Army to pick up your other cast offs.  These things will be cleaned up and sold at low-cost to those who don’t have much to spend on clothes or items for the household.

You can help people you don’t even know just by giving the idea a little thought, and then following up.

When I had a job, I would give a couple of bucks to a man or woman on the street holding a sign asking for anything.  I didn’t mind, and I didn’t concern myself with what they might do with the money.  It was a couple of bucks, not a fortune.    I know there are people in place to help them with finding shelter and getting medical help.  The way I see it, they were out there on that particular day because they were hungry.  One meal each evening at the homeless shelter is just not enough food.   And, some of these people who I would see out there had once held good jobs, like me.  I don’t know their story, but I know their need.  That is all I need to know to help them.

I can’t tell you how many times in  my life that I needed some help.  Sometimes I just needed to be shown how to help myself, and sometimes I needed something done for me or given to me.   Right now, my elderly parents are giving me shelter.   My son is paying for my medication and doctor visits.   My lawyer is waiting to get paid until Social Security approves my claim.   My friends call me and make sure I am ok.   My church has helped with my car insurance.  The larger society is helping me by making funds available to SNAP so that I can eat.   I am using my dad’s laptop to write this blog.   I also use it for my online business to try to earn enough money to take care of some of these things on my own.  How many of you who are reading this have needed some kind of help in your life, at some time?

I realize this rough patch in my life is happening for a reason.    I don’t know what the reason is yet, I hope it is to prepare me for something better than what I had.   No one is going to be able to answer this question, and no one is going to be able to help me figure out what I need to do with the rest of my life.  I have to find that out on my own, so perhaps this period of my life is helping me to do that.

The more I push against the cocoon, the stronger my wings will become, and one day soon… I will fly.

 

 

You are invited and encouraged to leave a comment about this article.  I welcome your response!

 

The Falling Dream

Angel Cloud

It started sometime when I was in my teens, this dream that I was falling.  It was basically the same dream every time.  I don’t know why I started to have this dream or where it came from.

Sometimes there was a cliff that I was falling from, sometimes I was just falling from the sky.

It always ended the same way with me jolting awake, heart beating out of my chest, just before I hit the ground.  So scared it would take awhile to go back to sleep.

When I became an adult and my life was much more complicated, and sometimes frightening, the dream came more often.  I would jerk awake and sit up, covered in sweat, thankful that it was just a dream, or nightmare.

I started to pray about it, asking God to please make it stop.  Each time the dream came it was more frightening that the last time.  Not that anything changed, I just felt a more impending doom.  I prayed, but the dream still came.

In 2000, I was introduced to the Internet, and I joined a chat room.  I met many different people, from every walk of life.   I found a home in a chat room for people who liked to explore new age ideas and spiritual phenomena.    Finally one day I told them about my dream, and one of the people there told me that it was up to ME to make the dream stop.

Me?  How? I asked.  I was told that when the dream came again, to be consciously aware of what was going on, and project my desired outcome.

OK, sounds doable.  I would give that a try.

It was a few weeks before that dream came again.  When it did, somehow I was able to focus on what was going on.  I felt the wind rushing by me as I was falling.  I saw the leaves on the trees as I rushed by.  I noticed the mountains in the distance and the blue sky above me.

I had not thought about what I wanted to happen.  Then, just as I was nearing the ground, I spread out my arms and simply said “Fly” and up I swooped!  Up, into the sky and over the trees!  I flew through the air and felt the currents lifting me higher!

I don’t know if I can find the words to describe how it felt, but I felt like I had been set free.  I felt like I had wings!

I have never had the falling dream again.

Are you a racist, how do you know?

Black Swan

I first published this article on August 7 2014.   I am publishing it again because I want to invite comments, especially from people of color.  Comments about your perspective on my story, any thoughts it may bring to mind, any advice on how I can use this experience to be a better person.  It is a personal goal of mine to renounce my white privilege.    And I have a question.   To set up the question, let me share this:  When I was working, I had a co-worker who became a very good friend.  She is a woman of color.   We often ate lunch together.  We prayed together.  We visited each other’s church.   The day came when we had a couple of new co-workers, both people of color.  A man in my department, and a  woman who was a temp in another department.   On another day, I asked my friend if she wanted to go out with me for lunch.  She said she was going with the man and the temp.  I asked if they minded if I joined them.   They moved off and talked about it, and then told me they didn’t mind if I joined them.   The entire time we were at the restaurant, there was a feeling of tension.  None of us were  being ourselves.  Even my friend seemed to put distance between the two of us.  I tried to make conversation but it just stayed trivial.  I felt out of place, and that they didn’t really want me there.  I felt that they felt they could not be  themselves around me.   So here is my question, what could I have done differently to put us all at ease with one another?   Please think about this question as you read the rest of this article, and then leave a comment or 2 or 3.  I really appreciate and value the feedback!

I was born in the South in 1959.  I am a white middle-aged female, and grew up in a middle class family.   For most of my childhood all my friends were white.  My grandma and my aunt used the “N” word regularly.  I was taught, however, not to use that word.

Even though my surroundings consisted of mostly white people, I was taught that all people were equal in the eyes of God.  That whatever color someone’s skin was, they were still a child of God.  I accepted this, I believed it.

In grade school, my favorite books to read were biographies of famous African-American people.  Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr.  and many others.   I felt a movement in my heart for their cause.  I realized it was OUR cause.   I felt shame that my country had ever used people as slaves.  Even though that supposedly wasn’t happening anymore, I could not get over the fact that it HAD happened.  I couldn’t get over the fact that it took a war to end it, and even then the discrimination did not end.   Really, it still hasn’t.  We all know this.

As I entered my teen years we were living in California.  I was exposed to some people of color.  Most were in my church, and I loved them.  They loved me.  We were family because we belonged to the same church and believed the same things.   Later we moved to Oregon, and once again everyone at church was white.   The only African-Americans I came into contact with were at my high school,  there was some gang activity going on from all sides and I just tried to avoid it.  It wasn’t their color I told myself,  it was the violence and the way they treated me as a young woman.

Once I became an adult and entered the work force, I had the opportunity to work with many different people.   I loved getting to know them, especially if they had grown up in another country.  I wanted to know all about their cultures.   I welcomed the friendships.   I took steps to help them move up into better positions wherever I was working if that was what they wanted.

Now, before you start to think that I am patting myself on the back, let me borrow a phrase from the late Paul Harvey, and “tell you the rest of the story”.

In 1981 I moved back to Texas.  In 1989 I took a position at a family owned company in a town that had a very mixed population.  At this company on the day I started, there was only ONE African-American employee.   She was the clerk in the department I was assigned to.    Most of the factory workers were Hispanic, and there were a few women among them.

Sandra and I became good friends, we helped each other out at work and we lunched together often.  I got to know about her kids, she was raising three boys on her own.  She got to know about my child, I was raising one boy on my own.    We talked about all sorts of things.   We celebrated our birthdays together because the dates were within a few days of each other and because we were friends.   I met her mother, I met her best friend, I met her boys, her first grandchild.  I went to two funerals with her.  She met my parents, my son.  She came to my church when I was ordained.

All this time, I thought I was a good liberal open-minded non-judgmental Christian and Citizen.

One day, I went to a new salon for a haircut and style.  This white woman who styled my hair made a complete mess of it.  I tried for a few days to handle it but I became so frustrated and pretty angry.  I have always been particular about how my hair looked.    I was so angry I jumped in the car and started driving around looking for another salon where I might get someone to “fix” the mess on my head.  It was late on a Saturday afternoon and a lot of the places I drove by were closed.   But there was one place that I found open.   It was called “It’s Your Hair”.   Sounded pretty good to me.

I parked and walked over to the doors.  When I stepped in, all I saw in there were black faces!   I realized I has just walked into a salon that catered to African-American clients.   I just stood there, I didn’t know what to do.  I was afraid that if I just turned around and left, they would think I was a racist white woman.  ME?  Racist?   That wasn’t how I was raised or how I knew myself!  Why was I feeling this way?  Really??

All these thoughts flew through my mind in a matter of seconds.  They were all staring at me, not saying anything either.  I really did feel out of place.  Then one woman stepped up and asked if she could help me.  I snapped out of my stupor and instantly decided that the thing to do was to give it a shot.

I asked her if there was someone there who could “fix this mess on my head”.   She gave me a big sweet smile and said of course they could do that for me.  She led me over to a chair where a young man stood waiting and she turned me over to him.   We talked politely while he worked on me and I was surprised that he did a very good job.  Not that I didn’t think he was qualified, I realized.  But I was surprised that I had wondered if a black person would be trained on how to style “white” hair!  OMG!   Maybe I am a racist I thought!

I maintained my composure, until I got my debit card out.  Then the woman told me they accepted cash only.   I wondered if she said that because I was white.  And for that I felt ashamed.  Of course it wasn’t that, any business owner can decide how they want to be paid.

I explained that I would have to go across the street to the ATM and bring back the cash.  I promised profusely that I would be right back.  She just smiled at me again and said ok.

Ten minutes later I was back with the cash and a good tip.  The woman thanked me and said that the others didn’t think I was coming back.  My My,  maybe I wasn’t the only one with hidden feelings of racism!?

I didn’t have to think about this again until 9-11.   By then I had made some Persian friends.   The first thing I did was call them and make sure they were ok. Not that they were in New York or any of the other places that were hit,  I was concerned that they might be suffering due to their ethnicity.

But that day back when I needed my hair restyled, I learned something.  You can say you are not a racist, you can make friends with all kinds of people, you can go out of your way to help a person no matter what color they are or what religion they practice.   But you don’t really really know what you are until you are put to the test, face to face with making a choice between your own comfort and the dignity of someone else.

Someone said, ( I don’t remember who, but if you  know please tell me) “An unexamined belief is not worth believing, and an unexamined life is not worth living”.

Let us all take a good look at ourselves on the inside where no one else can see.  Let us all ask the hard questions we would rather not ask of ourselves.

Better yet,  go out and put yourself in a difficult situation and see how you react.   You will learn something, I promise.

 

Sowing Seeds

014

I haven’t written for a few weeks because I have been busy setting up my new online business as an Avon Independent Sales Rep.  My online store is http://www.youravon.com/susanhudson if any of you would like to shop and place an order.  This will be my income while I am waiting on social security, and will continue with it after that to supplement.

I have to give a sermon this Sunday, and the theme is Listen and Hear.   The scripture is the parable about the sower and the seeds.

I am having some trouble getting my thoughts together on this.  I have made some notes, and I know it will come together any day  now.  Contemplation has reminded me of being a single parent, and what kind of “seeds” I did or did not plant in my son.  I feel like I missed a lot of opportunities to instill in him a sense of spirituality as I understand it.  I was too busy making a living for us, dealing with a mental illness ( will write about that later) and just making sure he got what he  needed from the school.  He is dyslexic you see, and it was a battle getting him what he needed in order to learn.  And he also has always had a high  IQ, and this made him question EVERYTHING, even the teachers at school had to really be on their toes and he would know if you were giving some BS answer.

Anyway, I feel a bit guilty that I did not get him to church as much when he was a teen, or to camp.  In my life, having that made a difference.  I wanted that for him, but our family dynamic was so much different.  I was never prepared to be a parent much less a single parent and no help from his father.

I must say though, he is a fine adult, a great husband and a doting father.  He has found his own brand of spirituality and it is still evolving.  I know the Creator that I believe in is watching over him and his family.  He does let me take Sammie to church when I have her, and she loves it.  In addition to that I read to her from her toddler’s bible and other bible story books.  Right now she is fascinated with Angels, and she likes for me to sing to her about Jesus.  I want to make up for what I didn’t do with my son, by doing it with Sammie.

The thing is, it’s all different now.  When my son was a child, I did believe the Bible was factually true and that Jesus HAD to die for my sins to be forgiven.  Over the past 10 years, my beliefs have changed.  I now accept the Bible as an important book, as scripture, but not literal.  I tend to give more attention to the gospels and take the rest as metaphor.  I do believe in Jesus as a divine being, a part of God, perhaps actually as God, but I think he died for may other reasons.  I focus on the resurrection instead. I don’t believe in sin, I believe that the choices and mistakes that we make in this life are part of our learning process.

And what is it we are here to learn anyway?  I believe the answer to that is love.  It is all about love.  Nothing else really matters but that.  And this is what I want to get across to Sammie as she grows up.  That she is made of love, that there is a spark of the divine within her and in all people.  That we and God and nature and the earth and the universe are One.  I wonder how her life will turn out if she is allowed to grow up believing in these things, and being allowed to find her own way to a spiritual life.  I imagine a peaceful mind and a loving approach to life for her.  If I can help her find this, I will be satisfied that indeed ….she has helped me and I have helped her, as she told me it would be.