Monday, October 1, 2018

Church Pew Confessions of an Un-cluttered Mind.....Leap of Faith

I fully intended to blog on this yesterday, but I opted for an all afternoon nap instead and truthfully.....I don't regret a second of it. That being said, my Sunday blog has now become my Monday blog and with that.....I hope you are not too confused.

So as I was sitting in church yesterday, once again I was trying to give my heart, my soul and my mind over to whatever God wanted me to hear. It was a little harder yesterday as I was really tired. It had been a long week and my mind was pretty much mush. I was actually worried that it would be one of those times where Mass would end and I would not even remember being there. Yes....I was that tired. 

As Father began his sermon, I had no actual hope that my eyes would stay open and that I might not be drooling and snoring before it was over. I prayed that God would not let me do that and that I would catch my second wind. Ask and you shall receive. Father was barely two sentences into his sermon when I heard the words, "Leap of Faith." It jolted me out of my almost dozing state and immediately, my mind was off and running. Of course Father tied it into the readings and also about a beloved local Bishop that had just passed away. I did listen to the entire sermon but the whole time my mind kept coming back to "Leap of Faith." It struck a chord.

I started going back in my mind to all the leaps of faith that I had taken in the last couple of decades. Some it seemed like an unseen hand pushed me into the leap and others were situational where I didn't seem to have much of a choice.

The definition of a leap of faith is: an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved. Many times a leap of faith is prompted by a desperate situation where believing and having faith in the unknown are the only choices we have. If you can't go backward and standing still isn't an option, sometimes jumping headlong into the unknown is all we have.

As I thought about this, I realized I did just this when Tim asked me to marry him and I was terrified of what the future might hold for me as a wife and mother. I did it again when Tim died and I was left raising the kids by myself and my only option was to keep moving forward. And of course, where David is concerned with surgeries and his health, many of those times have been nothing more than a huge leap of faith. There have been other times too and truthfully, not all have worked out the way I hoped they would, but there again, in a leap of faith, the outcome is not guaranteed. The "faith" part is that you know that no matter how it pans out, something positive comes from it. It always does. 

This last year I have been faced with several leaps of faith that I simply did not see coming. When I thought I might lose our home, it was a huge leap of faith to trust in myself, my community, complete strangers and most of all to hand it all over to God and not look back. That may have been the first time that I handed something to Him and then didn't try to play tug of war with Him when I thought my way might be better than His.

Since then, there have been some much less public leaps of faith that I have had to take. They were desperate situations in which I had no choice but to leap and have faith and hope that wherever I landed and whatever the outcome, that we would all end up in one piece. The verdict is still out as I am still leaping and doing my best to have faith that God has got this.

I was fully coherent as I listened to Father and thought, how profound that he would be saying exactly what I needed to hear. Or was it? Perhaps it was all part of a greater plan. At any rate, as I contemplated all of this leaping and faith, it occurred to me that each time I had to forge ahead into the unknown, that each time I came out stronger. Sometimes battered and bruised, but always stronger. Then looking back on this year, I realized that I had pretty much let go of all control and all illusions that I had of control over anything......situations, people and sometimes even my own life. In doing so and in letting go and letting God, I had actually witnessed some pretty astounding miracles and also, that I was changing in ways I never thought possible.

Letting go and leaping into faith has made me stronger in my faith and thus stronger in myself. It has helped me to learn what is important and what is not and to not fight the losing battles, but to put my time and talents into the things where they are best utilized. I have also learned to be kinder to myself and not to have unreasonable expectations of either myself or others. WOW! And I was worried I might fall asleep in Mass.

As Father finished his sermon, it occurred to me that there is so much that I can do that I have never done. I have lived a lot of life out of fear....fear of failing, fear of falling, fear of having no true faith. In some ways it has been debilitating and has stunted my desire to find out more about life and most of all, more about me. This was all quite the startling and enlightening revelation on a quiet Sunday morning.

Before Mass ended, I made a pact with myself and with God. Today is the first day of October and coincidentally also the first day of my birthday month.  I decided that I was going to give myself the greatest gift I ever could. Starting today, I am going to try and take a "leap of faith" everyday. Well, maybe they all won't be momentous, but they will all pull me out of my world of fear and allow me to live outside the little box that I have created for myself. Each day, I will attempt to do something that I have either feared or never attempted before. Most attempts will undoubtedly be small, but some may surprise us all. And each day, I will make the effort to take the leap of faith and turn it ALL over to God with the greatest sincerity and to do everything I can to leave it in His more than capable hands.

Yes, I am changing. I feel it in small ways and see it in my actions and reactions to most situations and to those in my world. I am learning to forgive both myself and others and I am giving myself the gift of kindness on those days that feel anything but kind. Today and for the rest of this month, I will not fall back. I will not stand still. I will however, move forward taking a giant Leap of Faith!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Church Pew Confessions of an un-Cluttered Mind.....Strength

A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, I made a facebook post that started something like...."So...I was sitting in church and I was thinking about...." The post went on to discuss an issue in our local community and some ideas I had about the issue. It was true. I had been sitting in church and while I was there, that is apparently where God was directing both my mind and my heart. I thought little about it all, until the following week when several times I had people mention my facebook post and then follow it up by saying with a laugh...."Now we know what you are thinking about in church." 

You might be surprised where my mind goes as I sit in the quiet of the church and just hand my soul, heart and mind over to God. It is as if he un-clutters my cluttered brain and leaves room for perhaps what He thinks is important and what He thinks I should be focused on. Well, this morning I went a little early. I have really been needing a little lot of God in my life recently and so there I sat, just contemplating the peace and handing it all over to God. Again, He cleaned out the clutter and my mind focused on Strength! So the following is what God gave me today and what I am sharing with you. Perhaps I shall call it....Church Pew Confessions of an un-Cluttered Mind. 

As I sat there asking for help and guidance as I always do, I also asked for strength. If you listen to those around me, you would think I was strong enough to lift a MAC truck. I got my assumed "strength" card the moment I became the mother of a special needs child. Suddenly the whole world seemed to think that because I was given the gift of David, that somehow I became this strong and capable woman. That could not have been further from the truth and honestly, in the beginning when people would say that to me, I hated it. I was neither strong nor capable and every time someone said that to me, I felt like a complete and utter fraud. In my brain, far from strong and capable, I felt like someone who had been given a child that came with no manual, who had special needs and I had no idea at the time what the extent of those "special needs" might be or what I needed to do to keep him happy, healthy or even alive for that matter. Add to that the fact that he was not a text book case of anything, I had doctors that refused to put a ceiling on his abilities (bless them for that) and I had a mom that was truly in denial about the extent of his disabilities and far from strong and capable, I was simply a mixed up mess.

Time moved on though and I listened, learned and made a million mistakes and eventually we found our new normal. Yes....we went through the development of seizures which were terrifying, ER visits, hospital stays, weird health issues that even the doctors were stumped by and shunt malfunctions. We had surgeries and near death experiences....but somehow we came out of it each time....dare I say stronger? Perhaps more educated and more capable.

People would still come up to me with apparent admiration and again tell me how wonderfully strong they thought I was. By this time, I no longer felt like such a fraud, but the whole "strong" thing still made me cringe. It was as if they thought I was some amazing person doing some amazing things, when all I was really doing was living my life and taking one day and one crisis at a time. So now when people would applaud my strength, I had learned to simply say, "I am living my life just like everyone else. You do what you have to do to survive." 

Now a days, David is almost 18 and he and I have his life pretty much down to a science. Truth be told, he is the easiest part of my life now and I always jokingly say, "David is the least special needs of the family." I say it jokingly but it is not a joke. There are large stretches of time when David just lives his life, happy and out loud and he gives me no need for worry or stress. The worst thing for me where David is concerned is lifting him. It is very hard on my back, but that is not his fault and we deal.

Looking at life right now, just because David's health is good and life where he is concerned is pretty much a cake walk, doesn't mean that there aren't other things in my world that bring me to my knees on a daily basis. Pretty much this whole year has given me many times where I have wondered if I was going to make it through this thing or the next. There have been many occasions where I would almost be afraid to open my eyes in the morning, afraid of what fresh hell was going to be thrust upon me....and yet through it all this year and currently, I still stand. 

Much of my life currently and the situations that compel me to yank my hair out by the roots or worry me into high blood pressure and an entire carton of Chunky Monkey aren't too public. I hold them close to my heart and pray constantly that I can find a way daily to make it through without losing my mind. That being said, the other day I was talking to someone about David and once again, someone "complimented" me on just how strong I was. It was this compliment that came to the forefront of my brain at church this morning.

I went over all the things that I was currently going through and how many times I had literally begged God to make me as strong as people actually thought I was. Yes, of course I could always use the physical strength to lift David's 92 lb body from place to place, but more than that, I have been begging for both mental and emotional strength. I wanted the strength that would make plow through each day, regardless of what it brought me, even if at times I was simply doing it only one second at a time. I wanted the strength that regardless of how crappy, worried or insane the day or people in my world were making me, that I could still find it in myself to smile and help others without bringing them down to my emotionally fragile level. And most of all, I wanted the strength to still be the mom David deserved and not just the mom he got and that I could continue to make a difference in the world and live God's will day to day. After all, I was pretty darn sure after doing it "my way" all these years with little to no success, His way had to be a heck of a lot better.

I believe it was at that moment that something occurred to me. I am strong! No, I am not bragging or putting myself above anyone else, I am simply recognizing for the first time, one of my own God given qualities. It also occurred to me that the next time someone says to me, "You are so strong. I admire your strength." Instead of feeling the need to give a wordy response, all I need to do is simply say...."Thank you."

Yes, once again this morning, in the quiet of God's house, He brought me where I needed to be and helped me to recognize that this one prayer that I have been asking for help with over and over had in fact already been answered. It just took me sitting there silently and listening, to hear and understand what God wanted me to hear. "You are strong." I am strong.

And so too know what goes on...on a Sunday morning....sitting in church....inside my head. As I said, Church Pew Confessions of an un-Cluttered Mind. Happy Sunday you all!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sighs, Control and the Next 50 Years


Yep that is where I am currently at. I am not quite as melancholy as the sigh might indicate, moreover I am at a crossroads and trying to muster every bit of energy I have to do battle with.....myself. 

I was looking back through my blogs at all the "changes" that have happened throughout all of these years. One thing I noticed is that life just seemed to happen to me and I kind of just allowed it to leave me dazed and to knock me off my axis. Oh yes, I blustered and blew about it and at the time did even take steps to control the chaos that is often my life, but at the end of the day I might as well have had WELCOME written across my forehead as I was little more than a doormat for my life and the people in it.

Much has happened in this last year that has shaken me to my very core. Who knew that when I was served with an eviction notice that it would not be the worst event of the year? I know I was certainly shocked as my life went into hyper speed with new and literally terrifying daily updates. My life felt like I was in the drivers seat of a car without breaks and I really wasn't sure if I wasn't going to crash and burn before all was said and done.

I am nothing though if I am not resilient. I was able to put the brakes on my life and stop the crash and burn. I was also met with some truly difficult facts about who I was as a person and who I wanted to be going forward. Strong people don't allow others to dictate their life choices or allow themselves to be actively manipulated or walked all over. Apparently, all the people commenting to me on just how strong I really was, were dishing out nothing but FAKE NEWS and at some point I had bought into the hype.

The reality is, in small pockets of my life, I am extremely strong. In anything having to do with David, his life, his health and his home/security....I am the David to the worlds Goliath. Sadly, that is where I think my strength and my ability to handle my own world end. Rather than be strong with the rest of my world, I found myself being controlling.... and who controls? Those of us who feel absolutely out of control and in complete chaos. The very definition of.....ME! In fact, if you look my name up in the dictionary......

When my latest life update occurred, so did a lot of realizations about who I am, where I have been and where I plan on going as I move forward. In fact, there were moments when I questioned if "forward" was even a possibility. You will be happy to is....because I am making it a possibility. I also realized that I am tired of life pulling it's surprise attacks and trying to change me. Granted, there are many things in life I have zero say in and zero control over (i.e. other people, freak accidents, the fact that Larry Hagman died and they will never bring back the original Dallas), but what I do have some say in and some control over is my life and how I act/react to situations and what I will and will not allow in my life.

While all of this on the outside looking in seems pretty normal and some are probably scratching their heads and wondering why this is such a revelation to me, the truth is......I have been on the inside looking out for so long and just simply so accepting of the unacceptable, that for me.....this is a true revelation.

Of late I am learning the true meaning of words such as "acceptance," "detachment" and  "forgiveness." I am learning not only their meanings but also how they work in my everyday life and I can honestly say it is helping second by second. It's a good thing too as my life is about to leave behind the slow steadiness of summer and propel it's way into the beginning of school and the onset of fall. Even saying that I can feel the anxiousness well up as I think about the uncertainty of the future and all that I think I need to accomplish. I am no happier though if I sit here and focus on the past and try to make sense there. While I am a huge believer in the fact that you have to acknowledge your past before you can successfully navigate your future, thus future hasn't always been so successfully navigated, so I have decided to try something different. I have decided to live in the present, take advantage of the moment....whatever it has to offer and leave the past and future to themselves as controlling, fixing or changing either one of them is completely out of my skill set.

Let's be real, this living in the moment, acknowledging the moment and appreciating the moment are quite frankly hard, as I am not wired to think like that. What I have noticed though, is the more I focus on the here and now and what I can control/fix in my own life, the less I focus on others and the more I stay out of other peoples lives and give them the opportunity to control/fix their own. Crazy....right?

So....yeah.....this is pretty sighable stuff as I make the choice to move forward as a better me and work on controlling only that which I can control (me) and stop letting the world, circumstance and others control me. This maybe the thing that actually brings on the true change that I have been searching for all these years......and not a moment too soon. After all....I am 55 and I plan on getting the next 50 years right!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Be the Change....One Need at a Time!

Well, July is winding down and this year so far has been something of the "you just can't make this stuff up," nature. I will admit that there has been much of 2018 that has been truly difficult and that I wasn't sure whether we would all come out okay or not. In some area's....that still remains to be seen, thing that has stood out to me most about this year has been the kindness and generosity of the human spirit. Without this kindness, many prayers and the generosity of friends, neighbors and strangers, I have no doubt I would have crumbled long ago and that David and I would not be where we are today. We are beyond blessed and when this kind of kindness is bestowed upon you, you have no choice but to pay it forward. That is what I spend almost every single day thinking about and trying to do and even with that, if I lived to be 110 and continued to do this daily, I would still not half cover all that has been given to us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

If you remember on June 1, 2018, I told you that I was starting 100 Days of Kindness and encouraged others to follow suit. Well, we are now 55 days in and over half way through and I continue to daily do my best to be kind, help and encourage others in a positive way. Along with this, I am also working to bite my tongue (just because I can say something doesn't always mean I should), leave judgment to God (our judgments are seldom made with all the facts) and I am working towards being the change I want to see in the world.

One thing I have been painfully aware of for many years is that there is always need out there.....even in my small community. In this day and age, there are many single parents trying to make a living while trying to pay for childcare. Sometimes paying for the childcare takes over half the paycheck and there is little left over for food, rent, utilities and necessities. Or what about the elderly person who has lived independently all of their life and might still be able to if small issues like yard work, or maintenance issues were taken care of. Often though, living on a fixed income does not leave a lot left over for such "luxuries." Or what about the working poor who are everywhere. Both parents work and they make too much for medicaid or food stamps, but not enough to keep all the bills paid and the kids all fed. And the need goes on and on. Some of it glaringly obvious and some not so obvious, but it is there.

My community is a good one. I saw this first hand when we almost lost our home. Those that helped financially did so without a thought and those that couldn't helped in any way they could. There were many behind the scenes advising me with contacts, many praying for us and many helping to organize events. People wanted to help and they did in so many ways. Now I have people coming to me telling me they still want to help in the community. They may not have cash to throw around, but they have skills and know how and if there is a need, they want to know about it and help fill that need.

We are blessed to have many community organizations and groups that are willing to lend a helping hand in times of need. We have a Care and Share which is our small town equivalent of a Goodwill. Through Care and Share they also help those who have certain financial or other needs. They support the community beautifully and give when they can. We also have churches who have food pantries and who help to cover utilities in times of need for not only their own congregations but for the community at large and we have local groups that work tirelessly to give back to the community and fill a void when there is a need. Yes, we have so much but what we really have is our people.

Mulvane is full of good people who are always willing to lend a had when a friend, neighbor or even a complete stranger needs help. It is these people that make our community strong and help us to show the younger generations what it means to be a part of community that gives back. It is these people who I have decided to approach in the process of working on my 100 Days of Kindness.

A while back, even before my house fiasco ever happened, I had started a facebook page Mulvane....Community Gives Back. My intention was to have a page that was nothing but people helping people in the most positive ways possible. When there was a need, I wanted people to feel comfortable stating it and for anyone that could help to be able to address it. I wanted our community to be able to help each need at a time. Since that time though, I have become even more impassioned about the idea as I have realized and seen that there is great need even in the smallest community and this need comes from our friends and neighbors. We truly need each other. So that is why I am trying to find those out there that have talents and skills and asking them to give of these talents and skills to help those who need them.

It doesn't matter if all you can do is pick up sticks in a yard, someone who just had surgery may find that particular ability invaluable to them. Everyone can do something whether it is doing someones laundry, cooking a meal or cleaning a house up to having the skills to repair something electrical, fix plumbing or build a wheelchair ramp. There is also babysitting or sitting with an elderly person so a caretaker can have a break. Or maybe you know your way around the fog of insurance companies, healthcare or taxes and you might be able to help someone who needs that specific skill but doesn't have the finances to be able to pay for the help. There are a million and one ways, even in our small community to help each other and I am trying to bring both the helpers and the ones in need together.  Because of this, I have started another page Mulvane Gives Back Helpers and Handymen so that those with skills, talents and a desire to give back can make their presence and skills known.

This whole thing is not for for recognition, praise or financial gain for anyone who chooses to be involved. On the contrary, it is for one purpose and one purpose help our community. My hope is that eventually maybe Sally has a faulty light switch that she can't afford to have fixed and her need is known. John just so happens to be an electrician and he steps up and fixes Sally's light switch. In passing John states that his son is having trouble with math in school and needs help. Sally happens to be a whiz at math and offers to help John's son. And thus, the giving back and helping one another will just goes on and on.........

So this folks continues my 100 Days of Kindness. This is my way of giving back and being the change I want to see in the world. If you are a Mulvanian and care to join me in this community effort, please check out the highlighted links above. If you live elsewhere, then maybe you too can be the change. All it takes is one person to talk to another one and soon the idea can become a reality.

Be the change!

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Drug Life, The Thug Life, My Kids Life...A Mother's Story

It is believed that by the time our kids graduate high school that 60-70% of them will have tried drugs and/or alcohol. Of that number over 40% will develop a problem with one or both. A still scarier thought is that 40% of the kids that try these substances will have started using them in middle school.

Here are more facts. It doesn't matter what your income, where you live or how solid your family structure and life are, your kid can be susceptible to the influence and use of drugs. Granted there are life situations and financial demographics that make some kids more susceptible, but to say "my kid would never" would be both false and delusional on any parents part in the world we live in today.

To tell this mother's story, I would first have to tell a bit of the story of her child. The child was brought up in small town America. The family structure was strong brought up in faith and the child was taught right from wrong, good morals, ethics, love and compassion. The child though, like many in our current society was dealt their fair share of bullying and a healthy dose of loss and upheaval losing their father at a young age.

By high school, this child was fighting to find an identity, a place to fit in. By their senior year, they had found marijuana. Marijuana was a drug that this child's father always cautioned his kids about as he himself had delved into the world of drugs in a much different time in life. He had always talked to his kids about drugs as he had gone through recovery and was living proof of the toll they could take on every aspect of ones life and his greatest caution was always of  "weed"  saying that it was a gateway drug. None of them fully understood the true meaning of that until many years later, long after he was gone.

The child started feeling like they were fitting in, but the truth was, they started to change. What had once been a fairly good (not perfect but good) kid was now being replaced by someone who was becoming secretive and foreign to their family. Grades began dropping and there was even a concern about their ability to graduate. Sadly, all of this was happening under the family's eyes but not recognized for what it was.

Once graduated, this child's transformation continued. They started running constantly. No longer was home and family important. All that was important was being gone, hanging with friends and suddenly the friends that had always been around, started changing. New faces began to appear and the mother started seeing more and more negativity in her child. The once easy going, funny and basically sweet kid was turning into a rage filled monster at times. This child started becoming someone the mother no longer recognized. Then it happened.

The mother started hearing stories and along with her gut telling her that things weren't right, she started investigating. She started trying to catch the child up in stories, which started getting easier and easier and she started asking questions to anyone and everyone. Finally, one day she asked the right question to the right person and the answer was stunning. The world METH came into the picture. The mother wasn't even sure what meth was and had to start researching. Then after the child had used an excuse to be gone for several days, she found the child holed up in a house high from meth and learned that this had become the child's drug of choice.

This was only the first episode for the mother to see her child high, come down after months (or longer) or use and then go through the withdrawal and then the clawing up out of the depths of meth hell to try to regain their life. This continued on for another two years until the mother finally could take no more and after feeling like she had exhausted all resources and efforts finally had to kick her child out of the house and in some ways, out of her life. This is where she learned that the only thing scarier than what is going on in your home with an addict is what is going on in your child's life/an addicts life outside your home.

Today, this mother is once again hoping for her child's recovery. Hope and her faith are all that she has and this is her story.

I grew up in a squeaky clean world. I was small town and I knew nothing of drugs. The worst thing my friends and I did back in the day was some underage drinking. Yes, there were drugs, marijuana, LSD and in the 80's cocaine was the drug of choice,  but drugs back then were nothing like today.

My mom was an intake nurse for a mental/rehab hospital in the late 80's and 90's and I remember all of the staff had to take classes on the "new" drug called methamphetamine that was starting to hit the streets of  our area. It was being brought in by both bikers and gangs that were moving in on our little midwest utopia, from California. The nursing staff were already starting to see more and more people coming in hooked on this street drug and mom and the other staff were highly alarmed at the rate in which this drug was taking over their patients.

When I met my husband, he was four years clean. He had gotten caught up in the drug world in his home state and had eventually left it and come to our state where he finally got clean. He had begun with weed and eventually moved on to coke and then began free basing it. Meth had only just come on the radar when he decided to get clean, but I remember in a conversation with him at some point, him talking about meth and how deadly he knew it was going to end up being. Because of his experiences, he spent a lot of time talking about the dangers of drugs and constantly told the kids, don't even start with weed because it is a gateway drug and before you know will turn into something you can't control. He died before he could see how prophetic his words would truly be.

Moving forward, I did my best to raise my kids and to keep their fathers words in mind. Unfortunately, with my lack of drug knowledge and the ever changing world of drugs in our schools, on our playgrounds and the glamorization of it in music, tv and society in general, I had no idea that my small words were not nearly enough to fight this huge monster called "the drug world." 

The first lesson I learned about drugs and my ownership of what was to come was that I was an ENABLER. An enabler is someone in a drug users life that makes it easy for them to do what they do. Whether it is giving them money, giving them too much freedom or giving them the excuses to do what they do. Making it easy for them to use is enabling and I was doing that long before I knew that drugs were even an issue. Sadly, I had been enabling my kids since the moment their dad passed away as I had felt so guilty that they were having to go through life without their dad. Somehow I got it into my head that I had to spend the rest of my life making their dad's death up to them and truly I think I believed that God left them with the inferior parent. Because of this, I spent all of my time, tying to "fix" anything broken, painful or out of place in their lives, thus....never allowing them the ability to stand on their own two feet and fix things for themselves. Looking back, I made the perfect breading ground for what was to come.

When the child started to change, I chalked it up to years of bullying and being lost and not knowing who they were. I also blamed their current relationship and the "stress" of life. I blamed everything except the child and their choices and I tried desperately to make excuses for things that were becoming more and more inexcusable. Funny enough, I spent a great deal of time watching Dr. Phil and seeing kids on his show which were doing, acting and saying the exact same things as my kid and yet I did not recognize what was looking me right in the face. My kid was into drugs! Denial is a powerful thing.

I eventually learned my kid was smoking weed. I despised it, and I fought against it with everything in me. I hated the smell and the way my kid was when they were high, which was happening more and more, but I had no idea how to stop it. I sent my kid to a therapist, who after seeing them one time and who I am sure was not made privy to the fact that the kid was smoking weed, put the child on Zoloft. Within a few days of taking Zoloft, the kid flipped out. I have no idea what all was behind this, but the kid went off the Zoloft and never went back to the therapist after a rather hateful phone conversation between the two. After all of this I told myself,'s only weed. Heck, I knew people my age that smoked weed and they functioned just fine and had productive lives. I hoped that if I just rode this out, that eventually it would just become something the child would lose their desire for.

Now this is where my husbands prophetic words of marijuana becoming a gateway drug come into play. I now don't think that he was referring to the effects of the drug becoming the gateway, but more the lifestyle. There is very definitely a lifestyle that comes with the use of any drug whether it is weed, pills, coke, meth, heroin or any of the stuff. It has to do with the people that start coming into a persons world. Yes, when you smoke weed, there is that "weed crowd" but there are also those who watch that crowd and who carefully and methodically pick out those who are susceptible to the selling and dealing and possibly moving on to more. Money is often the main persuader and with it, a certain amount of bad boy/girl notoriety as well as a constant supply of your drug of choice. Once they have you, you literally are sucked into a world  that comes with dangers, destruction of  relationships, family and in many many cases, ultimately death.

My kid was ripe for the picking and between their own issues of self worth, not knowing who they were as a person, my enabling and the people they were slowly letting in to their world, as Dr. Phil always says, "You don't ask why they are doing it, you ask why not."  My kid went from weed, to trying other drugs such as LSD, Ecstasy and other assorted "party favors" to meth and in no time, meth was their drug of choice first snorting, then smoking and ultimately shooting.

The drug world quickly enveloped the kid and soon any non-drug using friends from their past were gone. My kid only sought out "drug friends." I had the chance at one point to go through their phone and messages and social media. It was an enlightening albeit, terrifying experience as I saw a pointed and methodical attempt of this child to weed out (pardon the pun) anyone in their friends list who was not in the drug life. People they had known in high school and in everyday life were flat out being asked if they did or wanted drugs. Many messages went unreplied to and many of the old friends fell off the childs social media while many many "new" friends started appearing. This child whose circle had always been fairly small suddenly had lots and lots of new names and faces in their social media and most of those faces were not faces you would bring home and introduce to your family.

Suddenly the child was very involved in CraigsList, letgo, MeetMe and other buy/sell and social media sites as I soon learned where those heavy into the drug trade like to hide out in plain sight. Everything about the child was changing and suddenly I was seeing a rage and anger emerge that literally blind sided me. The kid who had always been fairly level headed and reasonable was suddenly unreasonable and volatile. Still, regardless of how verbally abusive or vile the child got, I tried to make excuses. I tried to find reasons for the behavior and gave chance after chance for the child to start fresh.

It didn't help that the child still had others in the dark also and was being given a steady stream of cash from family members that I begged on more than one occasion not to. Even though I was still heavily in denial about the true nature of what was going on in the childs life, I was smart enough to realize that the bad behaviors were partially being fueled by money and when all of the realities of both how much money had been handed to the child and what the child actually did with the money finally came to light, it was obvious that it was a miracle that the child was still alive.

The rest of the childs story is the childs alone to tell and someday maybe they will tell it. Hopefully their story is not only a cautionary tale, but also one of hope and ultimately success in coming out of the hell of the drug world and finding a new and better life. But again....that is the childs story. This is a mother's story.

As a mom of a child in the drug life, there is nothing but a long succession of days trapped in your own hell. From the start, even before you know what the facts are, you know something isn't right. You see the changes in a beautiful child that goes from positive to negative quite quickly. You see anger and rage and you hear things come of your childs mouth that you never dreamed possible. It gets to the point that you can't take them out in public and soon the neighbors hear the screaming, the yelling and all the hell you are living with starts to seep out and over. It as if all the good, the compassion and the caring that once resided in your child are gone and replaced by a vileness, lies and complete lack of empathy for anything. The lies though, they are the worst.

As a parent, you bring your child up with honesty and when you do this, often you don't question at first when the tides start to change. Even when stories don't always add up, you make excuses or unwittingly give them outs and chalk their dishonesty up to mistakes or misinformation. Eventually though, the lies get bigger and your gut literally screams at your brain to wake up and pay attention....something isn't right. Usually by this time, your child is pretty deeply involved in a world you know nothing about. In the end, you become lied to so much that the child could tell you the sky is blue and you would have to check to believe it.

I never wanted drugs in my world. I made a choice long ago that drugs were not what I wanted and even though I was very naive to what the drug world was like, I knew it was not something that I ever wanted touching my life and especially not the lives of my kids. When your child gets involved though, you have no choice and in some ways, your life becomes as ensconced as theirs. When they say that drugs don't just happen to the user but also the family, it is true. As a parent, you dive in and try to do anything and everything you can to save that child, which affects everyone in the home and family. You find yourself spending hours, days and weeks doing whatever you can to "fix" their habit, their life and their world....only to realize that 1) you can't and 2) so many other people and things in your life end up suffering because you spent so much time and effort trying to fix something you had no control over. This is devastating for a parent who feels they should be able to fix anything for their kids.

One of the hardest things on me was the people in my world who had begun to see what was going on and who were getting sick and tired of me allowing the child to continue to be abusive, destructive and spiral and me not take a stand. I was becoming a victim in my own world and victims are appealing to no one. Even those not privy to what exactly was going on with the child, were seeing that the childs behavior (whatever was behind it) was taking a decided toll on me and that I refused to "fix" my own situation, still enabling and denying and making too many excuses to count. My own friends were starting to back away from me and the situation, feeling helpless and powerless to do anything and refusing to watch the impending train wreck they knew was coming. Also, other family members who did know what was going on, were getting increasingly frustrated with me to the point of anger. They knew that short of out and out lying to them for the sake of the other child, I was evading and avoiding the truth to protect the child. They too saw what this was doing to me and they too were backing away in order to protect their own world from the fallout that they knew was coming.

I was in a place where few knew what was really going on and most I just didn't talk to. I became wrapped up in my own world feeling more and more lost and alone because I couldn't fix what was going on and I really had no one to share it with. Many was the time I wished that my husband was here to help us. I knew I was totally inadequate to fight this battle alone.

Now if you are wondering what lengths I went to, to get the child help, I'll tell you. I went to every length I could find. What I found was that there was no real help to be found in our local area as far as inpatient facilities go. Most local inpatient facilities require insurance which most addicts don't have. The very few that don't require insurance have waiting lists months out. It was frustrating to know that the few times the child would get so sick of the drugs and wanted help, that inpatient, which is what the child needed, was not an option. I had the child in everything from medical intake stays at the hospital in the hopes of getting an inpatient bed medically....only to be released in a matter of hours saying the child wasn't "bad enough" physically, to detox facilities where the child was offered more drugs, to out patient programs where the child refused to go because no one was there forcing them. Granted, I am not making excuses for the child as I know some of these options might have helped had the child been truly serious about getting help, but the life kept pulling the child back.

"The Life." Yes, I have learned it is very real. The life along with the drugs have a powerful pull. It is a world that is equal opportunity and doesn't care about your financial station in life, your color or your background. It takes on anyone and any lifestyle and leaves them all the same way.....broke, broken and addicted. Whatever the original appeal of the life is, it eventually loses it's appeal and like my child sucks the life out of them and everyone in their world who attempts to care. As a parent, the knowledge that your child has spent time in drug houses, with the worst of the worst kinds of people whose goal it is to keep your child addicted and in the life and even being homeless and sleeping on the streets, is heartbreaking to say the least.

I have seen my child go from small town kid to street addict in just a few years. I have learned drug terminology, drug usage and seen the end results of a 3-4 time a day shooting up addiction. I have  seen a side of life and the world that have forever changed me. The world I never wanted to touch me or mine has invaded us all and left us with scars I am still not sure I will ever heal from.

Over a year ago, I finally had to take the steps and kick the child out of my home. The child had become too toxic, too unpredictable and too damaging to our world,  and I prayed and hoped at the time that this sink or swim moment might turn their world around. Unfortunately the habit and the desire for what they thought "the life" was all about pulled them even deeper into this dark and destroying world. Add to that others who were just as ensconced but who tried to play both sides of the world, drug my child even further in all the while giving the family false information on the child feeding enough lies and deception to keep the kid out of the good graces of the family but not revealing how bad off the child was.

The life has apparently lost it's appeal and the addiction has taken a toll. The child broke and came to the family for help. I am mom. I am trying to help. Others are less receptive and completely distrusting of even this cry for help. The child remains at a distance from the family and out of the home, while I as mom, try every outlet to help the child find help. The sad part is, the child tells the stories of their addiction, the last year and all they have been through.....but the doubt lays heavily on my mind as to the true mindset of the child. I find myself questioning every word and wondering every second that I don't physically have them in my sights what they are doing and if I am once again being lied to for some unexplainable and methed out reason.

The child says they want a fresh start, a new beginning.....a life that doesn't include drugs. I am sick, unable to eat, to sleep or to focus on anything. Over the course of this disease, it has caused me to not only kick the child out of my home and my life, but to also mourn them as the child I once knew ceased to exist long ago. Now, this child is back and I have seen glimmers of the child I raised, the child before drugs and the life, but then I have to ask myself, is what I am seeing real or is it an act? Is my mind trying to play games with me only to fall back into the vicious cycle of lies and deceit and toxic destruction or could this possibly be real? It is a hell that is taking it's toll on me mentally and physically. And then a parent....when your child begs for help, do you ignore the cry or do what you can to help....within limits?

God knows that I want my child back. I want my child whole and healthy and since the past cannot be changed, I want these years of hell to have something positive pulled from them. I want my child to want to be clean and to be strong enough to fight for their life, because I can't want it for them and I can't make it happen for them. Only they can. I want my child to come out on the other side of this strong, healthy and with a new appreciation of life, family and most of all themselves. I want my child to be able to take all the the things they have learned and finally know who they are as a clean and sober person. That is what I want. What counts though, is what my child wants and sadly, my childs words mean little now. I have to see action.

I am tired. I am hurting and yes.....I am angry! I am angry that my child never thought more of themselves or this family than to take this road. I am angry that I enabled, denied and simply couldn't see what was right in front of my face. I am angry that this "life", this world of drugs and addiction exists and that everyday, some new person gets pulled into it. I am angry for the affect his has had on my home, my family and on myself. I am angry that I can drive downtown  and see hundreds of homeless and know that most of their stories are not that much different than my childs. I am angry that I couldn't do more and that my child didn't and I am angry that the necessary resources to help those that want the help just aren't always there.

So why would a mother write this? Why air her dirty laundry and put this out there for the world? Because for every child like this child, there are thousands more out there. Some haven't hit the life yet. Some are still lost and looking and as a parent, if you see anything out of the normal, don't be afraid to ask the questions, look through the phones and social media and get your child some help before it's too late. If however, you, like her, suddenly find yourself in a situation that was buried under enabling and denial and your kid is in, get help for yourself. Learning how to handle the situation can sometimes help you to help them. If this helps one person, one addict, one family member or friend...then that is why she writes this.

This story still goes unfinished. Don't get me wrong, I still hold out great hope for this child that  they still  know right from wrong, have a moral compass and empathy for others. I hope that this child has found their rock bottom and is ready to start climbing back up to a healthy life and if you are a praying person, I ask you to join your prayers to mine and pray not only for this child but for anyone's child who has fallen prey to the life. Hopefully in the end, this story will have a happy ending.

If you or someone you know is going through addiction with a friend, family member or yourself, please contact the National Helpline for Addiction. It can put you in touch with local resources and agencies.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Lil' Duece Scoop

While I know that I claim this blog is to be "all about me," occasionally though, I like to share the love and talk about others too. Today is such a day.

I am sure you all have heard me say a time or two just how much I love my little town of Mulvane, KS. I have lived here well over 40 years and this is home so I may be a bit partial, but I don't think so.

We have a quaint little downtown area that 40 years ago was self sustaining with everything from a drug store to an appliance store and everything in between. Back then, few even needed to drive out of the city limits to get just about anything they needed. Of course, over the years businesses have come and gone and Mulvane like many small towns has taken a hit. It is hard for small businesses to keep up with the likes of Walmart, Lowes and other big chain stores. In the last few years though, Mulvane has begun a revitalization that is bringing new life back into our little town. Sadly the days of the corner market and the hometown hardware store have left us, but they are being replaced by hometown run restaurants and wonderful little shops that make you want to take the day shopping, eating and enjoying all that our little town has to offer.

One of the newest offerings in Mulvane and a business that I think is crucial to all small towns is an ice cream shop. In the past we have had ice cream shops but they have not boasted a long life here in our little community. This time though.....

So I have heard that this shop was coming to town and I have, like the rest of Mulvane, "patiently" impatiently waited for news of it's opening. Well Friday it came and Facebook was all a flutter with the news that the staff would be training this weekend and so as of Friday, they would be training with "real" customers. Eeeeeeee.....there were literally goosebumps.

Sadly, it wasn't possible for me to get down there Friday or Saturday, so I lived vicariously through all the posts I saw about how great this little ice cream shop was. To say that I was jealous at all my FB friends enjoying wonderful bowls and cones packed full of delicious ice cream on these 100 degree days was an understatement. What was impressive though, was the comments made about this new little shop. Not one person had a bad thing to say and there was nothing but praise and support for our newest little business. Way to go Mulvane!

Well today I could contain myself no more, so I gathered up my granddaughter Willow and she and I decided to try out the Lil' Deuce Scoop ice cream shop so I could get my ice cream fix. It is located at 110 W. Main in Mulvane and I must say I loved it just for the address, as many years ago, I myself had a business at 110 W. Main in Mulvane.

Walking in to the familiar and yet completely different little building, I was impressed at how clean it was and the wonderful smell inside. It hosted a fridge full of bottled craft soda's and an ice cream counter where you have your choice of many delectable flavors, with the added bonus of some sugar free and soy flavors. Once you have chosen your flavor, then you can have your pick of having it served in a cup, a cone or a waffle cone made there in the store. They also have a regular soda fountain as well as a candy nook in the back with some old favorites you can buy by the pound.

So Willow chose a flavor called Superman which looked to maybe have a chocolate base with bright yellow, red, blue and orange color throughout it. My picky little Willow plowed through her cup in record time and let me case I was wondering....that she was still hungry and could go for another cup. I took a less adventurous route and had the key lime ice cream. It was beyond delicious. I too could have gone for another cup.

The cups that the ice cream and sundaes (I did mention they have sundaes too....right?) are served in
have the nutrition label on there that states....You don't want to know what's in it. Meaning, Wisconsin cream, sugar and all that yummy stuff that makes it decadent and desirable. Truthfully, I was good not knowing the ingredients or the calories. I was happy just to sit there in the air conditioning, reminisce and watch my granddaughters delight at her ice cream treat.

Unfortunately, the small downtown's of days gone by are gone. They have been replaced with the downtown's that have an eclectic almost vintage feel with shops and restaurants that draw the weekend crowds and city folk to a quieter more relaxed pace of life. Lil' Deuce Scoop is putting their own hometown touch to this wonderful little ice cream store and making it a place where both hometown residents and visitors will love to come.

I encourage you if you are ever in our neck of the woods to come check out all that Mulvane has to offer with not only the Lil' Deuce Scoop, but also Luciano's, Amy's Pizza Place, Laurie's Kitchen, Jane's Landing, The Naughty Tiger, W P Fripperies, Rowan's and more...... I know you will be glad you did. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

History, Legacy and Laura Ingalls Wilder

Travel with me if you will to a time in the not so distant future. Let's say we travel to 2168. It is a mere 150 years into time where the likelihood of anyone currently reading this still being alive is nil.

Life in 2168 will obviously be much different than our current times. Perhaps daily transportation will actually have taken to the skies, maybe earth will not be our only choice in living and vacationing destinations and hopefully mankind will have exceeded 2018 in their ability to stomp out the deadly diseases of both the body and society.

It is likely that if we were to actually jump ahead, we would not even recognize the world in 2168. Their slang, fashion and ideals would assuredly be vastly different and likely these future beings would have no real grasp on who we were in 2018 as a civilization or a people. In fact, the only thing left of us and the foot print of our existence will be the literature, art, architecture and statues we leave behind. These are the things that tell the future world that we were here, that we existed and without us.....for better or worse....that they would not be here. 

Now let's take this one step further and let's imagine that in 2168, they have their own ideas about how the world should be and their own "political correctness" if you will and the past (our current world) doesn't fit with their view. What if they decided because 9/11 or Vietnam or the Obama administration didn't fit in with their "current" belief system that they would just gloss over them in history books or simply make no reference to them at all? What if Martin Luther King Jr's personal life was looked into and something was found that the people of 2168 found unseemly and therefore his statues were unceremoniously and disrespectfully yanked down and all of his good works, his dreams and his fighting for this country were down played and lost to future generations?

What if F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce or William Faulkner were authors pulled from shelves and their works banned because their writing was not in keeping with the ideals or morality of the up and coming times? What if the art of Pablo Picaso, Georgia O'Keefe and even Andy Warhol were pulled from museums and hidden from the world because they spoke of a time chosen to be forgotten or they saw the world in a way that 2168 found distasteful or at odds with the world they choose to currently believe in?

What if the people of our time such as President John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi or General Norman Schwarzkopf were either bastardized or written out of history completely? And what if the civil rights movement, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the election of the first black president were made unimportant or the history of the events were dissected and rewritten to fit the modern worlds way of thinking? What if our world of 2018 became falsified, denied and forgotten in history?

Sadly we don't have to wait for the future for these things to happen. Right here, right now we are doing this. Works of literature are being pulled from shelves and banned because their ideology and modern day ideology don't mesh. Historic figures and symbols are being brought down and destroyed and history itself is being glossed over, reinvented or completely written out of our kids history books because we don't like what the past says about us as a people or more over, we don't want to admit that people regardless of the day and age are human and therefore capable of both good and bad. What is wrong with us? 

The fact is, our history is rich with stories of hard working people who have fought to make lives for themselves. Have we all always been on equal ground? No. Since the beginning of time, man in his desire to rise above his particular circumstance has always found it necessary to step on others and at some point in history, every race, creed and color has been viewed as "less than", property or slave labor. This goes clear back to the earliest of times. It is part of the frailty of man, the ego, the desire to have it all....regardless of who suffers. With it though, there have been great times in our history when great men fought and died for what they viewed as good and right. Every age has had its good history and it's bad and each was full of people of the time writing, drawing and living life as they saw it, felt it and existed in it. The language of the time may not be the same as ours, in fact by today's standards it might even be viewed as insensitive, disrespectful or racist.....but at that was how these people spoke to and about one another and what is seen as wrong to us now, was simply life to all back then. Good or bad it was a part of our history and something that has to be recognized not glossed over or ignored. In the words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." By denying and running from our past and our history, it doesn't mean we can avoid it, it simply means we are missing out on knowing key facts about what went right and what went wrong and maybe how to fix those things in the future.

When I hear of books such as the Laura Ingalls Wilder series possibly being taken from our shelves and her name being stripped from the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Award because she talked about Native Americans, then known as Indians, in the only way she knew how, I am sad. Wilder wrote of what she knew back then. She was not being racist, cruel or insensitive. She was writing about a time that people of today could not possibly understand. She was writing about a life that was hard in a new nation where people were trying to find their way. In the world she knew, Indians were the enemy and to be feared. She wrote what her world at the time was like and for us to view it as more than that is simply ridiculous.

Like it or not, our history is made up of good people and bad people. It is made up of slave owners, abolitionists, free thinkers, religious zealots, the Confederate flag, outlaws, thieves, soldiers, people who stood up for what they thought was right and people who perpetuated bad for their own personal gain. And even in today's world, much of this remains. Good or bad, each day we make history. Not all of it is something to be proud of, but it is how we learn, how we grow and how we move forward.

Today we write, draw and create our world based on what we know and on what society dictates. We are leaving behind a legacy with each breath we take in hopes that the future generations can pull from the good we leave behind and understand that in our humanity we are imperfect creatures who make mistakes.....but our mistakes, just like the good we leave are part of our history and simply should not be forgotten.