Friday, November 17, 2017

Self Care 11 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/

11. Being in the present here and now.

My response: 

Life is miserable when you spend it wishing you could erase the past and dreaming of the future, especially when you don't do anything about either.

No, you can't change the past. However, you can learn to see if through different eyes. Instead of the wounded child, still hurting, I had to reach the point where I could say, "Yeah, it happened. So what?" I've worked long and hard to reach that point. It was actually suggested by one of the many books I read about abuse. It was the advice the author gave. I remember little else about the book, not even the title or the name of the author, though I remember the cover had a rainbow on it. I've never forgotten that one sentence (paraphrased): You have to reach the point in your life when people bring up what you went through you can say, "It happened. So what?" It's a part of the past, not the present and not the future.

Yes, what happened changed everything. I would likely be a different person now had I not been abused. However, I have to wonder, "Would I have liked myself?" Would I be sanctimonious? Self-righteous?  Would I be as compassionate? Would I have truly learned the value of honor, integrity, tenacity? Would I have the same friends? Would I be a writer?

Being present in the here in now is not easy. It requires work and effort. I know how to work, and I'm willing to put in the effort. It helps to learn to recognize the value. Living in the here and now means I don't beat myself up over the past. Living in the here and now means I don't fret about the future. Living in the here and now means I allow myself to embrace the present, enjoy each moment.

Does this mean I don't dream about the future? Of course not. In order to know what steps to take in the present, I need to know where I'm going. I admit I'm a bit of a control freak. LOL! Being in control gives me a sense of power. Recognizing that I have little control is a daily lesson. Accepting responsibility for controlling me, no one else, is a hard earned lesson.

An abuse victim is taught that they control their abuser's moods and actions. How did I learn the absurdity of this claim? How in the world did a five-year-old little girl control a teenage boys actions? I didn't hold a gun to his head. How in the world did a little girl control her mother's happiness? I wasn't magical. How had so much power been bestowed on a child who always felt so helpless and powerless? Lies.

Rule #1: Stop Lying, especially to yourself.

I was not powerful. I did not control my abusers. The only power I held in my hands was the ability to learn to control myself. My counselors guided those lessons, and I learned.

I still mess up. A lot. I'm learning. Practice. Every day. I won't give up, and I won't give in. Living in the here and now I'm happy.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Self Care 10 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/

10. Putting myself first.

My response: 

I grew up knowing that putting yourself first was selfish. The teaching was re-enforced from several directions. Everyone else was more important.

If I dared put myself first, I was shamed into rearranging my priorities. Adding to the head games was being treated special. I took me a long time to figure out it wasn't a good thing. Special treatment was a way to reel me in close so I'd be an easier target, let my guard down, soften me up, or it was used because the other person wanted something they thought I could give. I was supposed to be grateful for the compliment that hooked me. My third counselor described it as being chum for sharks. You weren't always eaten, but there was never a way to know if I'd escape or be caught. Even if I escaped, I knew I wouldn't next time. Trying to put myself first only made it worse. The game played more often to ensure I wasn't too full of myself.

It took a long time and a lot of practice to learn the difference between being selfish and putting yourself first. Yes, there's a difference.

Being selfish is putting your needs above everyone else regardless of the cost.

Putting yourself first is recognizing the needs of others and helping as able while ensuring yours are also met.

In more practical terms using dinner as an example:

Selfish is serving yourself as much as you want, sometimes going back for seconds and thirds, regardless of who hasn't eaten yet. Isn't enough for everyone else? Too bad. They should have arrived sooner. Pity someone else went hungry. I feel bad for them, but I'm still going to make sure I have as much as I want.

Putting yourself first is making sure you don't go hungry, which doesn't mean eating as much as you want. In fact, you recognize the need to take care of yourself and going back for thirds isn't a good idea anyway, unless you're burning the calories. In which case, you bring something extra for yourself so you don't feel like you're starving because you made sure everyone had something. In fact, bring something to share.

Perspective changes everything.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Self Care 9 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/

9. I struggle with making healthy relationship choices. I always go for people that I know are going to re traumatise me, even when there are “better choices” right in front of me. It’s like I can’t break that cycle.

My response: 

Story of my life, until my third counselor. I told him I felt like I had a tattoo on my forehead that said: ABUSE ME. He arched an eyebrow... maybe he didn't. He was pretty good about treating me kindly, but the vibes coming off him communicated a "duh" sensation. I stared at him as it dawned. I did! Not a real tattoo but a way of interacting with people that attracted abusers and users. Why? Because that's the way I knew how to interact with people. I'd gone in to my third round of counseling to figure out why I was still stuck. I'd worked through so much. It wasn't until that moment that I realized I had to not simply accept the past but I had to change me in fundamental ways.

During my recent adventure, I realized I'd finally successfully applied what my counselor had worked so hard to help me learn. I had healthy boundaries. I expected them to be respected, and they were. I didn't have to be nasty or cold or angry or any of the other unpleasant methods I used to use in order to keep people at a distance.

How did I finally step onto the path to change? I embraced Rule #1: Stop Lying, especially to yourself. I'm thinking of writing a book by that title. It's a tough rule. It sounds so easy, and it so isn't, especially for those who were trained to lie from a young age. "Everything's fine." "Nothing happened." "It doesn't matter."

Nothing was find. Too much had happened. And it mattered.

Changing is hard work and worth it.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 20:3

It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Self Care 8 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/

8. I struggle with believing in myself. As many times as trusted loved ones have told me I’m beautiful, loving, and smart, I find myself completely unable to believe them.

My response: 

This is a tough one. I still struggle with it.

Trusted loved ones turned out to be untrustworthy.

Perhaps that's where solving this one really starts. I still don't believe I'm beautiful. I'm kind of smart. I am loving and lovable. That is enormous progress.

I believed the negative tape for decades. I recognized the voices that weren't my own, that spoke more clearly and loudly than my own voice that struggled to defend me.

I had to start with Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself.

Some may find it a negative rule. I found it to be positive. It not only meant that I had to stop pretending that people who said they cared about me didn't, but I also had to stop believing the lies they told about me, the lies I had accepted and claimed as my own.

People I thought I could trust said they believed me and then proved they didn't. I'm learning to let go of people like that. I'm not casting them aside, but I'm not investing my emotions in them. They've turned their backs on me before, and I anticipate they will again. Now, it won't hurt.

People aren't perfect.

I discovered friends who respect me and my boundaries, believe I fit in, and like me exactly as I am. They accept my past and believe me. I don't have to prove myself to them. Interestingly enough, I feel the same way about them.

Painfully, I've been through a lot of friends. They fit, at the time,  but as I grow healthier, we don't really fit anymore. It's sad, but I can't go back to what I was in order to be accepted.

Believing in yourself is not something anyone can give you. Friends and family and others can tell you how wonderful you are, but you will never believe them until it comes from inside you. It isn't fair to expect them to build that in you.

Here's the really tough part: It was something I had to choose for myself.

It felt like such an impossible choice, with all the negative things that had been said by people who supposedly loved me. How could I believe anything else? It required that I decide they were wrong.

I stepped back and looked at my life. I've made a lot of mistakes. People have lied about me. People have judged me and found me wanting. People had no trouble letting me know how I came up short.

Jesus Christ died for me, to save me. That knowledge is my saving grace.

Nothing the naysayers imply or declare can compete with God's infinite love for me.

I had to choose Jesus. Either I believe Him, and He's right: I'm worth dying for. Or I don't believe Him and it doesn't matter what I believe. As my trust in Jesus grew, what others thought of me meant less. I still slip into the old habits, from time to time, but I'm learning. Give the battle to God, and praise Him in the storm. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Self Care 7 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/

7. Preparing and eating healthy meals. I know how to, I know I deserve it, I can plan it and even sometimes manage to buy the groceries, but I freeze when it comes to the “doing” which doesn’t even bring me to “the eating”.

My response: 

Food is a really tough one for me. I was punished and rewarded with food. I was fed food that made me sick. My weight was a constant topic of ridicule. I was 5'5" and weighed 125 lb and called fat. I was able to see my ribs and called fat. My battle with food is long and painful.

I will not yield.

The journey is long and ugly and painful. It isn't over yet.

Learning what was healthy wasn't the problem. I had it crammed down my throat on a regular basis. The latest books and studies recited to me ad nauseam. I was told that men didn't marry girls as fat as I was. I was twenty pounds over my "ideal." By the way, that ideal is now considered unhealthy to the point of anorexic. I rebelled and promptly added thirty more pounds, and more after that. Stupid but the only way I could figure out how to fight back against unreasonable expectations.

How do you fight a battle that society jumps in and supports? 

Where do you start?

I knew some foods made me sick, anything with bran. I had to stop eating them. Insanely, I used them to push myself for not eating healthy. I'd eat too much or the wrong things and I'd eat an oatmeal cookie. Guaranteed to make me sick.

I was in my 40s when I finally admitted how insanely stupid I was being. I cut all oatmeal from my diet. My doctor did a food allergy test and discovered I was highly allergic to eggs. I would take allergy pills so I could eat fried eggs once a month. I finally admitted how stupid that was, too, and stopped eating eggs, except as a minor ingredient in other things. I've been egg free for only four years. Yes, that's how long it took me to finally stop hurting myself.

I hoard food. I grew up with feast or famine. If I liked something, the recipe was changed until I didn't like it in an effort to control my eating. I started with squirreling away easy to store foods, like candy bars and anything easy to prepare. I did a lot of sneaking food. While other children could take what they wanted from the fridge and cupboards, everything I ate was carefully monitored. How do you explain stealing crackers and marshmallows because it's difficult to tell how much is missing?

I discovered Schwan's and learned about portion sizes. I added healthier foods to my hoarding, spaghetti, canned and bottled fruits and veggies. I need to have certain comfort foods in my pantry, like peanut butter and grape jelly and bread. Bread freezes well.

Recently, I've been experimenting with eliminating soy from my diet. I have less trouble with swallowing, and the rash on my wrist is disappearing. It's amazing how many things have soy in them. Jell-O brand doesn't have soy, but generic jello and pudding has soy. Captain Crunch doesn't have soy or red dye. Woohoo! Whole milk doesn't have xanthan gum but reduced fat milk does. I'm learning what's healthy for me. It's requiring I make healthier choices. I had to decide I'm worth taking care of and protecting, even from my bad habits.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Self Care 6 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/

6. To stop always saying “sorry” (for nothing) and “people pleasing.”

My response: 

First, I had to learn to recognize why I was apologizing. I was the scapegoat, so everything was my fault. A dish was broken, it was reported as my fault, even if I wasn't in the room. If nasty things were said by someone else, it was reported that I said it. If I said something truthful, it was questioned or discounted completely. I apologized because it was expected. I accepted responsibility for numerous things I never did or said. Why? Because it was expected and by doing so I made the offender feel better but more importantly: I avoided getting into even more trouble. Yes, I was punished for not accepting the role of scapegoat.

Learning to recognize why I was apologizing sounds like an easy task. It isn't. It was only a few years ago that I learned to what extent I was blamed for what others did. Who would believe that I would be blamed for breaking an everyday dish? I began to see all the things for which I was blamed day in and day out, things beyond my control or things that were made up in order to explain why I was such a bad person.

A struggle in understanding "I'm sorry" came when I realized there are two types that are both acceptable. There is "I'm sorry. I was wrong." Straightforward enough. The second is "I'm sorry. I feel bad you're going this difficult situation." The first is accepting responsibility for a failure. The second is an attempt to empathize. Neither one is wrong.

With all the "apologies" for bad behavior going around, I've noticed that many fall far short. In truth, many are not apologies at all but lip service with an excuse attached.

What a real apology looks like: 

I'm sorry.
I was wrong.
It will never happen again.
What do I need to do to make things right?
If there's nothing I can do to make something right, what do I need to do to make a true change in my life?

No "Sorry, but..." No "Sorry, explanation..." No excuses.

People pleasing is far more encompassing than saying "sorry" all the time. People pleasing is an attempt to prove that I'm worthy of taking up air and space. It's really tough to learn to believe that you are worthy to be on this earth simply because you were born. It's true.

This is where my faith comes in handy: You are here because God wants you here. You have something to offer because God continues to give you breath, every day. If you wonder if your mission on earth is over, if you're still here, it isn't over. There is no other like you. You are unique. You have a combination of gifts and talents unlike any other person who has ever lived. Sometimes those gifts and talents are things that can't be catalogued or tallied. Patience, kindness, a sense of humor, peacemaker, gentleness, courage, sass. Yes, I think sass can be a gift. Like most gifts, they can be used for good or ill. The choice is yours. I prefer to choose good.

I may choose to please others. Sometimes, it's fun. It's also a part of who I am. I enjoy seeing others happy. However, I'm learning that sacrificing myself, when it isn't required, is selfish martyrdom. I don't like it in others because I really don't like it in myself. 

How do I change? Practice. Lots and lots of practice. It's worth it because I am worth it. If I allow shadows of the past to rule my life, I will never reach my full potential. The baggage will drag me down. Give the battle to God and praise Him in the storm.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 19:22

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Saturday Links

Mustard Seed Blog so often reflects things I've struggled with and provides light for me:
https://mustardseedblogs.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/be-still-2/

Great perspective on facing challenges by William Emmons:
https://wemmons.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/potatoes-of-change/

God bless.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Self Care 5 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/

5. Allowing myself to feel all emotions – joy and anger are the most difficult for me.

My response: 

I remember how difficult it was for me to identify joy. Anger was easy. I was so ashamed for feeling angry. Sometimes the anger morphed to barely controlled rage. I bent a hefty frying pan when I threw it on the floor. No one was allowed to witness such outbursts. No one except my dog. Bless her heart. She'd hide. I never hurt her, but my rage was terrifying. I actually used it to protect myself and my horse when dogs would run at us when I went riding. By then, I was learning to control the rage in a more positive manner. Before that, I twisted and transformed my anger into self-hatred.

I felt like I lived on the surface. Most emotions were avoided. Dangerous. I didn't know how to handle them, so I pretended like they weren't there. I muted everything. An emotion would hit, and I'd flatten it to a manageable bit of fluff. Truthfully, I channeled it all into despair. No hope. Despair was safer than rage.

Happiness was fleeting, gone before I could fully embrace it. My dog gave me a measure of peace. I think I learned unconditional love from her.

Then "Fellowship of the Ring" came along, December 2001. It isn't often one can pinpoint when life changes forever. I dreaded seeing the movie. I was afraid they'd jacked up the title and put a new story underneath it. A flicker of hope wanted it to be passable, not horrid.  The opening was an intriguing start. I wasn't willing to give my stamp of approval, but I wasn't disappointed. A good start. I gasped upon my first view of the Shire. It was exactly as I'd imagined. The Long Expected Party delighted me, including the fireworks. Good surprises. Then the Nazgul appeared, a good scary. I'd never understood good scary until that moment. It was fun. Somethings weren't quite right, but I was willing to forgive the director's personal vision. I remembered bits and pieces from the books I hadn't read in years. I remembered a scene was coming that included the water looking like horses and riders. I figured if the film could carry that off in a believable manner I'd give the film my stamp of approval. The scene appeared and it was all and more. I was overjoyed. I allowed myself to fall into the story. Surprise, fear, sadness, anticipation, and a wealth of other emotions flooded me, and I allowed myself to feel, really feel, every one. I went back 33 more times to relive all those emotions.

The emotional spigot was turned on, and I liked it. I decided I'd never turn it off again.

I discovered a whole new problem: I didn't know how to handle all the emotions. Practice, practice, practice.

Sixteen years later and I'm still practicing. I was ready. God opened the door, and I danced through.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Self Care 4 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/
    4. I struggle with basics. I forget to shower, eat, drink, and do things like buy myself clothes. I feel my needs get in the way of others.

    My response:

    Yes. In the last Self Care post, I talked about my eating struggles. This one is more encompassing. Abusers teach the victim they are worthless. Note of clarification: In the "grooming" stage, an abuser assures the victim they are priceless. Assuring the victim they are loved is also a tool used to keep the victim tied to the abuser. I reached the point where all compliments from my abusers were suspect. I knew I was being reeled in close enough, emotionally at least and sometimes physically, for the abuser to land a blow, usually a verbal one. It took me a long time to realize that pulling me into their physical space, violating my own, created a false sense of intimacy. It's horribly confusing. It's part of gaslighting. Keep the victim confused and reaching for the nearest help, the abuser. It's a vicious cycle.

    Because I believed I was worthless, I didn't deserve basic care. I was knowingly fed food that made me sick. I was given clothes that didn't fit properly. I was told I should be grateful because others were more in need than I was. If I could survive with less, maybe I wouldn't be noticed. If I wasn't noticed, maybe I'd be safe. All lies.

    Important note: Just because someone is worse off than you are doesn't mean your pain should be ignored. You still have to live your life. Being aware of the plight of others means you recognize the world doesn't revolve around you. Wanting to help is good. Ignoring your own needs isn't healthy. You'll be able to help others better if you take care of yourself first. Like the flight instruction: If the oxygen masks drop, put one on yourself first, before you put it on your child. It will help you think more clearly and be more effective in helping others.

    My dog helped me change my perspective. No one was allowed to insult my dog, even though they insulted me and I said nothing. My dog saw the vet before I saw the doctor. My dog's food was purchased before mine. I took my dog for walks when I wouldn't have done it for me. Then I added a horse. He saw the vet and the ferrier in a timely manner. I would do things for my fur babies I wouldn't do for me. In order to take care of them, I had to take a certain measure of care of myself. No matter how much I wanted to stay in bed, with the covers pulled over my head, the animals had to be taken care of, so I'd at least drag myself out of bed and take care of them. Doing for them helped me see the need to treat myself better, but that isn't what helped me follow through.

    I herniated a disc in my back and, despite the pain for months, I didn't see the doctor until I reached the point where I couldn't bend over enough to pet my dog. I could live with the pain. I couldn't live without being able to pet my dog.

    My horse has been gone for 15 years, and my dog has been gone for 11. Only this year did I finally reach the point where I'm buying clothes I need without feeling guilty.

    One thing at a time. Start with something small for yourself. Eat at regular times. Without my dog, why should I walk every day? Walk a little every day. I started with walking to the end of the driveway, for a week. I doubled the distance, for a week. I gradually added more and more. I'm currently walking a little over 1-1/2 miles 3x a week, 1 mile 1x a week, and 1/2 mile 2x a week. I give myself one day off a week. Because of my herniated disc, I do the physical therapy routine 6 days a week, given to me by my physical therapist, 12 years ago. I try to be in bed before midnight. I wake up about the same time every day. Sometimes, it's not eating two ice cream sandwiches.

    Only you can change you. I've attempted to make huge changes. It never works. Taking little steps works better for me. I endeavor to not beat myself up when I loose ground. I saw a meme that helped me gain a new perspective: One step forward and two steps back is a cha-cha. When I feel like I'm back at the bottom, I remind myself that it's familiar territory; I've been there so many times I know where to go from there. Be kind to you.

      Tuesday, October 31, 2017

      Sunday, October 29, 2017

      Sunday Scripture

      Proverbs 19:17

      He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

      Saturday, October 28, 2017

      Saturday Links

      Wizzymedpower shared an excellent post, "Sharpen Your Mind," and I needed the reminder:
      https://wizzymedpower.com/2017/09/25/sharpen-your-mind/

      I needed the reminder provided by Maureen Lang over at Christians Read:
      https://christiansread.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/difficult-decisions/

      An extra link: With the holidays fast approaching, they can be a nightmare for survivors, peppered with triggers. My sister shares her game plan and a lot of good suggestions on her blog.
      http://weareone-ruth.blogspot.com/2017/10/didnt-build-in-rain.html

      God bless.

      Friday, October 27, 2017

      There and Back Again Final Thoughts

      I worried about my back. Considering the fact that we drove 27oo miles roundtrip in 5 days, over a 10-day period, which does not include my flying time, another 2-1/2 hours, each way. I had no trouble. No back discomfort at all and never took a single pain reliever. My friends watched out for me, making sure we stopped often. I'd walk around the parking lot and/or do my physical therapy on breaks. The 2002 Suburban was helpful. I had support from the headrest all the way down. I was able to press my back against the seat and have complete support. I was able to straighten my knees and roll my ankles. I have no fear of doing this again.

      My eating was the best I've ever done. I didn't overeat. I didn't deprive myself either. I endeavored to make healthy choices when possible. I didn't nix treats, but I didn't binge, not even once. I learned to throw out half-eaten snacks. I did not have to finish anything, unless I wanted to finish it. No eating until I was uncomfortable.

      Of my essential oils, I took Tea Tree, Vanilla, Sweet Orange, Jasmine Absolute, Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense and Myrrh (yes, the last two were combined). I used the Tea Tree every day on skin tags. It helps a little. The vanilla was nice but quickly faded, as was the sweet orange. Lavender is my bedtime scent. I forgot to use the Peppermint, but it makes anything unpleasant smell better. I should have used it at the station where they were re-tarring the parking area. Ick. Frankincense and Myrrh was used for swelling by my friend who fell. I used Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream for the ongoing rash on my wrist. The surprise was the Jasmine. It energized me. I try to remember to use it every day at home.

      I took time to put my feet up and lay down to give my back a rest when I needed it. I didn't push until I was exhausted, ever. I stood through some of the classes because the chairs weren't comfortable. The classes were never longer than an hour, so it wasn't bad. I took things slow. I had to be careful about walking. The ground, including the sidewalks, was uneven, and I had a couple of close calls. Because I was careful, nothing serious happened. Thank you, God.

      I let go of all my worries about home. I couldn't do anything more than half way across the country. I lived in the moment, savoring all the little things, taking everything in, as much as I could. I texted home every day so they'd know I was alive. My sister and my friend texted back encouragement. One of my favorite was when I texted my sister that we had hit a little bit of rush hour in Atlanta. She texted back: Adventure in slow motion.

      Relaxed is an understatement. I was happy to help whenever possible. There are a lot of things I couldn't do but that didn't keep me from doing what I could. There were a lot of things I wanted to do and didn't because there's only so much time in a day. I enjoyed my friends and the events.

      One of my worries was about my ability to maintain the healthy boundaries I'd worked so hard to create. I feared the "Abuse Me" tattoo clung to my forehead despite all my hard work. During those 10 days, no one invaded my personal space without my permission. Anyone let in was someone I trusted enough to invite in. On occasion, I wondered if I had a new tattoo on my forehead: Come too close and biting will be the least of your worries. Since I'm not able to see myself as others see me, and I don't try, I can only guess at the possibilities. "Guess what I'm thinking" is not a game I choose to play often anymore. I've had my fill. I also think that part of it is that my chosen circle of friends have pretty healthy boundaries of their own. I endeavored to respect their boundaries and hope I was successful. I'm still learning.

      At home, I usually choose to be alone. On my adventure, I usually chose to be with my friends. I've never laughed so much in my life. My friends and I share the same gallows humor. We did what we wanted to do, often not together, and endeavored to support each other. It was fun!

      It was a fantastic adventure! Let's do it again.

      In the kitchen's garden.

      Thursday, October 26, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 10

      I woke early, as usual, and readied for the day. One last packing of my suitcase. L provided toast and yummy homemade jam. She also kindly cooked up some nice crispy bacon. Delicious. L, J, and I chatted until J needed to headed out for home. Another hour, and L drove me to the Austin airport.

      Blessedly, I was again Pre-checked. The TSA agent saw my "Eagle and Child" T-shirt, from Oxford, England. It's were Tolkien and CS Lewis hung out with other friends. The literary group was known as the Inklings. The agent commented that he and his wife were only 20-30 miles away, but his wife didn't want to drive there. So close. I consoled him with the information that the shirt was a gift from a friend who had gone. When I went to England I didn't know about the Eagle and Child. The discussion made the whole experience enjoyable.

      Shortly before my flight was scheduled to depart sheeting rain arrived. The plane was diverted to San Antonio, so we were delayed 2 hours. I reminded myself that I was on an adventure to the very end. The flight home was pretty uneventful. My sister picked me up.

      The adventure ended, for now. It's given me a whole new perspective. Life is an adventure, and I'm living it.


      The last photo I took in the Shaker Village. The building is north of the West Family Dwelling. Simply gorgeous.

      Tuesday, October 24, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 9

      Awake shortly after 5 AM, packed, and eating breakfast at 6AM. We were on the road by 6:30 AM. West side of Georgia to Alabama, down Alabama almost to Montgomery and west, across Mississippi, Louisiana, and into Texas.


       The view from the highway, when it wasn't raining. It rained most of the way, sometimes so hard it was difficult to see. We gained an hour and arrived in Katy, Texas, about 7 PM. We ate dinner and decide to continue on home to L's, as it was only 1-1/2 hours away. L's family kindly accommodated us on short notice.

      Sunday, October 22, 2017

      Sunday Scripture

      Proverbs 19:11

      The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

      Saturday, October 21, 2017

      Saturday Links

      Restless Jo shared her walk in York and yarn bombing. I didn't know such a thing existed.
      https://restlessjo.me/2017/09/18/jos-monday-walk-yarn-bombing-in-yorkshire/

      Jean Fischer offers more great advice for writers:
      https://jeanfischer.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/7-lessons-writers-can-learn-from-football/

      God bless.

      Friday, October 20, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 8

      One more breakfast buffet at the Trustees' Table. Many of us attended as a last meal together. There were a few more things scheduled, but we needed to head home. As soon as we finished breakfast, we checked out and drove to Georgia.

      The trees were beginning to change.

       I'm grateful I was able to see a little fall.

      Thanks God.

      We dropped off S at home and continued on to the other side of Atlanta, stopping for the night at the Comfort Inn Airport. I only noticed the planes the first few times. Then it reminded me of the air purifier in my room and was quite comforting. We ended the evening with pizza delivered to our room. It was yummy.

      Thursday, October 19, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 7

      The last full day of 4LEP. I had no trouble waking every morning. I discovered that Benadryl is helpful with motion sickness. It also helped me sleep better.

      Saturday morning's Dr. Drout session was titled "Bindo Bolger-Baggins? Marmaduke Brandybuck? Revise! Revise! Revise!" This appealed to my writing side. It inspired me to tackle the editing of my current WIP (Work In Progress). It was fun to hear Tolkien's process, learning how elements changed as the story progressed. My writer's heart reveled in the sense of connectedness.

      Classes I missed: Penny Whistle lessons; dance lessons; camping tips; siege engine class; classes offered by Dr. Amy Sturgis comparing LOTR with Harry Potter and Star Wars; craft classes; writing group; choir; weapons classes; costuming classes, and more.

      The afternoon and evening was spent at the Party Field, where an archery competition took place before dinner.
       The Party Field on Wednesday morning.

      The Party Field the night of the Hungry Hobbits. Dinner consisted of a delicious meatloaf, green beans, salsify (salsifee) casserole, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin bread. Delicious! My thanks and congratulations to the caterer for producing tasty meals while avoiding the major allergies.

      Entertainment included dancing, skits, choir performances, a reading in Old English of a bit of Beowolf by Dr. Drout, Bilbo Baggins' famous speech (done brilliantly), and long goodbyes.

      Many returned to the Dancing Pony in the basement of the West Family Dwelling, which is where our little group called home. I'm not a fan of closed in places crowded with a lot of people. I chose to go to bed, as usual. I felt rested by the end. It was wonderful. I was afraid it would be noisy, but the soundproofing was amazing.

      The whole thing came together because so many are dedicated to doing what needs to be done. Bilbo Baggins swore the first ALEP would be a one-off. We're all looking forward to ALEP 5, in 3 years. The success was due to his hard work, along with his partner in crime, Pippin. By the way, a fun side note is that Pippin met his future wife at the first ALEP.

      The Adventure isn't over.

      Tuesday, October 17, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 6

      Awake around 7 AM to face a busy day. I planned to attend a bunch of workshops. I ended up only attending those presented by Dr. Michael Drout. Next time, I'll attend more. This year, it was about learning to embrace the adventure and take care of me.

      I walked to breakfast, meeting S at the Trustees' Table. I wanted to take pictures of the sunrise and will share them as my pretty picture for the day. a way to stretch out my enjoyment.


      This tree has been dubbed an Entwife, one of Tolkien's character that you never actually meet. Entwives are spoken of by Treebeard, an Ent.


      I attended both classes presented by Dr. Drout, "Tolkien and the Artifact" and "Tolkien's Medieval Scholarship." The room was packed, both times.

      Friday night was the Baddies night. Some of the outfits were astonishing. We had goblins, orcs, trolls, the Witch King, Ringwraiths, and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. LOL!

      Dinner at the barn started with Kentucky Burgoo. My least favorite meal of the whole adventure. I'm not a fan of chili or soup (except my tomato soup haha). The peach cobbler was yummy.

      Many returned to continue the party at the Dancing Pony/Green Dragon until 2 AM. I slept. I know, boring, but I was grateful for the restorative rest.

      Sunday, October 15, 2017

      Sunday Scripture

      Proverbs 19:10

      Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

      Saturday, October 14, 2017

      Saturday Links

      Restless Jo shares some wonderful pictures on her walks:
      https://restlessjo.me/2017/09/11/jos-monday-walk-the-beauty-of-bamburgh/

      Caroline Warfield shares a fascinating bit of history in "With Byron in Venice."
      https://historyimagined.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/with-byron-in-venice/

      God bless.

      Friday, October 13, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 5

      The first full day of ALEP started with First Breakfast. Only S and I chose to pay for the breakfast buffet at the Trustees' Table, served here:

      Bacon was a must. I also enjoyed yogurt, roasted potatoes, and delicious spiced apples. I passed on the sausage, eggs, and grits.

      My friends took me on a tour of the area. It's been nine years since my last visit. They shared stories of ALEPs I'd missed. It's mostly walking everywhere. The shoes I'd bought at our local Renaissance Fair, about 12 years ago, were prefect.

      We kept lunch simple, eating in our living room from things we'd brought. I put my feet up for a while. My plan was to attend the lecture offered by Dr. Michael Drout, who teaches at Wheaton College, in Massachusetts. His flight was cancelled, and he didn't make it until that evening. He loves Tolkien, too, and has studied him extensively. I remember him from my first ALEP. He hasn't missed any.

      Thursday night, I chose the green skirt and a blue peasant-type blouse. Dinner at the barn included Cider Glazed Pork Loin, veggies, rolls, and a Brownie. More entertainment. We also had a special tribute to one of our own. Jef Murray was a gifted artist. I met him at the first ALEP, but became better acquainted with him and his wife on social media. Two years ago, I was waiting for him to post his Tuesday picture, always a treat, and it never came. The next day it was posted that he had passed away suddenly. We'd all lost a dear friend much too soon. A beautiful slideshow was prepared, and those of us who wanted to carried the lanterns from the barn back to the dwellings. Master Baggins and a few others who created and ran ALEP offered fond memories of Jef's enthusiasm in the ALEP project. He was also an original presenter and never missed. His absence is deeply felt, even now.

      I took some time to find a quiet moment alone. The moon was full or close to it. The skies were clear and stars filled the black expanse. I'm able to see a few stars here in the Valley. Orion is visible. There, in the village, there's only the lights along the paths and shining from within the buildings. I'd forgotten what a blanket of stars looked like.

      Thursday, October 12, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 4

      The official start of ALEP. Registration started at noon. However, there were things to do, starting with First Breakfast. We chose to eat at Village Inn. The others, L, S, and T, had all eaten there before. I was trusting them from beginning to end.

      This is not the chain "Village Inn." It's a little place you'd overlook if you didn't know what you were looking for and might bypass if you judged the place by first glance. Not fancy would be putting it mildly. It was... comfortable, well worn type comfortable. No table clothes. No matching tables or chairs. I'd been craving biscuits and gravy, not something I've successfully made myself. It wasn't expensive and hoped I'd made a good choice. Oh. My. Goodness! I will never be able to eat biscuits and gravy anywhere else ever again. It was heaven on a plate. Big, fluffy biscuits covered in a tasty gravy that blessedly wasn't over-peppered. Yes, this is my cheat food for pepper. I didn't even feel like I was cheating. It was simply delicious.

      I have never been with a group and talked and laughed so much. We had to cram in as much as possible because it will be another three years before we meet up again.

      Lights needed to be untangled and checked for the Party Field, for the Saturday night activity. S was helping with registration, so L, J, and I helped T with the lights. By the time we finished, it was time for Lunch. I was still full, but the others wanted to visit Kentucky Fudge, on Harrodsburg's Main Street. It has all kinds of historical memorabilia from when the place was an old pharmacy and soda shop. "I'm going on an adventure!" I went along. L and S had been bragging about the malts available. I ordered a chocolate malt. Oh. My. Goodness! I have to wait three years to order another one. Planning ahead. The others were tempted by the grilled cheese sandwiches. I was tempted but not hungry enough to follow through. The malt was enough.


      Back to the Shaker Village. We officially registered at the West Family Dwelling, where we also lived. The fun begins, well, more fun begins. My help wasn't needed in registration, but they needed help in the Trading Post. Some attendees brought products they'd made to sell, clothes, pottery, jewelry, CDs from Marc Gunn, who plays the autoharp, and yes, you can find his music online. L and I went over to see if help was needed there.


      Master Baggins taught those present how to ring up a purchase using mine. Yes, I'm still horse crazy. I planned this purchase. The White Tree and the Banner of Rohan. I couldn't choose.

      I took time to put my feet up before dinner. I wore the brown stretch velvet gown. I rode with S to the barn, for dinner. It's an old tobacco drying barn. We were fed half a roasted chicken and vegetable, like zucchini, and Shaker Lemon pie. Well fed and entertained by Marc and skits prepared by attendees.

      The western view from barn the first evening of the official opening of ALEP.

      Tuesday, October 10, 2017

      There and Back Again Day 3

      Side note/update: Caught up on emails and blog posts. Did I mention that I disconnected from the world? My little phone is able to make calls and texts. That's it. I only sent texts to let family know where I was. No phone. No computer. No television (by choice). No radio. I'm also realizing that I sometimes note something on one day when it was on another, a bit of blending. I'm endeavoring to be as accurate as possible. Should have taken better notes. Oh, wait! I took notes. I can't find them. *pfft*

      On the road again.

      We woke between 5:15 and 5:30 AM, dressed, packed the Suburban, and ate breakfast at 6 AM. At 6:30 AM we picked up our fourth hobbit, who did the driving. S has driven the route so many times she could do it in her sleep. We didn't use the interstate but two-lane back roads.

      It was beautiful driving through northern Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. We arrived at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in the afternoon. We settled in. L, J, and S in the sitting room, which included a couple of overstuffed armchairs, an ottoman, and a couch. I was given the bedroom as I was the only one who loves the orthopedic foam mattress. Woohoo!

      My walls were covered with costumes:


      I wore the brown stretch velvet with lace sleeves above. The costumes were mostly L's, and she generously shared with me.


      L wore these. Those are my bedtime socks on the bed and my carryon bag.


      I wore these to dinner, combining them into three different outfits.

      We met one of our online friends, T, and went to dinner together at the Old Owl Tavern. I wasn't particularly hungry. I looked at what was available that I could eat. The joy of being allergic to all things pepper, of any kind. The only possibility was a kale and poached pear salad. Really? I wasn't thrilled. Not a fan of kale or greens for that matter. A firm reminder that "I'm going on an adventure," which included food (within reason), and I ordered the salad. It included goat cheese and bacon. Oh. My. Goodness! It was delicious. I'd order it again, without hesitation.

      One more stop before heading home, Krogers, to pick up a few things. They had my newly discovered Vitacoco water, on sale. Now the tricky part. I had a store card for the grocery store that sells Kroger products in Arizona. Would it work in Kentucky? Yes!

      Home, and I was ready to go to bed at 10 PM. I'd adapted quickly to the three-hour time difference.