Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 20:11

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Saturday Links

A Soulful Saga blog gave me an opportunity to shift my perspective:

Searching the Meaning of Life is in Greek. Google Translate is great. I thought this post, "Soul Detoxification" is a good prep for the New Year:

God bless.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Favorite Book Friday

An Inconvenient Beauty (Hawthorne House series book 5) by Kristi Ann Hunter the last in the series of Regency Christian romance. I loved the series so much I bought it in book format, except the first A Lady of Esteem, which is only available in eformat. If it were available in paperback, I'd buy it, too.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Musical Thursday

Matthew West's "All In" ~ I'm endeavoring to learn to be all in.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Self Care 25 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:

25. At least one unscheduled day per week, with no errands to run and no work or social obligations.

My response:

I'm not so sure this is even feasible. I don't know anyone who has a day like this. Typically, if you work five days a week, the other two days are spent running errands and catching up on various activities not accomplished during the week.

That being said, I do believe I'm learning to balance my days.

If I have a social obligation one day, I endeavor to make sure I don't have any the next day. I need to clarify. I'm on social media every day. It's my connection to the world. I like being connected to the world. I do occasionally skip a day. When I go on vacation I take a break from electronic devices except to text home to let them know all's well.

I exercise six days a week and take one day off, Sunday. Sunday is the one day I don't set my alarm. If I'm feeling well, I attend church. Sunday would be the closest I come to an unscheduled day, sort of. It's the day I reflect on the previous week and see how I did. I also plan for the coming week.

It's okay to adapt good things to fit what you need.

I am doing so much better, and I will continue to improve.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

One of my blogging friends wrote that Jesus is not the reason for the season. We are. Jesus came to earth for us. We are the reason for the season. If we didn't need saving, Jesus would not have come. Christmas wouldn't exist.

Having said that, I still like this quote (incourage encourages sharing):

It's still true. I can't mess up Christmas. It comes regardless of what I do or don't do. It comes because God so loved the world He gave His only Begotten Son to all the earth to save all who would accept Him. There is nothing so awful that I can do that He is not able to overcome.

Every year, Christmas reminds me an innocent girl and her courageous husband brought into the world a Child like no other, a Child they faithfully raised in God's way. The Child grew into a Man who chose to lay down His life and raise it again to deliver all who would choose Him. The Savior and Redeemer of the World, the Great Exemplar, the Healer of the soul.

Christmas isn't about me; it's about Saving me. It's about saving all who choose the Savior's way.

The message of Christmas is to allow God to change you. ~ Kevin DeVries 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Luke 2:8-14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring  you good tidings of great Joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday Links

I want to make this a Christmas tradition, The Piano Guys Light of the World concert:

Jean Fischer shared a bit of history about Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol":

God bless.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Self Care 24 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:

24. Doing things for myself (resting, watching a movie, a massage) without feeling selfish and guilty.

My response:

Buying nice clothes. Eating healthy. Going out to eat. Yes, it's easy for me to brush away little things that aren't as obvious, like resting, watching a movie, reading a book for fun.

It's so difficult to change the mindset that the abuser is the only who matters. It's even more difficult when it's re-enforced by others with phrases like, "They're doing the best they know how." "Hurt people hurt people." "Choose kindness."

Phrases I would prefer in the place of the ones above: "What they're doing is wrong, and it isn't your responsibility to make everything right for them." "Of course hurt people hurt people. Everyone has been hurt. Being hurt isn't an excuse for hurting others. Choose to be a better person." "Kindness is not always the answer. The definition is too vague. Choose to be your best self. Sometimes, that means walking away but sometimes that means standing your ground with courage."

I recent read a book where the premise of the hero's journey is based on the belief that war occurs because of resources, the lack of them or the desire for more. No wonder the world is at odds. War occurs because evil exists. Some people think they have the right to hold power over others. Some people think that other people shouldn't exist. Some people want to control others. Resources are the spoils of war.

Abuse is war. The victim is the spoils of war, a slave to the abuser. One person believes they have the right to control and use another person as they see fit. Slaves have no rights. Slaves don't deserve special treatment. Slaves don't deserve anything. The abuser decides what is given and what is withheld. Abusers use guilt to control their victims.

As long as I allow guilt to rule myself, I am still a slave to my abuser.

Jesus set me free. Do I believe Him or don't I?

When I started learning to do things for myself I did a lot of things that weren't healthy. My secondary abuse of choice is overeating. As I release the guilt and unwarranted shame, my need to overeat decreases. Part of it is trial and error. I'm learning what healthy people learn as children.

First I had to learn what I enjoyed. I have friends who love going to parties, watch horror movies, read long books. I don't enjoy those things. Now that I'm more familiar with what I enjoy, I'm better able to add new things to my list of things to do for myself, to show myself I'm worthy of care and I'm allowed to enjoy my life.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Self Care 23 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:

23. Allowing myself to feel, not just the pain, but the peaceful times too.

My response:

Feeling emotions was a challenge. I talked about feeling emotions in an earlier post:

I think the above statement is a little different.

Allowing myself to feel emotions, all of them, was many things but peaceful wasn't one of them. I lived in a bubbling cauldron. Sometimes it was good; it bubbled like the perfect stew or hot chocolate. Sometimes it wasn't so good because it felt like everything was boiling over and burning.

It was amazing being able to feel a wide range of emotions again. I also frequently felt out of control. It was a dilemma. I didn't want to go back to muting my feelings, but I didn't want to live in a hurricane of emotions all the time. It was tiring.

Feeling at peace was a whole new challenge. PTSD is not peaceful. If if things are peaceful, PTSD has a way of shattering it. Unfortunately, sometimes it's a matter of self-sabotage because chaos is more familiar than peace.

Practice comes in small steps. Stopping to notice a beautiful rose or sunset...

My most vivid memory of feeling true peace was a visit to California. My friends took me to the ocean. I hadn't wanted to go because my previous memory of the ocean was from the Oregon coast. The crashing waves drove me crazy. I wanted desperately to be able to turn down the volume. Of course, I couldn't. It was awful.

My friends took me to Belmont Beach, a section of Long Beach. The waves gently rolled to shore. Shush... shush... shush... The wet, soft, fine sand cushioned each step and shifted with each wave, not to much to set me off balance but enough to keep me aware of the sensations. Warm water, as in not Atlantic cold, poured over my feet and retreated. I could feel my shoulders ease away from my ears. I hadn't realized how tight those muscles were. My friends gave me the opportunity to walk that beach a number of times. It became one of my grounding exercises. I touch my thumbs to my middle fingers, and I'm transported to the beach.

Peace grows as I embrace the truth. It's astonishing how much work and chaos lies produce. Remove the lies, and you don't have to remember what you said to keep the balls in the air. The truth stands alone. Granted, "the truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable." It's awful going through the muddle when you're tossing out the lies. Strip away one and find another buried underneath. However, once you're down to the truth life is simpler, more peaceful. The peace is worth fighting for, and it is a daily battle against the lies that seek to dominate life. Choose truth, and peace follows. Not always right away, but in the dark of night, it's peaceful because the lies are silenced.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Self Care 22 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:

22. Believing in myself believing I can do something anything I want but not trying because I might fail and embarrass myself or it won’t be perfect.

My response:

This is the ultimate in self-sabotage, and I excelled. My illogical thinking was that if I didn't take a step then I couldn't step wrong. I was taught to think this way.

Example: I left a door in the house open. I was asked, "What can we do to help you never leave the door open again?" It was assumed that there was something that could make sure I never forgot and would execute a demand perfectly every single time. There was one little problem, and by this time I recognized it. I replied, "I'll do it perfectly when you do it perfectly." It ended the conversation. Unfortunately, this conversation only happened a few years ago. Similar questions had been posed to me all my life, and I struggled to provide an answer not realizing there was no workable answer to give what was demanded. I was expected to do the impossible and at least if I did nothing I couldn't be punished for doing something wrong.

Even when I did something right, I was advised on how I could do it better and/or faster. I had been carefully taught that whatever I did it wouldn't be enough. I learned I wasn't enough.

This is really what this problem is about: Believing I'm not enough. I'm not acceptable as I am.

The only way to change this one is to take that first step. There is no other way. However, there are ways to ease into it. Start small. The best example I can use is my own writing journey. Fifteen years ago, I asked my friends online if I should post a "musing." They encouraged me. I posted. It was favorably received. I posted another and another. My confidence grew. I wrote a serial story and then co-authored another. One of the readers emailed me and suggested I write a historical romance. In 2007, I submitted the story. I was rejected. I was crushed. I re-wrote it and submitted it to a contest. The advice given I incorporated into the next re-write. I kept working on it. I submitted it again and after several months it was rejected. I wasn't unhappy about it. I polished it some more and submitted it once more. Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc, sent me a contract, and A Promise of Possibilities was published in 2012.

One step at a time, I went from sharing my writing with no one to published author of 13 novels, 11 novellas, and 1 short story. I've reread my books, and I see things I'd change, not big things, little things. I'm proud of my work. I'm learning to translate the risks I take with writing in other aspects of my life. It doesn't make it easy. I've simply learned it's okay to make mistakes. I won't die. It's okay to be wrong. It won't end the world. My mistakes and being wrong helps me to be more compassionate with others. As I'm more compassionate with others, I learn how to be more compassionate with myself.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The might God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday Links

Thought provoking post from the blog Good Time Stories:

A fascinating post on fear, in Greek. The joys of looking up "Greek to English" in Google, being given a box to paste the text, and Google translating, bit by bit. Amazing.

God bless.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Self Care 21 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:

21. Being financially responsible for myself so I don’t have to still be dependent on abusers and then hating myself for it.

My response:

Sigh. I haven't figured this one out.  I'm still hopeful. It isn't over till it's over, as they say.

What I have accomplished:

My third counselor worked with me for five years. For the last three, I saw him every three months. It was an opportunity for me to review difficult situations and how I handled them. I would tell him how I handled the situation, ask him if I handled it in an acceptable manner, and ask for other ways I could have handled it, even if I'd done it right. I understood there were multiple ways to handle any situation.

My counselor's goal was twofold. He wanted me to be emotionally independent and financially independent. We accomplished the first but not the second. The first was the most important.

How do I live with the lack of the second without beating myself up?

God had other plans.

My counselor "badgered" me about moving out on my own. My frustration grew, with him but more with myself. Why wasn't I smart enough to figure out a way to escape the insanity? One day, I sat down and wrote out all of my attempts to move out on my own and why they didn't work out. I filled a page. I shared it with my counselor. He blinked. He acknowledged that I had made repeated sincere efforts but life kept happening, throwing roadblocks in my way. He was also proud of me for my attitude: "Okay, God, what next?"

I must acknowledge that I learned things by staying home that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. The most distressing lessons were when I saw behavior I didn't like and realized I did it. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands to make permanent changes in me. Looking in the mirror can be painful, depending on how you face it. Did I look away, pretending I didn't see the need to change, or did I give myself a hard look and see what I could change and make a plan to follow through?

I'm not grateful for the abuse that made me who I am. I do like who I am, now, and I don't think I'd be the person I am now if I hadn't gone through the abuse. God took something evil and worked it for my good. It didn't make the evil good. God wove the dark threads amid the gold, silver, and other vibrant colors to give the weaving of my life depth.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Self Care 20 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:

20. Getting out in nature enough, which I find really healing.

My response:

I also find nature healing. Living in the city makes this one tough. I love the forest, and I love the beach. I have easy access to neither.

Enjoying the sunrise and the sunset always fills me with wonder. Arizona has some beauties.

Since I can't simply step outside into a forest or onto the beach, I've learned to narrow my perspective. I notice the yellow rose blooming on one of the bushes outside my window. The purple jacaranda blooms snag my attention. Butterflies visit the lantana plants taking over like weeds. There's an evergreen silk oak and arborvitae outside my window.

Inside, I have two Christmas cacti growing in pots on my windowsill. I don't do what's necessary to force them to bloom, but I enjoy that they're green and living.

A bouquet of flowers brightens a room and cheers me. It's a real challenge to convince myself I'm worth spending the money on something that won't last. A friend bought me a "Bouquet of the Month Club" from a local florist. The bouquets were elaborate, but they were pretty. I enjoyed them for a week or two, every month.

Listening to nature CDs or channels on line gives me the opportunity to use my imagination with the help of sound. I have a mountain stream, ocean, and rain.

Several years ago, a Rustic Pine scent was available at one of the stores. It was the closest I've ever found to anything not pine smelling like pine. I bought several bottles. Good thing since I haven't seen it again since. I save it for Christmas time. I also have other aromatherapy oils, like jasmine and rose and orange.

This is one that simply must be chosen. Create the opportunity. Compromise when "perfect" isn't available.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Self Care 19 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:

19. Sleeping... I’ve slept about 6 hours in the last 48.

My response:

I haven't had as much trouble with this as others. On the occasions when I don't sleep all night, I confess the problems resides squarely with a book I couldn't put down. Then again, it might be that I couldn't put it down because I couldn't sleep or didn't want to sleep.

I've written before of the power of sleep deprivation to act as a tranquilizer, if you're in deep enough. This is sleep deprivation past the cranky/grumpy stage. I'm not saying it's healthy; it isn't. I'm saying I used it to keep me mellow. Considering the fact that I hadn't yet learned to cope with the lake of rage boiling inside me, anything to help me remain calm was a positive. Okay, not so much positive as basically preferable to the alternative. Living that way isn't actually living; it's existing.

It's important to figure out why you aren't sleeping. It might be a physical problem. It might be nightmares. Do your homework and find out. A plan of action can't be formed until you have some idea of what you're battling.

Why did I have struggle sleeping? If I went to sleep, the next day would come sooner. Yes, I'd have to face another day. Was my way of dealing with it logical? Who said logic had anything to do with it? Abuse is not logical. Avoiding the unavoidable is not logical. "Normal" but not logical.

"Normal is a setting on a dryer." Important to remember that. "What's normal for the spider is chaos for the fly."

Lifesaving information about sleep: When you sleep is when your body repairs itself.

Sleep is when your brain works through your day, hence nightmares. I used to run and run and run but never went anywhere. I felt like I was running in water or jello or wet cement. I learned enough about dream interpretation to know I was trying to escape.

I learned how to change my dreams. It was usually easiest to make changes as I woke. This usually meant planning ahead. Not always successful but often enough I was able to curb some of my worst dreams.

I've experimented with any of a number of things to help me sleep at night.

I created a routine to help me know it's time to go to sleep. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

I have used Benadryl to help me sleep. I also discovered it helped with motion sickness.

I've used relaxation CDs of various types. Some work better than others. The CD shutting off woke me sometimes.

What I use now: Routine,, children's lantern that shines stars on the ceiling, lavender and/or frankincense and myrrh, a sunrise clock that slowly brightens over a half hour and finishes with the sound of the ocean, and a second alarm that turns on my favorite radio station (K-LOVE).

Practice, practice, practice. I know I sound like a broken record.

One more thing: What helps me turn off my brain when the thoughts are spiraling? I've worked through a lot of mantras, endeavoring to find one that works consistently for me. Repeating this over and over helps me to calm, like focusing on a flickering candle: Give the battle to God and praise God in the storm.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Luke 1:37-38

For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Saturday Links

Anne Leueen, over at Horse Addict, shared a bit of the remarkable story of Eddo Hoekstra:

An unexpected essay. I'm so grateful I took the opportunity to spend a few minutes reading. Dear Lord, help me to be a loving sapper. From Devoted Life:

God bless.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Self Care 18 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:

18. Saying no instead of pushing through something I really don’t want to do.

My response:

As an abuse survivor, I never had the right to say "No." I had to survive a lot of things I didn't want to do. Abusers push, demand, threaten, expect their victims to cower and give in, no matter the cost.

Silence is usually not acquiescence, however, the other person believes it gives them permission to interpret what it means.

"No" is not a dirty word. It is not disrespectful. It is not cruel or unkind.

Learning to say "no" was one of the hardest things I ever did, and I still fall on my face sometimes.

Things that have helped me learn to say "no":

"No" is a complete sentence. I still feel the need to explain. Old habits die hard. I'm learning.

Saying "no" to one thing means I'm saying "yes" to something else.

"No" is easier to say when I know what my priorities are.

I'm allowed to change my mind. I've found it helpful to stop and think before responding to any request. I'm allowed to take time to think.

Start small. Say "no" to something that doesn't matter simply because you can. It's easier with practice. For the record, the first few times saying "no" to something that matters is terrifying. It's also empowering. You are worth protecting.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Self Care 17 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:

17. Biggest problem I have is remembering that I need to give myself more attention and love. Rather than continuously giving it all to others.

My response:

After being taught that you are unlovable the above is a huge mountain to conquer.

I think it's important to note that there are so many people who were taught they are unlovable are also people who endeavor to love and give to others. There is a concerted effort to treat others not only differently than they had been treated but to treat them better. In some cases, it goes to an unfortunately extreme of believing that we can somehow buy love by being generous. Sadder still is that in doing that, we are missing the point.

Being truly generous, loving, giving includes an important ingredient we were denied: No expectations, no keeping score, no payback.

The thing about being an abuse survivor is that I was taught score was always kept. I should not only be grateful for every single little thing I was given, good and bad, but I was in debt to my abuser. Yes, I know how insane that sounds that's because it is.

As an abuse survivor, my world was skewed to the warped vision of the predators in my life. Part of my love of books is that I was given the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of different authors. Funnily enough, I could see how unhealthy some authors' views were, because they mirrored my own growing up. I sought out authors with healthier perspective than mine. Favorite authors would be replaced by healthier favorites.

I had to choose to change.

I want to be loving, giving, generous, compassionate, kind. I couldn't keep my mindset if I wanted to become a better person. I had to find healthier people to emulate.

In my journey to become healthier, I've met people who were generous, at a price. I didn't always see it right away. It's a challenge to see the good and incorporate it into my own life and to weed out what isn't healthy and let it go.

My third counselor told me that I couldn't love others if I didn't love myself. I really hated hearing that. I denied it. I wanted to fire him, except he was the counselor I needed right then. I had to learn to see through his eyes. He was willing to teach me.

Why is it impossible to love others when you don't love yourself?

True love is good, filled with light, open. When you don't love yourself it isn't good, it's dark, and weirdly enough closed off. We see ourselves in others. The people who have annoyed me, not the ones that have chosen evil, but the ones who do things that irritate me, are frequently reflecting something I don't like in myself.

When I love myself I'm able to better see the good in others because I see the good in myself.

When I didn't love myself -- and I'm not saying I'm perfect at loving myself now, because I'm definitely not -- there were empty spaces in myself I was trying to fill. My giving was often an attempt to somehow fill those holes.

Something else I discovered along the way, when I hate myself I'm saying that God made a mistake in creating me. That's how I learned to change my perspective. God doesn't make mistakes. God created me. He is Love. The ultimate Love of the universe decided I belonged here, at this time, in this place. I'm a creation of Love. How can I not be lovable?

As I recognize the Love in me, I'm able to see the Love in others. I'm learning to share the Love that's a part of me.

Here's a secret: As I've learned to love myself, I've learned to better see how to be loving toward others. I give myself the gifts that warm my heart and recognize that others need different things. I don't need them to meet my needs or give me the love I crave. And here's the really funny/cool part: As I learn to give to others what they need, people appear in my life who give me what I need. I don't feel deprived if someone else doesn't come through for me because I know I'll take care of myself. The gifts from others are delightful surprises, and I enjoy sharing delightful surprises with others.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Self Care 16 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:

16. Not feeling like I’m a bad mom/housekeeper etc while I struggle with chronic pain and health issues.

My response:

I'm lazy. At least, that's how I felt. It had been implied, often. I admit I cut corners on my chores. In my own defense, why should I put in the effort when no matter how well I did my work was declared lacking. I'd have to do it again anyway. More than once, I did little more the second time, and the job was declared an improvement. How could it be when I hadn't changed anything? What was the truth and what was the lie?

Talking about chronic health issues is more difficult than I thought it would be. So many unpleasant memories. I suppose I'm not prepared to go there after all. Too much information to fit in a blog post. Suffice it to say, I've had my difficulties. I'm working hard to improve my health. Not having a family of my own, I often feel like God was sparing me from feeling guilty for failing to properly care for them. I have trouble enough caring for myself.

So what's the positive side? The improvement? The encouragement?

My health has had its ups and downs. One of the low points was herniating a disc in my back. The struggle back has been long and hard. I had to reach the point where I could no longer pet my dog before I was willing to seek medical attention. I didn't want to pay the bills. I didn't want to see the doctor, afraid of what he would say, afraid of what I might have to do. I wanted life to be smooth and uncomplicated. It so isn't.

Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself. Pretending everything was all right didn't make it so. In fact, it made it worse. It wasn't until I was deprived of one of my favorite things, petting my dog, that I was willing to do something. An epidural injection and physical therapy improved things. That was twelve years ago. I'm still married to my PT and will be for the rest of my life. I'm only now back to my regular walking. I still can't go upstairs normally. My back trouble started with ankle trouble and my knees were caught in the middle. I am improving.

I worked hard to be able to go on an adventure, this year. The journey to healthy isn't over. I may never make it... I will never make it entirely. However, I will continue to work to become healthier, as healthy as possible.

God blessed me with a dear friend who struggled with horrible health problems. From her, I learned patience with myself and others. We would schedule a meal out and cancel more often than we went because one of us wasn't feeling well. We kept trying. She's been gone for several years. I miss her, her courage, her patience, her grace.

I've learned that pushing myself beyond my capabilities is a way of punishing myself for not doing what I think I should. With practice, of course, I've learned to take small steps forward and accept that I will sometimes fail. I'm doing more now than I have in years. I've had to learn to listen to what my body is telling me. It wasn't quick. It definitely wasn't easy. Sometimes, it's as slow as molasses in January during a snow storm. Giving up is not an option. I will never improve if I quit. Resting and regrouping is not quitting. Reviewing and re-evaluating reminds me I'm not stuck. I am making an effort, and I am improving, even if it's at a snail's pace.

I suppose that doesn't really help someone who is dealing with a chronic illness with no hope of improving. I'll fall back on my sister's example. She could only be up, as in not lying in bed, for fifteen minutes a day. She decided feeding her family was how she would spend those fifteen minutes. Her children, not yet teens, learned to help, including making simple meals.

My sassy side says that if someone complains about the dishes not being done, invite them to do the job. I'm learning to reframe what people say to me, especially as a criticism. I've had lots of practice with reminding myself that what they think is not my responsibility. What I think is the only thing I can control. If I'm drowning in guilt and shame, I'm to busy treading water to do what I AM capable of doing. No, I'm not perfect at this, but I'm doing better.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Quote

Thanks to Donna Keevers Driver for creating memes for my books.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Luke 1:30-31

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Saturday Links

For the horse lovers, I'd never heard of Sergeant Reckless before the Horse Addict blog shared this post, last month:

Jim Denney, over at Christians Read blog, shared a bit of his writing journey. I haven't read his timetravel book for 8-12 years of age. I'd give it a look if I had children that age.

God bless.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Self Care 15 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:

15. Spending money on things for myself, getting haircuts and pedicures, making time for important appointments.

My response:

This is a tough one. There's the fight between using retail therapy, which usually leads to spending too much, which leads to another thing to beat myself up over. At the other end of the spectrum was wearing clothes with holes in the material but not buying new clothes because I wanted to lose weight. Spending copious amounts of money on treats, candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, chips, etc.

The spending needs to be better defined. I struggle to spend money in a healthy way, good food, doctor appointments, clothes that fit, good shoes for my feet, the occasional vacation to rest and regroup, things that lift and inspire.

There is no easy way for learning this one. You can't go cold turkey on spending. Bills have to be paid. My most successful method was dividing my money into envelopes. Learning to budget is not something at which I excel. I am learning. With the holidays coming, the battle intensifies.

Have I made any progress? Yes!

My spending habits still aren't the wisest, but I have improved. Discovering I feel better without soy in my diet, my food choices are healthier simply because there's so many foods I can't have anymore. This does not mean I've cut treats from my diet. Far from it. However, with soy out of my diet, I don't have as much trouble feeling hungry. It's actually easier to be aware of making healthier choices. I'm making more of my own meals from scratch.

I'm learning to choose rewards other than food, namely books and clothes and music.

I've made some mistakes in the clothes, but I'm learning. I didn't want to be noticed. I wanted to hide. I bought what was practical but often not particularly flattering. Another way of punishing myself for being overweight. Unflattering clothes also increased my chances of being ignored. Nasty spiraling cycle.

Wearing pretty clothes makes me feel prettier. When I feel prettier I don't feel the need to hide behind my weight. When I don't feel the need to hide behind my weight, I don't feel the need to eat to gain weight.

Practice. It all comes down to practice. I've read numerous articles that have said that habits take 16-21 days to form. I've bobbled plenty of habits I've done for months and years. I read one article that stated that true change can take up to five years. 5 years! It's daunting and a relief, at the same time. How many good things did I give up on after a few months? Because I thought I failed! The truth was that I hadn't given myself enough time to truly brand the habit into my life. Practice.

I'm saving for my next adventure, a little at a time, also gives me a better way to use my money.

It is important to learn what I truly value. I'm not interested in having my hair done. I wear it long. I'm not a fan of manicures or pedicures. Movies are not something I like to go see. I have no trouble waiting for the DVD to come out. My taste in clothes has changed. I'm buying the pretty clothes instead of practical. However, I'm better about buying new walking shoes when the old ones are worn too much.

Trying to do everything at once is a quick way to feel overwhelmed and falling back into old bad habits. Choose one thing to start.

For me, it started with one thing. My back was causing me trouble. I was in so much pain bending over had become increasingly difficult. When I could no longer bend over to pet my dog (my 75-lb dog who wasn't short) I decided to see my doctor. Everything I did for the next year wasn't for me; it was so I could pet my dog. Whatever it takes.

My physical therapist required I buy new walking shoes. I don't know why but it was significant to me that with all the problems I had I didn't need any kind of arch support. Weird. I know. My physical therapist crouched by my feet and shuffled different orthodic insoles to see what might help. He glanced at me and back at my feet and again at me. "You don't need anything. Your feet are perfect for you." Something about me was perfect for me. How cool is that?

Don't allow the flaws, imperfections, and shortcomings to smother what you have to offer. Take care of you so you are ready and able to give what only you can give, whatever that is. Sometimes, it's a smile to the cashier or someone on the street you never see again. You are meant to be here, right now. There is no one else like you, never before and never again. Stop hiding. You don't have to shine for everyone. You only need to hold your candle in the place you are. You are worthy of care.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Self Care 14 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:

14. Taking a day off from childcare without worrying constantly or feeling guilty.

My response:

I have no children. I did have furry children, a dog and a horse. The only time I took time off was when I went on weekend trips to California, usually three or four days, once or twice a year.

Okay, when I first adopted my dog I hated going to work and leaving her home. It was years before I could leave her for a weekend. If I could have taken her with me, I would have.

When I went on a week-long vacation with my dog, but had to leave my horse behind, I hired someone to take care of him. I paid her well. I trusted family to take care of my dog and wish I'd paid someone to care for her. I did the best I knew how.

If I had children, what would I do, now? Now that I know more than I did.

I'd prayerful consider the opportunities. I'd do my homework in finding someone to care for my children while I'm away. I'd keep in touch, every day. I'd like to follow the example of one of my traveling companions. She called every day and did homework with the child who needed help. She recognized her need to do something for herself and endeavored to balance it with the needs of her family. Her husband and children were supportive, which I think makes a difference.

Like most things, I think this is another case of needing practice. Start small.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Self Care 13 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:

13. Convincing myself to do the work of self care especially in those moments that it is indeed work.

My response:

I don't know about other survivors, but I learned to put in as little effort as possible in regards to pretty much everything. Not because I'm lazy. I'm not. I used to think I was until I was given a good look at my life. I jumped through hoops, sidestepped, dodged, like nobody's business in an effort to avoid being caught in the meat grinder. Abusers excel at running their victims through the meat grinder, crushing, twisting, mutilating their spirit, all for the sake of control.

Abusers teach their victims they are worthless, except as defined by the abuser. It's an ugly definition. They may use pretty words, but victims quickly learn that words are as worthless as they are. Pretty words cloak painful barbs. Compliments serve one of two purposes: To reel the victim closer in order for the abuser to lash out or to soften up the victim because the abuser wants something they think the victim can give and sugarcoating is determined to be the easiest path to gain what they want.

Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself comes in handy. In fact, it's required.

I could not stick with any plan for taking care of myself until I finally accepted I was worth taking care of. Believing this is a daily and sometimes constant battle.

A day doesn't go by that is personal abuse free all day. I stay up too late. I overeat. I push too hard. I procrastinate finishing one thing or another. I verbally beat myself up over one thing or another.

How do you change this?

Practice. Really. It's the only way. Healthy habits require practice. When you stumble and fall you pick yourself up and start over, day after day after day... moment by moment.

Sometimes, I practiced several things at once, but I found it easier to focus on one thing at a time. However, eating healthier, sleeping healthier, exercising healthier are all things that need to be done every day. Eating is my least successful change, but I am making progress. Sleeping is improving. Funnily enough, exercise has been the most consistent in improvement. I'm really not lazy.

As my sense of my personal worth improves, my efforts to take care of myself have also improved. Habits help me through the times when it's hard work. For example, walking every morning has become a Monday through Saturday routine.

This is not something I've done on my own. I've chosen a number of mentors, through the years. Most of them don't know it. The internet has made it easier to find people who know a whole lot more than I do and have been through horrific experiences and chosen to rise above. If they can do it, so can I.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Quote

Thank you Donna Keevers Driver for all the lovely memes for my books.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday Links

Team Never Quit interviewed Captain Charlie Plumb, a Vietnam POW, who survived 2,103 days in the "Hanoi Hotel." As a survivor of abuse, I found wisdom and an unexpected sense of peace with myself. I wish I'd learned some of the things he did sooner. Better late than never.

Who knew moss played such a vital role? How often do I ignore the moss that holds my life together?

Something extra for Thanksgiving:

God bless.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Favorite Book Friday

The Tenderness of His Love (Fostered by Love - book 3) by Kimberly Rae Jordan clean contemporary Christian romance. I wish I knew the order in which to read her books. I should have read The Callaghans and McFaddens Book 1 and 2 first. The books are stand alone, but characters from other books show up. I love her books.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

May it be a blessed day.

 Enjoy the food, the fun, the people... Need to escape? 

Read a book celebrating the holiday. :-)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Self Care 12 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:

12. Healthy eating and sleeping. 

My response:

I discussed in an earlier post about healthy eating:

Sleeping has been a battle all its own. Laying in bed for eight hours is not sleeping for eight hours. Yes, this had to be explained. Resting is better than not resting, but it still isn't sleep.

Sleep is when your body repairs itself. Learning this helped me understand that sleep wasn't simply a waste of eight hours or torture through nightmares. My body needed the sleep to repair itself.

There was an additional roadblock to sleep. When you go far enough into sleep deprivation, way past cranky, it becomes a tranquilizer. I was too tired to care what anyone did to me. Remembering was foggy. As my sleep improved, the tranquilizer effect wore off, and I hit cranky. Okay, not simply cranky but raging. I noticed how I was treated, and I remembered. Depression was safer than anger.

As I became healthier, I kept using my tranquilizer of little sleep. Unfortunately, as I became healthier, I recognized the problem. I knew I had to change, which meant I had to figure out a way to make sleep a blessing instead of using lack of sleep as an escape.

I read about how to improve my sleep and experimented. Some things worked. Some things didn't. Some sort of worked, but I failed to make them into a habit.

Things that helped:

I need a routine. Everyone needs a routine. Something that tells your body it's time to go to sleep. Mine is brushing and flossing my teeth.

I need a cool room. I like sleeping with a light blanket. If I'm too warm, I fidget and can't settle.

I need to sleep on my left side. That's compliments of a herniated back disc. It also means I need to keep my right leg elevated a bit. It's all about keeping my back comfortable, i.e., positioned so I'm not pinching any nerves. It's been twelve years since the epidural injection that started the healing process.

I need exercise, in order to sleep better at night. I walk every day, two-miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, one-mile on Tuesday and Thursday, and two or more miles on Saturday. On Sunday, my walk varies, usually home from church, about a half mile. I also do physical therapy created for me by my physical therapist to rehab my back. I'm married to those exercises for life. They make a difference. They also help with my back, hips, knees, and ankles.

I need a kinder way to wake up than a buzzing alarm clock. My stereo is set to turn on K-LOVE to wake me. I enjoy the gentle waking. I do have a buzzing alarm clock in case I sleep through the radio. It doesn't happen often.

I need more than white noise to go to sleep. I have an air purifier that runs 24/7. It isn't enough. I do need it for improving air quality. However, I needed a different sound. I've used CDs, streams, waves, storms. Unfortunately, they'd end and so would the sound. It wouldn't wake me, but when I woke up in the middle of the night, it would be too quiet. My niece introduced me to Rainy Mood. 

 The most recent change I've made to improve my sleep is I take a Benadryl every night. It helps me breathe. I'm allergic to mold, ragweed, and something that blooms between 80 and 90 degrees. A windy day is miserable, no matter what time of year it is. Benadryl makes it better. I've also used Claritin-D, but it's more expensive.

Something I've noticed, when my sleep is doing good to okay my eating is easier to manage. Long ago, I learned to eat to stay awake. So my eating and sleeping are connected. I can pretend they aren't but... Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself.

There's always room for improvement. An important lesson I learned: I cannot do huge changes and have them stick. I need to make little shifts, baby steps, a little here, a little there. A bunch of little changes add up to huge change. I'm improving and will continue to work on doing better.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 20:5

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday Links

I enjoyed this amusing reminder from William Emmons to enjoy things that haven't changed:

Donna Hatch shares some interesting Regency facts. A fact of my own, learned from my English Uncle and Aunt: The prudishness of the Victorian era were not instigated by Victoria but by Albert. Funnily enough, they're quite proud of it and delighted in Victoria's less prudish ways. Things changed after Albert's passing.

God bless.

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:

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:

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:

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.