Tinnie Treasures


My Grams has, over the many years of my life, typed me letters when passing on treasures and heirlooms as a gift. I’ve always saved them in my cedar chest that my Grandpa Howard made. As I unpacked boxes this morning in my new home and replaced my treasures into the chest once more, I came upon one that I had tucked away for a long while. I honestly couldn’t remember when exactly it was given. 

As a family, we all moved a lot in life. My grandparents traveled the country as ministers and social workers, retiring as Salvation Army Officers. My dad was a pastor who was skilled in loving hurting churches or called to “fix” the broken.  My aunt and uncle similarly were in ministry and social work. We didn’t have homes that were buried deep with layers of memories. They had to be carefully chosen and intentional. 

Each of our homes had a “family wall” that kept us close to each other. Distance was erased with a glance at the precious memories. 

As I carefully packed the chest I opened a little box. It held a letter and a small round cameo frame. Inside the velvet lining was a small oval that held my Grams favorite picture of me as a baby. Having been named Christine, being the very first grandchild, being so tiny, and eventually being the only granddaughter, I held a precious little place of my Grams heart. I was her Tinnie. I was Grandpa’s Chrissy. This is who they saw, regardless how old I was. 

At times I wanted them to see me as a grown up, struggling as a teen. I wanted to be a grown woman when I had a child of my own. I wanted them to be proud of me. Often when confronted with a situation I didn’t know how to handle, I’d ask myself, “Can I sit and tell Grams this? Would she be proud of me? Will I be proud of myself” It was a reality check that would send me back to my core personhood. Essentially it forced me to see if I was being authentic or not. 

I read the letter. There is no way she could have known how much Id have needed to read this right now. To hear her profession of love and pride in me, it drew tears. 

As I sit now, on my bed in my new room, I stare at this picture then out the window. It’s a new year. Today begins the next book of my life. I want to write the pages that will make me proud of myself. 

Lately I’ve been numb. I’ve not had a lot of good days. The last few years have been incredibly hard. Last year at this time I sat in a hospital with my son and prayed that God would heal him. His burst appendix terrified me, and I had to force myself to be strong for him when I wanted to collapse. I had to draw upon courage and strength I felt were fleeting. I didn’t feel confident in handling all the things that continued to try my strengths and to tease my weaknesses. It was a very long year. 

I look out the window once more. They sky is lazy today. It’s as tired, before it even began, as I am. The hint of blue behind the clouds never quite makes it’s mind up to commit to unwrapping sunny rays for the day. It’s almost  like the sun pulled the covers back up over its head and decided to sleep in.  

Next to me sits another frame. It holds two pictures. One is of me a few years ago, where I attended a formal event. Next to me is my Great Great Aunt Pearl. She wears a pretty necklace. It too was given to me for safekeeping. It also included a letter in the long slender box it came in. It reads of a woman who’s heart knew no bounds, but was also strong and solidly rooted in her faith. 

I want to dig into myself, into family, into faith, and to find my core. Aunt Pearl was an incredible and strong woman. I want to be exactly that. Strong, incredibly full of love and grace, and above all to be confident and sure of exactly who I am and whose I am.
In one week I will have flown back to Indiana and will ride a transport that will bring my Grams to be with me in Texas. We get a road trip! I could not be beginning this year more different than last year, and I couldn’t be more happy about that if I tried. ❤️

2017, I welcome you into my home. Let’s do great things together in the coming year. 

The hell that I’m in…


Hell. A place different for every person, and yet the same for all.

Willing yourself out of a hell-hole is fruitless. You can no more decide to get up, toss the cot depression has forced a deep slumber in, than the ocean can decide to leave it’s bed. Those who reside on sunny beaches do not understand. Lying on a sandy towel is far different than drowning in the sea’s bed.

I’ve not been able to write. For a writer to not be able to write, it is a very specific kind of hell. The way I keep the world from running me over like a Mac truck is to restrain it and contain it with words. Forcing life to conform to a page; insisting that it take up residence within letters, words, and sentences; it takes the helplessness away.

I’ve never written like other people do. I’m kinda an odd bird. Most people have a vague idea what they want to express, feel a burning desire, and then grab a pen and paper or the keyboard to sketch out what they want to say. It maybe only be an outline or a cluster of words or quotes, but they have a clue.

I’m not really sure how to do that. Writing possesses me, not me it. Authorship dictates what I have time for; what priority my time and obligations get to number in rank, deciding what I will do, in which specific order, to secure my release. Sometimes it can be freeing and heavenly. Sometimes it can be an impatient beast, moody and demanding. Regardless, I live within the parameters that it calls upon my soul in order to keep this life thing rolling along.

keyboard-1176257_960_720Usually I sit down, place my fingers at the keyboard, and I relax. I don’t look at my screen. I stare out the window, maybe watch a bird or a squirrel do their thing. I let my senses loose; let them carry me away while slowing my heart rate slows to a crawl, and, like a burst of life giving breaths, words spring forth and I begin to write.

Now is not the “usually” time in my life, not by a longshot. Now is hell.

Mother’s crave quiet. Mother’s crave the beauty of stillness.

Authors fear the stillness of fingers on a keyboard and the quietness of their minds.

The ability to not be able to write has not just squashed my voice, it’s murdering my wandering soul. I am no longer able to think. I can’t breathe. My lungs have a mountain of hopelessness sitting atop them.

Exhaling. All I can do is exhale. Panic rises with each bit of air that leaks out.

What happens when there’s no more air to release? Tears, sweat, then blood.

Blood begins to take the air’s place. Life giving blood pours out every crevice. Every drop empties me of the will to even try.

There was a time that words were like grains of sand. They flowed from my fingers, escaping regardless of whether I wanted them to or not. Now? What once was life giving, the act of putting words to the page, has turned on me, and, for every word that goes untyped, it punishes me.

I’ve become hollow, empty, depressed. I fell into a hole and I cant climb out.

I’m in a bottomless, wordless, hellish pit that light refuses to enter. The entrance is  sealed with nothing but a password and I can hear the mocking laugher, mocking the fact I have no words to offer.

I must escape. Much longer in this wordless hell and this damned place will become lethal. the last words that will be written will be, “The end.”

When the front lines are fought in a voting booth…


“He who does not punish evil commands that it be done. -Leonardo Da Vinci   
By not taking a stand against campaign violence, Trump is condoning it. He is even verbally encouraging it at the rallies. 

By the same note, those who do not stand in direct opposition to a very real threat, one that’s not just toward this country, but globally, they/we also condone it. 

A withheld vote IS a vote for Trump. NOT VOTING MEANS YOU DID NOT MAKE SURE Trump’s not the winner. If you find Trump as president an un-worrisome idea, you are not just ill informed, you are not taking your own voting education serious. 

At best, the world has never been much more than mildly amused by our races for president; at worst they figure they can hold their collective breaths for four years. This time around? The WORLD is speaking out against Trump. We are not just being laughed at, we are becoming something to worry over. The EIU has gone on record saying Trump is one of the top global threats out there. He is #12 on the list. Let that sink in. A Trump presidency is stated to destabilize the global economy. It’s a threat to the entire world in a very real way. He is dead even on this list with Jihadi terrorists, in an ironic turn of it. 

Not voting could mean helping to destabilize the world. There’s never been a time when your vote counted so much. 

Those who remember WWII first hand are becoming fewer and fewer. We easily forget history when it stops being personally remembered. We are so sure we would recognize a big problem if we saw it. We are sure we are better than those who missed it before “way back then”. We are fools. 

Make no mistake… Fascism did not take root over night; it was creeping down halls and around corners, taking up watch in back doorways without disturbing the dust. Then one day when it was time, the signal was given and the dust went flying. Before anyone knew what happened, before the dust settled, Hitler had a position of power no one could wrestle away from him. 

Make sure you can tell your children, your grandchildren, that you proudly stood up and said NO when it counted. That YOU made sure to go to the front lines yourself in a kind of war that will happen in a voting booth this time. One where Americans choose to take back OUR America. 

  
What makes America great again is not hatred; It’s standing shoulder to shoulder and declaring with one voice, “we will not allow this unrest to take root, nor will we allow it to ever take a position of power over us.”

-Christi Sue Campbell-

Sometimes sitting in the mud is the right thing to do…


Watercolor, art therapy, by my daughter, Lindsey, 16. Used with her permission. Her personal take on living with bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD and depression.

 

I’ve been rendered completely wordless the last few weeks. I’ve been in a dark place; one with a lot of ugliness and not a lot of sunshine. Some of it is legitimate and understandable. I’ve got some real crap and sometimes crap just stinks. No use calling it by some flowery name. Just like a rose is a rose by any other name and still smells sweet, crap by any other name is still crap and it’s gonna really stink when you go to wash it off, especially if you really dig in and do the dirty work of cleaning it up.

Some of it is me throwing a pity party, I may as well own that. Some of it is weariness, exhaustion, and fractures in my life where I wasn’t quite broken; places that used to be held together by sheer will, but the the bonds of my “will” wore off.

I fell apart.

It is what it is, and justified or not, I’ve dug myself in and wallowed.

It occurred to me I feel a lot like a little girl who fell in a mud puddle in her new pretty dress. I first was in utter shock and horror. Oh NOOOOOO!

…Then tears of not just sadness rose up, but anger; intense, hot, all consuming… of which a person could be either torched to ash or refined by the fire. This was NOT happening!

…Next? I was so angry I refused to get up. What was the point? The dress is ruined! Nothing can ever make it white and new again.

…Furious, I splashed the damned puddle, as if beating the crap of life was somehow gonna get back at it. Laughing at me, it got even by leaving me feeling more livid as the splashes got me mucky where I had actually still been clean.

…Eventually, anger spent and rational thinking returning, still a bit drippy, a whole lot dirty, sheepishly getting up from the mucky pool around me, this girl will go about figuring out how to do what’s next. It wont come easy. “She” will be still mad and muddy, she will still be dealing with the stink for a while, but moving in the right direction, a good cleansing cry and maybe a little rain will right some of it. Later a good long hot shower will wash away the remaining ick and a fresh perspective and dry clothes will allow “her” to carry forward, maybe even better than she began.

Right now? Right now I am still sitting and I’ve just finished a good splashing fit.

There are many word pictures people use when they are in this space. I am using the mud puddle because I am at a full stop, and I feel really mucky and angry and I am in a place where I don’t even WANT to get up. I’ll get there. I know me. I just need to sit here long enough to really hate the mud. Once I really hate it enough I will get up, wipe off the bruises and clean off the mud, I’ll look for scratches on me and tears in my dress and begin to not just wash up, but mend the wounds and fix the rips.

I already know it’s gonna be okay. It really will be. Wanna know something? I don’t want to hear it. So, don’t explain it. I just need to sit here a while. I need to do this.

Here is the thing about mucky places, once in a while they need to be sat in.

Don’t tell me why I am wrong. I’m not. Sometimes you need to sit in the muck, really look around, take it in, acknowledge that it is exactly what it is, mucky, dirty, crap; then intentionally say, “Yeah, so, now what?”

The feelings are real. They are valid. They show up, as they always do, for a reason, and at some point the reason will refuse to be ignored or stuffed back into the closet or under the rock it came out from. So feel it. let yourself live in the now, in the moment, in the mucky place and say, “Wow, it really sucks I fell in this mud and I am really damned angry I got mucky and tore my favorite dress.”  Forcing a smile and saying a fake, “No biggie, It’ll wash,” only works for so long.

Sometimes sitting in the mud is the right thing to do. Sometimes getting right back up, brushing yourself off, and bouncing back right away is the right thing to do. How do you know the difference? Eh, you’ll know. Just remember, ultimately, it really will be okay, and you can get to that end game in many different ways. No path is wrong nor right.