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.

Sing, Sing a song…


I sat beside my Gram and rubbed her forehead with the edge of my thumb. Tears ran down her cheeks as she finally gave in to the weariness and the pain and the frustration of the last 36 hours. She didn’t need my words. She needed love. I had that in abundance.

So we just did that for a while. She needed to feel. I needed to love her. We just were.

“You are better today than you were when I came in here yesterday,” I gently reminded her. “When I come see you tomorrow you are going to be better than you are right now. Give God some time, He’s gonna have you back up and moving again. I know this.” Gently I let my hand trail down her face and find her hands and give it a squeeze. She cried with the name of Jesus on her lips, nodding her head in agreement.

What you need to understand is that this is a woman who always has the name of Jesus on her lips, but not tears. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with tears, it’s just that tears aren’t something she readily allows. She is a strong, hearty, motivated, and fiercely independent woman who’s managed to recover from some pretty significant things in the past. She will again. It isn’t a question. Not for today. Not this time.

“My Tinnie girl, oh how I love you my Tinnie,” Grams cried as she enveloped my hand in both of hers. Tears of my own threatened to spill over.

image2Earlier today she proudly introduced me to the chaplain who stopped in. “This is my favorite granddaughter, Christine. My Tinnie girl.” Then the rest of our treasured joke was explained, how I am also the only girl amongst the boys. I better be the favorite! Over the years the joke has been there, but in the years I’ve been an adult, raising my kids, her great grandkids here in the same town, our relationship has changed into a new one. A precious one.

I began weekly coming for lunches long ago, back when my Grandpa Howard was with us and I would sit and chat with them till Gramps would fall into a post lunch slumber and the two of us would laugh and then slyly turn the channel and watch us some HGTV while he snoozed. After he passed away, going on almost 5 years now, the two of us grew ever so close. I still came weekly for lunch and chats and HGTV, but I went to the grocery and ran errands and did odds and ends around the apartment. We just hung out and I loved on her in ways I knew I could never ever get enough of.

IMG_6029I’ve had friends say, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grandma one more time.” I think of it each time I go. Every lunch from Arby’s I bring, I delight in the way her eyes light up as if lit from the place of childhood delight. She loves DQ and the curly Q on the top. She loves a good chocolate chip cookie, and oh how she needs a nice cold Diet Pepsi to wash it down with… and a few salty chips after for that salty bite after the sweet.

I treasure each and every moment because I HAVE it. My Grams is going to be 91 this November. Time is not a given. Some point will come along the way and I too will say to a friend, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grams one more time.”  I’ll wish for things… to share a Pepsi, tell her what’s going on in life, and to simply sit and take her in, tears and all, after a fall and illness that put her in the hospital.

When I was a little girl, my Grams would sing to me. She would sing,

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not

Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

image3And so I do. Often. I’m not the best singer in the world. I am no soloist. But the song I sing is loud and clear. It’s full of love, joy, and happiness. It’s not made up of the same words every day, but the song I sing can be known just by knowing me.  At least I hope so. I hope it’s reflected in everything I do and say, what I am and Who’s I am. Love. So much love.

image1

My Grams and me during one of our lovely Wednesday Lunches

And Grams, I love you.

I’m singing our song, loud, strong, simple, yet enough to last my whole life through, and I’m singing it, Grams, for you and for me.

Sucking at being me


Here’s the thing, I am not all that great at being me. Oh I may fool you well enough, but the fact remains, I’m kinda sucking at it.

Before you go all, “You are NOT sucking at being YOU!” on me, let me just explain. Can you at LEAST let me do that much? I do have a reason for saying it.

I had this delusional assumption that by the age of 40 I would really have a handle on who I was, and I would even be kind of an expert at being this kick ass version of myself. I’d not only feel comfortable being in my own skin, I’d also WANT to be in it. I’d know what I need to do by now, and aside from the fact it may not always be fun, I’d really have no issue getting up each day, do THAT, and be awesome at being me.

These are the facts here: Jr. High is far behind me, I long ago stopped answering that, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” question, (you didn’t seriously just ask yourself what that was did you?) and to top it off, I got a crew of kids of my own, two of whom exited their OWN Jr. High years already. If for no other reason than THAT, being me should be a tad bit easier right? I mean, I’m a full adult, not to be confused with that twenty something period of time where you can kinda get away with still being a kid, nor that early thirty something time where often you get treated like a kid, getting told how to raise your own incessantly, even though you’ve had a lot of life under your belt. Now the 40’s means you just plain are old enough to be, well, old enough for whatever. Name it, you are now old enough. I mean, right?

Wrong.

10406520_10208216250350408_555694893439241058_nI turned 41 in a couple months ago. I have zero “numbered-birthday-issues.” I frankly am proud of my age-to-wrinkle ratio. I’m WINNING at that, and darlings, it really rocks like an old school rockstar.

I just thought, unrealistically, that things got easier the older you got. I thought somehow I would stop feeling like a complete novice at this life thing if I DID add a few wrinkles and stubborn grey hairs. Reality can be harsh.

I am not loving feeling like a newbie parent as my kids turn new corners and I find myself learning anew how to catch up to the crazy kid-rearing-train that isn’t stopping or even slowing down.

I sent two girls off to high school, who both appear for all the world to be women hell bent on breaking the world’s hearts. My baby enters into a Jr High season of his own, manhood lapping at his heels. I just got used to what it meant to be a mom of toddlers and somewhat unwillingly moved on to that of tweens. But hey, I figured it out and I had a real handle on it. Now? It’s all new and I’m back to feeling all thumbs. AGAIN.

I get up every morning, try to arm wrestle an upper hand on the things I’m to do and be, and by the end of the day I, for all the world, feel like I am drowning and flailing around, pretending to be me. I want the world to believe I got it covered, I mask up real good and with enough make up I don’t even appear as tired and haired as I am. It’s all a lie though. I’m faking it. I’m like the live version of photoshop… all pretending and no reality.

Wait. Is that what being a grown up is? Pretending you got this? Do we ALL do this?

Seriously?

Did you just nod your head?

Crap. Well, at least I no longer have to feel like I am sucking at being me. I guess I’m doing pretty well at that. It’s just not the version of me I was hoping for. Maybe someday. Maybe ten years from now? No? Oh, okay.  Well, how about 20 years?

Right. Okay. I’ll stop asking.

I remember that essay I wrote back in high school, “Where I see myself 10 years from now.”  I am laughing at that now. I actually thought I would have my act all together in ten whole years! Like that was enough time to fix my insecurities and get myself into mental shape; figure out what I wanted to do and be and then go DO that. That would have made me a whole 27 years old. I graduated at 17.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I’m sure some people do that. But it’s not me. Know what? That’s okay.

I bet my life is a bit more interesting than the tame life I had thought I’d have. But tame? Who wants that anyway?

Certainly not this redhead, and it wouldn’t suit my curls, quite frankly, either.

It was the conversation I DIDN’T have that terrified me…


Today is National Suicide Prevention Day, Week, Month… It’s a harsh topic. Already some of you are cringing because this is not what you want to be reading about. It’s not fun, fluffy, and I guarantee it wont make you laugh.

Well, man up. It needs discussed.

16920_10207943717737263_5034557815060099013_nThere’s a viper that threatens to convince my daughter that suicide is the only choice that makes sense. She goes to the front lines daily to do battle with it. It’s cruel and mean. For her, she has an invisible illness that brings on her suicide battles. Her illness has a name that makes many flee, almost as much as trying to talk about suicide does. She is a courageous young woman who daily chooses to do one more day, while her mental illness rears up and tries to taunt her, hound her, chase her down and exhaust her.

I can’t prevent the attacks, but I can choose to fight along side her and refuse to let her do it on her own. As hard as the battle here is, it’s frankly the easy kind. Why? Because it’s reared it’s venomous head and shown itself. I know it lurks here. I take precautions. I’m on guard. I fight for her when she is too weak to fight herself.

The kind that’s a real killer is the kind that no one sees coming. I like to call them the “pressure cookers”. A silent, deadly battle is being waged, just like with my daughter, but this time there are no signs, no warning; it’s flat out of the blue. They’re terrifying.

It’s important to talk about suicide, if for no other reason, you never know who is thinking they aren’t worthy of one more day, or who believes they can’t fight the battle one more time… because they think they are alone in it.

Then there’s this kind: The kind where it seems someone is getting help, things are bouncing back, when really it lies hidden, waiting; waiting for the chance to strike.

There is one suicide I think about every single day; my dad’s. I think of it each time I look into my daughter’s eyes.

Oh, no, you’re right…He’s still here. My dad din’t commit suicide. I am one of the lucky ones. I know two friends who were not as lucky as I. Their dads did commit suicide. Watching the hell they went through… geez, there are no words. I had none to give them then, none that worked, nor did anything to dull the pain. I even walked away feeling guilty, in some odd way, because I realized I was thanking God that somehow my dad saw through his pain, to a fraction of a moment of clarity, sought a ragged edge to cling to and held on for dear life.

My dad had a plan of how, and when, he even had a couple plans, but he didn’t go through with it. I thank God for preventing it. I can do that. Really though? Dad had to make that hard choice. He had to choose to do one more day. He had to want it, enough to do it for just a little bit longer.

He doesn’t know it yet, but this tattoo on my left wrist? It’s to honor him as well as my daughter. He’s the period, she’s the comma that makes up the semicolon. (I have my reasons. I never get a tattoo that doesn’t hold great meaning.)

He was one of the lucky ones who had people who heard cues and noticed changes in behavior and were MORE stubborn than he was… and insisted on help.

Not everyone is as lucky as we were. Some people show zero signs. It’s true. Then there are subtle ones that if left alone and unchallenged, to them it looks like that green “go ahead” light when right there on that edge, barely hanging on.

Me age 4 with my dad, 1978

Me age 4 with my dad, 1978

My dad has been a minister all of my life. I am 41 years old. I was born into a life where the phone ringing at 2 am meant a crisis and my dad would be moving in pastor mode instantly. 40 some years of some very intensive situations, counseling, funerals, church politics (every bit as nasty as the government kind), and yes, all the joys thrown in too, it all adds up to some really exhausting mental overwork.

My dad is a chronic workaholic. The good kind in that he is always pushing/needing to do more for people. He sees how he can do one extra thing, so he insists to himself that he do that. Truly it’s wonderful… but intensely taxing. At one point he was so mentally tired he simply burned out. He was so tired he could not even decide what to eat for lunch. It broke him. It broke him in a way that scared the hell out of me.

The details are long, complicated, and not important. What is important was one conversation he had trouble having. It was a conversation we frankly DIDNT have. It was what wasn’t said that was so terrifying. He took me to lunch one day on a break from my job. Pizza buffet. He didn’t eat. He picked at his food. Stirred his Pepsi with his straw. Swallowed his words. He clawed his way through that conversation, words fleeing in distress. What little he did spit out was fragmented. His eyes were hollow but watery. Haunted. He started and stopped so many times; I already knew. I knew what he couldn’t say. But he NEEDED to say it.

If I can ever give advice, because truly I know nothing, I give this one thing. Just listen. Shut up and listen. Why? Because more times than not it’s what’s NOT said that you need to hear…

“I thought about just getting in the car, just driving. Not stopping.”  I just looked at him. I had no response. I’m not sure if I was supposed to.

“There’s this one bridge…I’ve thought about driving off of it. ”

“Wonder what that would be like, to drive off a bridge.”

Any hunger I had was long gone. Did he know I didn’t know the right words to say? The ones he needed to hear? I was pregnant with my oldest. My redheaded and freckled, Lindsey. My very first baby. I went from the pure joy and happiness of knowing she was there with us, to the thought of my dad never seeing my first child… It nearly undid me.

That moment was the first time suicide touched my life. It was the first time it became real. It wasn’t a statistic, or a story someone told, it was live, before me, and I didn’t have any answers.

I said something ridiculous. I am sure of it. I spent more time internally praying my heart out over my dad than I did voicing words aloud to him. I just let him talk. I don’t know if he walked away that day “feeling” like he could do one more day or not, but he did. Then he did another. Then another.

Later my dad would tell me that it partially was Lindsey coming into this world that saved him. That knowing that he would miss out on being a grandpa, holding that first baby, my newborn child, to look into those brand new eyes and see an untouched soul…he knew he would keep doing one more day till he could do that. Then he would decide from there how to do the rest of the days.

He is still here. It’s now 17 years later, and he is now helping me do battle for my daughter and saving her from herself. Someday I pray we have a story to tell about what her “one more day” moment was.


This tattoo on my wrist? It also has a shadow effect. It has hidden meaning for me. For every person who battles the thought of doing “one more day” and wondering if it’s worth it, there is someone who needs to stand up and say, “I got your back.”  My middle child, and second daughter, Allison and I both have shadows in our tats. Lindsey’s is singular. We have her back. We’ve got her, no matter when she needs us. I had my dad’s back. He knew it, even if it was hard for him to ask for what he needed to hear. He knew just looking into my eyes that I saw him. I don’t know. Maybe that was enough, that day.

If you are ever even considering suicide, I promise you, there is someone who wont want that… someone will have your back too. Don’t tell me I am wrong. Just trust me on this. Reach out, even if it is to an online group, make a phone call to a hotline, or just find someone who has kind eyes, tell them you know this sounds crazy, but you somehow know you are sposed to talk to them. Please just do that first, before you do something else. Okay?

There’s a suicide prevention/awareness group called “To Write Love on Her Arms.” They are a non profit organization that raises awareness for those who self harm and struggle with addiction and thoughts of suicide. My daughter struggles with self harm and in addition to the semi colons we got, we three got tiny hearts on our arms… because I wanted to write LOVE on my girls arms, so that they always knew that no matter where they went, how far they go, my love is always going to be right here for them, never ending, no matter what. I will always have their back. It will NEVER change. I don’t care what they do… They can always depend on me being that one person they can be sure will aways want them around, one more day.

For more information, please check out these amazing organizations:

To Write Love On Her Arms: https://twloha.com/learn/

Visit their blog over @ https://twloha.com/blog/

The Semicolon Project has gained a huge following. Check them out over @ http://www.projectsemicolon.org

Check out their blog @: http://www.projectsemicolon.org/blog