Where simplicity reigns

Life is still simple for some in the Blue Ridge mountains, where springs of water run cold and pure, and time seems to stand still, unfettered by the hustle of the rest of the modern world. The woman before me, a 40 something Irish-Indian lass with silkie, long white hair and biceps more defined than most men I knew, seemed as if she stepped out of a history book. Pointing to some empty 5 gallon buckets, she said “this is our water supply, we carry it in from the well outside.” I tried to lift a full bucket. Clearly, this would be a challenge for me. Married to a man who did not allow her to cut her hair, have outside friends, or wear makeup unless they were together, she did not seem unhappy. He worked on projects around the farm, and together, they lived off the land.

She had lived in that same house her family owned since the 1800s. Knowing no other way of life, she seemed both backward and uncommonly wise all at once.

“This is the tour,” she said, cackling in her raspy voice. She smoked, but could not let her husband see her, as he saw it as a disgrace. So she hid it. Probably only a half cigarette a day, as smokes were expensive, she said.

The pantry was amazing. Hundreds of jars of various items she canned glistened on the shelves. Some had been there since the 1920s, canned by her mother. Black strap molasses and green beans, she said. “They’re still good.”

Opening one jar, she let me have a taste. Interestingly enough, the molasses were not rancid. Strong, yes!

No wonder her cookies were so good.

She farmed, growing tomatoes, beans and squash. Sometimes, onions and peppers.

Soft deerskins were draped over a banister upstairs, as she showed me my room for the week.

“I cured those, the old way,” she said.

With the Indian heritage she had, she could hunt, butcher, dress, and cure the meat the family brought in. Truly, nothing went to waste. “Pa hates waste,” she said.

Other delicacies included wild hog, squirrel, rabbit, and lots of fish.

“We may be poor, but we do not go hungry,” she said.

Her days were long, though because her husband was a night owl, she did not wake until the late morning hours. She slept maybe 6 or 7 hours.

I looked at my room. The bed had an old, very flat feather mattress, laid on a handmade frame, and topped with what is known as a handmade “crazy quilt.” Crazy quilts were a way pioneers used all of their fabric scraps. Embroidered on the quilt was a family member’s initials and 1800 something. I do not even remember what year it was, because I could not get past the 1800 part.

“We have no heat upstairs,” she said. “But your room is warm, because the vent from the wood burning stove downstairs will keep you toasty.”

She and Pa would sleep downstairs, she said.

The home seemed like a museum that should have been kept safe from the modern world.

“We have electricity for lights and the tv, only,” she said.

Surprisingly, I slept well. Yet morning brought the mountain’s sub zero temperatures. She had already been outside with one of her boys, chopping wood.

She poured me a cup of coffee she brewed on the gas stove. “It may be strong for you,” she said.

It was. But I was glad for it.

“Bath time is different around here,” she said. Showing me to the tiny bathroom with a large white tub and a sink, she said she would need to heat up the water, and it would take about 30 minutes to get a few inches of water in the tub.

They did add septic pipes for the toilet, tub and sink, but had no running water.

Quietly, I had to ask. “Doesn’t that bother you?”

Knowing her husband had the know how to bring running water into the house because he had been a handyman by trade, she said she had never known any other way.

Which explains her fascination with my bathroom when she visited me in the city.

I helped her carry the hot water into the bathroom, and was surprised the tub kept it hot for so long.

“As you can see, we don’t need to exercise, we get plenty around here,” she said.

After I readied myself for the day, the guys went outside for target practice to get ready for hunting. We stayed to prepare breakfast before they left, and make the one large meal they had a day.

No restaurant on earth could compete with home made biscuits and gravy, fresh green beans, smoked venison, sliced tomatoes, mashed potatoes and more. Her cookie jar was two feet tall, 12 inches wide, and full. Pies adorned the shelves nearby.

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I thought to myself, once upon a time, people worked really hard just to survive. They did not have as much time for leisure. But they learned to enjoy the moment.

Thoughts for the day. And yes, this is a true story. Ask my children. They remember the farm, which still exists today.

A blank sheet of paper

Empty lines intrigue me. They are full of possibilities. Ink has room to flow in space. Words. I love words.

My son’s fiance noticed that, and a few years ago, for Christmas, they gave me a set of porcelain coffee mugs with inspirational sayings on them.

Freedom to explore.

New journals are loaded with potential. What will the pondering of my heart be today?

Truth is, some days the pages hold pain. Other days, a victory or two. All on paper, it is, thoughts, feelings, musings and observations.

Spring time is a time of newness. Bulbs that have laid dormant now come to life. The garden blooms with little effort. Each day is a new possibility.

Today’s blog is dedicated to those who find it hard to articulate what will fill the lines.

I tend to be a realist as far as life goes. Yes, I dream. But reality was something my family preached when I was a child.

I believe our world has tried to sugarcoat so many things that it has made it hard for people to be transparent with others without the fear of shunning, rejection, or putdowns.

It is what it is.

Survivors of sexual abuse, or any kind of trauma for that matter, often face days where, in the words of one survivor I heard, “Just getting out of bed is a big deal.”

Why is that?

Speaking to this subject matter, not as a person with a counseling degree or license to instruct, but one who has lived through it ..

Shame, despair, feelings of worthlessness because you feel you should have been able to stop what was happening to you .. feelings of insecurity .. can I do this task at hand .. am I enough .. why do I feel like a freak no matter where I am .. why do I get depressed easy .. why do I find it hard to look at life and see the sunshine?

All these feelings impact how you fill in those journal lines .. of this .. your life in the now.

So what then?

We can get pretty overwhelmed if we try to jump four squares ahead on this board game of life.

It has helped me to make a little list of my priorities for the day. Quiet time. Personal grooming time. Work. Lunch. Work. Stop at the store. Etc.

Our list is our own. We make it for nobody else but us. And we say, well I had so much more I wanted to do.

Truth πŸ™‚

There is a quilt in my closet I need to finish and my garden looks like a pile of weeds right now. I at least cleaned out the bunch of stuff I had been hauling inside my car (no, I have not gotten to my trunk yet.)

My goal is that someday, my car will not make me look like I am homeless, lol.

There. Made you laugh. I bet yours looks like that too. Or maybe your closet does.

Precious One, have a good day today.

We get through this life with the help of our friends.

Share glitzyadventure.com with those you know who would like to share this journey.

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Embrace the possibilities

A hot cup of coffee is my friend at this moment, as I am curled up in my room with my Bible, notebook, and other reading material before work.

It is fairly quiet outside. I work today, and am looking forward to being “in the field.” This is what journalists call it when they are out of the office.

You might remember that I started off the week decluttering.

!

Solitary exclamation point. I had so much energy and positivity that day, I was like, yes, spring is here!

The following day, not so much. It was more like I was a zombie character on an episode of The Walking Dead.

However, I did at least unclutter the inside of my car and hang a new air freshener.

Progress.

Sometimes it is like that in our healing from past trauma. We make our way forward, only to wake up the next day .. and the only two words we can utter are, “Oh, God.”

And not in a way of taking His Name in vain.

Literally, not being able to find words to formulate what we seek in prayer.

So what does this mean?

Here’s the deal.

Sharing my story has not been easy. In fact, often after I either write, talk to someone else about their trauma as a kid, or read yet another account of a child’s life being wrecked by intimate abuse, I find I need to do something to counter balance those uncomfortable moments.

After all. We were not made for trauma.

Or were we?

It is true that you cannot go back and unscramble the egg.

We cannot fix our past. What we have seen, experienced, heard.

Music.

What?

Listening to a positive video. A story of overcoming. And it might not even relate to your struggles.

In the words of another lady I know with a story like mine .. “I like to celebrate the accomplishments of others.”

Art. Walks in nature. Concerts. Time with family or friends.

Or just walking into a cozy coffee shop, alone, getting a sesame seed bagel and a cup of coffee, and reading a good book.

A public information officer for a law enforcement agency recently asked me how I deal with some of the very horrific arrest affidavits we

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sometimes have to read before writing an article about someone who “allegedly” hurt a child. “Given what you have been through,” he said.

The media recently ran a press release about 26 sex offenders who were arrested for not keeping their info current with the state.

Twenty-six.

And I thought, if this release is true, and if it is true that all 26 of them really did commit offenses that convicted them .. in most of the cases, involving either children or someone else they “allegedly” compromised .. then that is 26 (at least) lives that were wrecked.

Anyway.

I told this person that I have and am continuing to work through my healing. I choose life, color, beauty, positivity, faith, hope, creativity, dwelling “on that which is good.”

And in answer to his question .. I take a very quick moment .. and read something positive.

Two minutes is all it takes to immediately refocus me. I have been doing this since I was 9 years old. I grant that not everyone is as able to refocus that quickly, and I am not critical of anyone who cannot.

But that is what I do.

Because I am not yesterday.

And yesterday is not me.

How is your healing journey going? Make a list of some creative things you can do to refocus when you are exposed to things that are less than positive.

Embrace the possibilities of overcoming.

 

Little steps

Clutter makes me crazy. And yet like most people in America, I find no shortage of it.

Somehow, I seem to accumulate lots of whatever.

So I have been trying to (gradually) look at my clutter and decide if it is something I need, something to pitch, or something to donate.

It is amazing how we look at things and think it is so important to cling to them.

I look at my farmhouse room and think, “You know, if Grandma were here … ”

Yep. She sure would toss. That was one clutter free woman, and my daughter Phoebe is just like her.

It is just part of her life.

My thing is when I get a couple days off, the last thing I want to do is stay inside the house.

So am thinking.

Maybe Emilie Barnes was right. (Years ago, she wrote a book, a system which I have used twice as my kids were growing up, and it worked. “More Hours in My Day.”) The idea was you get overwhelmed with all the piles.

Laugh.

Yes you would.

If you saw the floorboard of my car. Newspapers (of course, I am a journalist), tennis shoes, Christmas decor from the office, an empty cracker box, five or six sweaters and jackets, my choir folder, and a rolling can of soup of the floor of the front passenger’s seat.

It is aggravating because as I commute, it rolls back and forth on the floorboard.

My greatest hope is I will not be in an accident, nor that any of my friends need to hitch a ride.

!

Anyway. I am going in.

Going to take 15 minutes this morning and at least tote some of the items in.

That way maybe today or tomorrow at lunch, I can take it to a car wash place to get it washed and vacuumed.

Little steps. Will let you know how it goes.

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Here’s to you

If you are reading this blog, then it is proof positive that you have made it.

What does that mean?

It means that regardless of what you suffered, in spite of any effort of the universe to take you out, no matter what you have seen or where you have been .. you are here right now.

How long has it been since you celebrated you?

I was once at a spiritual retreat designed for singles (it was co-ed, kind of like church), and the speaker was doing a lesson on loving yourself the way God loves you.

Out of a few hundred people (I was not even sitting in the front), he called me up to the front of the room, and asked his wife to help me stand on a chair in front of everyone.

Mortified!

Worse.

He asked me to then tell everyone how special and beautiful I was.

He said it in such a way that it literally turned on the faucet to my pent up pain and low self esteem.

Tears, yes.

His wife wrapped me in a hug, and I sobbed.

Though for sure it was vulnerable for me .. there was not a dry eye in the room.

He said, “you see, she cannot do it.”

And went on to talk about how something, somewhere, impacted me so much that I literally loathed myself.

Why do we as survivors hate ourselves so?

I think of my beautiful babies and my grandchildren. How I adore them. Their pictures are on my desk at work, in my phone, and all over my room at home.

Cherished. They are my world. There is not a single moment of my day but what I am thinking of my family.

The same applies to us. I know everyone has a different world view. That is the power of choice.

I believe in the Creator. As the created, I look around at others and think, you know, I am not as good as they, as smart as they, as pretty or talented as they .. are.

One of the hallmarks of experiencing trauma as a child is self hatred.

My counselor years ago asked me if I would talk to my children the way I talk to myself, and I said no way.

He told me to take the little girl inside me by the hand and be gentle with her.

I still struggle with self hating thoughts at times, but am making great strides.

The concept that I am a unique creation, deliberately fashioned, by God, has been healing in many ways.

I do art .. writing, sewing, crocheting, drawing, painting, snipping, pasting, singing, song writing.

I love art because it is organic and unique. Something I created.

Today, remember that you are not a mistake. You are precious in the sight of God. You have gifts and abilities. Talents you do not even see. But others do.

Today, celebrate you. A hard exercise, it is true, but entirely possible.

What does that look like?

My name is Kathy Leigh. I love God, my family and friends. Little things mean a lot to me. Simple things amaze me. The whirl of dry leaves in the breeze on a fall morning, the smile of a baby riding in a stroller at the grocery store, the sound of the ocean and the memory of its thousands of secrets, sunrises and sunsets, starry nights, fireflies, glitter left behind by a child decorating a city sidewalk, rows of cows line up by a country fence. Beauty. Everywhere.

I love coffee and drink a pot of it ever

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y day. Long walks in the country inspire and refresh me. I laugh every day, because life is too hard to frown all the time. I make many mistakes. But also learn from some of them. I always thought I made friends easily, yet inside always worry about being a burden. I love to read and listen to music. The contrast of light and darkness is beautiful to me .. candlelight and mini-lighted topiaries make me smile. I don’t like arrogance. People that are full of themselves are a big turn off, yet also I see they may have morphed that way because their childhood was rough too. Perhaps. My heart breaks for people who have nothing, those who are alone, the broken and the needy. I have compassion. Bitter? Yes, I have also fought bitterness at times because of my road.

Today I celebrate me. My purpose is to be a blessing. That is all.

Here’s to you, today. Make a list of your accomplishments and beliefs. The things you like and don’t like. And always, look .. on the Brighter Side.

 

Now, what?

After my last post, I was contacted by a fellow survivor who told me they decided about four months ago to start therapy in an effort to heal.

Here’s the deal.

One person who decides to seek healing can impact others in a big way.

I would not have believed that, several years ago, for I pretty much felt like there was no way telling my story would help anyone else.

I feared the moment I hit the send button on my computer, that my life would change and everyone I knew would walk away from me because of the secret I shared.

I feared that people would change their opinion of me, since after all, I felt, like many survivors do, like it was all my fault.

I told myself I could have stopped it at age 7, I could have been strong enough to fight him off at age 9, that I should have, should have …

Truth is, I did fight, but hey when you are age 9, a tiny little girl, it is hard to fight off a man who was a heavy labor worker.

And I know now that if that had happened in Polk County, Florida, these days .. well you know. People are aware now, and those who have been abused often see some justice.

So the sharing has helped me in ways I never imagined. I get phone calls and emails, letters and thank yous for what other survivors say is “being brave.”

I do not feel brave.

But it has helped me to share with others, and in turn, I have found so much help along the way.

If you have not shared your story with someone, I would encourage you to do so. Yes, it is hard to trust others. And you fear the outcome. If you are currently in the situation, I know you will get immediate help if you report it to law enforcement. Times have changed.

And if you are an adult, and this happened as a child, and you have a hard time trusting others, one thing I have found is helpful .. a test of trust .. is you ask the person you would like to share your story with how they would handle it if they had a friend who was abused reveal that secret to them.

If they seem kind and merciful, then share. If they seem like, well, people just make this stuff up, then move on until you find someone who will listen.

I first revealed my pain to church youth workers. Then to my parents.

Since releasing my story, I have found that instead of condemnation, I am blessed by others who encourage me on my healing journey.

Although it is my belief that healing is lifelong, every day I celebrate little victories.

You are the Brighter Side.

Remember that.

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It starts with a desire to heal

How are you today? Fine, you say. Very well, thank you. Typical response. We are conditioned in this world to be society, business correct.

Yet underneath the mask, there is an entirely different world going on.

Yes, you say. Everyone has issues.

We know that.

Then, walk with me, please.

Here’s the deal.

The deeper your secrets, the more tragic your pain, the more trauma you have experienced .. the larger the challenge is to heal from it.

We think that we have overcome, when we stay with the cadence of life, put on the smile, do and say all we should do and say.

When I first started writing my story, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing, I determined at that point I wanted to heal from the pain of my childhood.

So many people I have met have said, you know I had no idea you had been through all that.

“Wow, you cannot tell,” another person said.

So we find we live to tell what we could not tell.

The first step in healing is formulating the desire to heal in the first place. Who has ever been to a doctor, ate up with the flu, and said I am here but I have no desire to accept the help you can give.

Some never reach the point where they say “I want to heal,” and instead become martyrs of the past.

A lifetime victim.

I love the quote from the character of Olivia on a cops TV show, a member of the Special Victims Unit, she told a woman who had been raped, “you were strong enough to survive the abuse, you will be strong enough to survive the recovery.”

Your first step may look different than mine. For me, my instrument of declaration to begin my healing journey involved a pen and paper. For you, it may be art, music, building a boat, fishing, a silent mantra you dedicate to memory, or an inner resolve you share with no one, that this is it.

“I seek healing from my past.”

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So think about that today. Remember that this is a journey, not a five year plan to graduate. Every day we will face the truth, some days we will rejoice, others we will just keep stepping, wondering when the breakthrough will come.

Brighter Thought of the Day: Begin.

 

Happy New Year!!

May 2019 be your year of blessing! Wishing you light and sparkle, dreams come true, and all things wonderful this coming year!

Glitzyadventure will be exploring new things this year .. I will be writing more blogs for survivors of childhood intimate abuse, including topics such as meditation, redirection, reflection, inner growth, creativity, and allowing your light to shine. And if there is something you would like me to share or address on this blog, send an email my way.

Tonight, celebrate you, your New Year, and most of all,Β  remember you are so special to the God Who created you. An intricate being, you have gifts to bless the world. Your life has reason and purpose. Maybe this year you will explore a new hobby, visit a new place, listen to new music, and get lost in the beauty of just being.

Whatever the year holds, we will explore it together.

Happy New Year to you, your family and friends!

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Free refills please

It has been said that the more you pour yourself into helping other people, leading, reaching the world and so forth, the more you need to focus on keeping your own energy up – you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Everyone loves a restaurant that gives free refills on drinks. Especially in sunny Florida.

How do you refill your cup?

One of my family members used to use the same tea bag for days.

“Eeeuww,” I said.

I tried it, and it just did not work for me. That second and third cup were not as strong.

Sigh.

Everyone has their preference.

Refill. The opposite of running on empty.

Unless you have a smart car, you will need to get gas at some point. And that is not a free refill.

When my kids were little, like most families, we struggled to make ends meet.

My mentor told me I needed to refill my cup, so to speak, so I could continue to give my children my best.

This mentor was an artist, a registered nurse married to a busy doctor, a Bible study leader, who also found time for spiritual renewing every day. She prayed.

She also had her hair done on a regular basis (I used to cut my own hair). She kept her home in order and set times to listen to music, read, and talk to friends.

This is where I discovered how many things in life are free. It all depends on what makes you happy, I guess.

Sure, it would have been nice to take my kids to theme parks and fancy summer vacays.

Joy became the pitcher that refilled my cup.

While hanging 100 cloth diapers on the line to dry one day, I looked at the sky. Billowy clouds looked like fluffy cotton against the deep baby blue horizon. The wind, warm and tropical, was a comfort. Salt water was in the air. The beach was near.

My children laughed as they played in the sand. Precious.

Coffee became my afternoon friend when my daughter gave up her naps.

One large cup was usually enough to carry me through to bedtime.

What is it that helps you feel renewed?

Let not the busy interfere with the sacred moments of renewal.

Have a blessed day, all.

My betta fish, Ralph, swims happily in his bowl this morning. It is chilly, and I wonder if he is cold as well.

After all, fish do not wear sweaters.

That is all.

πŸ™‚

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Wings

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A jet streamed across the sky, leaving a path of exhaust behind it, destination known to its passengers, but not to the common eye below.

Wings.

I was hanging 100 white cloth diapers on a clothesline by 8 a.m. every day when my children were babies.

Days consisted of rising at 5 a.m. (only way to drink coffee without company, smiles), preparing food, washing dishes and clothes, cleaning the house, bathing the children, reading to the children, answering their questions, hugging them of course, soothing boo-boos and breaking up skirmishes between them from time to time, organizing our home, grocery shopping, and more.

At that time, we lived in St. Augustine, across from the airport, the train track, and a noisy highway.

A single-wide mobile home, with no air conditioning, on a pile of sand in the Florida heat was all we could afford for our large family.

The only way to keep it cool was to prop open windows and run two box fans for as long as we could in the evening. The neighborhood was not safe enough to leave them open all night. Eventually, my grandparents bought us a little air conditioner, which only really cooled the kitchen.

Those were hard times.

Wings.

I looked up at the sky often, perhaps as a way to escape my daily struggles to “just do life,” in poverty.

The airport became a portal to everywhere. Who flew in, who took off, what air show was going on (you have not truly lived until one of the Blue Angels flies just above your head while you are hanging clothes! Loud and fast, they raised the hair on my head, and I was like, wow!)

Wings.

A passenger jet, high above, seemed like a silver needle, threading its way from one end of the horizon to another.

Wings.

I hate to fly.

Boarding a plane bound for Rhode Island for vacation one year, long after my kids grew up, I took one look at the pilot, which calmed my nerves.

Former military, it was obvious. His shoes shined, and so did his hat. He was young. We took off and landed like he was accustomed to launching from an aircraft carrier. Straight up and straight down.

Butterflies.

Make me happy.

So do birds.

Planes are fun to watch.

And fireflies? Best of all.

Wings.

The ability to fly above your situation. To pursue a higher goal. A change of scenery.

My thought for the day.

Where are you headed?