From a child’s eye

Images courtesy of freeimages.co.uk
Images courtesy of freeimages.co.uk

I was 12 years old and my brother was graduating from Navy basic training in San Diego, CA.  I remember his going away party like it was yesterday.   This party, though, was one for the books.  We had a 3-floor split level home and one of my dad’s best friends brought a gas station sized American Flag to drape in front of our house. There were so many people, so many laughs, and so many tears.  I don’t really remember the day he left, but I remember the sadness that overtook the party at the end when everyone wished him well.

Fast forward 8 weeks and my parents let me know we were going to be flying to California to watch him graduate and spend a week touring.  California!  This was the summer of 1990, people!  Just after the movie, Pretty Woman was released.  You could imagine my excitement to see Rodeo Drive!  Of course, that was before I realized San Diego was not at all near Rodeo Drive.  (My dad, being the awesome man he is, later got us to Beverly Hills and the Hollywood sign for a day anyway)

After his graduation and after I melted over the fact that I used the same bathroom in the USO building from the scene in Top Gun where Maverick followed Charlie, my dad wanted to visit Mexico.  Wow!  Mexico? Another country?  This was quickly turning into the best vacation ever.

It wasn’t a long drive, I remember, and we ended up at what reminded me as the toll booths on our highways back in GA.  We go in and Dad gets us to Tijuana, Mexico.  Naturally, I had no way of knowing what to expect.

My dad wanted to go to the shops in the town to barter for items on which he knew he could get great deals.  We ended up going down a small open tunnel that smelled of urine, rotting food, and God only knows what else.  I was scared beyond any of my monsters under the bed imaginations I had up until now.  I remember women and men off to the side-eyeing us.  Luckily, my father stands 6’4″ so no one really talked to us.  Except this little girl who couldn’t have been more than 4 years old and there she stood with her coffee can looking at us with these huge sad, brown eyes.  My heart broke.  This was the first time I saw real pain and real sorrow.  She was hungry.  She was poor.  After much begging and pleading, I got my dad to give her some money.

The vacation ended up being very wonderful, but there are so many times in my life where I find myself looking back at that little girl in that tunnel, and for an instant, my problems seem so small.

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Unmasked

I’ve gone through some life changes recently as I suppose we all do at some point or another.  I really wish we could go through some of them in our sleep, like a Windows update.  For some odd years (that’s the southern way of saying I don’t really know how many) I was battling a form of depression, or so I assume because at the time I refused to believe it or admit it.  It wasn’t until I read the handy check-list at the doctor’s office that I became aware I met all those ‘symptoms’.  Well, shit.

That was about the time I started my first blog.  It was anonymous and I created an extra email for it, it was where I was going to vent and find myself and get over this stupid bout of weepies that I didn’t truly believe I had.  It worked, for the most part, until I had yet another identity crisis and had to readjust myself again.  Between trying to find myself and what my meaning was and the dismay of no one ever reading my blog I cracked.  I deleted that blog and left the blogging world.

A few years later I felt a little more confident in myself, or so I thought.  I created yet another blog.  One that some of you readers (if they remember me at all) will remember it as It’s All A Bit Random.  Slowly, but surely, I went through the same thing as the one before it.  Another deleted blog and another feeling of utter failure and loneliness formed.  This recovery didn’t take quite as long as the last and I tried my hand at it again.  This blog is my 3rd and hopefully final blog.

I had some issues starting it again; I still wanted anonymity and wanted a place for me, just me to be me without any judgment, but something was missing.  I continued to write and continued to feel this void.  Everything in my life was starting to turn around and I felt better, but the blog and I were at odds.  The blog was becoming that smelly guy on the bus who’s eyeing you with his good eye and you just want to somehow leave the bus without passing his seat.  Something had to change, quickly.  I finally realized I had to sit down and peel away the layers of who I want to be in this community and what my writing means to me.  I came to the conclusion I didn’t want to hide anymore.  I didn’t want to be afraid of judgment and I didn’t want to care what people thought of me.  So what if I was broken and on the mend, so what if my bad times caused me to lash out, so what if my opinion of world issues is different than theirs, I’m who I am dammit and I’m ok with that!

The last layer I peeled off was my mask.  My twitter is linked to my blog so I changed the contact email to my personal email, my picture to my real self, my name to my real initials, and I clicked that little button to let twitter find my contacts.  It was pretty powerful and I was pretty damn scared.  I’m still not out promoting my blog to my family and friends, but I’ve added several of them to my twitter followers where it prominently links to my blog.  I have officially come out of hiding.  It’s liberating, it’s refreshing, and it still scares the hell out of me.

 

My submission for Studio 30+

A father’s daughter

My father called me yesterday, no doubt after a conversation with my mother who told him of my recent bouts of the weepies.  My father is a great, loving man with a heart deeper than the ocean.  I have always been a ‘daddy’s girl’ and I guess, even at my age today, I still am.

We spoke last night for an hour and a half.  I don’t know how your parents are, but in my family, my mother is the most loquacious and my father just sits back and listens so that he called me and we spoke in length, says a lot to me.  The last two days have been so refreshing to speak at such lengths with each of my parents.

He reminded me who I am, how I was raised, and how I don’t need anyone for me to be ok with me.  Something I seem to have forgotten these last 10 or so years.  He reminded me that we choose the people in our life because we want them there, not because we need them there.  He’s a wise man who has been through a lot in his 61 years, and his words ring true to my heart and soul.  He’s never been one to pick a side and when I’m wrong, he has no problem telling me so.  He doesn’t often offer advice without being asked, but I am so grateful that he did.

He’s so right – I have lost myself – I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be who I am and stand on my own two feet needing no one to hold me up.  He raised me to be a strong person, not take no for an answer when I deserve a yes, to be self-sufficient, and self-reliable.  He raised me to be fierce.  I am slowly cowering away, letting myself get wrapped up in some sense of doubting self-worth.  Maybe if I remember that I don’t need anyone, but instead want someone, I’ll figure out just what I want and what I don’t want – I’ll no longer be clouded by the preconceived notion that someone completes me.  If I can’t complete me, how can I expect to love me, how can I expect to love others, and how can I ever expect to be loved in return?

Being a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, or an employee does not define me.  Who I am, not what I am, is the definition of me.  It’s time I rediscover that.

Strength

Strength is one of those words whose meaning changes with each person and each situation.  I have overcome a lot in my lifetime; some would probably even consider that I have strength or gained strength because of the adversities.  Looking back, I cannot say the same.  I remember praying for strength at an early part of my adult life.  When I consider what events unfolded after, I chuckle.  I’ve always been told by the wise women in my life that God answers you in ways you wouldn’t foresee.  For instance, if you pray for patience, you don’t become patient – you are presented with an opportunity where patience is needed.  If you pray for love, you aren’t given a knight in shining armor but instead a situation in which you either give or receive love.

I prayed for strength when my oldest son was born.  I shortly thereafter became a single, twenty-year-old mother, working three jobs, and living on our own.  I found the need to be strong, not strength.  Strength, I later realized, was inside me all along.

After a conversation with someone who is quickly becoming a very, very dear friend to me and someone I value a great deal, I began to think about those times of prayer.  It’s something she said to me after a heartfelt conversation, ‘when it’s time you’ll know’.  She’s right.

I’ve come to the conclusion that God gives us the qualities we pray for on the day we take our first breath.  He has already gifted us with these abilities and rather than conjuring them at the opportune time, He teaches us by putting us in situations in which we need to use these gifts to our fullest advantage.

Today, I chuckled after beginning a prayer to receive answers and strength.   I laugh out of fear.  Fear that not only do I possess the answers I request, but also because I know I have already been given the strength needed when I hear these very same answers.  It’s what I decide to do with the answers that define where my strength is most powerful and as I’ve been told once today….when it’s time I will know.  I find a bit of comfort in that when I know, I’ll be strong enough to overcome and close another chapter in my life.

Life is chaos, love, chances, decisions, heartaches, and strength.  Life is also as short as a baby’s breath.  I intend to live it to the fullest while I can.