Friday, December 30, 2016

How far have I come?

"Instead of focusing on how far you still have to go, take some time today to remind yourself of how far you’ve already come. Yes, you’re still struggling. And yes, you still have some distance to cover, but those things don’t discount the progress you’ve already made. Healing takes time. It’s not a process that can be rushed. Beating yourself up for not being further along doesn’t improve your situation. It makes you feel awful and it keeps you stuck. Your journey may be slow, but it’s not without promise. Despite how difficult this process has been, despite how hopeless you’ve felt, despite all of the people who have told you that you would never make it, you’ve never once given up. You’ve never stopped fighting and pushing forward. So give yourself some credit for that. It wasn’t easy. But you did it, and you deserve to be proud of yourself. Let go of this idea that you should be further ahead, and trust that it’s okay to be where you are. Trust that you won’t be here forever. Trust that you will get to where you need to be. You’re doing the best you can each day to fight the darkness you feel, and that’s all you can ask of yourself. It’s enough." ~Daniell Koepke

Thank you to my internet sister that shared this reminder to rejoice in my progress however small I feel it may be.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Please Go Now....

The time has come, the time is now, Marvin K. Mooney, will you please Go NOW.

I memorized part of this book reading it over and over to my children.  This is how I feel about this year.  I am done.  I am more than done.  This year was tough on so many levels.  I laughed when I saw the Facebook Meme, "I want to stay up to midnight New Years Eve so I can watch 2016 die."  Yup, I am feeling quite ready for this year to be over.  Done, done, done!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I found it.  This is the word to describe how my mother thanks me for things.

Definition of unctuous

  1. 1 a :  fatty, oily b :  smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
  2. 2 :  plastic <fine unctuous clay>
  3. 3 :  full of unction; especially :  revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality
This is from

Definition 3 is the winner.  I always felt ungrateful that I rejected my mother's gratitude.  I was working on a word builder game and this was one of the new words.  The irritating thing for me she has this over the top gushing thank you in front of people but privately she throws away whatever I gave her.  She'll thank me profusely for something small I did or offer to pay me, then tell my Dad she wishes I wouldn't come around.  For years, I tuned out her thank yous, now I have a word to fit why it is a good idea to tune her out. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tracking Santa

Merry Christmas Eve....I hope each of you are enjoying your day.  I like to find Christmas stories to share.  This year I found an article posted on Facebook about how it came to be the the US military tracked Christmas.....tissue warning for those that cry over Christmas stories.

NORAD's Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport
Heard on Morning Edition
This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup's secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.
Shoup's children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

The Santa Tracker tradition started with this Sears ad, which instructed children to call Santa on what turned out to be a secret military hotline. Kids today can call 1-877 HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to talk to NORAD staff about Santa's exact location.
Courtesy of NORAD
Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. "Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number," she says.

"This was the '50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States," Rick says.

The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. "And then there was a small voice that just asked, 'Is this Santa Claus?' "

His children remember Shoup as straight-laced and disciplined, and he was annoyed and upset by the call and thought it was a joke — but then, Terri says, the little voice started crying.

"And Dad realized that it wasn't a joke," her sister says. "So he talked to him, ho-ho-ho'd and asked if he had been a good boy and, 'May I talk to your mother?' And the mother got on and said, 'You haven't seen the paper yet? There's a phone number to call Santa. It's in the Sears ad.' Dad looked it up, and there it was, his red phone number. And they had children calling one after another, so he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus."
"It got to be a big joke at the command center. You know, 'The old man's really flipped his lid this time. We're answering Santa calls,' " Terri says.

Col. Harry Shoup came to be known as the "Santa Colonel." He died in 2009.
Courtesy of NORAD 
"The airmen had this big glass board with the United States on it and Canada, and when airplanes would come in they would track them," Pam says.

"And Christmas Eve of 1955, when Dad walked in, there was a drawing of a sleigh with eight reindeer coming over the North Pole," Rick says.

"Dad said, 'What is that?' They say, 'Colonel, we're sorry. We were just making a joke. Do you want us to take that down?' Dad looked at it for a while, and next thing you know, Dad had called the radio station and had said, 'This is the commander at the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object. Why, it looks like a sleigh.' Well, the radio stations would call him like every hour and say, 'Where's Santa now?' " Terri says.

Produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher Morris.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at

Anxiety by Brianna West

The Artelier
1. They don’t hide their anxiety, they hide their symptoms. To have concealed anxiety isn’t to deny having it – only to do everything in your power to ensure other people don’t see you struggle.

2. They have the most anxiety about having anxiety. Because they are not comfortable letting people see them in the throes of an irrational panic, the most anxiety-inducing idea is… whether or not they’ll have anxiety at any given moment in time.

3. They come across as a paradoxical mix of outgoing but introverted, very social but rarely out. It is not that they are anti-social, just that they can only take being around others incrementally (which is mostly normal). Yet, on the surface, this may come across as confusing.

4. They make situations worse by trying to suppress their feelings about them. They are extremely uncomfortable with other people seeing them in pain, and they don’t want to feel pitied or as though they are compromising anyone’s time. Yet, they make things worse for themselves by suppressing, as it actually funnels a ton of energy into making the problem larger and more present than it already was.

5. They are often hyper-aware and highly intuitive. Anxiousness is an evolutionary function that essentially keeps us alive by making us aware of our surroundings and other people’s motives. It’s only uncomfortable when we don’t know how to manage it effectively – the positive side is that it makes you hyper-conscious of what’s going on around you.

6. Their deepest triggers are usually social situations. It’s not that they feel anxious in an airplane, it’s that they feel anxious in an airplane and are stuck around 50 other people. It’s not that they will fail a test, but that they will fail a test and everyone in school will find out and think they are incompetent and their parents will be disappointed. It’s not that they will lose love, but that they will lose love and nobody will ever love them again.

7. It is not always just a “panicked feeling” they have to hide. It can also be a tendency to worry, catastrophizing, etc. The battle is often (always?) between competing thoughts in their minds.

8. They are deep thinkers, and great problem-solvers. One of the benefits of anxiety is that it leads you to considering every worst case scenario, and then subsequently, how to handle or respond to each.

9. They are almost always “self-regulating” their thoughts. They’re talking themselves in, out, around, up or down from something or another very often, and increasingly so in public places.

10. They don’t trust easily, but they will convince you that they do. They want to make the people around them feel loved and accepted as it eases their anxiety in a way.

11. They tend to desire control in other areas of their lives. They’re over-workers or are manically particular about how they dress or can’t really seem to let go of relationships if it wasn’t their idea to end them.

12. They have all-or-nothing personalities, which is what creates the anxiety. Despite being so extreme, they are highly indecisive. They try to “figure out” whether or not something is right before they actually try to do it.

13. They assume they are disliked. While this is often stressful, it often keeps them humble and grounded at the same time.

14. They are very driven (they care about the outcome of things). They are in equal proportions as in control of their lives as they feel out of control of their lives – this is because they so frequently try to compensate for fear of the unknown.

15. They are very smart, but doubt it. A high intelligence is linked to increased anxiety (and being doubtful of one’s mental capacity are linked to both).

By Brianna West

PS. If I find something on Facebook, I assume they want it shared with appropriate credit to who wrote it.  If I need to take this off my page, please let me know...this is not my writing but I felt it described what many people experience as part of PTSD. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What I'm not

I believed for a time that one way to define myself was by understanding what I am not.   I thought it was a good way to start....much like the negative space in a picture defining what the picture was...
Examples of Negative Space defining the subject.

Recently, watching my mother I realize it is a terrible idea.  My mother has an identical twin sister.  Right now her sister had a stoke, lives in a care center, and barely recognizes her own daughter.  My mother in a desperate bid to NOT be like her sister checked herself out of a care center where she was healing from breaking her hip, is incredibly rude to everyone trying to help her, and behaves like a tyrannical toddler so she can proudly say, "I am NOT like my sister." Do you know what is so sad about this?  In her desperate grab for not being her sister she became the worse version of herself.  The thing about defining by negative space is your only definition is in comparative status.  Without the other, you become nothing. 

How often do I define myself by trying to not be like my mother?  How often am I defining myself by comparison to someone, something or anything but being myself?  Christmas time is a time for reflection for me.  So far this year I have not baked any holiday treats.  I have not put up one decoration.  I look like a Grinch if I define myself by what I am not.  However, what I am is recovering from emergency surgery 2 weeks ago.  I am doing really well.  I sent all the Christmas presents to families that live in other parts of the country.  I am playing Secret Santa with friends.  I am humming Christmas Carols and reading about Christ.  Hmmm...I like what I am and need to worry a lot less about what I am not. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Letter to Virginia

My friend shared this on Facebook:

Letter to the Editor of The New York Sun, September 21, 1897.
Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West Ninety Fifth Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I believe in Angels

Sometimes they walk among us lighting gray days and picking up arms that hang down.  One such miracle is helping our family 6 days a week.  Just knowing she is there helping with my mother takes the internal pressure ingrained in me to take care of my mother.  With our angel there, my mother is taken care of in the kindest safest way possible.  Blessedly our angel doesn't put up with any nonsense.  She sets healthy boundaries and addresses tough subjects. She has experience managing difficult people. I am thankful for the angel in our families life. 

The song from ABBA came to mind when I was writing this blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Avoiding Writing

Heavy sigh....I'm avoiding writing lately.  My mind is in a swirl with my own health issues, holidays and my mother coming home from 2 months in rehab care for a broken hip.  After all these years, the rest of the family finally sees what my sister and I lived with all of our lives.  They keep saying it is old age or dementia.  Not to me....this is the mother I have always known demanding, complaining, manipulative....yup a real piece of work.  Finally, they have stopped making excuses for her.  Mother accused my sister of plotting to prove she was incompetent.  I cheered when my sister said that she looked at mother and told her, "You did that yourself."  Nope don't need to do a thing for her to demonstrate how unstable she is.  I feel sad.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stopping emotions

"You cannot selectively numb emotion. You cannot say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment… I don’t want to feel these. You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other emotions. When we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness and then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning...So then we feel vulnerable. So, let ourselves be seen—deeply seen.. Love with our whole hearts. Practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive. And most important…Believe that we’re enough because when we work from a place that says I’m enough.. We stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to those around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves."--Brene Brown.

"We're afraid of taking emotional risks for fear of being hurt, disappointed or even devastated, but the risk of getting hurt is a lot higher, in fact, if we take no emotional risks at all. When we avoid reaching out to other people because we're afraid of rejection; when we have our hearts closed because we don't want to be vulnerable; when we keep our relationships superficial b/c we're terrified of heartbreak, what we end up with instead is a terrible empty loneliness. As bad as it feels to be hurt in love or in friendship, it's infinitely worse to be isolated & alone." -Ruthless Compassion  

 I lived in an emotional wasteland.  I turned off my emotions to perform the tasks of living....unfortunately when I turned off my emotions I stopped existing as a human being and became an automated body moving through life....closest thing to being a zombie without dying.  My brother teased me "Lights are on but nobody is home."  That was the most accurate name I was called.  Many, many of my counseling sessions were teaching me to recognize and connect with my emotions. It was a long difficult task but so worth it.  

 Adding emotions is adding color to my world. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Struggling with blessings

I landed in ER on Friday.  Stomach problems have plagued me for over 15 years.  I can't have soda.  I drink lots of water and I noticed over the last six months that swallowing was getting harder.  (I can choke on a banana.)  Last Wednesday I bit off more than I could swallow and it stuck.  On Friday, I finally called the doctor on my way back home from work and explained the situation.  He recommended a trip to the ER.  I beat his call so they treated me like an unreasonable child wasting their time.  Then the call came in and I was whisked away to emergency surgery to scope and pull out the hotdog plugging the top of my stomach.  Sure enough the problem was worse than expected.  I came home delighted to be able to eat.  I realized it was a blessing that the scope was done and hopefully caught the problems early enough to heal the problems without more surgery. Unfortunately,  a few people have an negative reaction to the drug used to relax my esophagus to allow the camera down my throat.  Every time I move, cough, or laugh my muscles cramp.  I did not realize until I tried walking up stairs that all my muscles can cramp and hurt at the same time.  Fuzzy brained and hurting I am struggling with recognizing what a blessing this is.  The medical care was amazing.  My body can really kick my butt, however, they were able to do a biopsy to help them know how big a mess I am in.  Fortunately, the internet provided me with the information as to what was happening with my body post surgery.  Tonight is the first time since Friday that I am starting to see the bright side of this cloud.  December is a rough month and I am struggling with adding this into the mix of all my other churning emotions.  I love the holidays and I hate the unreasonable expectations frenzy.  I'm trying to slow my thinking.  Remind myself that I am not required to do everything.  Now, I can't do anything.  If moving hurts, the likelihood of doing anything greatly reduces.  I hope each of you are finding ways to give yourself a break and let go of situations and events that hurt rather than help this holiday season. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Shame and Vulnerability

I am studying these characteristics.  One because I want to feel less of it, the other because that is what thriving is made of. 



These are some notes I took from watching the first video...

 Vulnerability is not a weakness, it is emotional risk the stuff courage is made of. 

Vulnerability is the birthplace for innovation, creativity, and change. 

Shame - don't build your home their but daring greatly explore what it is to you. 

Brene believes that Guilt is "I made a mistake."  Shame is "I am a mistake."

Shame needs secrecy, silence and judgement to grow.  

I am studying these because I know that for me to grow and thrive I need to release shame and embrace vulnerability.  Intellectually I get it, implementing it is another story.