Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Email is not enough

Today in my email I get a spread sheet showing a complete revamping of my job and position with no explanation with the expectation of drop everything and change.  I knew the change was coming.  I tried to prepare myself for it.  I still feel body slammed and relieved all at the same time.  I worked out the worse possible scenarios.....I feel relief that none of them happened.  The change may be an improvement in many ways.  But even good changes take time to absorb and adjust to.  Whiplash changes that affect many people leave resentment, frustration, and confusion in their wake.  Then those making these extreme changes wonder why anyone is upset.  If you slam your brakes on the freeway for no apparent reason, people are going to honk at you.  I did get to meet with the person in charge of the changes.  I expressed my acceptance of the change then mentioned my concerns.  Sure enough there were some vital factors that no one even considered.  My head is a mess tonight trying to reshuffle in my mind all I need to do.  I'm going to miss working with a wonderful group of ladies.  I am looking forward to new challenges.  I am learning to express my concerns in a healthy constructive way.  Life is crazy then some administrator amps up the crazy.....then the wonder why things are crazy...  Venting my point of view. 


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Red marbles

Story I read years ago when email was still fun. 

Things That Matter

Please take the time to Read and Share!
Red Marbles!...
I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas.
I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.
Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr.. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.
'Hello Barry, how are you today?'
'H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good..'
'They are good, Barry.. How's your Ma?'
'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'
'Good. Anything I can help you with?'
'No, Sir.
Jus' admirin' them peas.'
'Would you like to take some home?' asked Mr. Miller.
'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'
'Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'
'All I got's my prize marble here.'
'Is that right? Let me see it' said Miller.
'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'
'I can see that. Hmm mmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?' the store owner asked..
'Not zackley but almost.'
'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble'. Mr. Miller told the boy.
'Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.'
Mrs... Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.
With a smile she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances.. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever..
When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.'
I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.
Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.
Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket.
Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes...
Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.
'Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about.
They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size.....they came to pay their debt.'
'We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho ..'
With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.
The Moral :
We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.
Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles:
A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself...
An unexpected phone call from an old friend .....
Green stoplights on your way to work...
The fastest line at the grocery store...
A good sing-along song on the radio...
Your keys found right where you left them.
Share this with the people you'll never forget.
I just Did...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Personality test

At school where I work, one of the classes is challenging the students to explore who they are and what career may suit their personality.  One of the personality tests is listed below....

It can be quite entertaining and sometimes very revealing when you get the results.  I chose one that is free.  Please keep in mind that this presents possibilities.  I noticed that depending on how I was doing at the time would alter the results.  I find reading about the different types very intriguing. 

Have fun. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Danielle Koepke

I looked up the author of this quote and found a bunch of amazing quotes.   I'm looking for what she wrote and who she is.  Amazon doesn't list her as writing a book.  I found a blog but the writer's format and information didn't match this.  Wikipedia didn't list her.  Curious.  I am also trying to have a link to her web page if she has one. 

***Judy found her:
Thanks Judy.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Setup for Success

Such an awesome feeling.  I thought all week how to describe my experience last weekend.  However, you need a bit of back ground information first.  I was raised in a home where I was setup to fail.  If I happened to be successful, the rules would be changed so that I failed.  If I received a compliment there was a but at the end that negated everything that came before the but.  I saw myself as a failure because my parents saw me as a failure.  Then counseling happened.  The lies, unreasonable expectations, the manipulations were brought under examination.  Sadly, I still set myself up to fail.  It was what I knew.  Two years ago, I read an article about using martial arts as a way to cope with PTSD.  After 10 years of counseling, I was ready to try.  I planned to go for one session at the community Karate class.  When the teacher explained I wouldn't get a belt right away, I responded that I didn't plan to get one at all.  So I began studying Kempo Karate.  After the first year I earned the rank of yellow belt.  I finished two years and last week end I earned my orange belt.  I get very nervous during tests.  One of the required moves is the Kata.  I blew it completely.  Half way through my mind went blank.  I learned two Katas and I scrambled them in my mind.  My teacher understood what happened and during the recheck portion of the test he had me do the first Kata then the second one.  I passed both.  He set me up to succeed.  I worried while I waited that I messed up too many times to pass.  Peace came over me.  If I didn't pass, without condemnation, he would have me try again and again until I succeeded.  The awesomeness of working with my teacher in Karate he sets me up for success.  I feel so awed and cherished from this experience.  I feel like what I do is important and he will teach me so that I succeed and keep on succeeding.  If you use martial arts for PTSD, I hope you have teacher just like mine. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I remember Yogi Berra

I read that Yogi Berra passed away.  I didn't follow sports much but I knew about him.  I found a list of his quotes posted....enjoy.

Berra-isms (colloquial expressions that lack logic) are now countless, and many of them are just attributed to Berra, even if he never actually said them. As he so perfectly put it: “I never said most of the things I said.” Here are 50 of our favorites.

1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
2. You can observe a lot by just watching.
3. It ain’t over till it’s over
4. It’s like déjà vu all over again.
5. No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.
6. Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
7. A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
8. Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.
9. We made too many wrong mistakes.
10. Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken.
11. You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.
12. You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.
13. I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.
14. Never answer an anonymous letter.
15. Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting.
16. How can you think and hit at the same time?
17. The future ain’t what it used to be.
18. I tell the kids, somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.
19. It gets late early out here.
20. If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.
21. We have deep depth.
22. Pair up in threes.
23. Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.
24. You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.
25. All pitchers are liars or crybabies.
26. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
27. Bill Dickey is learning me his experience.
28. He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.
29. It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
30. I can see how he (Sandy Koufax) won twenty-five games. What I don’t understand is how he lost five.
31. I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.
32. I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.
33. I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.
34. In baseball, you don’t know nothing.
35. I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?
36. I never said most of the things I said.
37. It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.
38. If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.
39. I wish everybody had the drive he (Joe DiMaggio) had. He never did anything wrong on the field. I’d never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest-high catch, and he never walked off the field.
40. So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.
41. Take it with a grin of salt.
42. (On the 1973 Mets) We were overwhelming underdogs.
43. The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.
44. Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.
45. Mickey Mantle was a very good golfer, but we weren’t allowed to play golf during the season; only at spring training.
46. You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.
47. I’m lucky. Usually you’re dead to get your own museum, but I’m still alive to see mine.
48. If I didn’t make it in baseball, I won’t have made it workin’. I didn’t like to work.
49. If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.
50. A lot of guys go, ‘Hey, Yogi, say a Yogi-ism.’ I tell ’em, ‘I don’t know any.’ They want me to make one up. I don’t make ’em up. I don’t even know when I say it. They’re the truth. And it is the truth. I don’t know.


More changes coming

I talked with people at work and learned that more changes are coming.  I felt very relieved when I answered confidently that I will be able to handle the change.  I feel sad but not over whelmed.  I pray for those that are facing the biggest changes in their lives.  I'm thankful for the progress I've made that I can face these changes without falling apart.  Over on my PTSD blog I wrote about how family and friends can help support a person with PTSD.

Things I've learned:

After years of counseling, I still have bad days.

Sunk in despair.  It would be lovely sitting with me….not expecting me to respond, just being there.  Remember that Eeyore is still included at Pooh' corner. 

Remind me that it is not ok for me to be a jerk.  If I cross a boundary or behave rudely, please, tell me.  Too often people act as if I will break at the slightest correction.  I sometimes need to be told if I am out of line in my behavior.

Sometimes you need to talk through the simplest instructions.  Something as simple as folding a towel can become a monumental task.  By the time you finish explaining step 3, I forget step 1&2.  I’m not stupid, my mind really is like wading through waist high sludge.

Pushing me, usually brings negative results….suggest, recommendations, involving the doctor to make the recommendations sometimes helps….

Improvement in my eyes is not always noticeable by you.

Telling me someone else is worse off than I am, isn’t relevant.  Comparisons almost always have a nasty side effect of discouragement or false pride.

If I say I can’t do something, I probably can’t because the truth is what I believe.  Don’t berate me for what I believe.

Counselors do make a difference and the relationships appears particularly close when sharing the deepest darkest secrets….however, counselors cannot replace friends or loved ones.  Feeling excluded is fairly common, keep in mind that you have a different role that is often much more important.

A new day, a new challenge, I can do this. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Winds of change

I'm in a weird place right now.  I am working on more sleep which means fewer late nights to work on my blog.  Last night, broken in pieces, I slept 8 hours.  This is very rare.  I am working on making it less rare.  If I am going to get more sleep at night then I need to change when I write my blogs.  If I change when I write my blogs then I need to alter how I use my time after school......sounding a bit like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  My sister wrote about routines and I envied her ability to have them. ( But now that I am trying to change when I write my blogs I'm discovering I do have routines.  They are weird, disconnected and probably don't make sense to anyone except me.  Judy mentioned that our mother used routines to heap more and more work on herself and us.  It wasn't healthy or helpful.  List still give me hives.  But in my own odd way, I have routines.  Now, I am trying to shuffle them around a bit.  Heavy sigh.  It is not going well.  The dog isn't too thrilled with the changes either.  She liked being taken out in the middle of the night.  Now, she isn't sure when she gets a break from the house.  (She goes outside on her own and she stands in the middle of the yard and barks for no particular reason.)  My sleeping interferes with her schedule.  Back to my schedule.  I am trying to change how I sleep meaning electronics of all kind need to be turned off early; therefore, the switch in blogging.  I'll work on this.  Hopefully I will get back in the grove of doing something consistently, sort of.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Looking for inspiration

This week was a rough one.  Started out with food poisoning.  Never a good start to the week.  Sad thing was I knew better than  to eat certain things.  To feel terrible and know that you could have avoided it is an unpleasant combination.  I also slept a bunch.  Maybe praying for sleep I should be more specific as to how to get it.  Coming up from any low I go looking for inspiration.  I surround myself with opportunities.  I follow Zig Ziglar on facebook because I love his quotes and attitude.  Here is a link to the 9 profound quotes that he enjoys:

Mini Mental Vacation MMV

Those moments in time when your Brain leaves home without you. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Change your words

I often heard change your thinking, change your life.  This picture was shared on Facebook and encouraged others to share it. 

I always wondered how to change my thinking.  I hadn't considered the possibility of changing my words until I was in counseling.  My counselor was very patient teaching me new words to use in my life.  If I forgot and reused old word patterns he would remind me again, just as patiently the 1000th time as he did the 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  KavinCoach believed his job was to teach me a new way of thinking.  He guided me through victim thinking to survivor thinking with his goal to have me thriving thinking.  I first needed to recognize what I was doing to begin with.  He expected me to face myself and where I was.  I wasn't allowed to hide behind my forgetfulness.  My mind suppressed most of my childhood.  Opening up those memories was a long painful process. I am still on this journey to change my thinking.  I am still reminding myself when I slip back into old patterns that I deserve better.  I appreciate people sharing what they do to help change their thinking.  I learned from my counselor that how I talk to myself is important.  I'm thankful for what I have learned.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015


How do I handle failure?

My sister shared a her post about handling failure.  I read through the article she shared and thought about it for quite a while.  I didn't handle failure way.  I would go into complete collapse or a frenzy of activity to fix whatever I believed I messed up.   Counseling taught me some other options.  This is the list presented by Grace for my Heart...


The blame game accomplishes nothing.  It is like throwing dust in the air trying to hide a glaring mistake.  But I've seen it work very well for some people.  To me the down side of the blame game is fingers are pointed, blame allocated but nothing gets done to fix the problem.

Attack....heard tell that the best defense is a strong offense.  Attack when cornered is what a wounded animal does....some people are wounded animals.  This doesn't work because more effort is put into the attack than it would be to solve many problems.  Attacking is a more aggressive blame game in my opinion.

Lies....I was raised in lies.  Took years of counseling to sort out truth, opinions, and the outright lies I was raised in.  Yup, I've used this method to try to escape consequences of my behavior.  From those experiences, I figure lying about a problem is like running into a pool of quick sand to try to get away, you get sucked down instead.

Rationalizing....very tricky, to me these are the lies I tell myself so that I don't have to be accountable for a screw up.  Like blaming, it is dust in the eyes with little hope of change.

Whining....My counselor so would not let me use this one.  Depending on his mood and how whiny I sounded he either asked, "Do want cheese with that whine?" or if I was sunk deeply into whining he offers to send for a wambulance.   If I catch myself whining, I search for what the root problem is, then set goals and create a plan to correcting things if possible.

Quit...This to me is the easiest.  Sometimes I want to crawl in a hole and drag the dirt in after me.  Then I think of Winston Churchill....that stubborn Brit.  "Never, never, never give up." 
Old Winston had it right, 'If you're going through hell, keep going.'

When I decided that quitting was not an option, it put me in a place where I had to find a solution.  What was awesomely cool, I did find answers.

Obstacle in a mud run

Sliding down

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cry fest

For Sep 11, I allowed myself to cry.  I cried when I shared my post.  I cried when I read some of the stories that occurred after the violence.  The helping hands that grabbed the wheel chair of the woman trapped in the building.  She urged her rescuers to leave her behind.  They refused.  Before that moment the didn't even know each others names.  The kind hearts of the boat owners that ferried people off the island.  The first responders that risked and gave up their lives to help as many people as possible to escape.  My friend and I sat over lunch remembering and sharing and thanking God for the out pouring of blessings that came after.  I cried when I went to the Flag memorial in Tempe, Arizona.  A flag for every person killed during the 4 plane crashes in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon.  I read names of people I never knew and cried for their lives cut short.  Their families grief, the sorrow of suffering and loss.  I pondered on all that happened after.  After the storm, comes a renewal.  After the storm, comes the reaching out.  After the storm, come the blessings.  Tragedy and goodness mixed up in a way that confounds our attackers.  They expected despair and found camaraderie.  The expected chaos and found strength in numbers.  Abusers, bullies, terrorist.....never understand the strength of human kindness. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Milestone Remembrance

If topics of death, cancer, and survival are's post is not for you.

14 years....we look back and remind ourselves what happened.  Not to dwell there but to remember lessons learned, remember lives lost, and ponder the fragile existence we share with those determined to harm others.  This is a paper I wrote my last semester in college.

Desert Survival
Morning sunshine beating down on my head, sweat trickling down between my shoulder blades, clear indicators that desert survival means I brought my water bottle.  Hiking boots support my ankles as I pick my way up the path through the broken rocks and mountain shrapnel tumbled onto the Squaw Peak trail.  I respect the desert.  I call it home.  I was born in Phoenix, more than fifty years ago, and I grew up hiking amongst the cacti, sage brush, rocks and lizards.  Raised in the desert, I know how lethal forgetting water or getting stranded alone can turn a hike into a death march.  I appreciate the fact that hundreds of people make the Squaw Peak pilgrimage, so I can hike alone without being alone.  

After moving around the country I returned to Phoenix in poor health.  I could barely finish the grocery shopping without sitting down to rest.  I craved hiking the desert but didn’t want to tackle a desert trail alone.  I learned about the Squaw Peak trail and how many people made this trek and decided I could use this trail to get back into my beloved desert, at my pace. 

The first challenge for me was crossing the parking lot.  I am highly amused by the people that wait in their idling cars to get a close parking spot when they are there to hike.  There are parking spots stretched out for a mile, but everyone wants to park in the first lot.  Dodging cars with single hikers, I reach a dry wash just before the head of the trial.  Wooden signs remind visitors that the trail is not suitable for dogs, horses or mountain bikes. Looking at the cholla, saguaro, and barrel cactus it doesn’t look like it is suitable for humans either. 

I started my climb at a sedate stroll with more determination than energy.  People take up the challenge for a thousand reasons; for me, if I could make it to the top, I would be getting healthier.  The first day, I never made it to the first quarter-mile marker.  I rested against a rocky outcropping at a bend in the path.  I felt discouraged that the mountain so easily defeated me. 

The following week, with more determination than sense, I again tackled the rocky trail.  I started to pay attention to the cholla condominium next to the trail.  I am amazed that some intrepid bird built right next to the path in the middle of the spikes of the cholla.  The nest is certainly safe from humans, since no one would reach their hand into that menacing environment.  Further along the trail, I notice a man-made retaining wall about knee high.  I am curious about why it is there, contrasting to the rugged rocks.  Years later, I discovered that the little wall kept the mountain from washing across the path and creating a mini flash flood during the rain.  In Phoenix, rarely encountered rain wreaks havoc on the exposed trail.  I focus on the ground as I pick my way up the uneven steps and loose rocks.  I watch powder puffs of dust poof out from under my feet.  The dust settles across my shoes, spreading the grayness of the trail over my shoes and pant legs.  This time, I make it past the quarter mile mark and a good ways to the half-mile marker before my legs feel like ten-ton appendages.  I retreat back down, planning to attack the mountain again, the following week.
O-dark hundred, the sun only shows an eerie glow on the horizon.  I hop on the freeway and head up the Squaw Peak spur.  I then swing off at Lincoln Avenue, and slow back down to city street speeds.  At the second light, I turn left into a residential area that skirts the Phoenix Mountain Park.  The speed limit drops to 15 miles per hour after the last house.  I feel like I am creeping at a snail’s pace after the hectic freeway speeds.  Signs warn of extreme fire hazard and no open flames; consequently, cigarettes must be extinguished inside their cars. I am happy to have an outdoor no-smoking zone.  By the time I reach the first parking lot it is full.  I don’t mind driving to the second parking lot closer to the restroom area.  Cars sprinkle this area, too.  I pick my spot, grab my water bottle, and hit the trail. 

I have never seen the dry wash run with water.  I do know that dry washes can be deadly, even if the rain is miles away.  The rain water in the desert gathers momentum quickly and skitters down these freeway washes.  Up the steps, out of the wash, I tackle the trail again.  The bottom part becomes more familiar with each trek.  The sun is hiding behind the other mountains close to Squaw Peak.  The blue sky dome of light brightens from the hidden sun.  By the first curve in the switchbacks, the sun peeps out, promising a scorching heat by noon. 

I take my time, picking my way up each switchback.  Every turn takes me up higher and slowly around the mountain.  The shrubs poke their spindly arms out into the pathway.  Scrawny and brittle, I brush easily past them.  I keep my eye out for intruding cholla.  Vicious hooks on the ends of each needle are designed to hook onto passing critters, to take the pod to a new location.  Occasionally, walking along the top of the short retaining wall proved easier than the steps that go up two feet at a time.  Boulders provide a spot of shade to rest behind.  The sun creeps above the opposing mountains and shines relentlessly on the exposed path.  Twisting around the shoulder of the mountain, I am once again shaded by the mountain.  I pass the quarter-mile marker, the bench at a third of a mile, and finally reach the bench that sits in the shade of the mountain at the half-mile marker.  I rest awhile, swinging my feet while a pleasant breeze scoots over the saddle of the mountain.  This is the dividing point.  One path does a circuitous route around the base of Squaw Peak and the steeper path heads for the summit.  I am heading for the summit.

Determination, more than strength, drives me to continue up the steep path.  Only half way up and already civilization takes on doll-like proportions.  The mountain drops off to the right, giving me a view of the parking lot full of matchbox cars.  I am struggling to keep going.  Each new step seems like the last leg of a marathon.  I need a distraction.  Every hiker passes me. I am so slow.  One hiker passes but doesn’t leave me in the dust.  He seems to be going at a steady pace.  I focus on his back and pretend that I am attached by a rope to the other hiker.  The guy doesn’t know of the mental games I am playing to keep myself going.  The back side of the mountain is cooler, with an updraft, and I wonder where this cool air comes from.  I keep my eyes on the hiker in front of me.  I have never gotten this far up the mountain before.  Each step seems to be an agony.  I don’t care.  I am determined to make the summit.  At the mile-mark, I am hit full force by the sun again as I top the edge of the mountain.  I collapse onto another bench.  The other hiker rests, too.  I can see his face, for the first time.  He looks pleasant.  I don’t ask his name.  It doesn’t matter.  He just helped me get another quarter-mile up the path. 

I realize I am just a quarter mile from the top.  Adrenaline pushes me back onto my feet.  The last part is mostly in the sun.  Sweat covers my forehead and the wetness feels good, my own personal swamp cooler.  As long as I am sweating, I am OK. 

The top of the mountain is playing hide-and-go-seek behind the boulders and rocks that impede the path.  I encounter a sharp incline up a rock.  A handrail is the only means for pulling me up the rock face.  Ten years later, the rock is replaced by stone steps and the handrail removed.  I struggle up more rocks.  The final stretch is steep and treacherous, but the summit is in view.  I hoist myself up the last little bit and perch on top, with the sun beating down on me.  Crumpling on rocks that feel like the softest cushions in a ritzy, hotel lobby, I rest my exhausted body.  It feels so good to be on top of my world.   I look down the mountain sides.  Ranks of saguaros spread out in every direction.  Ocotillos sway in the breezes. I am aware that I am not alone at the top.  The chatter around me is more like a party than the end of a brutal climb overlooking the freeway to downtown Phoenix.
The next four years, I tread my self-appointed pilgrimage, almost every weekend.  I was thrilled as I progressed to not only once up to the summit, but I actually started doing it twice in a day.  I watch the seasons pass, from the dusty grays and browns of summer to the dustier grays of winter, followed by an amazing riot of color each spring.  I changed jobs but not climbing the mountain.

I start to have trouble climbing the mountain.  I figured it was just fatigue from working a more demanding job.  September 2001 stands clear and ominous in most people’s minds.  The reports of crashing planes barely infringed on my depression.  I stare at the computer monitors in the photo lab; the images repeated over and over.  My mind doesn’t seem to grasp that I am watching people die.  The grayness in my mind doesn’t lift.  The week before 9/11, I was diagnosed with cancer.  My world rocked.  I stared numbly as iron and concrete buildings collapsed.  None of the chaos in New York broke through the fog in my mind.  The following Saturday, I retreated to my desert to climb. 
I was too tired to attempt the summit.  The tiredness wasn’t from the cancer but from the depression brought on by the word.  I didn’t know a single word could create such a level of despair that the first time I uttered the words, “I have cancer,” I passed out.  I was only forty-four years old.  I was already scheduled for surgery, in less than a month.  My mind was reeling.  Thankfully I switched to automatic pilot to trudge up the mountain.  I pondered on the tragedy of planes crashing in three different locations in one morning; so many suffered terrible losses.  Families ripped apart, in a matter of moments.  I am despairing over surgery with a 98% chance of recovery.  The cholla seems more ominous than usual.  The mountain seems to grow with every step.  The bleak landscape seems like a suitable environment to ponder the deaths of so many, and the fear I feel about having cancer.  My world was shifting; only the rocks beneath my feet seem solid.  My mind and body ache as I trudge, one foot in front of the other.  I know I won’t make the summit.  I don’t want to stop at the bench at the mile marker in the sun.  I want to find a shaded retreat to sort out all that happened in one week.    
I climbed past the three-quarter marker to the shady side of the mountain.  I noticed a flat boulder large enough for me to sit on and look out over Phoenix, with its own mini skyscrapers.  Sitting there on the rock, I was face to face with the most battered saguaro I had ever seen.  Two thirds of it had hundreds of bullet holes and dings where people had used it for target practice with guns and rocks. I could see the rocks still stuck in the cactus.  It was still green and still growing.  I sat and stared at the scars on the cactus. “What is wrong with me?  The cancer was caught early enough that I only need surgery.  No chemo, no radiation.  I am going to survive.”  Then my heart broke for the thousands whose lives ended in an hour of terror.  I sat for a long time.  I thanked Heavenly Father for having the scarred cactus teach me that having scars doesn’t alter who I am.  Having cancer was only temporary.  I would survive.  Thousands of others did not.  In the desert, there is a toughness that I have never found anywhere else I have lived.  In the desert, there is survival.      

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sleep at last

Last night I fell a sleep around 8 PM....I woke and went back to sleep....I woke up again and went back to sleep....the third alarm clock finally got me out of bed.  You know I feel pretty good with twice as much sleep as I usually get in a night. 

I'm following some pages on Facebook on PTSD.  I am noticing a trend that is bothering me.  There is a fatalism and discouragement and hopelessness that is heartbreaking.  I know I've been to the bottom but even when I was at my worst I held on to a thread of hope.  Some people suggest hopefulness and are booed off. I'm sad because I know from experience that the more I believe in the hopelessness of it all the more it is true.  I kept Walt Disney's quote in my office to remind me, "It is fun to do the impossible."  I refuse to let my abusers gobble up any more of my life.  I'm staking a claim and taking it back. 

I'm also preparing for 9/11.  I feel sad and thankful all at the same time.  The week before 9/11 I found out I had cancer.  That day I numbly watched screen after screen after screen in the computer lab play out the horrific events over and over.  I felt nothing at the time.  I looked at other peoples' reactions and knew that my response was not the norm.  Took me a week to process and break through the shell of dissociation.  I didn't have a name for it at the time.  Finally when I bought the People magazine a week later I read all the stories of kindnesses people did in the after math.  The subway driver that stopped her train because no trains were coming the other way.  The chefs that fixed food for the fire fighters and police officers on the scene.  The reporter that located the two men that carried a wheel chair bound woman down all the flights and out of the building.  Neither knew if the other survived and the reporter brought them together.  The out pouring from around the world.

This week I read yet another story that had me crying and feeling the sorrow of so many deaths.

From a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11:
On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.
All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain.
As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”
No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.
He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.
While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.
We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.
We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.
There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the
world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.
After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”
Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.
The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.
In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.
Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.
People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.
Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.
We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.
We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.
Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.
Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.And they were true to their word.
Fortunately, we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.
About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.
After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel.
We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!
We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.
We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.
Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.
Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.
What we found out was incredible…..
Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.
Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.
ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”
Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.
Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.
Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.
Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.
During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.
Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.
Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.
Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.
In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.
It was absolutely incredible.
When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time.
Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.
Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
And then a very unusual thing happened.
One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.
He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.
He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.
“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.
He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!
“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.
As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.
Pretty cool story, huh. It reminds us of how many helpful people there are in the world. The ones who aren't helpful just get a lot more press.
Please feel free to share.

Found a more accurate version on Snopes

Link to scholarship fund:

A flag for every death at September 11

Monday, September 7, 2015

Emotional Symphony

One of the major parts of my counseling was to get me to feel emotions.  I made jokes about myself like "You hurt my feeling, all one of them."  I remember talking to KavinCoach and he would say stuff that would start to bug me then I would get real calm.  One day he burst out, "How do you do that?" 

I looked at him puzzled.  "Do what?'

"You were getting angry," he explained, "and then you made it go completely away.  There is no tension in your face or any indication that you were even slightly upset."

I'm still puzzled, "Yea, so what?" 

I truly didn't understand the big deal about making my emotions vanish.  Dissociation is a powerful survival tool but sadly cuts me off from connection with people and myself.  My counselor knew from years of experience that the easiest emotion to trigger is anger.   It follows fear, hurt and frustration plus it is fairly recognizable.  I believe this session was around the time he declared I was an emotional moron.  I could make anger disappear so quickly, I had no time to acknowledge it, process it or consider why I felt it in the first place.  Yes, my counselor worked very hard to piss me off.  And yes he finally succeeded.  In fact, I believe he sat as far away from me as the room allowed to stay out of reach when me and my anger finally connected.  One day, I walked into the session and in a singsongy voice declared "KavinCoach.....I found it."  I dubbed it Lake RAGE....years of anger stuffed down unacknowledged, unprocessed, and in my opinion unwanted.  Took me a LLLLLOOOOONNNNNNGGGG time to understand the value of allowing myself to feel angry.  Anger is a secondary emotion.  Before anger comes hurt, fear and frustration.  Eventually, KavinCoach helped me to identify and process many negative emotions.  He often explained to me that the purpose of dealing with the negative emotions is cleaning out all my emotional wounds.  Once I allowed the 'bad' emotions then happiness and joy will creep in on their own.  After years of work....yes, I measure progress in years not months or weeks, I was sitting in rush hour traffic minding my own business when I was filled with the most awesome feeling of happiness.  It was very cool.  With integration, came a cacophony of emotions.  After many more years, I finally understand that full living comes with a symphony of emotions and I am the director.  If I turn my back on my emotions the wild ones can get way out of hand.  I need to connect with how I feel and why every day.  I have to work at it every day.  I am up to the challenge and it is so worth it. 

Still waters lay deep

Turbulent emotions

Sunday, September 6, 2015

You don't owe an interaction

Facebook friend shared this link....

If one of your life challenges is people pleasing, this article presented why it is important to say, "No." 
KavinCoach taught me that No is a complete sentence. 
He also taught me the 3 Ds of dealing with an emotional vampire. (You know those people that suck that life out of you.)

The 3 Ds are....

Delete Delete Delete

For my friend - Mono Lake, California

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I hope you never understand

Every so often I come across a post that shakes me because I was there.  Years ago, before counseling, I became of the mind set that I was a burden to my family.  I started believing the lie they would be better off without me.  The things I thought I was doing to help, actually made my problems worse.  I coated over the problems I was having.  I hope you never understand where I have been.
In counseling, all those nightmarish memories began to solidify, again the lie that I was a detriment to my family and they would be better off without me tried to take center stage.  My counselor threatened, conjoled, basically used ever angle he could think of to persuade me to not believe the lies in my mind.  I felt useless, dirty, mangled...what good was I?  He asked me what good was my cat?  The poor little fur ball was dumped in our yard...her ear is permanently bent, she's terrified of the world, and can't be pet for very long.  She's half wild and I can't imagine not seeing her every day.  My counselor realized that the type of child abuse I endured made it so I wasn't afraid of dying.  When he asked me if I was afraid, I laughed and quipped back, "They can only kill me once."  This is one of the challenges of working  with someone that faced the threat of death so many times that 'kill me and be done with it' started to be reasonable.  PTSD survivors sometimes are more afraid of living than dying.  After all they can only kill you once.

PS.  I thought I posted this but when I checked my blog I didn't see it.  Apparently God knew I wasn't finished with it yet.

When darkness surrounds and negative thoughts and feelings wash over me like a tsunami, I look for a pinprick of light.  A single thought to focus on.  Here is a list of a few that helped me make it through a dark time in my life....

I need to feed the dog.  
I have children to take care of.
I don't want my children to find me dead.
I don't want to explain to my Savior, Jesus Christ, that I came home early because life was too hard.
I don't want my abuser to win.  He wins if I carry out his last command for me to kill myself. 
I need to feed my cat.
I can do anything for 5 minutes.  Life is doable 5 minutes at a time.  
My counselor will have me put in a psych ward and tied down, if I give into my dark feelings of self harming.
Who will take care of my kids if I die?
What do I have to live for?????  find keep my focus on until morning. 
It only takes the smallest of light, a pin prick in the dark, to keep your life focused and live.  I only see the stars when the night is darkest.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reply to grief

Grief comes to everyone.  It is simply a matter of time before a lost presents you with the opportunity to feel griefs biting edge.  This response by an unknown older gentleman is beautiful.   A blessing to be a ship wreck is usually not on a bucket list.  This gave me a new perspective on my healing process.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Unexpected Holiday

Phoenix, Arizona USA averages less than 10 inches of rain per year.  The whole city is paralyzed with an inch of rain in one hour.  Add to this gusting rains of 70 miles per hour (112 km per hour) and there are downed trees everywhere.  The road where the school that I work at had giant cranes removing trees and debris....without any street signals traffic was snarled everywhere.  The trip to arrive was hazardous.  When I arrived at the school, all the teachers were outside and most of the gates locked.  No power = No lights = No students = Holiday that will have to be made up later in the year.  Northern cities have 'snow days', we have 'rain days.'  It was such a relief for me.  I've been feeling super stressed and today was going to be a tough day.  Instead, I spent the day running back and forth to the store in search of an alarm clock that I can hear without hearing aides.  Three alarm clocks later I think I have a winner.  I will find out in the morning if it can wake me up.  I tried testing it by taking out my hearing aides and doing dishes when the alarm rang.  I have high hopes.  I didn't think it would be so difficult to find one loud enough.  One I purchased specifically so I could change the volume of the alarm.  Their idea of loud and mine don't match. I drew the line at the one that sounded like a fire alarm.  I didn't think starting the day with a panic attack was a good plan. 

I also spent time looking to replace the hard drive that died.  It is horrifying to open up the drive to work on wedding pictures and have them all gone.  The folder said there was nothing there.  Several hundred pictures gone.  I was ticked.  (Mildly angry.)  I knew I had a complete back up but it meant purchasing another one.  Fortunately, I did find the receipt on the bad drive.  Hopefully, I will get a refund for the one that is no longer working.  Hard drives are very important to me for storing all my pictures.  I am copying pictures now.  Six months worth of pictures will take 3 hours to copy.  Yup....lots of pictures.  Restoring back ups will take time.  I would love another day off but I don't think I will get it.  Fortunately, a 3 day weekend is coming up.  More time to resolve all the issues from the dead drive.  With hard drives, you don't ask, "What are you going to do if your hard drive dies?"  The correct question, "When your hard drive dies, where is your back up?"