photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

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Back to the Grindstone

Wow. 2020 was the year that ate my life. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to update my blog! Do people even blog anymore or is that an ancient practice by now? Either way, I’m compelled to write, so write I shall! Last year I was moderately depressed. After I graduated from Aspen University with my Master’s degree, I had grown so used to scrambling to meet deadlines, research papers, cramming, rushing, checking off one thing after the next. No matter what, always achieving.

After graduation, I intended to take a few months to decompress, but only a few. I graduated in April, but by June I was still exhaling. I had become so tightly wound as a student, for 10 long years, it literally took me the rest of the year to unwind. Not to mention, the pandemic. Once that $#!+show began, it snowballed, eating every good thing in its path.

I’ve decided to make 2021 “The Year of Preparation”, and 2022, “The Year of Transformation”. Yep, I’ve absolutely got the next two years of my life mapped out, per the usual. For the longest time I’ve quizzically arranged and rearranged the pieces of my life in quasi -interesting patterns. I continually tossed around multiple career paths, blindly grabbing at whatever seemed to work itself into the mix. I had never settled on any one career though. I went from being a possible business major, to sociologist, to social worker, to criminologist, to forensic anthropologist, to psychologist – dear God, you name it, I entertained it!

It’s funny how we have our own ideas of how our lives will be, and then God has HIS ideas of how our lives will be. My Dad taught me something that I carry daily in my life; he said, “listen to the whistle in the wind.” At first I didn’t understand what that meant. But after he explained it, I got it. He said you need to be very quiet and very still to be able to hear that “little whistle” that is carried in the wind. Not a natural wind, of course, a Spiritual one. If we’re too loud or too busy with our own ideas, thoughts, and plans, we won’t be able to hear that ever-soft whistle, or, God’s voice, basically. I love that. Out of all of my siblings, I spent more time with my Dad than anybody. I will always be so grateful for that! I was his life student, and he taught me so much. As I grow older, I can see that I’m more like my Dad than anyone else, and for that I’m grateful too.

I feel like I was floating through 2020, aimlessly- free falling. No ambition, no direction. Just cryogenically in a state of artificial existence. An automaton, going through the motions; content to just simply be. Now that it’s a new year, I’m excited to have gained my direction once again. This year, I’ll prepare for all of the changes that will come in 2022. I’m so excited! I’ve always seen myself working with children, as a teacher. Not a grade school teacher or a standard school teacher. I’ve always seen me working with multicultural children in a foreign land, like Africa, or South America. I didn’t know how I could make that happen though. I thought perhaps I’d end up volunteering at a run down school in a third world country. Now I see the picture crystal clear.

Last year, I purchased a top TEFL program. TEFL means “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”. It’s also known as TESOL- Teaching English as a Second Language. There are other names that are used, but those are the two main ones. Once the program is completed, a certification is granted which allows the certificate-holder to begin teaching English to foreign students, either online or by traveling to their country. Understandably, this is a highly sought after career plan. Who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and experience the culture, cuisine, art scene and familial lifestyles? I’m giddy just thinking about it. 🙂 It’s possible to begin teaching with a TEFL certification only, and the pay is pretty good at that level. But, if you have a bachelor’s degree also, you jump up to another tier entirely, by which the pay is much better, as are the career opportunities. So, it gives me great pleasure to know that my hard work in academia will pay off in more ways than one.

So, I’ve had this program for 8 months now. As I said, I needed to take additional time to decompress. Now that I have, I’m excited to begin my TEFL studies. It usually takes a person 6 to 8 months to complete the necessary courses to become TEFL/TESOL certified. Naturally, I would be teaching students on my laptop, and online, at first, given the state of things with the pandemic. At some point down the road, however, I indent to do a bit of traveling to other countries, here and there, to really soak up the experience.

At some point, I plan on incorporating my children’s book, Peanut Butter Soup, into the curriculum. I also have major plans of developing a music program, and using my acoustic guitar to teach the children basic chord progressions. It doesn’t take much to teach basic chords and songwriting methodologies to children. Children are so eager to learn and therefore make excellent music students. Although we won’t speak the same language, we’ll be able to share a universal language, which is music.

I do have big plans for 2022! I’m so ready for this new stage in my life. Because I’ll probably end up in South America at some point down the line, I’m also beginning to study Spanish in earnest, in tandem with my TEFL studies. It’s important to be bilingual in this line of work. It’s not exactly necessary, but complimentary.

It’s good to be back in the saddle!
It’s going to be a good year. ❤

Self portrait/Ohio River/Jeffersonville, Indiana

S O L D

Thanks so much to the collector who purchased a 13×19 print of “One Fine Day”. 😊 [Click pic for Etsy site.]

Perrin Park, Jeffersonville, Indiana

Cabin Fever

Quarantine hair. [Photoshop-Smudge.]

Zombie Apocalypse

I’ve been reduced to tapping out my posts on my Android since my HP OMEN gaming laptop bit the dust. (Or at least the screen did.) Naturally, under the circumstances, I’ll be much more brief this time around. I marvel at the timing of everything that has happened lately! Due to the Coronavirus, and being shut down here in Indiana for the most part, Josh has chosen to stop working for now.

First of all, the governor of Kentucky (Josh worked just across the state line in Louisville, Ky), Andy Beshear, didn’t specify that hardwood flooring and/or construction work needed to fall under the umbrella of “vital to the cause” or “life sustaining” in order to remain “essential”. As a result, Josh and my son were still having to go in and work on clients’ hardwood floors cosmetically, meaning, simply staining the wood to match furniture, etc.

Meanwhile, people are legit dying out there by the bucket loads. After seeing the body count steadily rise from week to week, Josh was able to pursuade his boss that doing cosmetic floor work for the sake of aesthetic feely goods just didn’t quite equal to risking one’s life on the daily. Thankfully, his boss permitted them to self-demote from highly essential workers to glorified couch potatoes. Speaking of which:

Doin’ my part for the whole human race.

Crazy timing interesting fact #2: As I mentioned, Josh just finished his job- again, for the next month or so, and I officially finished school yesterday. So, our vacations started within just 24 hours of one another! That’s epic stuff, man. For the record, one more time, I just wrapped up my Master’s degree in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. I’m finished with school forever and it feels incredible! Ten long years I’ve had my nose to the grindstone. I must admit, it feels really good to just…be done with it all. 😊

Anyway, I had just spent in the area of $2,200 for my new/used Mark II Canon full-frame camera+ Canon EF 24-70 2.8MML II ($900+) lens + 2 M42/vintage film lenses imported from Bulgaria, + Pro Lustre photo printing paper for sizes: 4×6, 5×7, 8×10, & 13×19 + all of the bubble mailers (for all 4 sizes) and its packaging, preparing to begin my photo/art business just as soon as I graduated, when the freaking zombie apocalypse hit. Go figure!

If it wasn’t so crappy it’d be hysterically funny. I mean, the timing though! And now, our economy is collapsing rapidly, daily, with more than 50% of the nation currently unemployed. The stock market crashed amidst the global pandemic and things are getting so super crazy outside. Regardless, even with Josh not working for awhile, we’re taken care of, thanks to my $ source. With the added EBT/SNAP benefits, that puts us in a pretty good position. I’m just grateful that we’ll be alright through all of this. So many people aren’t right now. We’re being given a 60 day extension on our Duke Energy, Spectrum, + Progressive Insurance bills, so again, I’m able to cover the rent (alone) and buy the food and Josh can take it easy for a change. I am one lucky woman to have such a great life partner! By the time our bill extension is up, he’ll be back at work and can help pick up the tab. We make a pretty great team. 💕

As much as I was hoping I’d be able to hold on to my new L series/Canon lens, I found out my son’s landlord is vying for D*** of the year by demanding $600 back rent, despite the fact that my son gave him rent $ only last week. How are you going to demand $600 back rent during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC?! What an asshole. So, I’m selling my 1 month old lens for $850 (willing to take $800) on Ebay so I can help my son during this time. My Dad was an incredibly generous man. He always did what he could in life to help me out, no matter what. That instilled in me a great desire to do that for my own kids. I will always be there for my kids.

Sunday Drive: Van Gogh Palette.
Meyer-Optik Görlitz Orestor 135/2.8- film lens

17% juice left on my phone; I suppose I’ve said enough for now. After all, I merely wanted to pop in, update space, and report the end of my very, very long academic journey. I feel as if 1,000 stones have been lifted from my back! I am finally free to live my life as I want , on my own terms and on my own time.

Self-Port. Cellphone. 50 going on 30. 😁

My dear sister, Anita,

we haven’t spoken in 8 years or so. I cannot understand how or why any person would choose to cut a blood sibling out of their life. I could never do that to you, nor would I. Life is so short, and it’s precious. It shouldn’t be squandered by hate or unforgiveness. My love for you is still so strong, that not even death could rip it away. Please know that I love you. I don’t know you now, and you don’t know me. I do know that I’m a completely different person than I was when we were last friends. I’m betting you are too. (That can only be a good thing in my book, on both our parts.) You and I were given a pretty rough lot in life. I think it’s fair to say that neither of us were raised properly or given the necessary tools to thrive in this world. In short, the cards were sorely stacked against us. I’m proud of us both for having been raised up in a patriarchal, misogynistic system that smote us at every turn, yet we both grew into strong, intelligent, and fiercely self-sufficient women. Here’s to you Sis; I’m proud of you. ❤

Phoenix Rising

IMG_5491

When I was a little girl, I used to stand in front of my bathroom mirror. We were abjectly poor and our house dilapidated. Melting snow on our wood-burning stove in the living room to make hot water was not an unusual occurrence, but unfortunately, by the time we got to the top floor- all the way in the back section where the bathroom was- our collected water in the tub had already grown lukewarm, if not altogether cold.

My entire childhood was a master class in survival. Holes in our walls allowed the opossums (and other rodents) to crawl in at will and it wasn’t unusual to find a fat one sitting atop the kitchen table, helping itself to whatever scraps it might find.

I wore my older brother’s outgrown hand-me-down blue jeans; they were known as “high waters” because they were far above the ankle. They almost always had well-worn holes in the knees, from years of my brothers’ running and playing and rolling and chasing. I was the lucky recipient who got their unwanted gems.

My bed was a bare mattress- the jail kind- that was blue and white pin-striped, stuffed with feathers. It had long ridden itself of its skin- the dirty, urine-soaked sheets that stayed saturated with cold pee. Even when I was given fresh, clean sheets for my bed, which didn’t happen often, they didn’t stay clean for long. Within 24 hours, they were guaranteed to be soaked again.

I was told by one of my caretakers that I would be hooked up to electrodes and shocked if I continued wetting the bed. The thought of being electrocuted as I slept terrified me and created a lifelong fear of going to sleep. Thankfully, they never followed through with that awful plan but there was always a fear that I would be hurt or punished if I continued wetting the bed. There was nothing I could do to stop it! How do you wake yourself up to go pee as a child with no alarm clock? I don’t think anybody in the world is that talented.

Regardless, nobody stepped in and tried to proactively help me. There were no responsible adults who set a schedule to wake me through the night, guaranteeing that I wouldn’t continue wetting the bed. It was a brutal childhood. And, of course, there was the sexual abuse. As if wetting the bed wasn’t enough, I had a dual fear of being molested. I never knew when he would come for me- calling me downstairs after everybody else had left. I was forced to do unspeakable and shameful acts that no 9 year old child should ever have to do.

I’ve done my research: Adults who were sexually abused as children usually don’t end up faring well in life. They more than likely end up with a boatload of psychological and emotional problems, and they usually end up statistics.

I’ve always felt God’s hand on me. Even during the worst of days as a child on Cherry street. I used to go into my Mom and Dad’s prayer closet and pull the old string that hung down from the low-hanging ceiling. I felt as if I was in the presence of something so Great and Holy! (And I was.) I could smell the anointed oil placed there on the shelf, reverently. I could smell The LORD.

I would open the King James Bible and seek out the red letters. I knew that those were Jesus’ words and I only wanted to say what He’d said.  So I sat there, trembling excitedly as I read out loud all of Jesus’ words from the New Testament. I felt so close to God during those precious times, alone in there with Jesus. I felt so special and loved because I knew that He could hear me.

At night I would pull the sheets (if I had them) or clothing up to my nose and slowly cover my eyes with a clever smile. I knew that I was surrounded by angels. I couldn’t see them but I knew they were there. I thought that if I hid under the blankets, I could pop out quickly and surprise-catch them! I never did, of course, but I always knew that they were there with me. Before I fell into fitful sleep, I would say goodnight to all of my friends, “Good night Noah. Good night Jonah. Good night Jesus. Good night Moses.’ And on and on. I knew that they could hear me too and had the comprehension at that young age to understand that I wasn’t alone as it seemed.

I looked into the bathroom mirror there, on a regular basis, peering deeply into the timid eyes I saw staring back at me. Skinny, sheepish, scared, curious. I was obsessed with my future. It created a world of curiosity within me, not knowing who I would be when I grew up. I wanted to be a good person so badly and do good or important things for others. Even at that age, I was fiercely driven. I was compelled to look down the road and see something worthy and good. I only saw a blank canvas and that frightened me.

I didn’t have the answers that I desperately needed to satisfy my soul. It was almost unbearable not knowing what kind of woman or person I would become as an adult. How could I be certain that I would “end up good”? It was my daily companion- the constant fear of who I wanted to be but afraid I wouldn’t be or able to be. Ten year old girls are often curious and self-doubting about what they’ll be like as adults, but I was having a full-blown existential crisis.

Over the years, I’ve derailed myself multiple times from achieving the personal goals I set for myself. My life has been monumentally challenging, to say the least. As I sit here now, typing into the wee morning hours, I think of that scared little girl in the mirror.

It’s only natural that I would be self-reflecting and doing a life review at 5:00 a.m. on this early Saturday morning. I only have four weeks to go and then I’ll be graduating with my Master’s in Psychology in Addiction Counseling. It’s been a long haul! I’m ridiculously giddy. 🙂 I really did it. It wasn’t always easy but I did it.

Only over these past few days have I begun to see a clearer picture of my life. For the past few years I’ve been privately fretting about becoming an addiction counselor. I have no doubt, especially given my personal experience and history, that I’d be able to help many people in their lives. I have no doubt that I’d break new ground in that industry and blaze my own trail. But would it satisfy my soul, truly? I don’t have that answer but I’m leaning toward, “No, it wouldn’t.”

I’m an artist. And a musician. And a photographer. And a singer. And a teacher. And a counselor. (I never said that I was a “practicing counselor” but I’m most certainly a trained one.) And I’m an author- a published author. A children’s book author. At some point, I may want to finally promote my book or use it as a tool to work with kids. I’ve always seen me doing that somewhere. All I’ve ever had was a murky outline, with no distinguishing features. But now, God is showing me the direction He wants me to go in.

When I had written my Pastor, Rev. Berneice Hicks a decade ago, I had shared with her that I had enrolled as a freshman to go into Business Administration. She wrote me back and encouraged me to get out of that department and apply myself to an area in which I could “better utilize my talents”. I loved that she said that but it brought with it a measure of fear and uncertainty. How would I know what I wanted to do? How would I know where to go?

It was like walking blindly into the fire but trying to believe that you won’t be burned if you just believe it hard enough. Even so, I withdrew from Business Administration (immediately) and signed up for Behavioral Sciences. I knew that I could at least segue into something ‘people-y” later, sticking closely to her recommendation.

So for the past decade as I’ve worked on my Associates, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees (and Substance Abuse certification), I’ve been tossing myself into the waves of uncertainty, rolling through every year with an ever-increasing amount of fear that I was moving in a direction of total blackness. Despite having a Master’s degree in Psychology )and Addiction Counseling), I still wouldn’t be able to be an addiction counselor (not a good one, anyway) without two subsequent years of supervised internship/practicum in counseling! Two full years of that!

I’ve been praying lately, asking God to show me where He wants me to be in this world. I’m willing! I just didn’t know what to do or where to go to truly make a difference in other people’s lives. This past week, He answered me.

I’ve always had an interest in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), also known as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language). Most programs offer 120 (study) hours, minimally, but there are a few other organizations that offer 160 hours, 180 hours, 230 hours and even up to 290 hours. The 290 hours courses are known as “master TEFL classes” and you’re a legitimate expert in the field if you receive this type of certification. For the record, people typically don’t choose something as challenging as 290 hours of TEFL certification.

I’ve eyeballed this career path for the past few decades and have always had an unhealthy interest in this industry. Who wouldn’t want to travel abroad to Thailand or Vietnam and live in a rent-free dwelling on a beautiful exotic island- and be paid to work there?! Most TEFL organizations pay their teachers $1,500 -$1,650 per month. That’s pretty good already, but when you consider that they’re paying your rent on top of your salary- it goes from pretty good to phenomenal. TEFL teachers also receive side perks, such as monetary incentives to maintain standards, as well as other personal and financial bonuses. Some TEFL organizations even offer “exit compensation” of anywhere from $500- $3,000.

When you add up all of the monies and rewards, it becomes an incredibly good deal. As I move closer to graduation, I know that I’m leaving college for good. I’ll never return. (Not to a traditional “college”, anyway.) The only education I’m willing to take after receiving my Master’s degree is to study for and receive my TEFL certification. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. 🙂

A decade ago, the industry looked very different. There have been many technological advancements over the past ten years! Whereas, years ago it was necessary to actually travel to China, or England, or the TEFL country of choice. Nowadays, those same lessons are taught online, in an online classroom. Of course, many people are in it specifically for the cultural experiences too, but if traveling to another country isn’t exactly ideal, it’s good to know the same job can be done via distance education, virtually– 100%.

I believe at some point I will want to travel abroad. I do see myself doing that at some point down the road. But for now, I’ll be teaching English to foreign language speakers (FLS) here in America. I cannot tell you how absolutely stoked I am to finally see the big picture in my life! It’s no longer a hazy outline, but a wildly vivid, technicolour explosion of hope, chance, possibility, and change. I have surely risen from the ashes and am taking flight. 🙂

Being the exceedingly driven, type A, overachiever that I am, naturally, the 120 hour fast track TEFL certification is simply not enough, so I signed on straightaway for the 290 hour “TEFL master class”. If I’m going to do this thing, I really want to DO THIS THING.

I want to be the absolute best that I can be and want to learn as much as I possibly can. I’ve learned by now that if you put in the hard work, in the beginning, you can reap the rewards later. You must first sew the seeds of patience, determination, dedication, focus, energy, and passion into the academic soil and water them with your hard-earned sweat. Only then will anything worthwhile come from that soil. There are no shortcuts! Ever.

I’ve just installed the Duolingo App on my Android, which I’ll use to learn Chinese. I’m also studying Swahili, and will continue my studies in Spanish. I plan on being at least quadrilingual when all is said and done. My target countries of interest are China, Africa, and South America, so if/when I do ever want to transition from online TEFL teaching, I’ll have learned several correlating languages to the countries of my interest.

(My intentions are not to become entirely fluent in Swahili and Chinese. I do however want to be able to comfortably culturally assimilate while in those regions. I’ve just begun studying Chinese and Swahili a few days ago. I will continue studying Spanish, however, unit I’m completely fluent. I have plans for South America- particularly Peru- down the road, and although Peruvians don’t speak 100% Spanish, I’ll be more than prepared by being fluent in Spanish.)

My core foundational TEFL course is 168 hours and its official title is the “Ofqual-Regulated Level 5 Course”. Along with that course, I also signed on for 4 specialization courses which are all 30 hours apiece. (Together, they culminate into the 290 hour “expert certification”.)

My TEFL certification course is officially called the “290 Hour TEFL MASTER Training Course” and the 4 specialization TEFL courses are:

* 30 Hour Teaching IELTS Module (International English Language Testing System)
* 30 Hour Teaching TOEIC Module (Test of English for International Communication)
*30 Hour Teaching Business English Module
*30 Hour Teaching Young Learners Module

There’s no such thing as “pie in the sky” and there are no lucky breaks in life. There’s a purpose for everything and everyone- accidents do not exist. I’m so grateful for my incredibly wise Dad who taught me so much about the world and God and human nature. He used to say to me often, “It says in Ecclesiastes 9:11,  ‘Time and chance happeneth to them all'”. He also shared with me Jesus’ words about the rain falling on the just and the unjust equally, and the sun shining on them both too. He taught me that God gives everybody the same chances in life, and He’s indeed no respecter of persons. With that in mind. there are no excuses for not being able to accomplish one’s dreams in life! Look at my start in life. Every card in that stack was stacked against me. I was told by strangers, family, and anybody and everybody that I was “broken”- damaged goods. I almost believed them.

I chose to believe that I can do anything that I want to do in this world and I’m only as weak as I believe I am. Nobody can hold me back from accomplishing my goals and dreams but me. Some people are so bitter and angry and stay that way throughout their entire lives. They blame others for their misfortunes despite that it was them who made those choices. They choke on their own hatred and drown in their envy. I’m so glad God snatched me up from certain doom and carved a compassionate heart into me. He saved me from an unholy fire, truly.

I want to teach others english as my job, but my real reward will be inspiring other disadvantaged individuals in life and helping them to overcome their seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I’m a living, breathing miracle and I know that if I can walk through the fires that I’ve walked through without being consumed, then I can help others do that too. ❤

I see the little girl standing on the toilet, trying to reach the mirror’s height. I see the worry and fear etched into her young face, and I think, “It’s alright, sweetheart. You’re gonna make it.” ❤

“One Fine Day”

Click Here to Purchase

Perrin Park, Jeffersonville, IN- Oct. 26th, 2019- Rebel t3i + Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8OneFineDay

 

New Year- New Life

I can’t believe I’ve been in school for 10 years now! An entire decade. I haven’t updated much lately as it feels like life has been chewing my insides out and spitting them back at me. So much to do, so little time…

I’ll keep this abnormally short. I’ve got one month left (5 weeks, actually) before I graduate with my Master’s in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. It’s been a long haul! I reached academic burnout years ago but I’m no quitter so I pushed ahead, despite my seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

I have plans after graduation. My two choices are: Feed the artist or feed the psychologist. I’ve decides to feed the artist. 🙂 My plan is to take 3 years away from any “official career”, as in, counseling, etc. and work on my art sites and photos and print sales. I’ve had so many desires over the years to do that but just haven’t had the time, energy, or focus to pull it off. School has always taken precedence, unfortunately. Now, I’ll be able to give 100% of my attention and energy to simply creating an entirely new body of work and creating prints for sale. I’m pretty damn excited about that.

That’s about it for now. Oh! I retired my Rebel t3i and bought a (Canon) Mark II + a $900 EF 24-70 2.8L II USM lens that I’ll use as my primary walk-around. That particular lens is the sharpest mid-range zoom lens in the world and brand new, it sells for $1,400. At $900 it was a bargain. (Sample pics coming soon.)

I also invested in a Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Orester 135/2.8 (15 blades/M42) + a Primplan Red V. 58 MM 1.9 M42 (No. 1170365)- two new (old vintage) lenses from Europe and I’m beside myself to get out and kick some photog ass pretty soon! I’ve waited SO LONG to be able to do this….ugh. If I never see another academic psych. book or APA citations as long as I live it’ll be too soon. [insert barfing emoji here]

That’s it for now. It’ll be a few weeks before I add another update, most likely. I need to finish up this Master’s so I can exhale all of my academic breath and begin the long-overdue process of nurturing the artist in me. I’m going to dedicate the next phase of my life to simply creating art and selling prints. That thought makes me a very happy woman. 🙂

Thanks to the collector in California for the recent (13 x 19) print sale, by the way! And may there be many more to come. 🙂

“Nature’s Jewels”

NaturesJewels

The Winds of Change

Welp: it’s official: I’m a grandma!

Actually, I’ve been a grandma for some time. I have a rocking grandson, Roman, whom I’ll probably never meet, unfortunately. Long story. I’ll try to explain: Be patient, dear reader. I’m about to tell you a story that is incomprehensible. Indescribable. So hard to believe that you may think I’m making it up. I assure you. It’s all true. Read on…

The Scoop: I was framed by an evil (former) mother-in-law, Sandy, who set up myself and my family to blatantly steal my kids. She framed my Dad for heinous crimes he did not commit (against them), and when that didn’t work, the government (the hellish CPS) switched tracks and went directly after me instead. What ensued was a decade of the most hellish experiences I’ve ever endured. Having your children ripped away from you and then brainwashed to believe you’re a monster, well…all I can say is karma is REAL, (Sandy and) Davey. It’s a real deal and your cup is gonna runneth over, honey.

So, to make a long story even longer, my brilliant daughter, Moriah PEACE- who I’ve heard is my virtual twin in every way (and I believe it), pretends I’m dead and I pretty much do the same with her. Sad situation, but I did fight the good fight for 10-12 long years.

I never told her this, but Davey remembers. (Davey is the former foster mother who continued my former mother-in-law’s vicious course by plotting to sever my parental rights so she could adopt Moriah. The attack on my entire family was so vicious, so hideous…we all endured a decade of trauma- all so a greedy woman could steal a baby. TRUTH.)

I can’t go into the details too much- out of respect for everyone involved, but what started this entire evil ball rolling is something that nobody knows- even to this day. (Except for my children. I shared it with them.) Nobody, except them, myself, and Sandy know. One day, I was at Sandy’s house. She wasn’t the paternal grandma. My x-husband (James) had cheated on me while in the Navy, so I repaid him the deed and ended up getting pregnant with my Italian lover’s baby at the time. I explained to her that my child was not her son’s baby. She explained that she didn’t care and that she’d love her just the same.  I was so naive! We bonded during that time, and I ended up confiding in her with a secret that ultimately destroyed almost anyone whose ears it touched.

I shared with her that I had been molested as a child. Sigh. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. I was confused. I was pregnant, hormonal, scared, and appreciated her motherly bonding at the time and it sort of just came rolling out. Had I known the damage that that one act would have caused, I’d never had uttered a breath of a word! Alas, I did, and it was too late. (Unfortunately, by the time my girls landed at the last foster home, Davey’s, she continued what Sandy had initially begun, because you see, she too used to work for the system and she too knew that the quickest way to adopt a foster child is to accuse the mother, father, or family member of molesting the child. She took that ball and RAN with it. And that’s how Davey ended up with those claims. After learning about that info. from the case, she began rehearsing my girls to accuse several of my family members of “molesting them”. They gave my innocent children “anatomically correct” NAKED dolls to “play with” to see what they would do. if that isn’t perverted I don’t know what is.)

Back to Sandy. I trusted her. I believed her when she said, “You can tell me, Birg!” So I shared with her the awful thing that happened to me as a child. She ended up taking that information months later and using it to build a case with CPS by accusing a certain family member of molesting my child. It wasn’t true: nobody molested my child. I took my child straight to the hospital and had tests run, etc. and took the report straight to CPS, showing them that my daughter indeed had not been molested. It mattered not. Sandy used to work for the system so she knew exactly what to do to gain access to my child while suspending ours. She knew all the tricks in the book.

The level of betrayal I experienced was indescribable. She knew that I was the one who was molested, yet she used the information to gain access to my child, while simultaneously ceasing access for myself and my entire family. They stated that since they had to open an investigation, our rights were “temporarily” suspended. All of us. And so began the longest court battle of my life.

The whole case was like a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. As my kids were shuffled around from foster home to foster home, the case grew larger and larger. The harder I fought, the worse it got- for everyone. It was like this crazy ball rolling down a hill at high speed- collecting every stone or blade of grass in its path. The case was comprised of and built upon trumped-up lies. Just total garbage.

After 10+ years of a hell I cannot describe, one day, I asked a police officer where the foster parents lived. My Mom was with me. I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere around them, but only by what I can describe as a miracle, the police officer told me right away where they lived. He gave me their address. (He totally wasn’t allowed to do that.)

My Mom and I drove right up to the foster parents’ house. I knew she wanted to adopt Moriah, and frankly, I was ready for it all to just go away by that point; I had two other children that needed protecting from these monsters. I knew that as long as I continued to fight to bring my children home, the foster mother (Davey) would continue to poison them against me, so, I did what any loving mother would do: I sacrificed myself.

I knocked on the door. Davey came out and her eyes were as big as saucers. She couldn’t believe I was standing on her doorstep. I asked her if we could speak- off the record- just the two of us. She complied and we sat on her steps and smoked a cigarette together. (I still smoked back then.)

I explained that I in no way wanted to let her adopt Moriah, but I wanted Moriah to be able to be happy (and to live in a home which wasn’t toxic, and being told what to say for “the agenda”.)  Being told her mother was a monster. Being told terrible things were done to her that absolutely were not. Davey pulled some very evil crap. We both knew it. I used to think that Davey was actually pure evil, I really did. Who could do that to a child? THAT is child abuse.

But now I realize that she had simply fallen in love with Moriah and wanted her at all costs. She was ok to condition my child if it meant getting her in the end. She had conditioned herself to believe the very stuff she was slinging, because it eased her conscience. She could sleep at night if she believed in her “crusade”; if she told herself that she was “protecting Moriah from a terrible person”- it was much easier for her to follow through with it all.

So, considering all of those things, I hated her a tad bit less. I don’t blame her for wanting Moriah. Moriah was a special baby. Her name “Moriah” actually translates as “The place of skulls”, AKA “Golgotha”, it’s Biblical. Mount Moriah (in the Bible) was the mountain that Abraham took his son, Isaac, up on, to be tested. God instructed Abraham to slaughter Isaac, so he tied him up on an altar, drew out his scythe, and just as he was getting ready to strike, an angel of the Lord stopped his hand. God was pleased for He knew that Abraham would choose to follow Him (God) anywhere, even if it meant sacrificing his only son.

This is why I named her Moriah Peace. Because while Abraham was traveling up one side of the mountain, distraught, God had already sent two rams up the other side- at the same time- so that when he (Abraham) passed the test, he looked over and saw a ram caught in the thicket. God had prepared a proper sacrifice all along! The fear and terror melted away and Abraham was filled with an incredible new peace he’d never known.

Hence her name, Moriah Peace. Who knows, maybe someday she’ll see this and understand that her name was indeed prophetic, and I too had to lay her on the altar and give her back to God. It was not easy.

When talking with Davey that day, I told her that I needed to protect my two other children I had had since the long ordeal had begun, ten years before. It’s true that I hated Davey vehemently for what she did to Moriah (and my other daughter, who was taken from me as well), but at that point, it was about doing what I could to protect Moriah from any more vicious foster parent-adoption games. All foster parents know and understand that if you want to sever the birth mother’s or father’s parental rights, you simply accuse somebody in the family of molesting the child. Everybody knows that.

Her husband was running for Sheriff every year on TV and rubbing elbows with all the judges and I was a poor Mom, with little money, fighting every year for my children’s return the only way I knew how- with my sheer grit and determination. You do the math: the odds were not in my favour. I had no less than 4 breakdowns in the process. It absolutely destroyed me- for years. I literally begged God for cancer and death. I know. Not cool. But I can’t describe the level of pain and trauma that I lived in- year in, year out. People have absolutely no idea the hell I’ve lived through. Not a clue.

After recovering from each breakdown, I got right back in the ring. Moriah will never know the sacrifices I made for her, or how I suffered to simply try and bring her home. We had only shared 8 months together before she was taken, but we had bonded so strongly! We used to play a very sweet game. I’d put her in her car seat parallel from me, in the back, so that I could turn around quickly and randomly (while driving) with a surprised face- eyes and mouth wide open- smiling. She would bust out laughing hysterically every time. It was the cutest thing ever. She was such a sweet baby. And that kid loved to ride in that car! If I had to guess, I’d bet she loves to just get in her car and drive- radio on- wind blowing her hair so she can feel free for a while. How do I know that? Right…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

So back to that day, in the driveway.

I told Davey that all I cared about was Moriah’s happiness. After all, all she knew was that she was in a “good home” with good food, clean clothes, etc. and had her needs met. That’s it. She didn’t know or understand the political sharks who fed upon her monetarily- including the foster parents. Everybody made a lot of money off of her! Thousands per month.

I explained to Davey that if I could speak to Moriah personally, I would ask her what she wanted. I already knew what the answer would be, but I needed to hear it for myself. I respect every person’s autonomy and right to decide for themselves what they want- regardless of their age. The heart knows what the heart wants! Besides, I could’ve been the Easter bunny at that point. She really didn’t know me. And, we had all suffered enough.

Davey blew my mind and actually went in and retrieved Moriah. She brought her out and Moriah was sooooo excited. She was smiling and bouncing and SO happy to see me. Also, she showed off her new tooth she had just lost. I reminded myself that I couldn’t go into deep topics or try to explain what was really  going on. I needed to remember that she was clueless about everything- all the political garbage and evil doings of others. She had no idea and I wanted it to be kept that way.

So, I asked her, “Moriah, do you like living here?” And she said, “Yes!” And I said, ‘Do you want to live here forever?” And she again said, “Yes!” As I knew she would. And I asked her the final question, “Do you want to have the last name Harrod like everybody else?” And she again shouted, “Yes!” And it was a done deal.

I told Davey that I would move forward immediately with the adoption process with her. I’d work with her and sign off on any paperwork necessary so she could be adopted. Only then could she live in a truly healthy environment with no games  or selfish agendas attached. Davey looked at me and said, “You’ll never know what a gift this is, Birgitta. You are blessing me so much.” And we both cried together.

I told Davey to take good care of Moriah and gave her (Davey) a hug, despite our history. I looked at Moriah and said, “Be good for your Mommy, ok?” To this day, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life- calling another woman “Mommy” for my daughter’s sake. That absolutely crushed me. Whew…..no words. That was my final gift to her.

I got back in the car with my Mom and as soon as I was out of sight, I slid down into the floorboard and just bawled my head off….for hours. I was definitely not ok for a long time after that.

So yeah. Some time back Moriah had a son, Roman. Naturally, I’m not even a memory in anyone’s mind in that loop- not at all. But isn’t that the way the cookie crumbles? Some women would’ve clawed their way in that direction to try and see their only grandson, but I’ve always respected Moriah’s privacy. I’ve never sought her out or tried to explain anything. As a matter of fact, this is the first post that I’ve posted about that situation at all. I’ve exercised incredible restraint to not blast anybody or air out dirty laundry about all of that, etc.

That said, I do reserve the right to be able to tell my own story. And any parent’s story involves their child or children. That doesn’t mean they don’t get to tell their own story though. Everybody has their own truth and their own version of the truth. And everybody has the right to express their own truth. Including me.

So, despite having a grandson, I’ve been like the Virgin Queen- ha. (Or should I say, the Virgin Grandma?) Having a child that you can’t be with is hell. Having a grandchild that you can’t be with or will never know is its own hell too. This is why I’m so excited to share the news that I am now a grandma (again) and will be going to see my new grandson tomorrow for the first time. 🙂 My son, Brian, just had a baby and his name is Matthias Isaac. I’m so proud of him! He’s going to be such a good Dad because he’s a great person. Loving, kind, sensitive, thoughtful, merciful, and freaking brilliant. He is an incredible person, and I’m proud to be his Mom. 🙂

I had no intention of writing all of that. It just sort of spilled out. Perhaps it was just time.
I am Gam Gam and Josh is Pee Paw. 🙂 I’m over the moon with love and joy!

I’ll make another post somewhat soon (ish) and post a few pics of my beautiful grandbaby, who looks so much like his father. Life is so strange and beautiful and dark and scary and bold and bright- all of it. No matter who the story is about or how it’s told, it always comes full circle. That’s the law of Love and Life. ❤

My circle is complete. I used to long for the day when I could cross the river to the other side and simply exhale. The grass certainly isn’t greener on this side. But it sure as hell is a lot prettier. 🙂

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Title: “Crossing Over”
Location: Perrin Park, 10.28.19. Taken early on a cold, foggy, October morning.
Lens: Carl Zeiss jena Flektogon- vintage film lens- imported from Bulgariafor EtsySMALLER

 

Ghostly

Title: “Ghostly”

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This is for you, Sean.
I’m so sorry you couldn’t find the comfort you so desperately needed in this world.
I’m sorry that the system failed you. (It failed me too, in many ways.)
I’m sorry that the only solution they offered was to shove fistfulls of pills into you.
I’m sorry they convinced you to undergo Electric Shock Therapy.
I’m sorry that you were hurting so badly inside. More than anyone knew.
I’m sorry that you spent your entire life doubting that anyone cared for you.

I can’t accept the fact that you’re really gone.
I found your book on Amazon: Stories of How I End. Which is like your entire blog, pressed into a book. I’ll buy a copy soon, and I’ll do what I can to promote your work.

I will make that promise to you. And I will keep it, friend. I miss you.

I’m sorry. x

#suicideisnevertheanswer

 

I Think I Died Yesterday

Manchester, Ky. July 22, 2019Manchester Farmhouse

So the strangest thing happened to me yesterday. I died. Sort of. Or at least I think I might have almost tried to. (I’ll explain.)

So I was lying on the couch, fairly exhausted after returning from Manchester, Kentucky, to find Josh’s childhood home- and the apartment where his mother was murdered. I’ll touch on that later. So I had been watching my beloved Egyptian and Roman history documentaries, when I drifted off into blissful sleep. (The kind of which you don’t remember drifting off at all.)

Next think I knew, I had “come to” in a dark, circular room- like a circus tent. I couldn’t make out any edges. I sort of was just there. It was a bit creepy. And to make it even more creepy, I was completely lucid. I knew I was “dreaming”, or at least I thought it was a dream. (I used quotation marks because I know the difference between a dream and being out of one’s body. This sure seemed to be the latter of the two.)

It’s been a few years since I’ve dealt with floating out of my body. When I was a teenager, it began happening more and more and it got to a point where I could simply push with my mind while holding my hands up (like Superwoman) and I immediately was flying at what seemed like hundreds of miles per hour. It’s super fun at times, but more times than not, it’s scary as hell. One of the best times was when I was flying over a forest and could control my direction, and one of the worst times was when I was sitting in a movie theater, surrounded by occupants. Every now and then a person would look over at me. This became more frequent until most everyone in the place was looking at me, simultaneously. If you don’t think that’s creepy AF, I promise, it is.

I knew I needed to get the crap out of there so I stood up and when I turned toward the door, I began to fly- super fast- with my arms outstretched. I was flying down a hall, when I turned around to see all of the people (who were actually vampires, and I knew it then) were close behind me- flying after me. I saw a window at the end of the hall and flew right through it- despite it being closed. I escaped, thankfully. Anyway, these are just a few examples of my lucid “dreams”.

Lately, I’ve been slipping out of my body and into vacant, dimly-lit buildings. It’s so crazy! I’ll suddenly “come to” in my consciousness of being there, and I’ll recognize that I need to wake up. So, I try to find the exit door and can’t. I wander around here and there for what seems like 20 or 30 minutes. Lucid dream time is the same as real time. It’s not speeded up or slowed down, but exactly the same as if you were there IRL.

So after wandering around, meandering about, I start to get bored. Nothing’s happening and it still hasn’t dawned on me that I need to wake myself up- myself. As that realization comes to me (after a while), I know I need to “push” with my mind and concentrate and then I usually wake up after doing so.

Back to yesterday. So, not unlike most other times, I “came to” in this dark, circular room. I perceived that I was alone. Something was off though, and after trying to open my eyes completely, I realized that my right eye was stuck. This had never happened before. I moved my face around, trying to force open both eyes widely. Nada. I couldn’t figure out why my right eye wouldn’t open!

Suddenly. I became aware of a presence in the room with me. I saw a glowing form in the center of the room, but I was too scared to look at it. I told myself that if I looked away, it wouldn’t materialize. (It worked.) But shortly afterward, a male voice called out from the direction of the form and said, “Whatever…”, somewhat malevolently.

That did it for me! I knew that sometimes I needed to move around and shake myself in order to wake myself up, and so I jumped up and down 3 or 4 times. Weirdly though, my feet weren’t on the ground. I was floating and when I jumped, I was moving really fast, like super fast. It seemed that I was in spirit form. It didn’t work and I began to realize that I was stuck in this place- with a hyper-awareness of my consciousness and situation. It was extremely unsettling.

I began to think that maybe I was dead. Maybe I had died in my sleep. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that there was a whole lot more darkness in front of me, in that direction, and around me to the left and right. But I remember having the acknowledgement that “light”, and life itself, was behind me. As in, proximally. I needed to get back to the light! I couldn’t turn around (physically) and was just stuck there, with my right eye sealed, thinking I was dead, but wanting terribly to get back to my life. I had an overwhelming feeling of being alone; like I would never see my loved ones again. I tried jumping again, and focusing on trying to find a way back.

Not too much time had passed when I became aware that I was lying sideways, but I couldn’t see, and both eyes were shut now. I was lifted upward, as if I was floating, upward and then floated backwards and down, as if a wind had blown me up and back in and down again. I could literally feel my spirit going back into my body. Needless to say, it was not fun! I opened my eyes, so very thankful to be back again. Back to the land of the living! I thought about what had happened and realized that what had actually happened was that I had left my body- partially- only my left side had moved out and my right side (around my eye, in particular) was still very much in my body, which would explain why my right eye felt sealed shut. I’ll be happy to never experience that freaky situation again. It really is quite terrifying.

Basic Update: Josh and I are doing really well. I’ve been away from my blog here for so long, with only the periodic update several times per year. Things were really hard between Josh and I when I was still active here, and then I had some heartbreaking situations with one of my daughters that I couldn’t write about- I had to stay very quiet and low-key. Then my little brother died. I was slammed pretty hard, and it was relentless for a while. I’m finally in a good place again and Josh and I have grown so much closer over the past year.

I love that man with a love that is beyond this world. He’s my heart and my very life. Fourteen years is a long time to be in somebody’s life! We’ve grown up together, and love the life that we’ve built together. He’s grown his beard out all shaggy. He’s such a hippy. 🙂

My Baby- Headed to Manchester.
MyBABY


So we decided to take a trip over this past weekend. It was a spontaneous decision. We were thinking about going to a recording studio and checking out where we might begin recording our music together. He had mentioned going back to his childhood home, in Manchester, Kentucky, to seek out his childhood home, and the home that his mom was murdered in.

She had been in an abusive relationship with a guy named Abe. He was the manager at the apartment complex. They began dating, and he began physically abusing her.  Josh was only 7 when she decided to take her two kids and leave. Abe had other plans. He cut the phone lines to the entire apartment complex so she couldn’t call for help and then “accidentally shot and killed her when he was cleaning his gun”.

I can’t begin to list the many ways in which her death has affected Josh’s life. I never knew her, but as a woman, I feel that I owe it to her to give him the love and protection and goodness that he deserves. Every now and then she’ll cross my mind, and I’ll go and give Josh a hug- for her. (I usually don’t tell him that it’s for her. I’d want somebody to do that for my son if I were gone though.)

As for my schooling, despite my many obstacles lately, I’m still chugging away at this Master’s degree (Psychology and Addiction Counseling). It hasn’t been easy, but by golly, I carry on. I only have two more classes left after this one, which is Psychopharmacology for Counselors. Good stuff. 🙂

Until we meet again. XoXoxOxO

Manchester, Ky. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens
MyBabyinManchesterJuly2019
DoorAsylumManchester