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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.
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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
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DoorAsylumManchester


The Ties that Bind

Disclaimer: All are welcome here, and welcome to read my blog posts, I welcome you with open arms. That said, I’m a bold speaker and a truth-teller. I don’t sugar coat things and I don’t play games. I say things like they are and make no apologies for anything I say. If you’re a family member and happen to be offended at something I write here, I suggest you either stay away from my blog, or perhaps learn how to respect other people’s rights, which include the right to express their thoughts, ideas, feelings, notions, and anything else they feel like expressing. Remember, this is my personal space. I’m entitled to write about my personal life, and anything that involves my personal experiences, including my experiences with “family”.

Also, do keep in mind that I speak on family members as an outsider sometimes. As a studying psychologist and counselor, it’s my job to study family structures, family units, and the many intra-personal relationships within families, and that includes wonderful families and family members and it also includes toxic relationships and toxic family members. When I write about “toxic families”, for instance, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m talking about my own. Many times, I’m speaking about families from a therapeutic perspective. Afterall, I’ve studied family relationships for a decade now, academically via psychology and counseling.

That said, there have been a number of times that a specific family member (you know who you are) literally stalks my blog, and if I so much as write the word “family”, she sends me raging, angry texts- lashing out at me, hatefully. *Newsflash* I’m allowed to post my life experiences and feelings that involve families, along with my own family. You’re not the gatekeeper and you’re not my personal warden. Back the hell up and respect my autonomy. I’m a writer. You’re allowed to create your own blog posts and say whatever you like there. But you’re not going to silence me, and you’re not going to control me. Due to the fact that I was sexually abused as a child- BY A FAMILY MEMBER- that forced me to be in my own little boat. I wasn’t allowed to have the same relationships that my other family members had, so from the time I was 9 years old, I’ve been a loner- even among my own family.

I’ll never reveal the secrets and private things that my brother, John, shared with me many years ago. But he too suffered some of the same things that I did as a child, unfortunately. As tragic as that was for us, it bonded us in a special way, and I thank God that he and I were in our own boat. When he passed away in January (four months ago), I feel like I lost the last true family member I had. He loved me unconditionally, and he’s the only one who did (besides my Dad). They were the only ones, though. Everybody else loves me conditionally. (Meaning, sometimes.) When John passed on, he was the last of the Mohicans. He was the last one. Now I’m on my own.

Disclaimer over.

I dreamed of my sister again. She’s almost always cold and distant in my dreams; much like in real life. We haven’t spoken in more than 5 years, and that’s an absolute tragedy. As Pentecostal Christians, we were raised to understand the importance of forgiveness.  There are so many scriptures in the Bible about forgiveness, and Jesus clearly states that if you don’t forgive your brethren (and that includes sisters), there’s no place for you in Heaven. As a matter of fact, Jesus makes it crystal clear that if you say you love God, but hate your brother (or again, sister) and refuse to forgive her, then you’re a murderer. That’s a pretty serious charge! I honestly don’t know how any “Christian” can go on in her life, making a deliberate choice to not forgive, but instead, harbour hatred in her stone cold heart but still try to call herself a Christian. You’re a fraud. Jesus said so.

Whosoever hateth his brother (or sister) is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.   –1 John 3:15

Understandably, not everyone has the capability to forgive. They really don’t. They’re shallow and selfish and have no depth for the long roots that forgiveness needs. See, it starts in childhood. As I said before, because I was molested, I had no choice but to forgive. I had to. I had to go on living in the same house with everybody else, and despite my anger or hatred at what was done to me, I had to suck it up, forgive, and still try and have “healthy relationships” with everyone (including my offender) regardless. Needless to say, being sexually abused will change your relationships with every single family member, how could it not? For the longest time, I couldn’t even say the words “sexually abused”- it terrified me. I had no idea why it happened to me, out of everyone in the house, it was me.

For years, I told no one. But being sexually abused by a family member and then having to carry on daily with all of the other family members- as if it never happened- it created fractures within my core. You see, I never knew these things until I began studying psychology. I began to understand why I was clinically depressed at age 10, and at age 11, my Mom had to take me to the doctor because my stomach was in knots, and I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t eat or sleep. That deadly secret was so toxic- so heavy and destructive- that it threatened to destroy my entire family if I told anyone.

So I carried that burden alone. For years. All the while, I was being destroyed on the inside. I began having breakdowns in my 20’s, because it was all just too much for me to bear. Again, thank God for my schooling and psych. studies. I learned exactly why I was having breakdowns. I was labeled “crazy” by other family members and was pretty much branded as being “mentally ill”. I actually bought what they sold me for many years. I believed it too. After my 5th year studying psychology, I began my new course which was “Abnormal Psychology”. I learned that my fragmentations and mental breakdowns were absolutely appropriate for what I went through. There’s just no way that you’re going to be molested as a child by a family member, and continue living with that family member year after year, having to interact with that family member- along with everyone else- and be “normal”. It’s just not going to happen.

What is going to happen is you’re going to start breaking up from the inside out. Clinical depression is just the beginning. There’s also the rage and anger- and that’s appropriate as well. There’s shame and guilt that’s heaped on you in huge mountains that you’re forced to carry- day in, day out. As the years roll on, you begin to feel highly abnormal- like a circus freak. It’s so damaging. The majority of all women who were sexually abused as a child- especially by a family member- end up mere statistics. Alcoholism is basically a prerequisite. I too tried to drown out my pain with alcohol for a number of years.

But most women who’ve gone through what I’ve gone through end up so damaged, they’re either suicidal or a complete basket case. I consider myself a living, breathing, miracle. I was so tired of that disease (disease = being sexually abused as a child) controlling me and confounding me and destroying me…I knew that I needed to do something that I had never done before…I needed to address it. As I said, for a number of years, I couldn’t even pray about it and ask God for help. I was so scared of even saying it out loud- even to God! But I knew that as long as it lay in the back closet of my being, I would continue to be consumed by it. I needed to address it, so that I could move beyond it. 

You might think, “Well, for somebody who’s moved beyond it, you sure do mention it a lot,” but you see, secrets keep people sick. Let me say that again, “SECRETS KEEP PEOPLE SICK’. By broadcasting it, addressing it, and discussing it openly, I took its power away. I began to gain control over IT, rather than it continuing to control, me.

I stopped drinking hard liquor, stopped smoking weed, quit smoking cigarettes, and stopped taking prescribed medications all around the same time. They were smokescreens. And they only complicated things in the end. Instead, I faced the biggest demon I’ve ever known, and I stared that awful evil right in its disgusting little face, and I took my life back. 

I can’t speak for others, and I can only attest to my own experiences, but I was tired of going to therapy and psychiatrists and psychologists and other professionals who weren’t helping me much. I began to understand that all of the breakdowns and emotional problems that I’d had in my life were a direct correlation of having been sexually abused as a child. I wasn’t “mentally ill”, I was trying to live through devastation and tragedy and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I had gone through my own war, and I began to learn how to live- for the first time in my life- rather than just survive.

Shortly after having these epiphanies, and after removing substances (alcohol, weed, cigarettes, etc.) from my life, I enrolled in college. What better (and really, who better) major could I select than Behavioral Sciences? So, I began studying psychology and the brain, and coping mechanisms, and psychological perspectives, and learned how to have healthy relationships. I learned all sorts of things about family structures, family dynamics, etc.

I began to learn and truly understand that when a family is raised by an alcoholic parent, the entire family is sick. Being yelled at or hurt by an intoxicated parent creates distorted filters. Abusive behavioral patterns are passed down from parent to child, so that when the children grow up, their own filters of perception are distorted. This is why drug and alcohol counselors teach people that addiction is a family disease. The entire family is sick- as a whole- so that the relationships between the family members can be, and often are, toxic. Rather than forming close bonds, and protecting one another in love, anger becomes the base that relationships are built upon.

When a family is raised by an alcoholic parent, their methods of communication will be anger-based as well. When family members are getting along, they’re tolerating one another more than truly forming loving bonds. The children learn to communicate angrily, and as a result, when problems arise between family members, there’s little to no “healthy conflict resolution”, because it was never learned. Instead, they freeze up in anger, against one another. This is why toxic families (such as this example) who never receive any type of group or family therapy, never truly learn how to communicate in a healthy manner. They don’t even know they’re toxic! But yet they are, because anger was integrated into their family unit from childhood.

I am SO grateful for my psych. training. I began to understand why the communication patterns are the way they are in my own family. It all began to make sense.

Because addiction was such a huge part of my life growing up- having been raised by an alcoholic parent- I knew I needed to get a formal education regarding substance abuse. So, while I was studying Behavioral Sciences, I also received my CPC/Certification in Substance Abuse. (It tacked an additional year onto my associates degree, but it was well worth it.) I graduated with honours and transferred over to a 4 year university and began working on my bachelor’s in psychology. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I transferred a final time to my Master’s program, which is where I am now. I’m just over a year shy of receiving my Master’s degree in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. Eleven long years!

I can’t thank God enough for the training I’ve received. I quite literally became my own therapist, and client. 🙂

People who aren’t educated in family system theories will hear an individual say “toxic family” and naturally, they become judgmental and heated- emotionally charged and angry. However, when you’ve had an entire decade of mental health training- particularly in abnormal psychology and toxic families 101, it becomes a general study. There’s no bias or judgment or anything along those lines. You classify it for what it is because it fits the criteria, such as being raised by an alcoholic parent. (And that’s just one point, among many.) That’s not to say that it’s not an altogether loving, wholesome family, etc. but it’s liberating to be able to see it for what it is and then say, “Alright, so this is what was handed to us. How can we be the best that we can be, together?

And this is where the heartbreak lies, yet again, between my sister and me. I’m more than capable of moving past any hurt, any anger, anything. As I said, I had to learn how to do that 40 years ago- for the sake of my family. it is literally NOTHING for me to forgive. Absolutely nothing. It takes less than a second to do! You simply have to choose it, and once you choose to forgive, truly, every bit of anger and hurt and blame and everything else evaporates- completely. As if it was never there. That’s how powerful forgiveness is!

God forgives us, so we must forgive others. If God forgives you, and you don’t forgive others, you’re a thief. You’re literally stealing His grace. God’s grace is a gift- it’s true. But you don’t get that gift if you choose UNforgiveness. It doesn’t work like that.

…and you’re running out of time.

For what it’s worth, sister, I forgive you. I’ve been standing on this bridge for 5 and 1/2 years, waiting for you to take those steps of courage. Thankfully, you didn’t suffer the things I did as a child. So you’ve never had to forgive somebody “against your will”. I did that for you. I forgave my offender for you, and everybody else in my family., so we could continue being a family. I had a choice to make. I could choose to either report my offender’s actions to the authorities and watch our family be ripped apart and deposited into foster homes (as my offender told me would happen, if I ever told), or I could remain silent and say nothing, so we could all remain a family.  We know what I chose, because we stayed together as a family, but that came at a heavy price, and I’m the one who paid it. Me. Not you. You were protected and given a large room with a  lock on your door. Must’ve been nice. I, however, had no lock on my door, and was repeatedly molested while you were in your locked room.

So you see, I paid a heavy price to keep our family together.

I do hope you find it in your heart to choose love over hatred, and forgiveness over unforgiveness. You see, I kept our family together, as I said, and as it’s now obvious to those who never knew my story. (And they never knew it because I’ve kept the details private for all of these years.) But those details are mine- they belong to me- and I’m the one who gets to share them or not. Nobody else can choose that- because it didn’t happen to them or you.

I kept our family together all of those years, and I had to sacrifice a lot to endure what I did, year after year. But you, are continuing to rip our family apart. And isn’t it funny that I was blamed for that instead! Ha! I dare say…

For every year that you continue to not forgive me, or speak to me, and continue pretending that I’m dead, is another lash upon our mother’s back. YOU- are keeping this family separated. I love my family- very much. I’ve longed to patch things up and move the crap on already. You remember, on the way back from our camping trip, after our blow out, I begged you. I said, “Let’s work this out, man. Let’s not do this. Let’s forgive each other and move past this. Let’s say we’re sorry and and move on! if we don’t patch this up, we’re going to go back to Jeffersonville and probably not speak for months. Let’s not do that! Let’s not be silent like this!”

And you looked at me, icily, and said, “My silence is serving me well.”  And you looked away from me, and that’s the last time you spoke to me- ever.

Let me ask you, is your silence still serving you? Are you at peace with your unforgiveness and iciness? Really?

Who in the hell stays mad at somebody for almost 6 years?! That….is insanity. And that is a deliberate perpetuation of sickness and toxicity. I truly hope that God fills your heart with His warmth and love and grace. I really do. And I’ll tell you- I’m terrified for you. Because you can’t take that crap into Heaven.

As long as you continue to choose silence, you continue to keep our family apart. What’s that about the 99? Remember? Not good enough.

I just needed to get some things off my chest. Needed to open the windows and let the dust fly out. You may wonder why I’m choosing to address you openly like this. Well, I’ll tell you. Because you’ve single-handedly murdered our relationship. You’ve suicided yourself. You said yourself; you chose silence over forgiveness.

And that’s your right. You do have the right to remain silent. You get to be as silent as the grave, in fact. But you don’t get to choose silence for me. You murdered your relationship to me, but I never murdered our relationship. I’ve been standing on this damn bridge for almost 6 years, waiting for you. But I can’t do your work. I can’t take your steps for you. You have to do that.

Just so you know, I’ll continue standing on this bridge with the hope that someday, you’ll have the courage and the guts to back up that “Christian claim”- because that’s what Christians do- they forgive one another. That’s all I’ll say on this matter. (For now). But again, I may or may not write you again in the future, and again, it’s my right to do so. Like I said, you can be as silent as you want, but it’s not within your rights to silence me. I get to talk (write) alllllll I want to. If you don’t like what you’re reading, you have the right to exit and go about your business. But I have the right to talk/write to you all I want- you don’t have any authority when it comes to my rights and choices here. My rights are mine.  /end

Ahhhh… the rain is pouring down! There’s a beautiful thunderstorm outside- lightning crashing. It’s supposed to rain for the next four days and that makes me blissfully happy. 🙂 Nothing makes me happier than a torrential thunderstorm. Life is good now. I’m in a good place in my life. I just purchased a new 13 x 19 professional photo printer along with professional photo paper. I’ve had it for more than six weeks now and there it sits- in its box. I haven’t quite gotten around to setting it up yet. I will at some point, hopefully soon. I’m not ready yet. As long as I’m still in school, I’m not quite ready to dedicate 100% of my time to starting my photo business, but I’ll work my way in that direction down the road a ways. One more year of school, and I’ll be done for good.

I used to think that I was in school because I wanted to help others- especially other women who’ve lived through the same things I’ve lived through. Now I know that I was in school to learn how to be a mentally strong and healthy human being. I’m finally free from those chains that kept me bound for so long. 

 

And it’s about time… ❤

 

Jacksonville, Texas- just down the road from my grandparent’s house- Helios film- 44-2.country-road

 


Kissed by the Light

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Center. Clermont, KY- last day of winter 2019. [Helios 44-2. film]

13 x 18 = Large = $53
8 x 10 = Medium = 33
5 x 7 = Small = $18

Click image to purchase.

Bernheim Helios2


Nature’s Jewels

 

Click on pic to purchase. (Free shipping on all U. S. orders.)

13 x 19 = Large = $53
8 x 10 = Medium = $33
4 x 6 = Small = $18

NaturesJewels


Monochromejunkie

There’s a reason I chose the username Monochromejunkie: It’s because I’m obsessed with black and white photography. To me, nothing is more beautiful than a bold black and white image with heavy, dark blacks and stark whites. These days, people are so used to simply slapping a filter on something or doing a quick and easy B&W conversion.

it takes a well-trained eye to look out upon a landscape or street scene and be able to convert that over to a B&W in your mind and truly “see” a black and white. Because reds, greens, and blues all convert into various shades of black, white, and grey, you need to know what would truly make a good black and white, because not every scene does.

This past year, I’ve been in a photographic funk and sorely uninspired. 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life. So many troubles with some of my children and their private struggles, along with the death of close friends and loved ones. It really kicked me in the teeth and that alone can kill your passion for your art.

After coming back to my blog and writing again, I rediscovered my friend Gav’s black and white photography. He’s an excellent street photographer, but what he’s really good at, more so than anyone else I’ve ever known, is staying in black and white mode. Nevertheless, year after year, he continues shooting in black and white and never seems to grow bored with it.

Seeing his beautiful black and whites have woken up my first love: black and white photography. I’ve wanted to shoot in B&W mode (only) for a year straight- for a long time, but never had the courage to take that plunge. I know though, that if I don’t do that, then I’ll never commit. And if I don’t commit to truly knowing the ins and outs of black and white and really learning it, then I never will grow as a photographer and artist to the degree that I want to.

I’ve decided to finally take the plunge! I’m putting my camera in monochrome mode and leaving it there for an entire year. It actually began yesterday, so until March 8th of 2020, I’ll be shooting in nothing but black and white. This way, rather than focusing on various colours, I can keep my focus on lighting and exposure. So Gav, if you’re reading this, thank you! You’ve been a major inspiration and have woken up my love of black and white again. It’s not for everybody. But for people like us, it’s what drives us.

I took these yesterday, at Sellersburg park (Indiana) while taking Chance and Diamond on our mile walk. Just as we were getting ready to leave, it started snowing. That was a nice touch. 🙂 (These are basically SOOTC/straight out of the camera.)

A new bud gets its first taste of the snow. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35-2.8
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Call me Gam Gam

For the first time in many months, I’m behind in my work.  My large-ish assignment was due yesterday evening, but when I awoke from my deep slumber, it was 41 degrees in my house. I could almost see my breath. I huddled under my (Egyptian cotton) flannel sheets, like I was in a tee-pee, and texted my professor on my cell phone. There’s no way I can work in those conditions. She’s amazingly supportive, so she afforded me as much time as I’d like.

I had a good run for a while without my 3 day migraines. There were times when I didn’t get one for months in a row. But recently, they’ve been visiting me more often. And when I say visiting, I mean like a drunken husband that grabs you by the throat and slings you around mercilessly for 72 hours, incessantly. Now try to imagine that, truly, and now try to imagine eating a sandwich while that’s going on…or sleeping at all. Right.

Last week, I could feel some very unusual hairline fracture pain, coursing through my cranium. It feels like it’s the diameter of a hair. So tiny and thin, but so brutal in nature. It’s savage. One minute, all is well, calm, and peaceful. The next moment, I’m gripped in electrifying pain that quite literally takes my breath immediately. All I can do is squeeze my eyes tightly together, and cringe, as I wait for the moment to pass. This is nothing like my usual migraines. I’m used to a specific course of actions. This is all new territory.

Luke Perry just died from a massive stroke. No warning of any kind. That’s terrifying! He complained of head pain, and was taken in to the E.R. He was heavily sedated so the physicians could try and get the attack under control. For several days he lay there, sedated, surrounded by his loved ones. And then he slipped away- never to return again.

When I think about that, and then I think about just how many 3 day migraines I’ve endured, which is accompanied by blurred vision and slurred speech, and tingling in my left hand and arm, I wonder just how much time is left on my clock. I can’t help but think about death. When you feel like you’re living on borrowed breath, believe me, you think about death just as much, if not more, than you think about life.

People are ridiculous. They think they have all the time in the world, and they carry grudges and choose to not forgive others. All of that anger means absolutely nothing in the end! It’s all wasted energy. Useless. It serves the ego only. There’s no reward there. And it’s a fool’s meal and they eat it up with every angry chomp!

It’s sad, really. And it’s funny how, some people would rather stop talking to you altogether than simply say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” And that’s a tragedy.

As for me, there’s no one person in the world who I wouldn’t feed or clothe or hug tightly if they showed up on my doorstep. I’ve been tried already in the fires of hell itself. It wasn’t always easy, but I chose to forgive. I forgave every single person who ever wronged, hurt, or abused me. Not only did I forgive them, I chose to love them too. I CAN back up my words with a long history of action. Unfortunately, the ones who’ve turned their backs on me cannot say the same. They have no idea how to swallow their pride and choose love over anger. I pray that God will find them in the Way before it’s too late. because we all are only given so much time, and then we don’t get any more time to try and make things better.

Today one of the greatest things happened to me. I was called to my son and daughter-in-law’s house as they had some news they wanted to share with me. When Josh and I got there, my son’s sweet little gal showed me her pregnancy test, and it was positive! I’m going to finally be a grandmother! Oh happy day! I’ve had to sit silently in the shadows of all of my friends, as they post pics of  themselves with their grandkids. I’ve always felt like Queen Elizabeth, but not in a royal way.  She was known as the “Virgin Queen” (and that’s a total farce, because she was a trifling ho, actually, who even had her lover’s wife murdered so she could have him- Robert Dudley- all to herself. That’s how big her ego was.)  But no, I always felt like the “Virgin Grandma”. But no longer! 🙂

And so after some thought, Josh had a good laugh and suggested “Gam Gam” for my royal title, and then Gabbie chuckled too and sanctioned it, officially. So, yes, I will soon be known as Gam Gam. I love it. 🙂

It feels good to be editing again. I edited a pic of my son, brian, and his gal, Gabbie, from our trip to the Smoky Mountains, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Thanksgiving of last year. It was shot in colour, but I did some work on it- cleaned it up in Photoshop- as well as did some contrast and gamma adjustments and mixed the exposure- midtones/shadows/and highlights. I added some grain (which I adore) and hit it with a gaussian blur + selective unsharp mask and mastered the overall RGB curves, then each channel individually, aaaaaand mixed the colour balance channels, individually- shadows, midtones, and highlights there as well.

You may think when you see a pic of mine that I hit one or two tabs to edit it in post processing- like most everybody does these days on their phones- ha. If you only knew. Many of my photos are usually a combination of 15+ channels, mixed, blended, erased, flattened (wash, rinse, repeat 5 or 10 more times) so by the end, it’s entirely mastered in practically every area. I make it look easy, but I’ve had a good 15 years at this now.

Brian & Gabbie- Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 vintage film lens/Canon Rebel t3i
BobandGab


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Cats and Dogs

5:30 a.m.

The most beautiful rain is falling outside right now. I awoke an hour or so ago to the rain falling on my tin roof in a most beautiful enveloping wall of sound. The rain is my favourite thing ever because I feel like God is corralling me off. It satisfies the intense hermit in me that wants to shut my door and windows and seal off the world. The rain says it’s ok to slow it all down to a crawl and not have to be bothered with the things outside my door. The rain sings a most beautiful song. 🙂

I suppose as I grow older (am I really going to be 50 this fall?!), I’m giving in more to my hidden persona; the Jane Goodall-like hippie that wants nothing more than to spend the entire day in the forest, taking macros of little things in their little worlds- up close. I can’t believe I’ve been in school for an entire decade now! I’m so ready to be finished with it all so I can finally- finally- focus on my art, photography, and music. I’m looking forward to closing the books once and for all (along with my many, MANY research papers) and buy an Epson professional printer and set up a small area of our new home (to be, soon); a proper print shop.

It’s going to take a lot of dedication and time, but I’m so looking forward to it. I’ll be afforded the luxury- after school- of not having to work. Even for several years, or never at all, if I want. I can stay home and go out and about and take all the pics I want- go where I like, and do virtually anything I want. When I’m ready, I can put on that periwinkle suit and Addiction Counselor hat (if I so choose) and make my mark on the world as a counselor. But first, I’ll explore my art. It’s an exciting thing to be able to wake up early in the morning and head out with my camera and collection of vintage film lenses in my Nat. Geo. bag. People who aren’t photographers probably don’t get it.

It’s such a rush to be able to go out into the world and see what only I can see. I can shape my perspective in a unique way and be a storyteller without words. To lay in the plush green mossy ground on the forest floor in the warm, afternoon sunshine and spend hours focusing my lens on tiny little things on leaves. I’m a visitor in their world. It’s an incredible thing to be able to make the tiniest corner of a leaf come into focus, making the rest of the leaf the size of a house, by comparison. Ants become giants and mushrooms- stadiums. It’s exhilarating!

But the real rush is taking the loot home and going through all of the images: Sizing up what stays or what gets tossed out. Whittling the pile down until only a few remaining “money shots” remain and those are the ones which will be edited and post processed. A full day’s shoot- and many hours- for 3 or 4 shots in the end. It’s the experience of it all, from loading up the bag to editing the chosen few to submitting or uploading the shots. And it’s all free! You really can’t beat that. It’s therapy. Photo-therapy at its finest.

Although my latest course Addiction Counseling and Families essentially began yesterday, my Discussion Board posts aren’t due until Thursday. Ever the procrastinator, I think I’ll spend the day lounging in my insanely plush (new) pillow top queen bed (that I um…bought Josh for Christmas. That’s right…it’s all for him! 🙂 ) and edit a new batch of pics from our Thanksgiving trip in the Smokey Mountains. Yes, my life ha been so busy and crazy that I’m only now getting around to editing my Thanksgiving shots from 2018!

Despite having 6 vintage (imported) Bulgarian and Romanian film lenses, only the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 (my favourite lens ever) was used- throughout the entire trip. It never left my camera. These are two of many I’ll be editing over the next few days:

Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens (Canon Rebel t3i) – An interesting tree I found on the way up to Clingmans Dome, in Smoky Mountain National Park, in southeastern Tennessee and North Carolina, U.S.
treepicClingmansDome
This one is Josh’s. (His capture, my edit.) The Appalachian Trail sign at the base of Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon film lens 35/2.8- Canon Rebel t3i
JoshPicAppalachianTrail


TRUTH BOMB

Newsflash: When you have an original thought and feel some way about something, it actually IS alright to express those feelings. Contrary to public opinion, it’s actually totally acceptable to express those said opinions in your own space, such as your FB account or blog. If somebody disagrees and doesn’t like what you say, they have the liberty to GTFO. There’s the door….don’t let it hit ya where the good Lord split ya and all.

I want to add, if your opinion is in stark opposition of anyone in your family, and you STILL want to express it, you’re absolutely entitled to. It doesn’t mean you “hate your family”, or are trying to “split your family apart”, etc. Good God Almighty, PLEASE go get educated and learn that we all have opinions and the right to express them.

If I say something you don’t like, GROW the &^%$ UP ALREADY. I will NOT be your whipping girl any longer.

Furthermore, I’m going to drop a truth bomb on you right now. When I was nine years old and MOLESTED BY A FAMILY MEMBER- I was told by that person that if I ever told anyone, I would be the reason that my family would be split up. That we would all be split up and put in a foster home and never see each other again. Do you know what kind of pressure that is to put on a 9 year old’s shoulder?! It’s insane pressure.

What did I do? I forgave my offender- sucked it up- took every lash upon my back and KEPT MY FAMILY TOGETHER- and kept my mouth shut- always.

Don’t you DARE accuse me of “trying to rip my family apart” because I have an opinion that differs from a sister, or cousin, or brother or someone else and choose to express it.

I try to forgive others- people know this about me. But if you want to continue walking in your ignorance and want to throw stones at my glass house?

I WILL call you out and treat you accordingly. I make no apologies here. Go learn a thing or two about temperance, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.

God knows I already have. A loooooong time ago.

We’re done here.


When Praying Isn’t Enough

Yep. I said it.

So recently, there’s been a family-type situation in which a new mom has been keeping the kid away from the new dad and it absolutely sucks. Really badly. She’s playing dirty and not even trying to hide it. She basically tossed the dad out of her life (in record time, I might add) and replaced him with a new guy. She won’t let her x have any visitation whatsoever (even axe murderers in prison get to see their kids, do they not?) and so she’s just really doing some dumb stuff right now to make him suffer. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon, as a certain female I was raised with did the same thing to her kid. She was pretty hell-bent on destroying her x so she poisoned her kid against him. It was so evil. Accused him of molesting their kid…the whole shebang. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon either and it really is the first thing evil moms do when they want to punish their exes so they can keep the kid all to themselves. It’s a form of Munchausen Syndrome, actually. Moms who abuse their kids so they can swoop in to save them later. It’s sick.

Anywho, back to my original rant. So this new mom is doing her (very bad) thing, and another person came in and commented on a FB post: “Really, we just need to pray for them both and show them both the love of God.”

Um….NO. Just NO.

First of all, if somebody is being an evil bastard, where does it say that we need to toss flowers at their feet and hold hands and sing Kumbayah with ’em and all of that? I don’t think so. My Bible is full of Scriptures that talk about “the evildoer” (in Proverbs) and “the wicked” and all sorts of other references for people who do evil *&^% and none of it says that we’re supposed to encourage their evil deeds by “showing them the love of God”. Nah, man.

There ARE Scriptures, however, that says something about “The Lord will show himself merciful to those who are merciful and He’ll show Himself froward to the froward” and so on.  (II Sam. 22:27 and Psalm 18:26)

When I was younger and much more naive, I used to think the best course of action for virtually everything was to pray. Pray pray pray! Pray if you’re happy, pray if you’re sad. And pray especially when you have problems. But now that I’m maturing a bit, I see how that can sometimes be a copout. Don’t get me wrong, praying is wonderful. It’s lovely and necessary. But too many people will use prayer as a hopeful remedy rather than a supplemental act.

I think it’s absolutely irresponsible to tell somebody that what they need is “to pray” (only), rather than rolling up their sleeves and getting to work! It’s lazy. if we simply prayed (again, only) for every problem we have, we’ll have so many more problems as a result, because we’ll inadvertently be shoving our own responsibilities over onto God, expecting Him to do it all.

Yes, God is a big God and He can and will fulfill our needs, but He gave us hands to work with, a brain to think with, feet to run with, and mouths to speak with! He also gave us common sense to know when we need to get off of our butts and DO SOMETHING rather than telling everybody to simply “pray”.

/rant

My two week break is almost over and I’ll be hitting the books again soon. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of my little vacation. There’s almost nothing I love more than to kick back with a new adventure game and lose myself in another world. Escapism at its finest! Sheer bliss. 🙂

Until we meet again, WP. x

Lensbaby Composer/Canon Rebel/winterscape- in black and white
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