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Archive for July, 2009

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Just checking in again.  I am back in Fargo until this weekend, and then head to northern Minnesota with my good friend who knows how to play — something I’ve always struggled with (an oxymoron!).  I loved the air flight in the Cirrus 4-seater plane from Seattle to the San Juan islands last week — something I’ve never done.  Couldn’t have had a better pilot or plane.  The Cirrus, made in Duluth, MN comes with its own parachute — for the entire plane!!

Next week comes the 4-wheeler and the kayak — never experienced either — either!!  Then the canoe, some horse back riding, mosquito swatting, woods walking, gabbing with friend, pigging out on fresh baked cookies, etc.  ANYTHING, really, at this point but WRITE!!

Tonight marks my first night playing trivia — am going with my daughter, her hubby, my son, their ‘group’ — I hope I know something COOL that makes me think for an instant I’m…….well, SMART!!

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Just stopping in to say hello!  Visiting family.  Touring around.  Going flying with my daughter and son-in-law’s friend tomorrow over water and forests.  Missing nearly 100 degree heat in Arizona without the arrival of monsoon rains.  All is well!

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For those readers who are following my childhood Alaskan homesteading story that was as integral a part of my childhood as my mother’s mental illness and terrifying capacity for committing crimes of child abuse against her offspring was, I want to recommend the following book written by one of our neighboring homesteaders, Dorothy Pollard Price.

I was able to follow her story of homesteading in the Alaskan Eagle River Valley at the same time our family did from a ‘safe distance’ as I read this book.   I can picture this piece of history because I was very close to it.  Dorothy’s story contains the flavor of the homesteading experience minus our family’s additional experience of abuse, and gave me a small idea of what being in that place and time could have been like for me and my family had my mother (and really my father, also) NOT been so devastatingly mentally ill.

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Eight Stars of Gold: Notes from a Mid-century Alaska Homestead Journal by Dorothy Pollard Price (Paperback – Oct 6, 2008)

Buy new$14.95 $11.66

12 Used & new from $7.95

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Another book that has been an important part of my traveling  reading material is Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel.  I discovered it in the local thrift store near the town where I live (and can be purchased very cheaply online used).  Combined with my own experience of homesteading and with the experience of homesteading that Dorothy describes, Schlissel’s book allows me to find both similarities and differences in the ‘wilderness experiences’ of women who traveled uncharted territory a hundred or more years ahead of my mother and Dorothy.

In the case of my mother, Schlissel’s book makes me think about the vestiges of Victorianism that remained firmly implanted in my mother’s experience of life because she was so affected by her Bostonian upbringing as it was transmitted to her through the important women in her life — her own mother and her grandmother.

I will be writing more about this in the future!

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It is a scary realization to know that, at least in the ‘olden days’ of the 1960s, people as nuts as my mother was could actually run day care centers.  I was too young then to realize what, if any, problems arose regarding the children under her care (I don’t believe she abused any of them) or with the children’s parents.  With so many mothers needing to or choosing to work today, how would anyone know if a daycare provider was ‘off their rocker’, potentially dangerous, or actually dangerous?

It is a known fact that particularly with Borderline Personality Disorder the alterations in perception of reality and resulting actions are extremely difficult to recognize and detect — especially from the outside.  This is part of the purpose and goal of my writings, to help us learn more about what makes these people tick so that we can recognize them better.  I believe our improved understanding of personality disorder, depression, bi-polar and other sometimes-hard-to-detect-in-others brain change-mental illnesses is necessary to keep all children safer!

Free Webinar For Parents: Will You Know High-Quality Child Care When You See It?

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Today’s the day.  Leave house at 5:30 AM — please ‘shop around’ the site if you stop by to visit, will be checking in on my travels.  All the best!!  Off to the airport and on to Jacksonville, IL.

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How do I go traveling and leave behind my perfect weight woven cotton soft summer blanket, my perfect fan aimed perfectly at just the right angle when I sleep.  I am used to the feel of that blanket, used to the sound of that fan, used to the feel of this carpet brushing across the bottoms of my feet.

I am used to the feel of this particular coffee cup in my hands every morning.  Used to the sounds of this refrigerator, the feel of this chair and this keyboard under my fingertips.

Seven weeks.  How long, exactly, is seven weeks?  I have to find a different inner sense of safety, security and trust in order to journey away from all that is familiar, even though I know I’m going to see people who love me and that I love in return.  My three kittens tumble around my feet in the morning as soon as they hear me open my door.  They are so curious; they follow me, galloping after me everywhere I go.  My parakeet flaps its wings and sings with all its heart to the strangers singing back to it from outside my front door.  I will miss them.

The one I most wish would tell me “Good bye.  I hope you have a wonderful trip.  I will miss you and will be glad when you are home” couldn’t do that, because he could not even conceive of being able to handle my absence and could not admit that to himself or to me.  I understand.  I do, but it’s still sad that some of us have to so struggle with how unsafe and insecure we feel in the world that it never takes very much to make us feel threatened.  (I suppose the more investment a person has in denying that insecurity and making it seem invisible, the more ‘macho’ they want to appear and believe themselves to be, the harder it is to deal with the truth.)

Sometimes it’s hard to realize that how we handle on the inside ourselves all states of change, separation and exploration, was built into our body and brain before we were one year old.  Without there having been patterns of safety, security, trust and hope in our lives at the time our ‘mental representations’ were forming as the basis of our ability to think – which lies where the information from our bodies connects to our minds – we will feel more anxious, more afraid whether we want to realize it or not, and more threatened than we would ever feel if things ‘back then’ had been OK.

It is my attachment to my nest that helps my insecurity.  We are supposed to be able to access a ‘safe and secure nest within’ where the self can continue to interact with life and not feel threatened while it does so.  If this is not the case, choices are limited, decisions are made with different priorities, and changes are very hard to handle.

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When I was younger I took risks and moved around because I was hopeful, willing and oblivious.  It’s harder now.  But at least I know what the root source of my anxiety is, and I am willing to take this 7-week trip in spite of it.

I don’t even know if I have to move out of my home when I get back.  Time will certainly tell, and there’s nothing I can do in the meantime but hope. I cannot leave or lose or change my home easily, or lightly.

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So now I have to continue to get ready.  Take the laundry in off of the line.  Clean the floors, sort out whatever it is I am taking with me.  I can do this, as difficult and impossible as it may seem to be.  At 5 AM tomorrow my friend, Anne, will drive me away from here, and off I go!

This traveling might seem to be a small thing, but it is the small things that can most easily upset the insecurely attached and the severe abuse survivors among us.  For us, whatever it is that makes us feel most secure means so much to us that threatening our insecure base within means that changing those things seems to change who we are.  I continue to ‘work on that’!

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Click on this link for the story that speaks for itself

COMPLICATED FORGIVENESS

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My 3rd short story, which I hope to finish today, contains reference to a Marine who served in the Vietnam War.  Of course my story is entirely fictional, so I wanted to share a first hand very real story written by a man who was there:

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USMC, 1st Radio Battalion, Vietnam Veterans

Stories

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Here are links that contain history and photographs:

VIETNAM WAR footage in our collection

V I E T N A M  W A R  S T A T I S T I C S  &  E X C L U S I V E  P H O T O S
Source: U.S. Government (VA Web Site Stats)

THE VIETNAM WAR 1964-1973 and more VIETNAM PHOTOGRAPHS

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Just as the experts use the term complicated grief I also believe there is something we could just as well name – complicated forgiveness.  Life is not often a straight forward affair.  Rarely do we have ‘enough information’ to be able to make the kinds of decisions, and then take the ‘right’ kind of action that really would have been better than what we actually DID based on what we actually knew.

Could most people do things better than they do?  How do we tolerate human frailty — in ourselves and in other people?  How do we live with grace and forgiveness?

I didn’t know what my 3rd short story was going to be about until it became clear as I was in the process of writing it.  Now I have to clean it up and finish it, and will post it as soon as I can.

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SMALL CHANGES

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My second short story is about the simple humbleness of life, and about how the small actions of our daily lives reflect the movements of change  happening on the inner stage of our being, even when we don’t notice.

We all have some kind of meaning for everyone that we ever meet, sometimes for the positive, sometimes not.

Small changes define our lives, and always come before the big ones do.

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Directly as a result of my having just processed a ‘quantum healing leap’ experience related to becoming crystal clear about the difference between writing a trauma memory and writing ABOUT a trauma memory, I finally realized that there is absolutely no reason on earth why I can’t write fiction.  I want to thank my dear friend who talked truthfully about how she responded to my writings, as well as also thank those commenters who gave me the gift of their observations and insights as well this morning, because without this amazing inter-personal sharing, I would not have received the incredible gift that has come to me — the gift of being able, for the first time in my life, to safely access and play with my own imagination!

True, it’s almost beyond belief that my childhood was so terrible that I was forbidden to play.  Many abuse incidents happened because my mother caught me playing!  Not any more!  Not any more!

I’m not sure when that realization would have hit me if just after my quantum leap I had talked to my sister who told me she had just discovered the writing links I posted earlier today.  I rushed to the helium.com site and began to poke around through that overly-cluttered frenetic mess of a visual information display (my opinion!).

I found a contest I can enter for a nonautobiographical fiction short story under 1500 words.  “Well, why not?” I asked myself just as a massive thunderhead forced me to turn off my computer.  I grabbed a pen and a stack of paper and wrote

my very first fiction story –

DADDY’S GONE

I don’t think I could be happier if I won the Olympics!

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I hope there are many more stories to come.  What I realized is that I now know how to keep my own many, many abuse memories separate from my imagination.  My imagination is MINE.  It is MY gift, to use and enjoy and bring to full bloom in any way I choose to USE IT!  How cool is THAT?  Today I discovered that I can go anywhere I want to in my imagination, and that does NOT mean I am at risk of ‘bothering’ my trauma memories!  I can imagine safely!

I could NEVER do that as a child.  I could not wonder, I could not imagine, and I could not PLAY.  Today I discovered that allowing myself access to imagination is (drum roll please!) –

PLAY!  By golly, it is FUN!!

It was discovering the doorway into a wide open universe that I didn’t even know I didn’t know existed!

(I guess I chose my blog heading picture for a reason I did not even realize at the time I put it there!)

I have always believed until today that I cannot write fiction.  I mean, I absolutely believed that to be true!  Somehow I believed that the developmental changes that happened to me as a result of 18 long years of that severe child abuse somehow made me into someone that could not imagine.  Imagine that!!  Now that false belief is gone.  It vanished as completely as a light mist would in bright sunshine.  I swear it’s like discovering that I can fly!

I’ll find out over time where the stories take me.  Maybe they’ll be like this one.  Maybe not.  It will take a little time for me to gain confidence that I won’t return to my former state of doubting myself.

I leave this coming Thursday, July 9, 2009 for my seven weeks of traveling and visiting lots of wonderful family.  I am going on a wonderful adventure, even though a part of me remains incredibly sad about the loss of my relationship with my best friend.  But I can do nothing to heal whatever the wounds are that sent down a lightning bolt to cut us off from one another except to work on healing myself.

In the meantime, thanks to the miracle of computers and the internet, I will be able to stay in touch while I’m traveling, so that I can – write –

and write FICTION stories!!

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