Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mountainous Fear

1 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

My mountainous fear for the last few days has been caused by staring at blank pages. For three days now I have produced nothing; and I am hoping that this little post knocks the fear out because it is getting in my way.

I was on such a roll, spilling out words and making sense and connections, and WHAM, all of the sudden, I hit that proverbial brick wall. 

I consider this affliction to be more than writer's block. 

Sometimes you can’t get through it, so you have to climb it and get over the top of it, and then down the other side. 

But you have to get started first.

"There's more than one way to skin a cat," my grandfather would have said.  It's just figuring out which way will work the best.

It has always been my fear – not being able to put words down to make some kind of sense and share them with others. I have tried to pay more attention to why the "walls" go up, and it seems that it has something to do with always worrying about an ending … so I don’t start.

And all of my words and stories and idea’s get stuck in my head where they stew, for days and days, and are denied the chance to tell someone something.

And I stare at the empty page.

And I play video games.

And I look at Facebook for an unusually long time, longer than I should, and then, I go back to the page and it's still empty, and so is my mind.

And why, because I am worried about an ending?

The prompts and the ideas I get are more than sufficient for even a teenager to get a good start on a catchy story; but sadly, lately,(anyway) my ideas have just been coming up one dimensional. They have no substance or value; no character or personality; no individual thoughts, no motion, no life; so they have gone no where.

Absolutely nothing is coming. 

Nothing word worthy; except for this meager attempt on the subject of fear.

I'm not exactly worried though, I know that it is only temporary. Its just that getting through the block or over the wall and back down the other side is becoming tiresome, and I am beginning to beat myself up over it. I shouldn't be that way at all, because its only a process, its only words. 

But still I am hard on myself. 

And I have to remember there is nothing to fear - right?

I have to remember that it is a fear that will cease in a day or two and I will be back to where I was.

Or will I be?

I think, too, that because I was receiving comments, and readers were writing me notes on my blog posts, and now it has settled a bit, I am starting to doubt myself a little  – but I was warned – it is a thankless job sometimes, and I need to just write those words anyway.

Pat myself on my back anyway. 

I have settled the fact that I will continue to bare the deeper parts of myself. It is in those deeper parts the healing has been done.

I haven’t worked my way up to sharing the deepest parts of me yet. I am working toward that though. I think some of the stories might be on their way out soon in prompts that are ahead of me, or dreams I may have, or a memory of a memory. 

Wherever it comes from I will be overjoyed to bring it to life.

And with all the fuss, all these words on fear, look what I have done – I have written something today!

I am happy with my results; even though it may be a humble entry, I am writing again. My fingers are spilling out words that makes sense and it feels good to know that in the pain of moving over and down the back side of fear, once there is movement forward the words come much easier.

I have found that in writing words to others I stop worrying and wondering about myself too; and really what do I have to lose if I bare my deepest parts? It is in those parts that help others – and that is my sole purpose in writing words anyway.

Even when faced with mountainous fear.

I have reconciled the fact that fear is OK. In fear I believe there is a beauty and a truth waiting to spill out and soften the hardest of battles. Fear helps make the painful and uncomfortable a little easier to bare.

And that is my point and why I write; to assure others that they are not alone. Other's need to know that fear is nothing to be afraid of because it is usually the beginning of something; not the ending, and you have got to keep on moving to get beyond it.

So today I applaud myself, I have pushed past the fear. I have gotten a grip on it and I have kept my promise to myself, and that is to write. 

I have kept on writing because there are too many words and too many people who need them, and upholding my responsibility to share my words, even the ones that hold fear, is something I have to do daily, and do it boldly. 

Pushing through fear, climbing that wall, making yourself the boss of the "fear" and not "fearing the fear" is always the ONLY answer, and every word and every conquered fear is worth it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Change ... Boldly

Embrace change ... boldly.

Somehow though, no matter what the positive results might be in "changing," I seem to resist it more than is necessary. 

I resist it because change is unconformable and make me vulnerable and transparent, and it takes me from the predictable to the unexpected each day, to the possibility of something different; and then the resistance sets in, and then I have to remind myself that there is no progress without change. And I better just hang on; there is no standing still.

Even in my safe and almost predictable world.

Change, I have found, when embraced with enthusiasm can transform not only my life, but the world in which I am living in.

But am I ready for ALL of that?

Change causes resistance and is sometimes, most times, its not as easy as it seems it should be. It can be surprising and cause joy that I never thought possible, even in the smallest changes. 

Or it can be disturbing and unsettling - either way, something is going to be different in the end, for the good or the bad. 

I must say however, in my life anyway,  no matter the magnitude of grief or pain I have had to go through, at any time in my life, it has all turned out good, just as God had intended. Because his words are true. 

(Genesis 50:20 clearly states:
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.)" 

I had to add that. 

Change can be as simple as a new paint color over an old dingy one, found in a dark forgotten room, in a house you have lived in for five years, or 50. 

Or it can be the announcement that spring has sprung and along with it longer days and bird songs filling the air in the morning; and knowing the cold of winter will soon be gone.

Or so that is how it is supposed to be anyway. 

Sometimes the monotony of something lingering longer than we are accustomed to can be just as frustrating as a decision that change is in order. The quicker the better, usually, but then hesitation sets in and ... nothing changes like we are expecting it to.

The change, for me, in my life, has been in my writing. It has suffered in the last week or two since I started pounding out words that make sense again, and discouragingly enough, they get stuck in my mind and do not exit my fingers.

After years of laying dormant somewhere in my mind I boldly awakened them, my words, my writing, so now what do I do with all of them?

Let's face it, when we want something to change, and literally say a prayer for it, its key to remember that we'd better be sure we really want what we are praying for; because once we get it, we will be responsible to follow through on it, because it was given with some responsibility attached to it.  

And that is how I got from praying, to where I am now, and my writing starting up again. 

I had been stuck and not feeling like I was going anywhere - quickly, so, one night, not so long ago, I prayed for my desire for writing to come back, because I had lost it somewhere in the years of business in my life. 

Out of the blue I stated feeling a longing and a desire to get lost in telling a story. My love of writing and telling stories goes way back to when I was a kid and it followed me into adulthood; with a plethora of journals to show for it.

But to pray for my desire to be rekindled - I needed to be sure I was ready for what that might entail.

I knew it would be a big change. A new commitment,  a huge time priority. 

I knew that when I prayed. 

And it came quicker than I had imagined; and I got what I asked for.

And yes, I am thankful for it ... so now what?

I have written more in the last two months than I have in over ten years, minus journal entries and comments on Facebook. The number of words that have flowed out of my fingers onto these pages is in the thousands and I see no letting up in the near future.

That is good news you say? It is if I can keep myself from beating myself up over getting stuck only two months in. Or, maybe, that isn't so unusual?

I have heard it said be careful what you pray for; hmmm, yes, be very careful.

The results have been surprising, even to me, because for a writer, when some stop writing for a long time, they think they can't write anymore. (well, at least I thought I couldn't). 

I had forgotten that it is like riding a bike or driving a car or painting a wall. 


It's actually pretty easy, and something you rarely forget. I think maybe for other's, like me, I pretended to forget so I wouldn't be responsible for doing what writers do; tell stories and weave dreams; make the bad guy pay for the wrong he has done and have the past teach you a lesson you won't soon forget.

I prayed for wisdom on what to write, and with prompts and trial after trial after trial ... the words started coming and they didn't stop for almost two months, and then I got snagged on some random thought; and I stopped. 

And that is when I remembered I prayed for this. 

I wanted to write again. I stared a blog, I actually have people reading my words and commenting and making connections and applauding my work; and it has been a wake up call, and I just can't walk away from it this time. 

Not only am I doing this for me now - I am doing it for people who are reading my words ... MY WORDS. Something I prayed for, something I wanted to share, something I am good at, and I have to keep going.

To keep on moving forward means I will produce words that I forgot were in my head, to put on a page for a chance to maybe change someone's life, or jar loose a memory for them that they had been looking for; and for one reason or another helps them write their best in weeks.

My stories have already found a common bond with one reader who said that I must have followed her around as a child because our childhood's were so much alike. It was in my post on Letting Go. I connected with someone with some of the most hurtful parts of my childhood and now we are connected. 

From words ... that is the magic in writing ... it is AMAZING!

That is what this writing is all about. Standing on the edge and not being afraid to go over; jump if you have to with no idea of what may lay at the bottom.

I don't know what my writing may do - but if I don't write it, if I don't reach out and share the dark and the uncomfortable along with the light and love, I feel like I am doing a disservice to those who are reading my words. 

So I am going to put my all into it and give them what I prayed for.

And in delivering those words, maybe I will set someone else free.

All this change talk prompted me to change my blog's appearance too.

It cleaner and more professional, maybe like I am seeing myself. To deliver something that is coming from my heart and my life and the depths of my memories that I was not aware of before now, memories that can suddenly be a story - in less time than it takes to bake a loaf of bread. 

Those are pretty good results.

Change... Boldly. 

Change - is my goal. Not just for me, but for everyone I share my inner most thoughts with.

Sometimes I have to do it with one eye open and pray, again, that there is healing in my words, somewhere, for someone.

Words that heal and sooth and validate the fact that somethings in life, sometimes the worst things in life, didn't just happen to me, but they happened to someone else too, who is reading my words, and they found them a soothing balm to a deep wound that they thought would never, ever heal. 

I hope that is what some of my words do. That was part of my prayer, to produce words that will heal and sooth and comfort and let other's know that "hey, I'm OK after all." 

My I write words that do that for those who need them.

Change, it can't be avoided. So face it boldly.

I believe it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. It's important that we don't get to comfortable where we are; so our lives and our thoughts don't get stagnant and old and unchangeable. None of us were created to be stiff-necked, and as members of the human race, I think we are all here to help one another, in every way we can. 

Change for me has caused movement and the revelation of writing words I never thought I was capable of. And I think with God granting me my prayer and lighting a fire under my writing, it will be blessed, and therefore will bless others.

Embracing change takes courage, do it anyway. Enjoy it, share it with other's. It is the one thing in life that can take your life from dull to dazzling in no time at all. The first step out over the edge is the hardest, and after that, it's a piece of cake.

So, it is my hope that my words help foster change in someone's life, and they change the course of their life forever, or at least gets them going in a different direction.

That would be a true blessing to me,  and worth every word I have written so far.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I am Unfinished Business

I have days, when suddenly, I get an overwhelming sense of panic that I will sit here in my little house, with my little dog, and my two loving cats, and all of my BIG dreams, and I will be stuck here forever, with none of my dreams coming true.

I start imaging my life ten or fifteen years from now and it is still the same – I’m still the same. Only in that scene, down the pike, I am older, and the dog died, and the cats have been replaced with new cats and my big dreams have turned into a little thought clouds above
my head in a cartoon in my mind, and none of my dreams ever came to life and I never went anywhere. 

What a dreadful feeling.

That scenario is my WORST nightmare. To think that even in a day dream I jump to a start when the thought of “nothing ever happening,” enters my mind; it now propels me forward and makes me even more determined to ensure that bad dream is never a reality. 

The enemy is sneaky and suggestive, and I have to remember he is a liar. In John 10:10 Jesus warns;

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

And I wake up with much wider eyes,  and I realize I need to just keep making plans and dreaming my BIG dreams; and keep myself on track. Jesus has promised abundance in this life, and I am convinced it includes dreams coming true. And I am going to get my share.

So I have had to decide to never take no for an answer, even from myself. No matter how beat down I may feel, I have to encourage myself, "snap myself out of the fog," I may be in and remember, ALWAYS, that if God is for me, who can possibly be against me? (Wow ... isn't that awesome)?

And I make adjustments.

So how do I stay joyful – how do I beat those "bad dream blues", those negative, deadly thoughts in my head? I have to depend on my faith and my hope in the promises of Jesus. He is the only one who I can honestly say has never let me down, and knowing he is there (always) makes all of the difference.

He loves me, he chose me; I am not a surprise to him, and in his great love, Jesus loves me anyway. 

He has already promised me a finished life - though I am still walking it out. I am still unfinished business (to me anyway). I’m not a chore to him, thank goodness, like I was to many as a child. 

I am his beloved daughter,  and no matter how ragged my days end, he is there, always, to rock me to sleep, to hold me tight and to lull away the “what if” thoughts; and when I can’t fight the nightmare of never getting out of here, he reminds me that my dreams are attainable, I just have to keep walking forward.

I can NOT look back. 

Unfinished business – I will forever be unfinished business, always working toward his plan for my life. I will forever be striving to get better, and I will, and keeping faith in a God who delivers, every time, is a comfort for me. 

I know how short I fall from what I want to be, but He loves me no matter what; this mess of unfinished business that I am. 

Life is a continual discovery for me and a piece of cake for Jesus.

I have come a long way. Five years ago I was worse. I can at least proclaim the solid fact that I am not who I was five years ago, and I am not who I was five years ago because I chose to try something different for once in my life.

I decided to go upstream, against the current, to a different life, with Jesus, whom I can say at the time was the only one who really understood what was going on,  and stood for me regardless of all the muck I was going to have to wade through. I was such a mess, but time, and God's unconditional love have gotten me to a place of peace.

I was a fresh mess straight from a failed marriage; moving, working, fighting, sobbing, begging for what I had lost; I got to the end of me and just surrendered; I literally could not stand anymore. My legs shook and my knees buckled. I shook from exhaustion and moaned at the thought of my life having to start over AGAIN at 44. 

"But God" ... there is such healing in his name.

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.

I am unfinished business, and a work in progress;
and I am better than I was. My edges aren't as jagged as they were when I first started heading up stream. The Lord has carried me on his back most days and learning to trust him as my father, and friend and husband, has gotten me closer to being complete.

Five years ago, once again, on my own, (not by choice but circumstance) there was no one with me to keep me going, really, but Jesus and a handful of faithful friends in my life. People I prayed for, people I gleaned from the chaff of my life so that the guarding of my heart was made much easier. 

I was tempted to go find a “Human Savior” but for the FIRST time ever in my life, I chose a different path, the one less followed, the one leading to Jesus, and I stood on my own two feet; and that is what matters when you are unfinished business, and it made ALL the difference for me.

The up-steam, it’s a much harder road than jumping back into compromise and “easy.” 

Easy is deceiving and most often ends in ruin.

But I am not living in ruin anymore; I am living a new life and dreaming dreams that can be reached. 

My life is an up-stream fight, but it looks pretty good from where I am now. It is a good fight and I am a winner just by getting up everyday.

I am more prepared for troubles and the sometimes messy things that come with being unfinished business. Surprises that could mess up progress just don't surprise me anymore; because with Jesus, its just easy. He is the lover of my soul, my husband, my friend, my redeemer and all around best friend and his Armour protects me from all the troubles of the world.

He loves me when no one loves me and there is no one to go to but Him. And he is sufficient for this, for me, this unfinished business; and I am beginning to bloom where I am now; fuller than ever.

One day He will see me and tell me how proud he is of me, how He knew I ‘d get to where I was going; and if he had taken care of everything all at once, there would have been nothing left to fight for, and there is always something left to fight for, there is always something left to believe in at the end of the day. 

Together Jesus and I, we keep on going – looking forward to the future but staying in today, letting unfinished business be what it is; and knowing, confidently that one day, I will be finished.

And I will be with Him.

And truthfully, isn't that what this life is all about anyway?

Unfinished business isn't such a bad thing; I am looking forward to what the finished work will look like for me. That gets me very excited and for now I am learning and growing and REALLY Dreaming. 

Each new day is an adventure with Jesus, I never know exactly where he is going to lead me or how he may use me to bless someone, and that makes each new day even more exciting. 

Unfinished business status is looking pretty promising, I have a great Savior to trust and follow, and I look forward to the mysteries of my future.

And that is exciting!

Matthew 25:23
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Greatest Mentor

Buffalo Botanical Garden Waterfall

The number of people that I could nominate as my mentor are numerous; but when I consider influence and high self-esteem, I would have to choose my Great Aunt Grace.

She was an educator (by nature), a poet and a day dreamer; and she was my Savior in my adolescent world; she was my hero.

She encouraged an aggressive spirit, stating your case with fact, and putting up a good fight for what you believe in.

Reading and drawing or anything "creative" was in, and the BOOB TUB was out. (That's what all my elders called the television when I was kid). When we did watch television at her house we watched “The Laurence Welk Show” and “That Girl” and “The Bob Newhart show," among other shows.

 Television today would have had no place in her life.

Unusual art and whimsical collectibles filled her home and made up a big part of her life. The stories she told were gripping and authentic and caused the subject to take on a life of its own. She filled her home with a variety of beautiful things from so many different places from all around the world; they stirred my imagination and showed me that there is more to this world than Western New York. 

Not that Western New York is bad ... there is just so much more beyond it's boarders.

She taught me how to sew a button on a sweater with a 12 inch single piece of thread, and get that thread through the eye of a needle in one attempt. 

Her flower arranging skill was also passed down and arranging a bouquet of flowers was a thrill for me to learn. They never lacked in color, and the height of each flower complemented the other. She was simply good at it, and it showed, the flowers even seemed happy. To her it was effortless, and though it's still a challenge for me, I still try to make them as beautiful as possible.

My very first camera
I was her very young photographer and at a very young age she bought me my first KODAK film camera. Within minutes she gave me my lessons in how to take a great picture of the most mundane objects, making them the subject of my eye. My eye has developed over the years, and sunsets, animals, family and garden flowers are my most coveted subjects. I have more pictures than picture albums, and it will probably always be that way.

She loved the forest and the trees; all of the forest flowers and the beauty of what lay beneath the winter thaw. She taught me the names of unusual and rare flowers like the Trillium and the Jack-in-the-Pulpits and my favorite,
Doll Eyes
Doll eyes. A creepy looking plant – it was a conversation starter for sure. It is an intriguing plant, with those little white balls that look like Doll eyes, and they can still be found in the woods along the road right where she introduced them to me.

Her affection toward all things wonderful was curious and fun, and her fondness for the simply beautiful ignited in me a desire to KNOW THINGS. Lots and LOTS of things that might not have meant anything to me had she not shown me their beauty. I now find great meaning in things that to most, would be a waste of time.

My Aunt far right corner - Brant #1 School
She was a High School Algebra teacher and went to "Normal School" where a few trades were taught, like teaching, and had one of the first school houses near North Collins, NY. She taught her whole career, and I am not sure on the span of years, but I believe that during the early 1950’s though the 1970 she taught at a regular, large public school; she was the first woman to became the head of the Math Department there. Neither the school board nor the men in her department were very enthusiastic about her advance ... but she was thrilled and earned her position fair and square(so the story was told). She was a very popular teacher.

She taught me to identify every native song bird she knew, song and appearance, so I could put them together and identify them for myself. Her favorite was the Chickadee. They would eat right out of her hand.
I teach my niece those beautiful bird songs now and who they belong too. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to pass that knowledge onto yet another generation.

She taught me about respect and the importance of saying Thank You. “Always, always say thank you," she said. "It says a great deal about your character and how you portray yourself.  A thank you, even for the smallest thing, is never forgotten.”

She taught me how to drive a car, and how to maneuver it through a bank drive-through window entrance. When I smashing the side of the car into the cement pole guides on my first try she just yelled, “STOP! Now back up slowly, and try it again, one more time.” I made it through the second time with flying colors, and I have never been in another accident in a car that I was driving.

She then proceeded to show me how to make a bank deposit and check my paperwork to make sure the bank teller did their job right. "Just because you know someone at the bank, doesn't mean they will always be right," she said. That was a lesson well taught.

And she instructed me on the importance of keeping my mouth shut when the only thing I want to do was blurt out a response in objection, especially when I KNEW I was right. She gently reminded me that "people do remember what is said if it happens to be negative, or is focused on the negative; so it’s better to just keep it to yourself.” She said. 

So I do.

Mostly she taught me to be grateful for every blessing I am given, every day. She showed me with her actions how to love my family when there were no words. She encouraged working hard at something I love and to do my best in everything I do, and to be satisfied; because there is always someone who has it worse than I do.

She said to be true to my word and to always stand tall and proud, because we are our best cheerleader. We need to always believe in the best, and especially believe in ourselves.

Above all of these things – she instilled in me my love of writing. What a gem to have had her encourage me, it is one of my greatest loves. 

I never imagined I would use it to tell the world about her. (BIG sigh)

I am glad I learned the things that I did from her. Her contributions to my life have been priceless and enormous, and having her as my mentor was a great gift. No one will ever compare to her and I feel greatly blessed that I got to be one of her student; and her niece. 

I hope I can be as impressive of a mentor to my niece as she was to me.

Here's to my Great Aunt Grace ...Thank you for being my mentor!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Going Home on a Grayhound Bus

“I’m sending you back to New York tomorrow; your bus ticket is all paid for, so I guess you’d better get yourself ready to go, I think it leaves at noon from uptown.”

The words stung my ears as I listened to my husband, Marshall,  of only a year,  announce my not so distant future. It was not the news I was expecting to hear on his arrival home from work.

We had moved there, to Georgia, in haste, to his grandparents home to escape a past that wasn't too eager to let him go, and one he kept adding reason to chase him for. 

We had only been in our apartment, a nice modern duplex, for about two months when he entered in with his plans for my future.

We ended up there because I just happened to be the one with SUCKER clearly written on my forehead, and who just happened to have a car. And who also had a tendency to believe every stinking lie he ever told me, even after we had broken up earlier that year. I went back to him cuz, well, I LOVED him, ya know, he had that BAD boy thing going on and, HUM, well, isn’t that what young lovers live on, Badness and love? 

Not quite. Food and housing and a little common sense are also required; and the ability to no be intimidated. 

I had none of the requirements. It was like he struck me dumb or something.

He intimidated me. My common sense went out the window with the great future he always painted for us; the future that lured me back to him and to "do it right this time." He always had a plan, just most times they didn't work out. 

This was one of those times when the plan didn't work out and he had to clean up his mess.

“I don’t understand why you are sending me home? All we have to do is try a little harder, work a little longer, and I can get a job when I am done getting my GED at the learning center. You know I've already taken half of it, my teacher paid for it, I can take the other half next week," I yelled to him from the other room.

But I heard no reply from him. 

"Can’t we PLEASE just wait a little while longer?” I begged.

I so wanted to finish getting my GED – it was what I needed to get a job and I was SO close, just two more tests and I could work; but there was no budge in him; I could tell by the silence, I was leaving.

Looking back it actually makes my stomach ache to think I was practically begging Marshall to let me stay. It was hard living there; there were so many lies there.

IT was a lie there.                

And the web of deception this man could weave was gigantic, but he was all I had known for the last few years and I was only 22. I had spent the last 5 years waiting for this guy, I wasn't even old enough to know I should have known better, not after following him for so long. I figured I stayed with him through his time in prison; he owed me something half way descent, right, at such a young age?

Never Figure Anything.

Never let someone spend you life for you.

YOU, are NOT staying here, do you hear me? Is that clear? YOU are getting on that bus and you are going back to New York. I can’t afford you and we are gonna loose our apartment soon, so don’t argue with me. When I have a better job and things are better here for me, then I will send for you. Now get packed.” 

He was putting on the tough guy act and yea, it was pretty good and scary so I did what he said. He never hesitated to push or hit to get me going, so, I got going, I really didn't need bruises that would need explaining.

 “And you can’t take everything either, so be picky and quick about it. I will go to the pawn shop and see what they have for a suite case. Come on, get going, start getting things together,” he said hastily. He had no patience – I think, in his mind, I was already gone.

“I will be back in twenty minutes, so don’t think or do anything stupid, like trying to get out of here. No one wants to let you stay either, so get your crazy ass idea’s out of your head.  There are people watching you here in the apartment complex so just don’t think about it. I will be right back.” And with that he left, slamming the door behind him.

I was scared, but mostly scared of Marshall. Really deep, DEEP down inside I did want to go home, I had been talking to my aunt about coming home, but not like this, not with just ONE suitcase full of cloths and nothing else. My whole life was in Georgia now … but not for long.

It was a long night. I packed the gigantic suitcase Marshall had gotten me as full as I could with whatever I could get into it. It was big enough to hide a body in I swear. By the time I got what I wanted in it I think it weighed 30 pounds and I could barely lift it, but somehow I managed. I had my most important things with me.

I tried to get a hold of the one friend I had made in Georgia, Suette, but there was no way to get a hold of her.

“You will be fine, Amy, you need to get home. It will be the best for all of us. It's Thanksgiving time – it will be snowing when you get there in a couple of days. Just remember I am doing this for your well-being.”

Marshall, he was so condescending. I couldn't even say anything to him I was so angry; my own dad didn't even talk to me like he did, and my dad didn't like him either, I guess I was learning my lesson by way of the Cliff notes method.

There was no sleep that night - not for either of us. Though I don't think either of us knew it.

That morning was silent. I made a cup of coffee and sat quietly at the kitchen table that we never sat at and looked out our window into the back yard we never sat in because the Fire Ants lived there most of the time, and Marshall always had some lamb excuse to not have time to be out there "doing nothing."

I looked around our great apartment that we had slowly put together and I could NOT believe I was leaving it behind. Every picture and nick-nack, the new pillows on the couch, the TV the pictures on the walls, all of it, I just had to leave it there. 

I cried for the sake of crying I think and when he came into the kitchen I said to him, “I can’t believe you are doing this to me, to US; no one even knows I am leaving. It’s like you are sneaking me out of Georgia under the radar of everyone who would question you. Such a gentleman,” I said bitterly, because he was no gentleman. I wanted to call him a few other colorful names but why, I figured, at that very moment, HE wasn't worth the fight, not anymore, and I may as well start getting used to him being out of my life for good.

“You better call your Aunt and Gram and tell them you are coming, someone will have to go to Buffalo to pick you up, I think you get there in the morning. We’ll stop at the pay phone so you can call.”

"What a kind gesture," I thought to myself. "DO you think maybe I would need a ride from the bus station in Buffalo, you idiot?" I said to myself.

He never ceased to amaze me. And he tried so hard to be brilliant. He strutted around that apartment with a sense of victory of getting rid of the "bag of baggage," once and for all. I could see the smirk on his face every time he walked by me.

My coffee was gone, the suite case was in the car. I said good-bye to yet another dream turned nightmare he had dragged me into. 

Life with Marshall was never ending rabbit holes.

The pay phone was the only stop on our short trip to the bus stop. It was a quick call, and of course my Gram was in shock, but I gave her the information and she told me she would be there to pick me up and to have a safe trip. 

“Most girls don’t travel alone on buses for two night and two days to get home, you keep your eyes open and call me if you need too,” is all she said, and hung up.

She never said good-bye, only so-long, and that she would call my Aunt when we got off the phone so that she knew what was going on.

“Hurry up would you, the bus is gonna be there, I don’t want you to miss it,” Marshall barked. He clearly had plans upon my departure. 

I walked a little slower from the phone, on purpose this time. I opened my car door, extra slow this time and slid into the front seat; I ignored him the rest of the ride.

He raced to the bus stop which was only a few blocks from where we were, and as we crested the top of the hill in town, out of the corner of my eye I saw the Grayhound bus coming closer and closer to the bus station. I was coming closer and closer to my departure, and I knew that soon I would be out on the interstate ... kissing ol' sweet, warm Georgia goodbye.

He skidded the car into the parking spot and jumped out, slamming his door as he grabbed the handle of the door to the back seat of the car to get to my suitcase. Before I could even get out of the front seat he was plaguing me to "HURRY UP, this bus ain't gonna wait for you. Here, take your sweater, its gonna be cold there, it's snowing," he barked again. I couldn't believe he was worried I would be cold.

The bus didn't even have it's door open yet.

We stood near each other waiting for the other passengers to get off and make room for the new passengers. 

There were three of us. 

Me, an older colored man about 55, and a girl probably a few years older than me just catching a ride to the next stop about an hour away.

"I ride this bus all the time, its pretty boring actually," she said. I didn't talk to her again. I didn't even get her name.

Marshall stuck his hand out and was beginning to give me something as he said; "Here's a little money - its all I have right now, and your ticket. Don't spend to much in one place, its enough to get you some coffee and a few donuts." He handed me (in shame I believe) a wrinkled up ten dollar bill. Not even a twenty, but a ten, to travel from the tail end of Georgia all the way back to Buffalo, NY ... 962 miles ... 14.39 hours of riding with ten dollars. 

I think secretly at that point, I realized I would do much better without him.

"Really, that is all you have is ten? What am I supposed to buy with that? Is that supposed to feed me for two day?" I just chuckled and held back the tears and rolled my eyes at him, I had no more words to waist.

"I guess I should get on, they will be leaving soon," and I turned to go. He grabbed my arm and gave me a hug like none he had ever given me before and he said "I'll see you again, just right now, you have to go," and he kissed me goodbye, I didn't kiss him back. I just looked at him and shook my head and turned around and walked up those three steps into the belly of that Grayhound bus. I found my way to the back, where I could see him and where he could barley see me, and I held my head up high for a change, I had cried enough.

In a few minutes the doors slammed shut with the total of three passengers, and we headed North, all to a different locations. 

Just as the bus started to ease out of the parking lot my friend Suette showed up, waving a hand-full of magazines she thought I might like to read. Marshall must have called her, and as usual, it was a little too little, and a little late. 

She stood there outside behind the bus, waving goodbye to me, as I started my journey home - in the back of that Grayhound bus.  

The bus I rode looked just like this one.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Introducing Lung and a Half

Hello, our name is Lung and a Half and we have the pleasure of keeping Amy alive and breathing and supplying her body with oxygen every day of her life.

We haven’t always been known as lung and a half, but when Amy got sick with some weird disease in her lungs in 1995 the doctors decided that to keep the damage from spreading into the rest of her lung they would just remove half of our right lung, the top right lobe, and now we keep Amy going with one and half lungs.

It’s not always easy being her lungs; sometimes she will give us oxygen from a machine or from a little metal tank, but not very often. It really doesn't make us breathe better; it just forces more oxygen into us and really boosts her oxygen level to the rest of her body.

We feel so bad for her sometimes, especially when she is having a really bad day and can’t walk from her kitchen table to the sink. But then somehow she makes us work harder and she gets more energy and she get through the day. Some times she gets so mad she cleans the whole house and mops and does windows just to get us going better. One day she even moved the living room furniture around.

She is amazing when it comes to that. She amazes us sometimes.

Amy really loves us too. A few years ago she was going to Cleveland Clinic for consultations for a double lung transplant. The doctors said she would live longer with the lungs of a stranger, but she refused. 

Amy has beaten the odd and has lived longer than a lung transplant lasts, which is only ten years. She always tells us that she is so glad she kept us, that we do a great job. And that the two people she did know that had lungs transplants in 2007 died, and they didn't ever live ten years.

She always tells us she would rather breath with us doing the job we do than trying to get someone else's lungs to work in her. She is happy with her decision to keep us.She said that she might never wake up from the operation and she doesn't want to take that chance. 

She always thanks us for the great job we do, and thanks God for healing us and keeping us breathing when the x-rays clearly show that the damage is extensive and she probably shouldn't even be able to breath; or walk or even live by herself … but she does.

And she does a great job! She thanks God for that everyday.

We do get tired, but we don’t get sick anymore. We seem to be doing really well this winter and expect it to stay this way, and we expect to keep Amy breathing for a very long time. When we get tires she knows and she rests for a while. And then she gets back up and does something else. She keeps us in pretty good working order.

She says she has too much work to do for her to just sit still and not do anything. She has too many people to help, too many places to go and see. She says she may not be running but she sure can get around, even if it takes longer than other people. When people ask her why she is so out of breath and ask “are you OK,” She is so gracious and just says “Yes, I am fine. This is how I breathe, I will be OK. Please don’t worry about me,” and she will go sit down and catch her breath, and then she is fine.

She always knows we will get her through whatever she may be doing and we are so glad to be breathing for her.

We may not be perfect lungs, but we are Amy’s lungs and we are so glad to keep her breathing. She believes with every breath she is healed and getting better, and so do we, and we keep on doing our job. 

We are glad to be of service to Amy, she is very special and we work hard because she kept us and we will do our job to the best of our ability, every single day. 

Even if part of us is missing; We are so glad to breath for her.

This is what my lungs look like in an X-ray ... black.