Friday, August 31, 2012

Catharsis!

I put the last touches on my manuscript today and sent it off to my editor. It is such a great feeling to be at this point in my second book. And I am SO glad I decided to write about this part of my journey! I can already feel the liberation kicking in!

You know, the funny thing is, I really didn't think I needed to write for catharsis. But I have been surprised at how much insight I have gained from my own writing. Going back through the entire manuscript this week and adding quotes to each chapter has shed new light on some unhealthy interactions I have still been "caught" in that I believe are a direct result of having been abused for so many years. I react in a self-abasing way to situations that I should not. I tolerate being condescended to when I should not. And I am still prone to emotional manipulation. I'm not completely where I want to be yet, but I'm thankful I'm recognizing it. You have to recognize it before you can change it.

Self-abasement is: voluntary self-punishment or humiliation in order to atone for some real or imagined wrongdoing. This is one of my worst traits. God, please help me to stop this! It is a pit I am so prone to fall into! And that is not God's will for me!

John has given me so many pep talks on this subject. And I have not been able to fully see how destructive this pattern has been in me. But the lights have come on. And I think I'm ready to break a few more chains in my life.

I haven't settled on a title. I've had a few ideas. But nothing I'm absolutely sold on yet. I'm looking forward to suggestions from my editor. He thinks the title is extremely important. There is a much wider audience for this book than the first one and the title needs to grab the attention of that audience. It can't be ambiguous or confusing. For those of you who know me and are wondering about the content of this book, it is about the marital abuse I suffered for nearly three decades of my life (beginning at the age of 16). I'm encouraged by the feedback I have gotten from preview readers.

Several have told me the book has spoken to issues in their lives already, in its first draft. That is so exciting for me as a writer. It gives meaning to everything I have been through.

I plan to release this book in both paperback and ebook versions. And this time I do not plan to sell the books myself. I'm not good at that. You see, I have given away nearly a thousand dollars' worth of books with my first publication (more if you count the money I have spent mailing books as gifts). Once I broke even, it became so hard for me to take anybody's money. But I do pay for each book I have printed. So this time I promised John I would sell them through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I hope all my friends will still want to read it. But I'm very glad I have written it even if nobody buys it. Seriously.

This book is more personal than the first one, if you can believe that.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Memory of Sara...

I was privileged and thankful to have the opportunity to read Sara's words and pray for her as she walked through this. She has been such an inspiration to so many.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NATIONAL BLOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: SEPTEMBER 2012

This link gives a little information about a media event I thought my husband was going to be participating in...

NATIONAL BLOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

But I have to say NEVER MIND about John's participation. Dr. Flinn called John today to tell him that there's been an unexpected change in plans. As it turns out, John is not the "right" kind of patient for this event, since he is on an experimental treatment program rather than an established "standard" treatment plan. So he will not be participating as a patient spokesperson as I originally shared this morning.

But it is still National Blood Cancer Awareness Month and there will be a media campaign to promote awareness and hopefully educate the public about blood cancer!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A week I will always remember...

I am home again after being gone for six days. I left for Tennessee on Tuesday. I spent Wednesday and Thursday visiting with family (including an aunt and cousins I had not seen in many years), drove to Franklin to see my kids Friday, then spent my last night in Murfreesboro with a friend. I also got to go back to my church home of the last nine years, World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, for the Saturday night service. I was so tired by the time I got to Murfreesboro that I didn't really feel like going anywhere. But I was glad I made the effort. No matter where I go or how comfortable I am anywhere else, WOC will always feel like home. I can't express how good it felt to be there.

I made it home in six hours and ten minutes. I only stopped for gas one time. It's such an easy drive for me. And it makes living in another state (away from my grandsons) a little easier. I have been back every month since we moved. And when I say goodbye each time, I do so knowing it will only be a matter of weeks before I see them again. But I still get a little melancholy. I think it's because I have reached the age where I see time slipping away faster and faster.

I was feeling a lot of emotion this whole trip. It was primarily good emotion. I loved seeing my Aunt Jan, and my cousins, Sandie and Bonnie. And I always enjoy seeing my brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces, and my dad. But my dad and my aunt are in poor health now and they have aged a lot in the last few years. I have so many memories of both of them in the prime of their lives. My dad remained extremely healthy and youthful up until he hit the age of 60. He is now 76 and has had many health issues in the last 16 years. One of his health issues is Parkinson's Disease. But he also had triple bypass surgery a few years ago and he has had CLL for about 15 years. I've watched him struggle with these challenges and decline physically, especially in the last several years. But I cannot get used to seeing him as this elderly person he now is. I realize I never pictured him getting old. And I wish he didn't have to.

I have not watched my aunt age gradually. The last time I saw her, she was young. She is only 72, but because of health problems she is a little more frail than a healthy 72-year-old. And it was hard to wrap my mind around this new version of Aunt Jan. I kept wondering how we all got this old so fast. And there is always that awareness in my mind that I am "up" next. I'm only 53 and I pray I have many more years of good health ahead. But none of us knows that. I have been reading a blog this year of a 33-year-old mother of two young boys who is in the last stages of colon cancer. If God does not perform a miraculous physical healing, she won't be here much longer. I feel so unworthy and yet so thankful for my last 20 birthdays. If only we could realize at a younger age just what a gift each day of life is.

I felt emotional after each time I said goodbye to different family members this week. I don't know when I will see my aunt and cousins again. And because life has taken us all in different directions, we've lost so many years of closeness I wish we'd had. When I got back to Murfreesboro, I stopped by our old house to pick up a few things. And I got all choked up just walking around in the "shell" of what was our home. I have never felt so sentimental about leaving a house before. And it has nothing to do with the structure. It's all about the memories. Every time I go back inside, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for the five amazing years there that are now behind me. The emotion isn't sadness about leaving. I have never been any happier than I am right now, living in West Virginia. I just feel an emotional attachment that I have never felt about a house before. And I think it's because I'm getting older. (It definitely isn't the house itself because I never want that much house to take care of again!)

It's always good to get home after being away; especially when I go anywhere without John. Driving home today, I kept thinking about how different my life would be without him. I am so thankful for every day of the last nine years and three months. There is never a moment when I am not thankful for being blessed much more than I deserve. There were many days prior to John when I felt despair and loneliness in an abusive marriage. As many of you already know, I have been working on a book about domestic abuse and my own past struggles as an emotionally battered woman. I spent three times as many years being abused as I have spent being loved and cherished. And the marriage I have today was beyond my wildest dreams for all of those years. I could not have imagined my life as it is today. But it was always a reality in God's plan.

We all have a different path to walk. God does not bless us all in the exact same ways. And He doesn't give us all the same challenges to overcome. But there is a purpose and a plan for everything He allows in our path. Part of our spiritual and emotional growth is learning to embrace both equally; the challenges along with the blessings.

Every time I see my dad, I wish he did not have to have Parkinson's. I wish he could have stayed healthy and youthful into his eighties or nineties. And I hate seeing him suffer. But I also see things God is doing in his heart through his circumstances. That makes me thankful. I recognize God has strengthened my character and increased my compassion by allowing me to go through hard things.

After I posted a picture of my dad and me on Facebook, I got a few private questions about the status of our relationship. There was some distance between us for a time. But that has changed over the last year or so. I can tell my dad is genuinely happy to see me every time I visit him. And I believe he loves me as much as I love him. I had given our relationship to God and was at peace with whatever did or did not happen. And I didn't realize how healing it would be for me to experience the warmth I have felt from my dad in recent months. I'm thankful to have the memories I will now have for the rest of my life.

This post may seem a little melancholy. I am definitely feeling reflective tonight. But I am not sad. I am just aware of how precious every day is. And I felt like writing. This has been a week I will always remember.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Good Times!


I think Joshua may have a future as an Olympic Gymnast after seeing this expression.
Life is back to normal after a weekend with the boys. I was exhausted Monday morning when they drove away. Three little boys require a lot of energy to keep up with. But it was fun and I was thankful for the time with them.

I made a taco and guacamole feast the night they arrived. Saturday we explored Glade a little bit, spent some time shooting baskets and playing at the arcade before going to lunch, having frozen yogurt and meeting up with Poppy John at the dealership. We then took them to see New River Gorge and had dinner at Pies and Pints. Sunday morning they went to church with us. And Grandma Shari took all three boys to the pool for several hours while their Daddy and Poppy John hit the golf course. We had planned to squeeze in some fishing at the lake, too. But both times Poppy John asked the boys if they wanted to go, they said they wanted to play Wii. I think they were just worn out. Fishing might need to be a morning activity next visit.

I was disappointed when we did not see any deer while they were here. I normally see deer every single day. And lately we've seen fawns everywhere, which I thought the boys would enjoy seeing as well. The fawns are the cutest. I was saying how disappointed I was that we weren't seeing any as we drove around and Danny said, "Had you never seen any deer in Tennessee?" I had, many times. We would see them walking around occasionally in our neighborhood. But I enjoy them more here. I think it's because of the setting. Instead of being in a subdivision, we are in the mountains surrounded by woods and nature. Seeing all the wildlife has been a bigger deal to me than seeing an occasional deer or wild turkey walking through a backyard in Mirabella. I have never been a nature girl. And I'm not saying that description would fit me even now. But I'm moving more in that direction. I'm appreciating the beauty of nature more than I ever have.

A few fun pictures I thought I'd share...





One of the highlights of the weekend for me was just sitting on the deck with Joshua early in the morning before anyone else was awake on Saturday. I had my coffee. He had his milk. And he gave me a brief synopsis of the garden of Eden, the fall, sin and our coming redemption. It was cute. He's a character.




My favorite Andrew quote of the weekend was when he walked up to someone and told them, "I'm Andrew. I'm the middle born."




And then there's Batman...
aka King of the World...
aka Pax.







We are getting ready for more fun this weekend. We're going to see Charlie Daniels at The Parkersburg Homecoming Festival! It's been a while since we've seen Charlie and Hazel. So we are excited they are going to be coming through West Virginia this summer.

Next week I get to see my Aunt Jan and my cousins Sandie and Bonnie Jane! I haven't seen them in so many years and I absolutely cannot wait.

And one CLL item, in case anyone is still reading...
I don't know details yet, but John is going to be participating in some kind of interview about CLL with Dr. Flinn in September. I don't know if it's for the internet or television or what. I don't know if it's national or local. But I will let you know when I find out more!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grandma Shari's Anticipation

I have been looking forward to this day for months. Danny, Joshua, Andrew and Pax are on their way to visit us in our new home! It will be hours before they arrive. But I'm ready.

I have hot dogs, Gogurt, Danimals Smoothies, strawberries, ice cream, Lucky Charms, Angry Birds Honey Grahams, varieties of chocolate, Butterfingers, Skittles and Sour Patch candy. All the boys' favorites. I have carnitas slow cooking in the crock pot for tacos and fresh avocados waiting to be turned into guacamole. It smells so good in here!

We will see New River Gorge ... eat pizza and wings at Pies and Pints. The boys and I will go to the pool while Daddy and Poppy John golf. We will visit a playground or two. We will hopefully see lots of wildlife and do a little fishing at the lake. We'll go to church, visit the dealership; meet new friends. The boys will eat too many treats and time will pass much too quickly!

We will miss Rebecca being here with us. She had a prior commitment this weekend. But hopefully Danny and the boys will enjoy their trip so much that they will be eager to come back and bring her with them. I cannot imagine anyone not loving it here. It is so beautiful.

I think being a grandma is even better than being a kid on Christmas morning!

It's been a busy week. We went to Philadelphia for our first Honda Dealers Meeting since John took over the dealership in Beckley. He was with Honda previously (in Cookeville, TN), so we have been to these meetings in the past. And it was like coming home. John has always been a Honda dealer at heart. He has wanted another Honda store ever since he and his partner sold Cookeville Honda. And I have always said I was willing to make the "sacrifice" of moving for that to happen for him. But what I originally thought of as a sacrifice has turned into such a huge blessing. I get to live in a beautiful vacation destination year-round. And I've been able to see the kids every single month since we moved.

We had so much fun in Philadelphia. We got to see some old friends. We were able to squeeze in a little sightseeing. We saw the Liberty Bell, went to Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross House. We visited the grave of Benjamin Franklin and stood in the very room where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed. We stood inside the original building where The United States Supreme Court met before moving to DC. We walked all over the city, had a glass of wine in a neat little wine bar/pizzeria, ate an authentic Philly Cheesesteak (probably not the best we could have had). And we had the most awesome lump crab dip I have ever tasted at Thirteen (in the Downtown Marriott Hotel) ... TWICE.




We also got to see the 2013 Accord, Civic and Crosstour! Wow! They are beautiful! (You'll have to wait. We were not allowed to take pictures.) Honda has always produced great vehicles that retain their value and perform with superiority. But this year they have outdone themselves (with exceptionally gorgeous vehicles in my opinion).

And next weekend we get to see Charlie Daniels in Parkersburg!

Spring and Summer have been so amazing. I can't believe how great life has been right off the bat here. I know Fall is going to be spectacular (because we've had a lot of rain). And Winter will be beautiful, even if it feels longer than the other seasons. Living in the mountains of West Virginia is so different from any other place I've lived (and especially Southern California). I didn't know what seasons were the first 33 years of my life. Then I spent 19 years in Nashville. And now I'm really getting a taste of the four seasons amidst the most vivid changes I've yet to experience.

I'm thankful to have this opportunity to live in yet another new area, meet new friends and make more memories. I know these are the best years of my life. I am so aware of that. I think about it almost every day. And I think about every day being such a precious gift. I feel blessed to be enjoying life so much. I am savoring every day. And I'm still working on that second book.

Ten years ago this month, I made a very difficult decision that would change the rest of my life. I didn't know what the future held. I wasn't sure I had a great future to look forward to. I just knew I couldn't endure the life I was in any longer. I had to leave the familiar and risk the uncertain. I remember thinking, better to do it at 43 than wait until I'm 53.

Now I am 53. And that decision turned out to be one of the best choices I have ever made. It took courage and strength I didn't feel like I had. But God's strength takes over when ours fails. God saw me through those struggles and blessed me with a life I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Is it any wonder I'm so thankful for every day?