Blog Maintenance 

Most Categories Converted to Tags

 At long last, I have given my blog Categories and Tags an overhaul. I’ve been thinking of doing it for months and it’s finally done! I just have a handful of categories now. My goal was to make them more generic and use Tags for the details. It ended up being a surprisingly interesting exercise in self-discovery. “So that’s what I write about!”

Anyway… Enjoy the minimized category list!

Happy Bloggy Birthday to Me!

Thinking about this past year, my head is in a whirl. Last fall I was battling depression on a level I had never experienced. Since then I’ve managed to naturally treat my depression, come to peaceable terms with not carrying my own children, refocus my energies, return to school full-force, gain legal guardianship of my goddaughters… Oh, and I found out I got a raise today 🙂 

Continue reading Happy Bloggy Birthday to Me!

Fear of Words

Logophobia by Meggito | DeviantArt.com

I have words. I’ve locked them away for five years. After months of spewing my raw soul onto paper, I could only wait for time to pass. It was the only thing left to heal me. I’ve only read through some of those words once or twice since then, but each time it was too soon. The pain was still too near. The pages singed my emotions. I’m still waiting for the sting to cool, and I wonder each year if I’ll ever actually forget.

Then I battle the fear of forgetting. What if I need that strength? I was blind before. What if I lose the sight I’ve gained? It’s all I have to show for what I endured.

I battle the fear of ignorance. What people don’t know can hurt them, and it does, every day. Am I supposed to share my words? I have more than enough of them. The material is yellowing on my shelves. But it’s ugly and dark. People don’t want to know. There are many subjects that people bravely come forward to share here in the 21st century, but this isn’t one of them. This one is locked away in secrets and rumors and whispers and scandals. It’s locked away in pride and shame, only fit to be heard by a jury of peers.

I battle the fear of flippant disregard. “That’s intense,” I imagine the response, barely a complete sentence. More than anything I battle the fear of questions. I’m afraid of the doubt of others. I’m afraid of being misunderstood. I’m afraid my heart and motivations and decisions will be scrutinized and criticized. I survived the worst thing that ever happened to me. “But couldn’t you have survived it like this?” might be the question that leads to my ruin.

As a life-long people-pleaser, I’m know no one will be pleased by my story, least of all me. No one will sleep better at night. These stories need a voice, but I’m afraid I don’t have the courage to see it through.

Ostrich Grunting

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take That, Rosetta!”

Words are a force. If I could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language, it would be one that could incite government reform.

I don’t think I’ve ever discussed politics on my blog before. It makes me angry to even think about it. After I watched the presidential debate between Obama and McCain, I swore off following politics.

As an adult, I’ve never owned a TV, but I stopped reading the news then too. The smoke and mirrors made me sick with frustration, not just because of what they’re hiding, but because there’s nothing anyone could do about it.

The most well-meaning, moral, upstanding presidential candidate could never reform the country in just two terms. The bureaucratic nightmare waiting in Washington would never allow it. The nation needs a mediator, one that unites the people to demand reform, and one that can inspire the government to peaceably comply.

If I could speak the language that would accomplish all that, I would. Since I can’t, I’ll continue to to bury my head in the sand.

Chicken Wrangling and the Art of Caregiving

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Mentor Me

In my third year of marriage my husband and I started going to a church that offered to match-up older couples with younger couples in the hope of sparking mentoring relationships between the wives and husbands. We met with the couple who were teachers and had three teenage kids. They were tall, both over six feet, and they towered over little five-foot-four me in stature and in wisdom. I was excited to get to know them. I’d never had a mentor before, and I was out of my depth to know how to be a good wife in the middle of dealing with infertility.

Vivian was a role model from the start. She cooked from scratch, she maintained a vegetable garden, and she kept chickens. She must have honed her no no-nonsense, get-to-the-point approach from her years in the classroom, but she was kind too. She lead much more than she pushed, but I didn’t find all that out until I moved in with her and her family.

My husband and I only met with our mentors once before a blind-siding day just before Christmas when the shit hit the fan and we separated. (Yes, this was my first husband.) Vivian’s family welcomed me with more than open arms. They asked me what color I liked and painted my room sage green to make it more my own. They invited me to eat dinner with them and watch “The Middle,” but they didn’t expect me to act like part of the family. They didn’t even ask me to pay rent.

I took care of their chickens while they were away one weekend, not very well. I didn’t “click” the door behind me when I went in to feed them and bunch of them got out. I swear, I was just like Link on Zelda’s Ocarina of Time trying to pick up chickens and throw them back in the pen. There I was, top of my class and I couldn’t figure out how to trap a bunch of flightless birds. It ended up being a lot more complicated than I though because, unlike Link, I couldn’t catch them!

The story of my chicken wrangling hour made everyone laugh. They needed to laugh, and I needed to hear it. I needed to know that I wouldn’t be a weepy wreck of a human being forever. And I wasn’t. Vivian and her family taught me that in the middle of a crisis, I could still be a functioning human being. I woke up early and went to the gym before work. I made pesto from scratch. I baked bread. And I cried as often as I needed to.

No one ever disturbed me when I was in my room. For three months it was my sanctuary. It was the time and place I needed to get a grip. Vivian taught me that sometimes people just need space to figure things out, and the most kind thing you can do for them is to invite them into a time and space that’s warm, welcoming, and nurturing.

Although they may not appreciate it at the time, that time and space should also have a light counter-weight of expectation. Notice I said counter-weight and not balance. Expectation is good for someone you’re caring for, but only as much as is needed to keep them from slipping away into depression. It should be enough to give them purpose, but not so much that they feel like they’re paying you back for your kindness.

I never felt indebted to Vivian and her family, which is possibly the greatest gift I ever received during that time of my life.

Debtor’s Dreaming

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Afloat.”

It must be eight years since I first picked up Dave Ramsey’s book: Total Money Makeover. It was apparent to me that I knew almost nothing about how to successfully manage my money. At 23, I was paying my bills, but I had debt and nothing saved for retirement. I read through Dave’s book, started listening to the Podcast of his radio show, and I started dreaming of what it would be like to be one of those people who screamed “Debt Free!” on Fridays.

A lot can happen in eight years. I wish I could say I met my debt-free goal in my 20s, but I’m actually staring down more debt in my near future. Not much has changed, except that now I have something saved for retirement. Dave wouldn’t approve. “Debt-free before retirement saving!” he preaches. I’m not following the plan, so I shouldn’t be entirely surprised that I haven’t met the goal.

One out of three people working in the US makes more money than I do. In fact, that third of the population is taking home 70% of the total US wages. I’m not exactly unhappy about it. It doesn’t cause me stress or anxiety. On the contrary, I feel abundantly blessed to have my bills paid and money in the bank! I even take two-day vacations occasionally.

But it would be nice to be more than just “Afloat.”

Liebster Award

liebster-award

I would like to thank Hannah at To Knit or Knot for nominating me for the Liebster Award!

11 Questions. 11 Answers. Here are the questions for her nominees:

1. Do you have a favorite day of the week?

That would have to be Wednesday. For a couple years now, I have spent Wednesdays working from home. It’s the best way I have ever found to break-up the week. As a self-motivated introvert, I was so happy when my manager agreed. I get a lot more done from home without the interruption of people stopping by to see me throughout the day.

2. What is your favorite food?

I eat Mexican food most often, but if I had the money I would eat sushi all the time!

3. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I’ve always been a night owl.

4. How did you decide on the name of your blog?

Semper Fidelis is Latin for “Always Faithful.” I wrote a post about it a couple months ago called Faith and Silence if you’d like to read the full story.

5. What is your favorite memory?

My first day at Washington State University. I very rarely take “selfies,” but I did that day. I stopped by the restroom on my way to my first class and caught sight of myself in a full-length mirror. In jeans and a t-shirt, I was radiant. I survived the darkest time of my life that year and I was moving on. I was embracing a new life. I was transformed. I’ve never felt more pride and compassion for myself as I did in that moment.

6. Would you rather listen to a song that you intensely loathe 10 times, or a song that you love all day?

I don’t mind listening to songs I like over and over again. I’d rather listen to a song I love all day. I don’t think there’s much risk I would grow tired of it.

7. Who is your best friend?

I have a few very close, dear friends, but I’ve known Christen the longest. I met her in 1992, the third grade. We’ve had many common interest over the years, but one I never would guessed we would share is that we are both raising children that are not our own. I have grown more profoundly grateful for her than ever these past two years. Being able to relate to someone about the struggles and triumphs of fostering children is a gift. The memories and trust we’ve developed over the 23 years we’ve known each other is a comfort beyond any words I can express.

8. Roses or Daisies?

I like a bouquet of roses as much as anyone, but in general I like expressions of love to be more permanent, which is why I usually dry them if I receive them. Daisies are happy little flowers, but I don’t mind that they fade. It isn’t as depressing to watch as a fading rose. I’d choose daisies if I had to.

9. What are three things that fill in the blank for you- “I love….”?

1) I love my husband. I would say I’m sorry for being so obvious, but I’m not sorry. He is my match, my soul… he is everything I never hoped to wish for. 2) I love my sister. She is the most kind, forgiving, joyful soul I have ever known.  3) I love my home. Last April we moved into the first house I’ve ever rented as an adult. We looked for months and I would have happily moved to several of the places we saw, but Spike always had something better in mind. We actually signed the lease on this house before I even saw the inside. He was sold on it, so I rightly assumed I would love it too. It was a risk, but I never felt like it was.

10. When is your favorite time of year?

Spring is my favorite time of year. Everything is green and it’s not too hot and it doesn’t get dark before I’m off work.

11. If you had to live on an island with only one food, what would that food be?

If it were earlier in the evening I would do some research on the food that provides the most well-rounded nutritional values. That’s my choice, intellectually, I would want the one food that would keep me the most healthy. Psychologically though, I would probably want the food that brought me the most comfort.

My Liebster Award Nominations:

Dizzy With Feet Planted

Wild Warrior Princess Mommy

Writing Through Tears

Life of a Journaler

My 11 Questions for the Nominees:

  1. Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?
  2. If you could do anything you wanted right now, what would it be?
  3. If money was no object, what would you do all day?
  4. Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
  5. What is your favorite book?
  6. What is your biggest success up until now?
  7. What does your perfect day look like?
  8. What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isn’t already?
  9. If you were to create a piece of art, what would the subject be?
  10. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
  11. How would your friends describe you?

I look forward to reading your answers!

Liebster Award Rules

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions that they set.
  3. Nominate others with less than 200 followers.
  4. Let them know about the nomination and the questions.

A New Romance

I finished The Scarlet Thread yesterday. Spike came in while I was on the last few pages. “You don’t look like you love that book,” he smiled. I didn’t realize I was actually scowling. “It’s high fructose corn syrup Christianity,” I said, surprised at my own precisely accurate description. “It’s sickeningly sweet. And fake.”

I’ve already ranted about my issues with this book, but I can’t leave it alone. It isn’t in me to complain about the way things are without offering a solution.

I love classic romances. Wuthering Heights was actually the first novel I ever read, and I was hooked. I read a lot of Jannette Oke books when I was in junior high and high school too. I wonder if I would still love them, or if I would sense the same HFCS Christianity overtones now. Of course my romance reading had a heaping side helping of Disney princess movies. My mother was once warned not to let me watch Sleeping Beauty so much because it would warp my sense of true love. Luckily for me it came from her mother-in-law, whose advice she never took, so I continued to dress up and lie on top of my toy box, waiting for Prince Phillip. (He never came of course, but I loved to pretend.)

I’m still drawn to romances as an adult, but more in the form of TV shows and movies. Downton Abbey is my most recent favorite. It’s the perfect mix of romance and my other favorite genre: historical fiction. I’ve watched every movie and TV series I can get my hands on that’s based on a Jane Austen novel.

Is there a way to present romance that doesn’t send people screaming or set their eyes rolling? Could I write a better romance? I’m fairly certain I’m at least living a better romance than the one I just read, so that’s a start. I could tell my story. It’s full of heartache and tears and miracles. Would anyone read it? I know I would, which is really the most important part of writing anyway. I would have a lot of help from that bookshelf full of journals.

Blogging Space

Annotated Home Space
Annotated Blog Space

I was clicking around tonight and found this lovely blog with a nifty idea to describe the space I use to do all my bloggy things. My space is not nearly as adorable as Abbie’s. In fact, it’s pretty sparse, but it’s me.

The desk came free after a recent office move. I thought Spike was going to disown me when I won the drawing and asked him to pick it up. “How big is it!?”

“It’s only six-by-four [feet]. It’ll fit in the living room.”

We literally had to donate one of our [three, old, busted] couches, but it fits quite nicely now! And our older goddaughter inherited my old desk, which she needed, so really everyone won. Except Spike. I’m pretty sure he still holds a grudge against this desk. It’s solid oak and probably weighs 500 pounds. It’s a miracle it didn’t crush him and our neighbor when they moved it into the house.

We don’t have a TV or game console. The four of us just have our computers for doing work, school, TV shows, movies etc. Spike’s computer has a larger monitor we gather around if we’re going to watch a movie together. My desk is, by far, the biggest though. I would feel bad… but I don’t. I work from home one day a week, so I justify it but saying it makes us money. I’m not wrong.

Now I’m curious. What does your space look like?