Yes, I’m Calling About the Advertised Mongoose…

mongoose

Thank you, Ravic Doc Ringlaben, friend.  I appreciate you sounding the snake alarm/warning before posting on Facebook.  Your courteous announcement allowed me a quick escape and my morning did not get off to a snaky start as it so easily could’ve. . ‘Tis the season for folks all over the place to lose their minds long enough to take close photographs of and, God forbid, even pick up snakes of all shapes, sizes and abilities to inflict harm and fuel my nightmare at the same time. . So, I’ve drastically curtailed my social media browsing, I guess until the butt crack of winter or until people decide to stop the posting, whichever comes first. Decreasing time spent on social media is almost always a good thing and is for the best . I just wish it had come about some other way.

some of you are trying

Now, when I do break down and visit my newsfeed, I have a protocol, if you will, set up and in place. Don’t be impressed, really, because it’s not that good; it’s just a feeble attempt to avoid a visual encounter with the creature that I know is out there –I don’t know when it’ll get me and in the same way I don’t know which of my friends will be the ones to step clean out of their right minds to hang around the scene of a serpent to take a candid shot of the thing and then thrust it right up into my field of vision without a warning. My method is as follows:  I open the app and slowly, slowly creep and crawl down my newsfeed.  As I approach an item of “news,” I do two things. 1.  I start to consciously blur my vision as much as I can while still being potentially able to discern if a tidbit is safe to look at.  And 2.  as I’m doing that, I carefully reveal just a sliver at a time of the post.  Little by little, I let myself peek until I’m satisfied that it’s not offensive.  Definitely not accurate so it could still backfire on me.  Oh, it’s insanity but it’s my insanity to deal with and I’m doing the best I can.  You people are killing me.

nervous systemIt may not be rational but it’s my reality. I stepped on a big black snake a few weeks ago. I had ventured out to give my poultry friends some kitchen scraps and was almost skipping back across the small stretch of lawn with an empty bowl. I was about to go up three wooden deck steps and as I stepped down with my left flip-flopped foot, I felt the ground slide under it and I jumped off.  I don’t know how I got back up in that house–I mean, I’m assuming I used my legs and motor skills to accomplish the task but I might have flown or even just stepped out on the same limb Shirley MacLaine used a few years ago or just walked right through a solid wall like magic.  I only know that I was sore afraid and I had some serious fight or flight stuff going on in the most primitive part of my brain. I did make it back inside and promptly went and threw up.

Ur very prettyListen, I’m not a person saying I have a phobia of kittens or mosquitos or of rain.  It’s a snake, for crying out loud…I happen to believe that my deep fear of snakes is one part genetic predisposition and the other part environmental conditioning. After all, back in the day–I mean waaaay back in the day–that fear of snakes was a useful thing to possess on account of the fact that fear makes a homosapien run fast and you wanna be “totin’ the mail” when you make the unfortunate mistake of bothering the creature–you wanna be aerodynamic, people. The environmental conditioning I received came in the form of a pond in our backyard growing up.  Snakes were a part of existence. But one particular day truly made a lasting impression on my young gray matter.  For the longest time I thought it was a nightmare that I just couldn’t forget but a recent conversation with my snake-loving, serpent-handling brother confirmed that it was a true story from the annals of terror.  An unusually large water moccasin had been killed and was ceremoniously stretched out under the carport for our young eyes to behold.  My large eyes just couldn’t take it all in, especially when the female snake began to open and close its jaws despite being super-dead. And adding horror to an already bad deal for yours truly, I received the news that this thing was very much in the family way with babies. I never recovered. The human brain is a sophisticated thing, able to store away and hang on to specific fears from long times past. It’s amazing and it sucks at the same time.

nope nopeLots of studies are being done by the best and brightest scientific minds and something interesting to note is the idea that turmeric, the spice featured in most curry powders is actually capable of preventing new fear memories from being protected and stored deep in the recesses of our brains. But the truly beautiful claim being made about turmeric is that it can actually REMOVE preexisting fear memories! What??? Listen, I can make this beautiful orange spice a daily part of my life if this is true.  I will hurry and scurry to consume curry all day long if necessary! Science!

Lord please make them stop

let's notI'm sheddingi ain't scareif you could stop scaring me

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Real Talk

My children are and always will be my greatest treasures. I would’ve never believed it if somebody would’ve told me 20 years ago that I would come to enjoy them like I do now. They are hilarious, unique individuals and they bring me untold joy. But life gets real and it does it real quick. I don’t know where I got the idea that everything gets easier when they get older. Sure, I’ve heard the warnings about the tumultuous, hormonal teenage years but, as usual, real world rules and laws of nature don’t automatically apply to me. Who knows?  My case may turn out to be one in a million and turn out different. Who knows? I may be able to jump off a high bridge and not fall victim to gravity’s pull. You just never can tell and I don’t like to limit myself, ya know?  True, I’m not changing diapers and potty training toddlers anymore and that’s bittersweet as most mothers can attest. But the challenges are there and they’re difficult. Parenting period but especially parenting teens is not for the faint-hearted and cowardly. ‘Cause you’re gonna hurt-that’s a fact. I read a quote once that said something to the effect of  “…being a mother means having your heart walking around outside your body as long as you’re alive.” How very accurate that statement is!

truth_will_set_you_free

This half-grown child needed some truth yesterday. There’s just no substitute for some good, strong “talking-to” from your southern Mama. And it’s almost never what we want to hear. I can say that in my forty three years,  I have never, ever wanted to hear the hard truth coming at me from my Mama. Some of that is because she isn’t capable of mincing words or using very much tact. It’s just not how she’s hard-wired and I’ve come to accept this and take her truth like Rocky takes a lick from Apollo Creed. She’s probably gonna lay me out with her powerful right hook of hard truth-probably what I need. (Thank you, Ma’am. May I please have another?) But she loves me like no other-like Paul Simon’s rock-and wisdom tells me to shut up and listen.

This sweet child of mine was experiencing the bane of my particular existence-the sneaky, bastard of an emotion we call self-pity. It’s so natural to go there as a human, but not healthy to stay there. Precious One needed me to listen for a few minutes and needed a little babying but I knew soon enough that I wasn’t handing out favors by coddling the kid. Even though I wanted to. I had to speak the truth.

Actually, I had to give the “Life is Not Fair, Nor Shall it Ever Be” talk to two teen kids the other day. Fair is where you go in August to ride the Tilt a Whirl, child. Catch that truth now rather than later, please, baby. I wish I had grasped it sooner. You know, being a teen has never been easy but it’s crazy-hard now. Temptation and negative talk come from every direction. So many commitments-scholastic and social-vie for their time and attention and there are only so many hours in a day to accomplish everything. It’s no wonder that teens are stressed out and experiencing anxiety at alarming levels.

“I’m overwhelmed, I can’t do this, too many classes, too much homework, too many chores, too much, too much, too much. Why? How?” And with that comes the admission that her Mama doesn’t have all the answers. “While I’m flattered that you think I’m that smart and intuitive, I still don’t have the words to make it all better. That’s the bad news. The good news is that knowing this truth is a sign of moving to the next level, of growing up. And it’s so preferable that you get your feelings of inadequacy out and not let it fester inside. Another good sign.

So, Dear One, you think it’s unfair that you’re being asked to prioritize your work and chores and it’s unrealistic to expect a State of the Teen address from you periodically because you’re too stressed and overwhelmed. Well, I truly hate that you’re experiencing those feelings but having them isn’t necessarily bad. Stuffing them is bad. Acknowledging them is good.

One thing I won’t tolerate is negative talk about Daddy. Just because we’re not married anymore doesn’t mean I’m not on his team and that I don’t support him. “I’m sorry if you thought I might take sides but you were wrong, darling. Your Daddy would move heaven and earth for you and has done so many times. He is totally invested in you and has a vested interest in your well-being. He has sacrificed more than you’ll ever know and I’m not gonna criticize him.

Having put that boundary up, I’m telling you, Precious, to hold that head up. Roll up those sleeves and do the deal.If somebody at any time told you that it was easy then they lied to your face. There’s no other way to do it. There’s no shortcut. I’m sorry that there isn’t.

Do you even realize what I see in you? Unbridled potential. That’s right. You are amazing. You’ve faced some hard stuff this year and you don’t even see what a badass you are. But I do. And I’ll remind you as often as I need to. I’m freaking proud of you, honey. Your accomplishments are a big deal and I want you to see yourself how I see you and I want you to feel pride. You are a big deal and I’m gonna keep on telling you.

You’re special and unique to me but not so unique to the world. You’re not facing anything that hasn’t been faced before and licked, kid. You’re not gonna fail–understand? Not an option. So stop being so afraid of failure that you miss the fun. I do want you to enjoy each day. You are gonna do this. Without a doubt. Borrow my faith. This semester is something to be gotten through and you’ll look back when you finish and proclaim that you did do it and be filled with such a sense of pride and wonder that you’ll be amazed.”

It was emotional but I’ll always have it, that conversation. The most beautiful things come out of pain and struggle, I’ve found. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be that kid’s Mama and exceedingly proud of all my kids. My cup is running over. I’m prepared to say it all over again tomorrow, if necessary. We all need a champion and I’m happy to be that for my precious offspring. This child owns one fourth of my heart  and she’s walking around outside my chest. Bless it….

A Blessed Woman

I’ve been reflecting on what, to me, is a lack of perspective on the part of many women in the U.S., and, if I may be so bold as to say it, a lack of gratitude for how good we actually do have it here.  With that thought in mind, I did a little research on places in the world where women’s rights are truly restricted. Here is what I discovered:

  1. In some states of India there are strict rules requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.  A great law, to be sure, because if you’ve ever seen footage or actually been able to visit and see for yourself then you know that their traffic is not like our traffic.  You take your life in your hands on a motorcycle and it’s nothing to see three or four people hanging on for dear life to the bike in bat-out-of-hell traffic.  Anyway, great law, right?  Yeah, for dudes and dudes only because women are exempted from wearing protective helmets and they are injured and die by the thousands because of it.  They say {this is ironic and darkly funny to me} they’re just trying to keep from messing up women’s beautiful hairstyles and expertly applied makeup.  Excuse me while I throw up because everyone knows that a woman’s life has very little value in that culture.
  2. How about Yemen in the Middle East? Let’s say a woman witnesses a crime and her testimony could prove innocence or guilt of an individual.  She’s willing to testify but, alas, she must have her testimony backed up by a man. A woman is not “recognized as a full person before the court.” Oh, I forgot…she may testify if the said crime occurred in a beauty shop or any place a man would not be. She may NOT testify in cases of adultery, libel, theft or sodomy. Blech…
  3. Here’s two—one not a shocker, the other surprising to me. Women still may not vote in Saudi Arabia or Vatican City, which, as you know, is home of the Pope and a country all to itself. Looks to me like the Supreme Pontiff himself would intervene and show how progressive he really is.
  4. Saudi Arabia again and the North African country of Morocco, land of genies in bottles and magic carpets. There are many countries that fail to offer asylum and protection to rape victims but these two countries go in the Evil Hall of Fame. There’s no leaving the house without a male companion—a woman would be harshly punished for doing that. Unadvisable to ever be caught alone in the company of an unrelated man because the punishment will be swift and harsh. You can just hang it up if you get pregnant from such an encounter—it’s not his fault, it’s YOUR fault, you hussy. Several years ago there were reports of a 16 year old girl committing suicide after she was forced to marry her rapist—a statutory rape charge is dropped immediately if the rapist agrees to marry the poor child. I just threw up in my mouth a little.
  5. Here’s Yemen again. Don’t even think of leaving the house without your husband’s permission over there.  It’s a law. There are exceptions, though, thank God. You might escape punishment if you MUST rush out to take care of your dying parents. But you better have a man’s testimony to back up yours, girl.
  6. I don’t know about you but I love to turn up the music loud and take a leisurely drive through the country. Not in Saudi Arabia because women aren’t allowed to drive.
  7. Afghanistan—home of the Taliban. Obviously, you wouldn’t expect a country with such an oppressive presence to be progressive in its treatment of women, but it’s way worse than we can imagine. I’m 43. If I were an Afghan woman I probably wouldn’t make it to 50 because the life expectancy is just 45, ladies. I wouldn’t ever have the privilege of curling up with a good book because most likely I wouldn’t be able to read or write. I would’ve in all likelihood been forced to marry before I turned 16. I would have to grow up fast because I would get pregnant soon after marriage and face the very real challenge of surviving childbirth. A woman dies in childbirth every half hour in Afghanistan—shocking. If I am unlucky enough to lose my husband to death I will be forced to walk the streets and sell my body to survive. It’s not difficult to see why it’s the only country in which the suicide rate is higher for women than men.
  8. The Congo. Honestly, just the name gives me chills. It’s no place for a female, a brutal, violent land where rape is a part of life. And you’re not guaranteed to survive—not that you’d want to after such brutality. HIV is rampant and your very existence is seemingly without hope.
  9. Nepal—landlocked and stuck between domineering China and India, it’s home of Mt. Everest and the magical sounding Kathmandu that Bob Seger sang about. No magic, just evil abiding here because early marriage and malnourishment exhaust women there in such a way that one in 24 will die in pregnancy or childbirth. I find it amazing that pregnancy and childbirth is looked on as such a joyful, exciting time in this country; we expect to come home from the hospital with a live baby and live happily ever after. That’s a fantasy over there. Not only that, if a girl reaches the ripe old marrying age of sixteen (which, incidentally, is considered well past the desired age of marriage for a female-a much younger bride is most desirable) and finds herself in the unfortunate predicament of having no man in her windswept, dry village willing to marry her, she will most likely be sold off to sex traffickers by her family because she’s useless, only good for the price she’ll fetch for her young body.
  10. I could go on and on because this is by no means an exhaustive list but I’ll wrap it up by listing one of the world’s poorest countries, African Mali, where you would be the exception to the rule if you managed to escape the torture of genital mutilation.  And in case you think these atrocities are limited to Africa and Asia, I give you Guatemala in Central America, where violence against women and rape are commonplace. It’s true. As if that wasn’t enough, this little country has the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS after the sub-Saharan African countries. And adding insult to injury to our sisters over there, an epidemic has coursed through the land down there. Not an epidemic of disease but one of murder—hundreds of women dead, many left with hate messages scrawled on their lifeless bodies.

I offer these facts not as a scare tactic but as a way to possibly bring to mind an awareness of how good we as women have it here in this great nation. The fact that we can reasonably expect to receive an education, to avoid being raped and murdered, to vote and read and write, to survive pregnancy and childbirth and bring our precious ones home from a clean, safe hospital, to be the recipient of social services should we fall on dire circumstances, to choose if, who, and when we will marry—all these things are expected and not seen as rights and privileges in this country. We don’t get to choose where, to whom and into what circumstances we are born. If you are reading this on American soil you are blessed beyond measure and it’s my sincere hope that we all learn to live in a constant state of gratitude and awareness of our exalted station in life simply because we were born as United States citizens.

 

Storm

Last night was scary. I am not one to flip out over bad weather.  But I’ve had some narrow misses in the last five years and I’ve seen up close the destruction a tornado can do.  So nobody had to twist my arm to get me to hunker down in the hallway.  WDAM did a good job of letting us know the seriousness of the situation and the potential for destruction, but as I sat on the hardwood of the hallway I began to feel something deep inside me, a nagging, sick feeling, like an internal warning going off within the deepest part of me.

I began to panic and my heart was racing. I knew it was bad, I mean I KNEW knew that the tornado was coming. The power had gone out and the WDAM app had long since stopped working, but I didn’t need anybody to tell me it was coming.  As I heard debris battering the house I began to spontaneously think of storms in the Bible. Now, I don’t normally think of such things in an emergency but everything was different last night.  I thought of Jonah and the storm he was in when he attempted to run away from God.  Of course I thought of Noah and the flood and I felt a bit of reassurance.  “God, you promised to never destroy us with a flood like that again, but you didn’t say anything about getting knocked in the head by flying debris in a tornado…”

Mostly I thought of Jesus and the disciples out on the Sea of Galilee. I’ve read that this sea is known for its violent storms that come up suddenly as fierce winds blow off the Golan Heights—ten foot waves, y’all.  I knew at that moment that no matter what my nervous system was telling me, this storm was ordained by God and controlled by Him and a bit of comfort came over me.  I made a concerted effort to control my breathing and fool my limbic system.  When a storm like that is raging right outside it’s hard to keep your eyes on Jesus, I can tell you from this experience.  But somehow, knowing that He was in control kept me from totally wigging out as that massive, roaring train came over the house, as the wind rushed in under the doors.

“God, You are my Creator and Creator of this storm.  You have promised to never leave me or abandon me.  You are absolutely committed to me, Jesus.  If I profess to believe that, then I ought to be able to laugh in the face of this meteorological disturbance. I believe You, Lord. You are not rattled, Jesus.  I don’t know if I can be unrattled right now but I trust You. Thank You for protecting me and mine.”

My house was spared but others weren’t.  I don’t know why. I am hurting for Hattiesburg.  There are more storms coming tonight and so many are displaced with no roof over their heads.  Please pray for the people of the Pine Belt. May the peace of God move in and hover over the whole area, may it cover us all.

Storm

Last night was scary. I am not one to flip out over bad weather.  But I’ve had some narrow misses in the last five years and I’ve seen up close the destruction a tornado can do.  So nobody had to twist my arm to get me to hunker down in the hallway.  WDAM did a good job of letting us know the seriousness of the situation and the potential for destruction, but as I sat on the hardwood of the hallway I began to feel something deep inside me, a nagging, sick feeling, like an internal warning going off within the deepest part of me. 

I began to panic and my heart was racing. I knew it was bad, I mean I KNEW knew that the tornado was coming. The power had gone out and the WDAM app had long since stopped working, but I didn’t need anybody to tell me it was coming.  As I heard debris battering the house I began to spontaneously think of storms in the Bible. Now, I don’t normally think of such things in an emergency but everything was different last night.  I thought of Jonah and the storm he was in when he attempted to run away from God.  Of course I thought of Noah and the flood and I felt a bit of reassurance.  “God, you promised to never destroy us with a flood like that again, but you didn’t say anything about getting knocked in the head by flying debris in a tornado…”

Mostly I thought of Jesus and the disciples out on the Sea of Galilee. I’ve read that this sea is known for its violent storms that come up suddenly as fierce winds blow off the Golan Heights—ten foot waves, y’all.  I knew at that moment that no matter what my nervous system was telling me, this storm was ordained by God and controlled by Him and a bit of comfort came over me.  I made a concerted effort to control my breathing and fool my limbic system.  When a storm like that is raging right outside it’s hard to keep your eyes on Jesus, I can tell you from this experience.  But somehow, knowing that He was in control kept me from totally wigging out as that massive, roaring train came over the house, as the wind rushed in under the doors.

“God, You are my Creator and Creator of this storm.  You have promised to never leave me or abandon me.  You are absolutely committed to me, Jesus.  If I profess to believe that, then I ought to be able to laugh in the face of this meteorological disturbance. I believe You, Lord. You are not rattled, Jesus.  I don’t know if I can be unrattled right now but I trust You. Thank You for protecting me and mine.”

My house was spared but others weren’t.  I don’t know why. I am hurting for Hattiesburg.  There are more storms coming tonight and so many are displaced with no roof over their heads.  Please pray for the people of the Pine Belt. May the peace of God move in and hover over the whole area, may it cover us all.

 

The Struggle is Real

This is not going to be my funniest post.  I’ve started to write so many times but I get bogged down trying to decide if what I’m writing is fun or fit for every audience and then I stop.  I’m not gonna stop today.

I’m in a funk and I hate it.  I typically don’t do well in the winter-after daylight savings time in October it’s a struggle until the next time change.  I know I’m not the only one who struggles with it, so why should I be afraid to write about it?  It’s ok if some people call it negativity or laziness. Yes, I know there are a million things to be thankful for and yes, I’ve tried making a gratitude list.

how-deepkDepression is a hateful thing.  It maen I shouldn’t be.  It makes me look with boredom at the things that used to spark my imagination.  It makes me not care about the things that formerly got me excited.  It just makes everything a struggle.  It’s like plodding through thick mud to get to a destination and every so often the mud sucks my boots off and I have to go back and pull it out and put it on again and it’s freaking exhausting.

 

ffSometimes I wish I hibernated like bears do. I could sleep away the winter and wake up when the daffodils poke through and when the dogwoods bloom in the woods.  I wouldn’t have to worry about offending others with my negativity and unexplainable sadness.  But that’s not my reality and I’m trying very hard to deal in realities these days.  Here’s the reality–I’m not Sandy Duncan in a Wheat Thins or Stayfree commercial.  I’m glad there are happy people in the world and I truly wish I was part of that group but I’m not right now.

I don’t want advice on how to be happy because if it were that easy I would’ve figured it out in these forty-three years I’ve walked this earth.  I’m gonna keep trudging through the mud but I’m not gonna kill myself trying to skip and run. It’s okay right now to drink Cokes like they’re going out of style (that’s never gonna happen). It’s ok to eat a straight diet of boiled peanuts and Oreos. It’s not ok to eat the Oreos in bed, though.  It is what it is right now and I’m feeling like I need to cut myself some slack and treat my inner little girl with love and acceptance.

as-i-forgiveWow! I actually wrote a post!  I truly can’t believe it.  Yay, Me!!!!!