Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light



Skipping and Living Life

So, I’ve skipped a few days. It’s mostly because life is full. I guess that’s the best way to put it. I couldn’t write. I wanted to keep up with the blog every day in May challenge, but I just couldn’t. I had a very angry day. VERY ANGRY. I seriously thought I was going insane. That was Monday. When I sat down to write I couldn’t think of anything to write that wasn’t scathing and hurtful. I didn’t want to post that.

Today’s prompt is to blog about “your lot in life“. I can’t do that. That’s what so much of this blog is about. I’ve written about my kids and their journey to me. I’ve lamented about how hard things are and how much therapy we do and how sad things are. So, I need a break from that!

On Saturday a group of us took a leisurely stroll on a hike called Cascade Head. Oh wait, nope, that’s NOT what happened. I tell you, I read a little about the hike. It’s 6.8 miles round trip. I thought that it might be a little hard in places. I had NO idea what I was in for!

I start off by getting behind because I was taking pictures. I didn’t mind. I wanted to enjoy my day. Then I jogged a little bit to catch up when suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks. All I saw was a steep wall of steps. STEPS!!!! These baby legs of mine had to actually clamber over a few. My legs were burning, my lungs were burning, I thought I was going to pass out. I don’t mind being last, but darn it, not only was I last and had no idea where my group was, I was going to die on the trail. Eventually I see Sage bounding down the steps. He takes one look at me and bounds back up saying, “Here’s mama!” My kids are there along with Jessi and new friend Shelly. They are waiting for what seems like forever and I’m wondering if I’m even getting closer. I can’t even talk so I wheeze out, “You don’t (puff puff) have to (puff puff) wait for me.” Jessi peeks from around the tree chipperly saying, “Oh, we’re not.” I get up to where they are and I keep going. I am NOT going to stop. Shelly assures me that they needed a rest, too. They had been waiting long enough to not be winded! So, we travel on. I begin to realize that I won’t be focusing on taking pictures. This is a challenge and I’m going to rise to the occasion.

[I did have to leave early so I could pick up Christopher, his tux, and corsage in order to get him to where he needed to be for his first prom with his new girlfriend.]

I’m beginning to think things like, “Fat people shouldn’t hike” and “I’m not resting. I decided to do this hike, it’s my fault I’m fat. I don’t deserve to rest.” At one point the group rested again and Shelly insisted that I stop for minute. I wish I could remember more of her from that day. It’s all foggy to me. I didn’t rest long enough to drink much water and had a migraine later that evening.

There was one part that wasn’t such a climb and I was saying something about how I’m carrying a bunch of extra weight. Ireland was in the very front and Dusty was walking behind me. I told Dusty I was carrying as much weight as a gymnast. You know, they weigh about 100 lbs. She said, with great understanding in her voice, “Oh, is that how much your camera bag weighs?” I laughed out loud, as in LOL. I said, “No Dusty, I’m fat!” She laughed and said, “Oh”. Then from the front Ireland says, “You’re not fat, you’re fluffy!” Ah yes, that’s much better, isn’t it?

Well, no matter the case, I am going back to that place and going to go to the very top. I had to turn back and I hated to do that. I’m going to go back and get to the top. Ireland and I jogged most of the way down. That was fun until some real trail joggers passed Ireland and I by.

Here’s some photos from that day, by clicking on them you can see the photos better:


On Assignment – Letter to my depressed jr. high self

I took myself to therapy the other day. It was a kids’ appointment, but I made the choice to go instead. After all, I’m the one that really has to change for there to be any change in my home, right? My lovely, dear, and much-loved by me therapist gave me an assignment. She said to go back and read my diary and write a letter to the little girl. (The little girl being me, not the red-faced redhead on the cover.) She probably didn’t intend for me to do it publicly, but I figure  why not?

So, I dug out my very first  journal. I wrote in it from 6th-8th grade (1986-1988). Lots of stuff about how I love the Monkees and several boys. I won’t name any of them because one of them is still my friend on FB and I’d like to be saved the humiliation. There’s lots of crazy fun stuff in there like the one time my best friend, Peggy, and I made up a story about meeting a band. People believed us for years! It was awesome. Ahem, I mean, how horrible that we would deceive our closest friends. I also write in there that nothing ever happens to me to make my diaries worth reading. Oh my, I’ve burned journals since then just so that I won’t remember those times and so that nobody would ever be hurt by the contents. A few things did stick out to me. Mostly the things that I still feel at times today. Hello, it’s like….um…something like 25 or so years later. How can that be?

Shall we begin?

Dear Little Darlene,

Ok, well, maybe not THAT little.

First of all, sweetie, those Monkee episodes that you’re watching on your new cable channel, Nickelodeon, are reruns. They aren’t that young, you’ll never marry Davy Jones. He’s old enough to be your father. Someone should’ve pointed that out right away. It would’ve saved you lots of journalling space! I think you still would’ve recorded every episode and watched countless hours of it, though.

Second of all, on page 22 you wrote, “I don’t want to grow over 5’2″ tall.” Oh honey, you probably haven’t realized that isn’t going to be a problem since by this time you have stopped growing. Taller, that is.

Did you seriously just write, “I hate my life!” because you had to stay home with your dad so the guy could come fix the gas heater and you couldn’t go get your, “Slippery When Wet” videos? Oh my my my my my. Well, let me just warn you that you will pretty much always be self-centered but one day you’ll try not to be so much like that.

I had to laugh when I read, “Someday I want to write a book. I don’t know what kind of book. Maybe an autobiography. But my life isn’t exciting enough. Can you believe that Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue likes to read. Yeah, it’s true. Oh, on my report on Bon Jovi I got an A on content and an A- on grammar. That grammar part isn’t my fault, I just hang around too many rock groups.” Bwahahahaha. Um, hunkering down in your room pouring over heavy metal magazines and listening to music does NOT qualify as hanging around them. Oh you are one funny girl.

It makes me wonder if my daughter is as creative in her imagination as you are.

Let’s talk about boys before we get to the real serious stuff. You end up having a crush on Mike Soukup for 6 years. Then when you see him at a reunion with his pregnant wife decades later you start laughing hysterically and get that, “What’s up with the crazy girl?” look from both Mike and his brother Greg. You know that look from them well so that just makes you laugh even more. I would say to just drop the crush, focus on your writing. You love it. It makes you come alive. You once said you could do anything you wanted to and that’s true. The thing is, you actually have to DO something. Writing about it doesn’t make it happen. Planning for it doesn’t make it happen, either. You have to do it and it will be hard whatever “it” is.

The boy that said, “You started being mad at me so I started being mean to  you” was right. You even knew it then, but you didn’t think about how to change that. You thought a lot about how things were and how you wanted them different, but you don’t think about how to make it different.

“Hope is fear. Hope is  a dream for people who can’t face reality.” HELLO! THAT IS A LIE!!!!!!!!!!

Who told you that? It’s a lie. It’s one of the greatest lies…but I know why you said it.

You felt trapped. You don’t write much about the really hard stuff because you are afraid that people will see it, but I know. I know you call all those expensive crisis phone numbers and make up stories of being homeless or suicidal because it gives you a way to talk about your pain without having to own it. You felt forgotten.

But you weren’t forgotten. Your daddy loved you so very much. He was scared, just like you. He didn’t know what to do with an angry, hurt, motherless girl. More importantly, your daddy in Heaven loved you. Even in your unloveable state, you were loved.

As I read through the pages and see how many times you are mad at this or that friend I feel the urge to interview all the old friends. The thing is, that unless they kept a diary, they probably won’t remember much of that time. They had their own stuff to deal with anyway. You know why all those girls and boys came to you for advice? Because you always loved them, even when angry, and you gave the best advice a kid could give at that age. They loved you. I’d like to think they wanted to be there for you, but they just weren’t equipped to deal with a 12 year motherless kid who wanted to die.

Speaking of death:
It was not your fault that your mama died. Oh sure, you were a handful. You will always be a handful. She made choices in her life. She chose you. She didn’t have to, but she did.

Also, it would matter so very much if you had died back then. You say over and over that it wouldn’t matter to anyone if you die.

  1. Dad. It would matter to him. When I look at pictures of the two of us, he’s always looking at the little darling you are. He had already asked God why it was his wife that was taken, it would’ve been tragic had his daughter killed herself. He was proud of you. That’s why he wanted to put your 8th grade graduation certificate on the wall. That’s why you still have silly awards in the photo albums. Remember snooping around in his dresser and finding all the cards you had ever given him. He kept YOUR cards,  not everybody else’s.
  2. Peggy. She’s your very very best friend. Her family welcomed you and loved you like one of their own. Remember how her mom would play with your hair when you sat at her feet on the floor. The grown ups would be smoking and talking about very boring things and I’d sit there as long as I could. What would Peggy have done? She had just lost her big brother. Yeah, that tragedy left its scar on your heart, too. Goodnight Jim Bob. Thanks for letting us say that to you no less than 20 times before “falling asleep” which is code for “collapse in a fit of giggles again”.
  3. Tanya- She’s another bff. You’re kind of mean to her. You like it when she’s scared and makes you come see her. That’s kind of psychopathic. You only figure that out on the day you sit down to write a letter to your teenage self and recall all those crime show episodes. You go camping at A Thousand Trails with her and meet boys that like you. You treat them like they’re insane for liking you. You do stupid things with Tanya, like smoke her mom’s cigarettes at the very top of a HUGE stack of hay!
  4. Your sister. You’ll be friends one day.
  5. Your niece. You’ll grow up to raise her kids. Who will do that for her when she grows up in brokenness and can’t heal soon enough to be what she needs to be ?
  6. Your future friends who can’t imagine life without you. Oh, they’ll tell you they can live without you, but they certainly wouldn’t choose that option.

One more thing. That man. The one whom you always feared. He drove crazy. That’s you first memory of him. You wondered how to use a seatbelt. You felt unsafe. You were unsafe. He made you keep a secret. You didn’t keep it for long. Good girl. Grown men should never ask little girls to keep secrets of that nature. Later, when you’re getting breasts and he’s out of prison and back home with the family. When he starts touching you again please believe that it isn’t your fault. God created you to be beautiful. When you go to tell the elders of your congregation that it’s happening, don’t believe them for a minute when they tell you to not tell your dad and to make sure you’re being modest. Modest? It was 1986. Dresses came up above my collar bone and down to almost my ankles and they weren’t tight. It is NEVER your fault for being mistreated. Those adults were supposed to protect you. In fact, it’s the law. They failed.

You were created for beauty. Trying to make yourself unbeautiful doesn’t work. Not really. There is a beauty so deep inside of you that many may pass it by, but some won’t. Of those some, some may have good intentions, some may not. Don’t just give yourself away because you are already damaged goods. You were damaged, but you are also still good. Being fat and “ugly” won’t save you from being hurt. You will hurt in other ways. You will isolate yourself. You will be funny and strong and you’ll be falling apart inside.

Your beauty is there. It is a light. People are drawn to you. You’ll wonder why. There’s something deeper in there. They’ll sense it even if they can’t see it. A couple will be brave enough to call it out. They’ll ask you the hard questions. They’ll spend hours on the phone with you when you’re on the ledge of crazy. They will love you. They’ll make you angry. They’ll push you and sometimes they’ll push you over that ledge. They’ll  risk time and money on you because they’ve seen you. They’ve seen the future you. The YOU that God sees. They’ll tell you what they see and you’ll tremble, but one day you’ll come to believe it.

You’ll take risks. You’ll get stronger. There will be a day that you’ll no longer think of dying. Though, you may still think of running away. That’s ok. All moms probably do that, even if it’s just hiding out in the bathroom with their handheld cell phone playing a video game. (Yeah, the Atari will be obsolete. That’s right. Frogger in the palm of your hand baby!)

Please don’t ever do this again. Ever. Show your daughter this picture and tell her this is why it’s important to not do stupid things. Dad was right to be upset about this.  Look how cheeky you look there.

The lipstick was fine. The rest of you, not so much. Maybe the high wasted sears jeans were fine. I don’t know. Didn’t that shirt have long tuxedo like tails?

Oh, look at that smooth skin and small Marilyn Monroe mole. Who needs blush when you have rose colored glasses that take up your whole face? No really, those are awesome.

One day you’ll have someone make you a very shiny dress while you babysit her kids. You’ll buy her lunch and then babysit it off…wait, that’s not right. (She might still owe you money!)

Your date, Ted Christy (not pictured because he’s behind the camera making fun of me/you) will call it my saran wrap dress. Um, excuse me, but you can’t see through my dress. Ted loved you enough to leave you alone. When we were young grown ups, so not really grown ups at all, just not teenagers anymore, he tells you that he loves you but he’s messed up and doesn’t want to mess you up. You’re a rescuer sort of girl and you want to rescue him, but he was smart and didn’t tell you until after you were married. He knew you’d be loyal and faithful to the man you married.

You’ll join track several times. In highschool you remind your coach that you only joined the field part of track. He’ll make you run. He’ll even run with you. In fact, he’ll even tie you to a fast and strong runner and make you run. You hate it, but you do it. You don’t get the point.

Then one day you’ll find yourself crossing the finish line of a half marathon with a clearer complexion but about 100 more pounds than you had in highschool.

You’ll immediately blame your sister-in-law and she’ll laugh and say, “This was your idea.” Then on the day you sit down to write this you remember sending her a message saying something like, “Hey, let’s do that 1/2 marathon again.”

Your life is full of adventure and you will write a book. It’ll even be an autobiography. You’ll have tons of journals and you’ll write this thing on the computer that everyone can read. It’s called a blog. You’ll be more public with your life than you ever thought possible because you believe in healing; not only for you and your kids, but for the other hurting women out there who may need someone to blaze the trail ahead.

So, you keep running. You keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’re in it for the long haul.

Oh, but your dream of becoming a country singer and singing on the Grand Ol’ Opry never come true, but you are the best square dancer in the whole third grade class. You sure are a cutie, though.


Your future self.

One Year Ago

Last year at this time I was lying on my couch hopped up on a variety of drugs.

My esophagus closed at that point where it meets my stomach and I wasn’t able to eat or drink for awhile. I had a few temporary dilations, but that did not work for long. This is a diagram of what my esophagus and stomach look like now.

Early on the morning of Tuesday, April 13, 2010 Rachel and I make our way to OHSU for my 5:30 a.m. check in. We leave Stayton super early getting to the hospital on time only to get stuck in the very first elevator we get in. It’s in the parking garage. It was unreal. All we could do was laugh. I was excited to actually get to use the phone. Only it was more of an intercom. I didn’t get to pick up a red emergency phone.

I, of course, had to model the hot hospital gown I was sporting. It’s so lovely that it’s so nice & airy. Isn’t it hot?

This is my last memory before heading into surgery. I was joyfully waving at Rachel. Little did I know that they had already drugged me. Oh, actually, I remember being put into an elevator & watching the doors close. I also remember thinking, “Wow, this is like a movie.” What I meant was that it was closing the curtain and that scene closing.

My first memory before upon waking up is feeling several hands on me holding me down and hearing someone say, “On a scale from 1 to 10 what is your pain level?” I’m moaning and telling them I don’t know. The pain didn’t actually register to me. I kept saying, “Do I have a catheter in??? I have to pee! REEEAAAALLLLYYY BAD!!! I do have a catheter, right?” They assured me that I had. They kept asking me about my pain level and I’m moaning, groaning, and thrashing around. Then I hear someone say, “Give her morphine, she’s still in pain.” I tried to tell them, “No, no, I’m fine” because I didn’t want morphine.

The next thing I remember is waking up to Rachel taking lovely photos of me! Isn’t that so sweet of her???

Hospital life was pretty good. I was pampered and my doctors were so very nice. They noticed that I had my Bible and talked about Jesus. They told me that they’re Christians, too. That was nice.

My first meal came and I was so very excited!!! It was dreamy!!!! Go ahead. Laugh, but I hadn’t eaten anything for a LONG time. Just liquids.

I continued to live off of juice for the next several weeks. I miss having a juicer now.

My life changed that day. I know it was just a little surgery, but the process was so incredible. The figuring out what was wrong, the recovery, all of it. It drew me closer to God, that’s for sure. In the year following this surgery I have learned of forgiveness, grace, mercy, and God’s abounding love toward me. It is a hard thing for me to accept, but I am beginning to see it more.

Only 2 days after coming home from the hospital I went to the memorial of  a woman I’ve never met, but I know her children. That group of people in that room honoring her inspired me. Her story of falling in love with her husband and the loving of her children is amazing. I see her smile in her daughter that I love dearly. I remember looking at all the yummy food that I couldn’t eat and sitting at a table full of laughter while I was in physical pain and thinking, “I want to be like this woman, Ginger” and feeling robbed of something because I didn’t ever know her.

I wonder what my life will be like a year from now?

The Unknown

I spent much of today working. I had several photos printed, then brought them home & either framed or mounted them. I stressed. I got mad. I didn’t yell at anybody, though.

I met this morning with my Traci & Tracy. It is always so very good to meet with them. We’ve been friends for so long. It’s like family. Our lives are growing and changing. I wonder where each of our families will be in another year. There may be a time when our 3 families no longer live close enough to meet once a week. That makes me treasure this time all the more. No matter how expensive gas is, I won’t give up my weekly T-time.

So, my tiny town of Sheridan is having its first Art Walk tomorrow. My friend convinced me to display a few photos. I said no at first, but then I said yes. Earlier this evening before I was supposed to go down to begin setting up I felt like not showing up. The only problem with not showing up is that I said I’d do it. Then if I don’t do it, my word is worth nothing. Also, it’s a slightly dramatic move. It’s what I did in junior high when things scared me or got tough. I got there and had several minutes to myself before my friends got back. I tried to pray, but all I could say is, “Father, you’ve gotta help me through this.” Then I’d wonder if I was too demanding so I’d say it again, only I’d ask in a nicer tone of voice.

I have 16 photos there.

There’s a table next to me with another photographer’s work. There’s the local newspaper office displaying photos by Susan Ragan. I know there’s several other photographers around, too.

There I go again. Comparing.

I need to sleep. I have much to do, but I’m going to go to bed. I was planning on being in bed over an hour ago.

I didn’t fail to plan, I just didn’t follow the plan.


In general, I haven’t enjoyed Mondays. This one has been great, though. I think it’s because my Sunday was filled with friends, laughter, and good conversation. You know the kind of good I mean? I mean where two people are talking back and forth and hearing one another. Stirring up and calming down. Feeling vulnerable yet safe. That’s a good feeling. It fills my bucket. Which is to say, it makes me feel full and happy…like a Thanksgiving dinner with my favorite people.

So, I think it sets me up for a good Monday to have a good Sunday.

I slept through my alarm. I vaguely remember thinking how awesome it was that I could turn off my alarm & not even wake up. Next time I’ll say, “Get thee behind me, satan.” Seriously. I woke up just in time to wake the kids thus not getting in my Bible reading time. I was running late practically all day, but was productive. That feels good, too.

I went to Shutterbug to order some prints. While there I found out that my friend had a baby. I felt so bad for never knowing she was even pregnant. I am going to call her soon. Really, I am.

Then I headed to Wal~Mart to pick up dog food, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. Always toilet paper.

I forgot to go to Goodwill. I still need some frames. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go to the art store for matte’s. Sigh. So much work.

Oh. I forgot to tell you, didn’t I? Maybe I did. I can’t remember if I forgot or not.

My little town of Sheridan has been doing a monthly First Wednesday event where the small businesses stay open later. The townsfolk walk around getting to know eachother. There’s food and games for the kids sometimes. This month they’re featuring the town’s artists. Last week I was asked to display some of my photos. I’m kind of pretending like I’m totally cool with it, but the fact is that I’m totally freaked out. Freaked out enough that earlier today I wanted to say, “You know what? I don’t want to hang my photos. This is a dumb idea. I don’t know what I’m doing.” I didn’t say it because I didn’t know how to do it without sounding like the 12 year old 8th grade version of me. That, and I didn’t want that 12 year old to get laughed at. Oh, and my 11 year old daughter was with me.

I’ll be displaying 5 photos that I love. I think I probably love them because 4 of them don’t exist anywhere else. I just looked at them and there is one that isn’t my favorite. So really, I love only 4. I accidentally deleted the RAW & JPEG files months ago when transferring files. So, sad.

Here’s a slideshow of a few of the photos I’ll be showing. I think I’ll have a total of at least 16 to choose from. Not sure all of them are actually good enough. Not sure what people are expecting. I want to know what they’re going to think of me or what I do. I know that I’d really like to display things more creatively, but am not brave enough to do so…or creative enough, actually. My ideas are only half ideas and I don’t want to talk about them to anyone.

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Days Like These

Feeling unmotivated in both normal life & photography. Remembering my goal of writing a post a day on my blog & for my 365 photo project for my photography blog; both of which I’ve failed. Considering just picking up where I left off & not worry nor apologize for either.

I pick up my camera. Put it on automatic (gasp) and take a shot of my dog while she’s looking out the big window in my bedroom. I can’t take her out because I have a sprained ankle. She has to wait.  [I ended up limping out, but she nearly took me down.]

My to do list.  Always waiting. Today I made a short one. On my computer I have a file called “brain dump” with a list of a whole lot of things I need to be getting done soon. The next step is dividing that into shorter lists to accomplish over several days.

The ankle boot Nidia brought over for me. I just had to take it off for a bit. I felt like my leg was suffocating. Hopefully I never break a bone & need a cast! My hips hurt from limping around. I can’t seem to find a shoe that is the same thickness as the bottom of the brace. I notice I am not as young as I once was. My body isn’t bouncing back quite as easily as a decade ago.

Ah, dinner: steamed broccoli, corn, roasted potatoes, and chickens. Full plates, full tummies, & somewhat happy hearts. Kids talking of how many food groups they ate today and my mind is still stuck on the old “4, 4, 3, 2” thing that I learned way back in the 4th grade from a show called Mulligan Stew.

Sage and I had to make a cake for his boy scout cake auction. I forgot to take a picture of the actual cake, but Sage was sure cute while we were making it.

It was my 1-on-1 time with Ireland. We’re going to have to plan these things better because by the time they roll around every Monday & Wednesday I’m dog tired and I don’t want to do anything! She first tried playing doctor by wrapping my foot. Then she saw a wooden box on my little wardrobe. It holds old photos from my when my dad was a young man. Then we moved on to coloring. Finally, she invited Christopher in to play a few games of UNO. She wanted to scrapbook, but I didn’t have any photos printed for her and my printer doesn’t work.

After she went to bed, I decided it was time to pamper me. I did the lemon/sugar scrub on my face, shaped my eyebrows, & forgot to do the teeth whitening. I thought I’d do the teeth thing this morning in the shower, but I forgot.

So, here’s the routine. I lather my face with extra virgin olive oil a.k.a. evoo. I smear it over my eyelids as well. Then I get a wet washcloth super duper hot & put it over my face. It kinda steams it. I do that a few times then begin wiping off the oil & make up. I’ve been doing this for quite awhile. I have been very pleased with the results. My face is clearer than it’s ever been. Then I take the sliced lemon and rub it all over my face, avoiding the eyes. After that I rub the sugar all over. Then I rinse off with warm water. My face is smooth! Then, if I need to, I’ll add just a little evoo to my face as moisturizer.

As for my eyebrows, well, I must say that this is the first time I’ve ever really loved my eyebrows. It’s all thanks to Kandee Johnson. I went Youtube searching for a video on shaping eyebrows. I’d only watch a few seconds before moving on to the next one. I was searching for the best one out there and I found Kandee. I really like her.

Days go by & I hardly notice. I forget why I’ve always loved taking pictures. I forget that I love having all my kids snuggled up in my bed while we read. I forget a lot of things, but I’m glad I have a small handful of friends to remind me what the really important things are.

*I tried to link to several websites, but for some reason the button to create a hyperlink wouldn’t work. I’ll try to fix it later, but I was afraid of losing everything I’d already written!


If you were a fly on my wall you would have found me diligently sorting a basket of papers into separate piles: bills, debt, library, bank, taxes, and “I don’t know what to do with you”. I was feeling pretty good about it even though I had just balanced my checkbook and the outcome looked bleak. My pile of bills is larger than my pile of money. All was going well. I had my list made out & I was on a roll. I got dinner made early and did my 15 minutes of de-cluttering for the day.

Then it happened.

Tidy up time. Arguing mouths pretending to not know what they were just told to do then blaming me for them just standing there. Discipline. More jobs. Tears and more blaming. I can feel myself wearing thin.

I call for my boy who was supposed to be in the backyard with a new friend. He’s not there. He’s wandered off, I call him back.

Homework. Helping a little one with her math. Telling the older one to practice the multiplication flash cards. Younger boy sent to his room to practice 15 minutes of reading. Tears, yelling at me, and whining. I’m pretending to be patient. I put it on like a coat that doesn’t quite button up. I sigh. Find last week’s homework in the boy’s backpack. I never knew he even had that each week because he never gives them to me.

Time for dinner. They move on to playing games and saying things like, “Would you rather live in a water bottle or in paper?” I chose water bottle, I think. I don’t know why. It was just the first thing that came to mind.

The piles are still waiting for me. I didn’t get as far as I had hoped and now I am tired. I take Sage to boy scouts then head to a meeting. Get back around 8 then kids do their bedtime routine and get to bed. Christopher gets home from ballet at 8:30 and then will want to eat and chat.

The piles will still be waiting.

My day does not feel like I have accomplished much.

My laundry is caught up, my dishes are done, the house is generally tidy, you can see the floor in the girls’ room, and my bed is made. I didn’t stay in my jammies all day. So, I guess the day isn’t totally lost.

And now, for your enjoyment…
things I find lurking in the kitchen late at night

Belated Birthday Letter

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Oh, did I mention that it was going to be a letter by ME to ME for MY birthday? I figured I was so far behind on birthday letters for the kids that I might as well start the birthday year with me. I’ve never had a birthday letter before. I’m curious to see how it’ll turn out.

Dearest Self,
You are now 36 years old? Is it all it’s cracked up to be? What is it cracked up to be anyway?  Do you remember making fun of Teresa when she was 36 and you were 16. You thought it was oldies music, she did not. My kids call me old school, I say the 80’s music will live on forever. Go Bon Jovi! Don’t let your teenage son tell you otherwise. After all, he can be found belting out 80’s music right along with you.
Did you know you’d have four children by now? Actually, I think you thought you’d have the picture perfect family with several musical children. Each one would be polite and be able to sing all the songs from The Sound of Music. You also thought you’d be as wonderful as Mary Poppins. Oh, and you would have if only you would’ve found the right chimney sweep to hang out with.
I want to give you some advice, but since I’m you I don’t know that I’m qualified to do that. Too bad I can’t talk to my 19 year old self that thought she wasn’t worth waiting for. She thought she’d be alone forever. Or maybe if I could talk to my 17 year old self and tell her than no boy is worth throw your walk with Jesus away, even if was only for a summer. Oh, or what about when you were 18 and that man was so handsome and persuasive and now you can’t even remember his name. It didn’t seem like a big mistake back then…well, it did but only a few people knew. Who knew it would haunt you 18 years later. Really, I’d love to go back to my 9 year old self and just love on her. The fact is that I’m not good on loving little girls, though.
Hey, just think about how much better this year has been than those in the past. Remember 2 years ago when you were driving home from a church retreat on 5 Rock Ranch? Yeah, you had to pull over at the bowling alley and projectile vomit. Some of it didn’t even get out the door. That was so embarrassing. Or the year when you turned 19 and ALL your friends and your dad forgot your birthday. This year I had a few friends over and I didn’t have to plan anything. (I did have to do a major clean up before that, but it was worth it.) The kids were giddy over the fact that they were getting cake and ice cream for dinner. Then they had sandwiches for dessert. General and Lennox were really good to you. Don’t forget that.
Hey, good job for not letting this be your fattest year ever. Let’s leave the fat behind, ok?
Oh, and hey great job finishing that marathon. How about you get off your hiney and start running again. Push through that pain.
Finally, don’t let your kids grow up too fast without you taking the time to enjoy them. Tell the stories. Photograph them, journal them, celebrate them.


Darlene Bethene Branson Taylor

P.S. Please try to do something with your hair and eyebrows.

Any other thoughts out there that I might have missed?

Swirling Twirling

Today is Saturday. In some circles it’s considered the Sabbath. Well, technically, it’s the Sabbath whether or not one “considers” it. It just is. I wonder what this means to me. What am I to do on such a day? Is it worse  if I yell at my kids today.

Purple. I slept in a purple shirt. I plan on wearing a different purple shirt today. Dusty is wearing a purple bandana that matches perfectly with the shirt she chose today. I should tell her that. I should also tell her how beautiful she looks today. It’s hard to do that when I can hear her in the other room being mean and bossy to the other kids. Back to purple. My clipboard is also purple as is the binder that holds my home management e-books. I will also wear two different shades of purple socks. What is it that draws me to that color today?

My purse is not purple. It is red. I also love red. It is a ruby red on one side and black on the other. The ruby red side is embroidered. My good friend brought it back for me from Cambodia in 2009. That seems like so long ago. Speaking of 2009. I seem to have lost a bunch of pictures from the hard drive crash. So sad. I’m over it now. Not much I can do at this point.

Meandering thoughts wandering around in the vast cavern of my mind. I’ve been told I think too much. What was said today? Something about me thinking so much that  it prevents me from doing what needs to be done. That probably isn’t what was said, but it’s what I heard.

Meandering. Swirl. Twirl. Like a little girl in a red dress that floats out in a big circle around me when I spin in circles. That’s what my thoughts are like. How do I harness those things? I do quite well in harnessing them when it comes to planning or doing something filled with fun. Just like a little girl would.

We sponsor a child in Ghana. We have never written him. As time goes by I feel worse and worse. It is time we change that. It is time we bless him not only with our money, but with our life. This morning as I was lying in bed I thought of how fun it would be to make it our family project. Our first letter would be an short apology then an introduction to our family in words and pictures. I could do it newsletter style, but holding real photos is always better. Then the following letters could be about just one of our family members. What they do, love, don’t love, their favorite things and so on. I don’t know. Just a thought. It would help us to remember to pray for him, too.

Swirling. Twirling. Meandering along a well-beaten path. Thoughts, hopes, fears; all mingled together.

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