A Lifetime of Words & Spiral Notebooks


Five years of writing.  Three different blogs.  An array of topics, emotions, and so much I might not have shared unless behind a computer screen.  I’ve invited people into my life through the world wide web to walk with me down not only challenging times but joyous moments.

My following isn’t huge by any means, which I am just fine with.  The writing isn’t about drawing attention to myself or my family, it isn’t about making my mountains bigger than yours or my adventures sound more thrilling.  Writing for me is a process, that’s what I have learned in five years of blogging.

It’s always been there.  The writing.   I recall when I was struggling as a child due to my parent’s divorce,  the school counselor told me to write my feelings down.  I used a spiral notebook but the spiral part was on top.  You know like the one below.

notebook

I have no clue where that notebook is today or what I wrote in it.  I’m sure it is filled with much heartache, drama, and anger.  The teen years, some of those notebooks are still in my attic tucked away.  I’m sure my children will learn a few new things upon my death as they go through my things. Those I know will be filled with drama and poems and so much girl/boy heartbreak stuff!

I always liked to start with a very clean fresh piece of paper.  If I messed up I would have to start over, I REALLY disliked scratching out anything.  It’s like the page needed to look perfect although it was filled with the most imperfect things!

My adult journals became ones that looked pretty on the outside.  I always preferred lined pages and some had bible verses or flowers on them.   They too were filled with ordinary daily events, the birth of children, job changes, moving, a marriage, and the failure of one.  The realization of being traumatized as a child not once  but on two different occasions.  The hard times of remarriage and raising daughters through the teen years.  So much written and all included joy as well.  I don’t go back and read them much.  Some are best kept locked away.

I still like a spiral type book to write in even if just for my grocery lists or to do lists.  I don’t journal much anymore on regular paper though.  It’s mostly right here on the blog or I just tuck it away in the crevices called me.

So many things in five years have happened in my life.  I haven’t even blogged about them all.  I suppose I tend to write about the things that I need to process and most of the time my joys aren’t written.  I used to do that more, write about my joys.  But then my joys went to the wayside.  I feel some days more are present now and I see a tiny inkling of myself coming back. There’s a post about all that in my drafts.  Perhaps soon I’ll share that one.

Until next times I hope my posts have helped someone in five years.  I know it’s helped me. Perhaps that was God’s intent… to only help me.

Julie

 

My Space & The Old Green Patio Table


There was a little area of my home that I like to think was “mine.”  The area that gave me some peace in days of chaos,  strength to build for the new endeavors of the day ahead, and just a place to breathe.

This space included an old small green patio table and one matching chair from 2001 and a porch swing with a faded pillow on it.  If you could see the snapshot in my mind of it you would see  that Better Homes & Garden would never have it in one of their issues.  But it was mine.  It was a slice of a few things that represented my life, apparently much more than I ever even thought.

The worn table represented the first piece of furniture I bought on my own, after a divorce.  Since purchasing it I would find myself looking at  gave me a strength or push of sorts I guess. To get through each day.  Looking at it made me feel proud that I could do that single life thing and buy this measly piece of furniture.  Fast forward 16 years later and I see how I made it through on the other side, now married, and raising my family with lessons learned from that life experience.

The set is not in style, not even a color I enjoy, and only one of the chairs remain. (But those chairs were the most comfortable dang things ever!) Oh sure, I had a summer tablecloth on it, along with a fire burner thing that was my Mom’s but that was about it.

 

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The porch swing was a gift from my husband and daughter one Christmas and I love it. That’s actually where I sat to re-fuel myself.  To calm myself.  To look out over the sunsets.  I had my husband install it so I could see the sunsets in the west and be near my lilac bushes.

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When I sat on the porch swing I never did sit like you’re suppose to.  I always sat with my legs up and my back against the arm of the swing.  The faded non-outdoor pillow supported my back and kept it from digging into the chains and the arm.  Comfort.  That’s what I had with my porch swing and it’s faded pillow.

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This is no longer a place for me.  One small moment in time has changed that.  It took me two days to be able to even walk into that area.

Some may think I’m over dramatic and that’s fine. Just keep it to yourself please.  But when the only image you continue to see is the one that sent fear through your body it is what it is.  

The most of the space has been disassembled and moved.  I had already thought of doing this of course but never mentioned it.  My daughter made it a point to tell her father herself in casual conversation.  I guess great minds do think alike! 🙂 Her feeling safe in her own home is the most important thing.

I’ve already been thinking of ways to update the post divorce table and chair. I can’t bear to part with it, it stands for something in my mind!   Repainting and recovering it, making it fresh and updated.  Will the image fade even more then?  Will this help or is it a band-aid of sorts.

I’ve had trauma in my life before.  Much worse than what I experienced recently.  The more processing I do I find that I believe the reason it may be so prominent this time is because my child was involved.  That the involvement of my child and my own experiences only enhances the magnitude in my mind.

So.  For now. I will eat my breakfast inside or on my back deck.  I will  ponder the refurbishing of the post divorce table and perhaps eventually swing once more as the sun goes down.

Julie

 

#1 in this series

#2 in this series

 

The Struggles of Writing to Process


pushingforwardwithgraceI’ve said it often that I process things through writing.  So to not be sure if I should write about my experience this past week or not is hard for me.  There is a section of me that longs to just write about it, to aid in the discharging of the yuck that is now within me.  But then there is the section of me that thinks it could cause more harm than good.  That exposing the inner self of me would in someway put my family in danger.  Exposing our lives and experiences might make us vulnerable, more vulnerable.

The few people who know of the experience have probably not thought another second about it.  They listened while I told the story, they empathized with me, and now moved on. As well they should.  But to me, little ol’ me, it made an imprint on my inner psyche.

It’s been six days and honestly I am better.  I suppose by six weeks it will be a faded moment in my life.  A story that perhaps we can someday laugh over. Okay, maybe not that but something similar.

In the world we live in we are always at risk or in harm’s way.  Some of us just never wrap our heads around it in daily living.  Especially when we live a pretty splendid life in the luxuries that we do.  Me included.  Oh sure, on occasion I’ll feel uncomfortable in an area or in a circumstance but nothing ever fearing for my life or my daughter’s.

Now that I’ve experienced a small taste of  that type of fear, primarily in the daughter area, I find myself questioning myself.  Questioning the choices that involve our home, our life, our abilities.

That’s a small area of the struggle.  The thought of being somewhat violated, no matter how innocent it may seem to some, and I’m sitting here questioning myself! All I did was sleep in a bit and plan to have a great summer day with my kiddo!

More to come on this topic I’m sure……

Julie

 

The Mediocre Level


I wrote this piece not this week but prior.  Today as I decide to actually publish it I’ve felt pretty well.  In fact, the last few days have been good.  Writing allows me to process and move forward.  Not always staying ahead but not falling as far back as I once would is more of a normal thing now. I call that progress.

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I hate that my parents died. I hate that the questions go unanswered and the memories are all I have.   I feel broken from that stint I did in 2013. I hate that the confidence I used to feel inside me has been replaced with the lack thereof and the fear of the unknown.

The task of analyzing oneself can be taunting and at times the individual may find themselves grasping to get their head above water.

Currently I do not feel I am doing any area of my life with much excellence.  The ability to be exceedingly good at something has fallen from my life it seems.  I would say I am more in the “do what I need to and get by mode.”  I’ve been running on auto pilot for sometime now.  There’s been a couple of times I’ve began with a mindset of success to only find I fall into that mediocre level once again.  Even in the times of my life (pre-2013) when I was challenged, whether personally or professionally, I still had one or two areas of life I was above average in.

As you can tell the “analyzing” oneself has recently occurred in my life and it has brought a less than stellar mojo around!  Some of you are probably saying right now, “but Julie you are doing this and this and this so well!”  But in reality I’m not.  I’m doing just enough for it to “look” okay.

I’m not falling apart, I’m just looking reality in the face at the moment.  It’s not an “upper” but the “downer” part might be what I need to face to move forward.  I can no longer be the leader of all areas of my life and do it with grace.  And it’s driving me nuts!

I can look back and see when the strength that my mother instilled in me began to fall away.  The turmoil and wreckage of an experience finally got to me and altered my everyday life.  I may be fooling myself, perhaps those traumatic experiences as a child altered me too, but until I was in my 40’s I was capable of  handling  things.  Three consecutive experiences took me to my knees and it’s hard to get up, even almost four years later.

I suppose this is where I would normally write the lines of postivity and a mantra of things to get me “re-booted”.  Well this time I’m not.  I am not going to sit in the depths of despair but I will close with this.

One.  One positive thing a day.  I shall pluck one little thing from my day that I did well and place it at the top of my thoughts.  I will bask in the glory of even the simplest task I did that was good.  Where will that lead me?

Julie

Focus – 2017 Word


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My word for 2017 is Focus.  I have already started a sub-list of things as you can see.

Focus

  • on living
  • on the joy in the moments
  • on my health
  • on the little things
  • on the laughter in my life
  • on the small steps
  • on the love given to me

When I came back today to this post this is the spot where I deleted what I had written. The words that had been so carefully crafted the other day, were no longer good enough to share.

Now I will tell you that after a couple conversations with my spouse I am stumbling into an avenue that I’m not too confident about. It will take a great deal of focus for sure.  As I sat in the vehicle having one of those conversations I finally just said it out-loud.

“I feel like I just want to focus on me. That if I don’t take this time to focus on me I won’t get back to who me is.”  Of course the smart man said, “it’s okay to do that.”  With which I replied, “but I’m not a selfish person, I take care of others.” (I am not a saint, it’s just a personality trait. I’m a caretaker)

That’s it.  I’m back peddling – already.  Focusing on me brings about feelings of guilt and selfishness.  The left side of my brain says one thing the right side says another, then throw in that heart-thing.  Deep down I know I have to do this.  I have to do it to be able to survive with any ounce of happiness and enjoyment in life. This isn’t just about depression there’s more but I’m not ready to share that.

Just need to remember.  Small steps Julie.  No major changes, just minor.  Crawl out of the darkness even if it’s just that.  Crawling.  When you feel tired and weak, grasp to the man that God gave you.  It’s okay to not jump in going 100 miles an hour. It’s okay to admit when it’s hard.

So…. now that I’ve given myself  a pep talk I’m off to slay this thing!

More to come from me I’m sure, whenever I might get the whim to write!

Julie

 

My Story – Your Story


My story.  It isn’t one of much relevance except perhaps to me.  I know the very depth of it and the very simplicity of it.  The way it curves and takes off on paths in this journey. Some are  really only special to me, others are life lessons, and who knows what else.  They may affect others but truly it’s my story and only I know the feelings of joy, despair, heart-break, excitement, and thrill of it!

 

A year later in review

But due to ripple effects and connections with others in my life, my story touches others, even when they may not notice.  How I choose to greet someone, help others, cook my family a meal, answer the telephone, hand a book to another.  Each of these making a connection between me and another.

I wonder what influence I have in this world.  If when I die others will think of me as a kind and giving person.  Did I live out what God intended for me?  Did I take the steps to be at least a small reflection of His love?

My story is full of events, with each new day another added to the collection.  Those events although do include connections, the depth of the experience is mine to hold within.  To take to my grave the powerful ways others influence my life through their story.

Azalea

In looking at your story so far, what does it feel like?  What does it reflect in this world of chaos and love and hope and moments of despair?  What connection have you made today that will alter the path of another on their story?

By the grace of God I pray I am a good influence, that I take opportunities to turn my life into something to His glory.  I pray that I see what others are doing to help me to become closer to God.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

Music to my Ears & Life to my Soul!


Do I have any readers that love music?  I love music although I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument!  Hearing the beautiful sounds from the balcony of our church each Sunday now from a young girl, to an uplifting Christian song on my radio to my little girl belting a tune from the back seat of my car, it all brings life to my soul!

Today I wanted to share some of the music that has been motivating me this past week or so.  I hope you will feel free to enjoy them and also share some beautiful music with me.  Whether it’s country music (especially old-time) or christian or modern, feel  free to share. I enjoy all types of music.
This couple sings some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.  It’s a mix of christian and country.  If you check out their website or you tube station you will find more songs that are full of inspiration and goodness.  It’s even more bittersweet since Joey is now at home  enjoying what is left of her life on earth and stopped her cancer treatments.

 

This particular artist Brandon Heath is a christian artist.  I came to know of him through a mission workshop I attended. This particular song is one that reminds me that in my daily living I am in a mission field.  A mission field that is in need of Jesus Christ.  I live in a rural community and my family farms, so the concept of the song is awesome in regards to that too!

 

And sometimes current country music surprises me.  This song doesn’t make me sad or depressed, I just really like the tune and her voice is awesome I think.

One of my youngest daughter’s favorites to listen to is Joshua Tree, sung by The McKinney Sisters!  She will sing away in the backseat on the way school.  These gals are really talented! Seeing them live is a great experience, you CAN NOT sit still!

This is a new one for me.  It came across the radio last week when I was needing to be reminded I am not alone.  When I felt I was overwhelmed and alone and not sure what to do.   Sometimes just being held and reminded is what we need.

 

Then we have good ol’ country music!  I grew up with Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and others.  So when I hear them now it makes me smile and belt out the words to any of the songs!  They don’t make music like that anymore!

Well for now I guess that is enough!  I hope you enjoy and remember to share with me some great music in  comments!

 

Grace is a gift,
Julie

 

The Hazards of Sitting in Life – 8/15/2015


I spent many years thinking I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and never realizing what I was doing was injuring my body.  I was spending my days sitting at a desk, waiting on clients, and using a computer.  I spent 7.5 hours per day 5 days a week operating what isn’t classified as heavy machinery or dangerous to one’s health.

I have never had very good posture and now that I’m in my 40’s I am paying for it.  So far, I do not need glasses to work on the computer but I have to take breaks.  My wrist and arm begin hurting sooner than it used too.  I have worn a hand brace for several years when sleeping.  If I do not, then I wake with fingers tingling and my wrist aching.

My hand isn’t the only thing that has “taken one for the team.”  My backside as well.  It grew beyond my liking but yet I didn’t do much over the years to move more.  Oh sure there were bouts of movement and inspiration to exercise, nothing that stuck though.

They say that “sitting is the new smoking.”  When I saw that one day I thought to myself, yes I suppose it is.  Although the effects of sitting doesn’t directly hurt others, it could in the long run I presume.

The lack of interaction with my children and grandchildren, lack of desire to do activities that are physical, complaining more about my life, and my aches.  Those within range of me would be affected in that manner.

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My desire to embroider has enhanced my hand issues and you would think I would take more breaks.  I need to, seriously I do.  I am going to damage something further that isn’t repairable probably.  Yet, the embroidery helps me relax at the time and the pain comes later.  I feel like I am accomplishing something, being successful at something in this life.

Hum, I thought I was doing the same thing all those years in front of the computer at work.  Does this mean I need to help fill my mind and time with something that is less strenuous on my hand?  Does this mean I need to set my alarm on my smart phone and make myself take breaks every 30 minutes?  Does this mean I need to stretch several times a day so my body doesn’t tighten to a twisted pretzel type?  Probably so on all of the above.

My daughter is heading off to 2nd grade this next week.  I have spent the summer with her and focusing on our time together.  I have started building a small business with my homemade items.  Now that she will be gone I have to set a routine and keep it.  I have to be healthier during the day so when she comes home I feel and want to interact with her in a positive manner.

I hope writing this holds me accountable.  I hope whatever God has planned for me whether a struggle in the story or not I can find my way to be what HE would want me to be.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

A Year Later – In Review


It’s a year later and although there are many things still the same, there are changes.  Primarily within me I think and it’s a continuous journey.  I want to share the thoughts, changes, and what the future looks like from my view today.

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My life as a working outside the home woman changed a year ago.  I left behind a life of what I thought at the time more stressful, risky business, and more time away from home than I liked.  It was also a place of security, although not as much as it was the 17 years prior.

I feel that God moved me into the agent position as part of a transition into this new position as part of his plan for me.  HE knew I would never just walk away from a secure, good paying job I was pretty good at.  He placed me in a position that made me feel out of comfort, happiness at times, proud and miserable all at once.  It wasn’t about the actual position, it was who I am and who HE made me to be.

I stepped into a new position August 2014 of being a stay at home farm mom and wife.  I had some training at it, but never full-time. Although one might think it’s an easy position it brings about new lessons that one only knows if they are living it.

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At the beginning I was taken away from my family time due to my father’s illness before his death.  I believe this was another of God’s plans and I have no regrets in the days I spent away.  Once things settled down a routine began for our family.

 

The routine included our one daughter still at home attending school and my days being mostly alone.  My thoughts went back and forth feeling guilt for not working and how to fill my days.  She was six and did a mother really need to be home full-time, but I wanted to be.  I felt my physical and mental self-needed a break.  So I took it.

Various feelings made their appearance depending on the day and they still sneak in on occasion a year later.  The ones of how to pay the bills with less money,  dealing with changes in our farming operation, learning to still socialize with the outside world, focus on my God, and more activities with the six-year-old to name a few.

 

Through the year, adjustments were made in my marriage, my mothering, and my life.  It’s taken a year to feel a normal routine and the summer has been one of the best ones of my entire life.  There were some pretty harsh moments but spending the days with our daughter and even helping my husband was worth those moments.

irrigation farm work

School will begin in a couple of weeks and I am wondering how I will do with my helper away all day.  I have various things in motion to fill my time, and I need to get moving more to care for me.  Taking time to step away from the computer and embroidery and walk for better mental and physical health.

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One of the major things that has been upon my mind lately is how I no longer intermingle with adults much.  How I feel when I am presented with opportunities for interactions is sometimes hard for me.  I was never a real extrovert but was fine in my work environment and most situations.  I find it interesting that anything associated with my church I feel comfortable with yet other things I struggle a great deal.  Introvert?  Losing my social skills?  Nothing or something?  This will be another balance to find in my life.  Another process and much time in prayer for guidance.

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I have to admit, I’m afraid to write this next paragraph. That I might jinx it but I must admit it for others should know.  God has provided for our family.  HE has presented opportunities for my spouse to work outside the farm to replace income no longer there.  God has shown me/us what is valuable in this world and what is not.  God has created a path that I am not as afraid to take as I was before.  On the days I am in fear, I know WHO is the only ONE that I can rely on in truth. He’s also available 24 hours a day which is good for me! GOD.

This change in my life after so long, in my 40’s, could have come along for any sort of reason.  To bring me closer to God, raise a child better, support my husband more, know more about farming, do more church work, find who I am really intended to be, or just leave behind the insurance business, no matter the reason, I find myself grateful a year later.

A year later in review

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

Writing Prompts – Write About a Moment When…


I was scrambling to write a post for today.   I opened my writing prompts book for help.  This is what I chose for today. I hope it helps someone. The strength is present, just dig deeper for it.

Write about a moment when you felt proud of yourself.

It was May 1989.  I was 18 years old.  There was a large crowd of people in the stands, most I didn’t even know.  But there was an almost two-year old little girl in the crowd.  She’s part of why I felt so proud of myself.  See it was my high school graduation and that little girl was my daughter.  Walking across that stage meant many things to me.  The journey to that day is one I’d like to share. 1987-88

Walking the halls my junior year of high school, with my stomach growing each week wasn’t as much of a proud feeling as walking across the graduation stage.  There were the stares, the talk, the questions, the scandal, the rejection.  There were supportive and nice folks as well, some that stepped up changed not only my life but my daughter’s as well.  I’m grateful for all of them.

I didn’t get in this circumstance by myself but I did take responsibility, even if it was a struggle a lot of days.  Having a large high school full of students and teachers know daily what you did with someone else  at such a young age wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. But I did it because life mattered.  That child I was carrying mattered.

I wasn’t a martyr, I wasn’t good at it, and I didn’t deserve a medal for continuing high school while pregnant.  In fact, I wasn’t the first and I wasn’t the last pregnant teen there. I wasn’t the only one that year either.

My gift was not only delivering a healthy, beautiful little baby girl in June 1988.  One of my gifts was the ability to finish high school, walk across the stage to obtain my diploma, and show that two year old it can be done.  That there is strength within, even during the hardest of days.  Also that dwelling on the mistake doesn’t make life better, but learning from it does.

One of the proudest moments in my life was walking across a stage to accept a piece of paper that I worked hard for.  That gave me and my little family opportunities that I might not have had if I had quit high school.  I had good support that I needed during this part of my life, that made a huge difference.

So.  If you are reading this and you are a young teen that is pregnant or know someone that is a teen mother, or are one yourself I want you to know something.  That life within in you or sitting on your lap matters, and so do YOU.  You matter more than you know.  Take the time to find strength, ask for help, stop and take deep breaths often.  Don’t dwell on your mistake, but learn from it.  Love your child.  Love yourself.  I’m praying for you and your family.

Grace is a gift,
Julie