We enjoy Halloween. For the past I don't know how many years, we have gone to a friend's house for a Halloween get together and this year it was last night. We enjoy dressing up, although I generally don't have time for myself, this year I did. I just like the connection of the holiday. That time I spend with the boys helping them figure out how to make their characters come to life, what tools, make up, costume pieces we will need and how much time I think it will take to pull it all together. The boys are generally more creative than I, but this year I came up with a couple of great ideas myself. Jackson on the other hand.....what can I say, he has his own sense of humor about Halloween and comes up with his own character ideas and costumes. Here are a few pics from yesterday.
Dallen as the headless horseman. I thought his make up turned out pretty nice.
Phillip as Arthur from Stephen King's, I Am the Doorway.
I was asked recently, for a different project, to sum up why I vote, in one or two sentences. Yeah, in just one or two sentences, not an easy task. So I thought about it for a while, I had to separate "what I vote for" from the real, deeper reasons "why I vote", the why not the what. The what may change from year to year but the why stays the same. This is what I wrote
"I feel it is my responsibility to vote. 100 years ago I would not have been able to vote. The women that fought for my right to vote, hold me up on their shoulders, encouraging me to go higher. I vote for myself, and to honor that commitment. The second and third reasons I vote, are my children, the boys in the photo. I have nurtured them all their lives and I feel it is my duty to ensure that I do my best to leave this world in a better place, for them, in many different ways, part of that includes voting."
Not bad, for a couple of sentences. But in contemplating the what and the why I got teary eyed thinking about my boys and the voting process. I have always tried to be an example for my boys. Living my process out loud for them to see and hear. My boys are now 19 and 22. My oldest voted in the past presidential election, for my youngest this is his first presidential election. I have always taken time when preparing to vote. I research all the candidates, watch debates, go to forums and town hall meetings, from county commissioner on up. I really think local elections are so important on a local level, even more so than presidential elections. I have always tried to involve the boys in this process and I had taken them to the polls with me when they were younger. Now, years later it is nice to see them researching the candidates themselves and taking this seriously. I know younger citizens don't feel as much of a "need" to vote, often times bypassing the process altogether. My mom instilled in me the importance of voting and I wanted my boys to pick that commitment up from me as well.
I love hearing their thoughts and ideas about different candidates, I love listening to them pick the candidate's web sites apart, and discuss what the candidates are NOT talking about, the meaning behind candidates words. It just makes my heart burst to see what thoughtful, informed voters they are. Love my BOYS, such good young men!
So if you have young ones yourself, involve them in the process. That doesn't mean making them research candidates with you. Just live your life out loud, take them with you when you can (if they are real young bring toys with you to keep them entertained if you have to wait). Be the example. It does make a difference.
I have been holding off posting this, I just wasn't sure that I wanted to go public with such a private matter in my life. Even after all these years and knowing what I know now, there is still that twinge of fear and shame. The words sexual assault have been tossed around recently until they have almost no meaning any more. People have said that it is "boys will be boys" and the talk of sexual violations has been deemed "locker room talk". I want to tell everyone reading that sexual assault is very much real and devastating.
I was sexually assaulted at the age of 15, every school day for over a year, by a teacher. I was a naive 15 year old. But this man groped, grabbed, kissed and fondled me every school day, and I cried every school night, and some days too. I remember feeling ashamed and fearful. I remember feeling like my body was not my own. I remember wishing with all my heart that someone would figure it out and set me free. I was afraid to say a word. I was paralyzed. I lived day to day until I finally gathered together enough courage to tell him to stop. I remember realizing, at that point, that he was more afraid of me telling someone, than I was in all of my fear. Would anyone have believed me? I don't know. But I never told anyone for a very long time.
I worked through much of this with a couple of college professors that really helped me process what had happened and my feeling about everything. I told Jackson and a couple of close friends, and that is it. I have kept it in all these years. More fear I guess.
But I need to say something now, share my story. Sexual assault is not a game, it is not something to laugh at, or set aside. It is real, it hurts, and it shows something about the character of the perpetrator. Don't sweep it under the rug, shed light into the dark. Remember all the stories you have heard over the past weeks as you head to the polls. Remember me, remember my hurt, remember my fear, See my face as you vote. Remember the lives devastated by sexual assault and ask yourself if this is what you want to see in your president. Sexual assault changes a person, it changes the course of their life, how they live, how they think about the world and about themselves.
I carry ALL of my baggage proudly now, as it is what has made me the woman I am today. I feel that the events of my life have helped birth (with a huge amount of work) a strong, confident, powerful woman, and I can now say that I love who she was then, and I love who she is now. I can give comfort to that assaulted child that still lies within me.
This is a page in one of my art journals. A friend added the picture on the left and the quote she wrote is spot on and means a great deal to me. If you can't read it, it says "I can't abandon the person I used to be, so I carry her." I do, I carry her.
I was excited about this year's herbal conference, I was unable to attend last year and really missed that boost of herbal mojo. And this year did not disappoint. It was such a beautiful weekend up in the mountains, the speakers were engaging. I learned a little about herbs, and a little about myself. I came away with that boost I had been missing and I can't wait for next year.
Let me start with the down, for me anyway. The very first session of the entire conference started out with us yelling out our names, OK so that let me know what kind of a session this was going to be. And the last 30 minutes or so was "SMALL GROUP INTERACTION". Yes those dreaded words, break up into groups of three and..... I hate hearing that, "break up into small groups". And we each took turns, in our groups of three, talking about ourselves (yes there was a specific topic) to two strangers. That isn't really my thing. So I spoke for a minute, volunteered to go first to get it over with. And yeah, no I didn't take up all my "allotted time", and no I had nothing else to say. I know many people find it easy to share their souls to strangers, more so than to friends. I am not one of those people, for me it is harder with strangers. That feeling of judgment maybe, I don't know. Luckily for me that was the ONLY session of the conference that had any "group activity".
I did bring my knitting along, and that provided a couple of benefits this time around. The one benefit, that I recognize and why I bring it, is that I have something to do, so I don't feel like I am just sitting there staring. I have something to do, to take my mind off of things. Also this time I had a couple of people come up to talk to me about knitting, an easy topic for me to talk about and connect with people.
A real positive for me this year, happened during lunch on Saturday. There were a few food trucks at the conference and a few picnic tables, lots of space to spread out on the grass if you want and have lunch and just relax and process or socialize if you like. In years past I generally get my lunch and then go spread out on the grass somewhere, knit, eat and relax. This year I decided I was going to sit with a few other women if there was space at a table, and there was. I think that space was waiting just for me. So I went up and asked if the spot was free, introduced myself and sat there. The other women were so nice, we chatted about the conference, about our lives, where we were from etc. Just general chit chat. It was nice, it was out of my comfort zone, and I enjoyed it. I need to do more of this. ....Maybe next year. One year I hope to fully embrace the social experience of the conference, and not just the information side, baby steps.
Many of you know that my family and I participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's "Out of the Darkness" walk, in Asheville NC this past Sunday. It was such a moving and emotional experience, I shed more than a few tears. There were so many people there, far too many. People who had lost friends, relatives, parents, children or were struggling themselves. Here is a picture of my family before we headed up the mountain for the walk. I just love my family and am so glad they decided to share this day with me, they were there to give me hugs and offer support.
I gathered photos for the memory wall at the event. And it always hits me hard when I think about all that I have missed out on not having a father during my parenting years, and all that my boys have missed out on, not having a grandfather. So many missed memories, so many missed connections, and just a life that my boys will never know.
He was an awesome grandfather. Unfortunately my oldest doesn't remember him at all, and I was pregnant with my youngest when we lost my father to suicide. So much missed.
For those of you that don't know our story, I lost my father to suicide on Halloween, 1996. So it will be 20 years ago this coming Halloween, October 31, 1996. We were living in Germany at the time and we were handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters. My older brother was the one to call and tell me the news. Not a memory I like to think about.
As we approach Halloween, I think of him often, more often than usual. And I think about all we can do to prevent suicide. So as you look at my photos let me give you some facts to think about. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. The annual suicide rate per 100,000 individuals is 12.93. The North Carolina rate is 13.04, we rank above the national average with Burke County falling in at 16.99, ranking us 13th out of all 100 counties in North Carolina. It is the second leading cause of death for 15-34 year olds and the third leading cause of death for 10-14 year olds. These are OUR CHILDREN! This is preventable.
Also read about your state statistics here at the AFSP statistics page. And ask questions when talking to your candidates for city and county commissioner. Find out what they plan to do to reduce suicide in your county, let them know that this is a priority and you are watching/listening to what they have to say and will vote accordingly. This is a national epidemic that is swept under the rug, ignored, shamed. Mental health is important to us all, living in a healthy society benefits everyone.
My husband is so wonderful. And really this is a first. I think I have mentioned before that he is not a great gift giver. Well actually that isn't true, he is successful at picking out gifts for one person, his friend Ken. And he and Ken are really only friends because years ago, Ken's wife, Lori and I met through a homeschooling group. We have been friends for probably around 15 years or so, during that time Jackson and Ken have become friends. I think he picks out such great gifts for Ken because they do have a lot in common. Things he would enjoy getting as gifts, he knows, Ken will enjoy as well. But for anyone else, he is not a good gift giver.
So the fact that I loved this gift AND it was for no special occasion AND it comes at the perfect time for me, as I know today will be a hard, emotional day, all of those things make this extra special-tastic.
I have been drooling over this cookware set at The Kitchen Connection in Morganton for a few months now. I showed them to Jackson and picked out the one I would like to own first to "try them out". They are beautiful and heavy and....expensive, so I asked Jackson to remember this for Christmas for me. Well they were on sale yesterday, and he bought me one, and he didn't put it away for Christmas, he gave it to me!! I just love this man. I don't think he even thinks that today will be a hard day for me. But this is special, and sweet, and I love it!
Tomorrow is the BIG day, the AFSP Out of the Darkness walk in Asheville. Yesterday my youngest son, Phillip, decided he wanted to join us and walk as a family. I am just so happy about this, it will be an amazing day. He also created our team tee shirt logo, and we worked last night getting those together. We do want to look like a team. For each of us our colors are different. My color is gold, I lost a parent. But for Jackson and the boys, their color is purple, loss of a friend or relative. So we decided to go with a grey tee shirt for the walk. My dad was a fisherman and his buoy colors were white and blue, so that is what he decided to use as part of the logo. My family is just so thoughtful.
It will be an amazing, thought provoking, memory making, tearful day for me. It will be 20 years this Halloween that I lost my dad to suicide. Time does not "heal all wounds". If you would like to donate here is the link for that, all donations are SO appreciated! :
I decided to share my oracle card with you this morning, it was such a powerful card for me right at this particular moment that I thought maybe some of you could use the inspiration and guidance as well. The oracle card says "Listen to Your Heart". Which speaks to following our instincts, our heart, our gut. I think as a child I was taught to not follow my heart, but to listen to the adults in my life and follow what they had to say. I was not taught that I am the best judge of what is right for me, and that my heart and gut, my instincts, should be listened to. So this is a great card to remind me to follow our hearts, to be still and listen.
For the last week I have been feeling a shift happening. A shift in my heart and in my head, a different way of thinking about my place in the world. Just a really big shift, but really didn't know what it was, where it would take me, what change would be on the horizon. This morning, that shift just clicked into place. I have been resting with things, just letting things settle out and waiting for the important things to float to the top. Over the past week, my journaling has reflected that feeling, just trying to rest in it, trying to wait for this shift, not become irritated or frustrated, but sit silently and wait. I journaled this morning that it was like a whirlwind in my brain and in my heart, all of these wonderful ideas, and inspiration just swirling around in there. And then. this morning, it was like everything settled and two main thoughts were left, like clouds sitting in the midst. I just knew things were going to be different from here on out. So this oracle card is important for me and is really guiding me this weekend. I hope you all can gain some guidance from this card as well, as you go through your weekend....Listen to Your Heart!
Above is the tea that is in my tea cup this morning. A Raspberry Hibiscus Tea, from "The Spice and Tea Exchange". Love it, great fall color and delicious flavor. The mug is actually my son Phillip's mug that he bought at the Common Grounds Country Fair in Maine two years ago. He loves this mug. This morning I used it as I think the colors are so fall-like.
Why is our society so obsessed with winners and losers. There has to be a winner and a loser (or losers). I saw it again this morning after the vice presidential debate. All this talk about who won and who lost, and then the sound bites and short clips featuring the "best zingers". What is this really all about, a circus side show, or some high school debate club.
For me there is no winner or loser, that is for us to decide come November. It is about hearing the answers to, hopefully, well thought out questions that are aimed at important issues we see in today's world. This isn't a high school debate club where you are scored, graded and immediately given a trophy. This is so much more than that. And seriously, if this were a high school debate team, they would know the rules of the game. There wouldn't be all this talking over each other and interrupting. I am starting to think calling these shows, debates, is a sorry use of the word. Maybe there needs to be a different name attached, and let's just forget about declaring an immediate winner or loser and get back to the issues at hand. Instead of showing clips of zingers or mishaps how about showing real answers to tough questions. Instead of thinking the American public is too ignorant to pick a winner for themselves, how about helping educate about the topics and challenges.
I myself will pick my OWN winner when I vote. And not just presidential, but more importantly local and state offices.