CRUSHED IT!!!!

pink shoesSo….
Last weekend I traveled to Chicago, to meet friends I have never met, but have known for years, accept a challenge I never believed I could meet, and live to write about, and to just spend some time elsewhere. Somewhere, out of the drama and sadness that my life has been for the last 6 years. I threw the negativity out the window, somewhere in Indiana. I love to drive, so I drove. I love to meet and talk to people, even if it’s just for a few seconds. I like to think that’s all it takes to make an impact on someone. A kind word, a compassionate hug, a shared tear. So I was going to meet these people I had been friends with, virtually, for the first time. The friends I met, have been my friends from a distance, for a long time, some of them. I met some on Catster, ( http://www.catster.com/) back when it was the social media outlet for cat lovers and before Facebook was even a twinkle in Zuckerberg’s, daddy’s eye. We all met there, and on Facebook, and on FDMB (https://www.facebook.com/groups/felinediabetes/) too, where we shared our love and knowledge with people who were new to the diabetic cat world. We had these connections, and they grew, and its is the most amazing and wonderful experience to have met them, in person.
The whole weekend was about walking, talking and connecting. Not just to them, but to the person I was before I lost my world, and my deep self. I was a dynamic speaker, a brave and fearless advocate for the rescue cause. I believed in myself and that what I was doing, was my calling in life. I still feel that way, but when it all fell so terribly apart, I lost that dynamic energy, and the fear set in and took hold of the courage I had. I have lost a lot of very significant things and people in my life, and loss is something I know a lot about. People have take, take, taken from me and I let, let, let them, to the point that I, at some point completely lost me. It wasn’t really a choice, It just happened.
Literally.

Photo and artwork courtesy of Kathy Cary

Photo and artwork courtesy of Kathy Cary

I had no idea who I am. Or who I was. Me was gone. Truly.
Past tense.
I hate the saying “life is about choices” as if there is some magical ball I can look into and it will let me know the man I am about to marry will someday be an alcoholic and a cheater and cost me everything, from my home to my animals, and finally cost me myself. I am pretty sure being raped and pregnant wasn’t a choice either. I want that damn ball, so I can get the lottery numbers from it. I despise the smugness with which people use it, on people who have been dropped to the ground by the uncontrollable circumstances in their life. It makes me want to be violent, so they can see how little, choices actually have to do with life, for some of us. I hate the way people make that statement, all confident that their life will never have that kind of circumstance. I despise it most, because I don’t know anyone who has not had the rug jerked out from under them at least once in their lifetime. I can’t tolerate smug. Humility is a hard lesson. Kindness is lacking, and compassion disappears with that one statement.
But I digress. Sorry.
This weekend was an awakening in me. I accepted this challenge on a few different levels, one was to raise funds to promote the AVON 39, which is the good part of AVON in my eyes. They use their brand name for a good purpose.
You can find out more about it here… ( http://www.avon39.org/about/ )
Not that others don’t, I just chose AVON because it represented a challenge on a lot of different levels. Thanks to all the people who donated to my walk, I met that challenge. No one does this alone. It made me a part of a team, a bigger picture, not alone.

The POWER of BeliEVEing!

The POWER of BeliEVEing!

It was also a challenge for me to step outside that comfort zone of doing nothing, and into the zone of doing Something! Becoming a part of the solution, again. All of the trash piles and losses took that part of me and added it to the pile. The trash pile of losses.
You have to understand the things I lost, that were me, to understand what I found on that walk.
Losses:
*Myself, the person I was.
*My passion for the promotion of good.
*My deep confidence that I could make good choices. Because after all, “life is about choices”.
*The abandon I used to feel when speaking to people. There was a caution, an indifference there.
*The knowledge that I could do anything I set my mind to do. It disappeared when I realized I could not save a marriage, that really never existed. Commitment in a marriage takes 2. I made that mistake twice.
*Most significant though, in the loss of myself, was the loss of belonging somewhere. I fit nowhere. I was alone, and because as you all know by now, “life is about your choices” and “you cant focus on the past” and you need to “pull yourself up by the boot straps” ( imagine the most sarcastic person you know, saying those things, angrily), I stayed alone. Isolated.
The rest of the “things” I lost, the house, the job, the useless liar I married, the “best” friend, paled in comparison to the loss of my beloved rescue and the animals still caught in it. That was what really destroyed parts of me I could not link to. I still cannot talk about that without losing my composure. I cant even write about it, without tears. It was truly my dream come true to be a part of the solution, on some small, bandaidy, level. To make a difference, a real tangible difference in 2 lives, not just in the saving of the animals, but to bring together those animals, with the people who wanted them, who would love and cherish them and never toss them aside like so much trash. Those smiles on those faces, mostly the kids, were the single most joyful part of rescue. The chance meetings at the adoption events were my social outlet.
Losing my dream, seeing the hurt and confusion and fear in my animal’s’ eyes crushed my entire spirit. IMG_1085goinghomeLiterally.
CRUSHED IT!
So, for the last few years I have been in this limbo of nothingness. No friends I could physically link to, no social life, no home that wasn’t someone elses’ space, no privacy to grieve, in essence, just nowhere safe. All I had was Facebook, and family functions as a social outlet. I was lonely, tired, fat and worthless, to myself anyway. I have a job, it pays the bills, but not enough to live on my own. I have people I associate with there, but I am not part of their outside of work, groups. I am old. And alone, except for family. I love my family, but it’s not enough.
But…
Somewhere, somehow I connected with this group of dynamic women, mostly on Facebook, that all have their own stories, who also have the same love of cats that I have, and who also have a purpose. They are all part of a Facebook page and movement, called “Sugar Rub” (https://www.facebook.com/Sugar-Rub-587437321283860/?fref=ts) with a common, passionate, purpose. To raise awareness among pet owners of all kinds, that “PETS GET BREAST CANCER TOO!” Jeanette Cereske started this movement after the loss of her beautiful Sugar, to feline mammary cancer. We came together to raise awareness on a 39.3 mile walk, for AVON to raise funds for humans, and also to share our message to check your pets monthly, every time you check yourself. We walked a marathon and a half, in Chicago, sharing that message with anyone who would listen. So many people came to Jeanette with her Sugar sign and asked about it. We all carried many reasons for walking, but for all of us, we carried two in particular. Justice for Joey, and Sugar Rub. We had those two heart purposes, with us all the way.

SUGAR RUB!

SUGAR RUB!

Surprisingly to me, very few people I spoke to realized that their pet could get breast cancer too! I was shocked, really.
Jeanette, Tomi, Laura who is a breast cancer Previvor ((bilateral mastectomy after BRCA 2+ diagnosis), Sue Lyn, Jeff, Andrea, Julia, and I WALKED 39.3 miles, over 2 days, and raised awareness about pets and breast cancer. The world’s best crew, Missy, Lori and Angie, Barry and Heather and John were our personal cheerleaders and kept us safe and fed. But it was SO much more than that. It was connection with friends, I had only known from a distance, and virtually for a lot of years. We have shared and laughed and cried with each other through the losses of our beloved cats, through the Pet Cancer support page
( https://www.facebook.com/groups/1382110318689049/) that Jeanette also started. Some of us were friends, long before Facebook, on Catster, which is where MY link to all of these wonderful women started. We also met some of the members of that group and connected with them as well.
It was AMAZING!!! Chicago is amazing, the artwork, IMG_0475 1the architecture and the public transportation all rock! We walked 7+ miles all around Chi-town the day before we walked a marathon. We got to know one another, and we laughed a lot! And we cried too. I spent a lot of time crying. My friends brought me a box, made from love, in Princeton’s memory. Inside it, are cards I have not read yet, a soft, beautiful memento, hand made with love by one of the members of our group, and the most beautiful necklace, also made in their shared love of Princeton, and ME! I cried. A LOT!

Princeton

Princeton

For those of you who don’t know Princeton, he was my kitty I lost to lymphoma, 2 weeks before the walk. I felt very alone after his loss. He was my constant reminder that life is fragile, be kind to it. Having the weight of being alone lifted, was like no other feeling I can describe. If you know me, you know I tried a thousand ways and times to talk myself out of this trip. It’s been my MO for the last few years, and it comes with the worthlessness territory, and is very common among survivors of some of the things I have been through, in my life. Trash piles, piled up and fermented into a brew of believing I was worthless, and could do nothing. SO not true, but it was what I was left with, believing it without knowing I was believing it. Worthlessness is an insidious monster, that permeates life’s trash piles.
Walking 39.3 miles, connecting with confident, beautiful, passionate, women cures that. Connecting with friends, in person, was a gift beyond description. I just cannot explain it, you just have to feel it to understand what that does to a person with zero self esteem. And having them BELIEVE you, CAN walk 39 miles, with them, as a team. We built each other up, laughed, cried, talked and walked! We spread the word about people’s pets, and we connected. Most of all we connected, or I connected, to their group. I was a part of them, I fit, I found a place to belong. It doesn’t matter that they are from all over the country, from Maryland to San Francisco, it doesn’t matter, we all met in Chicago and the connection was profound and words cannot describe how beautiful it was to me.
So, if you went to the AVON 39 page, and checked it out,
you will see the link to that statement: CRUSHED IT!
I CRUSHED that worthlessness, CRUSHED that trash pile, and purged that part of it, from my life. Now, if I can just keep that feeling of positive energy, and healing and use that momentum to move me forward, I will have my purpose back! I CRUSHED so much more than those 39.3 miles. And I invited positive, powerful, purposeful energy and women back into my life. You don’t undo the trash piles, but you can climb them and walk past them.
You can CRUSH them!
THAT’S a choice!

 

FIERCE IS FOREVER

 

A Celebration of Life and An Empty Bowl

bowlHis bowl is now empty,
clean as a whistle.
His eyes closed,
his heart still.
He lived with his quiet love,
springing from every beat.
I know when he got to heaven,
he jumped up on Jesus’ bed,
and purred with impatience
“where’s my nom’s? Good God let’s EAT!”good god lets eat

I know he was sad to leave,
I was tortured letting him go.
We had such a good, last night,
the morning brought hope.
But cancer is an insidious liar,
and an xray dashed that Joy.

As his soul left his body,
my heart shattered and broke,
its sad and tired, full of missing pieces.
It will heal, and another will come calling,
Like Princeton did long ago.
I will answer the call,
that missing piece will fill,
with another’s need and love.
There will always be room for one more.
pinny

Godspeed my sweet friend,
tell the rest hello.
Your joy was a gift,
and I will miss you so.
my silly little nommy lover,
PinnyPin snuggle bug.

Trauma Piles

Trauma Piles
A big hand covers my mouth and nose,
from behind, fear traps my 5 year old self.
Belts and mouths, screaming against hearts and skin,
hurt equally at 6
The only thing that loved me,
dies at 7, I’m too sensitive, “it’s just a guinea pig”

1964, Guinea and me.

1964, Guinea and me.

The neighbor discovers me at 8
no one to tell, help is nowhere,
Safety does not exist in my 9 year old world,
except on the back of my horse,
10 is more of that sick neighbor,
and now his friends, death would be welcome, the first time I wish for it.
11 finds my horse and I, alone with books and other worlds.
places where kids are safe.

12 is ridicule, finger pointing and much laughter
sent home from school,
where I went as a child and left as a woman
13 is hell caught between hate and that neighbor,
a gun fixed that, finally, because now I know that violence and fear work.
More school and hell called home, 14 finds me in others homes, unmissed.
15-18 are the most peaceful years I remember, except for the boyfriend that beats the hell out of me regularly. I am used to that.
Senior pictures, with a black eye and makeup, 3 fractured ribs, and a broken hand. My brothers fixed that.
20 brings pregnancy, hiding this terrible child, bringing a child into the world, loving the new, soft, small life and feeling her grow, I learn that love means letting go, I would not make a good mother, I had no role model.

22 crashes around me like a volcano, raped, beaten and left to die, on the cold, dark, dirt barn Me and hermans luckfloor. Saved for the first time, by my friend.
23 brings pregnancy and denial, hate and discrimination, “what were you wearing” living on the streets of Tampa, hiding from the scrutiny, sheltering the new life I love, and want, but have no tools to provide for.

1984

1984

24-26 showered me in drugs that took me to places I never knew, where happiness is available, even if it’s just for a short time, feeling good about yourself is a mirage that disappears with sobriety, knowing you are dying slowly.
28 takes me to a new place, new people new job, new playground. No drugs, taking back my life from those who have stolen it, and struggling to figure out why I can’t fit in.

Any clues?

Molly

Molly

30 -35 married to a pathological liar and alcoholic, more crap to shovel out the door, my youngest sister is killed, see how the pile grows?

 

I was frightened, you taught me to trust.

I was frightened, you taught me to trust.

36-50 married to another pathological liar alcoholic, with a psychopathic need to crush and hurt. Unknowingly I allowed that piece of trash to hurt the most innocent of beings, the ones who loved me, and him, regardless of his level of hate and evil.

50-56 The struggle to find that child that I never knew, the joy I have lost, and find something besides the hate that I still live with, trying to not become a hateful, angry old woman too.

Trauma piles are meant to be climbed and conquered, dug up, and replanted to grow something made of love, fertilized with care, and watered with joy and compassion. Kathy‘s picture struck a serious place in me today, as I embark on a new type of therapy thats meant to help me take this pile of mine out to plant. To try to find happy with what’s left of my life. I am so tired of sad, fights, insults, and misunderstanding.

Photo and artwork courtesy of Kathy Cary

Photo and artwork courtesy of Kathy Cary

On Forgiveness, Love, and Miracles

Forgiveness, Love and Miracles.

All week, I have had this sudden peace. It came to me, when I said something to someone, with regards to getting your “pound of flesh”.  I said I wasn’t all that proud of that, any more. That taking of a pound of flesh. I didn’t know that the statement was just another notch in the miles I have traveled on the road of forgiving the person I took it from. For so many years, he has not “deserved” forgiveness, not so much because of what happened to me (I told myself this, justification?), but because of the heinous acts he perpetrated on 2 children. I held on to that reasoning for my anger and hate of this person for almost 33 years. It has made me angry and bitter, for most of my life. 
Today, while in God’s presence at church, it came to me. The Holy Spirit reached down into my heart and touched that hate and drove it out.
Forgiveness.
It came in a release of this man’s acts, to the one who is destined to provide that man’s final justice. It’s not my job, it’s God’s job to decide that person’s worthiness. Its his job to judge his life. God has simply asked us to forgive. So today,   I forgive you.
I forgive what you did to me.
I am grateful for the beautiful child that came of this one mean act. She is a gift. The real gift, the one you don’t know about. I am grateful for the way this shaped my life, the compassion, the sensitivity. I am grateful for those things.artful-s-peace-sign
I am letting go of my anger at you, so that I can allow my heart to heal, and to maybe open it up to love as opposed to hate. With God’s help, maybe one day I will be free from the things your attack have left me with. I have hope that those things will dissipate, with the healing power of forgiveness.

I said a prayer for you to day, for God to forgive you too. Untitled-4 I know he knows what’s in your heart.  And I begged for his forgiveness of me, too. I need that, too.
Today I prayed for you, and I gave thanks that finally I am able to feel at peace, in this moment, for the things that have shaped my life and brought me to this place.  I am sure my journey is not over, because hate is a habit. Because it’s not a virtue, it’s nothing more than a habit to break.
Today, instead of hate, I choose love. hearts
Our gospel at church was fitting.
Corinthians 1;13
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Yet another miracle today, Forgiveness.
God Bless,
Thanks for reading.

God. Alone, Part 1

 A Journey Back to A Loving Life.

Molly

Molly

Losing things and the ones you love, sucks.
Getting over the trauma of losing a home, a husband, a job, a friend, a sister, a daughter, can take someone the rest of their life. For sure, it changes the way you look at and value what you have left. For a long time, my losses didn’t really register, some I just didn’t give any thought to. I didn’t dare spend time there.

A miscarriage, being raped, losing my first pet, giving up my children. These losses, and this is just a small sample, the mistakes and tragedies, I put out of my mind, I thought I moved on. For a long time, I moved, but not on.
Slowly, over the last year, my focus really shifted, twice, once in a good way, and then in the totally opposite way of good. Losing my husband, my best friend, my home, my job, and so much more than just those physical things, all in less than a years time, these are the losses I focused on, and grieved. They brought all the rest of those significant losses to the surface again.
Grief, hate, anger, ungratefulness, pride and darkness stole my principles, my moral compass, my compassion.  I became angry, mean, and unforgiving.
Cold. icestorm09 138_1
I got sucked into every negative thing I read or saw. I lost my hearts music, my joy, my love for this life, and my compassion for humans. I forgot how to be happy, to find joy in a moment, to trust that there could always be joy in my life, if I just let it back into my heart. My heart was the one that really suffered. I made it suffer. I punished it for the love it felt, for the compassion it displayed, for the foolish gifts it gave to undeserving people. For the trust it gave to those who were evil. For its gullibility. My heart had ruled my life, for all of my life, and I punished it for that, tried to change that about me. I hated the hurt that allowing it to rule me, caused me to be able to feel, and have to live with. I can’t unsee the things I have seen, and I cant unfeel the hurt and despair I have felt, at the hate and cruelty I have seen and experienced, because I have a heart that projects me in to those situations. I cannot undo the last 20 years of lost time. But it’s not really all that black and white.

Artwork courtesy of Patrick Johnson, my talented, loving, older brother. I love you, Pat!

Artwork courtesy of Patrick Johnson, my talented, loving, older brother. I love you, Pat!

 I also can’t make my heart believe that one person can’t make a change, a difference, start a chain of change that leads to better things, less cruelty, new ways of seeing, a better world to live in. I have always believed that change starts with me.
Believe me, I have tried, diligently, for the last 7 years to bash that out of my heart, that need to help, to make a difference, to be the change I wanted to see. My choice was always to help animals, to find a way, to see unspeakable things , so that I could speak about them factually, emotionally, and with passion to bring about about the changes that needed to happen. That could happen, if only they opened their hearts to another way, a change, a less cruel way. I spent years trying to help them see the love, and joy that an animal could bring to your life, or that just saving one, could bring to your heart. Some saw. Not all, but some. It finally dawned on me, years later, that while I was helping all these animals, and trying to change the little part of the world I lived in, my heart was taking a different path. It was shutting down, protecting itself against the certain failure it was going to feel when not everyone had the same ideas, ways of working, moral attitude, or sense of right and wrong. That fight against the always present “this is how we do it here” good ole boys club of KY, wore my hearts joy and light out. It literally sucked it out of my chest. I let it.

So, what does this all have to do with living with a grateful heart, you ask?
Well…last year I made my first retreat to Our Lady of Gethsemani, in Trappist, KY. I had been convinced, by those around me that it was going to be hard for “me” because silence was the first order of business. The sign at the head of the entrance made it clear as we walked in, that talking was frowned upon. Well, I guess the me that they knew, was not the strong silent type. I was the loud and proud advocate. Keep your eye on that word “proud”, its key. IMG_3725 3
I walked into this place, I had never been, and such a foreign sense of peace and joy washed over me that at first I couldn’t define it. It was like coming home. Really, home, not just in the comfy, homey sense of that word. But in the my heart found home, finally, sense of the word home. All of that loud, proud me, disappeared, dramatically, totally, when I crossed the threshold of that holy place in the hills of Kentucky. All of the distance I had put between myself and God would, over the course of the weekend, burn out like the dousing of a candle. I had lost not only my faith, but the core belief that there was a living, loving God. And if there was such a God, I was certainly not one of his favorite people. Over the weekend I rediscovered his healing touch. I found my heart opening to joy, a little, again. I saw the beauty in the gift that my camera is. I became a little grateful, and when the weekend came to a close I was sad to leave. I wanted to try to take the peace, quiet and serenity of that place, back to civilization. I was determined to stay in a place of gratefulness, and kindness. I was a bit of a softer me, for a time. I tried to keep that peaceful place and tuck it in a safe place in my heart. I didn’t know how hard I would have to work to do that.
I tried very hard over the last year to try to keep that with me. Eventually, like all things of that nature, if not nurtured, they fall away like fog, drifting out to sea, until you wake up and realize you are right back in the world you wanted to leave, and you can’t find your way back to the silence and peace. I was not as hateful, or nasty. But I was right back to the abyss with my heart. The joy was gone, again. I took a new job, where fitting in was, again, hard, people didn’t understand me, and they didn’t have to or want to. They still don’t. I tried to just keep my head down, and my mouth shut, keeping my eye on the strategic reasons I shifted jobs in the first place. I had goals, and I was trying hard to achieve them so I could someday make a new life for myself. I lost my gratefulness, gradually, too. My heart it seemed, had other ideas about how I was going to live the rest of my life. It looked black to me, again, lying on the cold, marble floor of my chest, just doing its day to day job of keeping me alive. It didn’t reach out, it couldn’t. It was trapped in that ungrateful place that Satan loves to see us go. That selfish, self-protective, falsely compassionate, place of ungratefulness and closure. It had shut tighter than hell’s door once you’re through it.IMG_2964
Again I found myself isolating myself, spending most of my time on the computer, not interacting with people, or family. There was a wedge of distance between my true self and who I wanted to be. I was irritable, and hateful when crossed, I watched TV for hours on end, watching things I would normally give zero credence or time to.  If you know me, you know I have never had time for TV. I didn’t pick up my camera for months, and the creativity I so loved, fled, leaving a shell of wasted space in its path. I felt unloved, unlovable, ugly, fat, aging, helpless and useless. Flailing. I had no purpose, no joy, getting out of bed was painful, every day. I went to work, came home ate and slept.
Weekends held no particular joy for me, nothing was ever different. I take mom to do her weekly errands; we usually have some sort of disagreement before we even get out the door. I take her to church on Sunday, and then we usually go to another store or 2 before she wants to go home. She goes her way and I mine, its safer that way.
We were living together, separately.

Mom loves to be a part of the solution.

Mom loves to be a part of the solution.

I didn’t have to try to have a conversation that would inevitably turn ugly. We had no common ground, my mother and I. I was so wrapped up in that negative, ungrateful spirit, that I had once again allowed in, I couldn’t see that we had so much in common. My relationship with her has always been hard, and we’re always both so defensive with each other. It’s like this pattern we can’t break. I try to help, maybe too much, and she is angry, all the time. I don’t think it’s at me, I just think she has been so angry, for so long, its habit and that she is too old to change that. But she made me angry too.
Anger is a dangerously addictive emotion. I am pretty sure that we both are addicted to it. It’s not healthy for either of us, and my body began to develop telltale signs that it had had enough. I needed to get the hell off that angry, emotional roller-coaster on a merry go round. It was spinning out of control, again. I just could not find that place, that peace, solitude, quiet, I had found at Gethsemani. It was gone, like fog.
Every year my sister, Sara, makes a retreat to Gethsemani, and takes Mom. A family retreat. And now she takes me too. She always invites all of her sister’s. It’s their choice, to go or not. For her, it’s about priorities, whats important in her life. She plans it, and lets us know the dates, because, well, she is the planner. She has a calendar, in her purse, with her plans for the year, her appointments. I have actually been critical of this, heartlessly thinking that she had no spontaneity. Ridiculing that. Ungrateful. That she was afraid to deviate, to have any kind of disorder in her life that wasn’t on her calendar. I was cruel in both my thoughts and my words with regard to that. Here it comes, remember that word “Proud”? I was so proud of my ability to be spontaneous, and not have to live by a calendar, and to just be able to throw down whenever the whim took me to throw down, that I hurt someone so deeply that it’s affected our relationship, our whole lives. She was the perfect child, the golden child, was what we called her, cruelly. She heard. She has had some very cruel things she has had to deal with. Mostly at the hands of her family. And she isn’t the only one, its kind of a pervasive vice we all share.

Yeah.
Proud.
Yeah.
Not so fast.
I didn’t know jack.
Or Sara.

My sister, has lived through a hell most people only read about. She is strong and beautiful, both inside and out. She has, as have several of us, paid dearly for being born into a family so full of pride and selfishness. I know things about her, from our trip to Gethsemani last year, which I would have never known if I had not made the trip.
Grateful.
She talked me into it, “Just try it, Mary, it can change your life!” she said, and I am so grateful she did. I know now, that she gave up her desire for a vocation, to marry, have kids she never got to have, and struggle through problems in that marriage that made her leave it at one time. I saw her go back, and work her ass off to make that marriage work. It is a long hard road. I truly met the person that is my sister, on our first trip to Gethsemani together. My wish is that our whole family could go, to find what I have found, and the we could heal, as a family. But I will take the healing with my sister.

Sara

Sara

Gratefully.
I had to open my heart and embrace the person she is, instead of the person we perceived her to be, in our pride filled hearts. We were jealous. I am so proud of her accomplishments. My heart finally thawed through enough of the deeply frozen pride to open a little door of humility, and ask her for forgiveness for being such a shitty sister. She was just a little girl, that day in my arms, and I was her big sister again, finally. For a while.
Grateful, for a while.
End of Part 1…..

 

Photographic Spirituality

IMG_3725 3All of my photos are gifts from God. He shares His beauty with me through the lens of my cameras. This beauty, has absolutely no bearing on the quality of the camera, or the size of the lens, but rather embodies the spirit of the God that points to his miraculous beauty and guides me to point my camera in that same direction.
I have no formal education with a camera. I am not a professional, or an artist. I have never had a show. I have sold one photo. But I have this “eye”, people say.
Well, where did that come from? How did I get that eye?
It was a gift.
And sometimes it compels me to move, get out, shut out the hate, evil and destruction I see, hear and live surrounded by, and find the beauty thats also His gift. I have been out in raging snowstorms, thunderstorms, pouring rain, and bitter cold, cloudy days. I have gotten up in the middle of the night to capture an event only God could display. I have photographed bees and spiders and all sorts of other beings, that most people shrink away from, including me! What I discovered on my camera changed my perspective, my fear, and my life.
For so many years I lived a life away from the joy of being in Gods presence. Many, many years I spent in despair, hate, anger, drugs, alcohol and destructive behavior. I was mad at God, and almost everyone I met, really. I made mistakes, and destroyed friendships, family relationships, and my health. But all along that path, there was always this ability to see the beauty around me. I still saw it, I just gave it no time or credence.
Then someone let me borrow a camera.  And many years later, someone gave me a camera as a gift.
And there started my journey into Photographic Spirituality. I started to actually comprehend that there was a higher power. He has always been available, and all I really needed to do to feel His presence was open my eyes and my heart. Different people have different definitions of God. And different ways to honor and worship His presence in their lives.  Many see the gifts and blessings he bestows upon them, and many spend their days destroying them.
I became aware of the need to share my gifts when I got involved in the rescue of animals from the rural facilities in Kentucky. There was a story there that need to be told, a harsh, mean, cruelty ridden, story that I truly wanted no part of. It damaged me in ways that most cannot comprehend or understand. I never thought I would be chosen to be the one to graphically illustrate that level of hatefulness. It was ugly, so ugly that it sucked all of the hope right out of me. In it’s place lived despair, hate, and a dogged determination to at least not let their suffering go unnoticed any longer. Back in those days, there was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. There were email, news papers and yahoo lists, and there were county fairs, and courthouses and fiscal court meetings with the good ole boys, who were running the county animal containment facilities. The ones doing the killing and hiding it.
Women involved in that change were portrayed as hysterical trouble makers, with no real evidence of wrong doing on the parts of these elected officials.
And then one day I had to take some trash to our local dump. That day changed the course of my life, dramatically. Its another story, for another day. I still have those photos, and they still make me gag. But thats the day, my Spiritual Photographic journey began. estill county 006
I didn’t know, that day, when I walked into that hell hole, that I was going to need to rediscover God, and his power. I didn’t know I would learn again to hit my knees and pray, and that I would see Miracles if I did. I had no clue the miracles I would see, and the depths of despair I would fall into. I had no idea that I would meet 2 other women who would help me rescue over 100 cats, 1 of which I still have, 17 years later.
I was ignorant, like the rest of the world, to the suffering going on in buildings just like this, all across the state of Kentucky, and our whole country. I didn’t know that it would leave me with PTSD so bad that I can’t go into a a facility and hear dogs barking without setting off a panic attack. I would learn to force myself to go in, get the shots and then leave, knowing I would not sleep for days after. I would learn to, be forced to take drugs to sleep. I had no clue that what my eye could see through the lens of that camera, would change my life so drastically, in such a short amount of time. I had no real idea that my photos would start a movement in an area of Kentucky, that had no forward movement in the realm of animal compassion, in the 50 years that containment facilities had been in existence.
All I saw, for many years was the ugly. I forgot how to see beauty. I spent years in that mire. It’s still a mired mess, but it is getting better. I helped create that forward movement, with my camera. There is a miracle there. You only had to be there, at the beginning, to know how far that movement has come. Others, much more equipped emotionally to deal with that level of stagnation, are doing it now. I had to go.
But that period, brought me to this period of time, where I see the cost of the investment God made in me, created by the gift of my “eye” to graphically illustrate His desire for me. Now its used to share His beauty. Its not of me. It’s an inherent part of me now, this need to record and share His miracles, but its not of me. Its a true blessing, and this gift is meant for sharing. Its meant to be used to show the world His smallest miracles, and His largest canvas.
His paintings.Cathedralrock1

Who else do you think could paint THIS?

I still do the rescue thing, and I still shoot what I can, when I do. The photos are poignant and compelling, still, but with a happier ending. IMG_1085goinghome

They still graphically illustrate the need for compassion, the need for help for those with no voice, and the Miracles that happen when all we have to do is share a photo.

before

Photo Courtesy: Mike’s Mobile Veterinary Service

Porter-Before

Porter was an almost impossible rescue. As a wolf\dog hybrid, most rescues recommend euthanasia. Dr Mike was the first one to say NO, thats not an acceptable alternative to living in abject neglect and cruelty. Someone else took the photos, and we shared the story. And Susan and her family have integrated Porter into their pack.
porter after

Porter- After

Photo Courtesy
Susan Vogt,
Porter’s savior.

This is an illustration of how well prayer, dedication to compassion and a refusal to follow the path of least resistance, results in the Miracle that has become Porter’s life. This is just one example of what happens when you hit your knees and pray for a miracle. Thats what I did. And shared his photo.
Today I entered one of my photos in a contest. The competition is called “Share Your Peace”.
I entered the photo I took of the pink moon in it. This photo graphically illustrates exactly the Miracles I refer to, and find in the viewfinder of my camera. I shot those photos and did not know there was a plane crossing that moon at the exact time I shot it. I had no clue. THAT was a gift from Him. I didn’t know it was pink, either. That was the second gift from Him, in a single photo. I did nothing to edit that photo, other than to add the words. Its straight off my camera, exactly how I shot it. So was this one…

Supermoon

Supermoon

These are the Lord’s compositions, I am simply the conveyor. I didn’t create them, He did. Its my passion to show you how the gifts He has for us all, are all around us. Its my greatest joy to share His palette, and His glorious artwork with you. I hope you will enjoy them too. Its a spiritual thing for me, now.                                         IMG_8548

He shows up, whenever I have my camera. And sometimes when I don’t! I have nothing to do with His creations, but He shares them with me, like this, all the time! I had to go get batteries to shoot this photo. But it waited until I got back, and then I got 3 shots and it disappeared. I guess His message was “I will wait, but only so long.”
And maybe to open my eyes too.

He brings me many beautiful sights, and spring must be His favorite color scheme because there are SO many! Just look at some of His colors!                                                                       _MG_6170

I hope you will enjoy the gifts He has share with us, on this Spiritual Photography journey with me. _MG_6171I don’t know if I have ever seen such vivid colors as His palette contains. Have you???
_MG_6168

Or such intricacy in design.

Miraculous!

On Anger…

I have been an angry person.
For many, many years.
I still get angry, but I am no longer living in that state.
Anger consumes and controls every aspect of your life.
From how you wear your makeup to the look on your face. It’s expelled in the inflection of every sentence you speak.
You don’t know it, but those around you sense the broiling mash just below the surface. Jealousy and anger are very close friends. They follow one another, and goad each other on until you are just an angry pot, constantly boiling.
Anger gives you no rest, it keeps your heart locked tight in your chest, the true you hidden and unavailable. It alienates you from those who love you. They have to step back or be swept into it and up by it’s tide of hate.I experience angry people every day. It’s hard not to get swept up in their tirades of hate, and their selfish hanging on to the hurts that made them angry in the first place. Anger becomes a habit, and then its embedded in everything you do. Work, family, friends, God. Punishment of the reason for the anger is another of anger’s bed partners. Vengeance, retaliation, revenge, those are all of angers friends. At the slightest provocation, slight, or misspoken thought or word, those ugly heads appear, driving that tightened chest full of anger.
My recent choice has been to dump that weight. Along with the weight of unforgiveness, and anger. I have forgiven those who have hurt and continue to hurt me. I can’t forget, but I can forgive. I can choose to limit my exposure.
I can choose to no longer be that angry person, living in that hateful boiling pot.
I can make a wonderful reentry in to the world of beauty that surrounds us. I can stop the self hating cycle that anger instigates. I can now step outside the selfish desire to hang on to those hurts and heal my heart enough to be the good, kind person I know myself to be. I am doing that. I have a strategic goal to stay away from angry people. No one can help them but themselves. And they have to be able to check out of the anger long enough to step back and take a good hard, long look at how its not only hurt them, but those who love them, too. Kind, generous people that carry anger in their persona, shelve the best qualities of their lives by unpacking the anger surrounding their hearts. My choice is to avoid them. They alienate me from them with that anger, and until its packed up, and put on the shelf, destined to burn itself out, my choice is to be around people with the kind, generous, loving qualities, plainly visible.
Yep, my heart stays on my sleeve. If you know that about me, and you understand what that means, then keep your criticism of that to yourself. If you know that about me, and your choice is to openly share your anger at that, stay in your angry, alone world. Dont come around me, don’t hurt me with your anger, hurts, and dissension. I no longer care about your reason for choosing to stay angry. It’s your choice, not mine. Its your hurt to find a way to forgive, not mine. Its my choice to live a peaceful, anger free, life. Don’t share your opinion of my sensitivity, I don’t care about your angry thoughts on that. I don’t want to know that you have an issue with it.
I don’t. I love that about me.
My sensitivity was a gift from God. Tell him how you feel about that.
Dont tell me I am too sensitive, there is no such thing. Only lack of it, can carry that “too”. Lacking it can be much more awful than too much of it.
Dont tell me how I have too much of it, because it brings that anger monster back to the surface of my heart, where its been sitting on that shelf waiting to die.
If you know that something thats going to come out of your heart and mouth, is going to hurt someone, shove it back there, and keep it away from me. I don’t need to know. And everything you think you need to say, to drive your point home, you really don’t have to say. Thats a choice too. Keep that trap shut. Learn to live without anger.
I am.
Thats my choice.
I will be happy, anger free, and I will live in my happy, anger free zone, surrounded by angry people because its my choice not be angry.
One day, I wont have to.
One day I will be able to live happily ever after, because thats God’s promise to me. He shows me signs every day. I see them, finally without the anger.IMG_8548

And I believe it.
Peace, People!