Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Joy

I just got an email from someone who read my blog. I'm sure they are worried about me. I wonder how many others have read it, that choose to not tell me? It is OK, I didn't write it for responses. I would be embarrassed if the world suddenly arrived on my doorstep to comfort me. I have to face the fact that the public, known and unknown, can read what I write on this not-so-private blog.

I carry myself through life with a smile and a lot of activities. I am sure no one looking can see that I have a dysfunctional family. I don't really talk about my children. What would I possibly say?

I am aware that I am not unhappy each hour of every day. I spend a lot time very satisfied with my life. My husband and I hike nearby trails with our dog, (see picture we took on our last hike), eat lunch at the new Chinese restaurant in town and visit friends often. I keep busy with my garden and planning new craft projects. I clip interesting magazine articles to examine later and surf the web and visit friends on Facebook.

I was just very aware that I was in a real funk the other day. I was compelled to share my funk on my blog. As a volunteer in Hospice, as a Long-Term-Care Ombudsman and tutoring foreign students, I know that it is important to share. It is important to reach out to find hope and it is important to check out ourself to see that we remain as healthy as we can both mentally and physically. It helps others that we are not perfect. It is hard to share our problems with someone who appears to have no problems of their own. I made myself vulnerable writing my blog the other day. It is a step making sure I keep my humanity and probably my humility.

So, to my world of blog readers, never fear. I am doing pretty good. I made 4 different cookies yesterday. I cleaned the refridgerator today and I plan to spend Christmas Eve with my husband enjoying a fire and knowing I have many blessings. My whole world cannot revolve around children who could care less. It is a sad reality that brings me to my knees at times, but it does not keep me from enjoying the good things I have in life.

  • I have a good husband who happens to be able to fix most anything!

  • I have a dog that might be bossy but she loves me well

  • I live in the most beautiful area of the United States

  • I never go without food or shelter

  • I am warm and toasty in my bed at night

  • I have good friends

  • I have family that loves me

  • I have a large garden that keeps me in wonder while keeping me busy

  • Our vehicles are running well and have decent gas milage.

What more can I really want? So, I have a couple kids who I would like to love me better, but I cannot control everything and I cannot have everything. Life is not always fair.

Christmas Eve will be tonight. It is time for cheer. I can feel it. I hope that all of you have the same. Let's count what is good and not dwell too much on what is bad. Know it is there. Recognize what it is. Do what you can to make it better, but dwelling on it too much just spoils your opportunity to feel the joy that certainly is out there for us all.

Happy Holidays to you and your families!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Sufferers Hold On

Christmas is upon us as a season where magic happens. People who never love suddenly find that they want to give love. They want to be loved. Is that love we need to hold and share shortwired to show up mostly at Christmas? Are we programed by our maker to realize if only for a short period that love is the most important thing we have in life?

We all have love problems. It is just a given that life is not always fair. Life has maybe more pain than good feelings for many of us. During Christmas time, a sudden urge comes to the surface to connect with those around us. We send out cards to people we haven't seen in years. We buy gifts for family, friends and neighbors. For one short period of time each year we are thrown into the reality of just what love we do have but also it is clear what love we do not have.

I understand why sucide is so often an act during the holiday season. That love we don't have looms over us like a deep black cloud with no possible light to break through. It becomes a blanket of pain we wrap ourselves into seeking comfort but only feel the loss more. Our loss is often because our loved ones have died. They are gone with no possibility to come back . Christmas hurts because of their parting. We may find comfort in what we believe about after life. We may not because we have lost that belief in our rage over being separated from those we love.

Rage often fills the void when there seems to be nothing else. My own mother found rage when my sister died suddenly. Her rage kept her alive. She would not give up the rage. It kept her breathing in and out. In the process, she lost family and friends who were assulted by this anger. She was comforted with her rage keeping the reality of the world at bay. She is in her 90's now 20 some years later, with that rage just under the surface not to be talked about or recognized. Rage is not socially acceptable, but it never the less lives within her.

I have a loss of family. I have witnessed rage as a war against loss with my mother. I do not want rage in my life. I find myself wading through a deep grief that seems to be a dark black cloud that has no end. I am a rational human being and I have love in my life. I will not find an easy way to rid myself of this black cloud. I have too much to live for to die easily. The black cloud will co-exist with the other parts of me. I don't think it will ever be wonderful again. Life will be made up of loss forever, but life will also be parts that are filled with joy and meaning. I will most likely find all holidays and celebrations covered with this black cloud. I will always miss the love I have lost. I will appear the person most people think I am. I will hold my black cloud close under wraps until the holiday passes. Sunshine will come with the pain of lost love tucked away where my mind doesn't go often. In a time when my guard is down, that cloud might oooze out for a few seconds, my throat will close up, tears come to my eyes but I will recover. It is just at holidays that the full force of loss is raging against all reason. I will be thinking of all loss that many of us have experienced. I will be thinking of sunshine for you. Sunshine if only for moments or two makes life worth living. Hold on fellow holiday sufferers. It will get better. Christmas is nearly gone! Love who you can. Love well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fractured Families for the Holidays

I'm feeling the Holiday Season full force today. I'm missing some of my family as I always do at times that traditionally speak family. I have two adult children , who do not visit me during holiday times. It isn't because I live too far away. It isn't simply because there is not enough time to travel. It is because they do not want to share the holiday with me. I know many fractured families exist. I know that I am not alone in feeling the loss more when a holiday approaches. The knowledge that I share this grief doesn't seem to make it any better, but I believe it has to help.

I'm writing this trying hard not to air my dirty laundry to the world, but still letting others know that I share their pain. I know what it is like to be more a bother than a loved one. I have no sage advice or clear idea of how to solve this syndrom of family undone. In our society, we have plural marriages, half siblings, parents living in separate cities and even states and countries. We have hurt children and lost connections littering our lives.

We have children of divorce that are unable to move forward from the pain their parents inflicted on them. I am sure that parents don't mean to hurt their children. I know I didn't want to hurt mine; yet managed to knife them so deep the wounds have never healed. I remember plotting and planning just when and how I would escape a bad marriage without hurting anyone. In the process, everyone was hurt no matter how I justified my decisions. I told myself that my children could never learn to respect me if I stayed in a marriage where I was a second-class partner with no rights. In fact, they still see me as the woman with no rights or rational thought. They see me and treat me much like their father did. I could not leave behind what I had already taught them so well.

For years, I fooled myself that I had escaped my fate. My children seemed to admire me, love me and even respect me. It was just foolishness on my part to believe it could be true. I think they were only trying to please me. It didn't take much to shatter the veneer that wrapped their true vision of me. When the crack appeared, I became much less important. My actions and beliefs were easily disrespected and I was delegated to be a second-class mother. I taught them well in their formative years what to think of me . What they experienced was true. It doesn't matter that I am no longer that same woman. They do not care to hear me protest.

I made mistakes along the way; which now have been strung up on a banner proving my lack of worth. We as parents only do the best with what we have. I was a fragil, weak woman with an over simplified view of life. I thought if you loved enough, tried enough and were good enough, life would end up fine. It takes so much more than that! Looking back, the most tragic mistake I made was to not stand up for myself early on. I should have stood up to the husband and then I should have stood up to my children. Love does not always win. You have to do what is the right thing to do. Tough love would have even been a good thing.

If someone is reading this today and knew me long ago, they would not recognize much of who I am today. My own children do not recognize who I am. I have a strong core of what I believe is the right thing to do. I make myself do what is right even when it is uncomfortable. I stand up for myself. I stand up for others. I am still kind. I still love well, but I have tempered this with a fierce fiber that I give myself no choice about. I smile to myself knowing I would die for some of what I believe. I have no doubt that some things in life can be that important. I know I put myself in danger of being hurt, unliked and sometimes shunned by my need to be a voice that will not be silenced. I don't have to think of what I will do in a situation where I see disrespect, unkindness and intolerance. I already know. I have already decided what I need to do.

So, holiday times can be tough when those you love choose to not be with you. I have friends and other family that love me. They share those times with me, but I miss those faces from my past. There are holes in my holidays that cannot be covered with cheer and laughter. I imagine there are many of us fighting back the tears that want to come by baking cookies for our neighbors, shopping for the less fortunate or like me creating one more craft that maybe I might send to a grandchild I never see.

It would be easier not to write this. I seldom let others peek into my reality of my fractured family. I don't want pity. I do feel an overwhelming need to share today for those others who have the same situation. They may feel like I often do that maybe this dirty laundry is just that and should be kept in a basket hidden from guest. Let it be known that there are many of us this holiday season trying hard to bury their pain from the view of others.

Give out hugs, good cheer and maybe share a story of imperfection of your own. All families are not perfect. Life is not always fair. Many of us want to know we are not alone.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Craft Creator in Progress 1 Christmas Card

I watched the movie, Julia Julia yesterday. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon; which made it one of those days to cover up with a blankie, settle in on the couch with the dog snuggled into the curves of my legs while watching a movie. First of all, I loved the movie. My husband kept passing it up on our Netflix streaming que thinking it was just about cooking. I knew better, so when he was busy watching a ball game in his "man" room, I turned it on.

It was so much more than about cooking. I have always admired Julia's cookbook finding it was true what she thought about butter. It makes everything taste good! It occurred to me that I could take a hint from this movie to jump start my life into a new direction.

I think I am going to finally become someone who creates beautiful crafts. I have dabbled in crafts and have created my fair share of projects, but the activity has always been secondary to most anything else. I have at least a dozen or so craft books, piles of torn out articles from magazines and drawers and containers of assorted materials and tools to create the crafts I have always intended to make.

I will make my crafts page after page of them; while actually using the supplies and tools lined up in labeled boxes in my craft closet; which takes up almost 20' of space along one wall. I even have an antique document chest with 20 or so large deep drawers full of beads, papers, glues, sparkles, inks, and much more! It is time. I have time. I have passion. I have supplies. I will create. Like in the movie, I will do a certain amount of crafts (she did recipes). I think 100 projects is a nice even number to start with. It will take me awhile, but I bet I can do it within a one year period. Maybe I will do more than one a day some days and then not do any for a week, but I will do 100 in total!

I can't promise to make every craft in every book. I don't even like some of the projects so why would I make them? I will go through my materials to accomplish the ones that speak to me. I will try hard to not purchase new supplies so that the boxes will empty and the drawers will rattle with unused space.

I will blog about each project letting my readers know just how I adapted something to fit my sense of design or fit my supply of product to use. It will be fun! I always do best when I have to be accountable and I will envision that I have masses of readers who follow each step of my urge to create. It doesn't matter if you really exist. It matters what I believe.

I'm not silly enough to believe Martha Stewart dreams up all the wonderful things she makes, but I will make her my mentor. She will be looking over my shoulder assessing my work driving me to pay attention to detail. I can be messy and get distracted easily. I will learn to focus to make Martha proud.

I will upload images of my work, list the supplies used and give pointers using the goof ups that I made to keep others from making the same mistakes. Get ready world. I will create. I will finish what I start. Also, friends and family, get ready to receive the best of what I make. I can't keep it all! My husband just asked me what I was going to get out of doing this. He is such a typical man with an engineering background. Must I have a result? The result is that I make 100 crafts learning new techniques, skills while having F U N. His next question is what I was going to do with what I make? He is so predictable! I will find homes even if I donate them to raise money for an organization. Maybe in another week or two, I will have that piece of the puzzel in place. I could sell the crafts and donate all the money to the local dog shelter or something like that. I could even include making dog coats; which I have always wanted to do and give them to cold dogs. Hey, don't get me started. I will find places for my crafts!

I started today by making a home-made Christmas card. It was simple one. Just listing the supplies down made me realize why I sometimes change my mind about making something. I had to get all these supplies out and ready to use! Whew.
  • White card stock
  • Hole Punch
  • Imagination Corner Cutter
  • Fiskars paper cutter
  • Small detail sissors
  • Scrap of Vellum paper
  • Page from a Christmas Carol Song Book
  • Few Inches of Cranberry Satin Ribbon
  • Rubber Stamp of Fir Tree
  • Rubber Stamp of word, "Holidays"
  • Rubber Stamp of Scroll Border
  • Memories Soft Vanilla Ink Pad
  • Shimmers Premium Iridescent Rose Ink Pad
  • Archival Ink Sepia
  • Yes All Purpose Stik Flat Glue
  • Martha Stewart Create permanent glue (I found at Walmart on Sale)
  • Gold Craft Glitter
Procedure to Make Card:

  • I cut the 8.5 x 11 inch card stock in half and then folded it to make the card

  • Cut the corners with the corner cutter

  • Tear the the edges from the Christmas Carol to fit on to the front of the card

  • Stamp the trees remembering that iridescent ink takes a long time to dry. Don't touch it too soon. I stamped a few on white card stock and a few onto the vellum scrap. (I save scraps of paper in a large plastic bag to use on future projects)

  • I punched holes on one edge of card weaving the ribbon in and out gluing the edges down.

  • Taking the Vanilla Ink and the scroll edge rubber stamp, I covered the front and inside of the card for a subtle background design

  • Taking hold of the Christmas Song, I rubbed the edges with the Sepia Ink using a foam brush. I also wrinkled up the Song then flattened out and lightly brushed the Sepia Ink over the top showing off the wrinkles.

  • I cut out the trees with the small detail sissors. I used the vellum trees as the top tree in two areas.

  • Glue the trees wherever you want them. I like a asymetrical design, but others must make even rows to be happy.

  • I had made some smudges with that iridescent ink, so I glued some sparkles on those areas to hide my mistakes and then added more because I liked the look.

First craft done. I have 99 left to do. Keep me company. Ask me questions and/or comments. You could even come out to do a few crafts together! How about a bird house making day before spring? Boy do I have some great supplies for bird houses!

We Welcome You to Our Blog!

We blog about our rural area in the Pacific Northwest . This blog is all about my life and the places where my mind wonders from day to day. Have fun reading and looking at pictures. We welcome comments.

Be sure to watch, just above this blurb, my husband, Jim, using his 10 foot hands-free electric fishing kayak


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Be sure to check out the separate blog to find out about our electric kayak, Kingfisher 10! You can find the blog at . You can also read the features list on this kayak and purchase building plans and building kits at .

About Me

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We moved to our current home on the Wild River Coast of Southern Oregon from San Jose, CA. Our family consist of Jim and Karen, two dogs and two cats. Karen's passion is gardening. Jim's obsession is building electric powered fishing kayaks and fishing.