There is a little girl
She lives on a ranch
with endless skies,
wide open spaces,
and her big sister Olivia.
Together they explore
all kinds of places
with so many animals
and things to do.
There are dogs that bark.
And cows that moo.
Kittens to hold and catch mice
and horny toads, too.
and bees buzz.
and turkeys gobble.
Of course, the horses say neigh.
Cottontail bunnies visit
and then hop away.
Scissortail flycatchers and robins—
what colorful eggs they lay!
On Allyson’s ranch,
it’s always a beautiful day!
And a BIG Happy Birthday to my most favorite four-year-old, my GREAT niece, Allyson Kate! She reminds me of the JOY to be found in small pleasures. The gorgeous photography featured is courtesy of Allyson’s Mom. Follow her Instagram @shesdoinok .
“I’m gonna fight ‘em all / A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back.”
The White Stripes
I’ve heard the White Stripes in my head this past week, and their words convey my attitude. As I leave my house each day for my morning walk, my posture and stride seem to say, “Do not get in my way because I will kick your ass.” And that’s how I’ve been making my way through recent days. I carry this mixture of fury and hope, this “I will spit in your eye” mindset along with “God, please help me and most of all please help Drew.” My friends and prayers keep carrying me like a gondola up the mental health mountain I face.
Drew came by our house yesterday morning. The morning sun backlit his silhouette as he unlocked the front door and stood at the threshold. His long curly hair stood on end. A white boy’s afro. He said he was going to use the restroom.
“Did you sleep at the group home last night?” I said.
“No, no,” he said, shaking his head. He proceeded to the bathroom where I heard the flush and then into the garage where I heard the buzz of a variable speed drill. Alone in the house, I decided to write this post.
If you happened to read my post about prayers and friends carrying me last week, you know my son Drew was in the behavioral health hospital. Hospitalization #6. After ten long years of battling paranoid schizophrenia. Drew still has good days. When he left with HPD for the hospital, I found crystal meth in his room. How long have I been finding meth in his room? Has it been two years? Did I ever find meth three years ago when we lived in the La Quinta after the hurricane? How many times have I thrown meth in the trash? Where does he get his money to buy? Is he selling it? Does he have a medication efficacy issue? Is meth or schizophrenia the larger problem? These questions beat me down. Who knows?
Anyway, Drew spent five good days at the hospital. I have no idea what they did for him because he is thirty years old, and HIPAA laws protect his privacy. Drew reports that nothing happened, which could be true or false. The hospital doctor determined he was good to go. No further treatment necessary. The problem is Drew’s behavior leading up to the hospitalization proved dangerous to himself and/or others. Over the past three years, his delusions have progressively worsened along with his reactions to what he hears and believes. His dad and I are not willing to have him in our home at this time, partly because of a police report filed by our neighbors that in part led to his hospitalization. His psychiatrist is aware and unhelpful. Hospitalization #6 was unhelpful. Drew agreed to stay in a group home following his discharge.
By the way in Texas, group homes are not accredited in any way. If I wanted to open a group home for mentally ill patients and feed them and oversee their medication, I could—TOMORROW. IF. If you want to make some money, or at least have someone else pay your mortgage, move to Texas, open a group home, call psychiatric hospitals, and let them know you are open for business. From what I understand, it doesn’t take much more than that. Also, Texas ranks near the bottom of our fifty states for mental health expenditures per capita. Go figure. Should we move?
A Mr. Taylor drove Drew from the hospital to the God’s People group home where Drew called an Uber and returned home to pick up clothes and his car. His car that he had been using as his personal trash can. The same car I had removed trash from little by little—four full kitchen trash bags of McDonald’s trash, two uneaten apple pies and an empty sardine can, seemingly unending soda bottles and cans, empty American Spirit cigarette packs and cigarette butts everywhere—all kinds of empty cardboard box recycling—from a Ryobi Variable Speed Drill to a floor lamp, a Kobalt Retractable Hose Reel with Hose, a DeWalt Heavy-Duty Electric Wheeled Portable Compressor, and sex toys. Oh, and laundry, lots of dirty laundry. Some of which went straight to the trash. Some of which I’m airing now. Again I ask, where in the world is Drew getting this money? Have I been burying my head in the sand? All I know is that I have done the best I can. There is NO REASONING with mental illness, and NO ONE seems to want to help. Oh, unless, we happened to be millionaires. We MIGHT get some help that way. By the way if you Google God’s People in Houston, you won’t find anything. When I type the address into Google maps, I see the location of this group home in a one-story house in a residential neighborhood, likely three bedrooms and two baths.
So—after being released on Thursday, Drew didn’t spend Thursday or Friday night at the group home. However, he had been in contact with me by phone, and he was okay. He said, “I’m at a friend’s.”
“Are you planning to go back to the home?” I said.
“Yes,” he said. Drew is good at telling me what I want to hear. Like when I say, “Will you take a shower?” or “Will you take a trashbag and clean all of the trash out of your room?” I repeat the same question for his car. His response—always the same. Years and years of yesses. How are we supposed to help? By telling him he can no long live with us? By towing and selling his trashed out, torn up, paid for 2010 Honda Accord? I’m tired, and I’m trying to live my own best life despite challenges. How do you help someone who doesn’t want to help himself?
Mr. Taylor says he will let me know if Drew shows up, and for my own mental health I drive to the beach on Saturday. Drew makes a Saturday group home appearance—forty-eight hours after his hospital release. Mr. Taylor texts me about his arrival, and stupidly we pay a pro-rated fee for September housing. I say stupidly because Drew is at home when I return from the beach. He has eaten the leftover pizza, and I am thankful for his nourishment. We have a peaceful conversation about his aquarium and the fish he has recently purchased for his bedroom, and I am thankful for the calm. Drew says, “Their names are Patches and Duke and Catfishy.”
I say, “I named them Tom, Dick, and Harry.”
“Those are terrible names,” he says, and I am thankful for the laughs. Then, he leaves for the night.
Do you remember where this started?
Drew came by yesterday morning. The morning sun backlit his silhouette as he unlocked the front door and stood at the threshold. His long curly hair stood on end. A white boy’s afro. He said he was going to use the restroom.
“Did you sleep at the group home last night?” I said.
“No, no,” he said, shaking his head. He proceeded to the bathroom where I heard the flush and then into the garage where I heard the buzz of a variable speed drill. I would’ve thought the noise a buzz saw if I hadn’t found the cardboard box for the drill in his car. Alone in the house, husband out of town, I decided to write this post. Drew was gone within the hour.
Drew probably slept in his car last night. Possibly for the last four nights. If he’s lucky, he has a friend. Officially this means Drew is homeless. AND THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH MENTAL HEALTH IN THE GREAT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (and exactly why I want to kick somebody’s ass).
Mid-rage, I stumbled onto Perth Girl’s Saturday post. It begins, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).
Perth Girl wraps it up by saying, “Be still, my friend, be still. Let the Lord be your shield and your sword. Let Him be your rock and your shelter. Be still and surrender to Him, leave room for God to work, let Him fight for you.”
Then I went to church at Chase Oaks online, and the service ended with this song. Do I hear God’s voice?
And so, as I attempt to re-make my own Monday, to re-make my own week, my own life, today, I choose to let the Lord fight my battles, to be still and surrender, to let go and let God. Oh, and I do have one phone call to make—to a church that can potentially help me. That might not happen today. 🙏🏻
“And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time/’Till touch down brings me round again to find/I’m not the [wo]man they think I am at home/Oh no no no I’m a rocket [wo]man…”
Today, I hear Elton John’s “Rocketman” in my head. As I launch into a new semester, I know I’ll be spending a long, long time—not in outer space—but in that space between my ears. It’s weird. To think how often I feel a disconnect between the person I am outside of my head and the person I am inside my head, or even a difference between the person I am outside of my home and the person I am inside my home. All I know for sure is that I’m on a journey to be—my best me. That’s my goal. And each day I just try to be better than the person I was yesterday. So I’m a student, with a May 2021 graduation date, advancing confidently in the direction of my dreams, endeavoring to live the life I have imagined for myself, and meeting with a success unexpected in common hours. Thanks for the inspiration, Henry David.
Speaking of inspiration, did you know that Ray Bradbury’s 1950s short story “The Rocket Man” inspired the lyrics of Elton John’s 1970s song? Both are stories of an astronaut torn between his family and his mission into space. I just love how creativity sparks creativity. How a story can be re-made into a song, which can be re-made into another song. How a person’s story can morph from elements of doubt to faith, ingratitude to thankfulness, anxiety to peace, despair to hope, selfishness to generosity, ignorance to knowledge, weakness to strength, anger to kindness, grudges to forgiveness, sadness to joy, hate to love. Need I go on? Isn’t that amazing? How we can re-make it all!!
Speaking of re-makes, here’s a fun 2013 bluegrass cover by Iron Man with some pretty awesome banjo!
She felt everything deeply, this girl named Blue. She was a mystery to many, her best friends deep and true.
When her eyes shimmered in fury, to her private garden she withdrew. Honeysuckle hung thick on vines, in the bed daisies grew, on picket fences roses climbed, she breathed in gratitude.
Full on she faced the golden sun hung high in the azure sky. She said, “I feel you, Dear One, Be well. Love and peace unto you.”
This post brought to you by the capital letters T and Y, a big THANK YOU for my lovely friend Barbara @ https://altairtheatre.com. One day I will meet her in Barcelona for sangria and tapas and a tour of the Sagrada Familia, and travel to her home in the south of France, and visit her theatre, and dance on the stage, and breathe in gratitude for the deep sapphire blue of the Mediterranean Sea. I believe this, and so it is true. I’m completely humbled by her friendship and two gifts—the Mystery Blogger Award and the Original Outstanding Award. Hopefully, A Girl Named Blue answered her questions. I helped out a bit below.
• If you were a color, which one would you choose?
• What’s your favorite smell?
• Which movie character would you have liked to be? Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter series. For books and cleverness, borderline genius, and of course, magic. If I were magic, my signature superpower would be healing.
• What do you do when you are angry?
• What is so mysterious about you? If I told you, it wouldn’t be a mystery.
• Do you like mysteries? Of course. Life is a mystery, and so are people, until they let you in.
Thank you for being here today. Let’s face it. Without readers, this blogging gig might just fizzle out. I’m humbled by those of you who return time and time again, and especially by those who award me with some extra recognition and pass my site along to others. Rhonda, Bryan, Greg, and Brother John Mark, thanks for the support from the bottom of my heart.
Rhonda asked, and I linked a few (okay, a lot) of my answers to previous posts…
What is the last book you read? Kafka on the Shore. (This is actually not true, but I did finish this book in July and loved it so much that I blogged about it. The last book I read was Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, a memoir that I also LOVED and would call a must-read. However, I’m realizing this is also a false statement because in the next couple of days I also finished How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry and Staying Alive, Real Poems for Unreal Times, and I forget in which order. All for summer school).
What is the next book you are going to read? Black Zodiac by Charles Wright
What are your favorite genres to read? Memoir and historical fiction
What is the last song you played on your preferred listening device? Tainted Love by Imelda May
Who when and where is the last live music concert you attended and where? Matt and Kim, on my anniversary 11/11/19, in Dallas
You can only take 5 albums with you into quarantine, which ones do you choose? I just need YouTube.
Once travel restrictions due to COVID-19 allow travel, where is the first place you want to visit? My mother in her nursing home back in Oklahoma, but I do have a trip planned to Telluride, CO.
What is your favorite verse in the New Testament? “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Or “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).
What is your favorite verse in the Old Testament? “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
What day of the week you spend hours in meeting the Lord? More on Sundays, but I try to say a daily thank you.
If you made it to this point, thanks again for reading! If you clicked on any of my links to past posts, I hope you found something that spoke to your heart. If you have extra time, please check out Rhonda, Bryan, Greg, and Brother John Mark.
The Sun Never Says by Hafiz
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.
Back in April when I rose to the challenge of blogging twenty-six posts from A to Z, I received a couple of awards from bloggers who showed up almost daily to read my work. I’m sure that Bridget and Eliza have more to do than read my blog every day, but there they were, tapping that little blue star and leaving me nice little notes. However, not only did they support me by reading, they passed my name and website along to others. One thing I’ve noticed about this blogging world is the kindness of others. I’ve met so many people who stop to straighten my crown and leave sunshine in their wakes.
Bridget A. Thomas is a Christian author who turns her dreams over to God, lets him work it out, and inspires others to do the same. She nominated me for the Fix Her Crown Award. It’s an award for women who lend a helping hand to other women whose crowns seem too heavy, who appreciate the sister who dares to be her own glorious self, who raise strong young women, who smile at the sister journeying alone and walk beside her for a time, who stand with the sister whose crown has been knocked off her head time after time, and who shine as their own beautifully unique selves. Thank you, Bridget! I’m completely humbled by that description!!
Eliza is a twenty-something blogger-friend who reminds me of my daughter and most often writes about gratitude and mental health. Her posts spread glitter, love, and light, and I always appreciate her perspective. She nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award and grouped me with others she called inspirational, calming, and gorgeous for taking time to read and respond to her posts. Eliza, you’re a doll! How could I not rise to the challenge of paying it forward?
As for me, I’m going on three years of catapulting my ideas into the blogosphere, but I still remember what it was like in the beginning to have like three followers and no idea how to find other good blogs. [Stage left. Enter the awards.] The awards, no matter which one, are all about promoting other bloggers’ blogs and helping them be part of the community. In no way would I want to add pressure for someone to respond, so I’m not posting any rules to follow or questions to answer, just non-gender-specific blogs that I love and haven’t had the opportunity to mention until now. By the way, it’s so hard to narrow down my list, and because I received two nominations for two awards, I’m combining the love into two brand-new awards. Drumroll please. And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for—the winners of the Somebody Loves Your Blog Award:
All Things Thriller indulges Pamela Lowe Saldana’s love of film, music, and literature. A DJ by profession, she draws inspiration from her west Texas roots and true crimes.
ALTAIR 5G Theatre: During this quarantine time when I’ve overextended my capacity for television and even reading, I look to my French friend’s site for virtual culture: orchestra, opera, tango, street dancing, just to name a few.
The Art of Becoming a Wildflower: Jerry Snider has a gift for telling the simplest of stories that make me laugh out loud and think for a while. His children’s book Buddy Bloom Wildflower follows the life of a lost seed who only wants to become a flower.
Fear-and-Hope.com is the newbiest (is that a word?) blog on my list. Meet my cousin. She is a 42-year veteran teacher who dedicates her life to students with social, emotional, behavioral, and academic weaknesses. God bless her, and please give her a follow!
KA (Allan) Gould at PhotoblographyToo is a retired Canadian just living his best life, through photography, gardening, cycling, skiing, and traveling. Just this year, I’ve traveled with him to Banff National Park, Vancouver, and Ireland.
London Life with Liz, as the site title suggests, covers all-things-London from literature to pop culture, history to politics, and so much more. I don’t know if Liz has ever taught school, but I always walk away from her posts having learned something fascinating.
Priscilla Bettis has led the life of an engineering physicist and a swim team coach, and she aspires to be a horror novelist. One of my favorite posts is her beautiful tribute R.I.P. Daddy.
The Thought Badger hails from the UK, marries photography with the written word and shows how our experiences with animals have the power to make thoughts happen.
Geez, it seems my list could go on and on, but it wouldn’t be a true award show without thanking a few more authors who have been so kind to support me here on WordPress as well as on Twitter (even though my Twitter game lacks). And now for the Outstanding Supporter Awards: Jean Lee (young adult fantasy, fierce heroines, and storytelling strategy), Melissa Henderson (children’s books and Christian themes), Mark Bierman (action and adventure, fiction and non), Alaedin Fazel, (psychology, philosophy, family, and culture) and Freya Pickard (poetry, epic fantasies, and tales of passion). Thank you all, sincerely.
What have I learned in three years about growing a blog? Well, just like a garden, growth requires nurturing. Back in April I saw that if I build it, they will come, and if I build relationships (reading other blogs and interacting), they will stay. Interesting how relationships work that way. This April I had more traffic to my site than in my entire first full year of blogging, and that’s because I posted 26 times in April 2020 and 29 times in all of 2018. Now for me, posting almost every day is like a no-income job. I need more balance between my everyday and online lives. But can I post more than twice a month? Yes. Twice a month was my personal commitment back in the beginning, September of 2017 when I taught full-time, lived in a hotel for ten months, and oversaw a home re-build. In the month of May 2020, I posted six times, and that felt pretty natural and doable. Have I grown as a writer? I think so. And guess what? May was my second most successful blogging month ever.
120 posts later, I’ve been practicing, and I feel like a winner today. The blogging rewards are rich, and the awards are awesome, too. Thank you, Bridget! Thank you, Eliza! Thank you, dear reader, for visiting my blog, supporting me, and checking out a few of my friends!
What is Zen? According to the Zen Studies Society, Zen is “vast and boundless, far more than the rational mind can grasp. Just breathe in with full awareness. Taste the breath. Appreciate it fully. Now breathe out, slowly, with equal appreciation. Give it all away; hold onto nothing. Breathe in with gratitude; breathe out with love. Receiving and offering—this is what we are doing each time we inhale and exhale. To do so with conscious awareness, on a regular basis, is the transformative practice we call Zen.”
Recently I stumbled upon an Oprah Winfrey “Super Soul Sunday” episode with Thich Nhat Hanh, a legendary author, peace activist, and Zen Buddhist Monk. Between current Netflix binges, I urge you to take twenty minutes for his powerful message on listening with compassion and transforming relationships.
Insightful and deep, Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of four little conversational mantras that make a big difference:
Mantra #1: Darling, I’m here for you.
Mantra #2: Darling, I know you are there.
Mantra #3: Darling, I know you suffer. That is why I’m here for you.
Mantra #4: Darling, I suffer. I’m trying my best to practice. Please help me.
First off, I didn’t grow up in Oklahoma saying, “Y’all.” I grew up saying, “You guys!” Y’all is very Texan. Correct me if you are from another state that says, “Y’all.” However, as I’ve lived in Texas for twenty-six years, I now find myself saying “Ya’ll,” (occasionally) especially when I need more than one person’s attention or when frustrations follow.
I wanted to write about YouTube today because YouTube starts with Y. I listen to music through my headphones everyday for an hour or so while I walk in the mornings and then often in the evenings accompanied by wine and Kody. Life goes on with music and YouTube.
Then a couple of days ago as I wrote W is for Walk on the Wild Side, my laptop crashed, as in, my hard drive crashed. I felt like a complete idiot for not backing up my work—my writing for school this semester is possibly gone. Life almost did not go on. Thank God for my iPhone! But do you know who is a computer genius? Kody. Thank God for Kody! He has ordered my new hard drive and will install, Y’all!
I hate to even whine with the world-wide economic downturn, and I hate to add gloom to the current doom. I’m straddling the line of guilt and gratitude for housing and income, for food and cars, and for our needs being met. We have the means for a solution to the laptop problem. It’s possible that I have lost some of my work, but I’ve lost things before, and life moves on.
Anyway, I’m not sure what I would’ve said about YouTube except for that I find balance in the music just as I find balance in writing and walking.
Speaking of walks, I like to start at a brisk pace to get the ol’ heart rate up. Over the course of an hour, my music slows down along with my feet, and the tunes become progressively girlier. If you happen to be following, you might even hear me singing or notice the occasional melodramatic hand gesture as my feet hit the pavement. Anyone care for my playlist?
“New Breed” by James BKS featuring Q-Tip, Idris Elba, and Little Simz
“Lose Control” by Meduza, Becky Hill, and Goodboys
“Hideaway” by Kiesza
“All About that Bass” by Postmodern Julebox
“Crazy” by Angela Ricci
“Hit the Road Jack” by Becca Krueger
And the cool thing about YouTube is how it takes your requests and follows them with other songs you might like. Sometimes our evenings are hip-hoppier or more alternative or more Americana folk. Sometimes Kody chooses and then I choose, and we go back and forth like that. It’s called balance, Y’all.
This is my second to last A-Z blogging challenge post. Let’s Z what I can conjure up for tomorrow. The rest can be found here in case Y’all want more: