A to Z – The ABC’s of Me: G

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This is my seventh year of participation in the A to Z Challenge. My intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better!

Whew, with today’s post we’ve made it through the first week of the A-Z, congratulations to everyone who is participating, and thanks to those who are following along and reading what we share!

My G post is going to be about Germany, as it relates to one of the chapters of my life…

The summer of 1976 found me married, and the mother of one year old daughter.  We had recently moved from South Dakota, where I was born and raised, to Denver, Colorado. My husband (the first one) had recently graduated from college and had received a scholarship to attend the Denver Theological Seminary.  That subject is a story for another time. 🙂  We were living in student housing and I found work as a receptionist with a Cardiology group in downtown Denver.  Things weren’t going well for my husband despite his genius IQ,  and there was more trouble brewing than I was fully aware of at the time.

One day in early Fall my husband came home and announced that he had enlisted in the Army and would be leaving for Basic Training in a couple days! There had been no previous mention or discussion of this subject, ever.  I was stunned to say the least. We packed up our things and my daughter and I returned home to South Dakota to stay with my parents until he completed Basic Training.  We then joined him to Indianapolis while he completed his Advanced Training.

When my husband finished AIT he was assigned to Wiley Kaserne, a US Army post near the city of Ulm in West Germany.  Again, my daughter and I returned home to my parents to wait until we could join him.  During this time I also suffered an early-pregnancy miscarriage.  I mourned alone; my father told me it was a good thing because we couldn’t afford another child anyway. Wow, just wow.

In April of 1997 my daughter and I flew from Minneapolis to Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany where he met us.  I had never flown before, much less been in a major airport terminal like O’Hare, it was stressful to say the least, and a long flight with a two-year old child, but we arrived there safely without any problems.

From Frankfurt my husband drove us to Bavaria to the city of Ulm on the Danube River, and then to the apartment in a high rise in the nearby small town of Ay which was to be our home for the next two and a half years.

Living in Germany was the experience of a lifetime in so many ways.  Southern Germany is lush green and beautiful, the people are friendly, and there is much to see.  Everything was kept spotlessly clean, even public restrooms in places like railway stations.  Three of my four grandparents are of German ancestry, and living there gave me so much more insight into the culture and why my grandmother and father were the way the were.

While living there, life with my husband became more and more bizarre until it finally reached the breaking point for reasons I may talk about when I get to the letter “eX” and he moved out.  I ended up meeting the man, also in the Army, who was to become husband number two and my son’s father.

We flew back to the USA to get married in Pennsylvania where his family lived very shortly after my first divorce was finalized, and then returned to Germany. I knew marrying him was a mistake even as I did it, and I think he did too, but I didn’t see any other options and had nowhere else to go. I am none the less so grateful for the amazing son that came from that union.  (William) Ian was born at the military hospital in Augsburg, Germany in July of 1979, and held dual German and American citizenship until he turned eighteen.  We returned to the United States three months later, in October, and after a short visit with my parents, both children and I relocated to Augusta, Georgia where he was then stationed. Life wasn’t great there, it was hot and humid, and I was miserable in a very difficult relationship where the presence of love was questionable. I will pick up the story from that point on another day.

As far as Germany goes, I was ever so happy to finally be back home on American soil again, I nearly kissed the ground when the plane carrying military members and their families landed!  Having the opportunity to lives somewhere else is eye opening, fascinating, and educational.  It also makes you appreciate what you have at home.

In Germany, at least at that point (and it was still West Germany back then, a country divided), if arrested you were guilty until proven innocent, an interesting concept that seemed to be a better deterrent to crime than what we have here.

The beer and wine festivals were fun, the food was excellent, the huge old protestant cathedral, The Muenster, downtown was incredibly beautiful, Christmas was magical, and the many day trips we took were like walking through the pages of history books. Most young people spoke English fairly well, and I learned to speak enough German to communicate on about the level of a four year old, and managed to get by.  I would love to return there someday for a visit, to see how much is the same what has changed.

Have you ever visited or lived in a foreign country? 

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Links to all of my 2018 A-Z Posts:

A to Z – The ABC’s of Me: F

F

This is my seventh year of participation in the A to Z Challenge. My  intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better!

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about twelve years ago. It is one of those diseases that other people can’t see and often don’t understand.  It causes me a lot of soreness and pain, and ever-present fatigue; but I am one of the lucky ones for whom it is not so severe as to be disabling.  Stress is one of the biggest triggers of a flare for me; if something really upsets me, it is almost guaranteed that I will spend the next few days feeling like I have the flu. At this stage, I decline prescription medications for it because I don’t like the risk of serious side effects.

Along with the Fibro, I have arthritis in my hands and knees and issues with my lower spine, so standing or walking for extended periods of time is painful;  climbing stairs is difficult, and getting down on my hands and knees to clean is impossible. Still, considering my age, I am relatively healthy. Not surprisingly, my blood pressure returned to normal when I quit working. :-))

Faith is the most important thing in my life, without it I would be lost!  I was raised in the Lutheran church, but consider myself a non-denominational Christian now, and I also embrace some of the beliefs from other world faiths. I believe that we all come from the same Creator and return to the realm of Spirit when we leave this earth.

There were years in my young adult life, and again later as an adult when I rebelled against God entirely.  I was angry and I didn’t see how there could be any God when there was so much hurt and suffering in the world.  The more people tried to preach religion to me, the further I pushed them away.  What I didn’t realize at that time, was that I was also shutting God out of my life, but He hadn’t left me for even a minute.

For a few years in my early twenties I was a member of a religious group that was considered a cult by many.  The tenants of their faith represented many of the things I di and still do believe in.  This caused no end of issues with my parents.  But at one point I finally decided there were things connected with that group and some of its followers that I couldn’t sanction, so I left it… after being warned by group leaders that I was surely resigning myself to damnation for doing so.  Scary stuff.

In my late thirties I went through some things that caused me to re-evaluate my position on being an atheist. I can tell you that life without faith is a life without order, purpose, or hope… and it’s a very scary place to dwell. Thanks to a couple wonderful friends who didn’t preach but rather exemplified the teaching of Christ in their lives, I relinquished my stubborn rebellion and gave my life back to God.  I’ve never questioned or waivered on that since, and I know I never will.  Faith gets me through each day, and prayer is my ever present connection.  I know that prayer works… I see evidence of it every day in my life!  You won’t often see me preaching on my blog, but you will hear me talking about the role faith plays in my life, I am so, so very thankful that I finally understand!

One last F-word I’d like to share about myself.  No, not that f-word, I detest the use of it as a part of everyday speech and the need some people seem to have to include it in every sentence.  To me that shows a lack of intelligence and education, find better words to express yourself!

Anyway, I digress… the f-word I wanted to share is my life long tendency to neglect to follow through on things I start or good intentions.  It is said that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and if that’s the case I have surely paved many miles of it! My mind continually thinks of things I’d like to do, good things, nice things, helpful things… and yet it seems hard for me to actually put that in motion and just DO IT!

The same goes for following through and finishing things that I start.  I could be a poster child for Adult ADD.  I start something and quickly lose interest or get distracted by something else.  I have to really work to stay focused on a project or complete a plan.

Letting things fall by the wayside is not something I proud of, and I am trying to do better. I have also learned to take on less, because if I feel overwhelmed by things to do it is sure to result in me shutting down and doing nothing productive at all.

As I note frequently, I am a work in progress and I will be ’til the day I die, but I am better than I used to be! 🙂

Does faith play a role in your life? Are you good about finishing things you start? 

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Links to my previous 2018 A-Z Posts:

A to Z – The ABC’s of Me: E

 

E

This is my seventh year of participation in the A to Z Challenge. My  intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better!

For much of my adult life I was an enabler, someone who encouraged and supported the negative and often self-destructive behavior of people around me, even when I knew what they were doing wasn’t right, not good for them and not good for me to be a part of.  I have a caretaker personality, and if these poor misguided souls needed someone to understand and put up with their behavior, they found a friend in me.  I think back on some of those relationships and wonder why I allowed myself to be taken advantage of like that. Obviously it stems from low self-esteem and the belief that I needed to hang on to relationships at any cost, no matter what that required of me, all the while convincing myself that I was helping them with my emotional and sometimes financial support.

As an example, I financially supported a spouse that couldn’t hold a job due to drug issues and irresponsibility, yet when he did have a job, any extra money he made was spent by him on him with no thought to what I had sacrificed in the interim.  I helped another friend, an alcoholic who chose to feed his addiction rather than embrace sobriety, hold onto his job long after I should have stopped.  I have also enabled people’s bad treatment of me by allowing it, and accepting excuses for it.

I didn’t know what enabling was back then; I didn’t realize that I was actually hindering, rather than helping, their spiritual evolution.  There are consequences to our choices, and if we never have to face them we don’t learn to choose more wisely.

I have always been an encourager… cheering for others to succeed, wanting us all to win at life. Once I figured out the difference between enabling and encouraging I gave up the former and embraced the latter in a more positive light. I want to reach out, encourage, uplift. I want to help others to find their path (not mine), and find hope and meaning in their lives.

I believe that we are each endowed with gifts from our Creator, things that we are good at, things He wants us to be and do… our purpose in life, our reason for being here.  I learned a long time ago that my purpose is to be an encourager… to offer a smile, a hug, a kind word, a bit of hope on a dark day. When I am in this mode I feel fulfilled and happy.  This is when I am at my best.

I have to admit that I don’t always succeed at encouraging.  Sometimes I miss an opportunity or fail to see that someone is struggling. Sometimes I get caught up in my own issues and emotional scars, and say or do the wrong thing.  Sometimes I get defensive when no harm was intended.  I am human, and so very far from perfect, but on the days when I am able to connect with someone else and help make their day just a little bit better, or encourage them to take the next step on their journey, or cheer for them when they do , I know that I am doing what I was meant to do, and it feels good!

I think we all have within us the power to be encouragers, as the Ram Dass quote on my sidebar says “We’re all just walking each other home.” We should do that with love!

Can you think of a time in your life when someone’s encouragement made a difference? 

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Links to my previous 2018 A-Z Posts:

A to Z – The ABC’s of Me: D

D

This is my seventh year of participation in the A to Z Challenge. My  intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better!

The D words I’m going to talk about today are domestic abuse and divorce; for me the two go hand in hand.

I have been divorced three times. (Yes, that’s a lot.) I married for the first time when I was twenty, it lasted for five years. My second marriage lasted about ten, and my third about thirteen years. The exact dates and time frames are unclear to me now, it feels like these marriages were in entirely different lifetimes, and in some ways they were.

I have been married to Papa Bear for almost ten years now, and anyone who has read my blog knows that God saved the very best for last, a true knight in shining armor when I would value him the most!

I want to clarify that I believe in marriage and commitment even though my track record doesn’t appear to reflect that. I stayed in each of those marriages as long as I did because I tried everything I knew to make them work, I wanted them to be forever. Yet the truth is that it takes two to make a marriage work, a one-winged bird can’t fly, and there are situations where to continue on becomes destructive and potentially deadly.

My first three marriages are amazingly similar in some aspects… bad choices on my part led to very difficult marriages which became abusive relationships. I take full responsibility for those choices, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. There are good things that came from the first and second ones though, my daughter and my son, and I would go through it all again just to have them in my life. They have both grown up to be amazing adults and, along with Papa Bear,  my best friends and supporters. I will talk more about my exes when we get to the letter X (yes, that’s cheating… my blog… my rules. :-))

What I want to talk about today is domestic abuse, how it worms its way into a troubled relationship, and sneaks up on you bit by bit until as one friend put it to me bluntly “You think your life is normal; you’ve lived this way so long  that you think everybody lives like this. You don’t even know what normal is anymore.” And he was right, I had grown used to living in hell, and I was too worn out and defeated to even fight it anymore. People often ask why victims of abuse don’t just leave, but it’s so much more complicated than that. Thinking back now, I am amazed that I survived and that I didn’t kill myself when at times I really wanted to. Apparently my survival instinct is a lot stronger than I knew.

While the physical abuse I experienced was minimal compared to what many have, the emotional/psychological abuse was a nightmare. By the end of the third marriage I was so broken that I hardly even knew who I was anymore, and I wondered if maybe all the bad things they said about me was true. Thank God, with the help of my daughter, I was able to free myself from that situation, and at the end of 2006 I began picking up the pieces to build a new life on my own.

Admittedly, I carry many invisible scars from those years, but because of those experiences I have learned and I have grown tremendously. I am a proud survivor, and even more than that, I have overcome… I love myself now, and I love my life!  🙂

This is an excellent article on domestic abuse.  Even if you think you know everything there is to know about it, I urge your to read it. You may learn something new that just might save a life… maybe your own. https://helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm

Do you know someone who is a domestic abuse survivor? 

Note: Please bear with me as I scramble to catch up with your A-Z posts now that I am back up and running here.  This didn’t start out nearly as smoothly as I’d planned!  I will be around to visit everyone within the next couple days and I can’t wait to see what you’re sharing! 🙂

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Links to my previous 2018 A-Z Posts:

A to Z – The ABC’s of Me: C

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This is my seventh year of participation in the A to Z Challenge. My  intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better!

Apparently C should be for cantankerous, though it wasn’t my initial plan.  Both my tablet and my older laptop decided to be cantankerous (as in uncooperative) this week, and yesterday found me unable to keep either one powered up long enough to write a post or even read and comment.

Today I surrendered to the need for updated tech toys and accepted my son and daughter’s offer of a new notebook as an early Mother’s Day gift. Found a great one at a perfect price at Best Buy, and I’m up and running again!

Being honest, cantankerous would also be an apt choice for me at times, and not just yesterday or today.  I can be argumentative, especially if I am frustrated or I feel like someone is not understanding what I’m saying.  I tend to blow off steam, and then quickly get over it, sometimes leaving ruffled feathers in my wake.  I own it, and I’m working on it; it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to.

My original choice for the letter C was an obvious one… cats! Speaking of cantankerous and cats, I once wrote a fun little limerick that comes to mind…

Carlos the cantankerous cat
Would bite at the drop of a hat
When folks tried to pet him
He’d turn round and get them
He relished his role as a brat

I have been in love with cats since I was a very small girl living in an old farmhouse, I was fascinated with the barn cats, especially the mama cats with their kittens!  From time to time we had a housecat when I was growing up, though my father much preferred we didn’t.

As an adult, I’ve had cats every time I’ve lived somewhere it was possible. Both of my children have grown up to love cats as well, and my daughter has three of her own.  Papa Bear loves cats too, before I knew him he had one that lived to be twenty years old, which is highly unusual for an indoor/outdoor cat.

We presently have five cats, they are inside-only cats due to the coyotes and dogs that run loose out here in the country.  You can see their photos in the sidebar. They range in age from Smoky who is 2 years to Sophie who will turn 15 this year.  They all get along fine. Toby and Smoky, are wrestling buddies every morning! Sophie is the matriarch and they usually defer to her, even though she is small and a featherweight.

Three of them are rescue cats, while Tiggy and Gracie are littermates we kept from a mama cat we rescued.  I am an advocate for adopting animals rather than shopping for them, so many desperately need homes and make wonderful companions!  My fantasy job would be to operate a sanctuary for senior cats.

Papa Bear and I talk often about how much love and laughter our furkids add to our house with their antics, not to mention lots of floating fur, especially with four of them being long-haired!  If you come here wearing dark clothes, you will go home looking furry, no matter how hard I try to keep up with it! 🙂

Do you like cats and/or dogs? Do you have any pets in your home now? Do you ever have days when you feel cantankerous?

Note: Please bear with me as I scramble to catch up with your A-Z posts now that I am back up and running here.  This didn’t start out nearly as smoothly as I’d planned!  I will be around to visit everyone within the next couple days and I can’t wait to see what you’re sharing! 🙂

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Links to my previous 2018 A-Z Posts:

A to Z – The ABC’s of Me: B

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This is my seventh year of participation in the A to Z Challenge. My  intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better!

B – I’ve known a few of those along the way; I’ve been one a time or two, too! 😉 But by far the most important “B” in my life, the one having the biggest impact, is blogging.

I began my first blog on August 21, 2006, over eleven years ago, and named it “A Piece of My Mind.” I had recently discovered blogging after reading an article by Dana Lonehill which referenced her blog.  After looking at her blog I was fascinated by this amazing new way of communicating with people. I had to try it, an online page of my very own!

At that time I was living with my then-husband of thirteen years in rural New Mexico, commuting to work in town each day, and spending long, lonely hours alone at home as he was gone most of the time working in the oilfield and playing drums in a rock n’ roll band. Our relationship was slowly falling apart due to drugs and other issues, and would come to and end by the close of that year.  Blogging, as it was back then, was an ideal outlet for making friends, and finding the encouragement and support I so desperately needed.

On April 7th of 2007 I began a new blog called “Picking up Pieces”. This is the first post from that blog…

It seems some sort of introduction is in order. A few months back, after years of struggling with the realities of the relationship I was in, I made the decision to end my thirteen-year marriage and move out on my own. As decision proceeded to actuation emotions ran high and the situation grew intense. Looking back now, I’m amazed I got through those days, amazed I found the courage to finally say “enough”. It hasn’t been an easy journey since then. I’m still settling in and coming to terms with the realities of what of my new life will be. My emotions have been all over the place and I’ve found it difficult to communicate, even with the handful of people who have been a tremendous source of love and encouragement. That has always been my way… when life gets hard I hide. But I’m feeling the need to start reaching out again, to reconnect with life and those I love. Living is a process, day-by-day steps on a path toward fulfilling our spiritual destinies. This blog is my way of sharing that journey, since none of us travel alone. We are all related and here to help each other along the way.

For the remainder of 2007 I  wrote on Picking Up Pieces  under the pen name of Josie Two Shoes, and in a by-invitation-only blog called Sophie Says, after a stalking relative made privacy a necessity.  I summed the year up this way…

As 2007 came to a close I ended my “Picking Up Pieces” blog and took a break from blogging. Just one year earlier I left my spouse and twelve years of married life behind in a desperate move to find and restore the parts of me that had been broken or lost along the way. 2007 proved to be the most emotionally difficult year of my life. It seemed that everything needed to unravel before anything could be rebuilt. At times I nearly gave up hope of surviving, much less recovering. Had it not been for the love, acceptance, and encouragement I found among friends here, there is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have made it.

In April of 2008 I began a new Josie Two Shoes blog that would evolve into Two Shoes in Texas.  This was one of my first posts…

At 52 years of age I set out on my own, determined to rediscover myself and rebuild my life. A year and a half later things are coming together in ways more awesome than I ever could have imagined. I am moving to Texas to begin a new life in a new town with a new house and new job and a wonderful new relationship. I am excited about the future! The purpose of this blog is to record and share the adventure.

And what an amazing adventure it has turned out to be… truly the happiest years of my life!  I often say that God saved the best for last, when I would appreciate it so much more! Since that time I have blogged on and off, sporadically taking breaks of a month or longer, but always returning to write again.  Writing has always been my first love.

Blogging has changed a great deal in the past ten years.  In the beginning it was often a close group of bloggers who became like family, sharing the ups and downs of our lives. Now we find all kinds of blogs written for all kinds of purposes and by people of all ages. There is truly a niche for everyone, as is evidenced by the broad spectrum of categories in this year’s A to Z Challenge.

In recent years I’ve tried my hand at fiction and found it to be great fun,  I have been known to kill of characters with great regularity! 🙂  I have shared a little of my late night poetry, and and a bit of the wisdom I’ve gained in sixty-plus years of life.  Sometimes when I go back and read posts from ten and eleven years ago I am amazed at what I wrote, the person I was back then is hardly recognizable to me.  I am grateful for how strong I have become, and much I have grown because of those experiences.

At the beginning of this year I finally made the move from Blogger to WordPress, a change that I’d been contemplating for some time, weary of the never-ending problems and lack of tech support at Blogger. It was nervous about the change, but Word Press has turned out to be the best move I’ve made. My desire to blog had nearly died; now it’s returned, and it feels good!

I look forward to celebrating twelve years in the blogsphere next August, we will have some kind of birthday party here for sure, and I hope you’ll join me!

What inspired you to start blogging? How long have you been blogging now?

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Links to my previous 2018 A-Z Posts:

A – Aquarian

A to Z – The ABC’s of Me: A

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It’s time, it’s time… the April A to Z Challenge  is beginning! This is my seventh year of participation, and my intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better! 🙂

A is an easy letter to begin with, because my birthday falls in early February and that makes me an Aquarian.  I am an Aquarian through and through.  Here are some of the general traits associated with my astrological sign…
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For the most part, I’d say it’s pretty accurate, both good and bad. I am certain that friends and family would agree. 🙂

Aquarians are friendly, open-minded, and love deep conversations. I can often identify a fellow Aquarian by their attitude about things, and I’ve never met one I didn’t like.

We are often viewed as outsiders, distant and unapproachable; The rest of the world tends to see us as a bit strange. I used to try to act “normal”, as was expected of me,  but as I grew older I gave that up as hopeless, and learned to appreciate and even celebrate my unique perspective on life. I like being me. 🙂

While there are no “cookie cutter” Aquarians and we are all individuals in our own right, if you take the time to get to know one, you will discover that we make loving and devoted friends… just don’t take advantage of that; we are more sensitive than we may appear, and can shut someone down and remove them from our life on a moment’s notice if they hurt us.

Additionally, don’t try to confine an Aquarian, we are freedom-loving to the max, and if we feel restricted we get restless and rebellious, and look for ways to break free. If you give us room to breathe and grow and express our individuality, we will stay on our own accord!

What is your astrological sign?  Do the traits for that sign fit you?

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I Did It! AtoZ Theme Reveal

atoz-theme-reveal-2018I[‘ve been saying all along that I wasn’t going to participate in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge this year. I’ve done it six out of the eight years it’s been in existence, including the last five, and I felt that it was more than I wanted to take on again.

But then it happened… AtoZ Fever struck, and hearing my friends talk about their plans and themes for the Challenge made me realize how much I was going to miss it if I didn’t get involved. So, here I am, once again getting excited about the month of April, with ideas for posts swirling in my brain.

I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress at the beginning of this year, and realized that some of the people I am now blogging with don’t know that much about me, not having been along for the ride at my old blog for the past eight years, or the one before that. So, I decided that it might be fun (and not too much of a brain drain) to use the AtoZ as a means of sharing a little more about me with new readers, and maybe even reveal a thing or two long time readers don’t know about me.

Don’t think, however, that it’s going to be a month long ego trip in Josie Land; I’ve always been straight forward, and along with some of the positives and things I’m working on, I’ll be sharing some of my foibles and failures. I am human and a long ways from saintly. Hopefully, by the end of April you’ll know me a little better, or know more about me than you ever wanted to… we shall see!

Thus, my theme for the April 2018 Blogging Challenge is:

AtoZ: The ABC’s of Me… the good, the bad, and the ugly!

See you on April Fool’s Day…. oooh, what a place to begin this theme! 🙂

If you’re planning to participate in the AtoZ, let me know so I can follow along. Feel free to steal the theme for the own use if it appeals to you, I’d enjoy learning more about you too!