Non-Fiction

Nurturing Change In My Life

 

After my last blog entry, I felt a bit disappointed in myself.  This is because I could not discuss change without giving voice to the inner struggles I have around it. I will say more about that in future because I am sure I am not the only woman dealing with these challenges. For now, however, I don’t need to elaborate.

 

You see, thankfully, it is my birthday today and I promised to cut myself a break from my self-critical ruminations. I can’t give myself a hard time for quite a few hours yet.  Isn’t that wonderful?

 

To move on then, I welcome change. It is hard and I’m fearful of it but I want it with everything in me. One might conclude upon reading my blog, that I think everyone should be out marching, fighting to change laws, and lobbying government on every level. The truth is that the realities of my life dictated I do these things. I had to do them to survive, to be here for this birthday.

 

The good news is that you don’t have to do all of that. If you tire easily, are a private person, or find yourself easily agitated, I don’t recommend it, not in the least. You might think your random acts of change are too small, ineffective and useless, when that isn’t the case at all. With the gift of breath, we were blessed with the startling power of ourselves and the ability to touch peoples’ lives everywhere. The following quote captures my message perfectly.

 

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia

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Non-Fiction

Changing the World One Word at a Time

Our place is buzzing with excitement about Changing the World in 2012.  We’re up every morning supping on a special green drink, much like the one Dr. Oz recommends.  We jog in the living room and do push-ups. Yes! We are amped to do our part in this New Year.  Even the feline Queens of my home –Paco and Teeka–are stepping up and have called a House Meeting to talk all about it.  I told them I need a few minutes first. Still, I am very curious about their choice of venue.

Before I entertain that –oh my, the cats are hilarious with their version of Zumba — I must tell you about how my plans were shaken up two weeks ago. There was an unwanted intrusion in my life by a person who is toxic to me.  The surprise quickly turned a perfectly good day into a bit of a horror.  It was a lucid nightmare where I was paralyzed and couldn’t alter the outcome.  My energy and enthusiasm quickly shifted to sporadic rushes of anger, sadness, confusion, followed by the desire to run and then depression.  It also set off some not-so-old echoes from those who sabotaged me at every turn and do so to this day. These tapes, as I call them, are strings of berating, ridiculing, hateful and cruel words, all hurled down at me. In an effort to render them quiet again, I decided to address those questions and accusations, charges, if you will.

 

Who Do You Think You Are?

When I was nine or ten and had this one thrown at me, I had no clue as to the answer. That never changed for the remaining seven years I endured with my family. Today, I could reply by recounting my name, where I was born and live now, plus what I do. I would say I am a writer and observer of people and that these two parts of me saved my life. By all accounts–professional validation–I survived a family which most might not. In fact, my not being a suicide statistic was simply good luck or an outright miracle. They sloughed off my skin as if they were planing a piece of wood. The beauty of words did not exist for them with their vicious, cruel, sadistic, and misogynous ways. What did I do to deserve it? I was born and lived.

 

You Just Want Attention

When I was a little girl, of course I wanted attention. I prayed for my mother’s hugs and reassurances and kindness. I even wanted her opinion on a poem I wrote, not to be locked up in a cold dark attic. Today, however, anybody who really knows me is aware that I am shy most of the time. Even when totally at ease with people, I am socially awkward. It is obviously something I will always live with to some degree.  On the other side of the nickel, I want to Change the World!  A person like me cannot do that without some acknowledgment.  In that sense, then, I DO want attention.

 

You Think You’re Better than Others

I know I can do a better Zumba than what I am seeing before my eyes at this second. They are dancing to Barry White! Are you kidding me?

Now I must aim that question at the person behind this charge. Are you kidding me? I used to spit at the image of myself in the mirror. I overdosed on pills many times because I was such a repulsive person and daughter. If your own mother and stepfather despise you and seem to enjoy watching you slowly become a hollow shell, how much worth would you feel you have? “Anybody who feels that much love has got to be sick!” my Mom said. I believed her. It took three decades for me to even make a dent in their programming of me. I had no value to anybody. Oops. Apparently, there was one thing I was good for, they continued, while laughing. In 2012, with all the changes in my life, I feel better about myself but I am still not immune to this struggle.

 

You Just Want People to Feel Sorry For You

Having somebody feel sorry for me is different from validation, which I do like. The latter reminds me that I was not the crazy one. I was simply the first girl and middle child in a family that never should have had daughters or children.  Feeling sorry accomplishes nothing. I never wanted pity and bristle at the mere thought of it.  Like anybody else, I am just living with the life I was given and trying not to trap my energies in futile questions like Why? Or What If? I use what I know to reach out to others who may find something I do or write useful to them.

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I hope that sharing some of these thoughts will help restore my sense of security and give me some courage. The inner battle burns me out and the outer one, in front of me, just sent fur flying. The Queens are circling around each other in a mixed martial arts stance. I’d better get that House Meeting off the ground. Come on girls. Teeka is a streak of orange, black and white fur as I follow her lead. The location of our meeting?  She’s blocking my view. Where? The dryer?

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Non-Fiction, Poetry

Thank You

Thank you for allowing me good housing, warmth, ample food, healthcare and good health.

Thank you for my eyes and having the ability to see without them. Thank you for my ears and not needing them to hear.

Thank you for the gift of intuition, compassion for myself and others, stubbornness, the strength and integrity to trust and be trusted, and, perhaps the most important of all, patience.

Thank you for laughter, quiet, music, workouts that pour sweat, the sweetness of good friendship, and for the helping professions, which guided me through the process of saving my life.

Thank you for the encouragement and love of my partner, for intimacy, spirituality, sex, sharing and striving for a better life as a team.

Thank you for my good strong mind, having an infinite curiosity and fascination about the world, the ability to learn, appreciate subtlety, satire, and to embrace the grey areas in life.

Thank you for babies (who always make me smile), for the rediscovery of language, writing, books, and people who share my fascination with words.

Thank you for the chances I have had to travel and see elephants, horses, koala bears and kangaroos, and to embrace other cultures with appreciation, admiration and respect.

Thank you for the raw beauty of nature and that so much of the best in life requires no currency.

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Poetry, Quotes

What To Do While We Wait?

Given the speed with which December is approaching, I wanted to share this lovely poem with you all.

Many of you may have read it.  It was shared with me in a writing class last July.  By chance, I picked up

the book in the library and was enchanted yet again.  For me, it captures what giving and receiving is all

about.

 

While We Wait

 

While We Wait

we hope for bliss to envelop us,

taking away our sadness and pain.

 

The light should grow brighter

and beautiful music fill the air,

angels to appear

and magic hands come to heal.

 

But while we wait, yet can we practice kindness.

We can love.

We can serve.

We can forgive.

 

Nothing out of the ordinary,

yet God’s greatest gifts.

 

Carol Orsborn, Nothing Left Unsaid, Words to Help You and Your

Loved Ones through the Hardest Times, 2001

 

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Non-Fiction, Poetry

It Is Never Too Late For the Big Give

I love to talk about giving and receiving.  It is something about which I am always interested. There is nothing more rewarding to be a part of, whether done as a group effort or by oneself.  Often, I have had the privilege of being in the right place at the right time to be the giver. Naturally, when I least expected it, I was the receiver.There are so many ways to give that I compiled a list for some ideas.Listen closely to someone. It can be your spouse, friend, co-worker, or a compete stranger.

If you are able-bodied, get up on the bus and let someone else sit down. This could be an older person, a pregnant woman or someone who is feeling ill.

If you are cooking or baking, make too much food on purpose (if you can afford this) and invite someone to share your meal.

If you use the library, and know of a tenant in your building that is housebound, offer to get their books or return ones already on loan.

If you want more organized giving, volunteer at a local hospital or public event.

Help build community. Have a potluck and get together to plan other activities like a writing class or walking group.

Given the time of year, buy a stuffed toy and donate it to a local drive for Christmas.

Volunteer for a worthy cause. There are thousands but a few examples are: Stand Up to Cancer, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Research on Parkinson’s Disease, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Joints in Motion with the Diabetes Society, local Food Banks, or book and clothing drives.

If you see something happening that should not be, pick up your phone.  Never try to intervene in a violent situation.

Smile and say hello to someone.

 

What do I have to say about receiving? If you give from your authentic self, the return for your good acts is feeling great because you did something not motivated by self-interest.  It is all about making others happy–their tough days a little bit better.

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Fiction, Non-Fiction

Our Quiet Leaders

When I think about women who are leaders, I cannot help but think of those who are famous and get lots of attention for their works. Since they do not need any focus, I like to remember the living and breathing women whom the public does not know, and may never, because they are every woman.

As a woman and a leader, I am the young tenant next door who hears your cries while your husband yells and pounds you in the wee hours of the morning. I quietly call the Police for help for you, begging them not to say I called. Of course, they did and he now yells at me through the walls. “Report that, Peanut Butter!” Now I cower in bed at night with a knife under my pillow. At least, he is no longer hitting you.

As a woman and a leader, I am very poor. I volunteer long hours at a local hospice. Unless a patient wants to talk, I just do what needs to be done –open or close blinds, hold a shaky hand, or just sit quietly nearby. I love it when I usher wheelchair-bound friends downstairs to a live music event. Their worry lines ease somewhat over that hour.

As a woman and a leader, I write letters about injustice, share opinions, thoughts and feelings. I know doing this is only a millisecond blip on the world’s computer screen. However, it helps keep my energy flowing and depression at bay.

As a woman and a leader, I grew up in a very bigoted family. Yet I married my love, who just happened to be of a different race. My husband and sons are beautiful and we will nurture each other forever. He and I teach our boys that racism and hate are ugly truths but that they do not have to define our lives.

As a woman and a leader, I teach reading to adults at the library. It is for everyone who wants to enrich their lives with the many adventures and worlds that lie within those book covers. We all love it and read vivid stories to each other.

As a woman and a leader, I love with ferocity. I hate and scream. I fight with words. I sit, watch and listen. I am tender, sexual and loving. I love my life and yours. I stand arm-in-arm with you from all continents of the globe. I bow and honour you. Your children are mine; my sons and daughters are yours. We are the new leaders of our evolving world.

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Fiction

Woman On The Verge Of Disaster

I’m a woman on the verge because two seven-year-old cats rule my home. In addition, my assertive move to combat this fiasco is to get four fluffy kitten wonders to help shift the power balance, to infuse some clear reasoning on the subject. A few more furry souls to consider in house-rule-voting should break the impasse between the two presiding queens.

 

I’m a woman on the verge because I’m going to let that feline six-pack thread its way through my whole, albeit quiet, world. I will spend much of my day chasing down their catnip toys and unravelling the ball of yarn and hair they dragged through every chair and table leg, and around three lamps and even my ankles. Still, if those beasts are out of my sight for two minutes, I will moan and wonder, “Just how DID the criminal get in and why would he or she steal my Maine coon family?”

 

I’m a woman on the verge because usually by that point, it would be snack time so I would shake a little catnip into my spinach dip. I would do this for two reasons: to get my daily allotment of greens and, to research the power of this popular and global vice, which is sending hundreds of cats to CatNippers Anonymous everywhere. Soon AETV will air its first show with a feline subject. Yay to you my co-interventionists. We are all worthy trailblazers.

 

I’m a woman on the verge because I am a word lover. I am a writer who is enamoured with language. Yet I have had a huge headache from years of never looking up the word ‘assertive.’ The word jumped at me when I literally fell on it via my Webster’s twenty-pound dictionary. How did I know which word tripped me up? That is an easy one. Upon close scrutiny, the fur balls who run my house, guffawed at me loudly. I must say, the lack of respect in today’s pets is so disconcerting to me. Still, I must forge ahead to fulfil my journey.

I’m a woman on the verge because, since making mistakes like bathing my sweeties at the same time, I’m fighting for any scrap of dignity and forgiveness the ‘management’ will throw at me. What? Only two bits of kibble? I’ll take it. Why not? I’ve been running on fumes for so many years now that even a raised eyebrow of acknowledgment is well worth it. You’re right. I don’t like liver and chicken delight. Never did. What can I say? I don’t like catnip either.

 

I’m a woman on the verge because I never need the absolute certainty of things to make me act. When I’m tied up trying to unravel all that silly yarn, I do whatever strikes my fancy and do so without apologies. That rule stands even if the object of my intrigue comes as Meow Mix for the queens’ amuse-bouche of the moment. That is, unless I am trying to reassume control of the Bridge, so to speak, from its current squatters. Okay. Okay. Fancy Feast it is then.

 

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Non-Fiction

The Survivor Struggle – Part 2

On July 5, 2011, many people, including myself, were shocked to hear the words “Not Guilty” resonate in an Orlando courtroom at the Casey Anthony murder trial. Despite our need or desire to put the puzzle together, we will never know what really happened to beautiful Caylee — not that knowing would make anything better.

I really hope that George and Cindy can cope with the result. I sincerely wish them well and hope they do not take on the emotional burden of this murder. I was a victim of severe violence and sex abuse as a child and I felt guilty for doubting Casey’s story. It troubled me because when I spoke out about my own family, they were so well behaved in public, people doubted me. I told the truth and have real trouble with anyone who concocts these stories.

In addition, during this long trial, I took offence to the characterization of survivors as liars, sluts or promiscuous (while men enjoy the double standard), and that that could be a possible excuse to murder a child. That upsets me because of what I survived at the hands of my stepfather and mother (beaten with fists, a baseball bat, slashed with  knives, and an arm broken – all injuries never treated because of the attention it would bring). Let us not forget the words used against me: bitch, stupid, tease, clumsy, haughty, pig, idiot. Finally, the worst, I was a victim of a multiple rape by their friends, something with which I was always threatened.

Sadism. Madness. Make no mistake; it is not mine. I was just born to these people. I am by no means perfect. However, I am not a prolific liar; have never had trouble with the law; and struggle with all my might to do things the right way. Study. Work. Do not compare myself to other people. Be good to others. Do not think anyone owes me anything. With decades of help, I eventually made progress and seem to have turned out okay.

Still, I would have given my blood for loving and helpful parents (like Cindy and George Anthony). Of course, no family is perfect. But how much better could it be with love and nurturing from day one? How could one abuse that and the privilege of having a gorgeous child?

I have no children. After an ectopic pregnancy, I did not try again. I was so terrified that what I read was true: “All abused kids grow up to be abusers.” I vowed never to be like them but had no guarantee. How would I cope with no emotional or financial resources of any kind? That was just not good enough. I could hardly stand myself as it was so being a third-generation child abuser was simply not acceptable.

One last thought for the sceptics out there. I write about these issues sporadically but with a purpose in mind. A car could hit and kill me tonight and I would never have a chance to share my only legacy. I must talk to people about it. I am on a mission to share my experience, successes and hope–not for pity, to seem holier-than-thou, or to engage in a useless “Woe-is-Me!” pity-fest. That is mind numbing and accomplishes nothing. It bores me, as it would my readers.

Besides, I must get back to chiselling away those negative word associations that haunt me still. I try to remember the gems people bestow upon me these days:  Kind, Strong, Funny, Caring, Honest, and Motivated. My goal is to mince and memorialize only those word-strings that make me smile and have a good belly laugh.

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Non-Fiction

The Survivor Struggle – Part I

In the years since writing this, I am proud to say that not only can I still refrain from breaking into song in local cafes, but I’m also now tackling, head-on, each barrier to my goals.

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I get in Psychology and Women Studies classes the stuff that keeps me alive.  Sometimes cold, hard reality hurts like hell. But, I guess, that sense of struggling in unison makes all the difference in the world.  And I’m really not dramatizing — or ready to burst out singing “We Are the World,” right here in the Muffin Break on Robson Street. I am very serious…after a wee giggle at the image.

A couple of times this term, I seriously considered suicide. I reasoned it out. It wasn’t an immature thing — to get back at anyone or make a fleeting statement to what few people would notice. It was a very real and necessary end to my pain.  I couldn’t bear the hurt anymore.

The thing is, at those times, I see death as the only option to stop hurting.  When those moments passed, I had others where listening to my instructor’s stories inspired me. Like the time she said it was her job to see to it, through her teaching, that we would all be alive to see our granddaughters thriving and well. The power with which she spoke rekindled my own. I wanted to go on! I’d pamper myself to health and seek out whatever else I needed. I’d fight the urge to disentangle myself from the caring concern of friends or the fevered collides with my lover, towards translucence and safety. They are  the sources of healing.  Permitting them in my life renews me, allowing me to entertain my curiosity of who I am becoming.

Will I have a baby? Will I get my degree? Can I build a cocoon of love and respect around me? Will I be a grandmother who rides a motorcycle (hehehe) and sometimes travels? Letting myself wonder is incredible.

I felt all of this last night. No wonder I am tired and shaky today. Ah, Yes! A part of the desperation was linked to the fear of not having the resources to take another class.  Can I keep it together if I’m without this influence? Have I made enough contacts so I won’t return to isolation and depression?

T. Gibson, originally published in 1995.

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Fiction

Never Take Me To A Church That Uses Incense

I have been thinking about what to say about healing between the genders.  Once again, these words do not come easily but that is okay by me.

Life would be so boring without a good struggle with which to motivate ourselves.

I miss the men in my family.  My Dad, who died in 1990.  Two older brothers, deceased in 1992 and 2009.  Finally, I miss my brother (by my father’s second marriage) who died in February this year at 26. All of these losses are tragic but I still have hope.

Sometimes when I am in the drug store, I stop by the after-shave department, twist off the cap of one and take in a nice long inhale of Aqua Velva.  Then I head for the hair product, Brylcreme.  With both of those scents fresh in my nose, I enjoy a strong memory of my father.  I loved him!  So very much. I thought I would die when he did — the pain rocked my already-fragile world.

Many men in my family were alcoholics, violent (beating spouses and each other) and had little or no respect for women.  However, one man taught me about healing.

Steve was the most gentle, tough, compassionate, well-intended male I ever knew.  Unfortunately, it took his illness to bring us together.  Everything fell by the wayside when it came to him.  I lived three thousand miles away but we were just so close emotionally. And little did I know that by trusting him and that love, my whole world would unfurl and flutter its wings.

Many times, we sat together and I would watch his mouth, eyes and facial expression, as he tried to speak.  Prior to his first brain surgery, his language skills began to deteriorate. So we decided it would be useful to him to have cue cards to flash as he needed things.  “May I have some coffee?” I wrote on one, while listening to the squeaking as my fingers clenched the fat marker and formed the letters.

“Promise you’ll never take me to a church that uses incense.”  No. He didn’t ask me to write that.  My brain just unfiled that one.  A nice memory.  Yes. Steve fainted during Midnight Mass while the priest made the signs of the cross with incense.

I remember his look of pale horror as he slid down between the pews.  Now I see his face when, close to his death, he said: “Nobody can understand me at all.”

When it got right down to it, we both felt that way in life.  In each other, however, we found our way.  My love and acceptance of him was unconditional and infinite. And his for me?  Later, I’ll tell you how much I changed due to our friendship.

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