Division & Unity

I am tired. I wasn’t meant for so much worry, I don’t have a strong enough constitution for it. That’s probably why I was born in the time period I was born in, why I was born to a lower middle class white family in a tiny town in northern Illinois. Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of worry as a kid. I was picked on a lot for being overweight, having glasses, being poor, which was evidenced by all the hand me down clothes I wore. It wasn’t cool back then to wear “old” clothes. I just didn’t fit in with most of the other kids. On the other hand, I made some really awesome friends of the other “unpopular” kids. I am still very close with several of them. All of that was a far cry from what other kids went through growing up.Kids in war-torn countries or the kids in Africa that were starving as my mother kept telling me when I didn’t want to eat the salmon cake she slid onto my plate at dinner. I was safe in my little bubble.

POP! I grew up and the rest of the world made its way into my field of vision. Now, I am a grown up with a kid! Now I see the world without the rose-colored glasses and I worry. People are mean, uncaring and often times blinded to the plight of others. Since the presidential election last November I have felt a sense of unreality. I must be in a movie or a television show. The kind where everything is bleak and gloomy, at least until the hero steps out of the rubble and forms a band of other unlikely heroes. Together they defy the enemy and save their country. This isn’t a movie, though. People are being hurt and are frightened. Resistance is a key word that is popping up everywhere and it’s scary to think that this my country and not one that I see from the safety of my television screen. I see horrible links on social media and I am tired. I have a ten-year-old daughter, so I suppose being tired isn’t an excuse for closing my eyes. I am choosing to pick up the mantle of the quiet protestor, a doer of good in my own way. Here are my words and my thoughts on what is going on in my country today.

I keep seeing people post about how we need to stop the division of our country and that this same thing happens every 4 years, so why should we have our collective panties in a bunch. They say this like the people protesting are the ones who divided us. Here is what I say: we, the protesters, of our country’s new president did not divide our country, the new president did. He started the division on the campaign trail and continued it in his inauguration speech. He started it when he said it was ok to put your hands on a woman without her permission. He started it when he blamed every Muslim for terrorist attacks. He started it when he blamed every African-American person for gang violence. He started it when he blamed every Latino person for the drugs coming into our country. Our newly sworn in president started this division, not the people who protest. Yes, there are those out there who are letting their anger get the best of them and that needs to stop. The rest of us are just trying to open the eyes of those who refuse to see. Women’s rights are important not divisive. Civil rights are important not divisive. Human dignity is important not divisive. Environmental protection is important not divisive. If we keep silent then hate and fear grow. If we raise our voices for the protection of our fellow humans and the planet we share it is not divisive! It is a call for love and peace. We want bridges not walls. The next time you want to tell someone to be quiet and stop their divisive talk, because what is done is done, try listening instead. Really hear what they are saying, because out of most people you will hear a cry for love and kindness not hate and ignorance. Love not hate, bridges not walls. These words are my new mantra. 

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Blogger Recognition Award

Hello, everyone out there in the blogisphere! I have been given the great honor of receiving a nomination for the Blogger Recognition Award! Thanks to Fed’s Life for the nomination!

Rules:

  1. Write a post to show your award.
  2. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and share the link to their blog.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog got started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Nominate 15 bloggers of your choice for the award.
  6. Comment on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to your post.

How did youmakeyourown get started? I started this blog as a way to cope with the loss of my husband. Writing has always been a great help to me, I find that I can say the things that are on mind better through writing. The blog has continued as way to throw out my thoughts on loss, life, and the world around me. I also indulge in poetry from time to time :).

My advice to new bloggers is: 1. write what you know or what you want to know. Write about what makes the fire in your heart grow, what you are passionate about. 2. Don’t stop writing. Write even when you feel you don’t have much to say. Just keep writing because you never know who your words will touch.

My nominees:

  1. The Daily Norm
  2. The Book Wars
  3. Inspiration Indulgence
  4. Hot Chocolate and books
  5. The Shameful Sheep
  6. Yummers Tummers
  7. Annie’s Cooking Lab
  8. Melting Ice Towers
  9. Home made with Mess
  10. Beauty Beyond Bones
  11. Be Inspired!
  12. I’m Done Being The Fat Girl
  13. Scale it Simple
  14. Mocking Bird 2002
  15. Dysfunctional Literacy

Learning to Dance Alone

January 12th, 2011. This was the start of a really horrible year for me and my family. It has been six years since that date and in those years I have never felt more despair, anger and gut wrenching fear. In these past six years I have also felt myself rise from all of the fear and anger to become stronger and have more love and acceptance for those around me. And I would trade it all for one more day with him. Is that selfish or stupid? Possibly, but I would be lying if I said otherwise.

I have learned to dance in this life without my partner. I had to learn the steps by myself. Even as I wrote that sentence I know it isn’t true. I had and still have so many people who have taught me and continue to teach me new steps to this dance. There are many days that I dance alone, though, because sometimes you have to be your own teacher and your own dance partner.

With all of that said, this post isn’t about me and my dance, today it’s about teaching the steps to others.

The last few months and even days of 2016 were gut wrenchingly difficult for some of my friends. They have lost the ones they love. Words have been said to them that, at this time, are hollow and meaningless. I know, I heard those words six years ago and I have said them in the last several months and days to my friends.  They have also heard the words “I’m here if you need anything” and “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you”. These words are worse than the “I’m sorry for your loss” phrase. We say them because we don’t know what else to say, but the truth is the person or people grieving don’t know what they need. Scratch that, they do know what they need, they just can’t have it and there is no way you can give it to them. What they need is their loved one back, but that can’t happen, not in the way that they desire at this very moment.

The words have been said, the services have been completed and now life flows forward. Now you have to find a new way of living this life, you must learn a new dance. The first year is the worst because you have to celebrate all the holidays and surprising life moments without the ones you love. You don’t know how to dance without them because it has been so long since you’ve had to, so you stumble and fall your way through it and the whole time the music keeps playing as if nothing has happened. Remember this, it may feel like you are all alone and that nobody cares that you are hurting, but that is not true, you just cannot see them clearly through the fog that covers the dance floor. They are there and they are helping you when you stumble, listening to your sobs and offering comforting hands and words and they pick you up when you fall. You may not remember them later as the fog begins to clear, but they were there, teaching the new steps that your heart refuses to accept at this moment.

The coming years will be difficult and you will fall many, many times. The steps to this new dance, this new way of living, are difficult to learn. As you learn to dance alone I want you to remember,  you will smile again, laugh again, and even enjoy life again. There is no shame in that, but do it on your own terms. Do not let someone else tell you that you have grieved enough. Do not let you hold yourself in the fog of grief, either. Remember too, that when you feel like you are falling down reach out, because there are people who will hold you up until you can stand again. You are not alone.

The coming years will be difficult and you will have to learn how to dance once more. Until then, just see to your basic needs, these are the primary steps to this new dance. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, eat, breathe and put one foot in front of the other. I love you all!

Budget of 0.00 #2

Well, I have had a pretty crappy week! Today, in particular, was spectacularly awful. I am really trying to maintain a level of positivity, but I am going to allow myself a little pity me moment right here.

Today, I decided I finally had enough time to cut the plywood and put my sink back in place. I figure the plywood would be ok until I could decide what to do about a new counter top. I am not in a hurry, I just wanted the sink back so I could stop rinsing my dishes in the bathtub. My saws did not work the way I felt they should and I ended up using a hand saw for most of the work. UGH! I was knocking off the tiles from the sink that did not want to come off when I removed the old countertop and sliced my hand on the broken tile. Then I missed a tile and hit the sink, yeah, I broke the sink. AHHHHHHHH! Turns out it didn’t matter because I cut the opening for the sink wrong! FUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!

Yes, I cursed, I am sorry but it was needed at this time. I decided that to calm myself down I needed to just clean up and make soup. I made my daughter and myself a very yummy broccoli cheese soup. I am currently sitting at my dining table taking deep breaths and writing this.

I would like to state that I did not think that a remodel would be easy, especially doing most of the work all on my own, but some days are just really rough!

I am going to continue to rinse my dishes in my bathtub and use my dishwasher to wash said dishes. Yes, I was smart enough to leave the dishwasher in place. When I have a little extra money I am going to purchase plywood and eventually a new sink and have someone help me cut the plywood. I wanted to start with the flooring and work from the ground up, but things are not happening the way I hoped. Things rarely do. My stove and refrigerator are still working just fine, knock on wood, so it is really just the sink that is the issue. Thank Heaven!

While I am waiting to purchase a sink I will continue to price flooring and repair drywall and plaster. Knocking down walls and removing countertops didn’t really require any money, so the easy part is done. The hard part is now beginning, but if I am patient and do things right I will have a nice kitchen by next summer and hopefully without spending a lot of money.

Here are some pictures of what has been done.

I had some family and friends helping so the work wasn’t horrible and now I can rebuild it:).

Face to the Sky

I raise my face to the sky

I scream WHY!

Why must I wonder how I will feed my child

Will I be able to make my house payment

Why! 

I feel like crying but crying shows weakness so I yell instead 

My baby asks for things: books clothes games a snack and I yell because we don’t have money for all that

How do I handle all the stress all the worry all the pain

I’m not alone

Others feel the same

Some yell and some find other ways to deal

Dull the pain and the worry even just a little while To be happy and not feel the worry anger despair

But it just pulls us deeper into the despair and gives us more to worry about once we surface from the high there is always a low

It slams us down and breaks us again and again and again

WHY! 

Until one day we realize that that there are people standing near shouting for us to get up and start anew

Leave the pain killing things and let yourself feel 

We are here and we will stand with you

But they cannot walk our path for us they must simply stand next to us

Frustration and loneliness rush in and we risk drowning once again

Get up the voices whisper and we yell at them to go away they don’t understand 

No but they are standing there anyway whether they understand or not and they lend a hand and we shove it away

I’m not weak we yell and scream I can do this myself 

The tears come unbidden as I you we lay on the ground screaming at as the tears fall down 

Face to the sky crying WHY!

The people are there again whispering 

There is no because to answer that question 

It simply is

I have a choice, you have a choice, we have a choice

Get up or stay down 

Getting up is hard because there is a risk of falling again and again 

I’m not alone, you’re not alone, we are not alone

Others have been here they know 

It’s a path we must walk alone but there are others close by they look over and smile whisper you can do it 

I pull myself to my feet tears still stuck in my eyes anger and sadness burning my heart

Stepping forward letting go

Stumbling 

Falling 

Getting up

Pain

Anger

Tears

Frustration

Sadness 

Stepping forward 

Letting go

Smiling 

Happy

Stumbling 

Catching 

Face to the sky

Head held high

                                    VP 9-19-16

A Budget of $0

Hello, family and friends and readers of my blog. This is just a note to let you know that I am not crazy or in an irrational state of mind :). I am, however, in a mood to do something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, remodel my kitchen. Here are some pics

I have been watching DIY shows and looking through Pinterest and HGTV magazines for years and I finally have an idea of what I want to do to my kitchen. No, I do not have a budget. I am a single mom with a part time job and the dreams of being a professional writer. My bank account frequently screams in agony and every time I use my debit card I hear alarm bells sounding. This will not stop me and here’s why.

Life is really fucking short! It’s too short to wait until the “perfect moment” and definitely too short to wait for my bank account to always be in the black. Life is too short to sit around and whisper “someday” into the air. My someday is now. To some of you, this might seem foolish, stupid and perhaps a bit absurd. I mean who starts a remodel without having a budget in place!

The answer to that, perfectly understandable, question is this: someone who doesn’t need near instant gratification, someone who plans on doing most, if not all, the work herself. Yes, I do have big plans. Yes, I do know that not all of those plans will work. After all, I am not a plumber or an electrician. I do know how to hang drywall and swing a sledgehammer, I can use a saw and put down tile. I plan on doing things slowly and scouring places like the Habitat for Humanity Restore, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army for materials. I also plan on using some material from my basement that will no longer be needed down there. I will price and shop around for needed supplies and buy them as money comes available. I am in no hurry. In fact, I want this project to take a little while. Believe it or not, this project is helping me deal with stress as well as satisfy my desire to remodel. I am not perfect and I am sure there will be times when I curse myself for even starting this project. Mostly, though, I am happy. I am adding to my coping skills. In the past, I have used retail therapy and food to cope with stress and feelings of inadequacy. Today I am using my writing, the gym, and now home improvement projects to cope.

The last, almost, 6 years has been rough. I have walked that long, lonely road of grief and I have done and said some stupid and crazy things. Through it all, I have had my family and friends standing beside me letting me know that I am safe and loved. These past 2 years or so I have finally decided it is ok to be happy and I am figuring out what that means. I have had to rediscover who I am and who I want to be. Please try not worry, I am ok and I do know what I am doing, for the most part ;).

Just so you know, I will still complain about not having any money. That is a never ending situation no matter what I am or am not doing. Love to all! I will continue to share my Remodel on a Budget of $0. Demoing is kind of fun, the clean up not so much.

No Money, Stressed, But Positive

I have done it quite brilliantly this time! I have managed to put my finances so far into the toilet that there is no way for it to be fixed. Yep, about negative $500 in my account and growing. Went to Walmart with the charge card to get a few things and it was promptly declined. Now I am in panic mode. WHAT IN THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO?  Did I mention that the outlet in my bathroom doesn’t work, my dryer is near death and my stove is acting up? Yeah, I am in one hell of a shit storm right now. Again, what the hell am I going to do?

I am going to take a deep breath, get as many hours as I can at work, have a garage sale and remember that as life goes, mine is actually very good. I have had some craptastic moments but I also have a bunch of wonderful people in my life who are there for me in those moments.

What I am not going to do is sit around feeling sorry for myself or blame other people. It is no one else’s fault that I am not good with money. It is no one else’s fault that I use loans to dig myself out of holes, temporary fixes. Now all of that has caught up with me and I have to do what I should have done in the first place. Pay bills and quit spending money.

Please do not think badly of me, I was, at one time in a more financially stable place. Truth be told I would still be there except I went ahead with the publishing of my book when I should have waited. Shoulda woulda coulda will not get my money back and neither will sitting on my ass crying about it.

The point, my friends, is that when life throws up rough spots you can either boo hoo or you can stand up and take action. You can blame others or you can take responsibility for yourself and your life. I have always believed: You can’t control other people but you can control yourself and how you react.

Living in a constant cloud of negativity makes me feel like crap. I don’t mean feeling bad for a day or even a week, I am talking about constantly complaining about life. I think that if a person continually focuses on the bad things then that is all they will ever see. If instead, a person looks for the good things then the rough stuff becomes easier to work through.

Life is full of big bad stuff that is harder to overcome and takes a lot of people working together to change. Why then would I choose to focus on the little things all the time? Be angry, friends, be sad, shout some curse words, sheds some tears, then take a deep breath and let it go, because life is too short to hang to the little things that anger you. Instead, hang on to the little things that make you smile. Life is much better that way :).

Just a few little things that make me smile. There are much more 🙂

 

Don’t Eat My Cereal

If I have invited you into my home for more than a 5-minute conversation I consider you my friend. If you have spent the night in my house you are, more than likely, considered family. I only have one hard and fast rule in my house, do not eat my cereal.

I am a generous person for the most part. We are all a little selfish from time to time and I am no exception. I will let you read my books, use my shampoo, make your dinner, I will even sleep on the couch and let you have my bed. You can borrow my clothes and use my computer. DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

See? I am generous. I am loyal to a fault and I usually share everything I have. However, if I am eating please do not stand over me and say, “I want some!” and then expect me to hand over my bowl or give you a bite. Have I not already given you everything else? Do not take another mile if I have already given you 2. In other words, DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

You want something from my garden? Ok, it’s yours. Want me to bake you some cupcakes? No Problem! Just DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

Welcome to my house, where the only hard and fast rule is: DON’T EAT MY CEREAL!

 

 

This a work of fiction, maybe ;), for all those generous people out there who would give you the shirt off their backs. Also for parents because we all know that if we were eating a shit sandwich our children would want a bite simply because we were eating it :).

P.S. If you like my writing check out my children’s book, Stuck by Valerie Prather, on amazon.com

My Book!!!!!

I wrote a children’s book! And I published it! Holy S***!  I am so excited!!! I am so nervous!!!! I keep thinking “what if people don’t like it?” and “what if people love it?”. AHHHHHHH!!!! DEEP BREATHS!!!! Ok…I’m alright now :). I am just so excited. I wrote this story about 5 years ago and finally decided to go for broke and publish it. It took me a little bit to find an illustrator. I found a good one, I think anyway. He was great to work with and really understood what I wanted for the book :). After several meetings and a couple of reworks the book is finally complete and ready for sale. Below are the cover and the first page of the story for your perusal, a sneak peek. You can buy my book (my book…eek!) at http://www.createspace.com e-store or from Amazon.com and this weekend it will be live on Kindle.  I plan on donating a minimum of 10% of the royalties to  a children’s charity. I have not yet decided which charity. I am still doing some research. If anyone has a suggestion or a favorite charity please let me know :). I hope you enjoy my book! Yay! Have I mentioned how excited I am? Ahhh!! So excited!!

Parenting is Rough!!!

Hello, everyone! A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my daughter’s escapades with in-app purchasing and her resulting consequences, I would like to update you on that situation and lay out some thoughts I have on punishments.

A couple of weeks ago my beautiful daughter bought $122.36 worth of in-app purchases for a game called Builder Buddies. She was promptly grounded from her iPad, video games and Youtube for a week, all seven days of the week, much to her great displeasure. I came up with a way for her to work off the money she “stole”. Yes, stole, she did not find it laying around, she did not earn it or ask for it, therefore, she stole the money. I put together a list of chores and designated a minute value to each chore. My daughter earned $8.50 for every hour of work completed. Let me tell you she worked her little behind off to pay that money back before her Spring Break started! She now has her iPad back but no longer has access to the iTunes password, in case she did not learn her lesson. All is right again in our peacefully chaotic home.

For the last five years, I have been a single parent. I have run through the gambit of parenting styles. I have yelled, negotiated, screamed, gave the silent treatment, grounded, spanked, bribed and so on. I wouldn’t say that I was a bad parent, just as I wouldn’t say I am a parent of the year. I am just trying to figure out what works with my head strong nine year old. I make tons of mistakes, but I make a lot of good decisions as well. That being said there is one trend in parenting that I do not understand. Public humiliation, I just don’t agree.

The last several years there have been many Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram pics where parents have their child on the street holding a sign describing their misdeeds. I have even watched some reposted videos where the parent has punished the child and is following them filming his or her reaction to the punishment and making the child tell about what they did wrong. I don’t understand this and here’s why. If I make a mistake at work and my boss decides that everyone in the office should be present while she yells at me I would be pissed! I certainly wouldn’t want to try to do better, I would start looking for another job. Unfortunately, kids can’t just go looking for a new family, so what do you think they will do instead? If it were me, I would hide in my room and speak as little as possible to my parents, I would withdraw from them. I would do this because I would feel like if I make the littlest mistake I might be humiliated again. I would think that the people who were supposed to be my guides in this crazy life have now become my enemy. My parents would cease to be my champions and teachers and now become my humiliators, my punishers. The people who I thought were supposed to love me unconditionally, just showed me that there are conditions to their love. That’s just me, I don’t know how you all feel.

Before any of you go berserk on me let me explain something. I know that children need to have punishments or consequences for their misdeeds. This is how they learn right from wrong. I am a believer that an occasional spanking, usually as a last resort, is ok. I believe in grounding and taking things away from children. I think that sometimes raising your voice lets them know how much you dislike their behavior, but a simple look and shake of the head can do the same thing in certain situations. I do not believe that public humiliation is the answer. I think our children get humiliated enough at school by their peers, by the teachers, and the bullies. Home is supposed to be the safe haven, not a place for more knocks to their self-esteem.

Parenting is hard! We all know this and finding ways to parent effectively in both good times and rough times is no picnic. Parents are deemed awful if they say that corporal punishment is okay. Then the same people who glare at them for that are giving out disgusted looks and nasty comments in the grocery store when a kid is throwing a tantrum because they can’t have the gummy bears they demanded. Bribing children into good behavior is seen as weak parenting, ignoring bad behavior is seen as non-parenting and spanking is seen as abusive. What do we do when everything we try is criticized? the answer to that seems to be public humiliation. Here’s what I say, my fellow parents, let people talk, let them judge you because they don’t matter. Whether you spank your kids or ground them, whether you ignore the bad behavior or yell instead is up to you and what you know works for your child. Raising a kid is a lot like a science experiment, trial and error. We try one thing and if doesn’t work we move on to the next. The one thing that we should never forget, our children depend on us to offer them a safe place where they won’t be embarrassed to make mistakes or be themselves, for this reason, any punishment for mistakes or misdeeds should not humiliate them. Punishments should help them understand and learn from their mistakes, not alienate them or cause a rift between parent and child. Remember, there is always someone out there who is going to say “if that were my kid…”, but she’s not their kid, she’s yours, so do the best you can, and when in doubt ask for advice. There are others going through all of this parenting stuff too and they might be able to help ;).

Well, that’s my two cents! What do you think? Is public humiliation ok? Any thoughts are welcome but please keep it civil, we are all adults and it’s ok to disagree but it’s not ok to be a jerk. Thanks all!