Tag Archives: Family

Travelling Fool

I just got home after a trip to northeast Arkansas to visit my family. It was a much-needed getaway after dealing with some health issues. Said health issues are still in progress and are causing me a huge amount of stress and worry. I know worrying won’t change the outcome of the tests, but it doesn’t make me worry any less. Some of them have come back normal so keeping my fingers crossed for the same result for the rest of them.

My family lives just across the Mississippi river from Memphis, Tennessee.  It amazes me how much different that part of Arkansas is from the part where I live.  East Arkansas is called the Mississippi river delta.  It’s flat and mostly nothing but farms and fields of winter wheat, soybeans, and cotton as far as the eye can see.  A few trees here and there.  Where I live, on the other hand, is the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains.  It’s beautiful and covered in lovely forest.  I never lived in the delta, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for it.

All four of my grandparents grew up in that part of Arkansas.  My dad’s family, who I visited this time, grew up in Dyess, Arkansas. It’s really only known for being the boyhood home of Johnny Cash now, but I assure you he wasn’t the only one to grow up there.  I saw his old home, they’re fixing it up and turning it into a museum.  It looks nicer than I bet it did when he lived in it.  If you grew up in Dyess, odds are you were poor as church mice (that’s how my granny describes the level of poverty her family experienced when she was a girl).  Most of the old homes where the families lived are gone now. They lived there after President Roosevelt turned the area into a depression relief project.  Families (my own included) who qualified were given 40 acres of land and a mule to help plow it. They grew cotton and used the money to pay back the government when they could afford it.

My great aunt, granny’s sister, showed me where their farm had been, and where my great grandmother lived after my great grandfather died and she sold the farm and moved into town.  I saw the old high school, where my granny was the only one of her eight brothers and sisters to graduate.  The rest of them quit school by the time they were 16 to get married or start working.  The town is just a small community now, but thanks to it being Johnny Cash’s hometown, the town square is being restored to look like it did in the 30s-60s, when most of the poor farming families lived there.  It was amazing to see where my family was and how far they each came in their lives.  They may have been poor, but all the kids did well and the ones still living live comfortable lives now.

I come from a long line of cotton farmers.  All of my grandparents had 7 or 8 kids in their families and picked cotton all their growing up years.  Makes me thankful for how fortunate I am.  My grandparents, on both sides, are the only ones who left the area.  I’ve had to grow up away from my family, so I love any chance I get to visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins…of which I have MANY.  They are sweet people with thick southern accents.  I notice mine gets thicker when I’m around them.  I wish I could spend more time with them.  When it comes down to it, though, my home is near the mountains. I’m not sure I could be happy living in a place where there isn’t a mountain for over 100 miles.

My great aunt let me stay with her.  We talked for hours and travelled all over northeast Arkansas seeing the old ancestral homes.  She cooks like you would imagine any southern grandmother to cook–everything from scratch and tastes DELICIOUS.  No one makes sweet tea like she does. I think I drank half a gallon while I was there. I experienced true happiness this week, time with my family…and gained 3 pounds thanks to all the southern food and super sweet tea. That’s the good life, y’all.

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Nighttime Reflections

I am spending the next 3 days with my best friend and her family, and since she has four children under the age of five and a part time job…she’s tired.  She and her husband have gone to bed, so I’ve retired to my room to get a little computer time in before going to bed myself.  I’m so happy to be here with them. Her four kids, my Godchildren, are so adorable and so much fun. I miss the days when they lived only 20 minutes from me…rather than three hours.

Anyway, now that they are in bed and all four kids are asleep (I hope, for their sake, all four STAY asleep for several hours), the house is uncharacteristically quiet.  I didn’t realize this house could get this quiet!  There is usually someone crying or talking…or the sound of little bare feet slapping the hardwood floors.  In effort to keep the house quiet and avoid somebody waking up, I’ve opted not to watch TV or watch YouTube videos (I forgot my earphones!).  With all this silence, I’ve been sitting here thinking about things.

For some reason, I started thinking about high school.  I probably thought about this due to my imminent birthday (March 6)…which makes me realize it’s been quite a long time since I was in high school!  I’ve been out of high school long enough now that some of my old friends from those days have kids well into elementary school, some are getting divorced, some are recently remarried…we’re grown ups!  When you’re in your early 20s, you consider yourself a “grown up” (and technically you are)…but when you reach my age you begin to realize you were still just a kid then.

I sometimes miss the carefree days of college…being on my own without really being on my own.  I had the luxury of coming and going as I pleased without the burden of financial responsibilities bombarding me from every angle.  It was still easy, and almost “fashionable” to stay up until all hours…sometimes it was even necessary if I had a big test the next day.  I was always coming and going, spending more time with friends than alone or with family…and it was a tragedy if something happened to prevent me from spending time with them.  Back then, my family were important to me, but my friends were my life.  I spent hours talking on the phone (believe it or not, I actually went to college during a time when texting had not quite taken off the way it has now), and when I wasn’t on the phone I was with the people I was on the phone with.

During college and shortly thereafter, every aspect of life seemed so emotionally charged.  It was much easier for me to become passionate about things.  It doesn’t take all that much for people of that age to get into arguments with their friends, enter a phase where you aren’t speaking, etc.  Of course, within the week it was all forgotten and life moved on as if it never happened.  In college you don’t care as much about having nice things (except when it comes to technology), matching furniture, fancy dishes, and things like that.  For people that age lucky enough to live off campus, it is not uncommon to have mismatched furniture in every room, sitting atop the 30-dollar rug you purchased at Walmart all on your own and are so proud of.

It’s strange to think about that time in my life, because it wasn’t really that long ago, yet it seems like it was.  It’s strange to see how much your life changes and your priorities change in such a short span of time.  When you reach my age, you have your own house, or at least your own apartment.  You want your furniture to match. All of a sudden you find dishes and cookware interesting.  You don’t have a Walmart rug in your living room anymore.   Instead of wanting the fastest car, you want a practical car that saves gas mileage and has four doors to seat everyone comfortably and isn’t too hard to climb out of.  If you have children, you actually want and maybe already have a minivan.

You realize how smart your parents actually are.  Instead of being afraid of being caught out with your parents by your friends, you start to want to hang out with them.  They are starting to be more like friends than parents all of a sudden.  You don’t spend half the amount of time with your friends that you once did, because they’re all busy with their lives and so are you.  Instead of going to bars or clubs when you do get to spend time with them, you just go out to eat or to each others’ homes.  I never did lead a “party lifestyle” anyway, but I spent more time in bars then than I do now–which is never.  In fact, I don’t drink at all now.

When you call or text your friends now, you don’t get upset or wonder what you did wrong if they don’t answer you.  In fact, you find yourself feeling surprised if they actually do respond in a timely manner.  It takes an awful lot for you to get into any sort of fight with a friend when you reach the end of your 20s.  You’ve grown up and matured.  Stupid petty things don’t upset you like they once did.  And if you do have a falling-out with a friend, it’s over something pretty bad…something you and that person just do not and will not agree on.  If someone hurts you, a lot of times you stop speaking to each other forever…not just a few days.  Luckily it rarely happens, though…well, unless one or both parties have failed to mature with age which sometimes happens.

You begin to look back at all the friends you once had and you realize just how many people you have lost touch with.  People who you spent practically every waking moment with in school are reduced to a Facebook friend you rarely hear from, with the exception of the random comment or like on your status or photo. It doesn’t happen with all your friends, though.  Some friends you make in high school and college will be your friends for life.  And you realize late in your 20s just how rare that is and how precious they are to you.  You also make new friends at work, people who share your interests and become just as close to you as your college buddies were, even if you don’t spend nearly as much time with them.

While some of this may sound depressing to a younger person, it really isn’t.  It’s just the naturally progression of life that comes with maturity.  One thing you realize at my age is, while you do miss those days from time to time, most people wouldn’t go back if they could.  When you get older and mature, you start to settle down and appreciate different things than you appreciated in school.  I personally loved college, but I wouldn’t go back to those days no matter how much you paid me.  Now those days are just fond memories of a good time, but I’m much more settled down and content with my life and myself than I’ve ever been before…and I like it.

Another thing that happens after school is that you become your teachers’ peers rather than their subordinates.  I’m actually friends with some of my college professors and even a couple of my high school teachers.  Some of the teachers I feared and even disliked in high school, I now look back on with respect.  The ones I liked the least were the ones from whom I learned the most.  Age becomes a far less important factor when you’re in your late 20s.  In high school, it was just much too beneath you to be friends with people more than a couple of years younger, and the people a few years older felt the same about you.  Now, I have friends decades older than I am!  And I don’t think a thing of it.  It’s natural to me.

I guess one of the saddest things to happen when you get older is you start hearing about the deaths of some of your old teachers from high school.  The ones that were older and about to retire when I was in school are now dying.  It makes me sad.

One of my best and favorite teachers from high school passed away not that long ago and I was so hurt by that.  She was one of the teachers most feared by all the students.  I almost took the class in summer school just to avoid taking it with her.  Had I done that, I would have cheated myself in a big way.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately.  My senior English teacher taught me almost everything I know about writing.  If it hadn’t been for her, I’d never have made it through college with almost a 4.0.  I’d never have been able to use my writing as a source of income.  You can’t tell from reading this blog, but I can actually write fairly well.  Well enough to be published from time to time.  I don’t take the time to make this blog perfect like I do my professional writing.  I just write as it comes to me.  Proofreading–ha! I just wish I’d have told her how much her class did for me.

One of the best things you can do for a teacher is go back when you’ve grown up and tell them how much their class meant to you or how it was a major part of your success.  I would have told her eventually how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated her, but I never imagined she’d die before I got the chance.  It broke my heart.  It broke a lot of people’s hearts.  She was the best of the best of the teachers at my high school.  It’s still funny to me how one of the most feared teachers at my school (and most hated by students who didn’t care to learn or even try) ended up being my favorite.  After my first week in her class, the fear subsided and I was so glad I hadn’t taken the easy way out of her class.  I miss her.  I miss her so much.

Happy New Year, Depression, and Updates

I don’t know how I let so much time pass without writing anything! I’m sure the reason is simply lack of interest. It’s not that I’m not interested in writing for my blog. When I do write it makes me feel better. I love writing things down if for nothing else than to have something to come back to down the road and be able to see exactly what I was thinking at any given time. My blog I kept during my years in nursing school is one of my most cherished possessions. I go back and look at it from time to time and it always brings back memories I had long forgotten, while always providing me with a good laugh. Some of the things I wrote about…and some of the “hardships” I complained about while I was in nursing school are absolutely laughable! I’ve changed a lot since those days…

Anyway, since about 4 months into my spine injury journey, I’ve been struggling with depression. It’s pretty obvious why I’m depressed, I think. My whole world has been turned upside down and shaken until every ounce of familiarity, comfort, and happiness fell out and shattered into a thousand pieces. Life as I knew it before my injury is one hundred percent different. Not being able to work with patients and do what I love has literally sucked the life out of me. Once several months had passed and it became apparent that I would never again be able to live my life in the way I was accustomed to, I lost my will to go on. I’m not saying I was suicidal, but I certainly wasn’t interested in life anymore. They say that everything happens for a reason and that even our hardest times are just preparing us for bigger and better things…but here I am eight months later and literally NOTHING good has come out of it. It sounds terrible and I know it’s not the appropriate viewpoint, but I literally hate my life right now. And, yes, I know there are many, many people in this world far worse off than I am…and yes, I’m thankful my problems aren’t as bad as they COULD be. I’ve been lectured, scolded, and shouted at plenty of times so I don’t need anyone else telling me my point of view is screwed up. Believe me, I KNOW it is. Depression makes you view things differently, though. It alters your thinking and makes you feel like there is nothing good in your life and makes you feel like there’s no point in waiting and hoping for better things to come your way because, as far as you’re concerned, those better things aren’t coming. Is it the right way to think? No, but it’s how I feel.

Depression is a real medical condition and those who suffer from it may know the right way to feel, but they physically and mentally aren’t able to feel that way even if we desperately want to. When you’re depressed, you lose interest in things you once loved, you feel like your whole life is a mistake. You can point your finger in their face and scold them all day about their crappy outlook on life, but it won’t change the fact that they are depressed. It won’t help them, and if it does anything it only makes them feel worse. Something I’ve realized and had to tell several people is that if you’ve never suffered from true, honest-to-God depression (not just a temporary sense of “the blues”) then you have no idea what a depressed person feels and you should never claim that you do. The best thing anyone can do for someone who is depressed is be supportive. You can tell them you’re worried about them–they know they have a problem–and above all, tell them you’re there for them if they need you. Offer to do what you can to help if you’re truly interested and truly care whether or not they get better. The worst thing you can do is get angry at them and tell them how much they suck then proceed to tell them in no uncertain terms that you hate them and are not interested in whether or not they are depressed (as one of my friends did a while back). It’ll only make them more depressed, and possibly make you a reason they ended it all. I’m not that depressed, thank God, but it isn’t getting better. I hope to overcome this disgusting depression soon. I’m sick of it.

Anyway, since I’m depressed, I’m doing everything I can to beat it. I’m getting out more–as much as I’m physically able. I’m seeing  a doctor. There isn’t much else I’m able to do. Hopefully I’ll lick it soon. I also spent a week with my best friend and her family and it was so nice. I enjoyed seeing her and my godchildren. They did a lot to lift my spirits. So much so, I didn’t want to come home! My back wasn’t ready for all the kid-chasing and kid-lifting…I’m in the most pain I’ve been in since my last surgery. It’s bad. I’m definitely paying for it, but it was worth every bit of the pain. My friend has been so amazing through all of this. She is supportive and always there to talk when I need her. She was entirely too good to me while I was visiting. She paid for my meals, took me on a day trip and paid for everything, gave me gifts, and we had many long talks. It was the best medicine I could have received. We vowed to visit each other more, as she lives 150 miles away. She’s even asking around to help me possibly find a job where she lives so I can be closer to her. While I’m not overly excited about the prospect of moving to a small southern town (I’m a city girl through and through), part of me thinks it would be nice to live a good distance from my parents, while still close enough to visit whenever I want, and live really close to her. She moved almost four years ago and I still miss seeing her all the time.

While I still have a long way to go, I know the depression will eventually get better. I’ve always struggled with it as many of my relatives have, but this is the worst it’s been. I’ve never experienced such a major life change before, so it’s no wonder it got so bad. My hope is that I’ll finally beat this and begin finding joy in my writing again. Even as I write this blog entry I see how much I’ve changed. I used to spend hours writing every day, paying special attention to wording, grammar, and punctuation. I’d read and re-write things multiple times until they were just right. Now I’m just rambling on not giving anything a second look. I’m sure there are countless grammatical and punctuation errors. The fact that I honestly don’t care about those errors proves I have a problem. Wish me luck, I’m ready to be happy again.

Happy new year to all. May this be a year of success and happiness for everyone.

If My Friend Could See Me Now.

I had a dream the other night, my uncle came to me.
He told me he’d been watching and I was no pleasant sight to see.
“What do you mean uncle? Have I been living the wrong way?”
“Yes,” he told me firmly.  “You’re throwing your life away.”
“I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong, I work, I do the best I can!”
“You’re not the girl you used to be, your spirit’s pale and wan.
You go through life from day to day just struggling to get by.
You find no joy in simple things, like when I was alive.”
“You’re right,” I told him sadly, understanding what he meant.
My life’s felt meaningless and empty since to heaven your spirit was sent.
On earth he was a partner in crime, my confidant, my friend.
When he died so suddenly, I felt my life too, would end.
I no longer find joy in simple things the way I did before.
Now I live in search of happiness and always needing more.
“Did you think I would be proud of you, for living your life this way?
You can’t go through life just trying to erase the day.”
“I don’t see the point anymore now that you’re not here.
I’ve lost you, my friends, my joy…all the things I hold dear.”
“I’m sorry you’re unhappy, your sadness I hate to see.
But you can’t continue living life waiting to join me.
There’s a whole world out there–amazing things–just waiting for you to find.
I may not be there physically but my spirit’s right behind.
Go live your life as I would do, drive fast, play your music loud.
Be the special person you are and stop disappearing into the crowd.
We’ll reunite soon enough but until that day arrives,
You must stop feeling so much pain and go out and live your life.”