Saturday, January 28, 2017

Nothing you All Say Speaks to me, as a woman. . .

My social media feed is full of everyone talking about women, and none of these posts speak for me.
None speak for me, really.
I've never been less than strong and confident and capable.
Not even in a small portion.

I can speak for myself.

That doesn't mean I've always been treated equally, either. 
I am the daughter of a man who could never value a woman in the same way he valued a man. I was less because I was me instead of him. . .
But I loved him. He was incredible and nothing he thought about women made his value less to me.
Choices.
I am a woman who has not once, but many more times than once known abuse as a child, teenager and adult because I was a girl, a woman, but I still believe in life . . .even when that fear which is spoken about so often has been very real to me.
I was a teenage mom.
A single mom.
A girl without a clue what on Earth to do without a support system at 21 years old with a 2 year old little boy in tow when trying to go to college in a backward town's community college.
I've been alone.
scared.
so taken advantage of and sad.
scared.
so very alone.
But I've been capable, smart and sure of myself, too. I've seen opportunity to create change, to matter, to be an equal.
I know it isn't perfect.
Believe me when I say my heart and soul and mind never forget what a great price women can pay for being girls, for being women. . .
But there is this line where we can take advantage of being women, just as men can, and we can decide to be victims and revel in that choice.
Life gives us no assurance of a happily ever after.
You can't charge another being with anothers transgression, either.
Frankly, life is never equal. And there are areas we must still work on,
and always will we find these areas.
If you're born richer, better looking, smarter, more driven, thinner and / or under the right sign, you have an advantage.
Life isn't fair.
It is always going to be largely what you make of it.
I would never say accept anything that is wrong, cruel or harmful. Always work to make everything better in all aspects. . .
But never forget that. . .
Life isn't fair. It never will be. Even if you start even, events will and can put you at an advantage or disadvantage.
Your life and experience is always going to be largely what you make of it.

The Story of a Mother who went to school and volunteered and was an activist and also of her Boys in 2017. . .

I was born to a father who was almost 60. I was part of the next generation of children he would bring into the world. One of not too many short of 20. 

An afterthought, really. 

I came after so many children, and many came after me. 

I was born to a world turning more "progressive" but to a man who would never be because he was born in 1923.

I grew up.

It was both charmed and tragic depending on the day. Thus is the life of anyone growing up at any point in the world. It isn't special.

I was a mom to a spectacular little blue eyed, blond haired child when I had barely turned 19.

I had cried on the floor of an upstairs room where my grandmother lived when I found out.

And when he was born, I was swept away in the crying maniacs little gaze.

I went to college as a single mom without a thread of support, and I was also a young woman who was trying to offer something to her much younger sister and 3 brothers who came to her often.

Children are tomorrow and today all at once.

And later, when the next two came under a very difficult sky, I gave them everything I could.

Frankly,. . .I gave almost my life since we learned nothing about post teenage me could safely produce children. It was a fair risk.

I wanted strong, independent and deep thinking children. Originals.

I didn't offer a traditional education. Instead, I exposed them to all types of current events and thought processes, as well as a small farm life and sometimes what is simple, wild abandon and activism.

They have a mama who believed in breastfeeding them beyond the scope of the American norm, co-sleeping and baby wearing, but who also believed that once they were "made" and "capable," she had another calling. Maybe she believed it well before they were capable, but she knew to drag them along, then.

I've never made them first since they were beyond toddler-hood.

Sometimes I wonder what type of story this really is for them at all.

I've made them loved boys, though.

I've made them confident, safe and secure boys.

But I've never made them number #1.

They have a mama who knows she wasn't really meant to be a mother but is, anyhow. And she was a mother who loved them as truly as any could have, but. . .

And there was always this but. . .

They have been well loved, well hugged boys in the backseat while I picked up a starving horse
and 3 dairy goats on the way to the Capitol to talk about farmers and freedom.

They have a mama who will never be sure what she did was right, but she did it (regardless) and gave it her best. Whatever that was.

They have a mama who couldn't sleep and probably never will because she can't be sure those things were good enough. . .

Because she was born when her father was almost 60.

And she came after many children, and so many came after her. She came into a world becoming more "progressive" to a man who would never be because he was born in 1923.

And she is sure she will always carry weight around very sure she failed her children while being sure she did what was right by doing what would serve them long past childhood. . .though it will always seem a bit of a disservice.

And I suppose it all speaks, in one way or another to any mother.

Whether she worked or volunteered or stayed home. . . 



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Legitimate compassion has no limitations

While I wrote this last year on this day another reason, today, looking over my newsfeed . . . I am reminded of how it works for today for other reasons entirely. Cherry picking about decency for lives doesn't work.
----------->>> We have no right to be blatantly, carelessly cruel to any being. . .
It should be able to go without mentioning that this includes going beyond those you "like," including children, the poor, the dejected, the elderly and animals, but in this world, any of those I just mentioned are willfully excluded under all sorts of convenience clauses.
But clauses do not actually exist with compassion, folks. That door is closed. It isn't even a door.
How very inconvenient this is.
"Kids annoy me, so. . ."
"I am not a dog person, so. . ."
"I own that creature, so. . ."
"They are poor because they want to be, so. . . "
"Old people don't move quick enough to suit me, so. . ."
While you may not want to build a life with kids, dogs, the homeless all packed in a nursing home, you had better believe that should you find it easy to exclude beings from kindness, the problem is within You.
I digress right off the start, though. Getting side tracked and so forth. . .
You can believe in accountability, live child-free, farming and not pick up every stray animal you see with ethics and compassion in tow.
And this is really more about the differentiation some folks make between those who care for all beings and those who claim to care greatly about selection beings, but never all (which really means none).
I hear it more often than I care to tell you.
From those who would classify themselves as lovers of "American
Freedom. . ." about how we have to guard our rights to do whatever we wish with our animals from those who would regulate or reduce those rights. . .
What on Earth does this even mean? I'm being quite serious.
You cannot lose a liberty that doesn't exist. You do not have the liberty to abuse. That isn't in the Constitution, as a side note.
You do not have the right, whether in America or not, whether there is an appropriate law or not. . .to perpetuate cruelty or to neglect beings able to feel that neglect.
Do not tell people in one breath all your concerns about preservation of human lives (that, facts are, you do not want to care for in even a small capacity once they are out the womb) and then in another breath tell us how we have to guard our ability to tie our dogs on ropes behind the trailer without shelter in 5 degree weather.
I'm saying this because I see posts just like this all of the time.
Oh! My eyes. My eyes.
You know, because assuring the right to neglect animals here. . .THAT is exercising American Freedom. . .or something?
Legitimate compassion has no limits, folks.
You do not have the right to do absolutely whatever you wish with those under your care: Be they children, your feeble parents or your dogs.
No state or person or law can give you that right, and laws governing the care you provide are really simple writings of what should be an understood moral code.
Moral. Code.
If the type of compassion you have excludes certain age groups, socioeconomic groups or ends at humans. . . you're just packing around an agenda. . .masquerading it as kindness. . .
That isn't what it is. Just so you know.
(In an otherwise serious post, please have a laugh at my meme creator's autocorrect I didn't catch of Tinia into Tina)

What an Awkward day to be an American

What an awkward day to be a gal who has lived quite exceptionally privileged . . .
And who has also been a 19 year old mother and a college student alone with a little boy in the poorest area in the USA. . .
To be one who has been a vegetarian for 20 years and worked in animal rescue but still love people. . .
What a time to care about the unborn and the just born and those born for many years. . .
And still care about women and children being safe from sexual abuse by men because I've suffered through both so many times. . .
To want to protect the environment we live in, too. . .
To care about keeping America safe for our people, but to also understand why people flee to come here, even illegally.
What a day to love freedom but wonder if we are mostly too lazy and silly to actually ever deserve or use it.
What a day to believe in giving to those who have a need but not to those with a want.
What a time to love Jesus and believe all he said but find all his loudest proclaimers (in voice, not deed) devoid of the thing he demanded most from us. . .
Such a time as this. . .


Rape and Women and Equality in America

Statistics suggest 1 in 5 women are raped.
1 in 5 girls are also molested as children.
The perpetrators are almost always men, and you would imagine, the numbers for boys is starkly lower, and it is even less for men. We are talking numbers here. It happens in boys and men, but it point blank happens at a massively lower rate.
Does this sound equal? Does this sound like a big deal?
Of course, we know that even with those astronomical numbers, the rates are actually must higher in women and girls than the estimates show us.
Most woman are afraid or too ashamed or afraid to ever make a report or speak of it. If they do speak of it, they are ignored or mocked too often. The men too often get a slap on the wrist.
Of all the woman I know who have experienced one or both of these types of crimes, none have reported it either from fear or shame or both.
Based on women I know, it seems more like 1 in 3 as adult women.
If you were to look into sexual misconduct toward women, it would be difficult to find a woman who was being candid who wouldn't report she had been grabbed, groped or otherwise harassed at many times in her life.
She would typically shrug it off. Boys will be boys, right?
No.
Take it a step further, and take a moment to ask women to be honest and tell you how many times they have found themselves in a parking garage, a parking lot or gas station at night alone or with small children and had a man follow them, make lewd comments and so forth. How many times they have been afraid, talked faster, didn't make eye contact. . .how many times.
Please don't even ask me to talk to you about what happens when a girl or a woman suggest misconduct. Don't ask me to tell you how she is blamed over and over so many times until she is quiet. I know. I know very, very well.
I can't tell you about all the areas where things aren't right in the world. Certainly. I cannot. I cannot tell you about many aspects of human equality or gender equality.
But I can tell you without a consideration to any other area of this "woman" issue, women do still suffer grossly in one huge space of their lives at a massive number that says there is a problem. Unfortunately, we've really, as a society, decided it is just "part of being a woman" and our cross to bear.
That is insane.
It is an inequality that is gruesome and follows you forever. It isn't a lower paycheck or going back to work too soon after a child is born. It isn't about birth control.
It is about physical abuse that destroys women and the men walk away.
Every single time I go in the women's bathroom at Black Sheep Burrito in Huntington by Marshall University, the Rape Crisis Line has all the numbers torn off their flyer. They put another up, the numbers quickly go again. I always take note when it is up and how quickly numbers come off. It matters to me.
There is a problem with how boys are taught, even without meaning to, about girls from a young age. We do make objects of women and make them feel they cause actions in men and boys.
We leave women wrecked for years with scars that never want to heal because what would otherwise be a normal part of life becomes the re-opening of a wound over and over. . .forever.
And I have to read posts like,
"Women in America, do you feel suppressed?" typed with smugness as if we have it so well, but they forget these numbers.
To make it all the more sad, women respond with, "No. I don't." They have accepted all of this as normal.
It isn't normal.
Rape, sexual assault and molestation isn't normal. Normal or acceptable isn't one in five, one in three,
one in two.
That isn't equality. This isn't ok.
And I do wish those who do not know better on this matter would shut up.
I know the "woman" issue involved all sorts of things to different people. Well, the above is what it means to me.
And that, folks, isn't a theory. It is a cold, very sad and very hard fact of American life for girls and women. . .


Friday, January 13, 2017

Sometimes the weight of them makes me wish I'd never known them at all. . .

A Decade has now gone.
Seems apt it is a bit warmer than usual tonight and pouring rain. It was then, too.
It has been harrowing in every manner I could have and could not have imagined.
And after all this time, I have to start remembering, while they have been gone 10 years. . .
I had Angel for 17 years.
I had Ben for 19 years.
I had Quentin for 14 years.
Those years were full of good, quirky, blissful, sad and angry times. Had I known I'd lose them one day, a moment that came far too soon, I'd have made all of those days amazing. I hope.
Hindsight.
I'd have never said a hateful word. I'd have "done a lot of things different," as you can imagine. I'd have gone above. I'd have went beyond.
Surely. Right? But then. . .
Angel loved to hug folks, and frankly, so did Ben. They were folks who appreciated the hope a hug could offer. They were meek and looked for reassurance I rarely gave.
I brought the fun, the laughs, and the grouch and voice of realism to every single day.
Quentin. . . he was a lot more like me all around.
All these years later, I still cringe a little ( or lot) when folks hug me. I'm still a hopeless, pessimistic sort, rarely being the voice of assurance anything will work out. I'm still tremendously fun, too.
I guess I've not learned enough because I'd give most anything to hug them now and tell them whatever they wanted to hear, but I cannot. But then, I can't seem to remember these things with those all around me. . .some still need the things I didn't give back then.
Maybe that is one hump I'll never overcome. Maybe I have to let that worry go.
I'm better and worse for having known them and lost them.
Changed. For Good.
They were awesome kids. They were very loved.
I will never get to see them as more as people on the cusp of "the rest of their lives," but I am so very glad I saw them as I did for as long as I was able, and the rest I'll work on letting go.
forever.
work on letting it go.


Friday, January 6, 2017

The Bane of Social Media: WHY Your Facebook Newsfeed says far more about You than anything else

When I think of Facebook, Instagram and the like, I think about ways I am able to keep up with people I enjoy and ways I've facilitated hundreds and hundreds of abuse and neglect horses, dogs and cats in the past 7 years. I think of how I was enabled to win a huge victory at our state legislature for freedom in West Virginia. I remember the amazing events I've coordinated through the contact base born through Facebook. I never forget the clear success my small farm has experienced through the marketing done through social media month after month. I mull over a neat campaign my husband ran working toward a state seat in politics, too.

An abandoned herd of horses recently save by the rescue where I serve as director just a week ago because of social media.

 I think of all of the moments in the lives of people I know either very well or even just a bit. I ponder all the events in my local area I am aware of that I would miss, otherwise. I always appreciate the millions of dollars non-profits raise for causes that would be overlooked by us without social media. So many amazing works are happening at a grassroots level and find success in a way never possible before. So many phenomenal things.

A filly alive today only because a few people met many years ago online, formed a rescue
that has last a long time and raised money almost solely online to save lives like Rita's

I hope to never get to the point seeing where witnessing the goings on in the lives of people I care feels annoying. I hope to never seem irritated that people share success stories or happy moments, even if they are somewhat inflated or the type that overshadow less bright times we may be aware of in their lives. I reckon we can all dwell on the good more than the bad a bit more, eh?

A well attended protest the year before we had success in changing the laws of West Virginia for small farmers

We forget or refuse to admit that how we perceive or experience things says a lot more about who we are than it ever says about other folks. It also tells us a tremendous amount about the type of people we are opting to surround ourselves with day in and out.

I am very aware social media, like life, can be toxic. I know that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be used for horrible, cruel, gossipy and wasteful things. So can life. Real life, ya'll, and if you're part of it in any manner online, you probably need to mull over how involved you are in-person, in your real and hand to hand existence. . .

If you find your social media "feed" is full of garbage, I venture to say, at the risk of making you irritated, your real life is, too. If you can't stand what you see on these virtual feeds, I bet, if you're honest, you shouldn't be standing the conversations you see and take part in during your regular life or venting about them anywhere.

A homeless, pregnant dog who likely wouldn't have survived yesterday without the quick networking I used through Facebook to find a rescue group able to save her and her unborn puppies lives

Your life, the one that plays out online and in the one in reality, is in your hands. You aren't a puppet. The people you put in either place are your responsibility. The way you craft and shape this life is up to you. If all you see is doom, gloom, toxic waste, that is either what you are a willful passenger to or a perpetrator of, sad as this may be to hear.



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Why I am looking forward to 2017: It isn't why you may imagine. . .

2016

A year the majority of people are glad to see over and done, at least from where I sit glossing over my newsfeed.

It seems a rotten run of one disaster into another disaster for many folks.

For me, the end of this year brought within a breath's reach the finish of ten full years I've lived without my sister and two younger brothers.

A decade passes on the 13th of January. When it comes and goes, I'm done.

I've thought a lot about how slow and fast this time has gone. How that works, I don't know. How can it seem like I've not laid my eyes on them ever before and then that they were lost only yesterday?

But after ten years comes to a close, I have decided to let this go. To some who only know me after their loss, you may believe I've accomplished a lot of good, kept it together and been really inspirational, but what I know is I've allowed a lot to become lost in this nightmare, and those who knew me before are very aware. I'm not really sure the positive changes in me could ever outweigh the negatives.

So I have to let it go. The grief I swore I would never stop holding onto desperately. . .

There is a thing people who suffer catastrophic loss often either do not realize or will not share. It is in the holding on to the brokenness that we initially survive. But after a bit, it becomes so familiar and connected to those we miss, we don't really want to let it go. I know for many years, I did not.

To ever decide to let it go, for me, means to really close a book on those I have been tightly clinging onto. I used to think I could keep remembering and remembering and be ok. And it served a very real purpose then. But after ten full years, I have found I thought so much about their absence, I have forgotten their lives.

I remember their death. I don't remember them living. And they were so vibrant and alive. I think of the apartment in a blaze and being numb and walking around in front of the building dragging my little boy behind who was frozen in the January rain for hours, how their skin looked and felt like clay when I was finally able to see and touch them.

How can I be ok dragging those memories around?

I don't remember their laughter, what it felt like to hug them or how it was to talk to them at all, anymore. Their lives have been replaced by their deaths.

I forget how they sounded when they were mad at me. I forget what having them in LIFE was like at all.

Ten years of remembering death has wrecked me. And it has given those who love me a shell of a person holding onto gruesome memories day in and out.

How I wish I could have spent these last ten years remembering them the way I do my daddy. But that was never my way. While I miss him, when I think of him, I think of him as he was. I almost never think of when he left. But when people are taken from us in an unexpected, brutal way, it works so differently.

Frankly, had you told me 9 years ago or one year ago, I would come to a point I wanted to let this go, I would have been enraged at the suggestion.

I would have been angry, at my worst. I would have felt guilt, at my most honest. How dare one tell me I should let this go. They are mine, and I lost them. I would have said I'll be this way forever. But forever is crushing me.

I haven't spent ten years celebrating their lives. I've spent it grieving myself to death. So close to being unable to carry it, I dare not really say.

It has prevented me from caring enough about anything else, prevented me from carrying anything positive for anyone else. . .the weight of the despairing sadness has been to heavy for anything else to be carried with me, really.

It has made me more cynical and pessimistic than my nature ever was, and honestly, being able to blame what I lost has occasionally been a handy crutch, too. How did I let their loss become an excuse? That is shameful.

Choices. We make them, and the lack of a choice is A choice, whether we admit it or not. I chose to give that grief a solid decade. That beautiful sister and those awesome brothers of mine would never have wanted me to spent ten years remember they died. They would have appreciated remembering they lived, though. Remembering they are gone is about me. Remembering they were amazing is above them.

I finally feel like closing that door is a possibility.

So in 2017, I'll let that go, and I will remember they lived and forget the rest. I've carried it as long as I can.




Monday, December 26, 2016

Memories: So much more than a cake. . .

My Daddy's Sister, Peep, has been a concrete part of my entire life.
She worked with him for every day of Lucas Grocery's existence, which was over 50 years of toiling on cement without heat or air in a cinder-block building that held a value beyond what money could cover to thousands of people in Lincoln, Logan and far beyond.
She was known for her love a taking photos with the good looking fellows who passed through the store and for an amazing bologna sandwich made for those who knew to ask or took her up on the offer of one, if they were lucky enough to be liked.
She took care of my Daddy when he could no longer get around on his 2 canes, walk anymore and kept the store open day in and out until he died. When he was buried, she locked the doors and so it was over. . .a time in her life which spanned over 1/2 a century.
She is the last of the 12 brothers and sister left, and she is almost 90 years old. She was the youngest, Daddy was the youngest son that lived past infancy.
I suppose I know where my great love for my siblings comes from when I think of her dedication to Daddy. It went so far beyond what most could ever offer. . she is proud of being there for him.
When I stopped to see her on Christmas eve, it was the first time no one was there. She hasn't been well. That is a first, too. She gave her kids all a ham, the gifts early and was just not up to a big to do this year.
My middle son asked about her amazing (and it really is amazing) "whatever day" cake she always makes, but there was none to be had. I told her we'd come back up sometime to have it because she was sad she hadn't made one when he had looked forward to it.
When we left, My mom and sister stopped in. Peep insisted they wait while she put a cake together for Jack to have for Christmas.
We had no idea, and Jack was thrilled when my mom arrived with it. I was thrilled to have that old glass pan so many of these "whatever day" cakes have been made in. I know that pan. I know that label, and I probably will never return it. . .
That is a memory right there of so much more than a pudding and graham cracker cake. So much more than a cake.











Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"So long, I can't remember when. . ."

"So long, I can't remember when. . ."
But actually, I still can. Faintly. I think maybe it would be easier to forget.
Eventually, I will, regardless.
There was a time when Christmas brought only amazing moments, feelings. The day, the season, it all meant spending it with so many people I held terribly dear, so many pictures taken, so many conversations. . .a lot of food that wasn't usually edible (since few knew how to cook a thing), far too many gifts and various silly and amazing traditions that we had worked hard to create.
The story of the Land of Nog. The visit from the shaving cream Santa, The innovative Christmas Pageant at Aunt Ruth's I created when I was about 7 years old, Stump's Ham and then Scott's Ham Chips, Giving Papaw some lewd gift in a Kwanzaa Bag, Daddy handing out Christmas shopping money in bank envelopes just in time, not a one of us being morning people able to wake up to open a thing before noon. . .the red jello Bow handed down for years and years. The love of shiny paper. Everyone trying to hide one gift in order to have the "LAST!" (I always won. Still do). How much those nostalgic pieces of life meant to them, to me, and how little they can ever  mean to anyone else. . .
. . .Never thinking of a time we would go off to have Christmas in another way. Always the same. Unwilling to change it up for any reason.
This year I remember ten years ago. The last time.
It was the last time Christmas could ever hold that much joy and tradition. It was the last time we could rest in the anticipation of all it had meant before to us.
It was the last time it held no one ounce of sadness.
I had no one to miss this day. I had everyone, and in fact, they had me.
Holidays hold sadness for many people. I know. I am so very glad to be able to still hold onto a time where mine held not one thing but happiness in such a raw way.
As years pass, it is harder to remember. I can talk about many things, but feeling those things are quite another matter. That starts to become impossible year after year. You look at pictures but don't recall all the details.
10 years ago, this was what Christmas meant, though, and it was magic.
You never have a promise of anything tomorrow. You have moments. Memories. Pictures. You must appreciate them now.
There was no way to know how many people I treasured beyond understanding would not be there the next Christmas on this day ten years ago.
There was no way to know in just a short span of time, more would be gone than left here with me, and suddenly, remembering the gift God gave us with our Savior's birth is celebrated more with souls I hadn't even met (some who were yet to be born or even imagined) or barely knew back then. . .
And I find you can rebuild and find some joy, and there is that saying. . .something about never being able to give without great loss, never being able to be thankful until you've been without that which you longed for, never being able to know great joy until you've known great sadness, and so it is for me a decade later, as I can tell you, I've known as deep an anguish as could be, but I'd be remiss to not tell you I've known and know tremendous, immeasurable love.









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LUCAS FARM

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27




"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington