The following articles were authored by DragonLady

Veteran’s Day #NaBloPoMo

I hated formations. I would do everything I could to get out of a formation. When I couldn’t, I was generally irritable and borderline (if not outright) belligerent. I knew there was some real work I could be doing rather than standing until my toes went numb. There was one when I was overseas that pissed me off to no end because while it was done with good intentions, the execution had the opposite effect. Because really, who wants to get up on the 4th of July and go stand in formation in order to improve patriotism. In “peacetime.” Having a lack of respect for a authority (which is not one of my good character traits), I pushed the envelope for that one. I dug out the worst uniform I owned which was one of my initial issued ones from basic, which I had worn at my first duty assignment. The pants were more faded than the shirt because that was one of the distinguishing marks of working in a combat comm unit in Oklahoma. You spent a lot of time outdoors in the heat with the BDU blouse off in just a tshirt. I found the worst looking BDU hat to wear, and probably found some mud to wade through and stick to my boots. Several of us carpooled, and so SSgt Nemec had 2 specialists and a senior airmen with her. I went all out to be a good role model. ;) When we got ready to leave, our division superintendent and commander were standing right in front of my car having a conversation. I said something like, “Hey y’all. Watch this!” I popped in a CD, skipped to the song I wanted, cranked up the volume, and blasted Fortunate Son. Despite that boldness, I was too scared to look as was Darrel and Val. But Emily looked, and gave a great description of the reaction. The commander pretended nothing was happening, but the superintendent’s jaw dropped in complete disbelief. Score! But, after all that, all of us disgruntled soldiers and airmen went to Pop Bellies for breakfast which made getting up worthwhile.

Fast forward a year later, and I still hate formations. And we all got tagged with one we couldn’t get out of. By all, I mean the entire organization, just like the 4th of July one. Only it was a workday, but a Friday, and this one required service dress/class A’s. Darrel managed to break something, so he had to stay and fix it while the rest of us dutifully gaggled up in front of headquarters. Now the occasion for this one was this. Every year the 303rd Bombardment Group who were based at RAF Molesworth during World War II would travel back to the UK for a reunion. That year was going to be their last reunion since it was so much harder for them to travel at their age. So the powers that be decided the JAC should greet them as they arrived. I was tired of standing long before they finally arrived. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for what I was about to be a part of. Yes, my uniform was sharp because I didn’t have crappy looking blues. My shoes were clean and shiny. And I snapped to attention and a sharp salute. What I wasn’t prepared for though was what I was about to see. I don’t know how many cars and buses drove through us. I have no idea how many WWII vets were in them. But there were a LOT, and I don’t think there was a dry eye among them. I know my eyes were leaking. I was filled with such pride to be able to honor those men – the heroes who made it. It was so humbling to watch those tear-filled men salute us back, and I was and still am so glad I didn’t get out of that one.

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Because of that one, I didn’t balk at going to the Memorial Day service the following year at Cambridge American Cemetery. Talk about another humbling experience. To walk among so many men who didn’t make it back. Utterly heartbreaking.

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Today I specifically want to remember family members who served before and with me. I don’t think there was a war since our countries founding that I didn’t have an ancestor serving in. Unfortunately, I can only put names to those since WWII. I have multiple uncles, cousins, in-laws, and a niece who have served in each branch. It’s great that my husband and I are among so many veterans among our families.

Hitting the wall again #NaBloPoMo

I ran into a friend at Starbucks last week. “You look tired.” Well, at least I looked like I felt. It was another one of those days that the alarm went off and I thought there was no way I would be able to get up. But I did, after only hitting snooze once, and was even a little bit early to work. Would have been earlier had I not had the conversation in Starbucks. I think I told her, “I need a wife.” But really what I need is another licensed driver and a second vehicle, and that won’t happen until after Thanksgiving. Next day a co-worker told me I looked like crap. Again, I looked like I felt.

Pretty sure I am burnt out. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a long time. It’s caught up with me. I wake up as tired as I go to bed. It’s like I’ve hit the wall.

I did something I didn’t want to do and stepped down from the worship team at church for a while. I didn’t give a time frame, but right now I am thinking a couple of months. I’m counting on Jamie getting her license and giving her Mom’s car to drive to take some of the pressure off of me to take everybody everywhere. At the very least, she will be able to take herself to her appointments. That will be less time I have to take off from work which means less time I have to make up at work since I am in the hole for leave and will be close to the max I can go in the hole after Thanksgiving. Anyway, back to the worship team, it’s not like it is really that big of a commitment. I was only doing a couple Sundays a month. But, over the past 3 or 4 months, I haven’t had the time nor the energy to put in the practice time I needed to. In turn, as much as I LOVE playing and singing with the band, I felt unprepared. And the last couple Sundays I played I couldn’t even keep the songs straight. Especially that last Sunday. Losing my place in a song is one thing. Playing the wrong song is a whole different thing.

I am mentally exhausted, I am emotionally exhausted, and I am physically exhausted. Perfectionism has run me into the ground. Thinking I have to know everything, do everything, and be perfect at it has beat me. That constant feeling of not being “good enough” or “strong enough” or “doing enough” has had a heavy toll.

And then it broke #NaBloPoMo

And then my quest to blog every day of November got squashed when I couldn’t log into my blog. By that I mean I couldn’t get to the admin site at all. I had to go into my hosting, rename the plugins folder which disabled all plugins, and that let me back in where I then reactivated my plugins one by one. It felt like work. Who knows which plugin shut me out.

Election day is over and thankfully I don’t have to hear any more campaign ads. I got so sick of them.

Amber only has 2 kittens left from litter #2. Our pet cemetery is filling up.

Ain’t feelin’ it #NaBloPoMo

I don’t feel like writing anything. I’m tired, I feel like crap, and I’m pretty sure it’s ebola because I’m not pregnant. And that is why you don’t Google your symptoms. I would say it’s the flu if I actually had fever. Working was difficult today. With an install team there on a system I’ve been identified as the backup admin for, I had to actually pay attention and do stuff. And a class kicked off today too, and I had to do some stuff for that. Not much, but at one point I was doing something install related when I got handed a list of students to check for accounts, and then the phone rang. In fact, my phone rang a lot today. It was crazy. Anyway, I nearly shut down at that point, but my coffee combined with a lack of food had me going full speed.

And I couldn’t find my debit card this morning. That’s the way to start a Monday off right when you discover it’s missing as you are trying to check out at Walmart. I found it later. In.My.Purse.

I don’t even know why I can’t seem to relax. I don’t feel stressed, at least not emotionally. I did snap at the hubby earlier, but I didn’t want to hear a bunch of bitching over and over about the same thing. That may be because I’m still a little irked over something he said yesterday while he was hangry.

On a good note, I don’t have any appointments this week. Yay! I mean, I have rehearsal Thursday night, but it doesn’t really feel like work when I’m doing something I love. Not that I don’t like my job, and my chiropractor, and my therapist. But talking about feelings is really hard, driving to Cary for chiro sucks after a full day of work (actually, it’s the drive home from Cary that sucks so bad), and 8-9 hours of working is, well, work. 3 hours of playing guitar and singing is fun.

I got some watercolor paint over the weekend. Something I haven’t dabbled in since high school. Would like to try my hand at it again.

Not earned #NaBloPoMo

I do a lot of reading. I was thinking about how many books I have read this year, and then I checked my Goodreads account, and maybe not so much. I’ve started a lot of books in the last 5 years, mostly non-fiction. Many of those didn’t get finished because I would just lose interest. I decided a couple weeks or so ago that I would not start another book until I finished the last book of R.A. Salvatore’s Hunter’s Blades Trilogy. Seriously, I’ve been reading The Two Swords for like 3 years. It’s time to finish. So I did finish it. And it didn’t wrap everything up so I now have to find the next book(s) in the series. Ugh! Or I could just tell myself that I killed King Obould Many Arrows in Neverwinter Nights and call that closure. ;)

The nonfiction I’ve read has been mostly Christian living books and most of those I have come to view as how-to books though that is probably not the intent of the authors. So many of them left me feeling even more that I don’t measure up. Less worthy and more unlovable. Totally inadequate. I had fallen again into thinking that I had to do a bunch of right things to be worthy of God’s love. The false gospel of salvation by works.

It is kind of ironic that while I grew up in church that I really started to learn about who God really is through recovery from alcoholism. In church I learned how to feel perpetual guilt and shame. I learned through addiction that I could numb and ignore my feelings. I made alcohol my higher power. In recovery I am learning that God really is the Higher Power I really need.

I have heard several well meaning Christians over the years say something to the effect of “Just believe in Jesus and your life will be great.” That’s just a subtle form of prosperity gospel which is not the Gospel. I can also tell you that there is a world of difference between being freed FROM sin and being freed OF sin. Salvation does not free you of sin. You are still going to sin. You won’t be perfect no matter how well-dressed and well-spoken you are when you go to church. And if you have a potty mouth, you’re going to say “shit” at church no matter if you’re 18 or 41. Or that might just be me. ;-) The point is, keeping up an outward appearance of holiness is such a deadly façade. It is completely deadly to nonbelievers who consider us hypocrites. Which, by the way, we are because we don’t live up to our own standards if we are truly and completely honest.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

I’m going to try a little something #NaBloPoMo

Since I didn’t blog at all in October (I did do a lot of journaling), I thought I would give NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) at try and see if I can actually blog every single day in November. And to start it off, I’m going to recap October – mostly in pictures. ;)

My therapist told me I needed to get away an chill out because I was winding down September about to breakdown. So I spent the first weekend in October in and around Wilmington because what better way to chill out than on the beach!

Beach therapy. #beach #sand #ocean #sun

A photo posted by Martha (@dragonlady42) on

I hit a small beach at Ft Fisher, and there was hardly anyone down there but fishermen. That was fine as I wasn’t going in the water anyway because the red devil went with me to the beach. It was a good chance to relax, and had a friend tell me when I got back that I looked at lot better than I did before I left. I really enjoyed doing what I wanted when I wanted. I even enjoyed getting sunburned in October.

Um, ouch. #burn #worthit #yesiaminpajamasat5pm

A photo posted by Martha (@dragonlady42) on

Then I got called out by my daughter’s therapist for my avoidance, and after making a remark to Petra, she told me I needed to call my sponsor. Of course I didn’t. ;) But, I did make a plan to stop avoiding and had a family meeting and made Jamie get her learner’s permit.

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She also started crocheting again and I took this hat.

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Looks like I’m wearing my thug eyes.

I’ll finish this off with Halloween. Chad was the Ultimate Warrior, and I failed to get a picture of him. Jamie was an Adventure Time character, but since I didn’t get a shot of Chad, I won’t post that one. I, however, decided to go as Stevie Nicks. The $6 Walmart wig doesn’t really capture her hair in any era, but the witch dress kind of hearkened back to the White Album/Rumours era when combined with the top hat.

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Warner Bros Records

Warner Bros Records

Ok, perhaps I didn’t pull it off. Oh, well. People just thought I was a witch, and that’s ok. One of the baristas asked me where my broomstick was. Haha! 12 hours was way too long to wear a wig and I had a splitting headache by the time I got home.

There was a lot in between the beach trip and Halloween, but that all went into my journal. And therapy sessions.

So we will see if I can pull off this whole blog post a day thing in November.

New babies

Since I haven’t been able to motivate myself to actually write anything, here are some cat pictures since Amber hatched again over the weekend.

Newborns:

She had one more after that:

And her remaining 2 from first litter just because:

Perspective and attitude

Perspective has a way of changing your attitude. Being the control freak that I am, my perspective has always been self-centered. My personal comfort took priority in how I looked at the world and situations. When things didn’t (or don’t) go the way I think they should, I end up on the pity pot only seeing the bad and never the good.

This has been most evident with my relationship with my dad. Yes the verbal abuse did a lot of damage. Yes, the lack of affirmation negatively affected me psychologically which in turn affected every relationship I’ve ever had with anyone including God. This was understandable and even excusable when I was a child. I didn’t have the capacity as a child to do anything more than develop ways to cope that allowed me to emotionally survive. Those coping skills long outlived their usefulness.

Since my mom worked outside the home when I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my dad. It was practically 24×7 until I started school so I am naturally like him in many ways. My mom did her best to counter many of the negative traits I picked either by imitation or genetics, but in ways that did not teach me to disrespect either of them. I am grateful for that now. Now I can see him as a father who did the best he could amidst his own character defects. And he tried to raise me to be respectful of others and independent and grounded in faith in God.

I just finished reading Barnabas Piper’s book The Pastor’s Kid. I’m a deacon’s kid, but much of what Barnabas wrote mirrored my own DK experience. I found much healing through his experience as a PK. I can now look my on my dad with a different perspective not only because of what Barnabas wrote of his experience, but also through working through my own issues and character defects.

Daddy taught small groups off and on at church up until I was 15. Throughout those years I saw him do a lot of study in preparation for teaching. He didn’t do it silently and would discuss it with my mom. It one pretty much one sided, but he was teaching as he was preparing to teach. I reaped the benefits of his preparation in that I was given a strong foundation for my own faith. Both he and my mom always encouraged me to study scripture for myself and not just blindly believe everything I heard either from the pulpit or from the classes I was in.

Acts 17:11 NIV ”
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

This was instilled in me more deeply than Missionary Baptist doctrine. Daddy learned what other denominations believed and taught me that as well even going to far as to teach me there was no doctrinal difference between Missionary Baptists and Southern Baptists. He made sure that I knew salvation was in Jesus and not in a particular church. That was a priceless gift.

When I started kindergarten, Daddy sat me down one day and had what I thought at the time was a weird talk. He talked to be about black people. Up to this point, I really hadn’t been around many black people because church and family were lily white. I don’t have any preschool memory of black people who weren’t on TV. He made it a point to explain to me that there was no difference between us and black people except for skin pigmentation and that didn’t matter. They had the same hearts and minds and I was never ever to call a black person “nigger” because it was hurtful. When I was older the conversation made sense, and it’s another thing I am grateful for because even though I wasn’t able to completely escape Southern culture race issues, that one conversation always came back to me to remind me that we are all human and I need to respect and love other people no matter our outside differences. It’s what’s inside that matters.

Daddy was a very smart man who could do just about anything. He was electrician, plumber, auto mechanic, small engine mechanic, gardener, and carpenter. He was also a fantastic cook who made the best apple and coconut cream pies I’ve ever eaten. He taught me much of that though mostly by watching and listening. But I do remember him taking the time to teach me how to do simple auto maintenance like checking and adding fluid and changing a tire. He is why I know my way around a breaker or fuse box. Throughout my childhood he did a lot of electrical, plumbing, and carpenter work for his sisters, widows in our community, and other family and friends. He taught by example to help others. And much of those skills he taught me explicitly were done before he went to prison I think because he saw I had the desire and the capacity to do minor maintenance and repairs that my mom lacked. She could cook and clean, and even do some gardening, but because she worked full time, she didn’t have time to do everything that needed to be done and had no inclination towards mechanical stuff. He ensured we weren’t left hanging, utterly dependent on other people for little things.

I remember when I played softball, Daddy would practice with me. I hated it most of the time because he and Mom both concentrated on my weakest area of catching which was grounders that I had to run for. Haha. He only missed one of my softball games. He didn’t miss any basketball game I played. He was there for every play and concert. When I was in the hospital he was there when my mom needed to go home and rest and a lot of the time when she was there too. He made me stay in bed when I was sick and made me drink lots of water and made my favorite foods so that I would actually eat. He helped me with homework and would play games with me. He even taught me how to play poker. Thankfully I didn’t get inherit his ability to count cards and don’t like losing money so as not to have a gambling problem. ;-)

He was overprotective in a lot of ways and tended to over and under react, but I understand now that it was fear that caused it. He didn’t necessarily love me in the ways I wanted, but he did love me and I can look back and see that now. He made many mistakes, but he made those because he had his own sickness and demons to contend with. He couldn’t be a perfect dad because he was human. But he did love me and he did try the best he could to raise me to put my faith in God and to grow up to be a responsible adult rather than a perpetual impulsive child. For that I can be grateful and honor him with love and respect.

Taking the plunge…again

After I got home last night – and ate because I was hangry – Chad came out on the porch to talk with me. It was a nice talk even though I had to tell him “No, we can’t afford that,” to which he didn’t whine or beg, but just accepted with an “Okay.” I think we might both be growing up. haha :) So anyway, I said, “Oh, hey, did I tell you I am getting rebaptized Sunday?” His response was great. “Did your first one expire?” The delivery made it funny. And I gave him a serious answer.

I was originally baptized when I was 14, and it was a valid believer’s baptism by immersion. So why do it again? I mean, really, I’ve never thought I needed another one. Truth be told, I still don’t think I need another one because my original was valid. However, when I did my 3rd step prayer, it amounted to a complete rededication. So partially because of that and partially because I have a much better understanding of the significance of baptism, it’s more to me of a complete ownership of my faith as mine rather than somewhat of my parent’s faith as it was when I was a kid.

So Sunday afternoon after the 1pm service at newhopeSanford, I’m taking the plunge…again.

Step out

I’ve done a lot more reading than writing lately. Obviously. In fact, I just finished a book that stepped all over my toes with regards to my character defects. Most of those defects are rooted in my childhood coping skills that I hung onto well into adulthood. Or maybe I should say “hang” instead of “hung.” It’s an ongoing battle.

I like staying in my comfort zone. Like probably isn’t the right word. It’s more of a love/hate thing. Monday afternoon I was sitting on the front porch reading when I saw a van slow and then turn in our driveway. My thought was “Crap! Jehovah’s Witnesses.” I ended up wishing it had been Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was a Kirby sales team.

I let that young man do his demonstration though I had no intention of buying a Kirby. I don’t care how good it cleans, even if I could drop that kind of cash for a vacuum, I will never buy a Kirby. There is a reason why, and I’m not going to digress into that. But the team was really nice and didn’t overly pressure me. And I was definitely outside of my comfort zone the entire time.

I read a blog post Wednesday that picked at some old childhood wounds. Rather than stuffing and burying, I let myself feel the pain that I never let myself feel. It wasn’t comfortable. In fact it hurt quite a bit. But I am looking at it differently than I used to.

Rather than wallowing in self-pity, I let myself feel the pain in order to heal. I grieved the childhood I didn’t have and the relationship with my Dad that I didn’t have. Instead of asking “Why did that happen to me,” I simply told myself “Yes, it sucked. Feel the pain, and then let it go.” I saw a friend later on who told me I looked like I needed a hug. Oh, yeah. I did. I gradually felt better as the day went on because I didn’t focus on how I wish things had been, but rather accepted how things were. Most importantly, I don’t have to let that crap dictate who I am.

Today I am ok. I’m not pink cloud happy, but I don’t want to ball up in a corner and bawl either. Ok, maybe a little, but ain’t nobody got time for that. The comfort zone isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. There is no growth and more discomfort trying to maintain comfort. There is no real peace. There is no life.

So step out of the comfort zone and start living.