WARNING - Candor and My Life Story Ahead - Proceed with Caution!
Today, my blog is taking a new turn. I hope you'll stick around and see where we go next...but if you don't like truth and candor...you might want to skip this post.
The other day, I was just jumping around in blogland...and came upon a VERY personal post by a gentleman. He had recently had a conversation with his son...who had relayed to him that he should put more "real" things on his blog. More about who he really is...what makes him tick. So, following that advice...the man went on to describe his last few years of struggle with losing his career and now playing "house wife"...and what that has done to him emotionally, financially, and spiritually.
I have to say, his candor really touched me. And, I felt that he was a real brave soul to do that. It also moved me to do the same...but my inner fears prevented me from putting this on my main blog...so I posted it on a secondary blog...that I thought only I could view. Turns out, at least 3 others could view it...because they commented (nicely, and thanks to them for that).
So, I'll type it here...and we'll see where that leads us.
First, I want to make sure everyone knows that I am not a whiner...far from it. I will do just about anything not to complain about my situation. I don't run to the doctor every time I get a sniffle. I don't call my sisters when I get into emotional or financial trouble. I don't share all my worries with my daughter or my Mom. If my entire family was to vote on who could withstand the most trouble..and still be standing...I'm absolutely convinced it would be "me". I just don't buckle under pressure.
But, having said all that...if I were totally honest with myself (and you) I have had a few times in my life when I almost buckled. Once I thought I was going to die. Once, I prayed that I would. I know what it is to live for years far away from your family, your children...still in school...and to miss them so badly you question God. I also know what it's like to have them come back into your life when they are grown, and to know that you are blessed in so many ways because of God's love in answering your prayers.
I know how it is to hate a job so much you just can't think of facing another day. And, I know how it is to love a job so much you really would do it for free...gladly!
As the eldest of seven, I've always been in charge...and alone. My task was always to look after the others...be the "mini-Mom"...and as such, I really never felt a close bond with my sisters and brothers. Oh, I love them...would do anything for any of them. Any of them could move in with me today (and some have before)...and I'd do my best to be there for them. But, I rarely call them on the phone...or go to their house. I'm a loner; always have been...even back in high school. My school work was my focus in the day...and a little job working for the Assistant Principal when I wasn't in school. Went to work right out of school...and have done that all my adult life until last year.
Retirement has been difficult. Oh, the first 3-4 months were wonderful...I had my lump sum annual leave, and got busy doing some repairs to the roof and stuff. Started my little Shawkl Studio business...and ordered a ton of supplies for that...which I play in every day too. Found a new hobby (beading) that is so much fun...it rivals quilting! But now I'm in a battle for what is due me...and the government is slow in paying up.
My life has been gloriously wonderful at times...and horrible at others. I have usually make great decisions and only a couple that I'm not so proud at having made. Oh, I'm not ashamed of my life...or most of my decisions. I almost always decided things with others in mind first, and was not selfish. So, if I had to do them all over again...I would do the same thing because it was what I felt was best for those I loved. But, some were extremely hard for me to live with the aftermath of...like my giving custody of my kids to my first husband when we divorced. Although I thought it was best since his Mom was the primary caregiver with us both working...and my parents were not very active in the kids life...having not even babysit them actually. My husband and I got along okay...used the same divorce lawyer in fact; but we were just really young...and going seperate ways. And, a few months later...when my husband realized he really was "divorced" he took an out of state job and moved the kids with him..I thought I'd lose my mind! I hurt so bad I wanted to die. But, I picked my self up...threw myself deeper into my work...and finally, even married again. My second husband was a soldier and I moved even further away...the other side of the world! That was hard, and when I was told by another ex-family in-law that the Christmas and birthday presents sent to my kids were going in the trash can unopened or even acknowledged...that was really hard. But, I tolerated...and kept putting one foot in front of the other. When you are on the other side of the world, there's not much else you can do. It made me stronger in the end.
Yes, I love my family. Yes, my kids and I have a good relationship now (they understand my life, and my decisions, and hold no ill will). Yes, their lives could have been different...and they could have been hit with a bus too...but weren't. So all you judging folks who were fortunate in your lives NOT to be faced with the same life circumstances and life decision as I...should be THANKFUL for your own good fortune...you are more blessed than you can even imagine!
When I was locked in a house, raped at gunpoint, and thought I would be dead by morning...I just kept breathing and managed to make my escape. Again, I put it behind me and just kept on going. And I knew it wasn't me that was at fault, it was the seemingly kind and nice man who asked me out on a date...and then pointed a gun at me. Afterward, I put it behind me and kept on breathing...and today, I can honestly say that I grew stronger because of that. It does not haunt me, or even concern me anymore.
When my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I lived 4 hours away; I worked over time so I could go home each Friday to be with my family. And when he neared passing, and I was in Kentucky working for the Army...I flew back to my south Alabama house, drove 4 hours and got to his bedside before he passed. He was beyond speaking but I crawled into bed with him...put my hand on his chest and promised him that I would be there to take care of Mom and my siblings. Encouraged him to believe that God loved him and that all would be okay. I felt his heart as it took it's last beat. And, when we held his funeral and found that he was not "entitled" to a military tribute because he had not retired from the Army...only having gotten blown off a Korean bridge while driving his gasoline truck; then enduring five horrible surgeries resulting in seven inches of fused vertebra in his back that prevented him from bending, lifting, and working...I got the local VFW to agree to send "whomever they had" to the funeral. They came in different styles of uniforms...and not all were Army; but they gave Dad his 21-gun salute...and he would have liked that. Before the casket was lowered into the ground...I stood and read my Dad's eulogy...a letter I wrote to him from all of us kids. I was the one to do it...because I was the one that COULD do it. And when we left, every one of those veterans shook my hand and thanked me for asking them to come...because they had received a blessing by hearing about my dad's life.
My dad (Franklin Scott Seaman II) always thought I was "smart". The only time I ever saw him in a suit was at my high-school graduation. Out of seven kids, I'm the only one to have graduated...but most of the others have gone on to get their GEDs, and become accomplished nurses and soldiers. I think my road was easier than theirs in that respect. I was fortunate enough to go to work for the Army later in life; and that was fortunate too. My first book "Embellishing Crazy Quilts" (yes, I'm planning several more, not all about crazy quilts) ends with a photo of my dad in uniform because he missed out on it's publication. He really would have been proud to see his last name in print...so I authored it as Kathy Seaman Shaw, instead of the usual Kathy Lynn Shaw that I go by every day. "Miss ya Dad!".
When my second husband threw 27 years of military service out the window...along with his pay and retirement...and spend time in prison...all because he decided to shoplift from the Post Exchange (federal property). I still kept going...I worked and paid the bills...all by myself. When he came back, we tried to work it out...but in the end he could not get past it. He wanted to continue down that distructive path, and I didn't want to go with him. So, I downsized from a three story house with a sewing room only magazine covers could out-do (loved that space!)...to a small rental house...to a smaller apartment...and now, to this garage apartment that is so small every space that we don't need to eat, sleep, or bath is my sewing room.
Now, when the government has screwed me over twice on my retirement so far...and I'm trying to live on 23% of what I was living on...when my cabinets hold milk, bread, peanut butter...and anything else is considered a blessing...I'm still hanging in there. I continue to call and send emails to prompt their finishing my review and still hope to get the $800 monthly supplemental annuity they said was my entitlement when "enticing" me to retire early.
I'm a fighter. I refuse to roll-over and just let life happen. Still, these bones are tied of all the abuse of just living. My temper is alive and well and my fuse is shorter than I'd like some days...and I'm sure being pre-menopausal is a large part of that. (Okay, I'm got some bend up hostility in there too I'm sure). I am far from perfect...and don't profess to be. Yes, I'm stressed...but, these days...really...who isn't. (And if you aren't, be thankful for being so blessed!)
But I'm not nasty...even with my faults. I love helping anyone in need. I will, and I have given until it hurts. My core is still intact. I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and I trust God to provide. If you believe differently...that's your choice. Just don't knock me for mine.
I am also a living, breathing contradiction in multiple ways! I don't like social gatherings even in cyber space...facebook, twitter...they are wasted on me. I'm not one to just chat...and make a terrible cheerleader. At the same time, I love intimate small groups of ladies wanting to create something with their hands. It doesn't matter if we are dying lace, stitching, canning, or just acting goofy...that's pure joy to me. The light in someone's eye when they first realize that they CAN do it! A first perfect line of quilting stitches...crazy quilt seam that isn't wonky...or beaded critter...THESE are things that when witnessed make me smile.
I don't like to talk to people much. But have absolutely no qualms (or fear) in speaking to an auditorium full of folks about something I really know about. (Thanks to the Army for that "privilege".) I have jumped through so many hurtles and learned on the run...that now, I am fearless in tackling anything I set my mind to.
My blog has become my outlet for sharing. The majority of my time is spend trying to find things you might like to read about or might inspire you to stitch. Teaching is mostly through my book, tutorials on the blog, or hands-on blocks in round robins these days. And as usual, my mind is going in dozens of directions at the same time as I think of things to create!
I have not posted a lot of my personal struggles, but do try to post my joys. And, mostly, I'll try to continue to do just that...because, as I have sad...I'm not really a whiner.
So, if you want to help a bruised soul eat...buy a book. If you want to learn what I know about any craft that enters my head...stick around, I'll eventually post all that I do and want to do.
If you only want to use your time reviewing blogs written by individuals that are perfect, always nice, never speak their minds,...my advise is to keep on moving. Cause this ole gal is a kind hearted, sharing person...that does occasionally lose her temper and curse; might even speak out of turn or order; and could be found stomping her feet. So, it's possible that you might be offended in some way (although unintentional on my part) if you stick around.
And, I love to stitch. Have my entire life it seems. Stitching is what keeps me sane most days.
So, there is a quick synopsis of my life. Be it as it is.