Monday, November 4, 2013

A month of thanks - Day 4 (because I joined late) - Sunrises

Today I am grateful for the beautiful sunrise that greeted me as I was on my way to work. These were taken at the Park-n-Ride where I catch the bus heading downtown.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My September 11, 2001 story

I am from Colorado and have lived here all my life, but at one point in late summer of 2001, a couple of now non-friends of mine (married to each other) and I decided to move to Pennsylvania. The particulars of why aren't important, but I was promised housing with them and help finding a job. So in late August 2001 we got in our vehicles and began the long trek from Colorado out east.

We arrived on the 28th of August if I remember correctly, where I promptly started bawling after getting to my friend's grandparent's house. The realization of having no family out there, not knowing what my future held, and feeling so alone hit me hard. After some dinner, I started to feel better, but things quickly took a turn for the worse. I was accused of flirting with my friend's husband and although I wasn't and I apologized (the accuser was 4 months pregnant at the time and I understood she was hormonal), everyone stopped speaking to me. So not only did I no longer have a place to live and no job, I also lost the connection with anyone I knew and I had to leave where I was staying the very next day.

Determined to stick it out and make it work, I found temporary lodging at an extended stay hotel in Phoenixville. I found a storage place to put all my stuff and I started looking for jobs through temp agencies. I actually had a job for four hours answering the phone at a drug testing facility. Ironically, they forgot to UA me and so I was told I wasn't able to work for them without a UA.

While the timeline is a bit fuzzy, September 11th came within a day or two of my failed attempt at working again, so it's understandable that I wasn't ever called back to work with everything that was happening.

I remember waking up the morning of September 11th in the hotel room. The TV was already on (it was comforting to have the background noise of voices while I was in the room by myself) and what I saw was the first tower on fire. I had the station on NBC's Today show and was not quite comprehending what had happened as the information at the moment was slim. While I didn't see the second plane go into the tower, I heard the reactions of the Today show hosts. I was then glued to the television as more reports started coming in. As the morning wore on, I kept feeling as though I was in the middle of a "triangle of hell" as I called it at the time. I was two hours away from New York City, two hours away from Washington D.C., and two hours away from Shanksville. I've tried to show everything in relation to where I was in the map below. The "A" marker is Phoenixville, I've highlighted New York to the northeast, D.C. to the southwest, and Shanksville to the east is shown with a red dot.

I remember being scared. Scared of what was happening and not knowing what was going to happen next and scared because I didn't know if I was ever going to see my family again. And I was alone. The people who I had come with were no longer talking to me and I had made no friends or acquaintances in the short time I had been in Pennsylvania. While most people that day had someone to discuss the events with and could be with at least a friend or family member, I had strangers around me. It was the most alone I have ever felt in my entire life. Details of that time are difficult for me to recall. I was in shock, I think. I was trying to protect myself from all that was happening to me in such a short amount of time. I had moved away from the only place I had ever lived, away from my friends and family; the people who I was relying on to help me through the transition abandoned me, and then the horrific events of September 11th unfolded. I don't remember much that happened over the next few weeks. I seemed to be walking around in a fog.

There is someone who helped me tremendously during this time. I had a friend who I had met online in 1996 who lived in New Jersey and I reached out to him. We had never met in person, but only exchanged emails, talked via IM and exchanged a few snail mail letters. I am so very grateful to him. He immediately drove to come see me and he took me back to New Jersey with him for a couple of days and then we kicked around Pennsylvania and for a bit as well. I remember going to a marina in New Jersey where you could see the New York City skyline across the water and I saw the smoldering of the buildings even though it was about two weeks later. It was eerie. But I had my friend. He made me feel less alone and kept me going at a time when I just wanted to collapse in a puddle and give up. I wish I could tell him all of this, but we have since lost touch and I'm not sure intruding into his life at this point would be welcomed by him or not. So I err on the side of caution. Besides, I tried looking him up and can't seem to find him anywhere online.

So that's my story. My memories of that day 12 years ago. One of our country's most challenging times and my own personal most challenging time.

May we all try to recall how kind everyone was to each other shortly after that happened. May we all remember that and try to be those people again. I don't believe the lessons we learned from the tragedies of that day were about national safety and how to better protect ourselves. I think the biggest lessons were that we can treat people better if we want to. We can reach out to people who are hurting and who are in need and rise to the challenge of being our best selves.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My birthday weekend in Colorado Springs

For my birthday I decided to do a mini vacation by myself to Colorado Springs, Colorado, a city in central Colorado that is about an hour from Denver and full of beautiful things to see and fun things to do. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and had reservations to take a cog railway train ride to the top of Pikes Peak--elevation 14,115'.

This is what greeted us while we were waiting for the train.

Here is the train pulling up to the depot. 

My seat was right next to the controls. I so badly wanted to take over! :) 

This was our engineer that day. His name is Roy.

And away we go! I got to sit at the very front of the train! (On the way up.)

Some of the scenery on the way up.

Panoramic shot.

There were some really steep inclines. 25% grade in some places. Meaning for every 100 feet we went horizontally, we went up 25 feet vertically. Also at this point we were above the tree line at about 12,000'. See? No more trees! 

At this point, those of us at the front of the train were 2 stories higher than the people at the back of the train.

Here is the summit. And yes, it was C-C-COLD!

The next day I went to the Garden of the Gods

This is where I started my walk through the park.

I think this one is called Kissing Camels.

And there are these signs around the park.

TALL TALL TALL formations.

And just plain ol' gorgeous scenery.

Hope you enjoyed the pics! :) 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bothersome dreams

It's 3:30am. I've been awake since just before 3:00, woken up by one of the most disturbing dreams I've had in a while. I'm one of those who rarely remembers her dreams, so the fact that I remember this one is something of note.

My dad, as a father, was not a very nice man. He was physically abusive, more so to my older siblings than to me, I think. I remember one horrible beating he gave one of my brothers when we were little. Other than that, it was just spanking for me. And the beating he gave my brother was just for playing in my grandparents' car. I was given some pretty bad spankings by him, and his belt hanging from a hook (nail?) in the doorway between our kitchen and living room was our deterrent when we started acting up. (In other words, being kids.) The physical abuse did stop for us after we got older, but that just meant he switched to emotional abuse. I got it the worst for whatever reason. My mom says she can't explain it either.

My dad passed away years ago, but in my dream he was alive. And although the memory of the dream is getting foggier now the longer I'm awake, I think I remember knowing my dream was a dream because he was in it and I knew he was dead. There was just me, my mom, my dad, and my niece in the dream. We were all in the house we had through my entire childhood, the house where all my siblings and I grew up. My dad, niece, and I were in the living room and my dad was berating my niece about something (very much like he had done to me a few times). In the dream, my niece isn't the age she is now. She was younger...perhaps junior high school age. I knew my mom was in the house and I went looking for her and found her in one of the bedrooms at the back of the house. I remember a whispered conversation with her about how my dad was a bully and that it wasn't fair or right what he was doing to my niece. My dad then came down the hall to go into the bathroom and my mom and I stopped the conversation while he walked past, but continued it until he came out again. We followed him into the living room and by the time we got there, he was again yelling at my niece who was curled up onto a chair in the living room, trying to shrink herself, make herself small. She turned her back to my dad which apparently really made him angry. (Interesting, I'm remembering I never once heard any words coming from my dad during the dream--but I knew what he was saying. Sort of a telepathic thing, I guess.) Anyway, he raised his arm and his telepathic thought was: "Don't you turn your back on me when I'm talking to you! Look at me!" In the dream my mom went to grab his arm and said "Don't you dare hit her!" My dad didn't even acknowledge this, and when my niece turned toward him, he hit her. Hard. I heard the strike of his open hand fall across her face. And what I remember clearly in the dream was being afraid. Afraid like I had always been of my dad, but deciding to take action anyway. I remember thinking, "Fuck this. He's not getting away with this." And in the dream I headed toward the phone, the intent being to call the police. I was furious with my dad and by God I wasn't going to have my niece suffer through what my siblings and I did as kids. Then, in a rare moment of dream clarity, I remembered thinking: You know this is a dream. So wake up and end it.

At that moment, I did wake up. The dream clung to me for a while. And as I sit here doing my crude and non-professional analyzing of it, I haven't come up with any hidden meaning really. I am really proud that in the dream I was still afraid, but did something anyway. And while it's just a dream, it's a bit of a metaphor for my waking life. For years and years I had been living a fear-based life. Doing or not doing what I did because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being hurt, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of upsetting someone, fear of losing affection and friendship...the list could go on and on. But I'm a stronger person now than I ever have been. I've faced quite a few fears in the past year and while not all of the "risks" of trying turned out well, I'm still here. I'm standing. I'm broken, but I've gotten up and am trying to put the pieces back together. I've proven to myself that I have grown and I have changed. And maybe me waking up and realizing it was a dream was me knowing that I do have power, even when it feels like I might not.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Wisdom of Mr. Fred Rogers #1

"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."
This really struck me after my recent breakup. It struck me because I believe it 100% and I practiced it 100%. Sadly, it was not reciprocated. I was told I wasn't loved anymore because of who I was. And that is a hurt that is not easily gotten over. I'm still struggling with the idea that there is something "wrong" with me that would make me unlovable. Because that's the gist of what I was told boils down to.

The truth is we as humans are multi-faceted beings. On most days I am happy, optimistic, caring, loving, kind, and patient. On other days I am moody, insecure, sad (yes, even depressed sometimes), and pessimistic. And I wallow in those until I snap myself out of it. As humans, we can't always just be one way all the time. It would be unfair to expect that from anyone. I'm a human. I have changing moods. I guess if people can't accept that, then there's not much I can do. I am who I am. I like who I am even when I'm in a "negative" mood, because I am being my authentic self.

I'm trying to learn the lesson in all this. I am working on seeing the reason this happened. The event itself had no meaning, but what I learn about myself through all this has meaning. I'm working on it. I still hurt over the loss. I still cry every day. However, if I can learn something about myself through this (and I already have) then I can eventually heal.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Restless stirrings

528 hours. That's how long I've made it after having the "rug of life" yanked out from under me. So far I'm hanging in there.

There's still that sadness running in the background all the time, tainting the day to day stuff. Sometimes I can shake it off completely for a while, and in those moments I am deeply and truly grateful. I'm also experiencing a restlessness, a need to do something or go somewhere. Everything in my life has been drastically touched by what happened, yet the day to day stuff is so very much the exact same. I feel a deep need to shake that up, to change that same-ness and do something different and be in a different space for a while.

So, question out to those who might be reading this: suggestions?


  • I think somewhere near water would be soothing
  • Nothing too hot--I dislike heat
  • Budget-minded (one of these days I'll win the lotto)
  • Relaxing
  • Someplace far enough and different enough from Denver to actually *feel* different
  • Interesting things to do and places to go while I'm there

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Verge of tears

That's me lately. Just moments away from breaking down and crying. I am, by nature, a cry-er anyway. I cry at sad movies, sob at the really, really sad ones. A touching story on the news or a Hallmark card commercial can also send me to tears. Lately, though, my tears have a distinct reason. My walking the fine edge between "getting by" and "weepy mess" is a very precarious indeed. Two weeks ago today I was dumped by the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. And there has not been a day since that I have not cried. Some days there are deep, wracking sobs that shake my entire body and leave me exhausted and raw. Some days it's just quiet tears at a memory, at the stinging realization of a future lost, or at the kindness of someone who knows I am hurting and wants to make it better.

I'm not functioning very well. I almost feel as if I have a low-grade illness. Always in the background there is a sadness tainting everything I do. There are some brief, blessed moments where I can forget, but then reality always comes crashing back. And the pain starts anew. All I want to do is sleep. At least sleep is a bit of forgetting and time passes easier during sleep. My stomach is on the verge of nausea all the time as well. I have difficulty concentrating and completing tasks. Everything just feels off.

I am hoping that with time, all of this will ease. I am hoping that with time, I will start to feel more like myself again. I am hoping with time, I will be able to see the lesson in this. I am hoping with time, that I will heal and be whole again.

I pray a lot. I ask others to pray a lot for me. I try to distract myself. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. But I've made it two weeks and I just keep going one minute at a time, I guess. Keep breathing in and out. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Hoping that someday, it'll be better.