Your Child’s Super Hero Tool Box…Climbing out of the Rabbit Hole ~ Explaining Violence to Children

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Precious Jewels

Just thinking about writing my experience with this subject matter, gives me the heebie jeebies. My heart is racing and my body stiffens. But this is one of those important matters that are uncomfortable at best, necessary at the very  least, scary for all of us, yet could save a life that may be our own child’s.

Please know, as you read this, that these are my wisdoms in this growing area of violence with children. You may not agree with all that I say. Please take what you think will work for you and your family, and leave the rest.  We have seen this in action. It DOES work. Thank you for reading this and please pass it on if you feel it will help someone. 

 

 As parents, grandparents and caregivers, I believe, we must be brave and tell the facts in a way that children can best understand,and to me, that is through encouraging them with the tools they already have, and encouraging their own bravery in a way they will be able to remember, if they ever have to take these tools out of their young minded tool box and put them into fast action.

Maybe you are playing with your little one in the sandbox. Maybe you are going for a walk, looking for bugs, or cool rocks. I believe nature is a great cozy cushion, that fosters deeper listening and atunes all of us to be present and focus more clearly. This is the setting that I recommend for this kind of conversation.

As an early childhood educator for over 2o years, I have learned that children listen best, if you tell them FIRST what is going to happen. For example: “Joey there are some things I want us to talk about now  that are going to give you some extra special tools to add to your toolbox of life.  You may even want to reference their favorite Super Heroes….from Frozen….Batman, Peter Pan,etc. Ask them to remind you of their fave character and why they like them. This will give you information. Many a time they remark about how their hero saves others. Then I begin the conversation with, “You know sometimes Joey, we can be our own Super Hero. Let me tell you how..”

This is how I explained it to my 4 year old who is now almost 27. It came into use for him when he was 11 years old. 

Joey can you picture yourself having fun on the playground? What would you be doing?  Oh that sounds like great fun!  Now lets pretend that you were running around and having so much fun, that you didn’t notice the big hole that was in the grassy part of the playground and you fell down into it. What tools do you already have that would help you get out?  What would you do to get out? 

This interactive kind of conversation is so important as it gives you information as to what tools they know they already have …a baseline for you to proceed from , as well as it encourages their own  self esteem to say it out loud. They most likely will say, they would yell for help and try to climb out, which is GREAT!  So you want to encourage that by taking it to a slightly higher level. “Yes…you may have to scream really loud so other people can hear you right? What could you be doing with your hands and feet to try to help you get out?”  This visual infuses into their minds eye, for possible later use. You can add silliness to this…You may even want to stand up and act it out. Both of you wriggle your body around and pretend you are climbing,up up up….

So now you have set the stage for safety, as well as a possible scary situation, and  turned it  into positive action they can take with the tools they already have and you have described it as an adventure.

Here comes the transition. “Well Joey, you are such a great Super Hero for yourself! You would do all the right things to climb out of that rabbit hole. Hooray!  

“Now I want you to know, that sometimes in this world there are people out there that hear some loud voices in their head. They really want to make the loud voices stop, and sometimes they think that being mean to other people, will make the voices stop. Sometimes they try to do mean things, just like the villians in some of the stories we have seen in the movies, and on TV. Sometimes they will grab other people and try to take them away.

If this ever happened to you, what do you think you could do to get away and be your own Super Hero? Listening and acknowledging their answers is really important here and then you can add things like…”Yes! Screaming for help as loud as you can is a GREAT idea!  Just like you would do if you fell down the rabbit hole!   Yes!  Wriggling your body all over to get away is excellant! Now you know I have told you it’s not nice to bite your friends, but if someone is being really mean to you and trying to take you somewhere you don’t want to go, or even trying to hurt you, you have my permission to bite them….use all your super powers you have to get away! ”

If you and your family believe in God, or a Super Power out there, or a ritual that is very important to your family, it is a good idea to add this to the mix. For me, with my son, I told him to always BELIEVE  he has the power and right ideas to get away. I told him to pray to God to have him know the exact right super powers to bring forth as his tools.

I kept referencing the Rabbit Hole scenario, as that is something they KNOW they can do and it helps to reinforce other scarier situations.

I personally do not care for the saying…”stranger danger” as unfortunately many times the villian is NOT a stranger plus it is just a scary phrase to me.

The other tool I make sure to include is to remember to breathe. We all stop breathing when we get scared and that hampers the amount of oxygen that goes to the brain. That is why you see many people just “freeze” when encountered with drama as they are so scared they stopped breathing and can’t make any decisions.  Once again…the Super Hero comes in….”Remember when we are doing super hero work Joey, we must breathe breathe breathe because it is hard work!”

Through out life, I would bring the Rabbit Hole subject up and let them do most of the talking so you, once again, have a baseline for what action they would take. You will see as they get older the story changes and it gets cemented in their being. I have had these talks with two year olds. To me it is never too early.

The other things to discuss are reminders about where to get help. Cell phones. 911 of course, neighbors,etc.  If there are stores around….running away, into a store and screaming for help. I also added to the mix for some reason that came apparent later, that if you couldn’t find anyone right away, go to the next store.

My son was being chased down by a child molester.  I was only minutes from him, but not close enough. The man flattened my son’s tires on his bike, un be knowns to my son, who tried to get away fast and flipped over his handle bars and broke his wrist. He remembered he was a super hero for himself and he ran to the next store, as I was racing in and out of every store looking for him as he had called me on his cell.  The lady at the counter  at the next store, for some reason didn’t believe him but the produce man was walking by and he  DID believe his screaming, distraught face and hid him in the back until I got there as well as the police. We were blessed. We were lucky. My son remembered everything in his Super Hero Tool Box. Your child will too!

Thank you for reading this. I’m sure I have now  officially given you the Heebie Geebies, but hopefully, some added skills and tools for YOUR Tool Box as well!  🙂

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Sleepless in Solana

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Easter Bunny!

I have always loved my blog: Loudmouthbirdie. I have sort of kept it a secret for years. Why Why Why I do the things I do. No one knows.Not even me.

Every morning I awaken to birds chirping excitedly like little mad hatters and I hear the ocean rolling in and out at nite. To top off the splendiforous symphony of nature,that beckons me to sleep and awakens me in the early morning glistening of daybreak, I let the musical sound of my windchimes blend it all together for a blissful recipe of mother nature’s glory.

I was sad last evening as I urged the ocean waves to lull me to sleep, as I had a big day ahead. I found myself sleepless in Solana, and decided to read something inspirational.

It worked soon enough, and as I peeked open my eyes in the twilight of the sunrise, I asked that the birdies chirpings of this day seep into my mind,heart and soul in a way that would caress and carry me through my new adventure called morning, with joy and hope and gratefulness. I felt as if I was riding a unicorn in the rainbow sky of new beginnings as I drank in the beautiful sounds of the outdoors.

I’m a fragile kid even though I am 64 in people years. I have had some scary attacks on my character as of late and I started to meander down the rabbit hole crossroads of “It’s probably terrible” and “It doesn’t martyr to me anyway ” street.

Well it is just so nice when you have kind people in your life and they leave you surprise Easter Bunny treasure hunt presents EARLY and then you get a whole other Easter package of wonderfulness in the mail EARLY and then your article on your new Children’s book,”Freddie and Bibelle” comes out a week EARLY and is full of charm and accuracy.

This is a special day. I am a lucky girl. I am loved, and as Loudmouth Birdie puts it…”Shower with love, watch blossom like flower.”

IF Tears Could Talk

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IF Tears Could Talk

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IF Tears Could Talk                                                                                              14,Avril 2012

I have been a single mother of a most precious boy, Dakoda, who is now almost 24 years old. Right or wrong, he has been my life. He is the biggest love I have ever encountered in life and he has brought me the most profound joys beyond my wildest imaginings.

As a young boy his pants were always falling down as he scampered around the world, trying to be so cool. He would rap to any, and everyone who would listen, which mostly happened to be at school, and he would always gather a crowd with his haughty innocence and raw dripping talents.

He always wanted to be in the wonderfully rhythmic black culture,even tho he was as white as the new fallen snow. He is music. He lives and breathes music. He always has and probably always will. He loved Skittles. He wrote the Skiddle Riddle song 11 years ago. You can hear his soprano voice before it dropped.

I don’t know what to say to you dearest Mother Sabrina. I think of you every day and I cry. I cry for Trayvon. I cry for you. I cry for your family. I cry for me, and I cry for my son. But for the grace of God go us…..

I don’t know how you are living thru this travesty of injustice…how you find the ways to console yourself, especially in the darkness and sometimes bleekness of night. I can only tell you I am with you. I am nestled in your pockets. I am walking down the lonely road of shattered broken pieces of your heart. I am picking them up for you every day and I am rocking them gently in my hands and with my thoughts of goodness for you and your family. I am white. You are not. We both have the same color blood. We both have the same bleeding hearts when tragedy strikes. I am you and I am with you. I know I can never be right in your shoes feeling what you are feeling, but I feel very strongly about sending you this song my son wrote years ago when he was a young boy. I hope it brings you some peace. I hope it brings some comfort to your fragile tears. I am usually a pretty good writer myself, but I am truely at a loss for words. I can tell you that I AM filled up with love for you and your son and your family, and I just somehow feel that Trayvon is in this song. I know he is with you now and will be forever. I wish there was more that I could do. I wish there was more that my tears could say, that would wash away the pain and agony of this.

I can send you love and I can send you peace and I can send you fortitude to trudge forward in the brave ways you are already doing…I will. I will treasure you for the bravery and strength you are giving us…the rest of the world who are dumbfounded that such a thing could happen in this world today. I will treasure you and your family forever. I truely will ….beautiful Sabrina.

Blessings and Love….A Broken Winged Angel from California…

THE GLISTENING

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Little children usually have a “manya” as we call it in my family. A security blanket, a stuffed lil animal creature, or some other colourful character, that they hold especially close and grip tightly with their little hands,  when they are feeling unsafe or frightened.  This is a good thing. 

When I “grew up” and became a Mom of my own child, I grabbed my refuge in “worry and dread” who became my new best friends for life. A soft little creature with a happy face looking up at me, would have been a much healthier choice.  I had good reason, of course. I became a single Mom unexpectedly. I had an irresponsible rascal, at the time for my child’s Daddy. The list goes on. Never the less….I was losing my soul. No one seemed to be doing what they were “expected” to do, and I was becoming a full time expert on what was best for everyone’s life….but my own.  My life was certainly at the very least…unmanageable, but I KNEW, if I could just MAKE the two men in my life responsible….my life would work! 

Fast forward to my son being a young adult. Handsome and charming as they come. I hoped and I hoped his talents and personality would overcome this big invisible black cloud that now came for him. This Deity that was turning him into something I could not name, but was making me crazy trying to control . I felt like a blind child in a dark forest, pleading for the light to shine thru  my wild,tear stained hands, madly waving for help from anyone, anywhere….a lost ship in the night,feeling we would both sink if we could not find a way out of this darkness. I consulted, with frequent terror, my two best friends, “worry and dread”, but they only made  for sleepless nights and worthless pleadings and bargaining chips that swallowed up what little dignity was left in each of our souls. Things  got much worse for both of us.  The time had come where  Truth was  finally about to exhale and burst forth the most fearful of thunder and lightening storms I had ever known.

It was February 28th Thursday. The Leap Year month. My Birthday Month. It was a gloomy  winter day’s  in San Diego, and my little boy was getting on a plane to Florida to go to DETOX. Would he make it on to that second plane? Would he instead…change his mind and drink his way back onto the streets or worse? Worry and Dread were pounding away in my head. I will always remember  getting that phone call from “Mike”. “I have your boy and he is safe now.” I fell to my knees sobbing with glistening streams of hope and thankfulness. 

 Those days before Detox,he spent five days at my home.  Had to drink tall Coors Lite Beer the moment upon awakening to just feel undreadful. We walked the streets, putting his life in boxes and  my tears in my sleeve. Closing up his music studio was pretty emotional for us both. I prayed for him on my knees at the foot of his bed. I wept. For Gratitude. My son was alive. He made many crying confessions to me. His turmoils came tumbling out of his tear stained face like marbles rolling out of a glass jar and scrambling to find shelter. He was not covered up any more.  He grabbed on to his “Manya” and for those moments….his Manya was his Mama.

I never thought in my wildest fears I would have detox,rehab,sober house, dual diagnosis, relapse…be part of my everyday vocabulary. Terror ran thru my bones as this was territory I had never traversed…but hope rang in my heart and I held on tight to that one. 

I found my way back into the 12 step meetings. This time it was Alinon. I had been to them all, for I had many an “Alcoholic” in my life, but NEVER (never say never! ) thought I would be back because my son was an addict. After all I had  “educated” him about this very thing!  Ha!  So you think you go to ALinon because of the addict in your life, and you soon discover that YOU are a big part of the problem!  And you have your own disease!  Mine was being a “helicopter”  “Worry and Dread” Mom.  Now I have tools. I have people who know what I am feeling. I have people who know what a dangerous neighborhood my brain can be…with the thoughts and “fix it” attitudes that “catastophize” all situations whether they “need it” or not. 

There was a relapse. It even involved racing to the emergency room, and then detox for the second time. His choice. I did not lash out. I did not scold. I did not even cry (until after…new for me!). I prayed. I had compassion. I listened. The more I listened…the more he gave. The more I listened….the more he talked of his pain. The more I let him have his dignity…the more he thanked me for being there and loving him.

I have had some big tests. I was going on a big trip that I was really looking forward to, the nite I discovered he was drinking again after 6 months of sobriety. I stayed with him which meant I was up all night and travelled on 3 planes all the next day. I MADE that choice. It was not done to me. I am no longer a victim and he no longer has to feel guilty because of me.  He has taken up boxing. He loves it. He looks marvelous. He is learning. We are BOTH getting better.

 Sometimes I have slight regret. IF only…..the “If only’s…..” set in. But it passes fast. Because I know if I could have NOT been a helicopter Mom back when he was little and bad things DID happen…..I WOULD have done things differently.  I think we can’t help but wound our children in some ways no matter how hard we try. We are not PERFECT little human beings. As Oprah says….”When you know better…..you do better.”  My son knows now where to go if he gets in trouble with himself again. He has worked hard on himself and he continues to, and I see it. The light is back in his eyes and his smile and he has a musical lilt to his step. I pray every day for his continued sobriety, success, health and happiness. I now know it is HIS Journey. I cannot do it for him. ANd that is REALLY SO RELIEVING!  I need to focus on my own life and my own dreams that I still have passion for. The more I respect myself and do what I love, the better it is for him. 

I was travelling up to the third floor in the elevator the other nite, and as the doors opened, I saw this strapping young man standing there. Full of smiles. He literally glistened in the moonlight. I thought to myself….”Oh, how nice! Another handsome young boy moving in here”.  I said a polite hello, and went to step out of the elevator when I saw his outstretched arms and realized it was my son!!!!  “Hi Mama!” He said as he grabbed me for a big hug!  I was apalled that I didn’t know it was him at first!  That has NEVER happened in our whole lives that I didn’t recognize him. The puzzlement stayed with me all week. Then yesterday at a meeting it hit me.  I was very busy with my judgements, my blame, my fears about his behaviors that were so scary and life threatening as this is a very deadly disease, that he “LOOKED” different to me all these months. He LOOKED like my fears….he LOOKED like other people who I have felt have hurt me in the past. The moonlit night at the elevator I saw HIM. His soul. His glory. His everything. The good, the bad, the ugly…the truth. I saw ALL of him. And I loved ALL of him and all of Me. We are Glistening.

No One Saved Me

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So I was watching a TV show in the middle of the afternoon, which I hardly ever do. I was looking over my Voice Over Auditions and they required a voice to sound like the Narrator on this  Particular Show, so I clicked on my new handy dandy Netflix Account and off I went. I thought I would be able to watch five minutes of the show and get the character down to do the Voice Over. I should know better. Anyone telling a good story….I’m a sucker for….for  life ….nevermind an episode’s worth of storytelling.  

All of a sudden I was ALL the Characters in this show. I was the girl who took away her friend’s Boyfriend in the heat of sexual passion. I was the caring boy watching from afar…never thinking I could have anybody, never mind, someone as gorgeous and popular as this girl had been…I was the gorgeous girl who KNEW she could have ANYBODY….but mostly….I was the young naive, beautiful angel girl that found herself in trouble and texted her brother for help, for she  found herself being sexually violated as I was those many a times…. because I trusted his charming words instead of his Piggish intentions.  

Then all of a sudden things became quite dramatic, and I found myself almost on top of the  screen of my computer in a rigid….can’t take my eyes away from the screen…terrorized anticipation. THe BROTHER!  THe brother came to the rescue!  He looked at his text from his sister….he was having the biggest dream night  date of his own with the gorgeous, popular, boarding school girl,….but he tore himself away….tore up the stairs looking wildly for his sister, with his date, who was the one that cheated on her best friend with her boyfriend.(turns out what really happened is they fell big time in love and she left their town and went to boarding school to punish herself…but that’s another story…). By this time my face was all but buried in my computer screen, and I was ELATED  and so relieved that the angel girl got SAVED!  And even Better…by her Brother! Mission Accomplished…. My pumping adrenalin found it’s way back into it’s snail shell. Then came the tears. 

No one saved me. I didn’t know how to save me.  Kiss and don’t tell. I didn’t tell. For a long time. About all the times.  I keep thinking they are gone….”those episodes…”  I wish someone saved me. I wish I could have saved myself. Maybe it’s not too late.

Red Snow

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I was cold, like chilled to the bone, all day today. Fair enough. It was a rainy cold day here in Paradise San Diego. Abit unusual for us Sun Worshippers. It turned out it was a VERY unusual day. I was just taking my Aussie for a brisk walk in the night, trying to shake off my desolate feelings of the day, and a teenager flew by us on a skate board with his rap music blaring, and I thought…”Good for you!” for fleeting by me with the Real YOU!  Expressing yourself! So important!  Seconds later another young lad came  rolling along, almost skipping across the pavement,  like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who always muttered…”Im late! I’m late! For a very important date! “…and yet his happy little words to me were “Merry Christmas”!  As I returned to our little village courtyard I saw the  twinkling lights of Christmas adorning many doorways and I heard the faint familiar sound of children laughing and for at least the twentieth time today I started to cry.

Life  to me today, felt like it should stop.  For me. For the world …For Everyone. Twenty Eight People were massacred today at an Elementary School In Snowy Connecticut. That was the last count that I heard.  The red blood cries of innocence,made their last  terrifying plea, screaming out wildly for their Mamas and Papas. No one could help them. It was too late.  The Families of Connecticut will no longer have a White Christmas this year. It is stained forever with the blood of their children. Their hopes and their dreams. The treasures of their lives were  Snatched and  Vanished  forever by senseless murder. It’s extra evil and chilling that it is Christmas time. It is an endless  torture, I cannot fathom.

When I first awakened, I had a feeling, as I sometimes do, that I needed to get some kind of  breaking news that was taking place. I always squirm with this knowingness and sometimes try to crouch away from the huge urgency I feel, but I always end up relinquishing my power and acquiescing to the invisible.  I never know what it is, but I usually know it is going to be disturbing, so I usually sigh before I find myself with the remote in my hand. But it is like the mind of writers, and actors, and painters….I have no choice…I must see. I must know. So on came the big screen of television. The big feeling in my stomach that started to arise in me as I watched and I listened to CNN, unfortuneately only grew worse as my day wobbled  on.

It started with one casualty and last count it was 28. Mostly children were 5 and 6  years young. First graders.  Hunted down with flying bullets and the darkest evil imaginable. We have had these mass killings in schools before. I remember the first time. Colombine. Even tho it happened in a state far away, I could not think about one other thing until I had my own son safe  at home in my arms again.

This horror  happened in Connecticut: The beautiful, SAFE, affluent, full of helping  community neighborhoods and old Yankee pride and constitution, Nevermind being known for having most of the best school systems in the nation.  The “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” kind of value systems is what we were all surrounded with in lovely, beautiful Connecticut. Family Oriented…..Full of Christmas, and all Holiday Celebrations, and old steadfast, great manners. This was and I thought, always would be,  my Connecticut. I never gave that a second thought. Nothing could take that away from me.   This was my home. This was where I grew up. My childhood memories of frolicking in the rolling hills, ice skating on all the ponds and lakes, listening to the frogs and crickets at night. Catching fire flies. This ….is life as a kid on the East Coast. Until today. Like 911 changed us all. Today will change everything.

Yes we need to look harder at gun control. Yes we need to see what really happens to brains when they have concussions, and accidents. Yes we need to get a hold on drugs and addiction  in our country. Yes we need to eat healthy food and not self medicate with alcohal and prescription drugs. But what about neglect?  What about denial? What about  covering up or delaying that uncomfortable conversation with your children…your teenagers?  What about being too busy making a living and struggling in this economy to really listen to what our children our troubled with? What happened to the value system and manners I grew up with?  What happened to catching fire flies with your kid?  It seems we cuddle and swoon over them as the adorable babies and toddlers that  they are and then the uncomfortable times come.

How do we handle the “uncomfortable?”  Do we live right next to that river in Egypt called “denial?”  What grade do we give ourselves as parents? Do our children feel completely SAFE and loved by us?  Can they really TALK and COMMUNICATE with us, or are we too busy?  Who was this 20 year old who blew himself and everyone else away?  Away to where by the way? Did we listen to his cries for help? Do we know the red flags?  Did he feel like he belonged? Did he feel heard and seen in a loving way by his Mom and Dad?

Where will these little Angel Children of the Morning, Go?  Where can I go to weep with them? I am so sad and forlorn. I am so angry. I don’t like it when tragedy happens and there is no understanding. There is no explanations. There is just unspeakable heartbrokeness. We are at war in our own country. Our children are killing children. My parents would be so heartbroken if they were still alive. What happened to us?

HIS TRIBE

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Today is Black Friday. This year it began last night ~ Thanksgiving evening. That does not sit well with me. I want to be the Control Freak of the Universe and tell everyone they need to stay put and feel grateful for their blessings on Thanksgiving and not rush out to get the best deal!  Ha! I guess they didn’t get my memo…..But that is really hither nor thither to my story.  Now that I will be turning sixty TWO in a few months…Rather than think of myself as getting “older” or elder or whatever other fancie schmancie word we want to call it….I’d rather think of myself as “a baby new to the sixties”, since I am at the lower scale of the sixties…60,61,62 versus almost 70, I think I’ll just go with that.  Funny, now that I think about it…the “sixties era”…was one of my favorites and one of the most history making, in my lifetime up until now.

I’ve been thinking a tremendous amount about my Mom and Dad as of late. I’ve talked with my sisters and they mention that they have been too. The Birtwell Tribe is one of the closest, classiest,craziest families I know, and I am so lucky and proud to be a part of this Tribe.. My Dad always called us his TRIBE. My Dad had so much love in him that I can see now, looking back. He had nicknames  for  Everybody and EVERYTHING! And so we all joined in with our own  lil nicknames as well.  Breakfast was “Pear bee Pear”.  Stephanie was Stettin. Barbara was Runty. Mary Jo was Pokey Jo Jo. Greg was Pesto Grego. Dean was Mr. O. I have many…Cacoo, Wowie, Caln….David, I don’t remember any for him….I know my Dad is David and his nickname was Did…then their were the sayings….”Go Child Go!” from Mom. “Rise and Shine” as she would lift open the blinds and wake us up for school. “Chintsy” if she thought someone was not generous with their time or money. My Dad called the boys that came a calling, to take us girls out on a date…”Skin Flints” if he didn’t care for them. Then there was “Baba Nan” which you would go to “The John” for….and when everything went awry which it always did..there was a defeatest slow… nod of the head, coupled with a faint smile from my Father, saying…”Nothing is Sacred Around here!”…..

In times of turmoil, my father use to say….”You can’t put an old head on young shoulders” .quoting HIS Father….the wise old Englishman. My Mother and Father were beautiful on the outside. Both of them. On the inside, they were generous, wise, and wanting the very best for their children. They raised seven children, with steadfast values, a great appreciation for the Arts and Culture,Athletics,( especially Tennis and Swimming) as well as a great respect for  the Ocean and Beach. A great love of food and keeping the kitchen clean, and “pitching in” and doing your share of chores were always a part of our everyday lives.   These jobs they volunteered us for, were usually set forth on the “Intercome” that each of us had in our bedrooms…announced with full Marine Flavor, by my Dad  at 7am on a Saturday Morning…The exact nature of our chores were revealed with  full reverie in  full detail and we were assured at the end that we would be going nowhere until each job was complete and passed inspection!  Ha Ha!   They gave each of us the  opportunities in life,that we leaned towards,  so that we could go out into the world and be a success as we grew up.I got piano lessons, ballet, and enjoyed many  Broadway Musicals. I was very lucky.  My Father whistled so loud, you could hear him down the street! He loved music. Both of my parents did and I would catch my Mama singing along to alot of songs, and my Dad played the piano “by ear” as does my son. 

Our home was always bustling with life. There were not so good things that happened as well, as is true  with any Tribe, and I had an especially hard time when those rumblings occurred, as like it or not, I am a very sensitive person. Sometimes I don’t like it, but mostly it makes me a kind, loving, compassionate human. I wish I had more of a choice about it, but I don’t

  I suprisingly left the nest and went out west to explore life and  college in the  Colorado Rockies. I’ve lived betwixed  and between and amongst,  alot of  beautiful places since, and  I’ve never moved back to be close to my brothers and sisters who are all  still on the East Coast. I now reside on the West Coast in lovely San Diego with my strapping young man of a son, close by.  We have lots of nieces and nephews and now THEY are all starting to have babies.

I wonder these days….why I left. I’ve yearned to be with my Tribe ever since my own little family shattered away into little pieces years ago.  The husband left and I had to re discover the meaning of family as some “new kind of normal”. Single Momhood. One child and one  me. So different then how I grew up, or how I wanted it to be.  I missed the chaos, loud music, and “bickering” but mostly I missed and still miss….the huge big LOVE.  It carried me thru everything. My parents and siblings gave me so many pearls, and diamonds. My siblings and I are very close and I adore all their children and their childrens children, but it is mostly from afar…and it just isn’t the same.  The Holidays always bring about these yearning sad feelings in me, but I don’t usually write about them. Alone, and lonely, are words I want to hide away from myself, but this year, I am going to embrace whatever is there. Maybe it will bring me back “home” more often. Maybe it will bring forth the miracle of how I can be an East Coast West Coast Commuter kind of girl. Maybe something different besides tears and yearnings will spring forth for me this “Christmastime in the City. “

The East Coast is freezing in the winter. I don’t like that. I love the snow tho. I love the quaintness and strength of the East Coast. But mostly I love my family so much. Each and everyone of them…the in laws…the out laws…the children the wives …the husbands, the babies, the new babies….We have a HUGE Tribe  now, and I know they all love me too. Love is always the answer for me. More love.  

I hope you, my reader…have a Tribe. Maybe you call it something else. I hope you can appreciate the pearls and diamonds of  YOUR Tribe. And I hope you can go to them when you are hurting. I hope before I leave this planet I can leave a legacy that is truely worth the  sacredness of the “Birtwell Name” for  I salute my Mother and Father for their  dedication, their perserverance, their love and strength and bravery, their whimsical humourous ways…that gave us all alot of great “generational handmedowns” for generations to come. 

Baggage Claim

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In the past 18 mos, I have  let go of some major, pretty much, life long,  relationships ,that have been at the fore front of my life. Each time, it was more of a surprise to me then anyone. I would be the last person to do this kind of thing, as I am usually, a very loyal, giving  life long friend, kind of girl.

I suppose I have subconciously made a “claim” since I moved west to the land of fruits and nuts, and honey granola bars. I must not let other people’s lost luggage, or excess baggage, put me in the long, chaotic, waiting  line of trying to re~ claim,  what isn’t really mine at all. Nevermind that inside that luggage, lurks, anger, blame, irreverance, irresponsibility, “Dirty Laundry Lies”…and “I will throw you under the bus first chance I get” as soon as you help me out of my latest escapade.  This being their last “Thank you note” for your consciencious efforts, until next time. Good Ole Nurturing me, just shrugged these abuse tactics off, knowing they had a rough childhood. What was I thinking all these years?  My love and nurturing help would CHANGE them…they would be nicer? They would not be  so mean anymore? Well….thank you California, and my newly awakened self esteem!  Blinders are OFF now!

This is the first day in a long string of days, where I have some moments to myself. I do not have to rush out the door hoping I left my home and beloved Aussie in order until my return. This is the first day in a long time that I feel myself again. Like after a long winter of cold, the warmth seeps in thru the open windows and warms your body all over right down to your toes kind of feeling.

I have a clean slate now, to focus on me, and my dreams, and who I still want to become. These people, un be knowns to me, were taking up so much space in my life. I suppose they had their purpose. I know they did. They each have many , well ok, SOME, redeeming qualities that I will always cherish. They helped me become who and where I am today….maybe. Maybe not.

I am venturing into a WHOLE new kind of Me now. I am going to stop running soon. I am organizing my life, so it nurtures ME. All that help I poured into THEM is now FREE for ME!!!!  And those that I truely love.

I have a wonderful generous, offering from my dearest, most beloved soul sister, that I would love, more than anything, to go forth with. But now….I know I must say no. Only for now. There will be times to be together again soon. I will make this happen. But for now….I must hunker down with my plan, so I have the freedoms I have so longed for my whole life. I now see I have what it takes to do it!  I let these “emotional vampires” take my energy, my self esteem, my belief in my own talents….I let them dismantle these in their  own,cunning, baffling way. I am free now.

For whatever reasons, I have learned most of my lessons in this life,  thru pain and suffering. I am now embracing the joys and success’s of  navigating my life with no  self imposed chains stemming from narcissistic  luggage left in my baggage claim arena of life.

Time to stop hiding my light with their darkness.

I am free to be ME. I am free to swim  the wave filled  Sea, and know  the beautiful reflections I see, are all the “pearls” of wisdom  and kindness that  are  now “Claiming Me!”  🙂

The Most Beautiful Snow Dog

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The only thing “good “about “bad.”…is getting that tingling feeling , when you let out a big sigh, and part of you knows…..”The worst..is over”. It’s not lollipops and sunshine yet, but it is no longer dread, and sobbing, and constant questioning…”Did I do the right thing? “. It is no longer the feeling that someone lit off a firecracker in your eyes and it hurts just to keep them open,because they have been gushing out waterfalls and buckets of fears, and sadness, and obsessive thinking, and  “Will I really be able to handle this?” Will I be ok ?  Will I be able to actually live on?  How will I navigate this new life? Kind of like divorce. Kind of like labor pains. Kind of like nothing else ever. Knowing it is the right time to let your beloved family member go …to hopefully a better place……I vowed I would never ever do this again in my life. One dog…in one lifetime was enough. Otis was beyond his last legs when I was tear and fear stricken, and  took him to the vet all my myself, more than 25 years ago.  I didn’t want him to leave me. I didn’t want to suffer more then he was suffering. “When you know better…you do better. ”  Or do you?”

Back and forth I ranted to myself.She wasn’t “Sick “enough. After all she could still walk. She couldn’t make it to her two favorite places any more, and she couldn’t wait sometimes to get outside before things came out of her. But she always ate her food. Labs LOVE to eat!  Labs love to play. Labs love the ocean. Things were revving up in a bad way for her all of a sudden now. I knew it was only going to get worse. Did she want to experience herself like that?   Did I???? I kept her dreadfilled Cushings Disease at bay for over a year and a half. My love…Soozie’s love…Coda’s love….and CUSHEX DROPS…..brought miracles and relief to her body, and she was able to fight off alot of the horrible things that tried to hunt down her body …but Peachie Girl has always been one strong, tough cookie, and she never complained about a thing, which also helped me believe she could just live on forever like the mouse in “The Green Mile”.

I could see in her eyes….when her dignity started to leave her. After all, she was a show dog in her younger years, before we were lucky enough to have her join our family.  We had to actually “untrain” some of her habits and teach her how to have a little more fun in life, which she took to immediately!  Now she had lost her ability to walk very far at all…just navigating the hallway to the elevator to get outside, was becoming fear filled for her. She had a few “accidents”. Not many. But I could tell, she was just mortified. Her face was losing it’s vigor and she started having that vacant..nobody is home look, every now and then.

I decided I was a terrible mother. I decided I had not done well by her. “If only” became my mantra. If only…I could have taken her to the beach every day…maybe the disease would not have come after her so hard. If only I didn’t work so much and had the time to take more time with her. If only I hadn’t listened to the Doctors …If only I knew the horrible side effects of prednisone years ago when she had to take so much for her constant ear infections…….My son reminded me that we must play with the cards we are dealt. Soozie reminded me of all the great things I have always done for Peachie…gotten her the right meds to keep her comfortable for so long. Giving her great healthy food, taking her to the Park and the Beach whenever I could. I was always rushing home to make sure she could go out when Soozie wasn’t able to….

After much crying, and many sleepless nites, I was able to decide I had to get myself and my selfish wants of keeping her with me no matter what….out of the way. I had to let her keep her dignity, and have an incredible time before she left the planet to hopefully go on to a place with less pain, and more mobility. This was most difficult for me. I felt like a murderer. Who do I think I am to decide her life’s fate?  When I realized….that she was unable to do her favorite things anymore….when I realized that if I were in her position…what I would want…when I remembered my core beliefs about life and death and that I don’t think this is it….I think we recycle into something else that is familiar …surrounded by beings we have known…yet a new world to learn and cultivate….I was finally able to choose. That didn’t mean the voices in my head stopped chastizing me….but it did give me a little more resolve. I prayed. I cried. I prayed. I decided.

We took Peachie to the Beach and she frolicked as best she could, in the waves with her beloved master since she was a puppy….my son. She ate ice cream. Haggen dazs. Vanilla. We took her to the vet. They were kind beyond imaginable. They gave her a sedative to help her go to sleep. She started snoring REALLY LOUD…which made us all laugh unexpectedly and broke the silence of sadness in the room. She gave us that gift. Then she left. She was finally able to rest. I swear she flew off somewhere really fast! She was relieved. Right before she left us, she nuzzled up to my son so tight…..she adored him more than anything in life. It felt like she was giving him everything she had left of herself and her sweet soul.

I miss her. I went to give my other pup dinner tonite and I just automatically reached for her bowl too. I know I will be doing those things. I still have cringes and crying jags. I get really sad. But I also feel happy when I look at the photos of her last day at the beach and how happy she was …playing with my son…I know I will miss her for the rest of my life here on earth. I know I will for I still miss my Oatie Boy. But I suppose…these are the agonies and the ecstasies of love. I feel like an orphan somehow. I am not sure how to move forward now, but I know if I am easy on myself these things will come forth to me. She will help me. I know she will. She will always be my favorite “Snow Dog”  who I will always cherish in my heart forever and ever.

Love Peach. Peach is Love.

Annihilation and Chaos

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I miss somebody. But I don’t know who it is.  Someone thought my eyes were flowers, and used a watering can. The feverent stream of tears, cascading down my face,are now looking for a more suitable place to land. All I really know is that my heart hurts. I want to take my marbles and make a new home for myself. On a different planet. Far away from here. I want to leave skid marks on the way out the door. I am angry. I am sad. I am astonished but not in a good way. 

Dressed in Black. Ready to kill. to Annihilate. Mission Accomplished. A happy day at the movies…even more enchanting since it was late in the evening. Happens to be one of my favorite super heroes. My son declared he must have all things Batman when he was a Toddler. Batman Cape, Batman Cars, Batman Costume~ head to toe. My stomach is sick. I wish I could be the elephant in the living room. I wish it would just go away. I wish I could just minimize it as another crazie person lashing out at innocent victims. I’ve recently experienced the dominoe  effect of a tragedy that happened close to home. How very many people  become shattered hearts in an unexpected instant. How many lives get changed. The tinge of darkness and despair,lurking silently or not so silently at their hearts door……The extent of this horror…I cannot begin to fathom. I don’t want to. I don’t want any part of it. Yet I am part of it, because I am an American. Still proud to be an American. But I am losing my hope in humanity.