Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Nose Knows

 “You’re so ugly your face hurts,” Dusty used to tell me in junior high.
  She didn’t care that we were supposed to be working on our assignments. The teacher was out. She’d turn her plump body around in her chair or perch on the desk in front of me, her fat face staring at me, taunting and waiting to see if her words made me cry.
  I took her words into my soul, repeating them to themselves over and over throughout the years.
  “Flat nose, Prudich. You look at you. You’re so ugly, even your parents can’t love you.”
  Flat nose. Yep, I had a stubby, flat nose with a weird bump on the bridge. My mom called it the Williams’ bump because everyone on her side of the family had one.
  Flat nose. Ugly. Even my cousin my age would press his nose down, unknowing that the kids in my school taunted me like that. Reminding me of how ugly it was. And how it wasn’t normal to have a nose like that.
 What else isn’t normal about my nose? No one ever mentioned this. I am a mouth breather. Yep. My flat ugly nose was so narrow in the bridge I had difficulty breathing out of it.

I remember as a young child always feeling stuffy. I kept blowing my nose to clear it. I’d be standing in front of the full-length mirror in the hallway, holding my little monkey under one arm, as I blew and blew and picked my nose.  My older sister standing near me, adjusting her clothes for the day.
  “Stop blowing your nose, Mary,” she’d admonish. “Nothing will come out. You’re going to make it bleed.”
   I remember that night, I’d blow my monkey’s nose, saying, “Does that feel better? Or is nothing coming out?” Something had to be there, blocking my passage ways.

    I’d come home from junior high in tears. I’d tell my parents how ugly and flat my nose was. They’d assure me nothing was wrong with it.  Well, Dusty told me there was. Even though I was repulsed to look at her day after day during the school day, I put a lot of weight on her words.
  “Does your face hurt?” she would hate. “It’s so ugly, your face hurts.”
  I never had a response for her then. I was ashamed of myself because I was a stutterer. An outcast. Someone others hated and were so terrified to speak up for me or even admit they were my friend.  I do now.
  “Yes, my face hurts, Dusty. Not because I’m ugly, but because I hate to look at your face day after day in school.”
    At 16 or 17 years of age, my dad took me to an Ears, Nose and Throat doctor to have to be looked at because I kept complaining about always being stuffy and nothing could be done to help it. The doctor said my nasal passages were too narrow. He recommended surgery to widen the passages. So for my high school graduation present, I got nasal surgery in the hopes it would help my breathing problem. The surgeon shaved off the Williams’ bump and put it on the end of my nose. I had a famous nose. My surgery, before and after photos, appeared in medical text book back in the late’70’s. Wish I had a copy to show my new Ears, Throat and Nose doctor.
   Life goes on. After a while, the pain in my sinus became something I learned to live with. My nose still felt stuffy and I could still feel a block in the right side of my nose, but I didn’t complain or talk to the doctors much about it. After a while, I did manage to pick it and fuss with it until it bled. The pain subsided for a while. I never thought to talk to a medical doctor about it until this year.

Your Face is so ugly it hurts
It wasn’t ugliness that caused my face to hurt. It was my sinus and chronic sinus infections that made the pain unbearable. But I learned to live with it. Most people take breathing through their nose with their mouth closed as second nature. To me, I can do it for a brief amount of time, but find I must open my mouth before I feel like I’m suffocating. I wake up in the mornings with a minor sore throat from sleeping with my mouth open.  
Do you Hear Me Now?
June or July of this year. An audiologist called me for a check-up on my hearing. It was free. I went to it. I love free exams. She noticed that there was a discrepancy in the hearing in my left ear versus my right, so she recommended I see an Ears, Nose and Throat doctor. I went to my regular doctor for the referral. I finally told her about the consonant pain my sinuses and my nose bleeding because it felt so stuffed. She approved of my referral. But there was nothing wrong with my ears. She even agreed I really didn’t need the hearing aids that the audiologist wanted to sell me.

Recommendations and Solutions
 September 1st was my date to see my new specialist. I counted down the days. Not sure what he would say. He looked at my nose and ears. I did say I was experiencing pain in my left ear, but he couldn’t find anything wrong there. He said he could see why I can’t breathe out of my nose. It’s still too narrow.
  For now, I am on antibiotics for two weeks. After that, a Cat scan will be ordered. After four days of being on the antibiotics, I’ve noticed my face isn’t so puffy and my eyes are opened wider than I’ve seen them. I used to wonder why it looked like I was half asleep all day.  One of my friends remarked that my nose wasn’t as swollen, either.  Depending on what the Cat scan reveals, I may end up having another nose surgery to widen my nasal passages again and correct my crooked nose. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Death, the Final Frontier


  He came running over the green hills of Margaret Peirce’s lawn, calling my name. Barely three or four years old, he was free to play and couldn’t wait to go venturing with me.  I don’t& remember how we met, we just always knew each other. I turned in my yard and ran towards him, “Kirky!” I called.
  While he was barely three or four, I was close to eight or nine. Kirky was always tall for his age, happy, eager to learn and eager to crack a joke or see the humor in a commercial. His twin sisters, Merry and Terry, used to babysit my sisters and me when my parents went to play bridge on a Monday evening. Or went to parties – usually bridge parties.
  During the summer, when I wasn’t playing the boys on the block my age, I was hanging out with Kirk, riding bikes in his grandparent’s back yard, which was the house next door to us.  His dad was a pharmacist downtown Sunnyside. We used to go down there to visit and Mr. Montgomery would let us choose a Matchbox car to take home. I was a major tomboy. I loved my cars and trucks.
His grandparent often took us to the A & W. Kirky called it the Rootbeer Stand for lunch. It was one of his favorite places as a pre-schooler.   We had our fun, but there were other kids on our block that were closer to his age. And as I grew up, I became more of a loner. And one of his best friends was a boy who was the son of good friends with his parents who also played bridge with my parents. I remember the young boy, Michael Quigly as a towed boy who seemed to go everywhere with Kirk. He was a bright boy and was eager to smile.
   Puberty takes a toll on each one of us. Some in good ways, and some not so good.  I went off to college. And came back. I remember one of the last discussions I had with Kirk was at the time of his own puberty spurt. He discussed some of his concerns that young boys have and I assured him he would be okay and things would grow as needed to be. The very last time I saw him was at his dad’s funeral over twenty years ago. Maybe more.
  My Mom kept me up with what Kirk was doing in college and his many ventures into careers both in college and out. But it doesn’t replace actually keeping up the friendship. I regret that we lived so close together the last twenty years, but we never actually spoke or messaged each other. Indeed, friends grow apart.
 Kirk became a successful business man with Valley Ride in the Treasure Valley and I’m a struggling Indie author who feels more like a failure than a success. 
 August 9th, 2017, I attended Kirk’s funeral service. He was very loved and respected. I saw his sisters and was uncomfortable to approach them through the sea of people I did not know. I thought I was a fake friend because it’s been close to 30 or more years since we last talked. I regret not speaking to them now.
 I mean, what do I say? “I’m sorry your little brother passed away. It’s good to see you all after all these years. But the circumstances aren’t so keen.”
 And what do I say to his wife? “I was the child hood friend who used to borrow Kirk’s big wheel so Tony and I could ride big wheels around his drive way?”
 Wow, that would make a big splash, wouldn’t it? I think not.
I remember once as a teen, I was riding my bike alone when I saw Kirk playing basketball in his yard with some of other kids in the neighborhood. He called me over to play with them. I wasn’t very good at sports, but I gave it a try. We had fun.

 Death isn’t a friend to anyone. Yet is not something to fear. It is a transformation we undergo. We mourn the loss of physical life. Not being able to see our loved one again. But we take comfort in knowing our loved one’s spirit is still alive and waiting for us on the other side. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What’s in a Name?

 If you could name yourself, what would it be? Why does that name resonant with you?  A name defines us, and often once we change our name, something around and inside of us also changes.
What is in a name? Babies are always named before birth. Usually according to gender, or preference of the parents.  Babies don’t always match their names, though. Sometimes when the parent's divorce and the babies are too young to speak for themselves, the name gets changed. Sometimes no name really matches the child.
 When I was a baby, I was given the name Alice Lorraine. My birth sir name was Ventaloro. That is who I was meant to be. My birth mother left me while I was still a newborn (roughly four to six months, I’m guessing) and my birth father was working out of state. My sister and my brother were given to my maternal grandparents raised. At the time of adoption, my name became Mary (which I changed the spelling in the fourth grade). I’ve always hated that name. It doesn’t fit me.  
 As a stutterer, it was difficult to say my name. I’d always blocked on it. A little-known fact about stutterers is that we identify with our names, so it is often hard for us to get it out since most of us hate that fact we can’t speak fluently.
 Later I experimented, calling myself Lorraine for a while or M. Lorraine. But still, it didn’t match who I was or fit me. 
 After moving to Idaho, I’d introduce myself to strangers and the response would be, “Glad to meet you, Erin.”
  The first time someone called me that, my whole being lit up a like a Christmas tree.  My second response was, “I love that name. That isn’t what I said, though.”
 The person, whom I was shaking hands with said, “I heard you say ‘Erin.’”
 That has happened to me many times since that first time. So often, I have considered changing my name to Erin. Others I have told say my whole being changes when I say, “My name is Erin.” And that is how I feel when I think it or say it out loud. It's named that truly does fit me.
 What name would you choose for yourself?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Sunshine Blogger Award: An interview with Sarah Johnson, From Indigo Travelers and the Keys to the Shadowlands

I’ve been nominated Stephanie Barr for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’, where a character in one of my novels has to answer ten questions about themselves. I’ve chosen Sarah Johnson, of Indigo Travelers and the Keys to the Shadowlands, (book 2 of the Indigo Travelers Series). I nominate the following authors: Carol Green-Kjar, Mercedes PruntyChrista Yelich-KothPukah Works (also has http://pukahworks.com/) and Jocelynn Babcock to answer the questions at the end of this blog.


  Part of the chain is to nominate people with your own questions, so here’s mine!
1. How would you describe the world you live in three sentences or less. 
I live in the World of Nampa and travel with two other friends to Curá where we must find the lost soul of King Titus. Curá is a world so different than Nampa because everything is alive. The world is monitored by Crow Judges who talk with us and guide and make sure every being is obeying the laws of lands. Not just the main society laws, but the spiritual laws that Albagoth set up. The danger of this world is the Keys to Shadowlands were stolen from the Superior Crow Court Judge and now an evil raven is stealing people and trapping them there. She has offered me to the human Prince Tayson to be his bride. I am no one’s bride. I’m only 15 and much too young to be married.

2. What is the one thing or person you couldn't bear to lose?
   Xander’s friendship. He is a good friend and I kind of like him. But he isn’t very certain of himself. He is getting more certain of himself since his first trip to Curá. Yet I sense he’d be lost without me. I have to protect him. We are a team. Yet I have secrets I can’t confide in him about. If he knew I could be adopted and dropped into the World of Nampa where I don’t belong, he might reject me. I can’t bare it if he does reject me. I can’t tell him or any I could be an alien who isn’t really human at all.
3. What is the one thing or person you'd love to lose?
  I’d love to lose these visions of spiders. Whenever I close my eyes, I see spiders crawling around this circle with many paths or divisions, like a pie chart. I see close of up one with a tattoo of that symbol. I want to know what it means. It tells me to trust it. How can I trust it, when I can’t even look its beady eyes?

4. What chore or responsibility do you hate most?
I hate having to watch my little brother and sister. They’re so annoying. Always on me to play kid games. And lately, my little sister wants me to put make-up on her and brush and style her hair. Why, I don’t know. I don’t wear make-up at all and can’t bother with styling me blond hair as if it I just stepped out of movie trailer. No way. Give me black Trip pants, army boots and black Ghost metal t-shirt and I’m set. If I were to wear make-up, I’d put black lipstick on and maybe dark eye shadow.

5. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
  When I feel overwhelmed, I get on a bike and ride out to a park where there are few people and more trees. I feel very relaxed and at home there. While in the Shadowlands, I met a Banyan Tree named Raindom. He helped me to get in touch with my inner being. Though, I still have many walls I need to break down. I can’t let them all fall at once. If they do, I could become a meek pushover, girly girl. I must remain rock solid and not allow anyone to walk all over me.

6. If there was one of your traits you wished you could change, what would it be and what would you change it to?
  I wish I could exchange my strange round, and kind of cauliflower ears for regular human ears. I would also add more piercings. Right now, my parents only let me have snake bites. But I want to pierce one of my nostrils and maybe add my own tattoo. I’m not sure what it would be. But that circle with the many divisions means something, I’ve got to find out what.

7. What do you most want to accomplish?
 I want to end fighting. I want peace in all the world and maybe in all worlds, besides the World of Nampa. I want all spiritual paths to see how they are connected. To recognize their common elements and stop fighting with each other over their differences. Also for it to be okay to be atheists and agnostics.

8. What aspect of yourself are you the most pleased with?
 I am most pleased that I can fight and stand up for myself. I’m pleased that I’m teaching Xander to fight. Though, he has learned some of that on his own, because of his first experience in Curá two years before mine.

9. Would you replace your author if you could? Does your author annoy you?
 No, my author is the only one who understand me. She doesn’t work fast enough, that bothers me. Also, when she finished the first book, Indigo Travelers and the Dragon’s Blood Sword, I just had to express my anger that she left Geoffrey, the griffin, in Curá. He was supposed to come home to live with Xander. I want my author to write my book faster so I can know how I will face those two warring spiritual paths on Wayla.

10. If you could turn into any animal, which one would you choose and why?
     This is a tough one. I would want to be an armadillo because they have a tough skin and can roll up into a ball to protect themselves. They also have long, sharp claws so they can lash out at another animal that is trying to eat them.
  I would also like to be a cat because they are very independent and don’t take any sass from anyone.
 Now for the authors I have tagged to answer:
1.    Tell me about yourself and your world
2.    What would you change about yourself if you could? What would keep?
3.    Describe your favorite activity
4.    If you could write your own story, how would you change it?
5.    What is the one person you can always depend on to be there for you?
6.    Who most annoys you?
7.    Who do you have to protect?
8.    What motivates you to get up in the morning?
9.    If you could sit down with coffee with your author, what would you talk about?

10.   What is your favorite color and define who you are?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Touch Your Soul

Sitting alone in a group of women, I scanned the room, observing all of them in deep conversations with each other and here I sat, with two empty chairs between me and the next woman.
  The leader of the group gave us the assignment, to write a mission statement for our life. She called it our vision statement – why we are living. What makes our life worthwhile to still be active and doing what we are doing for a living.
I scanned the crowd. Noticing that the woman closest to me glanced my direction, sneering. I wondered why she looked at me like that. What made her so special that she felt she was better than me.
 I noticed the women across the room would glance at me; they also dismissed me. I had to ask myself why I even came to this group. It was supposed to be a group to empower each one of us to touch our strength and build our inner selves up so we felt stronger the. But I felt so alone. So isolated.
 I started to write my mission statement about inspiring others—inspiring those who read my books or even those who could approach me without fear. But maybe I am the one who is living in fear.
 My comfort zone is being reserved, quiet, listening and observing others.
 I watched as the leader went around to each woman present, ignoring me. I was in the seat closest to her, but she started with the second person to my right. I wanted to cry. Instead, I continued to ask myself, “Why are you here? These women don’t like you and look down on you. What I am coming here?”
 I realized I come for myself. I come to build myself and to hell with them.
 I scribbled out what I started to write.
 “Please, Soul, come into my life. Come into this moment. Assist me with this task.”
 As soon as I uttered that silent request, my sadness went away. My aloneness went away. I wrote, “I live my life according to my inner voice and it’s guidance.”
  When the leader finally came to me, I read it to her, expecting her to dismiss it. Instead, she wanted me to read it to the group. Others put their family and friends a head of them. The lesson she wanted us to take away was putting ourselves first. The leader high fived me. As usual, I hit her left high hand with my right hand, instead of matching thumbs.  Yes, I am totally awkward.
  I am me. I am who I am.
 I touch my soul. This is what I want others to learn. How to take their power by touching the part of them that knows more about themselves.

  Invite that seldom seen but always felt part of you daily. Feel better, stronger and know more about your own direction in life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What is Your Legacy?

           I was given a copy of The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (http://amzn.to/2ljM7LR) last summer. I hadn’t heard of Mr. Schwalbe or his mother and wasn’t sure about reading about death. But I was out of interesting books to read when I ran across it in a pile, so I started reading it.
 As I read it, I fell in love with how Mary Ann Schwalbe raised her three children and work successfully in many different high profile roles. She the kind of life I would love to be and gave back to society and across the world. One of her pet projects was seeing a library was built in Afghanistan. She was diagnosed with panarctic cancer in 2007, I think it was, so her middle son, Will, and she decided to share what she taught him most: share their love of reading.
  In the two or three years she had left, they chose books to read together and they discussed them during her chemo treatments. Many of the books they discussed, I had not heard of, but am interested in finding so I can read them, too. A few of them, I had read, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It interesting to read they enjoyed that book, whereas I was less taken with it.
  All through The End of Your Life Book Club, I found myself reflecting on my own life, and how it would be so different if I had believed in myself more and not allowed others who discouraged me. If I had not listened to my mom who said others knew more than me.
  One of my goals in my youth was to be able to give back to others. To set up funds for groups to aid in organizations, like helping with literacy, and creative endeavors.   Mary Ann Schwalbe could help with many originations. She left a legacy behind and many people benefited from her social fundraising and love of seeing others benefit from books and libraries. Of course, she had the financial ability as well as the social connections to assist with her raising the money.
  Mrs. Schwalbe did not look back with regret. Nor did she allow the times she was raised in prevent her from living life to the fullest. The more you give to others, the more others will give back to you.
 As I read this book, I thought back to the deaths of my own parents, wishing I could have been there and be able to forgive as well as have those last few years or days with them, with a clear understanding of what they had given me and what the really wanted me to learn. So much time I lived in anger and resentment that they did not allow me to be the person I wanted to be. So often, I felt judged, strangled and like I could not move. As I look back, perhaps I was also strangling myself by keeping my own anger and resentment in front of me, living the past instead of learning to let go, forgive and create a new life for me. I kept my mom’s fear as my own fear, instead of recognizing it was her fear and I did not have own it.
 It is true, not all of us are blessed with the ability to travel the world and help in refugee camps, like Mary Ann Schwalbe, but we can find local areas to volunteer at that can make a difference.

  Let go. Share your love of books with others. Share your life with your parents, if you still have them. Open your heart to your spouse and your children. Give your favorite books to your children and grandchildren. Encourage all to read and discuss them. Give back to others any way that you can.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What do Avoid and Why?

 What do you avoid and why do you avoid it? We all avoid something in our life either out of fear of what would happen if we did it or because we think we aren’t good enough to see it through.
 I avoid putting myself out there, telling my whole story out of fear of others ridiculing me, or saying my story isn’t worthy. I’m not good enough can’t be inspiring enough.
  I’m afraid of I’m not professional enough or can’t teach good enough to really help someone. Yet I want to teach. I want to be there for others. I want the love I feel to shine through what I say and feel. I want to inspire others to go beyond their own sense of worthiness.
 I’ve struggled all my life to be something I thought I was meant to be. Someone almost always says I fall short of my own goals, or that I should give up and try something else. If I could turn back the clock, I would not allow those nay-sayers to stop me. I would keep fighting for my goals.

I have always felt I battled an uphill climb to get to where I want to be.  Recently, I don’t have as many nay-sayers. Instead, I have more individuals cheering me on. Yet I still feel I am a long way from attaining my goal of being a successful writer who is noticed for what I am doing my best to say to people.
  The reward is being noticed by others and my blogs shared by numerous readers and noticed by people who have a larger following than I do.

What is your fear? What are you avoiding?  Maybe it is safe to come out after all. If you and I make a pack to keep each other accountable to face these fears together so we know we are not alone.