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PAY ATTENTION

Pay attention? To what, you may ask. Pay attention to everything.

Learn how to tune into life and the world around you—the seen and the unseen. There is so much more to this world, and to those who people it, than we realize.

Pay attention to the weary-looking clerk checking your groceries. Strike up a conversation with her by asking how her day has been. If she’s tired, how many hours she’s worked that day. Find something to compliment them on. Pay attention to how their eyes light up and their backs straighten.

Smile and greet a stranger. Strike up a friendly conversation and enjoy their presence.

Pay attention to the trees blowing in the breeze, or the layer of frost on the ground. Walk outside at night and look up at the moon.

Notice if someone looks like they need help and offer it.

Pay attention when that still small voice says, “Slow down, don’t drive so fast.” Or, “let that person in line ahead of you.”

Pay attention to your significant other. Hear what they say and make sure you understand it correctly. Every day, tell someone you love them.

Pay attention to your own needs and the difference in how you feel when you take proper care of your body.

In other words, wake up to your world. Participate in it. Interact with others. Give of yourself. Care about each other and care about our planet.                

 

Copyright: Sylvia Dickey Smith

BLUE EGG ON MY FACE

I jumped out of the shower that morning, threw on my clothes and rushed to the grocery, not bothering to dry my hair or apply makeup. It’s early, no one will recognize me, I told myself. A few minutes into shopping, a voice over the PA system requested “the driver of a Blue Honda Fit, with a Purple Heart license # XXXX please come to customer service.”

Blue Honda Fit, Purple Heart License plate—pretty dang specific—and they described my car! Had someone hit it? What?

I left my basket and headed to the front. On the way, I decided there was no reason to go all the way to Customer Service, but to go straight to my car. That’s where the problem existed.

As I approached, I saw two men standing at the rear of my car. “Is there a problem?” I asked. The first man said, “No, I don’t have a problem, but this guy can’t get out,” pointing to the second man.

“What’s the prob…” I started, but then stopped mid-sentence as the problem came into view. Although my small car was well within the lines of the parking space, his car, in front of mine, headed the same direction, was parked at the front of the space, and a truck on the other aisle meant his car was what you might call land-locked.   Somehow the lines were really long, and both our cars had fit in the same parking space. The problem was that his vehicle was in front of mine—and he couldn’t get out!

Talk about red-faced. After we both had a good laugh, I apologized profusely.

“By the way,” he said, “how do you like the Fit. I’m thinking about buying one.”

I gave him our experience with the Honda Fit — we love it!” I moved the car and continued my shopping. Meanwhile, he backed out and drove out of the lot–on his way home to tell his wife about his adventure–and the crazy, wild-haired woman!

And as usual, when a story is too funny to keep, I don’t, even when it is on me!

“Hawkish” Hillary Clinton

GUEST BLOGGERJanet Christian: JANET CHRISTIAN

I’ve avoided political topics on my Facebook wall because I don’t want it turning into a sh*tfest. But my son and I were chatting this morning and I realized something he doesn’t “get” simply because he did grow up as a white male in this country.

Hillary’s (likely) nomination is a HUGE step forward for women. Yes, she’s pretty “hawkish”. And as my husband Eric put it, she’s worked hard to be “badder than the boys” — pretty much like Margaret Thatcher was.

Here’s the thing most men don’t get — but any woman who has ever fought her way up the corporate ladder (as I did) DOES get, in spades: Women who don’t act like “one of the guys” will NEVER break the glass ceiling — not in politics, not in corporations. Period.

It is going to take some “ballsy” women to break that ceiling, so other, more “progressive” women can have their chance and follow behind them. That’s just the way it is. Look at how Hillary’s been attacked for “raising her voice” (how DARE a woman “yell”).

So I’m proud to see a potential woman president in my lifetime, after years of struggling in the male-dominated corporate world and being overlooked and stepped on time after time simply because of my gender. This is a HUGE milestone for women.

I like to think that younger women will now have so many more opportunities to make it WITHOUT having to sell out and act like “one of the guys”. They can be their proud female selves.

***

Janet posted this on her Facebook page today, and it so described why I celebrate recent events–well, really one reason. I also support Hillary Clinton because she is far and away the most qualified.  Hillary is a perfect fit for my theme of Writing Strong Women. So is Janet Christian for voicing the truth so well.

~Sylvia

 

FAIRY TALES, GLASS SLIPPERS & BEAUTIFUL OLD WOMEN

_MG_8948RetroSylvia Dickey Smith is a novelist whose fiction has won the hearts of readers everywhere, especially in the south. Often told in third person, her novels portray strong, memorable characters struggling with the same issues and timely situations that readers face in their own lives. In downtime from novels, she dabbles in re-imagined fairy tales, such as this one.

Smith is a native Texan, where she formerly conducted private practice as a psychotherapist. She has published stories and essays in anthologies, and her Sidra Smart mystery series received terrific reviews. Her most recent release, A WAR OF HER OWN, is a historical novel set in southeast Texas during WWII, yet it isn’t a war story. Instead, it is of the home front—a period of profound sociological change, particularly for women. Her most recent novel is ORIGINAL CYN, a tale of love, lust, transgression, betrayal, and the transformational power of forgiveness.

To contact: sylviadickeysmith@gmail.com

 

whineycroneIn a far off land, east of the sun and west of the moon, a whiney old crone named Drizella sits outside the golden gates of the Queen’s Palace, wailing over fate’s misfortune. Beautiful in her youth (according to her mother, at least) she’d dreamed of slipping her foot into the glass slipper, marrying the prince and living happily ever after, raising perfect children, with a castle full of nannies to make sure, and of course wearing the finest of clothes.

But, alas, the slipper had been too short, and her foot too long. Her one consolation was that neither had the shoe fit her sister—that is her real sister.

The winey crone snivels, wipes her nose on the sleeve of her ragged garment and bemoans the cruelty of years. Whence came all the wrinkles and this thin mousy gray hair? Not to mention her ever-enlarging nose and ears, and the few scraggly hairs on her chin. Even the ‘widow-maker’ treats her unfairly, refusing to return her tiny waist regardless of how tight she pulls the laces. Her back aches. Her sister never calls and her sons come around no longer—the ungrateful lot.

One beautiful sunny day, while in the midst of her whining, an even older crone appears with a glow on her face and a spring in her step—her voice pleasant, melodic, even. “Why do you whine, my dear sister? Do you not know this is the best years of your life? Too bad you did not well prepare yourself, else your step would spring and your voice would sing.”

“Give me a break,” the whiney old crone exclaims. “What’s so great about getting old, ugly and feeble? My back hurts, no one calls or comes to visit, and should I venture out, men pass me by as if unseen.” Whine. Whine. whine.

“It is because you spend your day in front of the mirror that you whine, my dear. For mirrors only beautiuful cronereflect the outward you, not giving chance for inward reflection. You give insult to the name of crone. For a true crone does not whine. Instead, she fills her days with wisdom learned over the years, with purpose, humor, courage, compassion for others, and vitality.”

“Vitality?” the whiney crone spat. “I fight to get out of bed every morning. How in the queen’s name am I to find vitality?”

“It takes years of work, my dear, and you are way behind. You’ve wasted your years regretting each one. You fail to feel empathy or compassion, or to use your energy and power wisely. As a consequence of such, you have not earned the joy a wise crone discovers with the passing years.”

“Okay, smarty pants. You know so much. Tell me what you did that is so different than me. For you, too, longed to wear the glass slipper and failed. You, too, have aged, yet I see young men here at your feet, eager to learn what you know. Why is that—tell me, old crone.”

“Dry your eyes, wipe your nose, and lend me your ear.”

The whiney crone did just that.

“First off,” the beautiful older crone said, “is to stop that infernal whining. You must let go of the idea that if the stupid glass slipper fit your big foot, your life would have been perfect. The shoe didn’t fit your big foot! What is is. Get over it.”

“Okay, Ms. Smarty Pants. Just tell me how in this world am I supposed to do that?”

broken slipper“Stop thinking about what didn’t work. To dwell on anything we have no power to change is a useless exercise, and we end up getting more and more depressed, and we spend our days whining about what might have been.

“The more you whine, the more stuck you are in the past—a past you can’t fix. The end result is you stay stuck right there at the moment the prince tried to put that silly glass shoe on your foot. That’s truly over and done with, but because you keep whining about losing out, you’re still caught at that moment in time. Which ends up helping you find even more to whine about.

“That was then—this is now. Whining makes you dry up into an old hag. Look in that mirror. Do you see one juicy thing about you?”

The whiney crone looked. She didn’t like what she saw. “You mean to tell me, if I stop whining, these wrinkles might go away?”

“It won’t make the wrinkles go away, but they’ll soften. You’ll have more energy—a passion for life. Get involved—care about something. Get interested in something—take your mind off of yourself and put it on others. Find something funny to laugh about—every day, without fail. If you can’t find it, create it—go find a young lover or something.” She laughed.

“Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen.”

“You never know—but this one thing I can guarantee—it’ll put a spring in your step.”

“So, that’s all I need do?”

“Goodness no. There’s a lot more to life than that. Grow something. Crones are good at pruning, weeding.”

“You mean like a garden? I can’t do that, for my back is too stiff and my joints, they ache like a son-of-a-gun. Every time I kneel, my—”

“There you go, whining again. Growing something doesn’t mean it has to be plants, my silly sister. It can be, but other things need to grow, too. Nurture something—whether it be a garden or people. Find something—or someone—vulnerable—like a child that’s lonely, or a young mother who can learn from your wisdom. For, despite your whining, you have learned a few things over the years—and that is the wisdom of the ages—otherwise known as Women’s Intuition. Trust what you know deep down in your bones. Let that wisdom bubble to the top. Share it with those open to receive it—those who look for the wisdom of the ages. Learn to practice patience—then teach it to the impatient.”

“Is that all?” Drizella wondered how in the world could she remember all these lessons, let alone do them. “I should’ve been taking notes.”

The wise, juicy old crone smiled, for she knew the secret of the HOW. “By finding your voice, my dear. For silence equals consent. Crones like you and me? We speak our minds. We tell ’em how the cow ate the cabbage—that the emperor’s running around outside nekked. That’s how. Find your voice, use the wisdom of the ages, grow something, let go of the past, stop your dang whining and laugh—and learn the beauty of a big foot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Emotional Abuse: Beneath Your Radar?

There are three million cases of domestic violence reported each year. Many more go unreported. Emotional abuse precedes violence, but is rarely discussed. Although both men and women may abuse others, an enormous number of women are subjected to emotional abuse. Unfortunately, many don’t even know it.

trappedEmotional abuse may be hard to recognize, because it can be subtle, and abusers will often blame you for their behavior or act like they have no idea why you are upset. Additionally, you may have been treated this way in past relationships, so that it’s familiar and harder to recognize. Over time, the abuser will chip away at your self-esteem, causing you to feel guilty, doubt yourself, and distrust your perceptions.

Other aspects of the relationship may work well. The abuser may be loving between abusive episodes, so that you deny or forget them. You may not have had a healthy relationship for comparison, and when the abuse takes place in private, there are no witnesses to validate your experience.

Abusers typically want to control and dominate. They use verbal abuse to accomplish this. They are self-centered, impatient, unreasonable, insensitive, unforgiving, lack empathy, and are often jealous, suspicious, and withholding. In order to maintain control, some abusers take hostages, meaning that they may try to isolate you from your friends and family. Their moods can shift from fun loving and romantic to sullen and angry. Some punish with anger, others with silence – or both. It’s usually “their way or the highway.”

Emotional abuse may start out innocuously, but grows as the abuser becomes more assured that you won’t leave the relationship. It may not begin until after an engagement, marriage, or pregnancy. If you look back, you may recall tell-tale signs of control or jealousy. Eventually, you and the entire family “walk on eggshells” and adapt so as not to upset the abuser. Being subjected to emotional abuse over time can lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, inhibited sexual desire, chronic pain, or other physical symptoms.

People who respect and honor themselves won’t allow someone to abuse them. Many people allow abuse to continue because they fear confrontations. Usually, they are martyrs, caretakers, or pleasers. They feel guilty and blame themselves. Some aren’t able to access their anger and power in order to stand up for themselves, while others ineffectively argue, blame, and are abusive themselves, but they still don’t know how to set appropriate boundaries.

If you’ve allowed abuse to continue, there’s a good chance that you were abused by someone in your past, although you may not recognize it as such. It could have been a strict or alcoholic dad, an invasive mom, or a teasing sibling. Healing involves understanding how you’ve been abused, forgiving yourself, and rebuilding your self-esteem and confidence.

If you’re wondering if your relationship is abusive, it probably is. Emotional abuse, distinct from physical violence (including shoving, cornering, breaking, and throwing things), is speech and/or behavior that is derogating, controlling, punishing, or manipulative. Withholding love, communication, support, or money are indirect methods of control and maintaining power. Behavior that controls where you go, who you talk to, or what you think, is abusive. It’s one thing to say, “If you buy the dining room set, we cannot afford a vacation,” verses cutting up your credit cards. Spying, stalking, invading your person, space, or belongings is also abusive, because it disregards personal boundaries.

Verbal abuse is the most common forms of emotional abuse, but it’s often unrecognized, because it may be subtle and insidious. It may be said in a loving, quiet voice, or may be indirect – even concealed as a joke. Whether disguised as play or jokes, sarcasm or teasing that is hurtful is abusive. Obvious and direct verbal abuse, such as threats, judging, criticizing, lying, blaming, name-calling, ordering, and raging, are easy to recognize. Below are some more subtle types of verbal abuse that are just as damaging as overt forms, particularly because they are harder to detect. When experienced over time, they have an insidious, deleterious effect, because you begin to doubt and distrust yourself.

The abuser will argue against anything you say, challenging your perceptions, opinions, and thoughts. The abuser doesn’t listen or volunteer thoughts or feelings, but treats you as an adversary, in effect saying “No” to everything, so a constructive conversation is impossible.
This is another tactic used to abort conversation. The abuser may switch topics, accuse you, or use words that in effect say, “Shut Up.” verbal

This is verbal abuse that minimizes or trivializes your feelings, thoughts, or experiences. It’s a way of saying that your feelings don’t matter or are wrong.

These words are meant to undermine your self-esteem and confidence, such as, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” finishing your sentences, or speaking on your behalf without your permission.

An abuser may deny that agreements or promises were made or that a conversation or events or took place, including prior abuse. The abuser instead may express affection or make declarations of love and caring. This is crazy making and manipulative behavior, which leads you to gradually doubt your own memory, perceptions, and experience. In the extreme, a persistent pattern is called gas-lighting, named after the classic Ingrid Bergman movie, In it, her husband used denial in a plot to make her believe she was losing her grip on reality.

In order to confront the abuse, it’s important to understand that the intent of the abuser is to control you and avoid meaningful conversation. Abuse is a used as a tactic to manipulate and have power over you. If you focus on the content, you’ll fall into the trap of trying to respond rationally, denying accusations and explaining yourself, and lose your power. The abuser has won at that point and deflected responsibility for the verbal abuse. The verbal abuse must be addressed first and directly, with forceful statements, such as, “Stop, it,” “Don’t talk to me that way,” “That’s demeaning,” “Don’t call me names,” “Don’t raise your voice at me,” “Don’t use that tone with me,” “I don’t respond to orders,” etc.

In this way, you set a boundary of how you want to be treated and take back your power. The abuser may respond with, “Or what?”, and you can say, “I will not continue this conversation.” Typically, a verbal abuser may become more abusive, in which case, you continue to address the abuse in the same manner. You might say, “If you continue, I’ll leave the room,” and do so if the abuse continues. If you keep setting boundaries, the abuser will get the message that manipulation and abuse won’t be effective. The relationship may or may not change for the better, or deeper issues may surface. Either way, you’re rebuilding your self-confidence and self-esteem, and are learning important skills about setting boundaries.

It usually takes the support and validation of a group, therapist, or counselor to be able to consistently stand-up to abuse. Without it, you may doubt your reality, feel guilty, and fear loss of the relationship or reprisal. Once you take back your power and regain your self-esteem, you won’t allow someone to abuse you. If the abuse stops, the relationship will improve, but for positive change, both of you must be willing to risk change.

Emotional Abuse does not have to exist in your world. If it does, reach out to an professional who works in the field and ask for their help.

One Woman’s Journey To Wholeness

a href=”http://www.syl < viadickeysmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Original-Cyn-medium.jpg" rel="attachment wp-att-3544">Original Cyn, by Sylvia Dickey Smith

Writing my newly-released novel, Original Cyn, pushed me harder and deeper than anything I have written to date. I didn’t want to write a book I’d ‘already written.’ I didn’t want to write a book that simply entertained. I felt compelled to write a book that pushed the envelope. Something that made people think, that shoved me and my reader beyond our comfort zones, a book that raised questions.

A small target to hit, right?

When a writer’s heart feels so led, the writer doesn’t have to find the story, the story finds them, and then demands to be told, forbidding the author to blink when the going gets tough.

However, as Original Cyn took shape, I found myself shoved beyond my comfort zone into a story that pushes boundaries, some which were mine years ago. A book I knew many might refuse to read—may judge me, may ostracize me. But write I did, because I could do no other. Believe it or not that was the easy part, the story told itself.

However, now is the time to publish it—to put it out there for others to read. This requires me to face my fears. Why do I put myself in that situation? Because in my heart of hearts, I know the time is right for this story to be told.

***
Click The Dark Phantom Review to read a review of the book.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

judyAh, spring, when hearts turn to love—the love of fresh vegetables. Everyone I know prefers garden-fresh, off-the vine home grown vegetables rather than cold storage, store-bought ones that languish on produce shelves.

I write about and for strong women. Today I want to introduce you to a very strong woman by the name of Judy Couch Walters. Read Judy’s first-hand story, below, about her journey to become a stronger woman, and improve her health in the process.

A few years ago I found myself sick and depressed. I spent most of one year in bed except for visits to several doctors who were trying to help me get well. I did a lot of reading and research and decided to eat an all-organic diet in an effort to regain my strength. I began making fresh green juice every morning out of kale, cucumbers, carrots, celery, ginger and other healthy organic ingredients.

As important as this program was I knew I also needed fresh air, sunshine and moderate exercise. I figured the best way to save money on all the organic produce we were consuming and reach my other goals was to start an organic garden. My husband and I had done a little gardening in our younger years, but had never grown anything organically. This was a new challenge.

Top that with the fact that we have little sunshine in our yard and our soil is not garden friendly. We found a few spots where the sun came through the trees and built some raised beds and began our organic gardening. It has been a challenge in many ways but it has also been great fun and productive.garden1

One complication is that I’m very allergic to bugs. Mosquitoes love me and try to carry me away. I have to limit the time I’m outside to the times the mosquitoes are not feeding. I also wear long pants and long sleeved shirts year round to avoid bug bites. Due to my illness I’m not able to use any insecticides. I’m also very allergic to chigger bites. They are invisible to the naked eye so the only way to avoid them is to stay out of tall grass and any other green growing things that might brush up against my arms or legs. Sometimes I feel like I need a suit of armor to go into the garden but we keep the weeds and grass cut short and the raised beds help to keep leaves from brushing against me.

Thank goodness my husband is not sensitive to bug bites and they mainly leave him alone. He does a lot of the harvesting once the weather is hot and the bugs are the most active.

garden2A couple of years ago we built a small greenhouse that has been a wonderful addition. I’m able to save many of my beloved flowers and plants over the winter and start my veggie seedlings in the spring. This is good mental therapy for me in the winter months when I need sunshine and flowers. It also saves money to grow our own plants. Building the little greenhouse was fun. I love to build things.

A couple of months ago we decided to drill a well on our property so we can water our garden freely with chemical free water. We’ve been saving rainwater but it was not nearly enough for the dry months of summer when our harvest depends on water. This year we will be watering more than we ever have in the past and hope to have a bigger harvest.

We’ve been able to work into our schedule some dog and cat rescue that we love to do. We have several handicapped pets of our own but we make room for one foster dog and one foster cat at a time. It gives us great satisfaction to be a part of such important work. Due to our organic gardening I’ve gotten stronger and healthier and my husband has lost 50 pounds and is off all his medications. We have both benefitted greatly from our choice to start gardening.

Judy’s story inspire me to eat healthier, and to get in touch with my body, listen to the messages it gives, and to take care of my precious health.

I hope you get energized to get up and get out into the sunshine and the rain, and grow healthy foods for yourself and your family.

Feel free to post your own journey with eating healthy

Rosie the Riveter — Unapologetic

I love it when the muse whispers so loudly in my ear I must sit and write. Often it comes when I least expect it. I read a sentence or see a photograph or a painting, or read a poem, and I snatch the nearest pen and paper. This piece of flash fiction, below, was written under just such a circumstance. I looked at the woman sitting up on a pole and knew I must find the words to capture the attitude on her face. I had been browsing war posters of Rosie the Riveter as inspiration for my historical novel, “A War Of Her Own.”

rosiepole

Rosie pushed her goggles up on her forehead when the supervisor called her name. She walked forward and accepted her latest award with aplomb, pinning it on her chest alongside the other medals.

Receiving awards for meeting and exceeding her quota of good tight rivets—in place, and ready to go—were now commonplace, everyday occurrences. However, she wore every award with great pride, knowing her work performance outdid that of any man in the shipyard.

And here folks had said women couldn’t do this type of work that their place was in the kitchen, the USO, or wrapping bandages. Well, she’d shown them all!

She sauntered down the gangplank amidst catcalls, and “Way to go, Red!” shouted at her, but she didn’t care. She knew they were just jealous of her work performance, which was much better than theirs.

Rosie grabbed her lunch pail, pulled out a ham and cheese sandwich and climbed atop a thick, wooden post, rivet gun and all.

Head held high, she looked down her nose at the men below. They could make fun of her all they wanted to, but she wasn’t backing down, not for any of them. She’d found her place, and she was dang well staying in it – like it or not!

***
How about you? In what ways do you think “Rosie the Riveter” has impacted the role of women in our world today? What effect has that had on men? Do men handle women in the workplace better today than they did back then? Does the type of job make a difference?

#womensrighttowrite

Women As Myth-Makers

images
I make no bones about it; I am a lover of myth, folklore—story. Over the years, it seems to resonate at a deeper and deeper core of my being. I read folklore, and get chill bumps. The deeper meaning of the myth and the art of the storyteller come together to thrill my soul.

Story—myth—is what holds societies together. It creates full-spectrum color out of what would otherwise be a black and white world. Story adds meaning, excitement, hope, focus, inspiration, commitment, dedication, renewal, and foundation to our life. (To name a few. The list is endless)

We create not only our present, but also our future, by the stories we recount to others, and sometimes to ourselves, about who we are and where we are going.

Nancy Baker Jones says, “Told long enough, or granted enough significance, stories become myth and myth become the psyche culture, the commonly held knowledge by which a culture defines and describes itself and its members.”

These myths do not develop overnight. Betty Sue Flowers is quoted to have said, “Myths do not emerge full-blown, like Athena from the head of Zeus. They’re made up of bits and pieces of other myths…”

In our historically patriarchal society, myth has been male dominant. Over the generations, men sat around campfires and told their tales (or wrote their books, sold them, and received rave reviews as if only men were authors.)

However, times are a changing. As more women find their voices, they begin telling their own stories, redrawing our psyche culture, altering the commonly held knowledge by which our world defines and describes itself.

I encourage women today to find that sacred place. Gather your memories around you, invite the stories of your life to unfold, and then write then down. When you do, not only do you discover your own stories, but you also help create a new mythology for us, for our daughters and for our granddaughters.

And as you write, let the words of golf champion, Babe Erickson Zaharias inspire you.

“It’s not enough to swing at the ball. You’ve got to loosen your girdle and let ’er fly.”

#WomensRightToWrite

The Unambiguous Woman

Carolyn Heilbrun, in her book, Writing a Woman’s Life defines the unambiguous wife as a woman who puts a man at the center of her life, allowing only to occur what honors his paramount position. Her desires, dreams and wishes are forever secondary.

I risked nothing to become such, for I’d spent my first seventeen years learning the godly role of a sanitized, unambiguous woman. A short step that, to wife—yea, preacher’s wife.
sleepFor the sleep dust sprinkled in my eyes by my mother, the ultimate example of the “unambiguous woman,” had anesthetized my spirit.

From the very beginning, my world was a wild combination of advance and retreat, then advance again. My body knew things long before my mind did. Even my birth was an on-and-off again affair, battered back and forth by the drama unfolding within my parent’s relationship.Put the drama on stage and an audience might snicker at the melodrama acted out before them, recognizing themselves in the struggle of another. For my mother, Ruth, lived her life by the answers given to her by others. Never questioning, never modifying.

However, as good as she was, and as hard as she tried, it seemed the more she embraced the answers, the less the answers fit. So she existed, day to day, in her desert of doubt and confusion, never recognizing it for what it was.

She had been taught that she lived in a world of certainties.
Do this, get that.

But when she did this, and that didn’t pan out the way it was supposed to, she never questioned. For it didn’t mean the answer wasn’t correct. It just meant she had not done enough of that. So, she redoubled her efforts, digging the hole deeper. For she truly believed that even in the failure, the problem wasn’t the answers she’d been given, but the effort she’d put forth. And even when she played by the rules, my father marched to the beat of his own drum, which changed the equation. Put simply, the problem wasn’t the answers she’d been given, the problem was in the doing, or the lack thereof.

For me, add to that, the self-serving “will of God” preached by a patriarchal religion, and enforced by my husband, a self-proclaimed “man of God,” and I soon found that my spirit, the essence of who I am, was sacrificed as surely as though I’d been nailed to a cross.
No, I risked nothing to become such, but when I awoke twenty-five years later, my spirit a mere flicker, I left the role of “unambiguous preacher’s wife.”

And risked everything.

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