Halloween Tales

I first published this post on October 31, 2012. I honor of Halloween I am reposting Halloween Tales!

Oh Halloween…so many tales. I have a few. Allow me to recite them here, if you will.

My first story occurred when I was in elementary school. My best friend and I always spent months and months trying to come up with the perfect costume, the one to top all others. One year I think we did just that.

We decided to be a two-headed lady. My grandmother was a large woman. She wore dresses every day so I asked her if she had an old one she no longer wore and was willing to donate to the cause. She graciously agreed.

Though it was a great idea for a costume, it did have it’s issues. It was a bit cumbersome for two of us to walk around in one dress. We had to make a ton of effort to work together. We were getting close to the end of our trick or treating trek and we felt as if we hadn’t gotten quite the amount of candy we wanted or deserved.

The last house we walked up to had a bowl of candy sitting on the porch, with the famous and most ridiculous hand printed sign alongside the bowl that said, “Please Take One”. We did what any self-respecting kid who was on a quest for more candy would do…we emptied the bowl into our bags (yes, we did each have a bag even though we were supposed to be one person). I’m not even sure why we took it all. The candy was one I didn’t particularly care for but the temptation was too great to resist.

As we were awkwardly making our way through their yard at a  faster than usual pace, we saw the headlights of a car making its way toward the house. We felt sure it was the sweet older couple who so trustingly left the bowl on the porch. In order to avoid being caught we began to run. Not a good idea!

One of us tripped and we both went down. We spent what seemed like the next hour, which in reality was probably only a minute or two, rolling around in that yard trying desperately to get up. As soon as one of was standing, the other was pulled back down. We finally managed to be upright and on our feet at the same time, so we hobbled out of that yard, none worse for the wear. Well, maybe a little. I think the dress was ripped and our hairs (each head) was tousled with grass and leaves intertwined. The one justification, however, was we were laughing so hard, I peed my pants. Served me right, I know.

As we were making our way down the drive we met a parent and child heading toward the house. We told them not to bother. The people weren’t home and someone had emptied the bowl!

My friend and I always brought out the worst in each other.

My other tale is a bit shorter. I was a teen returning home on Halloween night from hanging with friends. When I arrived home the candy bowl was almost empty, yet there were still a few trick or treating stragglers. I was inspired by Charlie Brown. We had a gravel driveway. I thought it would be funny to give the kids rocks for Halloween. So I took the bowl to the drive, scooped up a healthy handful or two of gravel and dumped it into the candy bowl. When a bright-eyed innocent child would excitedly hold out their bag and say those famous words that resound on Halloween night, I gleefully grabbed one piece of candy and a rock or two (or six) and placed my hand in their bag and let it fall. Their little faces would light up as they heard all that candy falling to the bottom of the bag. The poor schmucks.

Hey, maybe it was I who brought out the worst in my friend.

The last memory I have to share involved my little brother and his asinine friends. These genesis guys decided it would be a blast to shoot lit jack-o-lanterns with squirt guns filled with…gasoline!! No one was hurt, thank God. Nuff said.

Happy (safe) Halloween!

Hospital Weekend

I had a weekend at the hospital. Hospitals are interesting places, especially Emergency Rooms,  but not a great way to spend unless absolute necessary. It was absolute necessary.

Saturday evening my husband arrived home from work and described some very unusual sensations he had experience early Saturday morning. He continued to experience them throughout the day, although not as noticeable or with the same intensity. He decided he should go to the ER upon arriving home, I was in total agreement.

We made our entrance at the ER about 7:30 PM. I actually thought he had experienced stress and anxiety related symptoms due to the myriad of events that have transpired over the summer, and beyond. I was wrong. After sitting in the waiting room for a couple of hours, then seeing a doctor, they decided to do a CAT scan. They found evidence of an old, mini stroke. That was enough to merit admitting him for observation and more tests. I left the ER at 2:00 AM when they came to take my husband to his room.

What a night! And they don’t make hospitals like they used to, or at least not this hospital~ it seemed more like a nice hotel room minus the nursing staff and continual drawing of blood, monitoring stats, and being rolled around for tests.

ER, hospitals, strokes, health, taking care of yourself

After doing an early morning  MRI it was determined that my husband had indeed had another more pronounced stroke on Saturday. The good news is it left no permanent damage. He really showed no signs of weakness or loss of any mobility. He still experiences tingling and a tad bit of confusion on a rare occasion but nothing major. He is a fortunate man.

ER, hospitals, strokes, health, taking care of yourself

Were you aware that 25% of stroke victims die, 50% suffer permanent disability of some sort and only  the very lucky escape with nothing to show for it but some pin pricks, hospital socks and the memory of a weekend in the hospital?

Hospital Weekend

Now my husband is taking his high blood pressure and cholesterol more seriously and has vowed to begin to live life in a healthier manner. In fact, we returned to the ER about 5 hours after his release because he began to experience some minor symptoms again. Not messing around this time so we headed to the ER.

The hospital was even busier than it was on Saturday. Some people had been waiting to see a doctor for five hours! What a nightmare but I’m sure the hospital staff was doing all they could. We only had to be there for 3 hours because of the facts surrounding my husband’s return. They did another CAT Scan and made a few med adjustments. It was hard walking through the waiting room as we were leaving, seeing some of the folks who had been there way longer than we had still sitting there.

They say strokes like the one my husband experienced are wake-up calls; a second chance of sorts.

I believe they could be right.

How about you?

Amazing Women

I met some amazing women last week. I met them in a group. I met them in a group I didn’t want to be in. Isn’t it funny how life works?

Here’s an interesting tidbit about these amazing women, they don’t even know they’re amazing. They think they are just average, working through some difficult times in their lives. They are too, but they are doing so much more.

amazing women, groups, hard situations, support, support groups
I could tell you the name of the group, but then I would have to kill you. Not really. But my point is, it doesn’t matter what group it was where I met these amazing women. They each had a story to tell, situations to deal with, joys to share and real-life situations that no one wants to go through. But they are, and they are doing so with grace, courage, wisdom and not alone.

I posted last week about how we need each other. This group drove that point home to me. I needed them more than you will ever know, but they do. They know because they have been where I am. They are there now, engaging in life, dealing with the situations we are given and becoming amazing women.

Growing up, I was sort of a tomboy. I have brothers, no sisters and only one female cousin who is five years younger than me. Five years makes a big difference when you’re young. Not anymore! My point is I didn’t appreciate the value of women helping women until late into my adult years. What a shame. But I’m there now. Understanding the power of a group of amazing women who gather together to share life. I hope to never live without this. In fact, I plan to always be a part of such a group.

How about you? Are you a part of a group of amazing women?

Growing Pains

What a roller coaster ride life can be. And I’m not happy about that. Today I started reading a book entitled: one simple act Discovering the Power of Generosity, by Debbie Macomber. I like the author. I think I have read everything she has ever written. “It’s bound to be good”, I said to myself. It is good, but not quite what I bargained for.

growing pains, Corrie Ten Boom, Debbie Macomber, fleas

The book began with a scripture…one that I am familiar with…one that I haven’t thought about lately. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Darn it! I wasn’t much in the mood to be thankful for the circumstances I find myself in of late.

Ms. Macomber goes on to say that she has been keeping a journal of thanks for some years now, and what a benefit that is. She also related a story about Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Bessie. It seems that Bessie read that scripture while living in the concentration camp. She decided that she and Corrie should do exactly what the scripture said.

One day she thanked God for the flea infested barracks that she and Corrie were assigned to. Corrie took issue with being thankful for the fleas. But low and behold, as it turns out, the problematic fleas were the very reason why the guards never inspected their barracks, for if they would have they surely would have found and confiscated their Bible…their lifeline.

Debbie goes on to relate that she has discovered in her own life the vital link between gratitude and trust. I’m only on page 12!!! So onward I shall read, and hopefully instill an attitude of thankfulness along this unpleasant journey I now travel.


Don’t Tell Me I’m Strong

“Don’t tell me I’m strong”, I heard myself say as I sat and talked with a few people. “I’m not sure why but it really pisses me off”. This became a new topic of discussion as we delved a little deeper because others were identifying and agreeing that they weren’t that thrilled with hearing those words themselves.
strong, higher power, life, struggles

It sounds dismissive when I hear those words spoken to me during a difficult time in my life. Almost like I’m not human. I know the words are meant as a compliment when I am on the receiving end but somehow they just don’t seem that way to me.

The trials of life sometimes hit hard, and often. I do what I do and just keep going. I try to deal with the issues and the gamut of feelings that arise when each new situation presents itself. It’s hard as heck and I don’t feel strong. In fact, I feel very weak oftentimes, and just want to sleep for a very long period of time, like maybe a year or two. That’s why I have a higher power to help me through when I feel desperately alone.

Don’t tell me I’m strong, as if no one else could do what I am doing, or could go through what I am going through. It’s not true.

There are other words that rub me the wrong way. Do  you mind if I share them with you? Here they are: “I could never do what you are doing”, or “You are a saint”, or “I wish I was as able to handle my struggles like you”.

Don’t tell me I’m strong, for in doing so you sell yourself short, and make me something I’m not. If you haven’t been where I am then how do you know what you can handle and how you would deal?

I appreciate your attempts to provide support. I’m pretty sure that is your intent but maybe there’s a better way to convey the message?

“That must be tough” is one such phrase.

“Hang in, my friend”.

“You’re in my thoughts and prayers”.

“I’m a pretty good listener if you ever want to talk”.

“I don’t really know what you’re feeling, but I’m here if you need me”.

We can’t really know what someone else is feeling unless they tell us. And if we’ve never walked in their shoes than all we can do is be. Be there for them. Be there with them. Be what they need, when they need.

Don’t tell me I’m strong. Tell me instead that I’m human. Remind me to continue my journey one day at a time. Tell me you care. Tell me you’ll pray. Tell me I’m not alone.

Just don’t tell me I’m strong.



Will They Remember Homeschooling?

I was reading a post today on a homeschool blog called Gypsy Road. I don’t often do so since those days are over for me, but it brought back memories and made me think, will they remember homeschooling? Will my kids remember the fun times we had during our homeschool adventure?

Our homeschool journey began over eighteen years ago and came to an end last May when the youngest graduated. It’s hard to remember the early days but if I put my mind to it, especially after reading posts like the one I read today, then it all comes tumbling back into my realm of remembrance.

homeschooling, graduation, homeschool, kids, trips, educational trips, cottage school, homeschool drama, education, educating your child

Will my oldest two remember that we usually launched our homeschool years off with a fun educational day? Will they remember the year our first day of school was a canoe trip on Blue River in Indiana with Uncle Daryl and Aunt Leah while baby Luke stayed home with the grandfolks? I hope they do.

Will they remember the chilly trip to Bernheim Forest with hiking, a picnic and throwing a football around with Dad?

homeschooling, graduation, homeschool, kids, trips, educational trips, cottage school, homeschool drama, education, educating your child. football, Bernheim Forest, Blue River, canoeing

Will they remember the trips out west and the journals they kept of the many sights we saw? Will they cherish those journals as much as I treasure them in my heart? Do they remember the play dates and the attempts at getting them together with other homeschool families for “socialization” in the early days, the days before we found and joined a cottage school we loved?

homeschooling, graduation, homeschool, kids, trips, educational trips, cottage school, homeschool drama, education, educating your child. football, Bernheim Forest, Blue River, canoeing

Will our kids remember the trip to Disney World in 2001, and being evacuated from EPCOT on 9/11 due to the devastating events to our country that day?

Will they remember “The Four Heads” (Mt. Rushmore as Luke called it), and waiting to see Old Faithful, except two of the kids had to go to the bathroom and Dad took them and they actually missed it?

Will they remember the sleepovers and trips to museums with other homeschooling families? Will they remember how they each were able to take a friend when we visited a nearby place of interest?

I hope they do and so much more.

Will they remember the Lewis and Clark trail we followed from the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky which ended (for us) in Montana (I think)? Or the time we visited all the homesteads of the Ingalls family of The Little House series?

How about the staged gunfight in Jackson Hole? Or the vast depths of the earth as we gazed into the Grand Canyon?

Will they remember the “snow days” we had when we finished school early so they could go play in the wet, white stuff?

I know I do. I loved being a homeschool mom for the most part. Not the academics part exactly, but those precious hours and years I was able to be with my kids, watching them grow and learn.

Will they remember how amazed we were that they not only chose to participate but loved their years spent in Master’s Conservatory drama group; these kids of ours who were a wee bit shy who would deliver their lines so well? Do they know?

homeschooling, graduation, homeschool, kids, trips, educational trips, cottage school, homeschool drama, education, educating your child. football, Bernheim Forest, Blue River, canoeing

I guess my mind usually goes to the not-so-good times we had during our years of homeschooling, and the trying times we experienced as a family. I know they remember those, but I hope not to the point that it overshadows the many good times we had while we learned and discovered together.

There are many things I would change about those times I must admit, but after this time of reflection I know there are many good things they have to hold on to as well, if they only remember…


Christmas is Coming

Christmas is coming soon. Is this good news for you or does simply reading those four words send you into the mother of all panic attacks? For me it can go either way. Sometimes it can go either way simultaneously.

Christmas, the holidays, dreading the holidays, help with Christmas

This year I am not looking forward to the holidays…like AT ALL. 

Christmas is coming. Bah, humbug, I say!

I get the reason for the season. I like the reason for the season. I also enjoy certain aspects of Christmas. It’s just one of those years, well, truthfully for me it is a year like no other year I’ve ever experienced.

M friend Mary just put an interesting post on her site about Christmas and I want to share it here: True You Living. This is the beginning of her post: While the rest of the world thinks Christmas is full of Sugar Plum fairies, sparkly party dresses, and Norman Rockwell style, family dinners, some people don’t see it that way. Maybe you know what I mean. Maybe you’ve been hit with some tough stuff. Your memories of the holidays bring up more hurt than happiness. Your seasonal social life is full of overwhelming expectations. And, your family interaction time makes you wish it was any other day of the year. It stings and you don’t want it that way. Click on the link above to read the rest of the story.

Before you go, leave a comment and let me know your feelings on Christmas. Are you looking forward to it this year?

We Need Each Other

We need each other to survive in this world. We just do. Like it or not (and a lot of times I don’t), I have to acknowledge that I need someone to help me through.

needing others, 12 step groups, self-help, life gets tough, higher power, God

I have had people tell me on more than one occasion how strong I am. Not just me, however. I’ve heard it said about others as well. The fact of the matter is none of us are really strong enough to go it alone. I’m not. You’re not. We need each other. We were designed that way.

That’s where the whole concept of higher power came from in 12 Step Programs. When we can’t, when the situation is just too big and overpowering for us, we have a higher power to help us overcome, and we have each other, one step at a time.

My higher power is God, the creator of the universe. When I am weak, He is strong. That brings me all kinds of comfort and the ability to do the next right thing, take the next step, do whatever it is that is required of me no matter how simple or mundane.

Which leads me back to we need each other.

God shows up for me in a group setting oftentimes, while exchanging stories, feelings and thoughts with other people who have been where I am. It may sound strange to those of you who have never experienced this type of setting before but it helps to know that there is a real live human being who gets how you feel and who lives where you live and who has survived and came out better having had the experience.

It can be awkward at first but that only lasts briefly as sharing happens. Does this mean I like the groups I attend? Not always. It also doesn’t mean I will be here forever, but it’s good to know there are other people there when you need them.

It is also good to know that there are groups for just about every situation. No, really! Grief groups, cancer groups, marriage groups, addiction groups, parenting groups and so many more. They’re designed to be there when you need them, and to keep going back when you’re past the point of needing them if you choose to do so.

There is no shame in needing and accepting help. I’m not sure why we have made it so. It takes courage and wisdom to come to the point of recognizing we need each other and then doing something about it.

Have you had any group experiences? Did you enjoy it, hate it, or get anything out of it?

Free Books on Amazon!

I love books, especially when they are free books on amazon! These books that I found are free Kindle books. I have a Nook so that leaves me out, right? WRONG!

That’s what I love about Amazon. You can download a free app. WHAT? Yes, that is correct and I did. I downloaded a Kindle app to my computer and I was able to take advantage of these free books even if I don’t have a Kindle.

I want to share them with you, but hurry, I don’t know how long they will be available!

If you have ever thought about starting a blog of your very own, then these FREE books would be good reading as you do so. These are my affiliate links.

I can’t wait to start reading mine and I hope you get your free Amazon books too!



Beyond My Blue Door

Beyond my blue door became the name of my blog about a year and a half ago. This name has significance and meaning beyond what I can explain in a few simple words. Inside my blue door is where life took place with my family for 13 years. And then it stopped. Not life itself, but life as we knew it. And then the journey began.

Beyond my blue door, life is difficult, life is hard, stay with the pain, grow with the pain, live truly, engage in life, be present

That’s not exactly true. The journey actually began more than a half of a century ago. Remarkably or perhaps regrettably is a better word, it just doesn’t stop due to circumstances within or beyond our control, whether we like it or not. It just seems like the lessons I learn, the most impacting things in my life, those things that leave a lasting impression, are those I neither wish for or ask for. I’m sure this is the case with so many others.

I find myself in a new place of learning these days, yet not so new after all, for they are lessons I’ve learned before, but have, perhaps, forgotten. Or maybe better defined is that I didn’t learn them to the extent I needed to, nor did I allow them to impact me in the way in which they needed to most.

To wish for that time back is a futile and useless exercise.

Life is a learning curve…all of it. It. Just. Is.

More so for some than others, but all of us will one day, sooner or later, have the opportunity and profound privilege of encountering these lessons that we know not of. The degree varies, the timing has a power all it’s own, but it is a given.

I once heard that God is never early. He is never late. He is exactly on time. Every time, even if I’m not prepared.

That is why this time I am paying full and close attention for I sincerely intend to engage in this period in my life, as intensely painful as it can be, to embrace it even, and grow within the circumstances, fully alert, fully aware and fully prepared to face the lessons presented.

Do I want to? Nah, not so much. But then again, yes, I do. Is it pleasant? Nope, not in the least. Is it necessary? Absolutely. Because I am not a quitter. I am not defeated. I am not hopeless. I am not alone. I will not pretend. I will not deny. I will not simply float along the sea of life in an aimless sort of way.


I choose to live.

I choose to choose.

I choose to heal.

I choose to follow.

I choose to dream.

I choose to feel.

I choose to be present.

I choose to love.

I choose to forgive.

I choose to embrace this time.

Beyond my blue door.