The Reading of the Names


On Wednesday morning Mike and I got up before the sun rose to head into Washington DC which is about two hours from our home in Delaware. I had signed up in August to volunteer for the Reading of the Names at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I found out in September I had been one of the many picked to read names. You could request to read a particular name. As a reader you were assigned thirty names and given a two minute time slot to read them. 

Mike and I drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and picked up the metro in New Carrollton. The first subway stop on the orange line. Unbeknownst to me as I had not thought to ask, it was Mike’s first time using the subway. We got off at the Smithsonian stop. Being a Wednesday and cold the crowds were little to none. Mike and I about had the mall to ourselves. We stopped to look at the Capital building at the far end of the mall before making our way towards the Washington Monument. I pointed out the different museums to Mike as we went. We passed by American History, Natural History, the African American Musuem-which looks amazing from the outside. We passed by the Holocaust Museum to cross the street and head to the Washington Monument. Mike said it was the closest he had ever been to it. We did the tourist thing and took photos. We made our way to the World War Two monument. We walked all around it and took time to reflect in front of the wall of stars which represent fallen soldiers. It was around 9:00 in the morning so it was deserted except for five other people. Mike’s step dad fought in World War Two so it was a meaningful visit for him. After we walked down towards the Vietnam Wall as I wanted to see where I would be reading and to whom I would be reading to. I was shocked to find only ten chairs set up in front of a platform stage and I quickly realized I would be reading to my Mom, step dad, Mike and some thirty or so Vietnam vets. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I honestly thought there would be more people. But as Mike reminded me it was a word day and a Wednesday and cold. As I checked in I was asked if I would read an additional thirty names as the time slot after mine was not filled. When the slots were not filled Vietnam Vets would read the names. I told them I would read additional names and asked for the pronunciation of one name. Mike and I headed out towards the Lincoln Memorial as we had half an hour before I had to be in line to read. I was nervous I would fumble or bumble a name and wasn’t sure how I would be with my voice booming back at me through four speakers they had overtop the wall. I asked Mike if we could climb the stairs and go up to see Lincoln. It is my favorite monument. I love sitting on the steps in nicer weather and watching the world go by and the planes take off and land at Reagan National airport. I practiced my sixty names at a quiet corner at the monument. Then my time was approaching to get in line. There were ten people ahead of me reading names. 

When I got into line all my nerves disappeared and I felt a wave a calm come over me. Mike spotted my mom and step dad who had traveled to DC to support me. He told them I was reading extra names and that I was still on time for my reading. I got quite cold standing in line but had dressed warmly. I did grow up in New England after all. I found I had to turn slightly away from the wall as some of the veterans were touching the names of comrades and crying or having a moment and I knew I watched them I would get all teared up. So stared straight ahead at the woman in front of me. Three readers ahead of me fell to pieces reading their assigned names but got through them. Then a vet read his assigned names. The woman ahead of me marched onto stage and started reading. She read the name of her brother as well as others. While waiting my turn one of the wall volunteers and a Vietnam vet himself chatted with me. He asked if I made the trip to DC especially for this and I said yes. He asked if knew anyone on the wall and I said no. I told him I saw they needed volunteers and I felt it was the least I could do and it is an honor. He thanked me for reading and attending the ceremony. Then it was my turn. I walked to the podium took a deep breath and started with the first name who I had practiced for two months to say. I felt a connection to the sixty men whose names I read and who fought in a war prior to my birth. I read their names slowly and with dignity. It took me almost four minutes to read my names. When I finished I walked back down the stairs towards the wall once again and three vets were waiting at the bottom of the stairs. They thanked me for reading and told me I did great. I thanked them and told them what an honor it was to participate. It was very humbling to stand in front of the wall with 58,000 names on it and realize that all these men and women gave their lives. I would volunteer again and read more names when they do it again. This was the fifth time since the wall was dedicated that the names were read. 

I thank all veterans and military for their service in protecting our country and our freedom. It was something to participate in this and something called to me to do it. Normally I blend in with the background when I volunteer but this time for a brief moment was front and center. 

I’ve enclosed photos from the day. The first is the stage in front of the wall. The second I am waiting my turn to read. The third and fourth are some of the names I read. I found them on the wall after I read. And the fifth is a statue by the wall. I highly recommend a visit to the wall if you are in DC. 

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Body Image


I am struggling with my body image when riding. I don’t often think about my weight or how others see me but for some reason when I see myself on a horse I get to feeling mortified and embarrassed by my weight. I have never been a thin person. I am fully supported with my pursuit of riding by Mike, by my riding instructor and by the owner of the horse. It takes me a while to feel comfortable enough to watch the video Mike records of my lessons. 

My instructor tells me my position is very good though I have a tendency to drop my left hand in my lap. I exercise and for the most part watch what I eat. My weight gain started with the side effect of medication. Now I am struggling to lose weight. 

I have always loved riding and being around horses and farms. I feel at home there. Accepted. 

I thought back to Maria’s belly dance blog posts and her subsequent love my belly pot holders. I found I do not love my belly or most of my body and must do more work on my acceptance of myself. I found I don’t feel worthy in spite of my confidence and self assuredness. 

I am most definitely a work in progress and hope to view myself differently this time next year.

Fire Pit and Small Steps


Mike bought me this fire pit for my birthday in June. Tonight was the first night we had a fire in it. It is a fairly warm night though a cold front is coming through later. This fire marks another big moment in our journey with PTSD. When I first met Mike he was uncomfortable sitting on his front porch even during the day. I remember sitting in his living room looking at the porch and the rocking chairs that he has there. The rocking chairs kept calling me. I initially had no idea he was uncomfortable sitting on the porch but he graciously came outside with me for a few minutes. I did not understand his fear as I always sat on porches without another thought for my safety. Mike was always on edge and wary always looking around waiting for danger to arrive. He has since then grown to be comfortable and happy on the porch and he loves it now. Some days I cannot get him to come inside. Mike sits on the porch with Meadow our dog while I am at work. He speaks often of how much he loves the porch and being outside with nature again. 

Before heading to the farm we decided that when we got home we would have a fire, I would roast marshmallows and he would cook hotdogs over the fire. When we arrived home after sunset I could see the hesitation in Mike’s eyes. He was on edge and not sure he wanted to have the fire. I told him it was up to him. After five minutes he went outside and started the fire. I went outside and stood with him while the fire took hold. I ran inside and got the marshmallows and proceeded to burn a few but loved eating them. Mike then went in and got the hotdogs. While he was inside I brought one of our rocking chairs off the porch and put it near the fire. Mike got the other rocking chair after he finished eating his hot dogs. I sat on the rocking chair listening to the crickets and foxes call. The wind was gently blowing through the trees. I was at peace and loving the quiet. Mike on the other hand was still a little on edge. I told him how I have often stood around backyard fires just hanging out. Mike shared with me when we got inside after the fire was out, that it was a big step for him that he was not expecting. He said he is comfortable on the porch and was surprised to find that ten feet from our home in the dark was a little unnerving. I told him to give himself credit for doing it. We are hoping to have another fire soon. PTSD and living with it is as most endeavors in life small steps forward. Mike is one of the bravest people I know how he faces his fears every day. I love him so much for always trying.

Crossroads


I am once again at a cross roads in my life. They seem to be appearing more frequently as I age. I have started to put the wheels in motion to start a new in my professional life. I have wanted to do it for a very long time but many things kept me chained to the job. I wonder if my appearance will change if I change jobs. I ran into a coworker who had retired six months prior and I did not recognize him as all the stress had left his features. I have a lot to think about and for once time is on my side. 

I hope to pursue writing and perhaps trying to be paid for it. I hope to find another job that I can be appreciated and find satisfaction at the end of the day. Reiki may be my next endeavor. I currently do reiki on myself, Mike and animals but may branch out to providing it for a fee to people. 

I chose the photo for this post as it is where I had some wonderful conversations with my dad when I was younger as well as sitting here with Mike when we travel to Maine. It is almost like my thinking chair but it is four hundred miles from my home. 

This will be the first time in my life I have sat down since college to ask myself what do I want to do and how can I pursue it. Horses are also calling me. Stay tuned.

Personal Philosphy…What is Yours


I was recently asked what is the theme or philosophy of my life. I was stunned by the question and unsure how to answer. It was suggested that I am always changing and moving forward reinventing myself. I think that describes me pretty well. I even worded something similar when I wrote a little description of my life on my blog many years ago. I also think Mike is on a similar life trek as he has reinvented himself so much in the past four years though I have only known him for two years. We are both constantly trying to improve ourselves and our life. We try to meet challenges head on. Mike has come so far on his journey as have I. 

Do you have a personal philosophy or life theme you live by?

Readjusting and Reflectng 


I took this photo last Sunday at the farm. I was happy to hear the geese calling. It is one of my favorite times of the year. After the spring peepers the calls of large flocks of geese is wonderful to my ears. The geese help me connect with nature when life causes me to forget about it. 

Mike and I had a wonderful vacation and spending time with family and friends. We both found spending time with my nephew and his family to be meaningful and relaxing. I enjoyed spending time with my great nephew Noah and got lots of smiles from him. Mike held and fed Noah a bottle. It was the first baby Mike ever held or spent time around. It was heartwarming to see Mike and Noah checking each other out. I captured many photos of my nephew and his wife with Noah as well as a few of Mike with Noah. I am getting better taking portraits and candid shots of people. 

Maine was magical for me as always. I love how different the coast is here as opposed to where I live. The beaches in Maryland and Delaware are sandy with barrier islands helping to protect some of the beaches whereas Maine has the rocky coast. I can sit for hours watching the waves crash against the rocks. Another thing I enjoy is the lack of air traffic going overhead. At most we saw a couple of planes a day heading overseas or those coming from across the Atlantic. A town north of where we stay is the point where airlines deposit unruly passengers prior to the trek across the Atlantic or those who are disruptive while over the Atlantic. I find it fascinating that Bangor Maine has the facilities to deal the airlines unruly people. 

I have found it a difficult adjustment to be back to work. Two days after returning home I started a two week overnight pet sitting job. I love caring for the pets and hope to expand my reiki practice. I sometimes forget to use reiki on myself. Mike has thrown himself into projects around our home. Meadow was happy to see us. I find myself wishing for more time at home but have been struggling to find the balance to do so. I have rededicated myself to reiki and also to writing. I hope to continue on my journey for reinventing myself and what my life looks like.

Maine and Our Travels


I was going through the photos I took while Mike and I were on our honeymoon. We traveled to five different states starting and ending in Connecticut with visits to New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. I have been vacationing on the southern coast of Maine since I was ten. I love it there and it is almost a second home to my soul. I feel at home walking along the rocky shore and hanging out in the many coves along the way. I would sit on the benches along the marginal way with my mom and dad when I was younger and now enjoy sharing the time with my sisters and Mike. My brother in law was able to enjoy the marginal way for the first time in five years with the aid of his scooter that helps his mobility now. 

Mike and I travel well together and enjoy each other’s company. I do most of the driving while Mike navigates. The GPS took us on an interesting trip from Cambridge NY to South Deerfield MA. We had to reroute due to a road closure in MA and GPS told us to take a left then an immediate right. I questioned Mike if it was correct as it was quite a steep hill. I gunned the gas and we started to climb. The road started out as paved, to not quite paved to potholes to gravel and finally to a grass road. We finally crested the hill and could finally see what was on the other side of the steep hill. The land leveled out rapidly and we found ourselves on the backside of a farmers barns and fields. We encountered the farmer crossing this path heading to the pasture. I waved he waved and twenty yards away was the paved road again. Mike said the man looked as though it has happened before. I am sure we are not the first GPS followers to traverse his property. 

The length of our trip was long, relaxing, slightly stressful and overall drew us closer together. We rely a lot on each other while maintaining our own core strength. One of the best parts of our trip was the connecting and connections we made with those along our way. Mike opened up to others in a relaxed way that previously would have caused much stress. I found again that I am still pretty quiet and shy. I loved meeting so many friends on this trip. We hope to do it all again next year!

Vacation & Cemeteries


Who knew this vacation would find Mike and I exploring so many cemeteries. We wandered through three in Cambridge NY and found this one in Leominster. I was drawn to the round sphere of a stone. I even caught myself in the sphere. I loved how one stone said thank you for stopping by. Mike and I enjoy learning the history of a town and people who lived there. This cemetery has 378 Union soldiers buried here and many from both World Wars. It was a beautiful fall day to venture out. 

It has been an interesting time for me to relax and enjoy my time off. We have traveled and stayed in three states so far but have enjoyed our time in each. Cambridge NY has rolling hills and beautiful landscape that is so different from the flat flat flat land of Delaware where we live. I loved looking at the changing leaf color and also the differences in the farming between NY and DE. A lot is the same what is different is the land. 

We traveled to Amherst MA after NY and used GPS to lead our way through very scenic land. The GPS did great but at one point we followed a road GPS told us to go on and it gradually turned into a dirt road only to find us creating a hill and coming up behind a farmers barn. I told Mike I thought we were in a farmers field when the farmer himself walked across his drive and waved at us. One of the farmhands looked at us as if this happened everyday. We finally got to Amherst and I drove Mike all over UMASS showing him where I went to college and where I lived. I told Mike I wish I had not been so frightened and shy when I attended college. It took me two years to settle in at college. I am no longer in touch with anyone I went to college with which sometimes makes me sad. I am much closer to friends who I grew up with. I still communicate with them via Facebook and letters. I’m old fashioned and still write letters. 

We are staying with my nephew and his family for a few days prior to heading to Maine. It has been a quiet and relaxing visit. My great nephew seems to enjoy my company and smiles a lot. He is pretty laid back as are his parents. 

I had a wonderful conversation with Jon and Maria prior to leaving. They have inspired me to write more and continue expressing myself and even step it up some! Stay tuned! 

Love and PTSD 


Life has been in a constant state of flux for a year now. I am getting better at dealing with change and going with the flow. I found in dealing with my mental illness that people are still wary and uncomfortable knowing I have it. Mental illness acceptance has come a long way but still carries a stigma. People are more comfortable with sick days at work for the flu, migraines or any physical ailment but try to call out when struggling in the throes of a bad mental health day and you get chastised, told to get over it or the worst…When others state there is nothing wrong with me.

I knew from early in our relationship that Michael had PTSD. I have observed it and witnessed it’s hold on him. I have heard people doubt that he has it. I am often astounded that people would never think of telling someone with a heart condition or cancer that they don’t have it but think nothing of telling someone dealing with mental health issues that they do not have any problems. I was told recently to get over the struggles I was experiencing trying to be there for Mike, to be strong but at times it can be harrowing to hear what he experienced. I assume others have the same degree of compassion for the suffering we all have in our lives but am shocked when they say hurtful and unhelpful things. 

I don’t often speak of my troubles and worries to others and am grateful to my friends who are there for me. I am thankful to be on life’s journey with Mike. He recently started therapy for the PTSD. I can see an amazing transformation already in a short time. He has embarked on a few projects around our home and property. He has big dreams and takes steps towards fulfilling them. One of them has been cutting a trail through the wooded part of our property. It is where he feels at home and safe with nature and wildlife around him. 

I hope to write more about our journey with the PTSD. I have found writing though difficult lately has helped as well as photography. I took both photos yesterday at sunset.

Bees and Life


I feel as though the bees in my present photos reflect a lot about my life and perhaps my friends lives. I at times feel as though work takes up so much of my time that my friends fall to the wayside. And I think it is similar with my friends. I really get irritated when people say if it is important to you then you would make time. That is easy to say and something else to actually achieve. I used to live twenty minutes from most of my friends but now live forty five minutes to an hour away. My friends are busy too with their lives and struggles. The bees are always working always buzzing and doing the best they can. They work towards the same goal but don’t have time to acknowledge the other as pictured in my photos. 

It seems as though the last year of my life has been walking from one crisis or hiccup to the next. The end of July is the one year anniversary of Michael’s car accident. We are still a one car family. Still waiting for the insurance money to come through. Michael went through much physical therapy and is now doing quite well. Working at ups is pretty stressful and now they have changed our pension and retirement which is bringing me much closer to leaving in the next year. If I stay beyond the next few years I actually lose money for my retirement. Both Mike and I had similar health issues this past winter with Mike having to undergo surgery. My mom and stepdad were in a serious car accident a month before Mike and my wedding. I have missed much work this year more than I ever had. Thankfully my bosses worked with me on the time off. Mike and I got married in May. I had another health scare the end of May. It turned into me fighting with a nurse practitioner who in trying to cover all her bases wanted me to get what I considered an unnecessary test. She then proceeded to call me two times asking why I did not have the test done. She went as far as to try telling me I may have a form of cancer. I did get checked by my primary care doctor and my gynecologist. Both said that I am incredibly healthy for my age. A week ago I was in a hit and run accident. I was unhurt but was very frustrated that the person got away, my bosses boss thought I was trying to get an additional day off when I called out due to the accident and then it took quite a bit of explaining to 911 to explain where I was and where the accident occurred. Mike and I live on the state lines of Delaware and Maryland. This resulted in my 911 calling first going to Maryland though my accident was in Delaware then I was transferred to southern Delaware’s dispatcher before being transferred to the correct dispatcher. I was screaming at this point. I had been chasing the driver who hit me but was told to stop. It took the police three hours to respond to my accident due to two very large fires occurring not far from my accident. I ended up driving home as the accident took place only half mile from home. I should have known something was up when I told the dispatcher where my accident occurred and they said where is that. 

Getting back to the bees and to finish this long rambling post. I learned an important lesson that I have struggled with and that is the need to let go… Of outcomes, of what each day will bring, and what others think say and do. Like the bees I am going out every day to do my best and now I think I need to start reaching out to friends, family and others. Perhaps that is what the accident taught me was to reach out.

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