Category Archives: Writing

Voice Of Hope…


It was 20 years ago that I nearly lost my unborn son.

It was in the middle of the night.  Four and a half months into my second pregnancy, I woke up in a pool of blood.  And it became quickly obvious that I was miscarrying.  A call to my doctor confirmed my fears.  It was about 3am, so I was told I might as well rest a couple hours before coming in, and that I had a long day ahead of me.

Amidst the various bits of information over the phone, my husband and I were made aware that at this stage of pregnancy, there’s not much that can be done to save an unborn child.  That the main concern at this point was my own life and the rate of my bleeding.  I was told that I needed to go to the emergency room if my bleeding increased to filling a menstrual pad every two hours.  There was blood all over my bed, and I had no idea exactly how much I’d lost.  But an hour and a half later, my fresh pad was full.  I had no fear for my own life.  I didn’t feel weakened by the blood loss yet, but I knew I was going to lose my baby.  That I would experience what my own mother and grandmother had gone through before me.

I’m no stranger to trauma, so I did what came naturally to me.  I braced for the blow that I knew would come.  No fear about it really, just systematically getting ready to get through one more traumatic event that would shape my life as I knew it.

There was no doubt what was happening and there was no reason in my mind to see things any differently.  I was going to lose a baby.  Women have born this pain for ages.  I was not unique in this and there was no reason or time to whine.  It was just time to face it and get through.  I could fall apart later.

I had accepted that I was indeed losing a child.  And for many really good reasons.  My mother and grandmother and sister all had before me.  And I was readying myself for it.  But I had much more reason than most to so simply accept this fate.

Once upon a time, I couldn’t have children.  It was absolutely impossible.  I was baren. Until I had a full open surgery for endometriosis.  In fact, it wasn’t until after the surgery that I even found out.  Up until that point, I’d already had to embrace the understanding that women with endometriosis as bad as mine simply have a lot of trouble bringing pregnancies to term.  But I was only 23, with the scar tissue damage of someone more than twice my age.  It had begun to affect my other organs.  I was getting sicker and sicker and something had to be done.  Surgery was part of the answer.

However, it wasn’t until they went in that my surgeon discovered that my tubes were completely closed.  That meant something quite profound: it was impossible at that point for me to ever conceive.

And so he fixed me.

After the surgery, my surgeon told me that without having me open on the table, there was no way with just a scope they could have seen that my tubes were closed.

I would have tried my entire life to have kids, never knowing why I couldn’t.

That said, the surgery wasn’t 100% successful.  I still had problems with endometriosis.  But, I lived a much more normal life than before.

So as you can see, I wasn’t surprised to be losing a child.

And as I felt life flow from me, I lay there in the dark preparing myself for the emotional pain ahead, getting my head and heart ready – knowing that after so much already, I was strong enough to endure even this.

And then one of the most powerful things happened and broke me down. 

It still makes me bawl to remember it to this day.  In fact, my face is a soaking wet mess now as I type.

The experience was that powerful. 

Nothing fancy. It was simply this…
I heard a voice.  Clear as day.
And it said,
“Mommy, don’t give up on me.”

That’s all the voice said.

And it was then that I knew that my son was alive.

I don’t care what you think.  I really don’t.  Whether you believe my story, or think I’m lying or you think my mind created the experience because I couldn’t accept my reality or whatever.

Because I know better.  I know exactly where my head was.  And I didn’t even try to hope.

I spent that first day going through all the things they do in a situation like mine.  Doctors everywhere consoling me about what I was about to go through.

My bleeding slowed and days would pass.  My doctors would continue to check the heartbeat and have me come in to see them every day.  They would send me for ultrasounds to evaluate the new hole in my uterus that caused the whole situation.  Doctors continued to tell me that I needed to face the reality that I would lose my child.  That I was too calm and not processing the situation as I should.  This child was not destined to live. That I needed to get a grip and prepare myself for this impending loss.

But I wasn’t phased.  I knew.

It would be 9 weeks before we knew for certain that our son was going to make it. Nine weeks of doctors telling us that we should not hope too much because the odds were so far against us.  Until finally, they said one day, well… maybe he’ll be OK after all.

I continued to bleed throughout the rest of my pregnancy, though just a trickle.  And a month early gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

So there you are, little one.  Thank you for making mommy believe in you. 

For years it seemed we had an unexplainable connection.  Every time I woke up, he was soon awake.  Not crying, not upset or fussy, just awake and ready to be with mommy.  It was so prevalent that sometimes I’d wake up and lie there quietly and think to him, no-no-no honey please do not wake up.  Stay asleep.  But he usually woke up anyway.  Other times I’d wake up, and sneak a peek at him while he slept, only to find him awake and looking at me.  And I’d think to myself, You little stinker! Are you deliberately waking me up?  Or are you just being there for mommy?  It wasn’t every night, but this unexplainable connection continued well into his school years.

He is 20 now. And 19 months ago we found out he had a very rare form of kidney cancer unheard of in anyone under the age of 20, just 5 months after the death of his father.

I faced the mortality of losing my baby that night, more than 20 years ago. And an unexplainable voice gave me hope. Gave me faith.

I think about that miraculous experience from so long ago and wonder if I might hear it again.

Will a voice in the dark give me hope? Comfort my soul?

And then, my son comes home from his late-night college class.

And while I am working away on yet another project,

he hugs me and whispers,

“I love you, Mom.”


11-5-2019
Copyright © 2019 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

Motherhood

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Education From “The Funny Papers…”


When I was a kid, my grandfather had an expression he frequently used to refer to people with no sense in their heads. People who “get their education from the funny papers.”

I used to think it was such an odd expression. An odd phrase. I loved reading the “funny papers.” I think it even helped improve my reading skills.

“Blondie” was one of my favorites. Along with “Beetle Bailey” and others. I recently mentioned to my son when he made himself a giant sandwich that he’d created a nice looking Dagwood Sandwich. He froze and stared at me, then asked me what on earth was a Dagwood sandwich. It never occurred to me that he might not know.

I spent the day today working and then attended a local veteran’s festival event that supports vets and their families. Met some good people and organizations, which I’ll share about later.

However, it was emotional for me. I stood there, surrounded by soldiers and vets, in uniform and out. And I burst into tears. Ugh. I tried to keep it together, but really couldn’t quite. Still, it was a good event and I had some pleasant conversation by the time I left and everyone was taking down.

The afternoon of overwhelming emotion left me stripped though. And instead of getting right back to work, which I needed to do, I wanted nothing more than to run away, find a movie theater or binge watch Doctor Who or Good Omens on auto-replay. And I can’t.

So, I did the next best thing. My son and I sat down to eat dinner in front of cartoons tonight. And when my daughter came home from her classes, she joined in with us too.

We started with Phineas and Ferb and ended with Ducktales. Cartoons we used to watch together with John at one time or another.

And it was interesting how helpful it was. I mean, I almost never watch TV on my own. I watched TV with John. And since his death, I don’t watch much of it at all. (In fact, John bought “me” our first TV when we were dating. “Look honey, I have a surprise for you,” as I recall it went.) So it’s been weeks since I sat down to watch anything. And here it was just cartoons that I turned to for relief. Even the ridiculous commercials for kids between cartoon breaks were oddly comforting.

What really struck me though, especially as an entrepreneur, was the Ducktales episode. At the beginning of the episode, Louie approaches Scrooge for money to fund a new hair-brained business venture. And Scrooge tells him that if he wants to be in business, he needs to find a problem that needs solving and then provide a solution. That this was his key to success.

And I was struck by how awesome it was that this cartoon was teaching principles of business to kids. And how Scrooge, who had plenty of money to hand out (and was even at one point willing to give Louie a small loan, but not a huge one), offered advice instead. He encouraged Louie to be enterprising.

It was refreshing, as I try to grow my social media and writing business, now that I’m supporting my family all on my own. Refreshing to hear a solid business principle come out of a cartoon character’s mouth.

Huh, an education from today’s modern “funny papers.”

I wonder how many kids who watched this cartoon when it first aired way back when are now business owners today.

In the next scenes, Louie brainstorms with his siblings to find problems to solve and needs to fill.

He asks them – what does everyone need? And his sister pipes up and says “Crochet hand grenade holders!”

And with that, I just want to make one.

It sinched the deal because I was already thinking earlier this week that I need a Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch. And that the Maker in me very much wants to make one for prominent display inside my family TARDIS.

And she’s right. I’m going to need a holder for it.

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‘Tis A Silly Place


TARDIS - Halloween 2019 - Aberrant Crochet setup

“It’s like you’re a Doctor Who evangelist.”

That paused me.

I measured my gaze.

“What do you mean?” I asked, looking over.

“Every group of kids who come to the door! You’re like, ‘Do you like my TARDIS? Do you know what a TARDIS is? It’s from Doctor Who! You should look that up on YouTube.”

My daughter’s wry smirk looks just like her father’s.

I smile.

She’s not wrong.

Halloween is a geek’s and cosplayer’s dream holiday.

Only for me, I haven’t been costuming up that much the last few years.

This year, I grabbed my handknit Doctor Who scarf, a brown “Indiana Jones” hat and one of my wool coats and called it good.

But what I really look forward to each year is dressing up my yard.

Right square in front of our door is a lifesize TARDIS that’s my pride and joy.

You have to walk through the TARDIS to enter my home. Literally.

I bought it in a charity auction 4 years ago, the October before John was diagnosed with brain cancer.

October is our birthday month and I knew this TARDIS was perfectly my birthday gift. I also found a killer deal on a BlendTec the same month, so I was doubly happy.

Little did I know how important that BlendTec would be for John in the coming months.

The TARDIS matched our house under the overhang, beautifully. And the kids and I crafted a garden of hand mines that year to go with it.

It was glorious.

And only the knowing had any idea what they were looking at.

We were only lacking in Weeping Angels at the time. A fact I rectified last year. There are now at least 13 in my yard, hidden everywhere.

I’m sure some delivery people believe we must be very Catholic. Or simply very into angels.

What they don’t know just might steal their future though!

And then there’s our annual spider infestation.

I was so pleased when I first heard that the newly introduced season of the 13th Doctor had an episode with mutant spiders in it. Though in truth, I was disappointed with how they concluded the episode. I’m a fan of spiders and that ending was frankly illogically cruel.

But from a yard decor point of view, my spider invasion combined with the TARDIS and Weeping Angels makes my yard a pretty authentic fan fiction of its own.

Finally, after all these years they wrote an episode just for me.

We’ve lost 3 trees since John died, but we still managed to put up a good infestation of spiders this year. I couldn’t find all my crochet spider webs that I’ve made over the years. Not sure where they got put, but the giant one went up and giant momma spider, the 10-foot spider we have, was hung on the web with care.

And the effect paid off as always, demonstrated by the audible gasps when people rounded our 200-300-year-old live oaks to step onto our front walk.

You have to have big old trees to display a 10-foot spider in the air.

“There are some fun decorations in the neighborhood,” one kid told me. “But nothing compares to this! Your house is the coolest. I was here last year!”

You can believe that boosted my ego.

Though in truth, the TARDIS and angels stay up year-round.

I only take down the spiders outside. And mostly inside.

But the eclectic inside of our family TARDIS is a story for another time.

“This house has chocolate! Omg, we can have more than one piece??? You are the nicest!”

I love the smiles on the kids’ faces. Even the dubiously older ones.

Here, take another KitKat.

John always believed in handing out only the good stuff for Halloween.

None of that generic crap. The kids get plenty of that from everyone else.

Chocolate. Every year we give out chocolate.

I heard of a family that gave out king-size Snickers bars to kids one year.

I think that’s cool, but I’ve never gone that big. I stick with fistfuls of smaller bits.

I used to have a bucket of shiny pennies that every child under the age of 6 could stick their hand in and grab a handful to take home.

I liked the idea of fostering a healthy experience with a money blessing.

To give little kids that magical feeling of receiving generosity, without measure, only that they must reach out, seize it and receive it.

Besides, there’s something so pretty about shiny copper.

I need to get back to doing that again. Giving change to little kids is not very expensive at all. Especially when you consider the cost of candy.

Halloween is an odd holiday for sure.

And while it does occur during The Day Of The Dead celebrations that we have here in Texas (which culminate on November 2nd), I’m not really speaking to that part today. Though there’s certainly an influence and a magic in that part, which I do obviously appreciate.

It’s something else about Halloween. I share my perspective as someone raised without the holiday, who later came into the participation of it, thoughtfully, as a mother.

No one thinks about it being a holiday of generosity.

Its American celebration may have started out with the goal of curtailing mischief, but today, it’s evolved into an opportunity to exercise our imagination, to dress up and play as adults, to face our fears, and to bless strangers.

How interesting is that.

STRANGERS.

Of all things.

Without guilt.

Without shoulds.

Without major expectations.

Without commandment.

I mean it’s simple. It’s candy.

And fun.

And we tell each other how cool our costumes are and find out our favorite superheroes, movies, legends, and puns.

Don’t forget the puns.

No family fights over obligations.

No tantrums for not getting the latest iPhone.

And it’s OK to buy yourself something, just because you thought it would be fun.

Or thought it would make someone laugh.

Not because it was practical or necessary or expected.

It’s an interesting holiday, with something to teach.

If we let it.

Hope yours was great.

Giant spider - Halloween 2019 - Aberrant Crochet

 

 

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Compliment…


My son asked me to please be there for a friend of his tonight.

Of course, I agreed.

Afterward, I thanked him for asking and trusting me to help his friends.

And he paid me the highest unexpected compliment I could ask for.

“You’re literally the wisest person on the planet I know Mom, how could I not?”

[tears]

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All I Know…


In the grand scheme of things, what will matter in 20,000 years?

All I know is that we must spend our energy wisely to get the most out of this experience we call Life. And in doing that simple thing, on a personal level, we can actually effect positive change on a universal scale.

Things go awry when we get outside ourselves. And we miss things. Important things.

I am the center of my own universe.

Nothing is more powerful than I and God in my world.

If I am not attending to my center, then I am not in balance. And if I am getting caught up in the drama of others and things outside, no matter how “justified” the cause may or may not seem, then I am not where I need to be. If I cannot act cleanly, then there is muck to clear away and work through.

I learned a long time ago – I can make a great difference in this world with just about everything and anything I put my hand to.

Without doubt.

But if that thing takes my peace and balance away, and I cannot keep upright, then it is not where I’m supposed to be, or what I’m supposed to do.


2-1-2017
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Find Your Wall…


People ask about my philosophy for finding my balance.

Especially with all that’s happened to my family, these last 3 years.

Life can be overwhelming.

It can drown you.

And it will without boundaries.

It will without a way to brace yourself.

Find where your wall is.

That place that when you’re against it, you daren’t go past.

That place that makes you face what you want to run from.

That place that you can hang onto when the world rages at you.

When I have trouble with my boundaries today, my wall is my son.

Some will say it should be God.

I don’t disagree, but sometimes it’s when our kids are at risk that we rise up when we otherwise didn’t have it in us.

Sometimes, it’s Unconditional Love, not our vision of a Creator, that makes us see more.

I have a son fighting cancer who needs me to stick to my boundaries.

I need to accomplish a certain number of things.

I need to hit a certain $$ number every year to make sure he has access to the care he needs.

Talk about being hungry enough – most people I know do not understand what hungry actually is.

I cannot hit the number I need if I’m not disciplined about my work and how I bill.

I share that as someone who knows this and still struggles sometimes, even after 20+ years of part-time self-employment.

I share this because my son is my motivation above all else at this time.

We handcrafters, we women, we caregivers, we the self-employed who fight imposter syndrome…

– We must value ourselves and we must reverse engineer how to supply our needs.

Find that thing for you that helps you stick to your boundaries and commitments.

Find Your Wall.

When you have that, you will often find clarity in what is healthiest for you, your family and your business.

Find Your Wall - Julia Meek Chambers - Aberrant Crochet - My philosophy of finding my balance in the face of uncertainty

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There Is No Spoon…


I’ve had a recurring dream most of my life.

That there is plenty in the world until I arrive. Then something happens. But everyone around me is oblivious to my situation.

People see me a certain way and cannot see that my reality is quite different from their perception. I am assumed or judged by actions I have not taken and a reality I have not lived.

Last night I dreamt I got to attend a music performance at my daughter’s college. One of her friends was performing with a group, and the event would be followed by a banquet.

We arrived and everything was beautiful. We picked out seats, but I really needed to find a restroom. On my way back, I get completely lost. I ask for directions back to the performance hall, but no one knows what I’m talking about.

I finally find my way back, but I’ve not only missed the performance, I cannot find anyone I know. Still, I’m just in time to get a plate of food from the buffet before they tear it down. And I’m so hungry.

The buffet table is huge, taking up most of one side of the banquet room. As I go through, there’s very little left that I’m not allergic to, but I manage to find a little meat. Thankfully there’s still a little salad left on the salad bar at the end of the buffet.

I set my plate down to get the last of the salad, but as soon as I do, someone has taken my plate of food.

I’m in tears and I cry out, Not Again.

I can’t find my plate anywhere. My stomach pangs growl. And as I look back over the buffet, it’s been completely cleared.

All I have are a few leaves of spinach in a bowl. Even the water is gone.

And I feel despair.

This dream theme has recurred most of my life. And seems to play out in weird ways in my reality.

That everything somehow seems more complex for me. That normal sustenance, and needs fulfilled, is not readily available to me. That my trials are never typical. Like an alien trapped on a world I never quite click with. My timing is always off.

Everyone congratulates me on my cooking skills, yet no one is aware that I’m starving.

While it has improved some over time (i.e. my dreams rarely involve mortal danger now too), I’d like to conquer this dream. Master whatever it is that it represents. This dream had gotten better before. But it’s gotten much worse in the last 3 years since John’s glioblastoma diagnosis and death.

It’s understandable, but I need to figure out how to resolve it.

Or succumb.

scarcity-drought-spider-web-water-spout

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Understanding Doesn’t Erase It…


No matter what I understand about stress and grief and trauma, the understanding does not erase its reality.

Understanding alone does not give me freedom.

I still have to work through the muck. Albeit, it does help to understand.

Grief and trauma aren’t like injuries. They are injuries.

I never understood the physical reality of grief as an injury as well as I understand it now. I peel back the layers every day, and still there are more.

Grief is a uniquely human wound.

Even understanding the anticipatory grief packaged with John’s terminal illness did not prepare me for the eventual reality of his death. It did not prepare me for this side of the trauma. We soldiered on through the brutality of his fight for life, because John and I faced things together. No matter how gritty, our family faced everything together. And we had hope for a cure.

Now… that hope has exited stage left, as has John. And now he’s not here to stare down his son’s own cancer with us too.

Grief cripples, even when you understand. Even when you seek balance in all things. You are not “you” for awhile. Maybe you never will be.

“Faith” that I’ll see John again in spirit does not erase the physical reality I face every day. It does not erase the wounds of our trauma together. It does not remove the flood at my knees or the fight at my door.

While no one can take over my burden for me, my friends and family can cushion the pointy-ness, salve the pain, steady me when I falter and stumble. Hold my hair back as I vomit from this Life’s kick in the gut.

No one has ever thrived alone. Human history is proof of this, over and over again. The world’s sacred texts are filled with example after example. Nature also teaches us this. We can survive alone, but we do not thrive. And we don’t heal from mortal wounds without assistance, from God or otherwise.

Like any piercing physical ailment, grief and trauma require recovery and healing. Avoidance does not erase the reality of it nor the need for working through it, any more than a broken leg can be pretended away. But neither does justification or comprehension remove the reality either.

While many things are affected and even created by belief alone, some things cannot be simply unmade through knowledge and recognition. And while choices have consequences, not all “consequences” have choices.

Sometimes, the task set upon us is unfair and without cause.

Understanding alone doesn’t do the work or walk the path of Life. It merely assists in our perspective. We still must face and work with the actual reality.

Perspective and applied understanding help us transmute. And transmutation of the spirit is why we’re here. To be reborn with every conscious effort, ever seeking the Path, even when obscured by tragedy. Even when we feel alone and blind with pain.

We are not robots and we are not God. I may be a part of God, a part of the family of God, or even part of the Great Network as I understand it, but I am not the sum of Creator. And yet, even my Creator God feels. Even Jesus cried out on the cross.

Christ understood far more about the universe and spiritual reality than we can comprehend. And yet when Lazarus died, whom He was about to raise from the dead – “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) 

Knowing everything he knew, knowing that Lazarus would return to life, knowing God and the nature of the universe and our connection, Jesus was overcome with emotion and cried for the friend he loved.

How could I be expected to perform “better” than that?

Life is in the Overcoming.

And some tasks are more difficult than others.

#ThoughtsForTheDay

—–
June 25th, 2018
5:40pm
by Julia Meek Chambers
All rights reserved.

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Reaping Thorns: The Only Lifeline Is Love…


Yesterday, March 7th, marked the 2 year anniversary of rushing John to the ER. The day we first learned about glioblastoma. The day his 18 month, 8 day, 8 hour fight for life began.

Today our son walks into MD Anderson for surgery to remove the tumor inside his kidney.

We’re a whirl of emotions that should not exist all at once. But this Oprah article about failing friends in grief was appreciated.

Nothing teaches you harder about the impact of well-meant but misplaced words than the death of a spouse (or child), and worse when it is prefaced by a long, traumatic and even horrific journey to get there. A patient/caregiver/lovers’ journey that appears quieter than its reality, because you cannot talk about most of the grit. Because it’s too raw for anyone to experience. And you cannot go there without knowing you’re safe to open that door. No matter how desperately you need it.

The yearning for meaningful witness reaps thorns with it too. The callousness of the world levies its attention. And as the thorns collect, you cannot help but fear, dear God, did I ever do this to someone myself?

At least with the anticipatory grief that comes with a terminal illness, John and I could hold each other and witness each our tears.

With widowhood, any coping equipment you had for dealing with trauma is taken from you. The one person in your world who you always counted on and shared with is no longer there. Not to mention your every reality is permanently changed by no choice of your own. You not only lose your spouse, but everything you know and have is either taken or threatened too. Your time is stolen and effectiveness reduced; responsibilities change and magnify.

Unless a safety net can be successfully cast, your fall will be permanently disabling. Perhaps this is in part why the ministry to widows and orphans is so compelled in the Bible and in other religious texts. The alteration of reality can be crippling.

You will never ever see your husband again. You will never again feel their touch. They will never earn an income or owe taxes again. They will never put their things away ever again. They will never share the rest of your memories in any way. My John will never physically see his grandchildren and they will never get to meet him, even in passing. My heart will never recover its missing pieces. The bonding that marriage is, when you succeed – is excruciating when it is severed in trauma. Love is valuable, but it comes at a cost in the face of trauma. And the possibilities of never are endless.

Widowhood is torturous on multiple levels. The loss alone is more than enough. Grief will have its way with you, regardless of how much you understand. Regardless of your power of will. Like cancer, it is no respecter of persons. That carnivore will alter your capability in life, augmented by the quality of your relationship. The deeper the bond, the deeper the fractures. Yet the world steals more than just its lump of flesh. The startling negative things people will say. The vulnerability in a society that is still male dominant. The opportunists who come out of the wood work. But we don’t have the protection of neighbors and communities today like we once did in our history.

Even our friends get weird. They expect us to be normal, to react normal, to think normal, to remember like a normal remembers. They cannot see we lost an entire soul that once was inside. We simply cannot perform the way we did, until we recover. And maybe not even then. Maybe we’re different forever.

And then there’s the impact of silence, and the secondary vacuums that friends disappear into, which augments the feeling of losing every thing you value, trusted and recognize about the way you live, move and operate in the world.

In grief you are often forced to alter your perspective on relationships – that you did not expect to have to – along with your sense of trust and safety with others. Imagine suddenly having to reevaluate the safety of every relationship you’ve ever had. As death brings out the strange in people.

Some say cancer/illness/death shows you who your friends really are. Because friends wouldn’t hurt or abandon you if they cared, right? Especially when the demands upon you have multiplied beyond what a normal human being can expect.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily quite accurate, or even completely fair. That blanket seems a bit big.

Even now, in the well I’ve fallen into, I think that perspective is largely thanks to the filter of trauma we cannot help but be altered by. The tunnel vision we rely on in trauma, as all that we are often able to see is just the step we’re executing just right now. Blindingly looking for something to lean on, but faltering to find, because life knocked us silly and it’s not always easy for others to recognize.

No one is trained for this.

Not me. Not my friends.

I do not even now entirely understand what I need.

Just that I do. Need.

I know I’m far too vulnerable when a furniture salesman almost gets an earful from me, because my voice has been dumb for too long.

Neither I nor my friends will learn this without going through it together. And they cannot learn it if I am silent too.

I’m being forced into a rebirth I desperately did not want.

Every aspect of life as I’ve known it, in every way possible has been forcefully altered. It is unlike anything imaginable. Anguish that cannot be fathomed without experience. Something I could never wish on another. And yet desperately need witness for if I’m to heal.

We are all afraid of being overwhelmed, especially by what we do not understand. Trusting in God is helpful, but it doesn’t erase the way we’re designed. Without regular compassion to offset the regular negative, it’s no wonder that the loss of social support leads to “excess mortality rates” after the death of a spouse in our society.

Loss is part of the way of Life in this world. We cannot escape loss as part of our molding. Our losses are matched by our ability to Love. Our overcoming matched by the growth we already have achieved.

Well-meant but misplaced words injure. Silence injures less, but still injures. Silence robs friends of the opportunity to offset injuries caused by others. Because the callousness of the world will be on the doorstep. Not to mention judgement, gossip and malice. These too exist.

Am I what you expected after all.

How do we surmount both the precipice and the mountain falling down around us, as the tornadoes roar and floods gather at our knees?

There is only one answer. Face what you fear. The physical is transient. And the only lifeline is Love.

“Embrace the suck.” It was John’s message when he trained his men.

John’s words, his love, the Love of my Creator, and the love of my children and friends prop me as I face our son’s surgery today.

—–
March 8th, 2018
8:15am
by Julia Meek Chambers
All rights reserved.

Trapped In The Well - by AberrantCrochet

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Filed under Glioblastoma, Widowhood, Writing

Dark Side Of The Moon…


For me the storm is not over.

Merely changing its color.

Noise still deafens.

Wind still rages.

My head still tucked,

Bracing against the force and hanging on.

Bleeding wounds still unattended,

My furious storm shifts gears.

Black Hole devoured my Trees,

Swallowed my Sun

And gave black ice.

Dark, blinding, cold.

Vacant spot beside.

I am no longer a shield.

I am solitaire.

Written 11-30-2017, 01:30am
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

Alone in the Dark Side of the Storm

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Anarchy In Writing…


NaBloPoMo is the blogger’s answer to NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It stands for National Blog Posting Month. I refer to it sometimes as November NaBloPoMo, because after NaBloPoMo was taken over by BlogHer, it became used there as a monthly exercise throughout the year too. Bloggers could participate in a NaBloPoMo challenge any month, with a different theme to boot. However, the main traditional November Challenge was still supported and observed. And by far, it’s remained the most active time of the year for blogging challenges.

I mentioned to you yesterday that I would try to catch you up on the unofficial nature of official November NaBloPoMo this year. I don’t know much, but here’s what I do know.

It unfortunately appears that BlogHer.com may have forgotten or simply abandoned the annual project. My guess is this is related to their acquisition by SheKnows.com in 2014. No one from either identity is responding to inquiries about NaBloPoMo, which is disappointing. And a little confusing. I can find no official announcements about it one way or another either. The last couple years of “official” November NaBloPoMo coordination since the acquisition have seemed odd. Rumors of lots of changes at BlogHer were murmured. And last year November NaBloPoMo was definitely put together at the last minute.

However, this year, the entire site, login and everything is different. You can still find archives from previous years of NaBloPoMo, but there’s nothing new. You can find posts from bloggers asking about the challenge, and no responses. No responses on Twitter either. In fact, no real interaction at all. And the entire site has been redone and restructured. I even have a brand new writer’s page at SheKnows now, along with an invitation to be a social influencer. With no details.

I’m not sure what to make of it yet, but one thing is clear – they have not invested time or attention into NaBloPoMo this year. Which makes me yearn for days of yore when we were just a bunch of creative bloggers who wanted to make writing more approachable and fun. And we did it by teaming up in November to blog our hearts out, cheer each other on, and even donate drawings prizes for those who completed the challenge.

I joined BlogHer because of NaBloPoMo. But never really participated in any of the other challenges other than the November one. Old enthusiasm for a good thing dies hard. November is where it’s at.

I’m not alone. Seeing they didn’t start the annual event in the first place, people are self-organizing for this year’s challenge. Which is to write and publish a blog post every day for the month of November (no writing ahead or banking posts more than 24 hours ahead). At least, if you follow the original rules.  To learn more about NaBloPoMo, you can refer to my previous post on it here.

So… that’s the news. No one seems to be officially organizing NaBloPoMo for 2017. And who knows what kind of legalities surround any official organization, since BlogHer took over NaBloPoMo in 2011 when it became too big for the founder to run by herself.

Personally, I find this year’s abandonment sad, because the point is to help inspire writers (especially new writers) to take a dive and write. Or blog as it were. And find their sea legs in the exercise of crushing it with a daily deadline. Not to mention to help foster community. To me, it’s one of those worthy can’t-help-but-make-the-world-better exercises.

Does anyone legally own NaBloPoMo? Um, actually yes, a paper trail exists.

However, in exercise and concept, no one can prevent bloggers from keeping the November daily blogging tradition alive. Even if the free world ended and they took our internet away, I’m sure we could find a way to keep it going. Like some sort of cult. If we wanted. We could secretly meet every November at a retreat to share each other’s scripts. Maybe create some rights and rituals to make it really rebellious. Add chips, salsa and margaritas and I’m there.

So I suppose for now, there’s a little bit of NaBloPoMo anarchy about. Though two online entities I know of are sponsoring November blogging link up parties where you can share your posts. And I have joined them both for now.

NanoPoblano November 2017The group known as Nano Poblano is one that’s been around a little while. If you want to join their ranks as a Cheer Pepper and share November posts, that’s done in their Facebook Group. While I’ve been aware of their existence for awhile, I only just joined them this year.
.

Blissfullemon NaBloPoMo Link Up PartyFor the 2017 challenge, Blissful Lemon has also offered a way to not only register your blog in one public place, but also share your November posts with fellow participants. After all, reading posts from others and supporting each other in the challenge is also part of the tradition.

Above are the respective badges for each group.

I’m glad these entities are providing a community for NaBloPoMo orphans around the world. And I did join them both this year.

But I’m feeling a little anarchist about it all. Like a sudden urge to find something to graffiti. My little tantrum over the NoMoNoBlo (No More November Blogging) that seems to have replaced such a nice community exercise.

As the world of internet blogging becomes more and more sleek, corporate and “official” and less individual and organic, I suppose it’s bound to happen.

If I had the bandwidth, I’d provide a rogue gathering spot myself. Though I’d be a poor leader for it this year with everything John and I just went through.

Still, creative rebel that I am, I couldn’t resist feeling like a message should be splattered somewhere. A little freedom of speech exercise. Mainly because no one has responded to queries. Like really, who does that? Or doesn’t do that, as it were. There’s so little interaction, it’s like the new site is run by robots.

Maybe “official” entities don’t care about NaBloPoMo anymore, or fail to see its value. Or maybe they tried to turn it into something else and failed to inform the masses who side with an annual November tradition.

But there’s a core of us out here who do care about a November Blogging Challenge and see its value. And we still love the creative individuality that was inherent in the original organic evolution of it. Maybe it’s a sign of the times and we’ll find ourselves having to move on.

But we were cool once.

NaBloPoMo #NoMoNoBlo 2017 Anarchy Badge - designed by Aberrant Crochet

And way back when, in the days of yore, many of us created and shared a variety of NaBloPoMo badges for people to pick from.

So I decided to get creative with a little rebel Aberrant protest of my own.

My expression of angst in a sea of other emotions I dine on these days.

Here’s the badge I created for this year.

#NoMoNoBlo anarchy begins.

 

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I don’t have to agree with you to find value in what you have to say


You know, a common (perhaps even fear based) block occurred to me this morning.

It’s a prevalent misnomer to think we have to embrace or commit to another point of view in order to gain from it or find value in it – we don’t.

Listening, learning, considering other points of view does not somehow lock us down.

It does not place chains on us. If anything, it makes us free.

The value is in the exchange, testing and even the voicing of ideas.

The keeping of ideas is not as laudable as reasoning and consideration.

We don’t have to agree in order to both be right.

And when you are fearless enough to accept that truth, the value that cracks open from that geode is breathtaking really.

We are amazing, intelligent and creative creatures.

Even when we don’t agree.

 

 

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Drive…


I don’t have a lot of answers. But I do have a few.

Life is too short a game to stick with things you hate.

Anything that takes your peace away is not healthy for you long-term.

Sure, there’s risk in change.

But all things worth anything require risk.

Life is risk. Love is risk. Hate is risk. Health is risk.

Winning is risk. Losing is risk.

Just releasing your voice upon the ether is risk.

ART IS RISK.

You can do everything right and lose every thing.

But in risking everything, you actually risk nothing.

Because you can’t opt out.

RISK is in every breath already.

It’s what makes life – LIFE.

Regardless of what you choose to do,
one of two things will happen.

You will take the next breath, or you won’t.

There’s freedom in that fact.

Might as well see what this game can look like.

And therein lies the key.

So ok, you can’t quit that job you hate today.

Or drop that class. Or move your family.

It sucks.

But you can craft a plan and set things in motion to move in a direction you want.

What does that take?

How would you get more data to look at those ideas more closely?

What doors would need to open?

How do you find those doors?

Who are the people associated with those doors and where do you meet them?

Work the problem backwards and find yourself some steps to start with.

If nothing else, life won’t be boring if you pursue this exercise in free will.

And know this.

YOU are the most powerful thing in your entire universe.

Nothing is more powerful than you. Save God, but he gives you free will.

So be your own creator.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, doesn’t matter.

Grab the handles of that motorcycle and drive that engine where you want to go.

Whatever you do – DON’T make a plan based on what you think the world wants.

Screw that.

What would you like to do? What does quality of life mean to you?

What would you like written on your gravestone?

Start with that.

But don’t wait around. Death is certain for us all.

I’m no one special, but I hope this helps.

Resolve to trust yourself a little more tomorrow than you do right now.

You won’t regret it.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
– Jack Kornfield, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book

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Ember…


The mountains are so pretty at sunset.

I gaze into the light.

Blinded above.

Blinded below.

Beautiful trees in my peripheral.

A warm wind swirls across my cheek and I disconnect from my body for a while.

I focus on the gift of sight.

Please God. I wanted him to see Montana.

It feels just like him. Rocky and beautiful.

Air flows around me, separating the barbs of my feathers.

I feel each loosen as I close my eyes.

Arms surround me from behind,

as a head of soft dark hair leans into my shoulder.

I loosen my soul to blend with his.

An eternal moment, destined to pass.

My skin crackles.

The fire burns so hot now.

I don’t want to go.

I don’t want you to go.

I don’t want to be reborn without you.

Please, hold my hand. Don’t leave me.

Knowing is a consuming crown.

Ashes smoke the air.

Desperately. Don’t. Want. This.

My fearless Force of Nature.

You kissed my tears and told me once that you would find me.

That nothing would stop you.

The Raptor I set free, returned but for a while.

Life without your comfort is unconscionable.

I try to calm the smolder.

Afraid to breathe on the embers of my own heart and soul.

Hold the space a little longer please.

“I’m burning up a sun, just to say goodbye.”
— The Doctor

“Before I go, I just want to tell you: you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.”  — Season 1, Episode 13

“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

— July 31st, 2017 —
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Focus…


Don’t simply fill your life up with busy work
just to feel your wheels in motion.

Be stingy with your energy
and make every choice count.

You’ll find direction faster than
you ever realized possible.

Written 04-09-2017, 6:58pm
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

girl-camera-pictures-nature

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The Shelf Is Not The Place…


We get so busy surviving life,

That it’s easy to put what matters most on the shelf,

Waiting for “the right time.”

Waiting for a fresh breath of air,

Instead of the breath we have just now.

“I’ll come back to it later,” we say.

And our collection of “some day” grows.

Don’t. Wait.

There’s no better or perfect moments.

Just messy, muddy, imperfect ones.

Shelves are for decoration or storage,

Not for Living.

Thank goodness making mud pies

While taking mud baths

In red clay puddles,

With sprinklers and swings

And a yellow swimsuit, imperfectly ruined

Is one of the best memories ever.

Written 03-27-2017, 12:40am
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

Archives

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The Reveal…


Elightened TreeThe din rises and surrounds me.

Complaints and feelings and judgements and hate.

Everyone hurts, at least a little.

And so I stretch and I climb.

Petty ideas and rigid mindsets
disassemble easily in the face of extremity.

Every thing someone wants me to invest into,
I can sling shot at that.

The true test of mettle.

You’ll never know how strong something is
until you push it to the breaking point.

This is true of ideas, things, ethos and people.

The Face of Extremity will undress anything.

My can crusher of Enlightenment.

Clatter beckons at my knee; I reach for limb and pull.

The noise has always bothered me; the annoyance and distraction.

I used to be impatient with it.

But right now it simply falls away.

My ears and eyes and heartbeat only have room for Now.

Purity, truth, honor, love.

The gap that swallowed me whole.

Right Now.

Right Now.

Just Now.

One heartbeat. And two.

Who knew faith required a plastic mind?

Written 03-18-2017, 02:48am
Copyright © 2017 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Logic Isn’t Always…


My meditation today…

One of the GBM patients in one of our support groups went holiday shopping with his wife. They went to pick out a gift for their daughter. It was a triumph, because he hasn’t felt good enough to get out of the house in so long.

Unfortunately, he has aphasia and he’s lost his peripheral vision. All too common for glioblastoma warriors. He tripped on a display he couldn’t see at a store and knocked everything down. He was so embarrassed.

As people helped pick it all up, someone had the gall to tell his wife that she should make him lay off the booze before going out in public. The wife doesn’t know if he’ll go out with her again.

I’m appalled for their experience.

But the thing is, I know that before I understood this disease, I might have thought he’d been drinking too.

I wouldn’t have said anything, but it is very possible that I would have thought it. Because I simply had no clue before. I didn’t understand brain cancer at all.

*Maybe* my experience with disabled children would have helped clue me in, but if I was busy, I doubt it.

Our perspectives in life are often reasonable, based on logic and data we already possess.

But that does not automatically translate into the truth, the whole truth and nothing but truth.

Logic alone does not make us fair and just. Seemingly reasonable does not equal justification.

We are capable of interpreting what we witness and experience as falsehoods. In our justified reasonableness, we can sin against our fellow man.

We can judge and accuse others of actions and beliefs they haven’t taken and don’t have. Because “actions speak louder than words.”

This is why temperance, compassion and love are so important.

They help us to take another look.

Compassion tells us not to jump to conclusions and to offer our hand. Love tells us to hold our tongue and strive not to harm our neighbor. Temperance reminds us that just because we can, doesn’t mean it’s right.

Steven Covey reminded us to shift our paradigm. Every major religion in the world reminds us to be slow to assumption and mindful in our choices. And God reminds us that we are all his children.

Kindness and balance are everything.

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Why We Pray For Others…


monk-prayerNapoleon Hill, widely regarded as one of America’s most successful (and most spiritual) business leaders, believed that a negative state of mind could undo the power of prayer.

He saw that it was important we always keep our minds in the right place when we pray, but also when we go about our daily routines. That a positive mindset was critical to our success and well-being, as well as the manifestation of our prayers and dreams.

Prayer is known in many forms all around the world, regardless of religion, culture, philosophy or spiritual belief. Even my atheist friends believe there is something to prayer and what it does for the human psyche, even if only as a form of collective consciousness.

As a student of world religions, the idea that a negative frame of mind can undo the power of prayer is definitely striking to me.

My belief in the power of prayer is strong, even though most people don’t think of me as religious. It’s saved my life too many times to doubt it. And I believe in a Creator behind that power. Even now, with everything John and I face, I still believe.

But why pray for others?

Depending on how tough things are, it can be hard to stay encouraged. And stay positive.

Frankly, many of my prayers in recent months have even been angry. If the outcome of my prayers had to rely entirely upon my personal attitude, I wouldn’t get far.

The prayers of others help lift us when we struggle on our own.

Herein lies the secret I think.

I especially understand this with everything my husband is going through today. Staying positive about a terminal illness is incredibly difficult. So if a negative outlook can undo the power of Prayer, then what are we to do when we become discouraged? How do we manage “mind over matter” when our brain has been damaged? What are we to do in the face of great adversity?

Why bother to pray if what’s supposed to give us comfort and connect us to the Divine will simply be erased should our emotions get the better of us?

This is where the prayers of others are so important. We’re not attached to the trials we don’t experience. When we pray for each other, our faith that our prayers matter is not darkened by our own trials and discouragement.

The act of prayer is an exchange of energy. Collective prayer adds to the energy given.

When we are down, when were discouraged, when we’re afraid, when our faith falters – the love, encouragement and prayers of others can help bridge the gap and keep our batteries going.

No man is an island.

Humanity has always been social by nature and has never thrived on solitude.

We’re always better when we share our burdens and come together.

A single candle lights and even rekindles many others.

Thanks everyone for keeping mine lit.

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Gratitude…


Thank you God for my friends and family.

Thank you for showing me amazing good in so many people.

Thank you for so many human angels who’ve reached out and helped us even when we didn’t know them.

Thank you for Revelations, Science, and Technology.

Thank you for men and women who work tirelessly every day to save one more life.

Thank you for friends who have been there for everything.

Thank you for the thoughtful ones. Who think of my needs before I know them.

Thank you for the compassionate ones, who never tire of listening. The ones who are always patient with my responses.

Thank you for the prayer warriors, who will drop everything and pray when someone hurts.

Thank you for the trench mates, who aren’t going through it, but are willing to jump into the mix with me.

Thank you for the doers, who just do things behind the scenes, without needing to announce it. They’ve helped me so much.

Thank you for the giving ones, who have kept our worries at bay.

Thank you for the strangers who open their hearts.

Thank you for the fellow warriors who are working hard to make a difference somehow. Anyhow.

I would be lost without these. I am lost anyway.

But somehow, little miracles exist.

And lamps have arrived when I needed them.

Please continue your presence in my life, to comfort me, guide me, and show me in a way that I cannot miss, and cannot doubt. But as gently as possible, please.

I don’t understand a lot about Life right now. I can’t see where I’m going beyond the next step. But thanks for providing some handrails and flowers along the way.

Life is a Blessing.

And I’m grateful.

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