I remember, I remember when I lost my mind……..great lyrics, great song. After years of fighting for Social Security Disability, (I put up with way too much for way too long, and suffered a break down-depression is not a sign of weakness-it is a sign of being strong despite ridiculously mind-boggling stress) I have now been notified that I won. I am grateful, yes, but now I am legitimately handicapped, according to the state of Pennsylvania.
I didn’t think I would be overcome with the words of the Judge’s decision:
Advanced age. Alcoholism. Depression. Drug use. Disabled. Anxious. Isolator. Potato Chip Sifter and my personal favorite-mentally ill. Perhaps it is time that I own these descriptive, if not melancholy diagnoses. Knowing that PTSD was the problem all along, well, that does help, as at least I know the beginnings of my madness. But I am proud to be here, proud to toot my horn in support of mental health awareness and the way Jesus will take the broken and make them strong and resilient, eventually.
I am not the poster child for the criminally insane, and for now, well, that is enough.
I was happier in the cottage at Lake Algonquin than I can ever remember being. Wounds and worries faded away, like so much dust in the sunshine-I left here a withered nub of insecurity, fear and doubt-to a town so rustic, so enchanting, that the healing poured over me like wild honey, and to leave there broke a piece of my heart. You will see her, if you visit Wells, disguised as a lavender dragon fly. She will flitter and float and search…..for eternity, for the missing pieces of which she is a part.
The primitive man is one who owes more to nature than to the forces of civilization. What we seek in him are the primal and original traits, unmixed with the sophistication of society and unimpaired by the refinements of an artificial culture………Sometimes it is love of adventure and freedom that sends man out of the more civilized conditions into the less; sometimes it is a constitutional physical latitude which leads them to prefer the rod to the hoe.
-Charles Dudley Warner, The Adirondack Reader
I am thankful for my home, grateful in a way that belies words or phrases. I am a lover of Jesus and all things pure. And until the day my weary feet touch the hopeful beaches and forests of the Adirondack Mountains, I remain a lady in wait……..one who suffers fools with a different take on life, a new meaning made out of the chaos, a dream, a destination, a new found hope that surpasses understanding.
As we head out to hike this morning, I was struggling with a chest cold, and found I had little patience for, well, anything. Determined to make the most out of the last two days of our vacation-I grew a pair, and dealt with it. My husband and I have been trying to find a certain old growth forest, which is far away, and we have searched two of the five days we have been here. One thing I won’t say about the state of New York is that their road markings and signs are the best-it’s almost like the town of Wells is trying to remain America’s best kept secret. That is my only complaint.
After driving 50 miles and not finding Potholes, again, we turned around and found the only hiking trail we found marked. And I mean marked by a gate. We ended up on a lovely, rocky river bed and wandered around until my husband said I was walking in deadly snake areas. I carried my father’s ashes, sacred in their own right, in my backpack, and announced:
“I am going to spread daddy’s ashes right here.”
My husband responded in a stern voice, “No, you are NOT!!!” This went on for a few minutes, the back and forth, until Dwain relented:
“I scheduled a boat, a pontoon.”
In his generosity of spirit, unrelenting love for me, kindness and compassion; he had talked to a mariner on Lake Pleasant. The owner told my husband, who was willing to rent the boat for half of a day, that for this occasion? Why he could have the boat for an hour, free of cost. After a few quick instructions and grateful hugs, we set out to the middle of the lake. I told Dwain I was ready, and, gently but passionately, I wept. Pulling myself together, I told my father how much I missed him. I remembered part of the eulogy I wrote for his funeral, and quoted a few bible verses.
“Love never fails daddy, and I will love you until the end of forever.”
As I turned around my husband pointed, and there, in the middle of Lake Pleasant, was an ethereal monarch butterfly. I caught my breath. I hugged my man. I wiped my stale and salty tears away.
As a child I used to announce to my mother that I was going to live on a farm when I grew up. Twenty some years later, I found myself in Kleinfeltersville, where I was destined to meet my soul mate. I met Dwain relatively quickly, and I have lived with him since, on a farmette in a lovely farm house. While my home means the world to me, visiting the finger lakes of New York has been transforming. My mother and father were from upstate NY, and mom was torn away from her family and all she ever knew, to move, with an infant and golden retriever puppy, to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Mary Lou suffered from depression. There were times when, after her father and mother passed, that my mother was inconsolable, and struggling for a way to help her, she would cry–
“You have no idea, none whatsoever, of what I left behind to move here. The people, small town living, my family……”
I may have struggled with our relationship, and I was the black sheep child, but my mother was one tough woman. Dad travelled for a living, and at times she was left with three children and no vehicle. Looking back, she was an amazing, if not deeply troubled, mother. I know for sure I could never have accomplished what she did in her 59 years here on earth, and I phoned her each and every day until she passed. But back then? She was right-I did not understand.
Living in my neck of the woods, down in Pennsylvania, has been both wonderful and brutal. For the first fifteen years, I was known as the harlot from Philly, who left her husband one week after her honeymoon, to live with Dwain, quite possibly the most popular man in Lebanon County. Everyone knows him, and for the most part, he has been content to remain in the area he was born in, and he knows every damn person in that town, just try grocery shopping with him-there is no such thing as a stranger to my husband, and for that I am thankful.
The folks in our area, which is quickly becoming “the place to be,” are, to put this kindly; well, stoic would be a nice word. We are surrounded by Amish (very kind, but shy) and Mennonite alike (not generalizing or judging, but they pretty much own the area.) Each and every time a house goes up for estate sale, a rich Mennonite will buy not only that property, but the surrounding fifty acres to boot. There is literally less than a 5% chance that a “worldly” person could ever afford to beat their price, and my husband’s street, which used to consist of his entire family, well, most of them are in nursing homes now. Which brings me to my point: from the minute we stepped into the Norman Rockwellesque town of Wells, I have been absolutely smitten. The area is beyond beautiful, but that isn’t the pull. As I’ve said before, we are blessed to live on seven acres of picture perfect land which includes a pond, gardens and deer plots. I am fortunate enough to live next to my best friend-but when they retire and move upstate, well-it will change things, to be sure.
I am in utter awe of the way Jesus leads us out of despair, tragic circumstances and disease-to a new place, a more secure and peaceful place. We stopped into the Wells Methodist Church this morning. There were approximately twelve people in that building. The pastor, band and congregation, tiny as it was-they surprised us with a joyful rendition of Happy Anniversary, after I had given praise for our strong marriage. No children, no teenagers, no one under the age of 55. It deeply saddened me to see this, to the point of tears, actually. The town is full of quaint and lovely chapels; the kind you see in the movies in states like Vermont, or Cape Cod. The homes along Lake Algonquin are charming, rustic, precious. Today we hiked the “swinging bridge” trail, and I stood before this lovely, but swaying 300 foot, wooden, open bridge. I am terrified of heights, and the notion of taking Jesse, my golden retriever, over that bridge, well, let me just say that I never thought, even for a millisecond, that I would cross that death trap. My husband stood there:
“Come on honey, you can do it,” he called. No pressure, I am certain he thought the hike was over, that we would turn around and head back to the cottage, but from absolutely nowhere, I surprised myself as well as him, and took my first steps.
No fear. None. I knew in my heart that I was divinely protected. I also knew that this was not a simple bridge crossing-but a declaration of independence from my anxiety, my deeply instilled hang ups, my depression. At the other side of the bridge walked a woman named Beth. We began a discussion and discovered that while we are 103 Park West, she and her family were 103 Park East, we made fast friends and exchanged information-and I don’t believe in coincidence……not any longer.
The pastor’s sermon was about Exodus and the “spoiled brat Israelites,” who complained because they were slaves in Egypt (I get it) and then, after God and Moses brought them to the land of milk and honey? Where they were fed and watched over, even shielded from harm. And then they complained because there was no meat. God provided quail, but yet they still grumbled. I saw myself in that scripture, the way I became unhinged at the idea of leaving my comfort zone, what an ungrateful little princess I was.
Jesus has delivered me from anorexia, bulimia, depression, cancer, alcoholism, and drug addiction. He has led me to the living waters, and there I find peace……day by day, moment by moment. We are planning on moving here when we retire, and Beth’s mother said it best when I stopped by the house this afternoon.
“Where are you staying dear?,” she asked.
103 Park West, I replied.
“Get the hell out of here!!!!!” she tooted. We began a conversation about the people from New York, versus the people back home.
“New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians don’t mix. Their children don’t mix. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.”
I hugged her on the spot. And I thanked her profusely, for answering the question I have been asking for decades. Why don’t I fit in?
I have come home, and if I had that faith of a mustard seed, I would have expected this joy, peace, love…….and guidance from my Lord and Savior, who has never, ever let me down.
Our third day in New York, and I am healing by the minute. The aroma of pine needles, combined with the melancholy sound of the migrating geese, and the captivating change in colors, as Summer turns to Fall on Lake Algonquin. I breathe deeply, inhale the mimosa, and turn towards the setting sun. The drastic change has been perpetuated by deep prayer, nature, my 25th wedding anniversary-add to that the lull of upstate New York? I am in heaven. And speaking of heaven? Today is a breathtakingly beautiful day for what many people believed to be Armageddon. The last day on this planet as we know it, and to say that this knowledge had a vice-like grip on my mental health is a vast understatement.
I have come incredibly far in my journey to rid myself of negativity. I have unsubscribed from most of my YouTube channels, (the scary, paranormal, illuminati, Alex Jones videos, good grief!) I replaced them with home and garden, DIY, and Christian channels a month or so ago, what harm could possibly come from a man or woman who professes to be a follower of Christ? A boat load.
Believing that I would be saying goodbye to my husband, dog, brother and friends-well it saddened me in a way I cannot put in words. I called my brother the day before we left, and, thinking this would be the last time I spoke to him? I choked back a sob as I poured out my sorrow.
“My heart is grieved. My heart is grieved,” I repeated over and over again.
Jesus was whispering, and then, suddenly, screaming in my ear. Time for a bible dip, I knew. I opened my NIV and came to 2 Timothy.
This is a trustworthy saying.
If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is.
From this point on? I listen to what Yahweh says, and no man can tell me that the persecution and hardship aren’t worth the blessings that are new to us each day.
We are finally here. Up in the Adirondack Mountains, near lake Pleasant, in the sleepy little town of Wells, New York. If there are two people who need a vacation, it is my husband and myself. We began the trip with an argument, which stemmed from my hysteria about leaving my home. I like to take my time and make sure I have everything. Dwain likes to leave in such a hurry, that I fear he may spontaneously combust.
Aside from the fact that we were pulled over for a speeding (my weed was right there, in the front seat, my pipe in my purse. I don’t think I took a breath for ten minutes straight- and after reviewing my husband’s driver’s license, the state trooper asked us this question:
“Can you two tell me what that white powdery substance is in that bag?”
I kid you not. We looked at one another, completely oblivious to what he possibly could have meant, and we both turned our gaze to the silverware, wrapped in a white napkin, that my husband mistakenly took from a restaurant and has planned on returning since.
After receiving a $250 fine, plus points, we were told to have a great vacation. The trooper followed us for twenty miles, and it wasn’t until he took an exit ramp that we both screamed- OH MY GOD IN HEAVEN HOW SCARY WAS THAT?????????
I am not a pot head by any stretch of the imagination, I only use it for my CPTSD, but because my career in donating to the Columbian drug cartels only began a few years ago. I am patiently awaiting availability, as it has been legal in the state for a year, but very little progress has been made. Hey, it’s Pennsylvania…
So I am sitting here, underneath the amazing pines, on a deck in the forest. I was born in New York, and I have had the distinct feeling that I am home again, for the first time in way too long. I brought my father’s ashes, as I couldn’t spread them when my siblings did; fifteen years ago in nearby Lake George. I knew if I had gone on that trip that my drinking would have led to a very tense, if not tragic melee. I feel grounded and at peace, and today I saw my very first waterfall-I cried for twenty minutes, the beauty too much for me to contain in my heart.
I won’t be on social media. I refuse to look at my phone. No checking of emails. God is speaking to me and this is what he wants: for me to start concentrating on the good, the pure, the lovely, the laughter-no more tears for now. I feel as if I am at the precipice of hope, and I know more clearly than ever that Jesus takes such great care to give us these incomprehensible blessings~and I want you to know, He loves you more than you could ever dream, or imagine.
My husband told me this morning that our neighbors were gone for the day. He has been cavorting whilst naked, fell off the deck (long story) and thrown caution to the wind. He just approached me with the news that the women have, in fact, been home the entire day. I have to go, I’m in hysterics……….chow.