My Daddy and Me

It’s been said time and time again, that I was my father’s son. Raised as a tomboy from as early as I can remember, I think it’s very fitting.

From stories passed down from members of my family, I’ve been told all about how happy my dad was to have a child. When I was really little, under the age of 4, my dad used to put me in this hiking pack and strap me over his shoulders to take me out coon hunting with him and his hounds. As I got older, I would go with them as often as I could. My Uncle’s would come along too and I have so many memories of the “boys” time we used to spend out in the dark while listening to the bawl of a hound on the trail of it’s prey. I remember being fascinated to do everything my Dad did. If he was target practicing, I wanted to do it too. If he was working on cars, I wanted to help. If he went to the farm, I had to go. When my Dad was around, it didn’t really matter, I wanted to be there.

I wish I had copies of the photos with me at age two, holding a wrench and kneeling beside my Dad in a bright yellow sundress while he worked on his little Ford Fiesta. I really wish I had photos of me standing at age 5 while I climbed on a split rail fence cheering my Dad’s hounds on while they swam at a water race. I wish I had photos of us dressed in camo to go out squirrel hunting at age 6.

All the greatest lessons in my life have come from my Dad. He taught me to always work hard and to not expect much out of life. He taught me how to raise chickens for eggs and meat. He taught me how to fish and hunt so that no matter what I would never go hungry. He taught me to respect my elders and do everything I could for them, even if it meant me going without. He taught me how to drive. He taught me how to go mud bogging and how to shift a standard transmission. He taught me how to treat people with kindness, no matter what their status. He also taught me that you are never too old to learn. In my adult life, many of the things I enjoy have come from my time spent with my Dad. I can clean a fish, skin and process game for the freezer, fix my own vehicle and to laugh at all the odd, stupid and dumb things that happen in life.

My Dad never had much. He worked a third shift job, helped on the farm and still worked odd and end jobs all summer long but he always found the time to do things with me when I was little. I learned to enjoy the peacefulness of a foggy morning waiting for the fish to bite. I learned that no matter what life dishes out, it could always be worse.

I don’t get to see my Dad anymore. No he isn’t in Heaven (although I know someday that’s where he will be). Due to extenuating circumstances and a situation that neither of us control, I don’t get to spend time with him anymore. We have both made an extremely difficult decision that we need to stay apart to make his life better. It hurts more than words will ever be able to describe.

He is and always be my best friend and my hero. No man will ever be able to fill his shoes in my life. I wouldn’t even attempt to try because NO ONE is like my Dad. For now, I sit back and remember the good times and I shed tears more than I care to admit. It’s hard, especially on days like today. I wish I could wrap my arms around him and tell him thank you for not only being such a wonderful Dad but a great person. I look at this one photo I have of us from the only time we ever danced together. I remember the song we dance to so I’ll share the video too.

Daddy, I hope that you can feel the love I hold in my heart for you! Thank you for being my everything to me my entire life. I will be forever grateful for every moment we had the chance to spend together. And don’t tell anyone okay…but I know and you know I will forever be “Daddy’s girl”!

The lyrics to Daddy’s Hands by Holly Dunn

I remember Daddy´s hands, folded silently in prayer.
And reaching out to hold me, when I had a nightmare.
You could read quite a story, in the callouses and lines.
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind. 
I remember Daddy´s hands, how they held my Mama tight,
And patted my back, for something done right.
There are things that I’ve forgotten, that I loved about the man,
But I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle 
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.

I remember Daddy’s hands, working ’til they bled.
Sacrificed unselfishly, just to keep us all fed.
If I could do things over, I’d live my life again.
And never take for granted the love in Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle 
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle 
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love …..
In Daddy’s hands.

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Struggles and Survival

“I might not be ready to pour out my feelings to the world, but I’d had enough of trying to ignore them.” ― R.J. AndersonUltraviolet

Haven’t we all had that struggle that we kept locked inside our minds and our hearts? It may be over love or life. It could be over a job offer or a job dismissal. We worry about our kids. It seems that everything is always in a constant state of flux. Every situation causes emotions of anger, fear, sadness, happiness, shame, guilt, jealousy, envy, and more that I know I haven’t listed. How many times have you locked these feelings inside? I know myself there have been times I have locked them inside myself so tight, no one could ferret them out. Some of them are constant, like the worry for my kids. But others are short-lived, like anger. Sometimes you just need to “talk to the voices within” and listen to what they are saying.

You almost have to step outside yourself and look at you as if you were someone else you really care about and really want to protect. Would you let someone take advantage of that person? Would you let someone use that person you really care about? Or would you speak up for them? If it was someone else you care about, you’d say something. I know you would. Okay, now put yourself back in that body. That person is you. Stand up and tell ’em, “Enough!” ― Queen LatifahPut on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom

Are you standing ground for yourself or living what someone else says? I know, we all have a tendency to take the easy road and let someone else take control of our lives and our destiny. But in the long run, will it be what you really wanted? I’ve done it myself. Living the life that everyone else wanted for me, putting my own life on the back burner. I managed to put my dreams in someone elses hands that had no right to hold them because they didn’t know what was in my heart and soul. That kind of goes back to the first quote about ignoring your feelings. Feelings you hide inside yourself, no one else can express but you. On the other hand, opening up fully to someone else about your internal battles of mind and body and having them listened to is hard but when the right person listens its miraculous. 

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.” ― Thomas Paine

Sometimes when we open ourselves to ALL the possibilities of the things we enjoy, amazing things start happening for us. It’s never easy to shut your mind down from saying the negative things like “I can’t do that” or “It’s too difficult”. We, as humans, tend to think we always need more of something. More education, more money, more time or more space when in reality, we are making excuses. Grab opportunity when it’s presented but stop selling yourself short when it comes to you talents and inner strengths. To get what you want and sometimes more, you have to live life with passion and actively pursue what YOU want. If you try and fail, try again and again until you get it right. The harder it is, the more determined you need to be!

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” ― Bill Cosby

All of the above being said, through failures and success you need to learn to find humor and laughter in everything! It eases the pain of the struggles and works kind of like sun rays peaking around the corner of a storm could. Since I seem to connect everything with nature, you can compare it like this: The pain, hurt and failures are a rain falling from the sky. Humor is the sunshine just past the clouds bringing the rain. Laughter is the rainbow that just magically appears. Those rainbows are the beauty of everything combined. Without the rain they can’t happen. Without the sun there isn’t the light for them to appear. 

 

I struggle every day but I survive. I survive because I can find the beauty, the humor and I constantly laugh at the stupid things I do! There are days I literately roll with the “punches” when I battle with being clumsy due to my MS. I fall down and usually end up in a fit of laughter because it doesn’t seem possible one person could wind up on their backside so often. It happens. I’ve learned to take each moment as it comes. Are some of them annoying and do they make me mad? Sure do. BUT what’s the point in being mad about things I can’t change. What’s done is done! Might as well make fun of myself and laugh it away.

I hope that you find solace in the words. I hope that you find encouragement, determination and the will power to become the person inside…You know who! That one you tend to hide from everyone else. Dig that person out, let them shine with what makes you unique!!!! If you need words of encouragement, give me a shout. If you want to share you story, I would be glad to link it back…just let me know! Don’t let anyone tell you to go with the flow. Fight against the grain. BE YOU! Not what everyone else says, thinks or tells you to be!

The Tomboy Within

Growing up, I always used to joke that I was my father’s only son. From as early in my life as I can remember, my daddy used to take me hunting and fishing. We spent so much time together as I grew up, he became my best friend. I love my daddy very much. I don’t get to see him anymore due to circumstances and choices that are out of my control but I will never forget our time together and all the lessons he taught me. Being my father’s “tomboy”, I learned to not only hunt and fish but to work on cars, get greasy and spin wrenches. Since my dad drove race cars for years, I learned the ins and outs of mechanics and car set ups. I know how to change my own oil, brake pads and even to change tires. These are life lessons that have helped me out on more than one occasion. Parts departments hate to see me coming. Service stations have threatened to have me thrown out of building when they couldn’t admit fault, especially to a girl. It’s actually kind of comical after the fact…but during situations like that, it makes my blood boil. I’ve had people try to fit me into a box of a proper, well-behaved lady. That box doesn’t fit…AT ALL! I am my father’s only son. I swear like a trucker. I like to drink beer. I hang with the “boys” more than I do the ladies. I don’t sit through gossip over morning tea. I work just as hard, if not harder than a lot of men I know. I like to go throw a little mud from the tires on my truck. I like going fishing and hunting. I like shooting guns and bows for competitive sport (and have even gotten myself a couple of trophies for it too). I like four-wheeling. I like being a grease monkey and fixing things. I go at my own pace. I like wearing blue jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps. I would rather be sitting on the tailgate of a pickup in the middle of a field looking up at the stars or watching a bonfire than sitting in some fancy restaurant enjoying a chef prepared meal. I am a burger and french fries kind of girl.

The "real" me in my ball cap in the pasture with cattle.

The “real” me in my ball cap in the pasture with cattle.

On another note, I do “clean-up” rather well. The difference is so startling that even my own neighbors and family members hardly know it’s me. Until I talk that is. I have a rather unique voice with strains of accents I have no idea the origination of. I was bred and born in upstate NY but I have a southern accent on some words while others have a Canadian accent. I’ve had lots of people ask me where I’m from…even when I grew up the next town over. I’m not really a traveler either. I’ve been to South Carolina once. The eastern sea board once. Canada once. It’s just the strange mess of who I am. A mix of a little bit of everything. It makes me that much more unique. Fishing has been a relative constant in my life. An obsession that I have carried on my shoulders, lacking a few short years here and there, that has given me so much peace in my life. I remember fishing with my daddy when I was really little and him showing me how to bait my own hook. After I became a pro at catching fish, he taught me how to take the fish off the hook too. I think it was more for him than me because he wasn’t getting a chance to fish himself. But, needless to say, I can do it myself. Something a ton of women I know refuse to do. Over the years, I have been so obsessed with fishing that when I worked as an account representative for a printing company, I would take lunch breaks in my long skirt and all to go fly fishing for trout along the banks of creek. You should have seen the looks I would get as I wrapped the back of my skirt up between my legs to tuck the hem into my waistband and proceed to done my hip waders. Many years ago, I discovered something that combines two loves of my life…fishing and art. I learned how to tie flies! I even had a small business for a while making and selling flies for fishing. I even did classes for local youths to learn to tie their own flies and then I would teach them how to fly fish too. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I haven’t tied flies in years and I am hoping to find some time soon. I still have some old ones in my box that I broke out on this last Sunday. Still managed to land me a bunch of panfish with the old standby. Life is good when I hear the gear whip of a fly line. Life is even better fighting a panfish on a nearly 8 ft. fly rod. Here’s my favorite image from Sunday…a flashback stonefly nymph in the mouth of a hand-sized panfish caught along the bank of the farm pond. Oh yes. Life was very good.

One of my favorite things...fly fishing for panfish!

One of my favorite things…fly fishing for panfish!

I’ll leave you for now. I’ll update more soon. Until then, I want to leave you with one small thing. NEVER under estimate a female, woman or girl. You don’t know what kind of background they may have. 🙂

Strength of the storm

Back in 2008 when I was struggling with the loss of family members and a new diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis, I watched a storm develop over my home…these are the words that came to mind.

Photo taken as a storm receded and the sunshine blessed us with it’s presence.

In the inner recesses of my mind, there is no light. 
There is no way out. No way to start over. 
No way to control the inner blackness that surrounds me like storm clouds.
Emptiness. Loneliness. Sadness.

These are the emotions I feel. 
My existence here seems so small and unimportant. 
I have lost nearly everything that I hold near and dear to my heart. 
I am but a shadow of my former self. 
Earth shattering and heart breaking events seem to swirl around me like clouds of the impending and unrelenting storm that keeps whirling around my body and soul.

The pain is like the driving rain that falls from the sky. 
The loneliness blows at my soul like the winds of a tornado. 
My utter sadness that goes to my core is like the lightning bolts that shoot from the sky. 
Ominous clouds, strong winds, driving sheets of rain and bolts of lightning;the center of my existence.

I stand in the center of it all. 
Still fighting, still struggling against it all. 
Feet planted firmly apart on the ground. Arms slightly raised, palms up at my sides. 
Head tilted back with my face lifted. My breathing is calm and deep. 
I am absorbing the strength and ferocity of the storm, becoming one with the pure unadultered power of nature. 

One lone tree stands in the background. 
Barren and leafless, it spreads out its branches like the fingers of death and destruction. 
It fights my soul to gain control of nature’s prowess. 
Dark and menacing as the storm and grown from Mother Nature herself, 
this tree should be over powering me yet, for some reason we stand in compatible silence with the noise and roar of the storm blowing around us.

I will not be defeated. I am who I was put here to be. 
I am here to prove a point to all those I come in contact with. I am at peace. 
I have found serenity. I am strong. 
No one can not chop me down like the old dead tree. 
No one can not strike me with lightning to split me in half.  
No one can blow me apart with their winds. No one can not knock me down. 

The driving rains toughens my skin. 
The winds only make me gnarled and twisted, in turn making me stronger. 
The lightning only charges my conviction.  
The ominous clouds only serve to make me blind to what I need to see. 
The rumble of thunder deafens me to hear only what I am suppose to listen to.

I stand in the center of it all. 
Still fighting, still struggling against it all. 
Feet planted firmly apart. Arms slightly raised, palms up. 
Face lifted while my head is tilted back. My breathing is calm and deep. 
I AM the storm that has strength and fury. 
I am at one with the power of nature. 

You fight as you continue to gain connection as you dig into her inner ground soul and as you touch her skies with your fingertips. 
You challenge her at every turn but, she is stronger willed that you are and she controls your destiny. 
You are that barren, leafless tree that someone will chop down. 
You can be struck by lightning and split in half. 
You can be blown apart by the howling winds of destruction. 
You can be knocked down and you will. 

I stand in the center of it all. 
Still fighting, still struggling against it all. 
Feet planted firmly apart. Arms slightly raised, palms up. 
Face lifted while my head is tilted back. My breathing is calm and deep. 
I AM the storm that has strength and fury. 
I am at one with the strength of the storm.

I have found my strength within, I pray that you can find the same in yourself. Gather strength from the struggles. Empower and embrace your inner storm.

Exciting Week

Lots has been going on around the farm. I’ve been spending some time working on the stuff for my “life transition” but have also taken some time out with friends to do the things I love to do. On the 1st, it was opening morning of turkey season, and one of the people I enjoy spending time with on a regular basis came up to go hunting. I don’t hunt with a gun anymore…but I take my camera instead.

Chris got himself all set up in a blind in an area the two of us have been seeing three big tom turkeys every morning between 7 and 7:30 am. I worked on farm chores and did a little reading for a bit. He was texting messages back and forth. He was impatiently waiting for the turkeys to come in. Encouraging him to just sit tight was almost comical.

I decided to go for a little walk. Suddenly I heard a boom shortly followed by another boom. Not a minute later a text comes through. Where are you? Get up here with your camera! He’s beautiful.

I managed to make it to the top of the hill to where he was, finding a bunch of feathers on the ground about 50 yards from his blind and an empty blind. No bird. No Chris. He had carried the thing across 20 acres to his truck. Must be he didn’t want it to get away.

When he pulls up with his truck, he has the biggest smile on his face and is bouncing around like Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon. His smile and excitement was contagious. I couldn’t stop grinning as I listened to him recall the tail of a bird coming in from the wrong direction. Aiming and knocking the bird down and upon retrieval, it jumping up and trying to run away. I am sitting here with a dopy grin recalling how excited he was.

By the way, this was his first tom turkey and it was a beautiful bird. I remember how awesome that feels and what kind of adrenaline rush it is to get something like that. It’s a major sense of a job well done. I love that feeling but I think being able to just share it meant more to me than it would have if I had shot the bird myself.

My friend Chris with his first tom turkey

My friend Chris with his first tom turkey

I am so thankful that I got to be here and share the experience. It means more to me than words can describe. Being around Chris has shown me that there are so many things in life that I really enjoy doing and have let go of them to try to be something I’m not. I am a country girl who likes hunting with the “boys”, fishing, shooting, bow hunting, spending time in the woods, and I am an all around Outdoors Woman. I can’t change that. It’s stitched into the fiber of my being.

A word of advise to everyone: Don’t ever try to fit into a box someone else has built for you. It rarely fits and is suffocating. Break free, be yourself and someday the right one will come along and fully understand who YOU are, not what they want you to be. I am so fortunate to have awesome friends who are there for me and have supported me 110%, no matter what I have chosen to do or be. And friends like Chris, who know without saying, all the things that really make me the person I am and kick me in the butt when I try to be something different.

Sounds kind of strange doesn’t it? My 31 year old male friend kicking a 38 year old female’s ass into shape to be who she really is. Damn kids anyhow! All joking aside, he is special and it means so much that he has been my friend through one of the most difficult things in my life. For that, I will be forever grateful.

Now….time for me to do some fishing! Something I have done in three years! But time to get back to it…cause it’s just who I am!

You got it…that’s me from about 3 years ago! Bass fishing with a flyrod, earbuds in, rocking out the fishing experience!

 

Celebrate Living, Not Life

Sounds strange doesn’t it? To celebrate living, not life. It isn’t something you will probably hear many people say but I’m saying it anyway. We are all here at this time for a purpose: to live. But is it life or is it living? Can you tell the difference between the two?

Life is what happens when we developed a heartbeat, were born into this world and took our first breaths. Our journey through life is how we are living. It’s the adventures, missteps, trials and tribulations of living that make up our life.

I want to be LIVING my life for purpose, for passion, for love. I don’t want a life full of possessions and dead-end relationships.

My purpose is my passion and ultimately what I love. It might not always include a “partner” beside me but it is all me. It’s mine. It’s what makes me unique.

Why do I bring this random topic up? I bring it up because today is an anniversary that I wish I could never have seen. Sixteen years ago today, many of us in this community lost a friend. His short life was filled with living, doing the things he loved to do and having a blast while doing them. He was taken way before he should have been. I know I think of him often and how he was in life. He knew to take advantage of each new day, to constantly be living!

I don’t want a mundane life. I want to be living my dreams, living my goals, living without fear, living through my work and definitely living my passions. What are those “things” that make my life worth living? Photography is the first thing that comes to mind. Capturing those moments, those times that nature provides us with that are often missed by the naked eye. The moments when the sun rays shine just right through the leaves on a tree or reflect on the water. Cattle is the second thing that automatically comes to mind. I love the trust they share with me. They provide me with a therapy where nervousness and fear isn’t allowed. They don’t care how I dress, what makeup I wear or even if I comb my hair. They just are, I just am and they accept that. I’m still developing my dreams, my goals and my passions. I’ll figure it all out someday.

Until then, I am going to keep on living by trying new experiences and capturing those images that “speak” to me. Keep an eye out for me though…I might be that crazy lady you see laying out in a pasture surrounded by cattle somewhere!

Even the cattle often think I’m a little crazy. Sometimes it’s all about the perspective!