What’s In Your Bucket?

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Hopes and dreams are, in large part, what keeps us going as human beings. There is always something we want. Whether those things are wants or needs, we tend to keep lists.

I have always had a bucket list.

I have always been a dreamer.

As a little girl, I always had a treasury of things for which I yearned and goals I aspired to accomplish. My list was filled with pipe dreams, far-fetched and idealistic for the most part. But all those items on my list were dreams. And dreams are important.

Hope is what keeps us going. Hope keeps us positive. Hope brings forth optimism.  Hope is often, the only remedy to despair.

If you have read any of my previous posts, you will understand that my life has been HARD.  Actually, in many ways it sure as hell just sucked.  I consider myself extremely lucky in that I am resilient by nature and a glass-half-full kind of girl.  If not for these qualities, I could be dead: literally or figuratively.

One thing that has carried me through has been keeping a journal of my dreams; My bucket list.  My bucket list has changed throughout the years, quite dramatically.

Have a look at the then and the now.

 

My Childhood Bucket List:

  • To be famous
  • To be a mother. Preferably to triplets. (Thank God I have not had to check that box)
  • To go on tour with Captain and Tennille.
  • To have a puppy or a kitty. I was not specific- either would have made me happy.(Check! I have my Dexter.)
  • To be asked on a date by Jimmy O’Leary
  • To marry a handsome prince (Check! My Michael)
  • To be on the PBS TV show “ZOOM”
  • To meet Walter Matheau
  • To be an Olympic Figure Skater like Dorothy Hamill, which was the epitome of a pipe dream since I took only two seasons of skating lessons.
  • To be blonde. (Check! I was blonde for six months. Then I had to decide whether to continue or take a second mortgage on my house. The hair took the second.
  • To have two  Scottish Terriers; A white female named Terry and a black male named Scotty. Yeah, I know.

My Bucket List Now:

  • Drive across the US in a seriously hip vehicle which would not break down. Preferably with Cousin Laura, and I promise we would not drive over a cliff.
  • Ride horseback on a beach in Ireland.(Check! July ’15)
  • Adopt an orphaned little girl from a third world country and love her with my whole heart. That would not be hard. I mean the love part.
  • Go to Italy with my cousins Mary and Angelique- Michelangelo, Margarita Pizza, Pope Francis (we have much to discuss.)  And perhaps have a ride on a turquoise Vespa wearing a black and white striped shirt, scarf and ballerina flats? Just thinking about it, I can practically taste the Ambrosia: Prosciutto and EVOO.
  • Train my Black Labrador to be an official therapy dog.  He is my therapist. He has saved me so much money not to mention time on that leather couch.
  • Speak fluent Spanish. (Almost there!)
  • Receive a phone call from Oprah, asking for Cousin Laura and me to be guests on her show. Yeah, she would have one more episode just for us.
  • Own a 1980-ish yellow  Mercedes-Benz 450 SL convertible.
  • Cook with Ina Garten
  • Have lunch with Julia Child (almost happened. My friend, her butcher, arranged it. She passed away weeks before we were to meet.-so sad)
  • Write a memoir.  Trust me. It will be entertaining.
  • Save somebody’s life
  • Sing our National Anthem at some sporting event.
  • Host SNL

Make a list of things you want, things that inspire you, goals that give you a surge of positive energy. Because hope, Everybody, is manna for our souls.

What’s in your bucket?

That’s All.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY Officer Paul-IVERSARY!

It has been one year this weekend, friends.

One year has passed since My Laura and I laid eyes on each other after a thirty-five-year separation. A separation over which we had no choice.

One year has passed since I stood on the train station platform with my heart beating like crazy waiting for her to step off the car so I could hug her again.

One year has passed since she and I curled up in front of a roaring fire with tea and warm blankets and finally found all of those missing pieces to the puzzles of our lives.

One year has passed since we sported our white “Invincible” coats and stood camera ready for My Michael to capture a moment we would never forget.

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One year has passed since we ventured to Carlisle to find his grave.

One year has passed since I hurled behind a dumpster.

One year since we met Officer Paul Smith, our hero.

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Everybody’s hero.

One year since we learned that there was, at least, one other little girl he abused.

One year has passed since we held her momma and cried together.

And from that one year that has passed to this very moment

THOUSANDS have said, “ME TOO!”  

We founded Say It, Survivor. 

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THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN HELPING US AND OTHERS.

Especially-

Officer Paul Smith

Chief Fisher

The beautiful girl’s Momma

Susan Elsbree

Michael Ross

S.I, Rosenbaum

Brian Stauffer

MY MICHEL

My children

My Dearest Clare, who has been my closest pal since age 14 who knew my secret from the start

Friends, family and everybody has read Marymorphosis, shared, offered kindness and love

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That’s all.

Peanut Butter is Disgusting?

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Taken at the time of my grandparents visit which I share below. I am seven.

 

This morning I sliced a banana and put a dollop of peanut butter on my plate. All of a sudden my stomach lurched. I remembered something that has not crossed my mind in years.

I was triggered.

Anyone who has suffered trauma is triggered from time to time. Trauma happens as a result of anything that challenges or strays from what feels right to us as human beings. Whether the trauma is the result of an accident, the horror of serving during a war, sexual abuse or any other event, trauma happens.

I was seven years old and in the second grade. I got off the bus at the end of the driveway, walked up and entered my house to greet my mom, Nana, and Grandpa, who were visiting for a few days.

THE Grandpa. My abuser.

Mom asked if I wanted my usual snack, peanut butter in a small orange ramekin. Of course, I accepted.

As I sat there enjoying, propped up on the kitchen chair by The Yellow Pages, and swinging my little legs. Grandpa looked at me, curled his lip and said, “That’s disgusting.”

That moment turns my stomach. Not the peanut butter, mind you, but the way he was turned off by my snack choice.

All the while, he was sexually abusing me.

So peanut butter is disgusting.  What?

I have been thinking all morning about how insanely twisted and skewed that scene was.

My grandparents came to visit often. I remember their visits as a young girl before my abuse had started – before I was seven-ish.

I loved their visits.

I have fond memories of sitting at our octagonal kitchen table with the yellow 70-ish chairs playing Rummy 500. Dad and Grandpa would drink a Knickerbocker Beer and Smoke Raleigh Filter tips, the ashes of which they flicked into the amber, plate sized ashtray.

We had fun.

I remember that Nana was dear to me. She was kind and sweet and spoiled me. When I had an occasional temper tantrum kicking and screaming on the floor, she would gently put her foot on my back and say, “OH! What a nice rug!”

I would soon come out of it and return to my cheerful self. She would give me a chocolate out of the box with the red bow on it. I always chose the candy with the pink rosebud on top.

Grandpa was standoffish. He left me alone for the most part. Then things changed. He took an interest in me.

We would walk to the playground. I would run my little fingers along the chain link fence that abutted the sidewalk. I would pick up the remnant of a deciduous a tree – that little bit that looked like a coat hanger and hold it up to my face as if they were my mustache.

One thing lead to another.

Things changed. He was not longer aloof. He paid attention to me. I was little. I did not know what he was doing.

Grooming.

He was grooming me.

You see, sexual abuse does not always just start with a “BOOM!” Most of the time it happens at the hands of a family member or a close family friend who takes the time and interest to foster the victim.

It happens over time. I may start with things like tickling, or an inappropriate touch or the perpetrator telling secrets as a way to build a bond. The abuser wants to build trust.

Over time, it changes. There is a sick takeover, an overpowering, so to speak.

Dominance.

Children are usually dumbfounded, scared out of their wits and lose their sense of selves. They don’t know what to do.

I knew what he was doing to me was wrong. It felt yucky. But I did not know what it was or meant. Was it the baseline? Did it happen to every little person?

I was ashamed and embarrassed. I did not know how to communicate what had happened to me to my mom and dad. Even if I did have the words, I was too mortified to speak them.

Much like most children, I looked up to my folks. I was a pleaser. I was teacher’s pet and was the only seven-year-old at the YWCA that was brave enough to jump off the deep-end diving board.

I did not want to “upset the applecart,” anger my parents or make a fuss. It was only me after all.

Yup. That is when that feeling started. It was only measly little me.

Way. Back. Then.

In my case, I kept my mouth shut. For years. I did not have the words. I did not know how to tell anyone that that “innocent kiss” did not feel right. I sat on his lap, but I was told to do so. I had to. Most of the time I quickly struggled and squirmed away. Again, it felt yucky.

I would give anything to go back in time and change it all. I wish that I had shouted “no!” I wish that I knew how to say the words. I wish that I had the confidence in myself to tell. I wish that he was locked away.

If I had, my cousin would have been spared. And others would have been spared, too.

I do not feel responsible for the abuse that happened to My Laura and other children. I did not know any better. No one taught me.

I did know enough to warn Laura about what Grandpa might do to her.  But she laughed. She had NO idea what the details of my warning really meant. She laughed. She was little.

To a child,  my words, my warning, the details sounded preposterous.

How can a child effectively warn another child when she, herself, doesn’t have the words?

As adults, it may be uncomfortable to do so, but necessary. Imperative, even.

I am not sure that people think to educate themselves as to how to protect their children. I protected my child out of absolute fear; I was overprotective, and a helicopter but that was because I was keenly aware of the peril.

But I never studied or researched HOW to protect my babe. I made it up as I went along.

Now I know. Now I know that there are tools and sources, and there is valuable information to educate us.

Parents. Everybody.  You can learn the warning signs. You can teach your children the proper language to express inappropriate behavior or violation by another. You can convince them that it is safe to tell. You can cut it off before it begins.

There are no guarantees that you can prevent sexual abuse, but you can arm yourself. Be smart. Be proactive.

And if it has already started, that is not the worst thing. The worst thing is if your child never tells you about it.

I eventually told my parents. My abuse was swept under the carpet; it was not acknowledged by the other family members who were also told.
And neither was Laura’s, except by her mom.

Here is the takeaway.

Smarten up. Don’t be uncomfortable or embarrassed that you will insult someone or hurt their feelings if you are suspicious. Call the person out. Interject if you suspect someone has inappropriate behavior. Listen, speak up.

Join the bandwagon because when it comes to peanut butter and incest, you know which is is disgusting.

That’s all.

 

For more information or to register for a workshop or a lecture, please visit sayitsurvivor.org

 

Sharing “Personal” Information

I spent some time with a good friend yesterday.

I was mentioning how the past year has been one full of changes in my life. Great changes, hard changes, exciting changes.

I shared that the most impactful changes in my life have been around friendships. I have made some incredible friends over the past year, and I am so grateful for all the new people with whom I have connected.

But then I shared the sadness I am experiencing over the loss of some friends over this past year.

These are friends I have known for years. These are friends who I thought would be in my life forever. They seemed to have disappeared. They have stopped being there. They have stopped engaging.

Crickets.

I told her that there seemed to be a direct correlation between me losing my friends and me telling my story.

This year I stood firmly in my truth, in my story, and spoke of my sexual abuse, shamelessly. I made a conscious decision to speak out, to reach out to all who would listen.

And the good that has come of doing so has been humbling. It has been life-altering. Speaking out has helped people.

She said, “Well, you took some very personal information and shared it all over the internet. People might feel that it is just too personal to share. It may make people uncomfortable.”

Ah HA!

You see, therein lies the problem, folks.

I do not see it as sharing PERSONAL information. In my opinion, my abuse was anything BUT personal.

It had nothing to do with me, personally.

I was not a “person” to my abuser. I was his prey. He selected me for no other reason than he COULD. I was available. I would not tell. I was safe, and I was an easy target.

Then I played out a scenario. I played devil’s advocate.

What would happen if an entire family became homeless overnight as victims of an arsonist? What if someone violently set their house on fire? What if they lost everything tangible and were out in the cold. What would happen?

Right.

The media would be all over it like white on rice. Social media would be the gasoline and their story, too, would run ablaze.

People would flock to help them out. People would pull together and pitch in. Money and blankets and clothes and casseroles would abound.

People would feel so badly for these victims. They did nothing to deserve this horrible crime.

My tragedy, my victimization, and that of all my brothers and sisters in survival was no more personal than theirs.

My perpetrator victimized and desecrated my body. Their perpetrator victimized and desecrated the physical structure where they resided.

Victims.

Does it matter how one is victimized?

Think about it. There is no shame in being the victim of arson, right? Those unfortunate people didn’t do anything to deserve it.

So, then, why is there so much shame attached to being the victim of rape? Of sexual abuse?

Because “Sex” is private.

Actually, sex is selectively private.

Turn on primetime. Is sex private?

Nope. Not on primetime.

Now, walk around the mall. Flip a magazine.  Not there, either.

When sex is nonconsensual, that is private. When the topic makes people uncomfortable. Then it is private.

But if a crime becomes shameful to the general public merely because of the nature of the crime, sexual, that is criminal in itself.

Everyone has the right to respond the way they respond. People have very different reactions. I have no right to judge others on how they feel about it if they want to stay silent or ignore it.

I respect that everyone has their story. I believe that everyone is living with the best of intentions.

But for the love of the Good Lord, can we stop saying that sharing this is too PERSONAL? There is nothing personal about it.

Carry on.

That’s all.

 

LIVING LOVELIER

Hello, friends!  I am so very excited to share my new blog with you.

Living Lovelier.

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(MARYMORPHOSIS will still continue, this is an additional blog!)

I have taken my great passions of cooking, design, and writing and put them under this one banner.

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Here I will share recipes, kitchen tips, design ideas, seasonal decorating ideas, table settings, thoughts and stories and, of course, lots of photos.

I hope you will follow me. Please join in!

Let’s start Living Lovelier.

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Yay!

 

http://livinglovelier.com

Milling in Mary’s Mind

 

Just a few thoughts, friends.
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Ireland’s Greenery- Taken July 2015

If you meet an amazing person who can’t dress well – hang on.You can shop together later.

If you meet a jerk who dresses to the 9s- dump that one for the one previously mentioned.

Listen up.

Offer the benefit of the doubt. Believing that others are living with the best of intentions

is holding them in high esteem.

Write thank you notes. Always. Don’t forget.

Live in appreciation and the world will look so beautiful.

When someone apologizes, don’t leave them hanging. Accept it.

You get to  pick your partner.  You don’t get to pick your parent.  Let it go.

The only one who can take care of you is you. Go.

You are the boss of yourself.

Demonstrate sincerity and honesty with eye contact.

Mean it.

Believe. Even when people tell you otherwise.

 

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