Saturday, December 31, 2011

The darkest night


We were in full swing of Winter 1982-83...several inches of snow blanketed the ground, bitter winds and temperatures that chilled to the bone. The house that we lived in at the time had echoes of troubled lives that had lived there before us...to which I knew a little about...and the house, after we had moved-on...would be one of death...a woman was murdered there a few years later.

One night, after the wood stoves were loaded and the dampers set so that the wood would burn slowly through the night, we settled into bed...the 4 (3 of which were my step-children) oldest children upstairs and my several-months old daughter lay nestled between my husband and I in our bed. Outside the wind howled...it was going to be another cold, cold night.

I know that I fell asleep for a while but something woke me and I had a deep sense of fear building inside me. There wasn't a sound...not outside--the wind was eerily non-existent...not inside--the wood stove should have been making faint crackling sounds. It felt like the everything around me was in a bubble where no sound could escape.

And with there being no sounds...not even that of the breathing of my husband and daughter...which I had reached-over to check that they were breathing...the house was in total darkness. The room was so dark that I couldn't see anything, which was wrong...because there was light always showing from the wood stove and a nightlight in the kitchen.

And still...my fear grew...my chest felt heavy like I couldn't breathe.

I got out of bed, and felt my way around it to the windows, and looked out...and could see nothing. Only more blackness. In my mind, the words "evil" and "Satan" played over and over in my mind...making my fear even more real and tangible.

Something was very wrong...I could see it...but even more, I could sense that there was something evil in that house with us. I was so scared...yet I knew I HAD to do something.

Without turning on any lights, I felt my way to the bedroom closet, quietly opened the door and reached in to the shelves where some of my books were. I grabbed a book, one that I didn't know well, but knew by feel alone...and took it out into the kitchen after shutting the bedroom door behind me.

I turned on the light above our kitchen table, and opened the Bible, working my way through it until I found the right verse: Psalm 23. I never ever once thought that I would have to read this verse in the way that I did that night...but I am glad that I knew it enough to know what and where it was in the Bible.

 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

I can't tell you how long I sat there reading that verse over and over and over again...but I know it was a long time. Hours. And although I am not generally a religious person, I prayed as well, that God protect us from whatever evil it was that had come into the house that night.

Sometime, not long before dawn, I felt that presence leave...and the normal sounds of our household returned...the wood hissing and crackling in the stove and the sounds of the the night outside...the seemingly never-ending howling of the wind. 

And I felt at peace...my fear had left too.

This was my first brush with pure evil...and the Ouija board was my second. Evil does exit...I have met it...twice. 

 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

From the spirit world...my Ouija board experience


My  introduction into the spirit world came early in my childhood...I had always been somewhat intuitive...but it was when I was 13 that it really kicked-in (another story for another time)...and from that point on, I developed an interest in the supernatural. However, it's remained an interest in learning about, but not dabbling in. Not until I was introduced to the Ouija board in the mid-80s. 

I don't recall how we came to having the Ouija board other than someone had given it to one of the kids, but I had already had a vague feeling that it was not "just a game" and decided not to let the kids touch it. During a conversation with a neighbor lady, I had mentioned it and she wanted me to bring it out, she said that she had used one before and that it was fun...and harmless.

I have always been a skeptic...and this time was no different. As we placed our finger-tips on the planchette, she began asking it random, generic questions...similar to 'am I ever going to be rich', etc. The planchette began spelling out words, and I felt like she was deliberately moving the planchette...so I wasn't satisfied with the way the session went. Maybe I was a little disappointed, who knows!

Later that evening, I decided to brave the unknown and took the Ouija board up into my bedroom and shut the door to keep the kids and the husband out...I wanted complete quiet and privacy to do my 'test' on the board.

With candle lit and the room somewhat darkened, I began...first asking it my own generic questions: 'will I ever author a book?', and a few more in which the answers always came back as a "yes".

Then the planchette started moving on its own under my finger-tips...and began to spell out the words "help me", "help me". By now, cold chills were coursing through my body, and goosebumps covered my skin.

I asked the board if it was my mother...to which it spelled out "no". I asked the board who it was then, and it began spelling out a name...something very similar to "IROD". Then the planchette started moving again spelling out "help me" a couple of more times before I asked who it was. It replied with "spirit".

That did it, I shoved the board and the planchette back into the box, blew out the candle and ran back downstairs to be with my family. I asked my husband the next day to burn the board...and he tried. It wouldn't burn. He left it in the smoldering fire barrel and we pretty much forgot about it for a couple of days.

I happened to go into the dining room closet and there on the shelf, sat the Ouija board...in the box...and there wasn't a burn mark on it! I was so frightened! 

This was too much for me to understand or cope with...so I placed it in a garbage bag and we got rid of the thing that way. It never materialized again...thankfully.

I did a quick search on the web to see what I could find regarding the name "Irod" and I found the reference to a demon in Slavic mythology called initially "Chort", but who was also known in the Ukraine as "Irod".
In folk Christianity, he is known as a minion of Satan.
Coincidence?   I don't think so...I really feel that had I not stopped when I did, I would have opened a gate to a place of great evil.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ouija board..."just" a game?

Parker Brothers Ouija Board game
planchette

I had an interesting conversation today with a friend on Facebook...talking about the Ouija board and why it has never been pulled from the store shelves because of public outcry over the dangers/possible mental and emotional trauma that these so-called "just games" can create...especially with children. One has to wonder what parent would be willing to buy a game with such a negative history (and stigma) for their child. (For that matter, what adult would chose to mess with something that is often-times dark?)

Some form of the Ouija board (or spirit/fire key board or talking board) has been around since 1100 CE, in historical documents of the Song Dynasty in China. According to Wikipedia
Following its commercial introduction by businessman Elijah Bond on July 1, 1890, the Ouija board was regarded as a harmless parlor game unrelated to the occult until American Spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized its use as a divining tool during World War I.
And it seems that from that point on, it's been all downhill with the reputation of this 'game'!

While it's said that there have been scientific studies done that claim that the Ouija board is harmless, and that the movement of the planchette is "explained by unconscious movements of those controlling the pointer, a psychophysiological phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect": where-in a person sometimes "reacts reflexively to ideas alone without the person consciously deciding to take action". (Yet try to find such a study online!)

What I did find interesting while doing some research on the Ouija board, there are hundreds of websites that have frightening stories and warnings not to use them. Amongst those, are a few sites that are Christian oriented, such as  ChristianCourier.com. In their article titled: What About the Ouija Board?, the author cites a couple of Bible verses that show that it goes against God's teachings, as contact with the dead is "futile".

Yet there are many, many more people out there, who will tell you that the Ouija board does communicate with not only the dead, but spirits that are/can be evil in intent...that using the board is much the same as opening a gateway to an astral plain better left alone.

About.com has an article: Is the Ouija board dangerous? and it states in it that:  
These spirits are often very confused and may have died a violent or sudden death; murder, suicide, etc. Therefore, many violent, negative and potentially dangerous conditions are present to those using the board. Often times several spirits will attempt to come through at the same time but the real danger lies when you ask for physical proof of their existence! You might say, 'Well, if you're really a spirit, then put out this light or move that object!' What you have just done is simple, you have 'opened a doorway' and allowed them to enter into the physical world and future problems can and often do arise."
Another warning comes from Our Ultimate Reality that expounds on the fact that the Ouija board is NOT just another board game...that there are very real dangers associated with its use. The last two paragraphs of the article: The Ouija board and its hidden dangers couldn't have been stated better: 
...the use of a Ouija board should be strongly discouraged. Due to the nature of the way this instrument functions it is much more likely to attract malevolent low-level Astral entities than well-meaning or even helpful inner-level beings. Those who do attract lower level beings ultimately stand a very high chance indeed of suffering possession and/or serious mental illness, both of which would be nearly impossible to overcome by modern medical means. The only solution to such a serious situation involving inter-dimensional forces would be an exorcism carried out by a highly experienced practitioner of which there are very few living today.

The most sensible solution therefore is to resist any such temptations completely, leaving the Ouija board and similar instruments such as a tumbler with playing cards and automatic writing very well alone for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.
Wise words, indeed.

Yet the biggest question of all...why are Ouija boards still sold...knowing all that we do about them? Even though they are no longer as popular as they once were (thankfully--they faded out after the 1970s pretty much) but the fact remains...they still can be found for purchase. 

If you are a concerned parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend...whatever, speak out against this so called 'game'! There is no productive purpose in having one...especially in a home where there are children. This piece of cardboard is akin to a loaded gun...no good can come from having one around!

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

In the blink of an eye...

Remainder of Christmas
This time of year really seems to stress everyone out...hurrying to buy gifts, making sure that all the groceries are bought for that perfect Christmas meal; the wrapping of gifts and decorating the tree and the house...it's no wonder that people get depressed or have bouts of anxiety. I know I do. For me, the pressure builds and builds...as I have said before, I always want to do more for my kids and grandchildren, yet I also know that there is only so much that my finances allow. 

I really thought this holiday season would bog me down mentally and emotionally since this is the first year that I have not celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas with at least one of my kids and their children. However, I was surprised that I wasn't...I was sad and did miss not being with them when they got up Christmas morning to open their presents, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared it would be.

It always amazes me though that we all got through this business of getting all hyped-up, stressed-out, and depressed because of the anticipation of Christmas, then within 20 or 30 minutes, after the last gift is open, the day is essentially over...save for the meals and the company that may come or the traveling one may have to do.

I sat writing to my son this morning and stated the same...but also wondered how this holiday has become so commercialized that I had to ask him how many people still celebrate the day as it was meant to be. 

A kind of sadness enveloped me because I can remember the days when Christmas was the celebration of Jesus' birth...and not just a day to get presents for no reason in particular. Although I am not religious per se, I was raised in a religious household, so know the importance that this holiday is supposed to mean. And I do still link the holiday to the true meaning of Christmas. 

So Christmas has come and gone in a blink of an eye ...and now we look forward to the first of a new year. 

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas (I did!) and may 2012 be a better year for us all!


Thanks for reading!

 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paper dolls

one kind of paper dolls I had as a child
It's sometimes very strange to me to find that I can remember stuff from when I was a little girl...some 50+ years ago, and it's even stranger still that those memories still give me a sense of fondness...and loss.

What spurred this particular memory, I can't say, but I know that the other day I was thinking about how much things have changed over the years. So many of the toys that I cherished as a child have come and gone...or been revamped and modernized so that they no longer look the same or even work the same.

Such is the case with paper dolls. I can remember being in love with these things...probably as much as I would eventually love my first Barbie doll! 

I remember sitting and playing with my paper dolls for hours on end. They were such a curious fascination for me...heavy cardboard dolls with little stands, clothing made out of a glossy but somewhat stiff paper...and then being able to simply change the outfit to create a different look or fulfill a different play that I was acting out in my mind.

As I grew, so did these dolls in looks and accessories. Some had belts, shoes, purses, hats and even jewelry that could be added to complete an outfit.

As I grew, the paper dolls evolved into women, not unlike these
I can't remember how old I was when I quit playing with the paper dolls but I know that I did hang onto them for years. Perhaps I decided to throw them away when I hit my teens and other interests took hold...but looking back, I have to feel sad for what once a cherished play thing.

Today, a majority of little girls aren't even aware that there was...or is...such a thing, and even if they knew, something tells me that they would rather play with something that's made of plastic or metal and three dimensional, then something like the paper dolls. 

Out of curiosity, I did do an online search and found that a few have been updated...including many different animals that you can dress-up. Still in all...it's just not something that many girls would even care to play with for more than a few moments, I'm sure.




Paper dolls. Such simple pleasures!

What do you remember....?


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Pre-Christmas Gift


I had a phone call this morning, one that I didn't quite expect. My daughter called and asked if I would like to come and stay a few days...she is coming this way tomorrow to go upstate to visit family, and on her way back through would swing by and pick me up.

At first I was hesitant...and it wasn't because I didn't want to go, but rather I know that I am needed here too...my brother and niece have come to depend on me. I replied that I would talk to my brother...not for permission, of course, but to see if he could do without me for most of the coming week. She said okay and we hung up.

Not two minutes passed and my oldest grand-daughter (9) called me and said "Grandma...will you please come down and stay with us a few days?"  Then my youngest grand-daughter (3-1/2) got on the phone and asked me in her little voice: "Gandma...you come down and be with us?" 

It broke my heart and I knew I couldn't tell them "No".  I have missed my grand-children dearly for the last 3 months...since I moved to Wisconsin and then back to New York. This will be the first time that I have seen them since September 4th.

I think what has been the hardest for me is that I have been with these grandchildren since the day they were all born, as I lived with my daughter for just shy of 10 years. If you have heard of 'co-dependence'...I found out after I moved to WI that I had a severe case of it, yet had been in denial for years. (Which my therapist had suggested time and again and believed, I am sure, this was the reason I wouldn't move out, even during some very stressful times.) But now...this will be for me a very wonderful pre-Christmas gift...time to see and spend 4 days/5 nights with my family...and my grandchildren.  

What more can I ask for?  

(Hopefully, too...I will get the opportunity to see my other 3 grandchildren that I haven't seen in some time...one I haven't seen since last Summer and the other two, I haven't seen in over a year...only in photos.)

I will be gone from tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) until late afternoon Friday...and won't be able to post anything until my return. In the meantime...I'll have camera in hand and where ever I wander...I'll get some photos for another blog when I return!

In the meantime...be well...and thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shawn Campbell's Journey to Justice: Hearing finished

Today, I was at the court hearing of Shawn's that was supposed to be the process of showing that his previous lawyer Bill Kelly was not only ineffective counsel but also that he did not ever once, make Shawn aware of the two letters (from inmate incarcerated at the prison at that time) which were sent to the District Attorney's office forewarning of a "murder for hire" plot that was going around Wende Correctional Facility prior to the murder of Rhonda Bilby in September of 2004.

I am sorry to say that the whole morning seemed to be a waste of time for everyone and that very little was accomplished in Shawn's favor.  I'll explain why...

The first witness called by Shawn's lawyer, Mr. Baxter, was Christopher Lian, an officer with the Steuben County Jail, where Shawn was housed for some time before his case went to trial. The focus of the line of questioning was that a visitors record is kept as to who comes to see a particular inmate at the jail...however, it was learned that there are times that professionals aren't asked to log in because perhaps they are known to the particular guard on duty who essentially lets them through. The purpose here was to refute Shawn's previous lawyer's statement that the had visited Shawn numerous times prior to trial. A fact, which although was not proven in court today, was he had not...and I know this as the lawyer was on the phone with me several times a week prior to trial.

A.D.A. Brooks Baker was called to the stand next, and was questioned about whether there was in fact any DNA evidence found on the instrument that was deemed to be the murder weapon, and he went off on a tangent about technical stuff that most of us don't understand, when a yes or no answer was all that was needed. Eventually, when re-questioned...the answer came back "No" there was no conclusive evidence of DNA belonging to Shawn or Ronda Bilby on the instrument according to the New York State Forensic's Lab.

Next, Shawn was called to the stand...to verify some points regarding the issues of the letters and whether he had knowledge of them before the trial...which we all know that he did not.

The next witness called by the defense, was Shawn's previous lawyer who the hearing is primarily regarding, Mr. Kelly. Throughout this period of questioning by Mr. Baxter, Mr. Kelly repeated his previous testimony that he had hand-delivered copies of the original letters sent to the D.A.'s office regarding the murder for hire plot and that he and the Assistant D.A., Brooks Baker, had a private conference with Shawn to discuss the use of the letters, if Shawn so chose...which is a lie, as no such conference ever took place.  I would have known. (Mr. Kelly had a big mouth then...too eager to put this case behind him a.s.a.p.)

Mr. Baxter was going to put Shawn back on the stand to do a rebuttal on what Mr. Kelly had testified to, but D.A. Tunney objected and Judge Latham agreed with Tunney...so the next witness, and the final one for the day was Joe Valley, Shawn's lawyer that stepped away from the case just a few months ago. 

The line of questioning continued with when he found out about the letters and about some other details regarding the letters themselves...as to the authenticity. Unfortunately, at this point...there were tempers beginning to flare...and just before noon, the judge ordered the two lawyers to submit their closing arguments to him and they only had a week to do it. Court was then adjourned...the hearing is done. The judge will now decide on the matter.

From the moment court went into session...every question either Mr. Baxter asked or started to ask, D.A. Tunny objected to, and the judge sustained. All Mr. Baxter had to do was get one or two words out and Tunney was up and objecting...so by the time that Mr. Valley got on the stand...everyone's tempers were flaring...mine included. (I made the comment to the reporters sitting next to me that this was nothing more than a kangaroo court!  It was so totally absurd!) 

Tunny felt questions were too broad, weren't rebuttal material, had already been brought out in previous court hearings...he had a reason for every objection, whether in fact it was proper law procedure or not. (I can't say because I am not a lawyer.)

Tonight, I have no idea how Shawn must be feeling but in my own opinion, I don't think court went all that well today. I have the distinct impression--call it a gut feeling--that the judge has already decided this hearing...and all the efforts of those involved are nothing more than time wasted. I still believe that the judge should have recused himself when asked to, as well as this moved to another venue outside of this county. It's probably the ONLY way Shawn can get any real justice.

Here is the news clip from tonight:


Thanks for reading!

**Disclaimer:  This is my interpretations of the events in court today...and my opinions (even though I am also voicing the opinions of others in the courtroom today).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A boy named 'Jonah'


A new YouTube video that is going viral is of a young boy, named "Jonah", who is enduring bullying in school. Soon to enter the 8th grade, he says that he has been bullied since he was in the lower elementary grades. 

When I first viewed this video on Facebook last night, there had already been some 800+ views since August 10, 2011 but this morning, the view count is now at 64,610

I can only hope that he has stayed strong and not given-in to the pressures of being bullied. It gives us a good look at what bullying does to a child...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unusual November weather

November 29, 2011...taken at 8 a.m. (59°F.)

November is usually a month where we, in the Northeastern part of the U.S., see a cooling down of temperatures and would have seen some snowfall by now...even if it didn't stay. However, this year, it's been a lot warmer than usual  and we haven't seen more than a dusting of snow...twice. (I will not complain!)

From our 1st snow...barely more than a dusting
Our first snow came down fast and hard...then tapered off, leaving a slight coating on the grass as pictured above. By dark, it had all melted.

The beginning of our next snow storm 11/17

The next storm dumped a little more snow on us...probably about half an inch that lasted until the next day. Though it's not unusual for it to melt back off...we have in the past seen more than this for snow totals.


A white out...you can barely see the traffic on the highway


I looked like we were really going to get some snow...it came down hard, literally blowing in and covering everything.



 It did start to accumulate on the railings on our porch and steps...


November, overall, has remained a very warm month for us, with only a few cold days that hovered around the 30°F. mark. The rest of the time, the temps have remained in the mid-to-high 40s and lower 60s.  

Pretty unusual weather and I am sure the deer hunters are hating the fact that tracking any deer is pretty much out of the question!  Me--I'd say that it's more sporting...giving those deer a better chance!  (Sorry guys!) 

With November almost done...and we are expecting snow showers tomorrow...I can only wonder what December will bring. 



Musical at the mall

screen shot of unsuspecting Santa & elf


Improv Everywhere has struck again...this time at a mall in New Jersey. A man walks towards Santa and his elf, and starts singing about wanting to sit on Santa's lap. 

Watch the unsuspecting shoppers faces as the troop begins their show!

Enjoy!



Monday, November 28, 2011

"If you were a tree, what kind would you be?"

Elm tree


I read an interesting blog today that asked the question: "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?" 

Oak tree
When faced with an issue that  you may not agree with, do you stand tall and proud, and not willing to give an inch, like the Oak tree...or are you willing to bend, give a little and perhaps work on a compromise, like the Elm tree? 

To answer that question for me, I am both of them. 

When I know that maybe I should give a little, I do or try to, without comprising myself too much...like the Elm. I believe that we can compromise on some things...it just depends on who we are and what the issue is at hand.

If I know that I am right, then I am definitely like the Oak tree and won't budge because it's extremely likely that it's something that is important to me NOT to compromise on. And there are at least a hand-full of things that I will not compromise on what-so-ever.

But in this world, I think we all have to be like both of these trees...in order to get along with others, and to leave room for us to continually grow as a person. If we are like both...then we don't compromise who we are as individuals.

So my question to you is:  "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?" 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A melancholy Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving has always been about being together as a family and as we approach Thanksgiving day tomorrow, I can't help thinking about how things have changed over the years of my life. While memories can give us solace at times, it also gives me a sense of sadness too.

As a child growing up, the holiday season...Thanksgiving and Christmas meant family get-togethers with a huge variety of foods...enough to last for days afterwards. Turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce, breads of all kinds and of course the pies.  Lots of pies. Pumpkin, blueberry, mincemeat, apple, cherry, pudding pies...yummy!

In those days, the house was full of laughter and good conversations between my parents, aunts and uncles, and my cousins and I. Good times.

As I went into adulthood with my own children in tow, I tried to keep that family tradition alive during the holidays, with the large varieties of foods and the large selection of pies for our desert later; tried to keep that sense of family intact.

However, in the past couple of years, as my children grew into their own families, the tradition has suffered a slow death of sorts. Last year, my youngest son spent the holiday with his in-laws, and of course, my oldest spent his in prison, isolated from the rest of us. I spent the two holidays with my daughter and her three children, relinquishing the helm to let her do all the cooking and pie baking...which also meant that there was a reduction in the amount of food prepared as there was now only 5 of us. 

This year...while I will be cooking a meal for my brother, niece and myself, there won't be the baking nor the sense of family or tradition. My youngest will spend his Thanksgiving with his girlfriend's family, and my daughter will take her children to spend the day with her in-laws. And once again, my oldest son will spend his away from all of us...locked behind iron gates and razor wire. 

Tomorrow will likely be a melancholy day for me...although I will try my best to not be sad and try to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive...giving thanks for all that I do have despite all the changes over the years. 

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving here in the US...and for those of you abroad...have a wonderful and thankful day! 

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Moonbeamers


When I was a child, there weren't many tales of my father's youth that were passed down to me but the single one that I do remember was about "Moonbeamers". Although the story isn't long...it is amusing...!

Dad had 5 siblings. A brother and 4 sisters. They grew up on the same farm that I did and I am sure enjoyed all the normal childhood antics that any family goes through.

One time while at my grandparent's, in a dusty and crowded back room, where all kinds of miscellaneous stuff was stored, I came across an old, moth eaten bear skin.  Yes--a real 'bear' skin!  Being a curious child, of course, I asked Dad about it.

I never learned how the bear skin was acquired, but I did learn what it was used for...every chance Dad and his brother could catch their sisters unaware. It's funny...yet cruel...

When it was dark as dark can be, either Dad or my uncle would don the bear skin and sneak up on their sisters...pretending to be some deep woods creature with glowing red eyes. I can only imagine the shock and fear that went through my aunts...the screeches and screams! The chaos of 6 children running in every direction!

This creature: a "Moonbeamer"...who only came out at night, with glowing red eyes...that came to get little girls.

Thank goodness the bear skin and the idea of the Moonbeamers were retired before I came along.  It was bad enough that I thought werewolves were real!!!

Have a good day folks and thanks for reading! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The swing

I had a swing like this when I was a small child
Today I saw a photo of a swing on Facebook and it reminded me of the one I had when I was a little girl of about 5 or 6.  With it came a flood of timeless days swinging and swinging and swinging my days away.  And it also reminded me of a incident which would forever more change how I viewed and swung on that swing.

My dad made the swing for me, from a limb of a huge old tree...the tree which was for the most part the center of a row of trees that lined a steep bank that was several feet above a ditch. I can remember swinging out over that ditch...and out over the edge of the road...just a little...feeling like I was flying.

Being the only child at the time, it was up to me to amuse myself. The tree swing was my most favorite thing...I can remember getting up early in the morning, still in my pajamas and going out to swing until my mom called me back inside.

From my perch there on the swing, I had a wonderful view of the farm where my dad worked...along with all the cows, machinery and barns; my grandpa and grandma's house; a few fields and a plot of woods. I was a princess who often surveyed her royal grounds! 

One day, while dad was working on the farm...and mom was inside doing what mom's did...I was doing what I loved most...swinging in the swing when a car drove very slowly by.  Too slowly. 

Inside were two men, two scary-looking men (in my little girl's eyes) who stared at me causing me to look elsewhere. I can remember feeling suddenly afraid and although I didn't look directly at them again, I could see the car had stopped and started to back up. 

Alarmed...I ran into the house and told my mom about the men...who by then were parked in the driveway and one had come to the door.  I hid behind my mother while she answered the door...but my little child's mind doesn't remember what was said...or why they were there at our door. 

What I do remember though is the relief of their leaving and the praise of my mother who told me that I had done the right thing by coming to her. I often wonder if she sensed something bad about them too. 

From then on, I always was watchful when I was not only outside, but swinging. I think that is when I learned that there are bad people in this world...and I had seen two of them. I didn't swing much on my swing after that...those men robbed me of the pleasure and freedom that the swing meant to me.  Even today, I can feel the sadness of that little girl within...and as a woman, I feel anger that those men could do that to an innocent child. 

Below is a photo of me at the age I was when those men stopped...dressed as a little Princess, in a white sheet and a hair wreath and bracelet made of pop-together beads:





 Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spare the rod, spoil the child: Case 2


While reading a news site a few nights ago, I came across an article that falls right into line with my "Spare the rod, spoil the child" blogs (my first blog and Case 1) and ...and I couldn't help but to be more disturbed about what is happening: children dying from being beaten...in the name of religion.

20/20 published a report: "Child's Death Sheds Light on Biblical Disciplinary Teachings" this past week (11/8) that lightly detailed a handful of child deaths that resulted from punishment from followers of a ministry belonging to Michael Pearl: No Greater Joy (NGJ) Ministries.

He preaches his believers TO not only spank the child but how to do it!  And all, of course, in the name of God. Anderson Cooper did a segment on Pearl:


Because of his teaching...these children have died (recently and in the last few years) as a result:

** Hana--age 11...from the state of Washington. She and her brother were Ethiopian children adopted and brought to the US. 

** Lydia Schatz--age 7...from California. Also adopted.

** Sean Paddock--age 4...South Carolina.
How many more are out there that have yet to be linked to this man and his teachings?  It's sickening to even contemplate.

RH Reality Check published an article November 3rd:

Corpses Don't Rebel: Former Quiverfull Mom Reacts to Death of Hana Williams by "Biblical Chastisement" via Corporal Punishment

The article starts out:

Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of infant and child abuse.

The death toll from parents following Michael and Debi Pearl’s teachings continues to mount. Another child is has been “biblically chastened” to death via corporal punishment, and Michael Pearl is defending his teachings in the mainstream media while promoting his new book.
The writer, talks about Pearl's methods...and her thoughts about them. If you have the time, I recommend reading it...even though it is a bit long.

The movement against corporal punishment and beating a child in the name of God seems to be picking up momentum. It's about time. It's a horrid way to discipline a child, not to mention what it does to them mentally and emotionally. But look at what it's taken to get the attention across the media!
Do a Google search and you will find a variety of news items, blogs and even videos all related to what I have posted in these blogs. Yet even more...you will find horror stories...some of which will churn your stomach. 

At the risk of sounding redundant...think of the children. We CAN stop this to a larger degree...but it is going to take a lot of time and effort by all of us.  The biggest part of all of this is educating and advocating. 

Just think of the children....

Thanks always for reading.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spare the rod, spoil the child: Case 1

Wooden spoon for spanking?
Last week a YouTube video went viral on the internet, showing a Texas judge using a belt on his disabled teen daughter, which then caught media attention. If you haven't seen the video, this is it: 

(Warning...very disturbing footage.)


When I first watched this video, I could only stomach the first 30 or 40 seconds of it and then had to stop it. This is beyond appalling, and this by a judge who decides the fate of others in his courtroom?  Unbelievable!

This is a beating in its truest form...the judge didn't care where he hit his teenage daughter, man-handled her like she wasn't even his child, and wasn't satisfied with one or two or even three strikes...he just kept going on and on. 

The child's mom then joins in and gets her whack in...for what purpose, it's unclear, but you can hear the mother say to the teen something to the effect of 'turn over and take it like a woman'!  (I wonder if mom could have taken the beating her husband handed out "like a woman"!  I doubt it.)

This is exactly what I was talking about in my first blog: Spare the rod, spoil the child.  THIS is corporal punishment. This isn't discipline, this is abuse.

And...this should not be tolerated! No matter what the excuse...it very much IS child abuse.

The daughter herself was the one that uploaded the video to YouTube and she explains her reasoning behind doing this 7 years after the fact in the following video which aired on NBC November 3, 2011.  


Did she do the right thing by exposing her father? I believe so...even if it is 7 years later because we are seeing more and more child abuse cases where children are being abused with belts, paddles and even switches made from tree branches. In the past month, there have been at least one or two cases where a child DIED because of the beating. (That will be covered in my next blog as Case 2.)

What is happening to our society where we are--as parents--needing to punish our children in what is considered a violent manner?  We are raising children that are likely going to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. 

Is this the way we choose to bring our children up? Is this the way we want to teach our children good morals, ethics, compassion...etc.?  Seriously? 

This morning, Lorraine Devon Wilke published her thoughts on the very subject in the Huffington Post's Parents blog. Thank goodness I am not the only person that is disturbed by this video...and even appalled by the way some of the people out there feel about this form of punishment.

Yet...it goes on...and will continue to go on, unless we as parents, aunts, uncles, grand-parents and even neighbors say "Enough!"

Think of the child...please.  Look at this photo: 


bruises from a belt on unidentified child

Can you live with yourself knowing that you...and I...could have prevented this? 

Think about the children.......

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Broken...Been away too long...

Sunrise, Nov. 3, 2011

Over the years, I have been aware that as time went on, I was loosing more and more of my 'self'...and for a long time I really thought it had everything to do with my depression (PTSD) and breakdown (in 2001). But then again...although they were a part of it, there were also other factors that had a direct bearing on what was happening to my loss of self. 

I have been spent most of my life caring for others, beyond the capacity of just being a mother and wife. For a couple of years, after the death of my mom when I was 16, I became responsible for running our household, doing all the things my mom did, which included taking care of my brother and sister, and being a student myself. 

Into adulthood, I became a mom at the age of 18, and a wife just before my 19th birthday. When I had my second and third child, I was in my second marriage...and was a full time step-mom to three children as well. 

Marriage three...wasn't so draining, as there were no children other than my two youngest to raise, and my husband wasn't a burden in the sense I had to take care of him too. But of course, I still felt I was giving more of myself away and none of it came back to me. 

After my breakdown, I lived with my daughter and was with her through the birth of all three of her children...and as they grew, and she entered the work force, I stepped-up and babysat my grandchildren while she worked. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do. 

But I realize now...with the help of my sister in a conversation she and I had today, my living with my daughter actually drained me as much if not more than what all the years prior had. Instead of getting better...mentally and emotionally, it hindered me in ways that I didn't see until now. 

In the past few weeks that I have been back home in New York (after my move to Wisconsin that didn't work out, which I have talked about in my earlier posts) I have felt my 'self' coming back...not really the old me, but a new and improved version of me.

For along time, I really didn't know how to get this part of me back or if it would even come back...but it has and is. I feel life beginning to flow back through my veins again. It's the part of me that is a care-free spirit, who loves life and wants to live it, not to just 'exist'. 

Laughter comes easier, feelings are more intense...and aren't dulled by being so unhappy...feeling so used up. Even with the recent hurt and sorrows of a relationship gone wrong...it's okay...I am okay. It's not bogging me down...because I see it another lesson in living. An adventure I don't regret. 

I have been away from my self for so long...felt broken for so long...but I am coming back. I am learning to love those parts of me that were/are broken...they are a part of me too. 

I am reawakening...becoming...me.  Again. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

The video below, "Broken" by Seether (featuring Amy Lee) carries a duel meaning for me.  Enjoy....




"Broken"

I wanted you to know I love the way you laugh

I wanna hold you high and steal your pain away
I keep your photograph, I know it serves me well
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

'Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome

And I don't feel right when you're gone away

You're gone away


The worst is over now and we can breathe again

I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away
There's so much left to learn, and no one left to fight
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

[x2]

'Cause I'm broken when I'm open
And I don't feel like I am strong enough
'Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away

You're gone away

You don't feel me here anymore

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spare the rod, spoil the child

Do they? Really?

Over the years, it has become a pet peeve of mine as well as a great concern over how a child should be disciplined. Maybe it's something that comes with age...but maybe it's something that no longer seems right...because doesn't violence breed violence? 

I'm not talking about spanking a child with your hand on their butt...I'm talking about hitting them with a belt or paddle. What the law now refers as corporal punishment. 

Where did we humans get the notion that hitting a child with something hard was discipline?

"Spare the rod, spoil the child".  Biblical reference?  Not at all.  In fact, it came from a 17th century poem titled “Hudibras” by Samuel Butler. The actual verse reads: 

“What medicine else can cure the fits
Of lovers when they lose their wits?
Love is a boy by poets styled
Then spare the rod and spoil the child.”
At the time that this was written, it referred to the spanking of a woman, as part of making a love relationship grow stronger. However, over time...the meaning changed to that of referring to the spanking of a child.

The Biblical reference reads:  Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Here again...a 'rod' is mentioned...but what does it really refer to?

It's symbolic in nature...as a means of authority. It wasn't meant in the literal sense, as some of those of faith would have you believe. The Bible does not condone corporal punishment.

There are advocates for and against (opens as a pdf) physical discipline, and this is a hot topic in today's world. Who is right?

I personally fall with those against such discipline, as I have witnessed children whose self-esteem was lowered, as well as developing anger issues and aggressiveness. 

Is this not a cycle that is perpetuated over time? I believe it can be. 

In my eyes, this IS a form of child abuse...when a child is hit with a belt or a paddle. It IS child abuse when welts are left, bruises appear and a child looks at you with wounded eyes...feeling betrayed by the very person who is supposed to love and protect him. 

Education is key...and one can discipline a child without harming them physically, mentally or emotionally. 

I welcome your thoughts. 

Thanks for reading.