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In my twenties, I didn’t think much about self improvement.  I would have laughed at anyone suggesting a self-help book.  I read little on spirituality, and honestly didn’t have a clue where I fit in.  I figured I was who I was by that time and I had to learn to endure the faults, the neurosis, and the walls that I had built for myself.  What I did dwell on were the negative parts of my childhood.  I couldn’t seem to move passed them, and I felt like I would need to muster all the strength I could to move on down the line.  I also clung to the good parts of my childhood.  They stuck to me – bittersweet, moments of bliss that were only to be glanced at here and there.

After becoming pregnant with Deladis, I realized that life was much more than existing in a past you can’t change.  I realized that there were things I didn’t want to pass on to my daughter.  Things that can be excused in families.  All ___ (insert family name) are mule headed.  Oh, you get that temper from your Uncle ___.  You’re always depressed, just like your ____.  Things that are chalked up as inherited personality traits, that can very well be negative if given the right circumstances, but given a different environment can be worked with and made into positives.  Instead of saying, that’s who I am, it’s in the blood, we can work to stop the scars that are passed down through generations in families.  Those scars don’t have to be a curse.  The fact is, you don’t have to live with them anymore the moment you choose to see them for what they are and no longer choose to accept them.  Not that it isn’t hard work through them, but acknowledgment that there is no power there to hold you.

I didn’t completely understand my great desire to become a better me after becoming a parent.  I would catch little thoughts as they passed through my mind that would hint at why.  If you keep losing your cool, your relationship with your child will erode. Do you ever want her to wonder if she is loved? Then, there is the whole aspect of parenting daughters as a woman.  Stop downing your physical appearance in front of your child.  You don’t want her to spend her whole adolescence thinking she is an ugly duckling or not feminine because she doesn’t like makeup or spending too much time on her hair.

Eli, The Good the most recent novel by the eastern Kentucky author Silas House came out in September 2009.  My grandmother went to North Carolina to hear him read and to buy me a signed copy of the book.  I thought that pretty dang cool of her considering she was supporting an independent bookstore and she was buying me the best kind of material present I could ever receive.  Silas House is my very favorite author.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this novel.  I had heard him read an excerpt at the Hindman Settlement School’s Appalachian Writer’s Workshop evening readings over the summer.  I appreciated the segment he read.  I soaked in the frankness of the tone and took up the imagery, making a movie in my mind, as the best books do for me.  I relished in his audible voice, true to his accent and unapologetic.  The kind that makes you even more proud to be who you are because someone molded from the same clay as you is making a difference in the world.  I was ready for this book.

I opened it and began reading, noticing immediately that this novel was very different from his first three (a series with the same family as characters).  It was different in feeling and much different in tone.  It was told from the voice of a ten year old child, Eli Book.  While the setting was obviously the mountains, it was more universal.  It felt like it could be many places.  Immediately, I felt like that child could have been me.

I went through the first half of the book wondering where it was taking me.  I didn’t grasp it fully because at times it was a very uncomfortable place to be, but as I moved onward I understood that was exactly the point.

By the end of the novel, I felt like I had been on a life transforming journey.  The kind that is a one way ticket.  You go from beginning to end and never look back.  The end of the novel held the juice for me.  Eli’s father dealt with demons brought back from the Vietnam war.  A war he had gone to fight still being only a child.  Eli’s mother clung to the love she found with his father because she had not known love as a child.  There was Eli and his sister both feeling the very same way, but coming to the understanding that what they were feeling was not the reality of their life, but the feelings that their parents were carrying with them and projecting out onto their lives.

But then he saw me.  I just stood there, feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness wash over me.  I had felt alone all my life, had felt as if my parents only saw each other as they moved through the world, thought they loved each other so much that there was no room to love me.  But now, by the way Daddy looked at me, I knew better.

His faced is what convinced me.  He was so hurt to see me there, to know I had seen all of this.  So I knew, once and for all, that he did care if I existed or not.

Eli, The Good by Silas House, Chapter 25, pg. 265

It was that moment in the book that sealed the deal for me and my commitment to becoming my true self.  The self that is uninhibited by my circumstances or past.  This was the point that gave me hope.  The hope that despite my shortcomings and my personal pitfalls, my children will at some point be assured of the fact that I love them and I love having been a part of giving them life.  They will know it because it is true.

All the things that I am doing are not only for myself at this point, though I believe looking inward is important  for people in all walks of life.  It is for my family.  From the choice of Waldorf inspired education, to moving up in the head of no where, to making our traditional culture a daily part of our life, those choices were made to help my children experience childhood.  We can grow up so quickly.  My spiritual studies, my yoga practice, my writing and reading, making the choice to become a childbirth educator, are all part of ending a cycle and embracing my natural state of well being.  Disease is not our natural state.  It is dis-ease.  Feelings of inadequacy, depletion, and blaming are not natural.  These are things that can be healed.  These are things that with mindfulness can be made whole in beautiful ways.

I want to bring my children up in a healing environment.  I want to do all I can to insure that I leave little baggage for them to carry into their adult life.  Any baggage they will have will be theirs, personal and part of that which helps us become independent of our parents.  It will be the stuffs of a beautiful life and the tools to make it a complete one.

I am exhausted yet I keep on going… somehow.  Ivy has been having trouble sleeping at night and last night was a bad one.  All four of us were up by 5:00 this morning.  Ivy tosses and turns all night, then she wakes, sits up in the bed and cries and/or babbles.  I wake up feeling like I’ve been in a tag team wrestling match and my hopes of quitting coffee in the near future have changed to sometime in the future.

I have also been informed by some bloodwork we had done that Ivy is slightly anemic.  So, I’ve been reading up on that at Nourished Kitchen and Cheeseslave.  Then, comes the decision of whether to use the supplemental drops along with the multivitamin with iron she already eats everyday.  I don’t want to overdo it.  The optimal choice would be to try to get her to eat more iron rich foods, but see… her appetite is hit or miss.  Not sure.  You gotta love those difficult mothering decisions.

The other excitement keeping both John and I busy is the preparation for a duo presentation to a group in Louisville on Appalachian culture.  John is presenting art and music of the mountains. I will be presenting Appalachian literature, and I am so excited to get to share information about authors from the Kentucky mountains.  I love talking culture and I can’t wait to give my take on the literature of our area in terms of where it has been and where it is headed.  I’m also going to share the URLs to some Appalachian themed or written blogs.

Mountain Muse

Blind Pig and The Acorn

The Breeder Files

Thrifty Southern Mama

Hazard’s Glory Years

Appalachian Lifestyles

Appalachian History

I’m even more thrilled that I get a day with my husband that is just the two of us.  A long car ride, we’ll stop at Whole Foods to stock up on those grocery items we can’t find here, and then home again.  Time to be a couple with John is something I’d like to experience a little more often than we do.

I have to admit that there is great satisfaction in having this opportunity to work a little and help John provide for us.  I believe I have accepted that right now isn’t going to be the time that I will have regular pay coming in.  Being an at-home mother is a choice I will never regret.  My job as a mother is the one that needs my full attention at this stage of our lives.  However, though my progress may be slow and staggered out, I am not hindered from working toward my goal of eventually working as a part of Haywood Art – the writer part. 🙂  Things will fall into place when the time is appropriate.

I sit here writing with heavy eyes and so many thoughts of things I need to do, should do, and would like to do.  I’m thinking of family I haven’t gotten to email or talk with in awhile, books I want to read, research on homeschooling and yoga I’d like to do,  and stories, essays, and novels I want to write.  I’d never in a million years have thought, when I sat bored in my room wishing for a way out of the holler and to the movie theater with my friends as a teen, that a person could be this busy here.  I love it that we live and learn.


* There comes a time when unexpected things creep in and demand our attention.  This has been one of those moments for me, and I felt it appropriate to share it with you.

Yes, that’s right.  I’m reading the first book in the series of teenage vampire, thriller, romances written by Stephenie Meyer.  Am I reading it by choice, you ask?  No,  previously, I would not have chosen to read a selection such as this, as I’m more about reading books written for adults.  I’m am reading it on the insistence of my fifteen year old niece, who last time she visited us brought the movie and the book.  She required that I watch the movie intently, not talking at all during the viewing, and then she handed me the book and said that I should have it read by the time I see her again.  So, I’m reading it on assignment.

Being a former middle school Language Arts teacher, I have read plenty of young adult novels.  However, I stuck to the classics mostly, like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and Will the Circle be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor.  Both of those are classics because they deal with universal issues of growing up that any child will face no matter the time and place of their rearing.  They are also firmly based in reality.  The Outsiders is still one of my all time favorite works of fiction.  I probably would have never read these books if I hadn’t been a teacher.  I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books or Lemony Snicket.  I’m all grown up –  for crying out loud.

I don’t know why my niece insisted that I read this novel.  I don’t know if she wanted me to fall helplessly in love with it and fill my house full of posters and wear the t-shirts on outings.  I hope it’s because she loves her aunt and values her opinion and wants her to be a part of the things that interest her.  Despite the hopes she may have had in mind, I have had my own approach to the reading.  I’m analyzing it as a mother and writer.  I figure I better get used to reading novels written for tweens, teens, and young adults because I need to be able to recommend books to my daughters and I must be aware of what they are reading.  From a writer’s standpoint, this woman wrote a hit novel, made the bestsellers lists, and sold the movie rights.  Not that I am looking for that kind of fame, but I have to extend to her my respect for that accomplishment.

I have to say that I highly approve of this as a reading selection for any teenager or young adult.  I applaud Stephenie Meyer for writing fiction that is juicy, interesting, and mainstream all while keeping it clean.  It is a fragile balance and I think she has done it perfectly.  I would have no qualms for my own children reading this book or watching the movie.  They are excellent choices.  In our over sexed pop culture, we need more options like this one.

When I read the first chapter I felt many of the phrasings were trite and I found the first person narration to be too obvious at times – spoon feeding the reader.  I have had to keep in mind the intended audience.  However, as I have gotten deeper into the work, I have fallen into the voice and I don’t notice those trite or obvious moments as much.  The characters are engaging and consistent.  I am more reminded of my own adolescence and my hopes for dating, friendship, and self discovery.

I am also brought back to my own teenage years and my readings of Anne Rice novels.  I read all of her vampire novels which were not written with teenagers in mind at all.  I enjoyed them thoroughly and even wrote a paper for my senior advanced placement English class on why they should be considered literary writings. 🙂  I was very adamant about that.

At first, I looked at Twilight and the nearly 500 pages of it, and dreaded the reading.  I’m a slow reader and I didn’t want to invest the time in it.  Now, I’m glad I have.  I’m almost halfway through, and I’m at awe at how a mother of three boys could get so much work done.  I’m definitely going to check out Meyer’s website to see if I can glean any hope of being that productive with my own writing in the near future.

I recall when the movie first came out on DVD.  I was at the movie rental place on the eve of its release.  The clerk was chatting with his friends.  He must have been in his very late teens or early twenties.  The group was buzzing about the release, and talking about who they got to direct the next movie.  I was reminded of the buzz surrounding Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt starring in Interview with the Vampire.  The fawning delayed the clerk from processing my rentals.  He apologized for the delay.  I said, “No, problem.  We used to be that way over Anne Rice.”  I smiled.  He looked at me like I was an alien who had just landed my ship in the middle of the movie store.  I felt a bit outdated, but okay with that.  Now, I’m being brought up to date.  I find it humorous – quite humorous indeed. 🙂

  • Main Entry: blog
  • Pronunciation: \ˈblg, ˈbläg\
  • Function: noun
  • Etymology: short for Weblog
  • Date: 1999

: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also : the contents of such a site

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

I am still trying to learn to blog, and researching exactly what a blog is supposed to do.  As with many things pertaining to the “hot” activities on computers and the internet, I have been brought into it from the suggestion of another instead of it being my own idea.  Before finding The Breeder Files, I thought blogging was something a teenager did, or someone who enjoyed gossiping about celebrities.  Much like Myspace, I had to be convinced that blogging was a serious venture.  My teen aged niece forced a Myspace account on me, and though it has lost much of its former appeal to me these days, I maintain it along with a Facebook account (more for the big kids 😉 ).  I have yet to make the leap to Twitter, but have almost signed up once before changing my mind and quickly leaving the site, knowing that I don’t have much more time to devote to computer activities.

See, I am a fan of printed materials.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time in front of the screen.  I love the smell of paper, the texture of it across my fingertips, and the various styles of printed fonts.  I love the permanency of print.  I like the fact that you purchase it and it is forever yours to read and re-read.  It is something you can take with you anywhere.  As much as I mourn the moving of readers to internet and computer venues, there comes a point when you must warm to the thought of utilizing the change for your own good.  There are many pluses to things being published online, that most folks are aware of by now, but for me, the appeal of blogging was making myself write something everyday.  I have made many poor attempts at journaling, and have always stopped the process within weeks.  Getting a readership for even my everyday thoughts, has spurred me forward.  It is uplifting.  I have learned that blogging is a very respectable writing form, with many many uses.

I have found some blogs lately that have been pretty good reads, helpful to me as a beginner, or simply a nice place to visit.  My creative endeavors usually take the form of fiction in short story and novel, and I do some essay writing along with creative non-fiction.  So, to learn more about a form of writing, the best place to start is to look at those who already do it well.  I’m also realizing that blogs are one way to learn about various topics from real people and real experiences.  Blogs are also a great way to connect with others that have similar goals as you.  It is funny because before a friend suggested I tried it, I was kind of turned off by the word “blog”.  I didn’t like the way it sounded, and I thought it was a passing phase, or akin to reality television.  I’m glad I’ve been shown better.

Blogs I’ve Enjoyed Recently (or have learned from lately):

  • Blind Pig and The Acorna wonderfully organized, beautiful, and interesting blog about country living and various topics, including Appalachia and traditional music.  Tipper found me first and I visited her blog from a link she left me here.  I’m glad she stopped by for I’ve enjoyed her page and gotten some neat ideas from her about things to try here.  Especially how to show my readers appreciation.
  • Sunny Day Today Mama – this blog is about a mama’s life with her sunny boy.  The photographs are stunning and this blog has made me stop and think sometimes when I tend to get wordy here.  She says so much with her pictures, and it helps me to make my words meaningful and few.  (When I don’t get carried away… 😉 )
  • The Breeder Files -a blog with childbearing hips.  This mama is always an inspiration to me, but I particularly love the turn her blog has taken of late.  I have mentioned her here before, and it seems like her posts are becoming more and more pertinent to my day to day.  I read so many blogs that seem to come from no place at all and no real thought.  This blog is heartfelt and real.  It’s what blogs of this type should be.
  • Snapshots and Tweeners –  This is a blog of a friend of ours who is also a photographer.  I didn’t know he had a blog and stumbled upon it to find pictures of my hubby and girls there.  Excellent pictures!  He is making social commentary through photos.  I had to share this one because while it isn’t your conventional blog, I think it is doing important work.

I’m starting to understand what a blog is and what it can be.  I have been so against internet publishing in the past, but there comes a time when movement is necessary to survive and even to grow.  This blog has become something I’ve invested a lot of myself in at a time when I’ve been otherwise worn thin.  It has helped me in tremendous ways through the simple act of chronicling.  I hope to share with you more blogs that inspire me as I learn more about blogging.  I hope you enjoy these.

I was reading a post on Lia Mack’s blog Blissfully Beguiling that got me thinking about why I should even be attempting to make writing my career.  I have other things I could do with my life as far as interests and things that might bring in an income go.  Things that would be a whole lot easier to be successful at.  I could go back to teaching public school (Well, you’d have to pay me quite a bit more.  No, a whole lot more, and cut the red tape.).  I could apprentice to be a doula or an aspiring homebirth midwife (I watched The Business of Being Born last night.  It was a temptress of a film.  Makes you want a baby in the belly, and makes you want to witness birth over and over again.)  I could become a small business owner of a bookstore, health/natural food, or open my own restaurant (I know.  All excellent choices in this economy.  But, what is an excellent choice anymore?).

I will never forget when I read the first novel of my favorite author – Clay’s Quilt by Silas House.  It moved me beyond what I could have imagined from a work written by someone closer in age to myself then most authors I had been reading.  I was taken aback by how similar it felt to my work, yet so great.  I was shocked by the similarities so much so that I began to question the relevance of my own work.  How could we be writing works so similar in style and context and neither of us having read or been influenced by the other.  I thought that it might be time for me to give it up writing.  It didn’t matter that I am woman and he is a man.  He writes women flawlessly in my opinion.  I had become irrelevant.

However, those thoughts lasted only a few days for me.  I realized soon that it wasn’t that I had become irrelevant, but despite the fact that I haven’t been recognized or widely published, and I am still working on my first novel, I had become part of a collective.  A writing movement – dare I say a literary movement.  (Wow!  Big words.)  We aren’t only similar in our writings, but similar people as well.  We are both from the hills of eastern Kentucky, in the throes of coal mining, country music, and the nineteen eighties.  Our backgrounds are fueling our writing content.  I began searching out more Appalachian writers from my generation and reading their works, and I noticed more similarities.  I noticed that though we each have individual voices, topics, and experiences, we are all writing our stories.  We are perpetuating our culture, showing the meeting place of two worlds in the past and present.  It has become pretty exciting to me.

So, while I could sell great books and promote Appalachian literature, I could promote health and well being, feed folks good food, help mothers achieve positive birth outcomes, or teach oodles of Kentucky children to appreciate literature – what I want to do is share the story of my generation.  I want to share the story of my Appalachia.  I want to share it with Appalachians, Louisvillians, New Yorkers, the Japanese, Canadians, the man behind the counter at the sub shop, your mother, my former teachers, or anyone looking for a good story.  I want to preserve a spot in history for the things passed down to me.  I want to pass them on mostly importantly to the people being brought up here in the mountains.  I want to be a part of this collective of Appalachian writers who are showing the world the “real” Appalachian.  Showing the world that yes, stereotypes come from real places, but it is what you don’t understand about us that makes the difference, our dualities and triumphs.  That our experience though so specific is a universal experience.  You might be more familiar with us than you think.   We are proud to be Appalachian from the mountains where there are no malls or 100 places to have dinner out.  We are proud to be coal miners, chicken raisers, garden growers, banjo pickers, and quilters.  We are storytellers.

Why am I chosing writing?  Because I feel like it is the most important thing for me to be doing right now.  That through writing, I can wrap all my interests into one clean package.  Why am I chosing now?  Because now is all we have.  I want to be a mother who shows her children that the time to dream and work toward goals is always now.  Yes, I have limitations, but I can work a little everyday toward my goals.

This week has been nothing but storms and rain.


Tuesday, I went to a new doctor about my thyroid and exhaustion issues.  I came away with orders to rest and a prescription for Synthroid – a synthetic thyroid hormone medication.  I’ve been taking it now for three days and have been nearly out of commission all three days.  Today(Thursday) has been by far the worst.  I’ve either been on the couch or in bed all day.  I feel spacey, dizzy, nauseated, and physically listless.  My moods have been all over the place, but today I’m generally peaceful.  I’ve tried to get anxious a few times, especially when I realized I just couldn’t muster the strength to exercise, but quickly decided it isn’t worth it.

I have been told by other members of the family who have to take this medication that the way I feel is normal until my body adjusts to the hormones that it has been going without.  I am noticing two positive things since starting the medicine.  It is easier to sleep and my dreams are very vivid, and my breastmilk is letting down faster and my supply of it is up.  I so hope this medicine works for me, because I hate medications and pharmaceuticals are at the top of the list, but I need healing.  I’ve tried the vitamin and herbal supplement route with no results for this particular situation.


Having been forced to slow down has made me a little reflective.  I’ve played with the girls, given Ivy her first haircut, and written quite a bit on my novel.

1st Haircut - and my poor attempt at using John's professional camera

1st Haircut - and my poor attempt at using John's professional camera

I have only exercised one of the three days and have realized that I am probably overtraining and should take a break.  I’m interested in looking into natural movements and bodyweight exercises to bring myself more into what our body needs naturally when it comes to physicality.  I haven’t cleaned anything in the house, but washed and put away a few clothes.  I am coming to the realization that hormones are powerful things, and in order to be the best I can be at anything, I need to listen to the messages sent to me by the body that I’m in.

Now, I am struggling to find a way to get more sleep.  The doctor said that even if my hormone levels improve I won’t feel better without proper rest.  How does a mother with two children neither of which sleeps through the night and one of whom still nurses find uninterrupted sleep?  I’m forever trying to figure that one out.  I haven’t slept through an entire night without coming to consciousness at least once in four years.  I’ll take any advice you have for me there.

This forced stop has made me forget the momentum of the pressures I have put on myself that did not work.  I am choosing to go with the ups and downs of the day.  I am choosing to listen to the natural rhythms of life.  I am choosing to not just keep my spirituality in mind for a set time in a day, but to parent from a place of spirituality (again thanks to Breedermama).  I’m going to focus on what I do get done in a day and celebrating the little things.  I’m going to spend more time being present with my girls, talking to them and guiding them.  I’m going to work on my novel and not waste time doing meaningless things on the internet or otherwise.  I’m going to work on my house chores a little bit a day and come to terms that I won’t have an immaculate house, and when I do I’ll probably be missing the pitter-patter of the little feet that used to make it so hard to clean.


One day soon, I’ll feel better.  These endlessly raining days will be over, and I’ll be starting with fresh ground.  All because I was finally forced to stop.

Some people don’t believe answers can fall from the sky.  They believe an answer should be studied, researched, and tried before practiced.  I’m sure that’s how the Biblical Israelites felt when Moses was leading them through the desert and they were told they could thrive on manna from heaven.  I’m sure even those who didn’t want to admit it were scared to death, thinking that there was no way they could live with such a simple answer to from where they would receive their nutrition.  I wondered all weekend about from where would I find my answers.  I didn’t have the energy to look for them, but plenty enough energy to complain.

The weekend started on a weird tone.  One of the chickens decided she’d fly the coop while I was filling their water dish.  It was Lucille, named for John’s granny, the same one that got away from us at the stock sale.  She just took a notion to fly out, and it took awhile to get her to a place where we could pick her up and put her back in.  Then, my camera decided to die.  Just when I was getting the hang of taking some decent pictures to add to the posts on this blog, my camera takes a notion to give up its service to me.

I read a post earlier in the weekend about relaxing in one of my favorite blogs called The Breeder Files.  She is such an inspiring and honest person.  Inspired by her writing, I tried to remember my blessings in the areas of chicken tending and digital cameras.  I’m consistently getting three eggs a day from my hens now, which means I’m doing a great job taking care of them.  My free rooster sits on the back porch and crows for me to come out to see him much like my ten year old Dalmatian does when he sits at the door and whines for me.  Sometimes they are out there together.  I’m loved! 🙂  As far as the camera, I’ve had it for around four years.  I have received many comments about the pictures on this blog despite the fact that I never thought the camera took good pictures.  A hobby photographer, Amy, who blogs at Blessed With Three, said she liked my pictures of the aquarium I recently posted.  I love her photography.  It is beautiful art, so that was a nice thing to read.  I got my some worth out of that camera.  Man made things, though we try, can’t last forever.  (Any recommendations on a camera I might find on ebay?)

Then, I decided to do some complaining with a group of writer mamas I talk with online.  I asked how they reconcile their responsibilities to their creative time.  I didn’t get to complain long before a woman recommended I vow to do a blog post a day and one hour of novel work.  I wanted to knock myself over the head… duh.  I already get a blog post 5 days a week which meets my goal.  I can manage one hour of novel writing most days.  I need to decide to be satisfied with that.  Writing, right now, is a part time endeavor.  Motherhood is my job and my duty.  I can find fulfillment where ever I decide to look for it.  Another woman told me to write down everything that I was able to accomplish in a day, instead of focusing on what I didn’t get done.  She said I might be surprised.  I’m going to try that.

After doing these things, I made the decision to be easier on myself this weekend.  Deladis went with John’s mother, I got to read my work at a literary reading where Gurney Norman read from a new selection of Wilgus stories he is working on, and I followed Ivy around the Seedtime on the Cumberland festival, letting her dictate where we went next.  It was good for me.  I had to relinquish control.  I had to give a little.

At Seedtime I got to talk with a friendly acquaintance that we hadn’t seen in quite sometime.  He was showing a version of a film he has been working on for three years.  He said in that time he moved, built a home, started a new job, got married, and had a baby.  The film had to wait for these things.  He said the idea for the documentary didn’t go anywhere.  It rested in his mind until he had the chance to work, and he found it evolved.  Then, he would ease back into it, and eventually it would flow like he had never stopped.  I needed to hear those words so bad.  My writing accomplishments won’t come all at once.  Some can wait.  Some should wait.

Then, I get home and check my email.  I opened my email subscription to The Nourished Kitchen to find Jenny had included me in a list of seven bloggers whose blogs she values for their information and good reading!  I was taken aback by that and overwhelmed with joy.  She is so successful with her blog, and I love her posts.  Her site is a wealth of information for anyone who is trying to be mindful about food.  I aspire to her success.  I was rewarded by someone valuing the time I spend with this blog.

I got these answers.  They fell from the sky.  I found them in places I wouldn’t have thought to look.  I found them when I wasn’t looking.  When I was doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself and complaining.  When I didn’t deserve an answer one.  Blessing are all around us.  Sometimes I think we are too swept up by the pitfalls in life and blinded by the everyday that it makes it easy not to care so much about the good things when our energy is wasted worrying about the bad.

I’m going to get frank here a minute.  I’m a very private person, but when it comes to writing things down I experience a freedom of expression I get no where else.  I can be summed up in one word – introverted.  That’s me… I’m “in”.  I don’t start conversations in real life, or I at least I  have to work up the courage to do so and have a dang good reason, but there is something about the written word that lets me lay all my inner thoughts down unapologetically.  I’ll air my innermost business to those who read.  Whether that is a good thing or not, it is what I am about to do now.

There’s something wrong with me.  I should be utterly happy and joyful, but I’m not.  I am blessed with all my direct needs met and most of my wants right in front of me.  I asked for two children and I have them.  I have the greatest husband who is also my best friend.  I have been able to move home to my mountains to raise my children in a comfortable place where I feel at home.  My surroundings are glorious.  Waking each day to these hills and my yard cannot be replaced by anything else in this world.  Yet, in my day to day I find myself stressed, rage filled, and down.  I could be being hard on myself.  My people are known for that, but I think my feelings are needless and selfish.

I’m trying to find the source of my problem.  I know at least part of it is something is off with me hormonally.  My bloodwork points to thyroid troubles.  My spiritual life is lacking.  I’m motivated almost to an extreme.  My responsibilities are all ones that I want, but I can’t keep up.  I’m not sure how to help myself because to admit any kind of weakness is so against my character.  It would be a huge step for me.

My Responsibilities:

1. wife and mother of 2 under 4

2. housecleaning

3. cooking

4. tending the garden

5. tending the chickens

6. writing everyday (blogging/noveling or both)

7. exercise (5 days a week)

I look at that and think… That’s not much at all.  What am I?  Why can’t I get it done? I see my time with the girls being stifled, stress filled, and I’m unengaged.  My house is a wreck most of the time.  I keep up with kitchen duties and laundry.  The rest is not looking so good.  I love my outdoor chores.  I manage them.  They make me feel solitary, useful, and quiet.  I’d much rather do them than anything I do in the house.  I keep up well with this blog and I enjoy it.  Blogging is instant gratification for a writer when you can look and see how many people are reading what you wrote whether it is 1 or 80.  I want more writing time.  I want to be a successful writer.  I want to help my husband not to have to work so endlessly to provide us with the simplest things.  Then, the exercise.  I’m starting to admit to myself that I may not have the best relationship with physical activity.  Though if I were to post my schedule it would seem normal, I’m not reacting normally to it physically or emotionally.

I’m motivated all right.  No lack of that.  I lack in the capacity to be all things to myself and my family all the time.  Right now I’m doing a half job in a lot of things and a great job in nothing.  No one can expect of themselves more than they are capable of doing, or is it just that I’m not together enough to accomplish it all?  I think of my sister with a teenager, eight year old, and a toddler all at once, holding down a job, going to nursing school, and keeping a house, while providing a supper as a family every night.  She’s my hero.  But, as another mother wrote to me… that’s an invisible yardstick I’m measuring by.

In all of this desire, I am pushing back my spirituality.  I’m putting my wants first even before my own good.  I’m turning my choices into The Creator’s choices for me… or am I?  Maybe it is the timing thing.  I’m neglecting my spiritual life, but then adding formal spirituality adds another responsibility.  I should re-prioritize.

So, yes, I’m coo-coo for cocoa puffs.  It comes up every now and again.  I am looking more and more to what comes naturally for help.  First my God and the purpose for my life.  Then, the natural ebb and flow of things… food, work, raising children… How do I let things come and go freely in their own time and still accomplish things?  Is it okay to slow down, or is that being lazy?  I’ve got to find a happy medium.

The rhythm I tried, which was really a schedule, has went the way of the dodo.  I need a plan.  I need control of my emotions.  I need rest… I so need rest.

Continue reading this week to see how things can come full circle without great effort.  Sometimes the answers find their way to us whether we actively seek them or not. 😉

The drive from Dayton to Gatlinburg was pleasant.  The van kept doing the quitting thing, but it would start back on it’s own (really weird).  We think it might be some kind of loose wiring.  As much as we don’t want to believe it sometimes, I know driving through the creek reeks havoc on our vehicles.

Driving into Gatlinburg, John brought up that it is funny how we just ended up there almost exactly 10 years after going there on our honeymoon. 🙂  This time with two little girls in tow.  We were all excited as this part of the trip wasn’t in our original plans, but I decided to use my award money from the Gurney Norman Prize to take us there instead of putting the money on my credit card debt.  Don’t tell Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey.  I’d hate to hear what they’d have to say to me. 😉

It has amazed me every time I have been driven through Pigeon Forge.  I remember it as a kid and I felt the exact same way this time – just wow!  John and I both decided after this trip that we would like to have enough money just one time to go and do everything there that interests us.  I love Dolly Parton, too.  I’d like to see her in concert.

The drive into Gatlinburg is pretty.  They knew what they were doing planning that one.  It sets the mood.  We stopped the van at the park and ride and rode the trolley – standing room only- to the Ripley’s Aquarium.  Deladis loved that.  A train on wheels!

The line at the ticket counter was practically non-existent and in no time, we were in and on the tour.  We had visited the Newport Aquarium several times, but hadn’t gotten to it in awhile.  Deladis has always been fascinated with fish and underwater life.  She used to call fish “swishy-we”, because that is what they say as they swim.  My sweet girl is growing up so fast.  Now her funny sayings are more like this:  “Mommy, what is her name?” Deladis says.  I say, “Verushka.”  “I don’t think she’s from around here,” Deladis says.  This coming from a child with the name “Deladis”… and where in the world did she get that.

The aquarium was set up beautifully.  At the beginning, you walk under a waterfall.  Ivy saw the fish and called them “goggie” of course.  To Ivy, everything is either a dog or a cookie.  Deladis spent ample time at each exhibit.

Coral Reef

Coral Reef

It was hard for me to get pictures inside because the lights were low and most of the exhibits were lit with varying luminosity.  I got a few good ones.  Ivy wanted to pet the fish.



I really wish I could have gotten pictures in the moving shark tunnel.  They had plenty of sharks, and the girls loved it when they swam passed and over top of us.  It was a great thing to see.  In a large exhibit area, we got to see a diver feeding the rays.  That was a big hit with Deladis.  Ivy was more interested in socializing and trying to drink from other babies’ sipper cups.

I think the girls had the most fun in the Discovery Zone, where it was free play all the way.

Ahoy Captain

Ahoy Captain

Dream Come True

Dream Come True

The neatest thing they had there were tanks with puffers and sea horses that you could crawl under and stick your head up in the middle of.  They made Deladis’s day.  There was also a tree that you could crawl through for “in the dark” exhibit.  It was obvious after getting inside that it was not meant for adults.

My only qualm with the whole thing was we paid $50 for it to end way too soon.  We kept thinking there had to be more.  At the end of the walk, Deladis tried to pet some rays, but her little arms couldn’t reach.

We left the aquarium and found food for the four of us for $16.00 at Shoney’s on the main drag!  I was pleased, and we all found enough food that we felt fit our needs.  We walked in the rain back to the trolley stop and had to bum money to get back to the van on the trolley, after no one had change for a $50.  Some bikers gave us the money.  Thank God for bikers. 🙂

We headed out of town.  John called our friend Joe about the van.  It was decided, when we were passing US 23, that John would take us on home and go to Mt. Airy alone.  He didn’t want to risk us camping in rain, or getting stranded on the highway in the van.  He wanted another night in a bed.  I was okay with it, but really hated to miss out.  It meant he would be gone on our milestone anniversary, but so goes life.

With that, we were on our way home in quiet, tired rain.  Gray clouds covered like a blanket.  And the feeling of an end consumed me with relief and dread.  Arizona surely felt that way on going to Kentucky.  It was an unknown and she and her husband were taking a chance.  I wonder if she could have known in any small way how much it is  home to me – her offspring.  It felt wonderful to see the my mountains again.

Day Five:

I am sitting in our Dayton, TN hotel exhausted.  We started the day at 7am, eating, packing, and heading out to New Echota Historic Site.  We arrived there right after they opened.  I got teary eyed before we went in.  It makes me wonder about my emotional self, though I was well aware of what we would learn today.

Middle class Cherokee family homestead

Middle class Cherokee family homestead

The morning was lovely, and I was glad to get started before the heat set in.  We did a self guided walking tour of many reconstructed and original period dwellings and meeting houses in what was once the capital of the Cherokee Nation.  To think that the Cherokee were forced to leave their lands makes me think of nothing less than the holocaust.  They lived in log homes and had farms.

Inside a middle class Cherokee home... it was one large room

Inside a middle class Cherokee home... it was one large room

Another view of the same room

Another view of the same room

They had their own newspaper and printing press, printing things in both English and Cherokee.  They worked with a three house government.

The rack holding the typeface used to print The Cherokee Phoenix and other printed materials in both the Cherokee language and English

The rack holding the typeface used to print The Cherokee Phoenix and other printed materials in both the Cherokee language and English

Looking at the different homes was inspiring, especially the kitchens.  From the wealthy to the common, the simplicity felt serene.  I want to go home and work on our cabin.  Clean it out totally.

Lower class Cherokee home - one small room consisting of one bed, 2 gourd bowls, a grinding log for meal, one deer skin, and a gourd ladle

Lower class Cherokee home - one small room consisting of one bed, 2 gourd bowls, a grinding log for meal, one deer skin, and a gourd ladle

Kitchen in the lower class dwelling

Kitchen in the lower class dwelling

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

The cooking hearth and baking oven of the same kitchen

The cooking hearth and baking oven of the same kitchen

I am beyond hurt at how a people so established and native inhabitants of a land could be so disregarded as the sacrilege that happened with The Trail of Tears.  What many don’t know is that all this disrespect to the native people and their land began with presidents like Thomas Jefferson ( a much beloved man in our country and known as a fighter for equality) who wanted to make the Indian indebted to the U.S. so they could take their land from them and move them west.  People only think of Andrew Jackson, a man of the people, hater of the native peoples, and a president who disregarded the laws of his own nation.  They did this to a people so bent on preserving their heritage – their right to be separate but equal.  A people who, on the white man’s terms proved their civility and capacity to exist as a nation.  It’s unreal what the average American doesn’t know about that situation.

Meeting House at New Echota - where the council held meetings

Meeting House at New Echota - where the council held meetings

Inside the Meeting House

Inside the Meeting House

Courthouse at New Echota

Courthouse at New Echota

The Vann Tavern - New Echota

The Vann Tavern - New Echota

Inside the Vann Tavern - the counter and mercantile area of the largest room

Inside the Vann Tavern - the counter and mercantile area of the largest room

I’m finding it hard to even write about what we saw and learned today.  It was so extensive.  After New Echota, we went to The Vann House, which was a four story European style home built by a prominent Cherokee business man – James Vann.

The Vann House

The Vann House

He had a plantation and around 70 slaves on his land at a time, and up to 110.

View from the third floor of The Vann House

View from the third floor of The Vann House

What was outstanding was that even the wealthy Cherokee who had adpoted many of the white man’s ways were moved to Indian Territory by force.  Their money nor their “civilized” accomplishments could make them exempt from the land hungry white man.  Joseph Vann (son of James Vann and the inheritor of his estate) and his family were burnt out of their home.

The root/wine cellar - where all "cold" food items were stored

The root/wine cellar - where all "cold" food items were stored

The woman's bedroom

The woman's bedroom

There was a spinning wheel and/or loom in every dwelling from the middle class up.

There was a spinning wheel and/or loom in every dwelling from the middle class up.

A little girl's room - very few "toys" - I loved it, so simple and pure as was the boy's room

A little girl's room - very few "toys" - I loved it, so simple and pure as was the boy's room

The dining room

The dining room

When we left New Echota the walking tour ended with two quotes by Cherokee government members Elias Boudinot and John Ridge.  I copied them into a notebook.  In essence, they said that the Cherokee removed from the land God gave them would cease to exist – be blended with the white man.  That is essentially what Thomas Jefferson had promised the native peoples whom would give in to the wishes of the American government – they would blend with the white man.  And there I stood – Cherokee blood in the veins of a white woman.  A dichotomy in the flesh.

Solemn and gloomy is the thought that all the Indian Nations who once occupied America are nearly gone.  In the lapse of half a century, Cherokee blood, if not destroyed, will wind its course in the being of fair complexions, who will read that their ancestors, under the stars of adversity and curses of their enemies became a civilized nation.

John Ridge, February 27, 1826

The time will come when few remanants of our once happy and improving Nation will be viewed by posterity with curious and gazing interest as relics of a brave and noble race… perhaps, only here and there a solitary being, walking, ‘as a ghost over the ashes of his fathers’ to remind a stranger that such a race once existed.

Elias Boudinot, Nov. 21, 1836

I thought about Arizona and her place in this history.  What was she aware of?  I know she knew much of what I learned, but I wonder how she perceived it.  She lived in both Indian Territory and New Echota.  The guide at The Vann House said it was hard to believe that Arizona’s family went to Indian Territory and actually came back.  It makes me think more of her father and who he was.  Why he was what he was.

On the way to Dayton, we gradually entered into tiny rolling hills.  Both John and I couldn’t help but think of Arizona’s walk – over 80 miles from Georgia to Tennessee.  So young and strong.

After such a saturated and fun day we are all tired.  John is working on the van.  There is a hole in the radiator.  The girls are being wild with that tired irritability.  It feels good just to be.

Deladis in a smokehouse at New Echota - orbs or dust particles... you decide :)

Deladis in a smokehouse at New Echota - orbs or dust particles... you decide 🙂

kaclogo Kelli B. Haywood has received professional development funding through the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.


About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

April 2023

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